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Mitsugirlys MITSUGIRLY decides to CONQUEST new ports-complete pictorial review

Day 6: Aruba

DAY 5: ARUBA April 19 2pm-11:30pm


I promised myself I would sleep in today, since we weren't going to be in port until 2pm. never works out for me since I have been getting up at the crack of dawn every other day. It was 8am and I was wide awake due to every time I turned in bed, I felt my slight sun burn ache and create another crease in my skin.

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I headed outside to check on the weather (the only thing I hate about being in an inside room is having to go upstairs to check the weather and sunlight situation). It was a little cloudy outside and it appeared "foggy" in the distance.


Now according to some "facts" I read about Aruba...this just couldn't turn out to be anything but a good day!


Aruba Facts (according to an article I read prior to the cruise):

1) Aruba has one of the most ethnically diverse populations in the world. Most speak English, Dutch, Spanish, Creole and Papiamento. Population consist of over 90+ nationalities and ethnic groups.

2) Aruba's diet is strongly influenced by Indonesia with Indonesian food.

3) On a clear day, you can see Venezuela, which is 90 miles away.

4) Aruba is the wreck diving capital of the Caribbean.

5) The white sand beaches are barefoot-friendly due to the unique crushed coral shell composition, which keeps the sand cool on your feet.

6) Aruba is the pioneer of purified water for over 80 years.

7) Breeze from the northeast cause the divi-divi trees, that look like bonsai trees, to bend and grow that way.

8) It is common practice to let the goats, donkeys and ostrich out during the day to feed and you can sometimes see them on the hillside grazing.

9) Gambling winnings don't get taxed here! You keep it all. (Some will keep the winnings and invest in property here so that they don't have to pay taxes when returning to the US). <---sounds like a plan to me...if only I could win that kind of money!

10) 20% of the island is a national park.

11) ARUBA HAS THE MOST SUNNY DAYS OF ANY ISLAND IN THE CARIBBEAN!!! They have the least amount of rainfall, with about 15" for the year! You are almost guaranteed a sunny day in Aruba. ALSO...Aruba lays on the outside of the hurricane belt, so hurricanes rarely touch Arbua shores!


YES! Hardly any rain...with my luck and the clouds in the sky, I will probably have a rainy day in Aruba. I guess that would be something to write home about! lol


Since I was the only one up, I headed to the gift shop for a little quick shopping and on the way back to the room...I just happen to pass the casino...well....I knew the casino's would not be open all day or tonight, due to being in port late, and we sure wasn't about to stay up late just to play, I figured I'd throw $20 in and see what happens real quick.


I headed to my favorite game on this ship...Alice. I put in $20 from my key card and within 2 minutes and a few spins, I won $48. Whelp, good enough for me. Time to head back to the room to get the fam up. Like I always say, if I'm up, they might as well be too!


When I returned to the room, everyone was already up and dressed and daddy already had Sakari in a bathing suit. Shocker! We headed for breakfast and got our usual. Only this time, Sakari would decide she wanted an omelette as well and daddy decided he wanted the all white omelette. I was shocked they changed things up a bit. Of course "Mo" the parrot was hungry too, so she just had to bring him along.

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I got my normal omelette and slab of pig and then of course my new found pastry.

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After breakfast, we headed outside and decided we would try to find the putt putt area (since we haven't managed to run into it yet). We felt a little sprinkle...seriously? This couldn't be happening to me. But the more I thought about it, the more I figured...well, we aren't really IN Aruba YET, so maybe that's the problem.


We headed up on the back decks, toward the whale tail, and circled the area of the putt putt, trying to figure out how to get in. After a complete circle, I finally figured out that you had to go INSIDE the "basketball/soccer" court (usually that term lightly) and cut across to another set of stairs to go up.


We finally made it and located our putters and balls.

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There really wasn't anything spectacular about the putt putt area, like some of the other ships, but it was still fun and interestingly challenging at times.

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It did make for a challenging game due to the wind on that high of a deck. I blame anything over 3 putts on the wind moving my ball because I know that it would have been a hole in one otherwise. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


After putt putt, Sakari insisted on trying to play ping pong again. There were people on both sides, so it was a bust. I honestly don't know how they were playing with the wind. It's more like a chase the ball game.


We headed back to the room to pack our things for our day in Aruba and we already had our towel animal of course. (This is still just really weird to me to have a towel animal during the morning cleaning).

It did make for a challenging game due to the wind on that high of a deck. I blame anything over 3 putts on the wind moving my ball because I know that it would have been a hole in one otherwise. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


After putt putt, Sakari insisted on trying to play ping pong again. There were people on both sides, so it was a bust. I honestly don't know how they were playing with the wind. It's more like a chase the ball game.


We headed back to the room to pack our things for our day in Aruba and we already had our towel animal of course. (This is still just really weird to me to have a towel animal during the morning cleaning).

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I think at some point we ran into Thrilled and we both had made plans to head to Arashi Beach for part of the day (prior to the cruise). I really wasn't sure what I wanted to do about transportation. I knew you could walk somewhere and catch the local bus to the beach for $2.60/pp. It definitely was enticing to think about how cheap that would be, but with arriving in Aruba so late, I also wanted to maximize my time at the beach. I knew that taking the bus would be a bit of a detour and we would have stops along the way, limiting some of our time. I had read that a taxi would range anywhere from $21-25 (different reports coming in) and although that's a lot more than paying around $8 total, I was willing to do it. However, I wanted to get Thrilled's opinion on the situation and if she was willing to take the bus, I'd do the same. It's always easier, I think, if you have a group or other people with you...that way if we screw up, it's a lot funner! LOL


She had told me that she had planned on taking the bus. So, I was fully prepared to do that as well.


Here we are finally pulling into Aruba.

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The buses were all lined up and ready to tour the cruisers.

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It seemed to be a very colorful city.

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I don't know what those little buildings on the left in the center that look alike are, but at night, they lit up colors that changed constantly. It was really pretty.

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All the pastel colors reminded me of Bermuda...and makes me want to go back to Bermuda.

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Looks like a party bus ready to pick up the cruisers that are willing to crawl back to the ship either right before sailaway or after in some cases.

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Just look at that color of blue! Amazing!

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You better believe once that ship was "parked" I was in line getting off and headed for the taxi's.


Only...we just had to stop for our pictures of course.

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Sakari had found a "peacock" and just had to have her picture taken with her. Absolutely stunning costumes they had there. I'm so glad that we stopped for her to get a picture here because they LOST our other family picture from that day and we have no family pictures from Aruba. (More on that later).


We headed into the building and was winding our way around to get out. It was hot outside and my lens would continue to fog a lot.

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Sakari discovered all of these beaded costumes. She was amazed and insisted on getting pictures with them all...whether we were in a hurry or not.

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I decided we had time for more pictures. It was actually a stall tactic to see if we might find Thrilled passing by and heading to the bus.

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Still no thrilled or munchkins in site.

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Ok, time to head out of the building and see if we might see her out there and to check out how things work out there.

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So once we made it outside, Thrilled was no where in site. We stood around for awhile, didn't really see the bus station in site (which I knew you actually had to walk to it, but wasn't sure how far), and after a few minutes, I made the executive decision that we would just cab it there.


There was a long line, right in front of the stairs and doors and we quickly jumped in. It was about a 10 minute wait (which honestly seemed longer to me) until we were in the cab and moving. We stood there for awhile with no cabs pulling up. It was really weird. Then when they did, there would be maybe 2 or 3 and a family would pile in and they'd leave and then we would wait for more to come. I thought it was a really weird way to do things knowing that everyone was getting off of the'd think they would be better prepared. I have NEVER been to a port where they are not just lined up waiting and rolling out one after another.


Before it was our turn to get in the cab, Thrilled found me! Or did I find her? I forget. But, she also decided to cab it. However, we couldn't cab it together due to a very strict rule in more than 5 people to a cab! No exceptions! Well, we had 6...but I would call it 5 1/2...but that didn't matter to them.


We told her we'd meet her and the kids at Arashi and then off we went in the cab. We pulled away at 2:21pm.

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When I ask the cab driver about the taxi's not being there and ready to get passengers, he explained they were running thin that day because of the other ship arriving earlier. Other ship? Well holy cow, there was another ship in port with us. I hadn't even noticed but looked back and snapped a picture and yep, he was right. LOL

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Pictures along the way to Arashi. Here's some of the Divi Divi trees along the beach.

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Now I remember posting on the boards that I wanted a picture of the "Aruba" sign and was told "Sit on the right side of the cab/bus" and you'll pass it on the way to Arashi. I ask the cab driver about it and he said "No, it's on the left", so that's where I sat. WELL GUESS WHERE IT WAS??? On the RIGHT! My peeps on here are more knowledgeable than the people of Aruba that drive that route daily! Well, at least I knew exactly where it was now, which would be before the mall area and it was before the roundabout in the road on the way. I would just sit on the left side going back and catch it. No worries...


The shopping mall that we had planned to go to later in the evening.

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I really wish that I was in a normal cab car that I could roll the windows down and get good pictures without the glare and off balance colors from the tinted windows.


This beach had TONS of kite surfers in the water. It looked amazing and I wish that we could have stopped just to watch and get pictures. There were so many of them.

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CASINO!!! (For those that win and want to purchase property there to avoid US taxes!!)

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We pulled up at Arashi at 2:35pm. So, it was a total of 14 minutes there. Not bad at all. I honestly thought it was supposed to be a lot further than that since it's the furthest beach away going that direction (from what I've read).


My first glimpse at Arashi...=heaven!

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So prices: Our cab to Arashi (for up to 5 people) was $23.00. Our driver gave us his business card and told us to call him and he'd come back and get us.


Ice Cream is $3.00

Pop is $2.00 for a can

For 2 chairs and umbrella $30

As we stepped on the beach, some guys approached us and at the entrance and ask if we wanted to rent chairs. I immediately told him we were waiting on another family and once they arrived, we'd get some. I wanted to check out the place first and see the best spot to claim as our real estate for the day.


I knew that the snorkeling was supposed to be toward the left facing the water. We first walked that way. But it didn't seem like the best place for swimming, which I knew Sakari would do most of the day. So an easy entry with sand would be a must. She immediately turned around and said "I wanna go down here" and headed in the opposite direction. But...she kept going. Going further than what I had originally wanted. The husband had to play referee at this point and said "We need a happy medium for the both of you girls. Just past the big rocks" which ended up being WAY past the big rocks. I lost the battle.


We stood there for a minute and he said "Why are we not getting chairs yet again?" I told him "I'm waiting on Kia (thrilled)". He said "We can't wait under an umbrella while relaxing on a chair facing the ocean?" LOL Ok, go get us some chairs then! And off he went in one direction while Sakari headed the opposite direction to the water. Yea, she's out there....

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The vendor with the chairs came back with 2 loungers and an umbrella. They dug a hole, planted the sun blocker contraption and this was our view now.

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Hubs immediately headed to the food stand to get some cold drinks... "Taste the Caribbean" kinda tasted the same as the US, except it had a better view to it!

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Pelicans were everywhere here. It was fun to watch them dive into the water over and over.

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I tried to stay turned around to watch for thrilled to arrive, but this caught my eye...the beach was lined with tents. A lot of them. I assume this is like a campground? Although it sounds amazing, I don't think I could do it...the sun is just too hot.

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It was hot out and I headed for the water to check it out. It was amazingly refreshing and felt really good on this hot day. Sakari was busy putting on her mermaid tail (she was a peacock mermaid today...confused kid I tell ya...mermaid, nemo, peacock...she's just a mixture of all animals these days), and daddy was busy looking over us from the comfort of our new prime real estate location safe from the sun.

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And out she came...

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I could have sworn it was a parrot fish jumping out of the water...

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She immediately went after the diving pelican. She got really close before it actually took off.

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Pirate ships off in the distance. Aaaarrrgggghhh! This is in the area to the left and where boats kept coming to drop off people to snorkel. I knew this had to be the location everyone was talking about on these boards when they said go out and to the left around the rocks.

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It was probably about 30 minutes or more before Kia and family arrived. They must have really got tied up for awhile. We flagged her down, she got a chair, then tried to be unsociable by putting it behind us to the side. Oh no, you are stuck with me at this beach girlfriend...pull up that chair!


We sat around most of the day chatting it up, telling stories, discussing the cruise and ship, telling about our previous days in port and getting to know each other really well. The kids played and had a great time and Sakari and Kia's daughter had a blast. I felt like I've known them forever.

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A few kite surfers showed up at our beach too.

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The girls..

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Building sand castles...or forts...or mermaid houses...who knows

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We decided it was getting a little late and we should probably go check out the snorkeling. Since Kia has a munchkin too little to snorkel yet, we would rotate going out (even though the hubby fell in love with "little dude" and would have gladly watched him while we all went, but mommy refused) we decided that me and the girls would go out first.


Now I've been in situations before that I have been out snorkeling and my battery goes dead. I have a huge stock pile of 1) batteries and 2) sd cards...I will NEVER run out of anything again (not to mention back up camera's as well).


We were going quite a way down the beach, so the last thing I wanted to do was get out there and my battery go dead. I decided to replace the battery with a fresh one before leaving. For some reason, Sakari decided that she didn't want to even take her new camera with her.


We headed down the beach to the rocky area to go in.

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I hope you enjoyed that last beach picture...because guess's the last you'll get!


We head out into the water and it was rocky in areas and you really had to be careful with the waves crashing and making some areas kinda dangerous to be in due to the water going up and down and the rocks sticking up. We would wind in and out of paths of rocks, trying to make our way over toward the boats/snorkeling. The water was a little stirred up in that area, due to the waves, and the sun wasn't really bright and shining at that point, I find some coral...point, shoot, nothing. Wait what? What just happened? Over and over I battery is DEAD!! Are you serious? I charged all of these batteries last night...but this one is dead. Man, I was really wishing I would have just kept my other battery in there. I just couldn't believe this. Then knowing Sakari didn't have her camera either. Ugh!


We continued to wind around the rocks, going further and further out. Things got a little better with the snorkeling and we were close to being where the other snorkelers were, but I honestly didn't feel it was the greatest snorkeling. Yes there were some big coral pieces, but for the most part, I was just seeing a lot of rocks, small fish and sea urchins. I was not thrilled, I was not happy about the camera, I was not happy about the waves throwing me around, Michaela was struggling with a snorkel that was letting in water (I believe it's not a dry snorkel and that was the problem), she kept asking me to fix it, I felt so helpless and thought it's probably from all the waves and getting into the snorkel from the top. I could only suggest "hold your breath if you can". Sigh. I felt so bad.


We did see some really big brain coral, and lots of fire coral...eek! There was mostly surgeon fish and grunts, but I did see a white fish with 3 black spots. I have no idea what it was and I still need to try to look it up....if only I could have gotten a picture of it! Darn. I did see some of the biggest squirrel fish that I think I have ever seen and a lot all in one place. They were amazing.


Finally I think we had all had enough and turned around. We found a few sea urchins (the "friendly" kind) and the girls swam back to our place in front of the chairs..wait, what chair??? They wanted to show everyone and get their pictures taken with them... since I didn't have a working camera at that time and needed another battery.

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I would find that the guys came by and collected all the umbrella's and chairs!!! I guess the hubs and Kia wasn't too happy about that because we only had them for about 2 hours. They ask the name of the company that runs it and the workers reply was "I don't know, I'm new"....yea whatever...get the heck outta here with that story! looks like we were forced to sit in the beach and sand for the rest of the time.

So after returning, and putting another battery in my camera, then getting pictures of the girls holding the sea urchins, thrilled decided not to go out and experience the "tossing of the humans around the rocks" experience and I figured it was time to take some pictures of my scuba girl before I forgot. Once again, this is something new for me and I needed to remember this each time.


The sun was starting to set a little and I thought this was the perfect opportunity.

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I thought this looked cool how the red bouncing off the scuba girl made the sand look reddish in front of her.

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I noticed the lighthouse off in the distance. I was thinking what great pictures that would make from up there.

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The beach was starting to clear out a lot (although I didn't think it really got that crowded some other popular beaches do), so it was the perfect opportunity to take more pictures of the area.

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This is the restaurant area. I thought it was pretty nice up there and it was also an actual building with a deck and picnic tables to eat at. I know this beach used to be just a beach with no amenities and this place was recently built. But I didn't picture it being this nice. I had just pictured a little shack with food.

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I always love finding rocks by the shore and taking pictures of the water crashing over them.

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Seeing a cactus on the beach is a new experience for me. It seemed odd, but yet very cool.

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There's our chairs!!!

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About this time, thrilled's son, Xander, has discovered that he buried one of his trucks in the sand and he can't find it now. The hubs and thrilled started dancing in the sand and praying to the sand Gods to help them find it. I found it so amusing the way they looked at the time and wish I had captured more from the beginning when it absolutely looked like more of some ritual they were doing. Dragging feet, bouncing up and down, going in circles in about a 10' radius around our camp...great times! As long as they were moving, Xander knew they were on the hunt...although they were just talking up a storm during the whole time, but movement meant they were still looking.


We all joined in on the hunt, but it was a hopeless case. The truck was gone. Sucked up by the sand gods, only to be found by the chair people some other day when they go to dig a hole for another cruisers umbrella.



The sun was continuing to set and it was beautiful out here. Too bad the clouds obstructed the sunset some. I can't believe we stayed this long. I'm so glad thrilled was with us because otherwise, I would have probably left by now. I'm not used to sitting on a beach and watching the sunset. Great experience.

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You don't get many opportunities to take sunset pictures with palm trees when you are on a cruise and I was taking every opportunity I could.

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We noticed that the restaurant area was closed up now and a swarm of beach-goers were heading to the parking lot. There were a lot of taxi's coming and going. Awesome. We started to slowly pack up our things.

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We had to drag the girls out of the water...never an easy thing to do for me, but I left that up to thrilled because I knew if her daughter came, mine would follow...and it worked. But only for a minute and then they both went back out. LOL


But, eventually we were all packed up and headed for the parking lot. It was getting dark and the sun had set behind the clouds.

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Once we got to the parking lot, there were only a handful of people there. There were a few kids on a 4 wheeler and 2 teen girls just sitting around.

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We seen a taxi van pull up and a family getting in. The hubby went over to ask the driver about more taxis and I think he replied they usually aren't coming here this late unless someone called for them. He ask the driver if he could call a taxi for us and he said he would. However, a taxi never came.


We knew it was probably a good thing that we still had about 4 1/2 hours before we were actually considered a "no-show" back on the ship (it was almost 7pm).


We started to worry...just a little, because we weren't really seeing any more traffic coming and going at Arashi. The only traffic we seen coming completely passed us by and was heading toward the lighthouse. I guess if I'm going to be stranded, this is definitely the port I would want to be left behind.


After awhile, we ask the teen girls if they were waiting on a taxi and they said no. I ask if they were locals and they said yes. So the interrogation began..."Do taxi's come here this late?" "Where can we get a taxi?" "Where is the bus stop?" "How far from here is the main road?" "How far is the next beach where the bus stops?" "Where are you parents...don't you know bad things can happen to pretty young teens at beaches when they are alone?" just kidding, I didn't say that, but thought it.


I wasn't getting very encouraging answers from them. They didn't think cabs came there that late. They don't think the bus runs there, but it does down the street. They tried to give walking directions to the bus stop, but they were a little confused about which way to turn....wait, you live here? I ask if they could call a cab...since one of them had a cell phone in her hand. She said "I don't know how to do that". Ugh! She did tell me that if I had a number, I was welcome to use her phone, but how would I know numbers to cabs.... (then it hit me just last night...the cab guy gave me his card when he first dropped us off at the beach and told me I could call him for a ride back if needed...I didn't even remember this at the time and could have called him...I just wasn't thinking straight I guess).


So as desperation set in, the hubby found a lady walking in the parking lot to her car and explained our situation. She said she was happy to take us to the cruise port, but she had a very small car and there was a rule of no more than 5 people. Is this a rule for everyone and just not taxis? She said she could call her boyfriend, who had a truck and had just left the beach, to turn around and come back to pick the rest of us up. How nice is that???


About that time...the bus pulled up and a sigh of relief came over us! The hubs ran up to confirm that it was a bus, going to the cruise terminal, and we all cheered!

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Then we were off....

Very beautiful homes along the way...

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I made sure to sit on the left side so that I was able to get my picture of the Aruba sign on the way back.


The hubby and I were watching where we were at and then we hit the roundabout and knew it was right after that except.....the bus turned. Wait what? What just happened? He was going a different way! Ugh. I wouldn't get my Aruba sign picture after all. He turned at the shopping mall, that we had planned on going to that night, and was heading toward that little town area.

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However, it was really neat to see that area. It looks like there's a lot to see and do there and plenty of food as well.

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I was actually glad that we went that way when it was all done and over because it made me realize that I would actually really love to come here for a vacation and stay.


The hubby giggled and said "There's your Aruba sign" I took a pic.

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Not the sign I was looking for...but it would have to do.

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There's those little house thingys by the port...anyone know what they are? They would light up different colors and were cute.

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We arrived at our destination and I then realized this was the bus terminal that we would have walked to had we taken the bus earlier that day. Not too bad of a walk and I'll know next time.

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So...which way do we go? The hubs pointed up

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According to my picture time stamp, we were back at the bus terminal by 7:31pm.


We were slowly walking back to the cruise ship, because we really weren't in a hurry (other than being hungry, covered in salt and sand, but that's a part of being beach bums in every port), and I knew I must get my magnet and tee before heading back to the ship.


We searched at the little huts along the way and found a really cute magnet that I felt was a little different than what you see in most ports with the beach scenes.

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Sakari decided she wanted this...

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Some of the stands were open and others were closed.

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It's too bad that the stand that makes these were closed because I probably would have bought one of these cheesy little souvenirs. I thought they were adorbs!

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Oh my gosh! Tell me how fun these would be!!!

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We headed in to the terminal and on a hunt for a I <3 Aruba tee. I managed to fine one, for a decent price compared to other ports (just $14) and it also came with a "free sticker"

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After I made my purchases, we came out of the store inside the building and noticed there were a lot of people in the hall. We would find out this was actually the line to get back to the ship. Yikes! Everyone decided this was the perfect time to go back? Come on people, you have another 3 1/2 hours of free time....go be free!

We decided to get in line and head to the ship and Sakari begged to go over and take her own pictures of the sparkly costumes again.

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The line moved super quick and before you knew it, we were on the ship again and headed to our room for showers and a change of fresh clothes.


We headed up to the buffet, hoping it wasn't closed yet...and it wasn't...thank goodness because we hadn't ate since breakfast that morning.


We were done eating by 9:30pm and decided to head up on deck to get some pictures.

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What is this castle looking thing in the picture below? The lights on it changed colors constantly as well. Aruba is such a colorful place...both night and day.

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Here comes the party bus...they made it back in time...blowing horns and music blasting.

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Tonights buffet dinner was "ok", but they had the same noodles they had the previous night. Hmm


Also, some of the food was bland again. Blah

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For the first time I tried bread pudding. I have always wondered what it was and gave it a shot. It was super yummy!

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At this point, we really didn't feel like heading back off the ship for 1 1/2 hours and thrilled had told me about a hypnotist show that was going on that night. She explained that she tried this once and it just didn't work on her. I just knew I wanted to see the show and made the executive decision we would be staying on the ship.


We hung out on the deck until it was time to go to the hypnotist show at 10:15pm.

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It was pretty funny and to my surprise...when they ask people from the audience to come up and take a chair if you wanted to participate...guess who shows up? THRILLED. I was "thrilled" to see her up there and shouted with joy! Sakari was excited too and jumped up and down.


The show was hilarious and there were some that it worked on and others that it didn't. When it wasn't working on some, they were removed from the stage and replaced with new people. I knew that Kia said it did not work on her in the past, but she sure looked like she was falling into a trance. Then after awhile, she stood up and walked off. DARNIT! After talking to her later, she said she was almost there and she spoke to the hypnotist after the show about why she was having a hard time....I'll let her chime in with the details.


I always wondered if this was a show and people were pre-selected to go up there and told what to do. We would later run in to a guy that was up there and he confirmed he had no memory of what happened. Later in the cruise, we would run into someone else that also said the same thing.


We pulled out at 11:30pm and were on our way to the next port. After the show, we decided to head back to the room and pack for our next exciting day in Curacao. We would have to get up bright and early so I knew we needed our rest.


Sakari said "but I need to draw" I told her she has 5 minutes and the light was going off. She scribbled something real quick and the lights went out.

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