The hellish holiday trip home saw me going from Venezuela, to Curacao, to Aruba, to Atlanta, to Houston–my final destination. Now, I had to do the reverse trip.
This time around, I had a 20 hour layover in Aruba, an economical AirBnB reservation (Aruba may be “One Happy Island,” but it’s also One Expensive Island), and an iron will. After my panic attack-inducing experience at Aruba’s international airport, I was not looking forward to stepping foot there again.
Yet, I’m extremely happy I did.
The main item that made my jaunt in Aruba so renewing was the people, plain and simple. I’m from the South, but Arubans take hospitality to a whole new level.
Let me count the ways:
1.) When I arrived–50 pound luggage in hand–to my hostess’s house, she and a friend greeted me at the taxi cab door. I honestly drew back in surprise. I’m not used to people opening doors for me.
2.) The cozy apartment I rented was perfect. There was enough food to get me started (cheese, eggs, milk, fruit, etc…) and all the cookware I needed. The glass of wine while chatting in the backyard didn’t hurt anything either.
3.) The conversation with my cosmopolitan and extremely warm hostesses was great. These were women of the African Diaspora who had lived in Canada, The Netherlands, the US, etc… and spoke multiple languages. I mean, people don’t bat an eye at a person who speaks four of five languages. It’s expected even. Dinner at a local eatery, delectably seasoned shrimp in a tomato sauce, beautifully capped off my first few hours in San Nicolas, Aruba–a historically Black area.
4.) When I somehow managed to get lost returning from Baby Beach, the bus driver radioed his boss to come and pick me up from a non-stop. You read that correctly. I’m always getting lost. I have a penchant for it, and I honestly don’t know why. This was the first time though utter strangers did so much to help me get back on track. Eventually, my hostess and her father came and picked me up.
5.) When my computer crashed and I was beginning to panic because I knew there would be no way in hell it could be quickly fixed in Venezuela, my hostess called her computer guy. A beautiful Venezuelan woman came and checked out my baby (aka my computer). We chatted in Spanish and English, and I was inspired by a woman in tech. Yes!
In the end, I’m more than happy that I stayed in San Nicolas, Aruba. I wasn’t pleased with my first AirBnB experience, but this one made it all better. In the end, I felt so fed and nourished I felt strong.
Aruba, please forgive me for cursing you. We’ll have to meet again.
Side note: the Aruba International Airport does not have lockers to store your luggage. You’ll have to lug it with you if your airline, like mine, has a limit on how early you can check your bags.