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Thread: Off the Strip - Getting Local and Low Key Laid Back

  1. #11
    Senior Member SanNic44's Avatar
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    NJ Ralph,

    Thanks for the compliments.

    You've probably already surfed through my blog, but I'll mention some spots here for emphasis:

    Oh, before I do that, let it be known to all... that any and all of these joints keep odd hours at time, may have closed or reopened, the food may be "nasty" to some-"delicious" to others, English is probably not clearly spoken or understood, and generally customs and behaviour may be different than what you're used to despite outward appearances of being the same.

    Okay...

    Little Josey, for drinks and relaxing, especially around 4-6PM.

    White Hill Bar, also just drinks, zany decor, bartender isn't very chatty so bring your own pals to entertain.

    Essoville Rum Shop, coldest beer in Aruba, probably.

    Casa Vieja, Pueblito Paisa, JoAnn Snack. Colombian Food and all fairly priced.

    Sultan - go in the evening around 6-7. Patricia, the Colombian waitress, is tons of entertainment once you get to know her, which takes some visits and friendly entreaties, but well worth the time for the laughs. I call her the "Sultana."

    Sunday BBQ (Aruba style BBQ means burned to a crisp meat on a grill, usually) at Great Rich in Paradera. This is a Chinese-run joint. Take your own knives and forks and eat the stuff in the bar. Drives them nutz, but then you get to watch the rest of the crowd watching you.

    Urataka Rum Shop is on the tourist route but still a fairly local-style place. Nice guy at the bar once he warms up.

    And, if you're not put off by the... uh... "scenery", enjoy some evenings in San Nicolaas Bars. You don't have to partake of all that is on offer, but the people watching is a blast, and after you integrate with the bartenders and simply sit back and have a few drinks, you'll see it's like any other set of bars with regulars reminiscing and relaxing. Late, usually after midnight or 1 AM, it can get a little rowdy (loud, bawdy). Still, my favorite bartenders are in town. They have the best stories, know how to entertain, and don't expect huge tips. As written in my first book, "Only fools and tourists tip" in San Nicolaas. If you tip big, you're marked. Please, tip a few florins on the way out, not for every drink.

    Finally, the last couple of tours of duty, I've begun exploring (more in depth) the Chinese-operated rum shops. Aruba is rapidly evolving with many more Chinese businesses every year. So, I'm going with the flow and propping myself across the bars from these people the way I did with the "old-timer" Arubans, who, sadly, are leaving us for the pearly gates. I've found the Chinese to be generally more suspicious at first. After numerous visits, questions, and pleasant exchanges, they've opened up to me about their lives, which are quite fascinating when you consider how hard they're willing to work, the risks they'll take, and what they manage to accomplish for themselves and their families. (Their plans and efforts span multi-generations and are actually implemented with only minor detours to get around temporary failure.) In the bargain, I'm learning bits of Chinese, mostly Cantonese, but I'm told I should learn Mandarin. Very, very difficult compared to Spanish (learned mostly in San Nicolaas) and the German, which I studied way back in junior high.

    I've been EXTREMELY fortunate to have the time to indulge in other cultures as described above. At time is has been challenging, embarrassing, awkward, and hugely rewarding. The delicate process of getting to know things from the inside is not easy and not the kind of activity others may enjoy. After all, most visitors to Aruba are there for vacation, sun, sand, fruity booze, and they certainly came to the right place. For whatever reason, I like going long and wide. And, I've learned a tremendous amount more than during the course of two college degrees, not that my education wasn't good, because it was about as good as it can get. Nonetheless, there's a lot more out there than a cheeseburger in paradise. If you want it...
    Aruba's Novelist in Residence (sometimes)
    http://www.bentpage.wordpress.com/

  2. #12
    Senior Member NJ Ralph's Avatar
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    Lewney1 and crimms
    Great stuff just what I'm talking about and craving.
    Zeerovers has always been a stop for us and I love the local interaction. I just want to sit on the dock with my wife, feet hanging over, sipping icy chills, and watching the kids chase the crabs.

    On our drives to San nicholas I always see these colorful rum shops and this time I'm stopping into a few and checking out the local clientele and the grub and drink. One year cpl years back my middle boy 8 (at the time) and I took a pvt island tour and when we were out near SN I asked the driver to stop for a snack. We stopped at a small rum bar where you ordered pastiche and beers from a window. We still talk about that little shack and how good the fried ditties were.

    Thanks for some great tips.

  3. #13
    Senior Member NJ Ralph's Avatar
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    SanNic44
    Fantastic!!!!
    I printed the page and can't wait to pop my head in a few places. As for locals and communicating.... my wife and kids will attest that I am always pushing the limits on my botched Papiamento. Couple that with my Portuguese and Spanish i deal with daily while working construction in the NY/NJ area, and i can handle a conversation with most.

    I too have noticed an influx of Chinese over the past visits.

    Regarding the night life in the "zone of tolerance" it might be a bit tough to acclimate with the spirit of the night with the three kids but we have made many day visits, mostly to Charlie's bar, with the younger ones. Maybe this year an adult only bar hopper is a possibility, if we can square up with a sitter.

    Love what you write and how you embody the island's sole. Thanks for the great information.
    Ayo
    Ralph

  4. #14
    Senior Member Pegmeister's Avatar
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    We're coming up on our seventh trip and still have not made it to Charlie's Bar. The closest we came was a drive by on a taxi tour. I had hinted we would like to stop and always regretted not having just said we want to stop there for a beer!! Now I'm intrigued by Zeerovers so my question is; if we took a taxi from the low rise area would it be doable too visit both it one trip? I know we should probably rent a car but neither of us want to drive as we would like to enjoy ourselves and have a few drinks. I know the fare would run around $30 each way so what do you think? If I have to pick one spot, which one?

  5. #15
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    Pegmeister, two completely different experiences. I would pick Zeerovers because its on the water and very local. Great sunsets and good food. We love to watch them bring in the days catch and cut it up and bag it-very interesting. Charlies Bar- fun place. A great pace to get a good T-Shirt.,and nice quality. We drink there so I cant speak about the food. The bat is covered with cool stuff to look at and the bathroom is a trip. So you have to decide whats for you. Either way I would have the Taxi drop you off and set a oick up time if possible. Have fun.
    Sean and Susan

  6. #16
    Senior Member Pegmeister's Avatar
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    Wink

    Thanks for the suggestion. We were leaving more towards Zeerovers but maybe we'll make a second trip if we get tired of the sun and beach.

  7. #17
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    I love this site!! Great information!! I love reading it every day!!
    Sorry I missed Daniel signing books last summer. They are all great reads!!

  8. #18
    Senior Member cyclone promotions's Avatar
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    Zeerover the best
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  9. #19
    Senior Member NJ Ralph's Avatar
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    Charlie's Bar is a fun touristy trip and visiting San Nicholas is an experience - especially at night!

    Zeerovers is a HUGE favorite.
    Delicious fried shrimp and barracuda on plastic picnic tables right on the dock cooked by the deep fry crew at the waters edge.
    Hanging with the locals, playing pool and drinking chills long past the last fisherman comes and the sun has set. My kids running around the dock chasing the crabs. Economical and fun.
    Not a cheap cab ride to savaneta but if you rent a car it's a must.

    Expect nothing and you will be pleasantly surprised.
    Last edited by NJ Ralph; 01-18-2013 at 10:56 PM.





  10. #20
    Member TDD007's Avatar
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    This isn't going to be much help, as I am kicking myself in the rear for not remembering either. While their in December, we stumbled on a red bar \ convenient shack. The place was awesome!!! They only accepted cash and were open at weird times. It had a dusty parking lot, with a few high tops out front ( no chairs), and national flags from various countries hanging inside. They sold drinks by the bottle. We had the best time getting plastered and chatting with the locals. If anyone knows the name, PLEASE let me know so I can go back.

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