We had one major outing on Aruba during our brief stay. We walked to the northwestern tip of the island to check out the California Lighthouse, named for the S.S. California which sunk before the lighthouse was built in 1910. This beautiful stone lighthouse attracts every tourist on the island eventually, but we were more into going for the walk there — and we did see some interesting things.
Remember the black marks we got from the tires at the dock? Well, Dave tried the black streak remover to get the tire marks off, but it didn’t even touch it. He tried other products and acetone all with no results! Since we had to return to check out, we were likely to get even more marks on the boat. Ugh! I didn’t even take a picture to show you. It was just too depressing. Milly and Slow Flight have them as well. There was hope, though. Peter had a little bit left of a product that was working…
K2r is the name and it works well on any petroleum-based problem. It would have been great when all the oil washed off Grenada after Jab Jab right into the marina and onto our boat! It also would have been good when we were in the marina in Turks and Caicos and some idiots spilled tons of diesel into the water. It will also be good after we leave the marina in Santa Marta, Colombia, (blogs coming soon) where there are fuel slicks on the water regularly. I wonder why I don’t like being in marinas? Anyway, you’re welcome fellow cruising friends. K2r is the solution. Now we just need to find some.
Anyway, not to be put off by the ugliness of our boats, we decided to see the island by walking to the California Lighthouse. We followed the shoreline up towards the northwest corner. The ABC (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao) islands never fail to amaze me with their blend of beaches, green trees, scrub, and cactus. It seems weird to look past cactus to the turquoise colored water. Not the typical vision that comes to mind of a tropical island.
The resorts make use of the local plants like cactus and yucca, but also decorate with greener trees, bougainvillea, aloe, and the colorful croton. The thatched huts are fun and practical for the shade. I bet Aruba has some really nice resorts!
As we walked along, the smooth sandy shoreline disappeared and became more rocky and rugged. Here the birds ruled.
This looked like a brochure advertisement. This wasn’t on the sandy beach, but I think it is really nice of Aruba to install these shade spots all over the island. There are a lot of them. And though they were fairly empty on our way to the lighthouse, they were all full on the way back. Apparently Sundays are picnic days for local families.
I could see the yearning in the guys’ eyes, but there just wasn’t enough wind for kiteboarding. Some small sailboats were out as well as kiteboarders on foils. The foils have less resistance in the water and so they can go really well on a lot less wind. You’ll never guess what Dave wants to try next. Of course! Foiling.
This derelict ship was purposely sunk a ways off shore with the intent of being a reef starter. Mother Nature had other ideas. A storm came along and washed it back up to shore and there it stayed. Some may consider this rust bucket an eye sore, but I found it interesting. And I loved the contrast between the old dilapidated ship and the new little sailboat.
These Dutch Islands love their big letters! This sign was on wheels so people could pose with it all over the island. None of us felt in love with Aruba enough to pose with it, but we saw other tourists who did.
I apologize for this ridiculous picture. It was funny at first. A couple guys were trying to get this land crab to grab hold of a cigarette. It seemed harmless enough and everyone around was laughing. But even after getting their pictures, the guys kept harassing the crab. I could see it was perturbed, as it was trapped by the rock wall. I just wanted the guys to take their picture and let it go. Look at the claws on that guy! The crab should have gone for their toes!
This was our destination. I’m zoomed way in. We still had a long walk ahead of us. It looked majestic sitting there on top of the hill.
We passed a hot and sweaty couple on their way back from the lighthouse. They warned us that there was a snake on the side of the road and told us to be careful. Well, we found their snake, but there was no reason to be careful. I couldn’t see the end of the tail, so I used a stick to pull it out from under the snake — no rattle. It kind of had a diamond pattern on it and the head looked shaped like a rattler, but it definitely wasn’t. The Aruba rattlesnake is rare and protected. This, however, was an invasive boa constrictor. They appeared on the island about 20 years ago and it is assumed they were released or escaped from snake hobbyists. In 2008, wildlife managers captured 800 of them on the island and they believe there is still four to five times that number on the loose. They can show up anywhere, even in the resort gardens. Nearly every day one of these guys is captured on the island somewhere.
We saw one of these radar towers in Bonaire. It seems the ABCs keep a close eye on the comings and goings around the islands. We also saw the Coast Guard helicopter in Aruba. Personally, I was glad they are patrolling and I was looking forward to being past Venezuela’s coastline.
We finally made it to the California Lighthouse. It looked to be in pristine condition and was blindingly white in the bright sun. As a matter of fact, I learned it was renovated in the beginning of 2016, so it is no wonder it looked brand new. The steamship California crashed and sunk on September 23, 1891. The wreck can be seen by scuba divers, but there are strong currents at that end of the island and is only recommended for very strong swimmers. The lighthouse was built to avoid another such disaster and can be seen by mariners for 58 miles (93 km). I’ve learned to appreciate lighthouses while sailing. It is hard to distinguish a lot of lights at night, but a lighthouse is distinct and usually charted.
The view from the top of the hill was phenomenal. We could see 360 degrees. We could see that there aren’t many roads inland and the dirt ones are rugged. The mass of civilization is along the coast and Aruba has a lot of beach.
We stopped into the Italian restaurant next door to the lighthouse, La Trattoria el Faro Blanco, for some lunch. While dining this little guy showed up. It was a gorgeous oriole, Dave’s home state bird. Dave had never seen one in Maryland and was very impressed to see one now.
I wish I had my long distance lens to get a better picture of it. Lunch, the lighthouse, and the walk were all enjoyable. Good thing because with that, we were done with Aruba. Time to strike out for more exotic locales. Next up we have some surprises on our sail to Colombia!