Well, we are coming to the end of our amazing holiday of a lifetime. Only 2 more islands to go. The first of these was Aruba, another of my favourite places due to the vibrant colours and happy people. The weather didn’t hurt either.
We had tried to book an excursion on a boat where there was a rope swing out into the sea and scuba diving but unfortunately we got in too late and the tour was full. However later we went ashore for a little bit of shopping and what turned out to be an ice cream extravaganza.
We met up with the Perrymans after lunch and decided to have a mooch around the shops and stalls ashore. There were so many wares on display outside it was difficult to tell which shop they belonged to and there were times when there was no assistant in the shop we were in because they were taking money in another shop for the owner there. A very strange but trusting way of doing business.
First of all we went into a shop that sold alcohol and much to our delight they had rum in every flavour imaginable (including our favourite tipple, cherry) at a ridiculously cheap price. Needless to say we stocked up and then realised that we would have to carry about 12 bottles with us. The shop assistant kindly let us leave the drink there until we were ready to board the boat. So off we went, in the blistering heat along the main road where covered stalls had set out their stock. Everything from coloured flowers pots and fridge magnets to pieces of furniture made from gnarled varnished wood. Lots and lots of t-shirts, dresses and bra tops were on display but oddly enough none of them had any shorts for boys which is what I was after.
Trevor had wandered off and came back looking very excited. He told us to follow him and led us round the corner to an amazing ice cream emporium called Lecca Lecca. Although I am not a mad lover of ice cream there was no way I could resist the bright colours of all the different flavours. All seven of us rushed in and up to the counter to see what they had to offer. So many flavours, rum and raisin, orange sherbert, chocolate chip (white and milk), pineapple, mint, mango, coffee, tiramisu, bubblegum, cookies and cream and even carrot sorbet. I really could go on. There were sprinkles, nuts, sweets and sauces to add if you wished too. Just remembering this fabulous shop is making my mouth water.
Once we had had our fill we wandered back out into the heat and carried on shopping. Aruba is so lively and probably the most modern island we visited. The streets appeared to be newly paved and the shops fronts were pretty ornate. The roads were wide and busy with cars and buses and Caribbean music was being pumped out of shops and stalls alike. It really was a place where you could indulge all your senses.
After a few purchases we made our way back to the boat for pre-dinner drinks, not forgetting to collect our rum. I was sorry to leave Aruba and would have liked another day there. But, the next day we were in Curacao and, much to Sams delight had a date with some dolphins.
Conversely, Curacao was the island that I liked the least. It was very run down and unkempt and seemed dowdy in comparison to Aruba and Barbados where bright colours and music were all pervading. The people didn’t look as happy that we were there and our welcome onto the island was all but nonexistent. But, we were going to play with dolphins so we put that to one side and looked forward to the trip.
After a bus ride of about 20 minutes we pulled into a park and were let out, with strict instructions to be back in 3 hours. We were then separated into group and led into a theatre where we were shown a safety video. After a bit of hanging around we were taken outside to see the dolphins and their trainers. We were then split into smaller groups and assigned a particular marine mammal. Ours was called Buscoo and had a broken fin from getting caught in a boats propeller when she was out in the open sea. We waited around some more and finally we met Buscoo’s trainer and got into the water. We stood in a line on a ledge about waist-deep in the water and Buscoo swam past us so we could stroke and tickle her. The trainer got her to do some tricks and gave us the commands she recognised so that she would clap her fins on our command. After about 15 minutes a photographer came along and took photos of us kissing the dolphin and some of her kissing us, a weird experience being kissed by a fish. (Yes, I know a dolphin is not a fish, but it certainly felt fishy when she kissed me).
Once we left the water we still had about 45 minutes to wander around and look at the other water creatures in display pools and then just before we departed we watched a dolphin show where all the inhabitants got to show off their skills. It was a great experience, one that Sam will treasure forever I hope.
Happy and tired we boarded our bus back to the boat. That night at dinner we felt a little sad that we were now at the end of our cruise and we were on our way back to Puerto Rico to begin our mammoth journey home.
Next time, our last day at sea and trip back to Blighty.
Arrr ye be walkin the plank