Aruba: The Island in the Right Place

Sign warning of the power of the trade winds in Aruba.
to West Punt
Rough Atlantic Ocean at the northern tip of Aruba.
Menu of the day
Menu of the day, written in color on slate.
Conviviality in Palm Beach
Lively patrons at a Palm Beach beachfront bar
jolly pirates
The sailboat maneuvered by the Jolly Pirates of Palm Beach.
The Alto Vista Chapel
Dogs sleep, protected from the wind, at the entrance to the chapel of Alto Vista.
Altar Vista Alta
Altar of the oldest church in Aruba.
Cross of Via Dolorosa Alto Vista
Cruz signals one of the Via Crucis stations in Alto Vista.
fruity cactus
Bright flowers contrast with the prickly green of one of Aruba's countless cacti.
Cactus core on the north coast of Aruba.
shades of aruba
Mobile home and pick up, but close to the California Lighthouse.
California II Lighthouse
Cacti surround Aruba's California Lighthouse.
The California Lighthouse
Cactus also around Aruba's northernmost lighthouse.
The Fofoti trees
Aruba's most iconic trees lean into the water.
Deceased Cute
A fluffy tree felled by the waves of the Atlantic.
The Caribbean of Aruba
Speedboats off the beach lined with Palm Beach hotels and resorts.
a Melocactus
One of the most dangerous mines and plant traps in Aruba.
Conviviality by the Sea
Bar customers and catamaran about to depart.
Cups in the Wind
Tops of coconut trees bent by the strong and constant wind.
Caribbean beach
The attractive hues of the Caribbean Sea in northwest Aruba.
It is believed that the Caquetío natives called him oruba, or “well situated island”. Frustrated by the lack of gold, the Spanish discoverers called it a “useless island”. As we travel through its Caribbean summit, we realize how much more sense Aruba's first baptism always made.

The trade winds explain a lot.

They are residents of the parched south of the Caribbean Sea. They blow with such vigor that they undo the few clouds that venture there.

This is one of the reasons why, over Aruba, the sky remains clear and blue, because the sun shines with tropical power and contributes to making Aruba the “Happy Island”, as it is also known.

Aruba, Netherlands Antilles, ABC, Caribbean Sea

Half an hour after leaving the capital Orangestad, we arrive at Eagle Beach, on the edge of the Bubali Bird Sanctuary.

We turn west and towards the seaside. Jonathan, the guide who was leading us, parks on the side of an uneven sand.

From the Fofoti Zigzag Trees to the Sasariwichi Dunes

A limestone rock threshold separates the sand from the Caribbean Sea.

The protection it affords from the Atlantic fury and the gale against the direction of the surf smooth the sea. They turn it into an emerald lake.

Aruba, Netherlands Antilles, ABC, fototi

The expressions of the trades do not stop there.

Two almost twin trees stand out from the sand, with twisted trunks in a strange contortion.

On an island full of cacti and thorny bushes, these are the fometi trees (conocarpus erectus) and its counterparts in the interior divide divide (watapanas), have become emblematic, an unavoidable symbol of Aruba.

Over time, the natives still got used to using them as a compass. Today, they continue to point to the Southwest, so that utility remains intact.

In a few minutes, the beach is composed. A few bathers sprawl out on chairs, sheltered from the wind, with their backs to the sea and a rare, shortened rainbow.

From Eagle Beach, we go around the Bubali Sanctuary. We progress towards the northern domain of Arasji, passing through salt pans and other beaches, Hadicurari, Malmok, Boca Catalina and Arashi, the latter at the entrance to the vastness of the Sasariwichi dunes that extends to the northwest tip of the island.

Aruba, Netherlands Antilles, ABC, California Lighthouse

The California Lighthouse Nautical Monument and the Cactus Forest that Surrounds it

We detour to the high middle of the peninsula.

From there, a six-storey lighthouse emerges, crowned by a reinforced bell against the wind that, at that height, is blowing more furiously than ever.

The lighthouse was inaugurated in 1916. The name it bears has a nautical and tragic reason for being.

Honors the steam"California” which, on the 23rd of September 1891, shaken by the treacherous currents and the swell off the coast, ended up sinking.

The navigation of those who visit the lighthouse proves to be complicated. Too many bathing tourists come in flip-flops or similar fragile footwear.

They come across a ground of sharp coral rock, as if that weren't enough, full of cacti of different species.

Aruba, Netherlands Antilles, ABC, cactus

We stay on the lookout.

We avoid the opuntia, the devil's fig trees popularized by guides as Mickey Mouse cactus due to the rounded leaf tips, similar to the Disney character's ears.

Above these, hedges of the ever-erect cadushi, (cereus repandus), the predominant ones in Aruba, as in neighboring Curaçao e Bonaire.

At ground level, authentic vegetable mines, there are still the most dangerous ones, the peach cactus, equipped with large sharp spines, arranged in a star shape.

We circled around the lighthouse, determined to photograph it surrounded by cacti.

Completing the mission costs us time we didn't expect to remove spikes from the soles of hiking sandals, feet and hands.

We return to LGSmith Boulevard, the last paved road north of the lighthouse.

From there, we wander through the sandy and wavy immensity of the Sasariwichi (arashi) dunes, attentive to the flora that decorates them.

Aruba, Netherlands Antilles, ABC, West Punt

Jonathan sees us lost in photos. Rescue us.

It takes us to Boca Westpunt and to the fountain generated by the fury of the waves that break against the jagged slab of the coast.

We had reached the northern end of Aruba and the ABC archipelago.

To the north, just an empty stretch of the Caribbean Sea that stretched close to the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo, in which, by mere coincidence, more than four months ago, we had inaugurated our tour of the Antilles.

The Demand of the Secular Chapel of Alto Vista

The dead end of Aruba forces us to turn around. This time, we went down the east coast, as exposed or more exposed to the Atlantic than Westpunt.

We pass in the vicinity of a Druif Beach, with rough waters, but which, whenever the wind and sea give a truce, turns into an almost turquoise lagoon.

We continued down. We left the Aruba Shack beach and the multicolored Ranchero Curason behind.

Finally, we return to the middle of the island, in search of the Alta Vista area and the Catholic chapel that blesses it.

Aruba, Netherlands Antilles, ABC, Via Dolorosa Cross

If the “California lighthouse was surrounded by an assorted fauna of cacti, the cactus forest around the chapel proved to be even denser.

They formed it, above all cadushi slim and tall.

Some cacti branched out in the form of spearheads, a genetic event that occurs in other cactus species (for example in saguaros of the Sonoran Desert) and which gives them an extra-surreal look.

The wind didn't give much rest in these parts. It made the cacti tremble. It dragged drifting bushes and raised irritating dust.

The western storm was such that it made even a bunch of stray dogs suffer.

Aruba, Netherlands Antilles, ABC, Alto Vista Chapel

The Alto Vista chapel is known as the pilgrims' church. Marks the end of a Painful way dictated by crosses on the homonymous road.

Visitors appear. Believing tourists, not so much true pilgrims. Part of them enters the Labyrinth of Peace drawn on the ground, behind the yellow temple. Others shudder through the unusual carpet of dogs at the door.

They are spread out on the checkered floor and appreciate the statue of Our Lady of the Rosary with the Christ child in her arms, nestled above the altar.

Others still sit down. Whisper your prayers.

One of the Longest Used Continuous Churches in the Caribbean

Aruba, Netherlands Antilles, ABC, Alta Vista chapel altar

The Alto Vista chapel is said to be one of the oldest (if not the oldest) continuous used church in the Caribbean. The current version was erected in 1952.

It replaced the original building, built in stone and thatch, in 1750, by Domingo António Silvestre, a missionary from the Venezuelan city of Santa Ana de Coro, charged with converting the indigenous people of Aruba to Christianity.

Domingo Silvestre arrived in Aruba almost two hundred and fifty years after the discovery of Américo Vespucci and Alonso de Ojeda.

The Spanish Discovery and Subsequent Dutch Colonization

In 1499, navigators claimed the island for the Spanish crown. Impressed by the superlative stature of the Caquetío natives, they described it as an “island of giants.

Shortly after, enticed by the cotton and brazilwood samples displayed by the duo, the Spaniards inaugurated the colonization of Aruba.

But cotton and brazilwood were of little value compared to the gold and silver found on the island of Hispaniola.

In 1508, Ojeda was appointed governor. Five years later, the Spaniards began to enslave the caquetíos and to subject them to forced labor in the mines of Hispaniola.

That's how they kept a good part of the indigenous people until, in 1636, in the context of the Thirty Years' War, the Dutch captured the three ABC islands.

They appointed the famous Peter Stuyvesant governor, later governor of New Amsterdam.

Aruba, Netherlands Antilles, ABC, beach

And they used the native Caquetío who had survived the Spanish yoke in the creation of the cattle with which they happened to supply other Dutch colonies.

By the time of Domingo Silvestre's mission, however, the population of caquetíos had drastically decreased.

His successors housed and converted the natives on the windy top of Alto Vista when, unexpectedly, fate condemned the mission.

A plague spread among priests and natives. It proved so deadly that it forced the survivors to defect to Noord, where the second oldest church in Aruba, St. Anne's, had been erected.

From the ex-Lair of the Pirates of the Caribbean to the Dock of the Jolly Pirates

With Aruba in the hands of the Dutch – historical rivals of the growing Hispanic Empire – the new settlers made it possible for the island to be used as an operational base for pirates and privateers.

Dutch, English, French (later even Americans), all of them pursuers of Spanish ships and their valuable cargo.

Aruba, Netherlands Antilles, ABC, Jolly Pirates

Aruba remained a Dutch territory, today considered a constituent country of the Kingdom of Países Baixos.

It is by far the most Americanized of the three ABC islands.

We see this again when, in the afternoon, we enter the Palm Beach jetty, a beach surrounded by hotels of the inevitable multinational brands, at the pinecone of Gringos fleeing the northern hemisphere winter, hungry for sun and fun.

On that same beach, under opportunistic squadrons of pelicans, we boarded the pleasure boat of some Jolly Pirates. We walked along the nearest Aruba coast.

We disembark in secluded coves, swim among corals, gaudy shoals of fish and little elusive turtles.

Aruba, Netherlands Antilles, ABC, Turtle

When we disembark, we find a group of young Americans preparing their own expedition, carrying dozens of cases of beer, on a trailer and on their shoulders.

In Aruba, the sun, the blue sky and the emerald-turquoise sea were, as they always are, acquired.

They endeavored, with apparent exaggeration, to ensure that they did not lack the refreshing fuel of evasion.

Rincon, Bonaire

The Pioneering Corner of the Netherlands Antilles

Shortly after Columbus' arrival in the Americas, the Castilians discovered a Caribbean island they called Brazil. Afraid of the pirate threat, they hid their first village in a valley. One century after, the Dutch took over this island and renamed it Bonaire. They didn't erase the unpretentious name of the trailblazer colony: Rincon.
Willemstad, Curaçao

The Multicultural Heart of Curaçao

A Dutch colony in the Caribbean became a major slave hub. It welcomed Sephardic Jews who had taken refuge from the Iberia Inquisition in Amsterdam and Recife. And it assimilated influences from the Portuguese and Spanish villages with which it traded. At the heart of this secular cultural fusion has always been its old capital: Willemstad.
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

The Longest Colonial Elder in the Americas

Santo Domingo is the longest-inhabited colony in the New World. Founded in 1498 by Bartholomew Colombo, the capital of the Dominican Republic preserves intact a true treasure of historical resilience.
Soufriere, Saint Lucia

The Great Pyramids of the Antilles

Perched above a lush coastline, the twin peaks Pitons are the hallmark of Saint Lucia. They have become so iconic that they have a place in the highest notes of East Caribbean Dollars. Right next door, residents of the former capital Soufrière know how precious their sight is.
Lake Enriquillo, Dominican Republic

Enriquillo: the Great Lake of the Antilles

Between 300 and 400 km2, situated 44 meters below sea level, Enriquillo is the supreme lake of the Antilles. Regardless of its hypersalinity and the stifling, atrocious temperatures, it's still increasing. Scientists have a hard time explaining why.
Lagoa Oviedo a Bahia de las Águilas, Dominican Republic

In Search of the Immaculate Dominican Beach

Against all odds, one of the most unspoiled Dominican coastlines is also one of the most remote. Discovering the province of Pedernales, we are dazzled by the semi-desert Jaragua National Park and the Caribbean purity of Bahia de las Águilas.
Barahona, Dominican Republic

The Bathing Dominican Republic of Barahona

Saturday after Saturday, the southwest corner of the Dominican Republic goes into decompression mode. Little by little, its seductive beaches and lagoons welcome a tide of euphoric people who indulge in a peculiar rumbear amphibian.
Oviedo Lagoon, Dominican Republic

The (very alive) Dominican Republic Dead Sea

The hypersalinity of the Laguna de Oviedo fluctuates depending on evaporation and water supplied by rain and the flow coming from the neighboring mountain range of Bahoruco. The natives of the region estimate that, as a rule, it has three times the level of sea salt. There, we discover prolific colonies of flamingos and iguanas, among many other species that make up one of the most exuberant ecosystems on the island of Hispaniola.
Samaná PeninsulaLos Haitises National Park Dominican Republic

From the Samaná Peninsula to the Dominican Haitises

In the northeast corner of the Dominican Republic, where Caribbean nature still triumphs, we face an Atlantic much more vigorous than expected in these parts. There we ride on a communal basis to the famous Limón waterfall, cross the bay of Samaná and penetrate the remote and exuberant “land of the mountains” that encloses it.
Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

The Dominican Home Silver

Puerto Plata resulted from the abandonment of La Isabela, the second attempt at a Hispanic colony in the Americas. Almost half a millennium after Columbus's landing, it inaugurated the nation's inexorable tourist phenomenon. In a lightning passage through the province, we see how the sea, the mountains, the people and the Caribbean sun keep it shining.
Oranjestad, Aruba

The Dutch Soul of Aruba

On the other side of the Atlantic, in the depths of the Caribbean, Oranjestad, the capital of Aruba, displays much of the legacy left in the ABC islands by settlers from the Netherlands. The natives call it “Playa”. The city comes alive with exuberant bathing parties.
Okavango Delta, Not all rivers reach the sea, Mokoros
Okavango Delta, Botswana

Not all rivers reach the sea

Third longest river in southern Africa, the Okavango rises in the Angolan Bié plateau and runs 1600km to the southeast. It gets lost in the Kalahari Desert where it irrigates a dazzling wetland teeming with wildlife.
Faithful light candles, Milarepa Grotto temple, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 9th Manang to Milarepa Cave, Nepal

A Walk between Acclimatization and Pilgrimage

In full Annapurna Circuit, we finally arrived in Manang (3519m). we still need acclimatize to the higher stretches that followed, we inaugurated an equally spiritual journey to a Nepalese cave of Milarepa (4000m), the refuge of a siddha (sage) and Buddhist saint.
Alaskan Lumberjack Show Competition, Ketchikan, Alaska, USA
Architecture & Design
Ketchikan, Alaska

Here begins Alaska

The reality goes unnoticed in most of the world, but there are two Alaskas. In urban terms, the state is inaugurated in the south of its hidden frying pan handle, a strip of land separated from the contiguous USA along the west coast of Canada. Ketchikan, is the southernmost of Alaskan cities, its Rain Capital and the Salmon Capital of the World.
Boats on ice, Hailuoto Island, Finland.
Hailuoto, Finland

A Refuge in the Gulf of Bothnia

During winter, the island of Hailuoto is connected to the rest of Finland by the country's longest ice road. Most of its 986 inhabitants esteem, above all, the distance that the island grants them.
Ice cream, Moriones Festival, Marinduque, Philippines
Ceremonies and Festivities
Marinduque, Philippines

When the Romans Invade the Philippines

Even the Eastern Empire didn't get that far. In Holy Week, thousands of centurions seize Marinduque. There, the last days of Longinus, a legionary converted to Christianity, are re-enacted.
Mdina, Malta, Silent City, architecture
Mdina, Malta

The Silent and Remarkable City of Malta

Mdina was Malta's capital until 1530. Even after the Knights Hospitaller demoted it, it was attacked and fortified accordingly. Today, it's the coastal and overlooking Valletta that drives the island's destinies. Mdina has the tranquility of its monumentality.
Fogón de Lola, great food, Costa Rica, Guápiles
Fogón de Lola Costa Rica

The Flavor of Costa Rica of El Fogón de Lola

As the name suggests, the Fogón de Lola de Guapiles serves dishes prepared on the stove and in the oven, according to Costa Rican family tradition. In particular, Tia Lola's.
Tabato, Guinea Bissau, Balafons
Tabato, Guinea Bissau

Tabatô: to the Rhythm of Balafom

During our visit to the tabanca, at a glance, the djidius (poet musicians)  mandingas are organized. Two of the village's prodigious balaphonists take the lead, flanked by children who imitate them. Megaphone singers at the ready, sing, dance and play guitar. There is a chora player and several djambes and drums. Its exhibition generates successive shivers.
Reindeer Racing, Kings Cup, Inari, Finland
Inari, Finland

The Wackiest Race on the Top of the World

Finland's Lapps have been competing in the tow of their reindeer for centuries. In the final of the Kings Cup - Porokuninkuusajot - , they face each other at great speed, well above the Arctic Circle and well below zero.
Kayaking on Lake Sinclair, Cradle Mountain - Lake Sinclair National Park, Tasmania, Australia
Discovering tassie, Part 4 - Devonport to Strahan, Australia

Through the Tasmanian Wild West

If the almost antipode tazzie is already a australian world apart, what about its inhospitable western region. Between Devonport and Strahan, dense forests, elusive rivers and a rugged coastline beaten by an almost Antarctic Indian ocean generate enigma and respect.
Lifou, Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia, Mme Moline popinée
LifouLoyalty Islands

The Greatest of the Loyalties

Lifou is the island in the middle of the three that make up the semi-francophone archipelago off New Caledonia. In time, the Kanak natives will decide if they want their paradise independent of the distant metropolis.
ice tunnel, black gold route, Valdez, Alaska, USA
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

Sensations vs Impressions

Curieuse Island, Seychelles, Aldabra turtles
Felicité Island and Curieuse Island, Seychelles

From Leprosarium to Giant Turtles Home

In the middle of the XNUMXth century, it remained uninhabited and ignored by Europeans. The French Ship Expedition “La Curieuse” revealed it and inspired his baptism. The British kept it a leper colony until 1968. Today, Île Curieuse is home to hundreds of Aldabra tortoises, the longest-lived land animal.
Visitors in Jameos del Água, Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain
Lanzarote, Canary Islands

To César Manrique what is César Manrique's

By itself, Lanzarote would always be a Canaria by itself, but it is almost impossible to explore it without discovering the restless and activist genius of one of its prodigal sons. César Manrique passed away nearly thirty years ago. The prolific work he left shines on the lava of the volcanic island that saw him born.
Maksim, Sami people, Inari, Finland-2
Winter White
Inari, Finland

The Guardians of Boreal Europe

Long discriminated against by Scandinavian, Finnish and Russian settlers, the Sami people regain their autonomy and pride themselves on their nationality.
Visitors to Ernest Hemingway's Home, Key West, Florida, United States
Key West, United States

Hemingway's Caribbean Playground

Effusive as ever, Ernest Hemingway called Key West "the best place I've ever been...". In the tropical depths of the contiguous US, he found evasion and crazy, drunken fun. And the inspiration to write with intensity to match.
tarsio, bohol, philippines, out of this world
Bohol, Philippines

Other-wordly Philippines

The Philippine archipelago spans 300.000 km² of the Pacific Ocean. Part of the Visayas sub-archipelago, Bohol is home to small alien-looking primates and the extraterrestrial hills of the Chocolate Hills.
Mother Armenia Statue, Yerevan, Armenia
Yerevan, Armenia

A Capital between East and West

Heiress of the Soviet civilization, aligned with the great Russia, Armenia allows itself to be seduced by the most democratic and sophisticated ways of Western Europe. In recent times, the two worlds have collided in the streets of your capital. From popular and political dispute, Yerevan will dictate the new course of the nation.
Incandescent Mouth, Big Island Hawaii, Volcanoes National Park, Lava Rivers
Natural Parks
Big Island, Hawaii

Searching for Rivers of Lava

There are five volcanoes that make the big island of Hawaii grow day by day. Kilauea, the most active on Earth, is constantly releasing lava. Despite this, we live a kind of epic to envision it.
Gangtok House, Sikkim, India
UNESCO World Heritage
Gangtok, India

An Hillside Life

Gangtok it is the capital of Sikkim, an ancient kingdom in the Himalayas section of the Silk Road, which became an Indian province in 1975. The city is balanced on a slope, facing Kanchenjunga, the third highest elevation in the world that many natives believe shelters a paradise valley of Immortality. Their steep and strenuous Buddhist existence aims, there, or elsewhere, to achieve it.
aggie gray, Samoa, South Pacific, Marlon Brando Fale
Apia, Western Samoa

The Host of the South Pacific

She sold burguês to GI's in World War II and opened a hotel that hosted Marlon Brando and Gary Cooper. Aggie Gray passed away in 2. Her legacy lives on in the South Pacific.
Unusual bathing

south of Belize

The Strange Life in the Black Caribbean Sun

On the way to Guatemala, we see how the proscribed existence of the Garifuna people, descendants of African slaves and Arawak Indians, contrasts with that of several much more airy bathing areas.

Christmas scene, Shillong, Meghalaya, India
Shillong, India

A Christmas Selfiestan at an India Christian Stronghold

December arrives. With a largely Christian population, the state of Meghalaya synchronizes its Nativity with that of the West and clashes with the overcrowded Hindu and Muslim subcontinent. Shillong, the capital, shines with faith, happiness, jingle bells and bright lighting. To dazzle Indian holidaymakers from other parts and creeds.
On Rails
On Rails

Train Travel: The World Best on Rails

No way to travel is as repetitive and enriching as going on rails. Climb aboard these disparate carriages and trains and enjoy the best scenery in the world on Rails.
young saleswoman, nation, bread, uzbekistan
Fergana Valley, Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan, The Nation That Does Not Lack Bread

Few countries employ cereals like Uzbekistan. In this republic of Central Asia, bread plays a vital and social role. The Uzbeks produce it and consume it with devotion and in abundance.
the projectionist
Daily life
Sainte-Luce, Martinique

The Nostalgic Projectionist

From 1954 to 1983, Gérard Pierre screened many of the famous films arriving in Martinique. 30 years after the closing of the room in which he worked, it was still difficult for this nostalgic native to change his reel.
Rottnest Island, Wadjemup, Australia, Quokkas
Wadjemup, Rottnest Island, Australia

Among Quokkas and other Aboriginal Spirits

In the XNUMXth century, a Dutch captain nicknamed this island surrounded by a turquoise Indian Ocean, “Rottnest, a rat's nest”. The quokkas that eluded him were, however, marsupials, considered sacred by the Whadjuk Noongar aborigines of Western Australia. Like the Edenic island on which the British colonists martyred them.
Passengers, scenic flights-Southern Alps, New Zealand
Scenic Flights
Aoraki / Mount Cook, New Zealand

The Aeronautical Conquest of the Southern Alps

In 1955, pilot Harry Wigley created a system for taking off and landing on asphalt or snow. Since then, his company has unveiled, from the air, some of the greatest scenery in Oceania.