I am back and super motivated to start writing again. It's been a while since I felt the urge to want to write and so thankful, I went to Aruba for a 2nd time. After visiting Aruba about a month or so ago, I came home in a depressed stage which took me weeks to come out of. I mean how could I leave the place called One Happy Island and come home heartbroken. I told people it was like I left a piece of my heart in Aruba and I felt heartbroken to be home. Looking back, I believe it came from being so focused on getting content for my blog and trying to get the “right photo” that it seemed to take over the trip. I usually return home feeling refreshed and recharged, but that was the first time feeling like that after coming home.
Before leaving for the 2nd Aruba trip, I decided I would take in everything Aruba had to offer and not focus on photos or content at all. My love for traveling is exploring new places and trying to explore the destination like a local. Those are the memories I wanted to capture. I went with Matt (my husband) and meet up with my best friend who was already there. From the moment the plane doors open, you can just smell the salt air and then greeted by the ocean view when departing the plane. Since Aruba is a smaller island (20 miles long and 6 miles across), you can see the ocean in almost every direction. And once you walk out of the airport, you are welcomed with Aruba’s windy, coastal breeze that leaves you driving around with all the windows down.
The Airbnb I picked was across the street from Mangel Halto beach which is about 20 minutes from the airport and on the opposite side of the tourist area. From the moment we turned down the road and saw the beach, we fell in love. Mangel Halto beach is that kind of beach that takes your breath away at first glance and leaves you thinking “how is this even real?”. The view is something you would expect to see in a Caribbean magazine.
The Airbnb was an apartment/studio-style building which was the perfect size for just the two of us. The view from the living room was something I could wake up to every day and never be tired of it. You open the curtains and instantly see the beautiful turquoise water and hints of coral reef. Take me back already! I am posting the Airbnb link below if interested in booking this place. You won't regret it and the host, Maria, is a gem!
As an Airbnb Associate, I earn when you book through this link.
Another thing that makes Aruba special to me is the locals. All the locals we have met were the friendliest and most caring people who all seemed to live by the one happy island lifestyle. Putting that lifestyle into my own words is best explained like this…
One happy island is the way of life for the Aruba locals and something we heard often. The background comes from the island being so diverse (depending on who you ask the different nationalities range from 65% to 90%) and how everyone has managed to get along. Every time Matt and I discuss “one happy island” we seem to always bring it back to the people of Aruba have common sense. That plain and simple. Anything I asked a local a question, 9 times out of 10 they would respond with "it's one happy island". For me, this is something I want to teach my daughter. Honestly, it's something the US could learn from. While stress and changes seem to happen in life, it’s how we handle it, and everyone involved that defines us.
With being in Aruba not so long ago, I didn’t expect to see many changes when I returned the 2nd time. However, like many other assumptions, I was wrong. One of the biggest changes I saw was more shops were closed. Even my favorite empanada place closed due to the lack of tourism and not being able to financially stay open. It was sad to see and hear. While it seemed there were more people in Aruba the 2nd time, the numbers don’t even compare to what it used to be. When I spoke with a local (runs tours) about their business and how it has been impacted, they were used to seeing 60-80 people per day. Now they are lucky if they see 8 or more people a day. Some businesses are slowly opening back up with limited hours, so I recommend calling the business to ask for hours vs. looking online. We tried to visit a casino on our last day and saw online it closed at 4 am, however, when arriving, we learned it closes super early because of the Aruba curfew. From my understanding, the curfew is 7 pm to be off the beaches and 11 pm to be back in Airbnb.
If you are reading this and thinking about how I could travel during these times, let me say, Aruba is handling COVID better than the US. I will continue to say that I felt safer In Aruba than in the US. Yup, I said what I said. Everyone wears a mask and wears it the right way over there. No halfway wearing a mask with people's noses sticking out, hand sanitizer is required when entering all the public buildings, and some places like the grocery store have security at the front door ensuring everyone follows their policies. Tables were 6 feet away from each other in the restaurants and signs everywhere informing people where to walk and which direction to go. For me, the biggest difference is the fact that everyone was wearing the mask the right way.
Aruba is that kind of place that welcomes you with open arms and makes you want to extend your stay. Funny story, the neighbors beside us in the Airbnb just extended their trip by 3 more weeks when we arrived. It was something we heard a few times from people actually. Want to learn more about what I did while in Aruba? Stay tuned for my "What to do in Aruba" blog coming soon!