Chris and I spent our honeymoon in Aruba. We picked the island for its white beaches, blue waters, and reliable weather during an iffy season. We left with visions of spending our days lazing with books and mixed drinks on the beach, and returned with memories of threatening skies and crossword puzzles in the hotel room. Turns out 2009 was a dry year for Aruba, and we were making up for it. Still, the vacation as a whole was great and filled its purpose: relaxation after a year of wedding craziness.
Here are just a few things we took away from our stay.
1. You can drink the water. Arubans love to stress this point, in part because I’m sure that people often arrive with visions of Montezuma’s Revenge a la Mexico, but in part because the water really is fabulous. Their desalination plant constitutes a surprising chunk of their economy and produces water that is so clean and pure-tasting, you’ll want to import it.
2. You’ll feel right at home. Aruba is replete with restaurants and shops conspicuously aimed at drawing in American tourists. “Sopranos? I love The Sopranos! Obviously we should eat here.”
And what paradise would be complete without a Benihana and a Hooters? In one building.
3. Two words: donkey sanctuary. Unfortunately, they’re extremely shy.
4. Even on an island getaway, eating at a churrascaria will make you feel like this:
5. Bananas Foster is the best breakfast. Ever.
6. If you drink more than a couple mimosas at brunch, be prepared to have the waitress follow you out carrying pitcher of orange juice in one hand and a bottle of champagne in the other, asking if you’d like one “to-go.”
7. Unless you are the 15-year-old boy vacationing with his parents, off-road Jeep tours are frightening, nauseating, and will have you seeing stars before you actually get to see the sights. Imagine sitting in a red wagon and being drug down a gravel road frequently punctuated with large, sharp rocks. And you don’t go around those rocks. You go over them. All.
8. Snorkeling a shipwreck is just as eerie as it is cool.
9. You can reenter the U.S. carrying up to 10 lbs of hard cheese. I read this in a hotel magazine and promptly secured a 4 ½-pound ball of Edam to stash in my purse. Aruba is a Dutch territory. Bring on the Gouda.
10. And maybe most important of all: Second Dessert. This was a term we coined when it became our nightly routine to order dessert at dinner…and then call down for ice cream sundaes upon returning to our room. I both highly recommend and discourage this activity.