How is Aruba handling COVID-19?

It's been a little over a week since I have been home and I have had a wave of emotions take over me. Honestly, it has taken me by a surprise. When I woke up on my last day in Aruba, I instantly felt sad. As I was packing up my last-minute items, I felt tears rolling down my cheeks. The best word to describe how I was feeling was heartbroken.

When we landed in Charlotte Douglas, of course, I was ecstatic to see my family when picking me up from the airport and so thankful to be with them. But as the hours went on with days passing, my feelings and emotions started to change. I started to feel heartbroken again. It's that kind of sadness where you just stay quiet and want to keep to yourself. Some may even call it depression.

As a few more days passed and I was able to pinpoint why I felt this way. A piece of my heart was left in Aruba. Although I feel sad after every trip, this time it was different. The feeling seemed to linger around. It seems the more I travel the more a piece of my heart is being left making it harder for me to bounce back. Thankfully, I was able to talk it out with Matt and my best friend which helped me feel hopeful again. I am more determined to achieve my goals and ready to put in the work. And who knows, maybe this was a sign...

When it comes to Aruba and how they are handling safety precautions with COVID it's something the United States could learn from. (I am pro mask which is a conversation we can have another day.) Without a doubt, I can say I felt safer in Aruba than at home with how people within the communities and businesses are going about this disease.

My hope in this blog is that I help some people understand it's okay to travel right now, but understand things will be different. While this doesn't apply to every place in the world, I can say without a doubt that Aruba is a safe place to travel. Yes, you will need to be prepared with having mask and understanding you may be asked to do something which isn't being done in the States. (Aka be opened minded when traveling in general and understand that you are the guest within their country/state.)

Like all journeys, we started by arriving to the Charlotte Douglas airport. As you start to approach the doors to enter, you see signs of needing to wear a mask when inside. Some signs even had pictures showing the proper way to wear your mask. (Aka covering nose and mouth.) The mask wasn't a problem for me and only found it a bother when speed walking, so I didn't miss my flight. You are allowed to take the mask off when eating and drinking, but don't abuse that people...even that could be taken away if abused.

When you board the plane, American Airlines gives you a small goodie bag with 1 mini water bottle, a cleaning wipe, and a small package of hand sanitizer. Oh and some kind of plain cookie. I took my own wipes and carried them in my bookbag as I didn't expect the airlines to give wipes. Of course, I wiped everything off. From the walls when at the window seat to the seat belt to the A/C nob. I wiped it all down.

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The flight from Charlotte to Miami was full and there was a body in every seat. To the point where seats got doubled booked leading to a delayed flight. From Miami to Aruba, the flight was pretty full, but there were some empty seats. The flight from Aruba to Charlotte had fewer full seats to where I could have a row to myself and so could my best friend. In all, American Airlines are using the middle seats and flying with a full plane.

When it comes to the mask-wearing, everyone was wearing them from the time we boarded the plane to leave Miami to the time we left Aruba. And the right way at that! (There were signs in multiple places we visited which had signs showing how to properly wear a mask.) Every staff member in the shops and restaurants had their mask on and took safety precautions to the highest standards. I was already a germophobe before COVID, so the extra safety precautions being taken made me feel more comfortable. There were multiple statues and figures that had a mask on. Funny touch Aruba!

Another way Aruba was trying to lessen the spread of COVID was having a set curfew for everyone. The curfew started at 12 am (midnight) and ended at 5 am. On Halloween night around 11:30 pm, we were sitting outside on the balcony and saw cars pulling up to the beach. It sounded like a party was getting started, but within 30 minutes or less, cops were pulling up. I am guessing they made everyone leave as the music stopped, but was too dark to tell what was happening.

When it comes to everyday stores like the grocery store, they had taken safety precautions to the highest level. We shopped at Super Foods which was only a short drive from our Airbnb. (Covering budget tips for Aruba in a separate blog, stay tuned!) Super Foods had covered every angle of ensuring safety it seemed like. Before even entering the building, we were told that every shopper who enters has to have a cart. After getting your cart, you stand in line to wait until it is your turn to sanitize your hands by the security guy standing at the front door. They were not letting people in who did not have a cart per person and imagine if someone refused to sanitize their hands, they wouldn't let them in. To sanitize your hands, you simply put your hands into this open box which misted hand sanitizer as you stepped on the bar to turn it on. It was pretty cool!

When I first heard of everyone needing a cart, my first thought was that's a lot of hands touching the handlebar. (I should have been thinking how busy the store is going to be with all the customers pushing around a cart, silly me.) However, as I was walking out and heading to the car was when I learned how the carts are being cleaned. I saw that these carts are going through a mini car wash as I called it. The carts were pushed through a sprayer and it lightly sprayed them with disinfecting spray. In my head, I compared this way to how I have seen carts cleaned in North Carolina. Seems most stores in NC use 1 rag to clean carts which after a while that rag becomes soaked. So isn't that just moving dirt from one cart to another?

One of the restaurants we visited near Baby Beach called O'Neils Caribbean Kitchen, took safety precautions to a whole other level. Before entering the restaurant, you had to wash your hands using their outdoor sink with soap and paper towels provided. (The water was being emptied into their garden bed which I thought was a cool idea.) After entering and being seated, one of the servers set a blue notebook on the table which had names, dates, and telephone number's written down. (I was thinking it was to join their email list or something like that. Silly me again.)

We weren't given an explanation of the book at first but learned that every customer was signing this book just in case a positive case was reported. They were going to call the customers who could have been in contact with that person to let them know. I thought this was super kind and generous of that restaurant. Again, nothing I have heard about back home.

After signing the book, one server took the blue notebook and started spraying the book down, while the other server was cleaning the pen we used. And they did this for every customer that signed that book. Just went to show me how well Aruba is going about ensuring everyone including themselves is staying safe during these times.

In all, I felt safer in Aruba than I do in the United States when it comes to COVID and the spreading of it. I mean the level that Aruba took safety precautions, is something I don't think I will ever forget. And I'll repeat it; the United States could learn a thing or two from Aruba on how to go about safety precautions. Aruba knew when they opened back up on June 15th, they needed a way to protect the people living on the island while ensuring tourists feel safe to come back. (Aruba's main industry is tourism, so many of the locals rely on this for their income.)

In order for the small local businesses to feed their families, they needed to stay in business. It was sad to see how many empty shops there were and seeing the cruise ships just docked. The place we got our empanadas from is right across the street from these cruise ships and can only imagine they relied on that source for a good portion of their income.

If you are someone wondering if you should travel now or wait to see what 2021 brings, TRAVEL NOW! Or at least travel to Aruba. Aruba would be the perfect spot to go to unwind and relax and not stress out about COVID. If I could pick my family up and move there for a while, I would have already done it. That's a promise!

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And there you have it, folks, how Aruba is handling and operating on a daily basis while protecting everyone who sees its beauty. I am hoping to visit Aruba again and could even be within a few months. That's how much I fell in love with Aruba!

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Hello Everyone, my name is Sara Elizabeth and a full-time working mom and a full-time student!

Over the years I have fallen in love with  traveling and exploring the great states of the United States! This passion grew from understanding how to find good deals on airline flights which have been the reason for many of my travel adventures. This journey has led me to find "that travel deal" for domestic and international flights. These are those kinds of deals that have people asking "How did you find them so low?" ...Well, to those asking that question, follow along this adventure of mine to learn my methods for finding that perfect travel deal. 

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