Aruba is one of the most multi-cultural and exotic places I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. Being a tourist in a foreign land isn’t one of my favorite pastimes, but the experiences I had were well worth it. As a traveler, I try to avoid the tourist attractions and explore the places that show the real culture of the country or place I’m visiting. I found just that in Aruba. The island itself is a mix of various cultures including descendents of Arawak Native Americans, African, Spanish and other European nationalities. When I went there with my Mom in the summer of 2010, I found that I was able to engage myself into the culture with the vibrant nationalism of the people and the beautiful views of the beaches and residential homes. Aruba, or â€˜One Happy Island’ as it’s affectionately called on the resident’s license plates, is a country of hospitality and great food.
My Mom and I stayed at Club Arias, a private villa that offered a warm welcome and easy access to main attractions. As soon as we landed and set our suitcases down around the plush king-sized bed we were sharing, grabbed our handbags and took a bus to the islands main city â€“ Oranjestad. The city itself reminded me of a Disney fantasy world with its castle-like malls and cobblestone streets. Vendors were everywhere and I couldn’t pass up the chance to indulge in some exotic jewelry and hand-made bags. The pictures I took of the buildings continue to be one of the favorites.
My fondest memory was the day of my birthday. Besides the fact that it was my special day, it turned out to be so culturally enriching that I knew I would never forget it. Whatever open space the music of the fog horns and car radios didn’t cover, the noise from cheering fans did. Apparently, we had traveled to Aruba right when the islanders were in the middle of voting for a major election.
â€œLook at all those orange flags Mom.â€ We laughed to each other as we realized no kinds of public transportation or commuter cars for that fact were getting anywhere today. The roads were full and the sidewalks were incredibly tiny.
â€œI guess were going to have to walk to the city today.â€ My mom joked as she guided me along the 2 feet wide sidewalk. I craned my body forward to see how far the splashes of orange could possibly go. It definitely went far. The smiling faces and decorative clothing intrigued me as I walked along the tiny sidewalk next to the main road. What I thought would be a minor traffic jam turned out to be a collective goal. Every car had supportive orange voting signs, flags and banners. There were even full school buses painted orange.
To me Aruba was not only an island of paradise, but it was a place full of multicultural people with great pride for their country. The banners showed how much the natives felt a part of their government and the voting process, a trait that reminded me so much of New York City. City people tend to know what they want and fight for it and it was just the same way in Aruba. The people knew who they wanted in office and were willing to cut off their only main road to accomplish that goal. I could tell from the little time I spent on the island that the people were ambitious and outspoken. Looks like I found a group of people just like me!
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