Saturday, February 9— Oranjestad, Aruba

The Norwegian Gem docked in Oranjestad, Aruba, at approximately 8 AM. The island is one of three islands comprising the Dutch Antilles, aka ABCs of which Aruba is the “A”. I visited here in my former life in 1983; little has changed on this flat, arid island. Lacking a fresh water source, potable water is generated be a desalination plant.

Seen on a short walk in Aruba

Kay joined the Natural Wonders excursion, a guided tour of Oranjestad, Aruba, this morning while I walked along the pier-side shopping area; prices were generally much higher than in the US. A summary of her excursion follows.

“Our tour guide/bus driver, Fabio, was a native of Aruba and perhaps the best guide during this entire cruise.  He told us about the socioeconomic aspects of island life; some things I found especially interesting were that their socialized medicine system was successful from their perspective, the economy is based 96 percent on tourism, the unemployment rate is 0.8 percent, potable water is from a desalination system, the island is incredibly clean (fines for littering are strongly enforced), and there are many historic Dutch architectural homes and buildings on the island.

The tour included a stop at an enclosed butterfly refuge. The second stop was on the northeast side of the island where it is always windy with large, crashing waves. There was a natural bridge and several ‘private coves with beaches’ on that part of the island. The last stop was at Aruba’s main aloe farm which included a processing plant and museum.

I had no idea before this trip that Aruba was only 13 miles from Venezuela.  I asked if they had any trouble with asylum seekers or refugees.  He said no; they were a closed island and accepted no refugees. Aruba is a desert climate island, naturally arid except for the months of October through December when 15-25 inches of rain can occur each year.  There are several cacti varieties that are native plants and any trees look to be leaning southwest because of the prevailing northeast winds.”

As Kay continued her excursion, I returned to the ship for hot tub, lounge, and reading time.

The rest of the afternoon and evening was a repeat of that of previous days.

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