I was on my way from Colombia to the Dominican Republic and, as per my MO, I decided to stop part way in order to cut down the amount of flying time AND also get to experience a new or interesting place.
Aruba met those objectives so I headed there.
I had just been to CuraÃ§ao, one of the three so-called ABC islands (for Aruba, Bonaire and CuraÃ§ao) of the Lesser Antilles (more specifically the Leeward Antilles), so I was not heading for an area that was unfamiliar to me.
Both CuraÃ§ao and Aruba have direct ties to the Netherlands (itâ€™s complicated, exactly how they are part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, but they are), and both are in close proximity, so I made what turns out to be a very incorrect assessment that the two islands would be similar.
I was shocked at the differences. They have almost nothing in common. And, sadly for CuraÃ§ao, all of the negative things are in CuraÃ§ao and all of the really good things are in Aruba.
Hereâ€™s a quick checklist:
CuraÃ§ao: Huge, morbidly obese black people (I even looked on the internet after going there, out of curiousity, and found articles entitled, â€œAlarmingly High Prevalence of Obesity in CuraÃ§aoâ€œ, so itâ€™s not just my opinion!)
Aruba: Countless beautiful, sexy, nice girls of numerous shades (from very dark to light skinned) and most are nicely proportioned with good bodies. I am not sure exactly what all their ethnic heritage is, but it seems to be a really nice mix of latina and Caribbean along with perhaps other things mixed in tooâ€¦ I believe the first inhabitants of the island came from Venezuela so that may explain a lot, given the beauty of many Venezuelan women. Iâ€™d really like to find out more about these girls.. hopefully tonight!
CuraÃ§ao: Best restaurant on the island: Dennyâ€™s
Aruba: Dozens, if not hundreds, of some of the best restaurants around. From chains like Chris Ruthâ€™s Steakhouse and Benihana to countless excellent Italian, Brazlian/Argentine, Japanese, Chinese and even Thai restaurants!
CuraÃ§ao: Nightlife: A few clubs. One of the most popular is called Mambo Beach and is behind an unlit, dirt parking lot
Aruba: Dozens of bars, clubs and discotheques of every type and quality
CuraÃ§ao: Beaches: As far as I am aware, CuraÃ§ao doesnâ€™t really have any nice beaches. It is mostly rocky and not that nice
Aruba: Some of the nicest beaches and water in the world!
CuraÃ§ao: One crappy, dingy poker room at the Holiday Beach Hotel (but, and here is the only good thing I can think of about CuraÃ§ao: it is possibly one of the loosest, craziest cash poker games Iâ€™ve ever seen)
Aruba: Countless glamorous, nice casinos with numerous poker rooms (although many of the games are quite tight, more on that below)
CuraÃ§ao: Everything is spread out and not very easily accessible
Aruba: The area of Palm Beach and the short drive to the nightlife of Oranjestad is very easy and is only about a $10 taxi ride.
I think you may be getting the point. If you have to go to either Aruba or CuraÃ§ao, either go to Aruba or shoot yourself in the face. But do NOT go to CuraÃ§ao!
Itâ€™s so funny, from reading about the two islands on the internet, I actually chose CuraÃ§ao first over Aruba. That damned internet needs a lot of work! Well, actually, the main problem is that 98% of people are idiots (no offense, to any idiots reading) and so the internet mirrors the thoughts of these 98% of people. Ah well, just keep a copy of Berwick.com on your bookmarks and youâ€™ll do just fine. 😛
Aruba has been great. I was initially just going to stay two days and then go to Puerto Rico for the weekend but I was enjoying it so much I just ended up staying.
Letâ€™s again go to the checklist:
Girls: YES! VERY!
Poker: YES! Very good!
Restaurants: YES! Couldnâ€™t really ask for more
Nightlife: YES! (Disclaimer: I was here during US Spring Break so that may have had a huge affect on the amount of nightlife here, more on that below)
Letâ€™s get into the details:
Girls: Oh my. Very nice! Not only are there countless beauties, but most of the ones I have seen and met have been really nice, smart and easy to talk to. In fact, they almost seem a bit too much! For example, at the Radisson Casino, it seems like a lot of the locals go there a lot (by locals I actually mean Camericans for the most part, who live here part or full time.. more on that later too). These guys, in general, are not very attractive (kinda fat.. kinda old etc) but they seem to be BEST friends with many of the really cute, sexy, nice casino workers. So much so that theyâ€™d say things like this: Older, fat guy: â€œHey Karen, we should all go bowling later tonight and have some drinksâ€?. Karen: â€œHey Nancy, Tia, you want to go bowling tonight with everyone? Ya sure.â€?. Older, fat guy: â€œOk, Iâ€™ll swing by your house later and pick you up!â€?… (as a side note: they even all seem to have a Friday night softball game together, interestingly enough, played at 5am because that is when the casino is closed!!)
It is this kind of vibe here!! Lots of beautiful, smart, nice girls who seem to have no problem just hanging around with guys you wouldnâ€™t think that most normal girls would want to hang around with. I am telling you, there is something special about this island.
Nightlife: Now, again, BIG disclaimerâ€¦ this week is apparently Spring Breakâ€¦ so this may not apply year around. But gauging by the sheer amount of discos in Oranjestad and some big discos even out in Palm Beach, there must be enough nightlife on a regular basis to have all these establishments. I waited in a line-up out of Senior Frogs for 20 minutes just trying to get in. When I got in, there mustâ€™ve been 500 people all in thereâ€¦ lots of hot girls. Everyone seemed pretty cool. All within a 3 block radius of Senior Frogs are dozens of pubs, clubs and discos with all sorts of vibes from latino to dutch to western style pop and hip hop.
Poker: As for poker, it is pretty good here. There are about 10 tables at the Radissonâ€¦ but a lot of the players there are actually pretty good.. and pretty tight. I found out most of the looser, drunker players play at the Holiday Inn.
Now, here is one of the only bad things about Aruba: It is a bit expensive. Actually, from what I have seen, things like food, taxis and other general items arenâ€™t that expensive, itâ€™s mainly the hotels in Palm Beach. They start at about $300/night and go well up from there! All the name brands are there, Hyatt, Marriott etc.
I hate spending that much on hotels so when I got here I just rented a car and drove around and ended up finding a nice hotel, called the Brickell Bay Beach Club for about $200/night. But even that is way more than I like to spend. There are some further away from the beach that I saw for $100 or less, but they were all full. Someone told me he was staying in a condo rental for $60/night near Palm Beach and it was nice and had internet. If I can find a place like that, Iâ€™ll stay here for a month!
One of the only other semi-bad things about Aruba is that there are tons and tons of Camericans here. But I have to give credit where credit is dueâ€¦ a lot of the Camericans who come here seem pretty cool and pretty nice. Not your usual flower shirt wearing yahoos, so it is not too bad.
But in general it is really nice and cool here. The Aruban people are quite amazing tooâ€¦ they are super niceâ€¦ plus they speak 4 languages, ALL completely fluently. Dutch, Spanish, English and the native Papiamentu. So, getting around here is absolutely no problem if you only speak English.
As well, the technology on the island is excellent. I bought a SIM for $20 at the airport (you can use USD for everything here too which is also convenient) and it had the super high speed HSPA network. Also, internet was super easy to get here. Iâ€™m not sure where they have it (it may be everywhere in Palm Beach) but I get numerous wifi signals from the islands telcom company at my hotel room and I pay $10/day for blazing high speed internet.
Also, of note, the island has its own desalinization plant (the 2nd largest in the world) which supplies all its drinking water. So you can drink the tap water no problem.
Add up all these things and youâ€™ve got one surprised and happy Jeff! If I wasnâ€™t simply dying just to get back to Thailand (I can NEVER stay away more than 6 weeks, ever. I really start to feel the pain after 4 weeks). Plus, my crazy thai gf is like having a Tamagotchi. I just have to make sure she has enough money. Make sure she has food to eat every day etc. But if I am gone more than a few weeks she starts to cry every day. And if I am gone more than a month she actually starts trying to kill herself. The half-hearted suicide attempts have already started and there are threats to escalate them, so I better get back soon! I miss her too.
Iâ€™m going to leave either tomorrow or the next day and head to Santo Domingo on some business related items and then Iâ€™ll be high-tailing it back to Asia.
If it werenâ€™t for missing Thailand so much, though, Iâ€™d try to find one of those cheap condos and stay here for another few weeks, at least! Iâ€™ll definitely be back!