Monday, October 15, 2012

Second Trip To Aruba part 4

Second Trip To Aruba


Part 4


Wednesday 8th of August was a day that I had been looking forward to for months. Ever since I found out when my relatives would be going to Aruba and made my booking, I had this particular date set aside for a most important reason. I’ll have to take you back a bit to explain why. You see during my first visit back in 2010 I saw this wildly coloured old school looking school bus parked out in front of CPV. Music was blaring from it and it reminded me of the days when Maxi Taxis used to blast music from their sound systems and young people would only travel in the ones that played the best music. I then learnt that it was the Kukoo Kunuku Party Bus, they take visitors out for an evening of fun on the island. It was not till long after I got back while looking at youtube videos about Aruba that I came across a video post on the Kukoo Kunuku  made by someone that had been on one of their trips. From what I saw of that videos and others like it that it looked like something fun and interesting to do.  I promised myself that when next I went back that I would go on the Kukoo Kunuku. (link provided)

Back to the present, well the Monday of that week. After getting some magazines from the front desk and being directed to the Activities office I sat down with one of the staff to sign up for the trip. He gave me a pretty detailed description of what the trip would be like. For starters he asked how I heard about the Kukoo Kunuku? “From catching a glimpse of them during my last visit and from youtube.” He then told me that there were two versions, there was the one that involved dinner and bar hopping, and there was the other that was mostly a pub crawl for the entire night. Which one did I want to go on? Well knowing how my stomach gets from too much alcohol, I choose the one with the dinner and bar hopping. I signed up for the trip that was going on Wednesday night of that week, and was informed that I needed to keep the confirmation slip with me and that I would have to pay $55.00US on that day when they came to meet me, and to expect a call from them on Wednesday afternoon, sometime between 1pm and 3pm to confirm that I would still be going on the trip.

 So along comes Wednesday and on the agenda for that day was a drive out to Frenchman’s Pass, which was to be followed by a drive to Hooiberg where we would make the attempt at climbing to the very top. After which we were going to come back to CPV in order for me to receive my call and get ready for the evening ahead.  Getting to Frenchman’s Pass took some doing as we made a wrong turn getting there and got turned around. Thinking that we had taken a wrong turn it turns out that we were headed in the right direction after all, we were expecting to see a lot of birds and stuff in the trees but no luck in that area. Maybe we were there at the wrong time for bird watching, or maybe it was that we had turned around too soon before getting to the Bird Refuge? Anyhow we wound up getting on the highway that took us back towards the airport( which was a reminder that I would be seeing it again on the 12th) and into Oranjestad before locating the road that would take us to Hooiberg.


Hooiberg is the second tallest mountain on the island and is in close proximity to the town of Santa Cruz, luckily we found that one relatively easy. The name when translated from Dutch into English means Haystack, most likely because the mountain looks a lot like one huge giant haystack.  Just as we got out of the car to commence with the walk up to the top of the mountain, my cousin noticed a sign with a bright red arrow that said “Water Park This Way.” So instead of going up the mountain, we got back in the car to go and check out the Water Park, and also because the folks were ready to get something to eat before attempting to walk up the mountain.  Known as The Aruba Water Park like its name said, it was mostly water type rides and pools. It was okay, not that many people were in attendance, then it again it was the middle of the week. We grabbed a quick meal before heading back to the mountain to begin the walk. Normally I would be just as hard core as the next guy and go all out in hiking up the mountain. But as I was looking forward to going out that night, I figured that I would go up halfway and wait for everyone else to come back down. On the way up I found a cool concrete bench that was under some shade and sat there to wait, my cousin opted to do the same and wait for his parents to come back down.  It was a pretty nice view of the surrounding area and the cool breeze made the wait quite relaxing. (link for the Aruba Waterpark provided below)

The folks made it back down, and my aunt made the observation that if someone were to walk up and down this mountain once a day, five days a week, it would make for a good weight loss routine. On our way down we ran into this middle aged woman that was from the island who was on her way up the mountain. She told us that she was 50 years old and that she walks up and down the mountain almost every day of the week. WOW!!!! If the Aruban Olympic team used the mountain as part of their training regimen they could give T&T, Jamaica and the rest of the world serious competition in the Olympics.

I also came across a short story written in three parts which is set on Aruba and features Hooiberg. It runds in the Aruba morning news in the issues from the 12/10/2012 to 15/10/2012. It's a cool story, if you're interested you should check it out.
With Hooiberg in our rare view mirror we headed back to CPV. The relatives were going to relax in the Jacuzzi and then take a swim in the pool before going out to dinner. As for myself, I had to check the phone for a message, which was there from someone from the Kukoo Kunuku. I called them back and confirmed that I would indeed be going, upon which I was advised to wait for them near the front of the hotel. With that taken care of I grabbed a quick shower, threw on some clean clothes which included a brand new t-shirt that I had purchased the day before. There was still a lot of time till my pickup so I killed the time watching some ABC Family, which has some really great shows. Some of which I can actually admit to becoming invested in from the short time that I was there. Shows like Pretty Little Liars, Baby Daddy, Bun Heads, Melissa and Joey, and The Secret Life of The American Teenager made for some interesting viewing and helped to pass a lot of down time.
With my eyes checking my watch the time soon came for me to head out to the front of the hotel. Now there are two ways to get into and out of our room. There is the front which goes through the porch, and then there is the back which will take you to the hallway. I took the back way and in doing so I missed the person from the Kukoo Kunuku that was coming in to meet me. You could imagine my surprise when I got to the front and saw that the bus was already there, and already loaded up with people from the other hotels. To think the guy in the activities office told me that they would pick me up first, yeah right! For a few nerve racking minutes, that felt like forever when one feels embarrassed and on the verge of humiliation; I had considered faking sick and asking postponing till another night. However I reminded myself that I had been looking forward to doing this for a long time, that doing this would be good for me, and that I was a Course Coach in Dale Carneigie where I encouraged people to go out and do uncomfortable things outside of their comfort zone to stretch themselves. So after taking several deep breaths I approached the bus driver and told him that I was the one that they were waiting on. He then hit the horn a few times to let the person inside know that I was outside, he even tried to call her on her phone. That's right I said her. The guide for the bus that I was going to be on that night was none other than the famous Mama! The woman is an icon of the Kukoo Kunkuk on Aruba, you can't mention one and not hear about the other.


Once Mama showed up, collected the rest of my payment and got me on board the bus we were on our way. Being the last person on the bus I was seated near the front next to a couple that was visiting from Deleware, and just right behind the Jonhson family who on that evening was marking the 10th time on the Kukoo Kunkuk. Not so sure if this was a coincidence or not, but the few black people on the bus were all up near the front. Hmmm? Anyhow the bus was packed with people that were ready to party, and judging by the level that they were singing and carrying on it was fair to guess that some of them had begun drinking long before they got on the bus. Our first stop was the beach just below the California light house on the Northern tip of the island to make the sunset toast, receive our briefing on the events for the evening, and take out a group picture before boarding the bus and proceeding to the Ambassador's Residence in Noord for dinner.

One inside we were divided up to sit at different tables, the couple that I had been sitting next to went to one table, while I wound up at another table, with one married couple and three sisters that were originally from NY who now called Florida home. They were cool and nice, included me in the conversation and discussion about the island and the trip so far. The food was good, interesting local meal. Drink wise I had a drink known as a Sex On The Bus, which was vodka, rum and fruit punch mixed together. To counter this I drank several cups of water and made certain that the water bottle I purchased from the souvenir counter was filled with water. With dinner out of the way we were all loaded up onto our respective buses and commenced with the bar hopping and partying. As we were making out way onto the bus we were presented with Drink Tickets, at each of the three stops we would present out drink tickets to the bar tenders and we would get a complementary drink, everything else after that we would have to pay for.


With the music pumping, enthusiasm amped, spirits boosted with some alcohol from dinner at the Ambassadors residence( or long before in the case of some attendees) and the encouragement of Mama we headed off towards out first stop of the night. It was a small bar, but a good enough size for the number of people on the two buses, they had the AC cranked up and the music was blaring; and what could I hear upon entry into the bar/club...SOCA!! Not just any Soca, but Destra Garcia and Sean Paul's Free It Up!!! (If you're interested in hearing it just click on the link below)

You could imagine how good my soul felt to hear music from my home at the first stop, imagine how I felt to see all these people from the two buses letting loose on the dance floor to this. If I had not been aware of where I was I could have sworn that I was at a party in Trinidad just judging by the number of dancing and wining white people on the dance floor. There was this one pretty young lady in a long sleeved white shirt, blue cutoff denim shorts and heals that went down to the ground, that there was one American that would fit in really easy with the partying crowd in T&T. It would take a good couple minutes before yours truly found himself on the dance floor. For a while it looked as though I would spend the entire night as a spectator on the sidelines instead of an actual participant. Then the most interesting thing happened. One of the ladies from my table from dinner was out on the dance floor partying with her sisters when she noticed me standing by one of the pool tables looking on. She waved, I waved back, she came off and asked if I wanted to dance and hang out with them. Of course I said Yes and joined them out on the dance floor. This would be my first time dancing out in public in....ages.  They played all sorts of music, from Latin samba, hip hop, soca, etc. If they had it and it was party related they played it. Used my drink card to fill up my drink bottle with water.

We were at the first bar for an hour or so before we moved onto the second one, more music, more dancing, more drinking and more fun. It was at the second bar that I was introduced to a dance known as the Wobble, which is very popular on Aruba. The best way to describe the Wobble would be as an updated version of the Electric Slide( wonder when it will catch on in T&T?) There is an official video and several how to videos, which I have posted below.

I followed along as best as I could, luckily I was in good company as there were many who were now learning how to do the Wobble for the first time. But it was a good effort and fun was had by all. It was during the second stop that I would have my only beer for the night. I had a Balashi, a local beer that I had heard a lot about, figured that I would give it a try. Pretty Good actually, don't really see it give Carib or Stag much competition, but still good. I was also asked to become something of an unofficial photographer for several people during the second stop. Guess it meant that I was not invisible and that they trusted me to take some good pictures with their expensive digital cameras. Got no complaints, mostly a whole lot of 'Thank Yous', which was cool by me. From there it was off to the third and final stop which was a bar with the most cool name. "U-Wanna Beer" The name says it all.

We met up with the folks that were on the Bar Crawl and their guide who was known as Big Daddy. People were dancing on the dance floor, which was just about anywhere in this club and on the bar. Actually dancing on the bar was encouraged. Stuck to water on this stop as I did not want to get too tipsy and do anything silly. There was one part of the night when Mama and the cute guide from the other bus selected some guys to go up on the bar to do the Chicken Dance, albeit a bit more perverted version. The song then quickly transitioned into Y.M.C.A. and the brave guys on the bar soon lost their shirts and were dancing around bare back. Better them than me. The DJ threw on some more great tunes, he even played Don't Stop Believing by Journey and Sweet Child O Mine by Guns and Roses.

They say all good things come to an end, and that was what happened, the night came to an end and they loaded us up to take us back to our respective hotels. Before boarding I thanked the three ladies who included and made me a part of their fun that night. Just when I was ready to count humanity the three ladies made me want to give them another try. Who knows how the night would have gone for me. As I was the last person picked up I was the last one dropped off, small price to pay for a fun filled night. Being the last person on bus it gave me an opportunity to talk to both Victor( the bus driver) and Mama, they both recognised my accent and were able to place me as being from T&T. They said that the next time I was in Aruba to request them when next I wanted to go on the Kukoo Kunuku. Rest assured I most certainly will.

Going on that trip made me realize that I needed to go out more often, and not just wait till I come to Aruba but to do it more at home. All it takes is to just step outside of my comfort zone and to take some risks in the process. The end result being  a fun time that's had by one and all, especially yours truly.

Stay tuned, still more to report on. Another trip to Moomba Beach and The Caruban Festival in San Nicholas.


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