Saturday, May 10, 2014

Aruba - Part 3


After breakfast at the Palm Restaurant (which had finally reopened - Yay!), we took off in the rental car armed with two maps and some general instructions from Google. The people who said that there aren’t many street signs in Aruba weren’t kidding! We pretty much had to guess what roads we were on. But we only had to turn around three times, so I thought we did pretty well. :-)  It’s a small island – you can’t stay lost for very long.

Our first stop was the Casibari Rock Formations, a pile of gigantic boulders rising up from the flat landscape. The Aruban government had added walking paths and gardens around the rocks, giving the area a peaceful feel, especially since Ron and I were the only ones there at that hour of the morning. At the top of the rocks, we had a great view of Hooiberg, Aruba’s second highest peak. But the wind up there – EEK! I was too afraid to stand up so I took my pictures sitting down on the rocks.

Casibari Rock Formations

Next we were off to the Donkey Sanctuary. Donkeys were brought to Aruba 500 years ago by the Spanish to provide transportation. When they were no longer needed, they were left to fend for themselves, sometimes getting hit by cars or mistreated by people who thought they were a nuisance. The Donkey Sanctuary was founded in 1997 to care for and protect the last remaining donkeys.

We had stopped at a grocery store to pick up a couple of bags of carrots. As soon as we walked in the sanctuary gate, the donkeys knew we had food. We quickly had many donkey friends. We fed the donkeys from the porch of the visitor center where the donkeys lined up at the railing, jostling for position. It was hard to keep track of which donkeys I had already fed. I asked the volunteer how she could tell the donkeys apart and she laughed and said that they would move their mouths around in different ways to fool you into thinking they were a different donkey. Pretty smart. :-)  I loved their long eyelashes and their long, funny ears.

Once the carrots were gone, we made our donation to the sanctuary and I bought a t-shirt from the little shop. I really wanted the shirt that said “DNKY” (ha!) but they didn't have it in my size.  So I settled for one with an outline of a donkey instead.

Donkey Sanctuary Aruba

feeding the donkeys

donkey ears

Donkey Sanctuary Aruba

We drove on to the Bushiribana gold mill ruins on the rugged and wild northeast side of the island. Several tour groups were already there, so we decided to order a hamburger from a little concession truck (conveniently parked next to the ruins) until the crowds thinned. While we ate, we chatted with one of the tour guides. We were starting to see why Aruba was called “One Happy Island”. Everyone was so friendly!

Once the tour groups had gone, we climbed around the rocky ruins of the 19th century mill. Several walls still remained standing and it was neat to look out through the windows at the crashing sea. I just wished it had been a sunnier day, but even under the hazy, grey sky, the landscape was amazing. All along the coastline, there were hundreds of small piles of rocks, a “wishing stone garden”. Tradition has it that if you stack seven stones on top of each other and the stack is still there the next time you came back, then you get your wish.
Our last stop was the Baby Bridge, a natural limestone bridge carved out by years of pounding waves. There used to be a much larger bridge but it collapsed in 2005 (fortunately when no one was on it). Ron walked out across the Baby Bridge but I was too nervous. Hey, if the big one could fall down… The huge waves were really beautiful, though. It was Ron’s favorite part of our tour.

Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins

Susan in window

gold mill window

Aruba wishing stones

Ron taking picture

Aruba Natural Bridge

That night we had dinner at El Olvido, the Mexican restaurant. I had ceviche, tortilla soup (which oddly came without any tortillas) and the spicy and delicious Shrimp Enchipotladas. I was thoroughly enjoying the seafood in Aruba!


The week went by so fast! We spent our last day hanging out under our palapa and floating on a raft in the pool. It was just a totally relaxing day.

That night we had 6:30 reservations for a romantic dinner at Passions on the Beach. We caught a taxi to Eagle Beach at 5:30 so I’d have time to take some pictures of the famous divi divi trees before dinner. The divi divi trees are an Aruban icon and a natural compass, always pointing to the southwest due to the constant trade winds. I couldn’t go home without seeing the trees!
At Passions, we had a “front row” table where we could watch the sailboats on their sunset cruises and a wedding taking place on the beach. After it got dark, the tables were lit with tiki torches and color-changing lamps. Ron and I shared a spring roll appetizer and I ordered the special of the day, grilled grouper with shrimp and scallops. The ambiance was perfect and the food was great, but I had a little sticker shock from the prices. It made me remember why I prefer all-inclusives. We decided to forgo dessert and headed back to the Occidental for chocolate martinis at the lobby bar.

Divi Divi trees Aruba

Ron and divi divi tree

Passions on the Beach

dinner on the beach

Susan at dinner

Passions on the Beach martini

beach tiki torch

Passions on the Beach tables

Before bed, we took one last walk down to the Hyatt, this time picking up a roll from the buffet for the swans.
Ayo, Aruba!  Thank you for the warm and windy welcome!


  1. You've done a great job of capturing the essence of Aruba!

  2. The donkeys are so cute! The one looking straight at you reminds me of my doggie Callie, all nose and hope.