Let's see, how would I summarize Aruba.....
The trip there was exhausting: 5am flight from Denver, 12 hour layover in Atlanta, 2 delayed flights in Orlando (surrounded by a group of very angry New Yorkers going on their 3rd cancelled flight) and the most pitiful airport cheeseburger I've ever had in my life! (can you relate? #1stWorldProbs) But let's just say the view after I got there (see above banner)....SO worth it!
The first thing I did when we arrived was lay on the beach in the sand as I watched the sun melt into a million different colors that I didn't know existed. I knew at that moment that with every swooning breeze, every seagull's cry and with every breath I inhaled, I was being completely restored for the trip I had ahead of me. Every frustration didn't seem to matter anymore; I was free to enjoy life! (crazy notion I know..)
We packed so much into that week, the time escaped from us oh too quickly. One of our many adventures included a trip downtown through the tropical market. Picture, if you will, a street always covered in little cars tryin to make their way down the 18 mile long island. On one side, you have the natives in their family owned huts, selling an array of wooden tribal masks, homemade pipes and souvenirs for every tacky tourist; and right across the street, you've got some of the top jewelry and clothing brands in the world right at arms reach (but far from my wallets reach, I'm sorry to say). Talk about a culture shock! The colors were so bright and vibrant one might think the whole thing a little too gaudy... but you knew it was far from it.
For one thing, all you had to do was walk into the mall over by Starbucks (which I was SO relieved to find) to see a common speed boat pull right up beside it, after entering through the water taxi entrance under the highway...yeah, it happened. The day was filled with with aimless wandering, coconut shrimp and margaritas, tacky tourist finds, jewelry lusting, photo experimenting, triple shot frappuccinos and new friends- thanks to my dad (he could make friends with a rock).
Don't get me wrong... we definitely fit some action packed adventures in during our short stay. On our last day, as we started heading for the airpot, we drove out to what seemed like an abandoned warehouse in the middle of the desert (the kind of place horror movies are made) to what was supposed to be a friendly race of go karting... Upon arrival, I learn that this is a Karting Speedway with the so called karts accelerating up to 60mph! Of course my dad and brother were siked while I was left shaking in my jean shorts (but I wasn't about to let them know that, of course). Being raised around all guys has it's advantages...once I'm in something, I'm IN! As soon as my foot hit the gas for the first time, I realized I'm either going to win, or flip my kart trying. Well, as you can probably tell from the picture above, I WON! This picture was a necessity as neither one of these guys would ever admit to defeat by yours truly, especially when it comes to sports...
Another Xtreme activity I experienced for the first time was parasailing. I know what your thinking...isn't that what your grandma did on her last vacation? Yes. Let's just say that parasailing in Aruba... INTENSE! My mom and I ride out with a boat full of nervous passengers into the middle of the Caribbean sea (where no one can hear our screaming), strapped up and ready to go. As a local is hooking me into the sail, he notices I'm a tad nervous and reassures me, "If you can parasail here, you can parasail anywhere.." Then he sends us off. I was freaking out! Normally (or so I've heard) the boat is supposed to pull you along the water and you fly along like a bird, soaring overhead. In this little extravaganza, the boat stays still as we shoot up into the air by the never ceasing blows of the fierce wind. It kind of felt like we were being sucked up into a tornado. Once I let myself enjoy it however, I was amazed at the beauty of the blue-greeen water of the Caribbean sea, revealing a sunken ship no more than a few feet below the surface! Truly beautiful and exhilarating...can't wait to do it again!