Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Second Trip To Aruba 05/08/2012-12/08/2012 Part 3.

Second Trip To Aruba


Part 3

Tuesday August 7th, lounged around the hotel for most of the morning, the plan was to go into the city of Oranjestad, look around then go and check out the Bon Bini Festival. Guess an explanation would fit in best right around here, firstly Bon Bini is Papiamento for Welcome; and the festival is a year round folkloric event that is held on Tuesday evenings from 6:30pm till 8:30pm. So off to the city we went, on the way we made a few stops. First at a local bookstore( that stop was made on my behalf) which was having their back to school sale on backpacks, stationary and other sundry school related stuff. They had a decent stock of novels and magazines, although on a closer look the magazines were a mix of Dutch, Spanish and English. The novels were for the most part in Dutch, although there was one rack that contained the books that were in English. Got to say that the place was well put away and organized, and her is something else that I was surprised to learn. All schools in Aruba were to open the following week, either on the 15th or 16th of August. Which means that they must have been on vacation since June. They also get a week off in October and they then close for Christmas break around the end of November, returning back to school right after New Year’s Day. Then they get time off for Carnival, two weeks for Easter then the school year comes to an end in June. I’m sure that they also get public holidays off as well. Interesting school year if you ask me.

After the bookstore we stopped at a few more local souvenir type places, one of which was a small liquor store where we got to sample some Coconut Rum. DAMN THAT WAS SOME GOOD RUM!!!! My only regret was not picking up a bottle for myself, I was watching my money as I would need to have cash handy for the 11th and 12th….more on that later. I did pick up some key chains, pendants  and t-shirts.  Met this really friendly couple and their baby boy who were visiting from Alabama, I guess there is something about the island that makes folks more sociable, and that applies to both locals and visitors alike.  From there it was off to Oranjestad and the parking lot in the vicinity of the Renaissance Marketplace, which was close to the  Renaissance Aruba Beach- Marina Hotel and the Renaissance Aruba Beach-Ocean Suites.

Our first priority was to see about lunch, our options in the Renaissance Marketplace was a Cuban restaurant, Starbucks, another local type restaurant and Subway. The Taco Bell and Burger King that was there the last time I was on the island was long gone. So it was Subway for lunch.  Before I forget, there are many Subway outlets on the island, with more on the way. Subway now outnumbers all the  KFC, Mc Donald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Dominos and Wendy’s  outlets on the island. Arubans must love eating fresh I guess.  At first I could not believe that I left Trinidad where there is a Subway just down the road from where I live, to travel all the way to Aruba to eat Subway?? Then I saw that they had a burger sub and opted to try that. Hopefully the burger will make its way to the menus at the Subways in T&T. That was one great meal!

We then did some exploring of the area and here is what I’ve noticed. The fact that there are local outlets of Gucci, Tommy Hilfiger, Louis Vouton and such places is a firm indication that the locals are doing well. These stores were not placed there to appeal to the tourists alone, they were put there to appeal to and meet the needs of the locals.  If they work for it and can afford to buy it, without doing anything illegal or hurting anyone then more power to them I say.  With the heat and humidity due to the islands close proximity to the Equator almost every store that we went into had air conditioning, actually there is a law that requires all homes and business on the island to have AC to beat the heat. Now there’s one law that I would follow to the letter. Having a mall right under and next to a hotel is a good idea. The entire ground floor of the Renaissance Marina Hotel was mostly stores, which lead right over to the Renaissance Mall.

As it got closer to 5pm we went back to the same place where we had lunch, found some outdoor chairs and tables and sat down to wait for the venue where the Bon Bini festival was being held to open. It was sometime around 6.00pm that I heard a band playing a familiar tune. That was an indication that Fort Zoutman, the venue for the festival and a historical attraction in down town Oranjestad was open. Crossing traffic was not as tricky as crossing in downtown POS. For one thing, the drivers actually slow down or stop to allow pedestrians to cross. As we got closer to the Fort I recognised the song that the band was playing, it was Ethel by Blue boy, a performer from T&T. I would soon find out that like Nigel and Marvin the music of Blue Boy and Collin Lucas is still in rotation over there.

Entrance to the fort was $5US, and prior to the start of the show there were vendors selling locally made arts, crafts and food.  The festival itself was a telling of  a year in the Aruban calendar through music and dance; they began with New Years Day going all the way to Christmas and New Years Eve. They even touched on a local instrument known as the Caha di Orgel, which when translated into English means Cylinder Box. They played a few songs on it, one of which was Drunk and Disorderly, another calypso from T&T. As I mentioned in the previous post about the Ribbon Dance, well I saw it again that Tuesday night. They touched on their Carnival celebration which as I mentioned coincides with ours in that it falls just before Ash Wednesday. The MC when describing Carnival said that it originated in the town of San Nicholas. Which was where the Valero Oil Refinery is located, back in the 1950s when it first went into operation they had to bring in foreign workers to work there, and a good many of them came from the English speaking Caribbean. That was it! No mention of which countries, just that it originated with workers from the English speaking Caribbean. It’s blatantly obvious which English speaking workers brought the celebration of Carnival with them to Aruba, thereby introducing it to the island. The ones from Trinidad and Tobago of course!! I was actually tempted to yell out, “YOU GOT IT FROM TRINIDAD & TOBAGO YA BASTARDS!!!” That and “YOU’RE WELCOME F*****S!!”. But being the type of guy that I am, and seeing that I was in a place that I liked and still hope to some day migrate to, I kept quiet, but made occasional glances at my aunt who was probably thinking the same thing that I was thinking. “That they really need to acknowledge where Carnival Originated, and mention that it came from Trinidad and Tobago.”

But all in all the show was great! On our way out the brass band was playing Ethel once again, but before we left the audience made a donation into a hat that was being passed around, which would go towards maintain the fort and keeping the festival going. On the way out some tourist, I figure he was most likely American was dancing and acting goofy came dancing my way with his hands cupped for a donation. Why? I do not know, yet again it seems that odd balls somehow find their way towards me. Now if that could just happen with attractive women. For that to happen I would need to stop being clumsy and embarrassing in front of them. By the way Aruba, YOU’RE MOST WELCOMED!!!!!! For the contribution of Trinis to your culture!!

With the Festival and Oranjestad behind is it was back to Noord, but first there was a stop to be made for dinner. Which was Pizza and Wings from Little Caesar’s, something that we do not have in T&T as yet. The plan for Wednesday would be a trip to Frenchman’s Pass to see some birds and to Hoolberg the second highest mountain on Aruba, where once you get to the top one can see the other nearby islands and the South American continent. I was looking forward to Wednesday for another reason, which will be mentioned in the next entry. So stay tuned!!

To be continued…….


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