Well, trip #15's done, it was a joy as usual.
Hmmm. Where do I start? At the beginning I guess.
The flight was, uh, how do I put this politely? Due to two families, for the rest of the passengers on the plane it was hellish.
We all know the family that figures since they have young kids and they get to board first they have free rein to do as wished.
Four hours and 30 minutes later, we were all more than happy to get off the plane.
(Wait for the reappearance of this lovely crew at the end of all this...)
Transfer and check-in at the Tamarijn were flawless. The De Palm driver was very cool about the route and dropped us off (logically) first.
That may sound odd, but there have been a time or two that the driver has decided to take the Lady and I on a free extended tour of the hotel area, being kind enough to drop us off last at the Tamarijn. I appreciate the tour, but I have to say the logic defies me.
I digress.... Check in, unpack in record time, make the room look like it's us staying there, head to the Coconuts bar for a big round of hugs, handshakes and "how ya'll been?" Royal reception as always. Truly love that place.
Met up with our good friends from the UK, seems it was our 7th time together there. Doesn't seem it, but I guess when you become friends with people, the time doesn't matter. The really cool thing about this couple is the odd, strong connection we seem to have. Conversations pick up exactly where we left them off the year before, if you know what I mean. One of the magickal things about Aruba is the bonds people form.
As has become tradition, these folks made reservations for us at the Red Parrot, again more smiles and laughs, handshakes and hugs all over.
The food was as usual above par. I know there are food critics out there that won't agree with me, but I'm consistently happy with the food and service there. The steak was pretty freakin' good as far as I could tell. Sat there for the best part of the evening catching up and carrying on.
Wandered back to the Tamarijn, yukked it up at the bar for a bit with Roland and then headed off for the first night's rest in paradise.
Considering the Lady and I are becoming a little more health conscious these days, we decided to cut back on the constant free intake of food (yes, even though it is AI) and be sparse on breakfasts, opting out for a beach walk for an hour or two, ending up in a bit of fruit at the Divi buffet.
I can't tell you how much better we both feel for the walk, and I'm not talking about a leisurely saunter in the sand, and not a jog, just a good solid pace that made us work.
Back to Monday... beach, beach, beach, short break to walk to Leslie Optica down the road to have new lenses put in my glasses, beach, beach.
Met up with the compadres at 6 at the Coconuts and then off to the Divi for the buffet.
50/50... could have been better, could have been worse. I'm lead to believe there have been some changes in the catering department, therefore the menus we may have been used to have also changed. For some it's a bad thing, for some not.
Tuesday was the annual early morning ride at the Ponderosa.
I tend to go on and on about this place, the horses, the staff, the owner. So I won't now.
I didn't reserve horses for the Lady and I, and these guys just knew, I rode Comanche (amazing Paint horse) and the Lady rode Zorro, both incredibly able and fast horses... gotta love 'em. I say fast because, since the Lady and I have been riding at La Ponderosa for the past 12 years, the guides give us a sort of wide berth, as in when we get to a certain point on the ride they just look at us and say "Go!"
And we do. Using care and concentration, we get to let the horses open it up so to speak on the road to the Gold Mine, a true rush for a rider.
I'll just say it was a great ride. And on that note, if by any odd chance anyone that reads this just happened to be at the Gold Mine Ranch when the guy rode up on the horse to get a beer (yeah, me...), if by any chance you happened to get a photo of it I would be MUCHO APPRECIADO to get a copy.
***Side note... when going through the X-Ray machine at the airport, the photos that I had taken on the ride were corrupted and needless to say lost. Odd yes, considering it didn't effect my tablet or camera, but it is what it is.***
Back to the Tam, the Lady and our compadres complaining just a bit about sore parts and muscles from the ride (to be expected) then off to a small lunch then, you got it, back to the beach. Lots of sun, lots of not-too-major wind, a bit of sandblasting depending on where you were on Druif and a really lovely sunset as I recall.... they tend to run into each other. Longtimers know what I mean. Unless you consistently document them, they're all just incredible, but sometimes hard to remember which day was "best", if there is a best.
Tuesday eve we tried to catch one of the better bands on the island, Dub I Three. A reggae band that really cooks. They were scheduled to be at the Tamarijn on the bandstand in front of the pool, everyone (in the band) was there except the drummer, the set was supposed to start at nine, time went on, it got to about 9:30 and I started getting a weird funky feeling that something wasn't right, when I noticed the keyboard player/vocalist from the band looking a little freaked while talking on his cellphone. It seems he was talking with the drummer's family, who had called to say he'd been in an accident on the way and was in the emergency room. Needless to say the band didn't get to do the set, and we ended up listening to a good-enough set of pre-recorded Bob Marley. Works for me. I hope in all sincerity that the drummer's alright.
Wednesday, beach, beach, beach, lunch with Francis at the Tamarijn. Long, in-depth talk about energy work, about relating to all the different people he encounters on a daily basis, the ins and outs of life on the island... all kinds of stuff. We never get to spend enough time together because he has to be one of the busiest people on the resort. The Fire Putter-Outer Guy. Always on the run.
Wednesday afternoon, beach, beach, beach. During the day Bradley introduced me to a gentleman who was there with his wife to celebrate their 40th anniversary and do a recommittal ceremony as well, and during the course of the introduction Bradley informed him that I was his (Bradley's) coach in all this.... seems I had some manner of impact on him when I was doing my Reiki/energy talks.
At any rate, Bradley asked me for some scripted vows.... this lead to the Lady crafting the most amazing wedding/recommital vows. Truly wonderful words that, due to some confusion, didn't get used at the time, but did get to the lovely couple.
Back to Wednesday....
Buffet at the Tamarijn for dinner... again, 50/50. Fortunately, I don't go to Aruba for the food. I go for the vibe. That evening we wandered over to the Alhambra to use up our Red Parrot member $50 each on the machines. Now, I'm not a gambler, it's never had much appeal for me. So, I handed the card over to the Lady and let her play while I kinda wandered around.
Seems she found a machine that really liked her because on returning from a wander by the tables, I find her machine ringing away for about 5 minutes and at the end of it the "big win" sign flashed and lo and behold, a ticket with a nice number came out. Oh joy oh bliss. Unlimited silliness.
Cashed in, went home to the Tamarijn, got some popcorn at the Pizza Per Tutti and sat and answered questions for about an hour and a half from countless people..... "Are you in a band? What band are you in? Are you sure you're not.....?" And on and on.
Tons of fun.
Thursday was a beach day. Do you see a trend starting here?
When we finally did get off the beach it was to walk down and pick up my glasses.
Leslie Optica... I cannot say enough about the service from these people. The first pair I got from them back in 2009 was hand-delivered to the Tamarijn, AFTER OFFICE HOURS, and it's been like that since. Amazing people, great stuff.
I wear a round metal frame without a bridge-nose piece, which doesn't sound like much, but they're difficult to find in Canada, hence, I get them in Aruba. Yeah, supporting the economy I hope to someday stay in...
Okay, back to the beach, off the beach in time to get it together to get to Papparazzi for dinner.
Now that was a good dinner. Not that others haven't been, but the Fettucine Carbonara was par excellence this time.
Hanging out after dinner in the outdoor patio beside Papparazzi, one of the performers from the show (don't remember which show, the performer was the Michael Jackson impersonator) comes up to me and starts asking me a million questions about music, what band I'm in, what band my buddy is in, where did I get my jewellery and on and on. Man, what a firecracker. Gotta love the enthusiasm.
Back across the pool to the pizza bar, hanging and laughing and ducking and dodging camera flashes (!?), get some popcorn from Breda John at the bar for the wander back to our room and call it a night.
Friday... beach walk, beach, beach, downtown for lunch at Baby Back Ribs after a ride on the trolley... it's pretty cool. Really. When it's all together, the tracks and such, one can see that it is going to be worth the wait. We were both impressed with what has been done to some of the streets leading off Main Street. What were once pretty seedy alleys have been turned into what will become nice passable areas for the tourists. Kudos to those putting this all together. Yeah, it's going to take some time... hey, would you want to work in that heat?
Shopping up and down the main street and the back streets. Clothing for the Lady there that you just don't get here in the chilly north, so you gotta buy it when you find it, and so she did, and I did.... Friday evening was the yearly set with 2Sweet Band at the Tamarijn. Bradley and the boys in the band are kind enough to let me sit in with them, and I think and hope they enjoy it as much as I do. We did a killer set, in the middle of it Bradley called out "Johnny Be Good", the Peter Tosh version... yay. All's good until about 4, maybe 5 bars before the end of the song and I realize something's not right, as in I've just broken a string, the one I use most. Yay. Oh well, soldier on and play the rest of the set with 3 strings. No complaints from anyone about bad notes, so I gather I pulled it off. Even got to do some harmonizing with Sugar Emer, vocalist par excellent.
Again, the warmth of these people showing through. They don't have to let me sit in, but they do...
That night lasted 'til about 2 or 3 in the morning, which probably doesn't sound late, but we ain't kids anymore... and yeah, we felt it the next morning during the not-so-fast walk down the beach. Luckily we're not inclined to imbibe to any degree.
Saturday was a bit of a recovery day from the night before.
Ahem. Yeah, beach, beach, beach. Ah, the healing energies of the sun and ocean.
We wandered to the flea market down the road from the Tam, another yearly thing, again mostly because the Lady has a knack for finding what would have to be called the perfect dress for herself year after year. And I have to admit, she's always right. It always seems to be perfect for her.
Wander back to the beach, spend our last afternoon there, dinner that night at the Red Parrot... tradition again, finish up there, wander into the Alhambra Mall to see what's new.... back to the Tamarijn for that seemingly ever present bag of popcorn for the end of the night, then off for our last sleep in paradise.
Sunday morning saw us pretty eager and ready to go.... a bit odd that, but the truth is, as much as we love the island and the people, home is home, Merlyn (our feline roommate) is here and not with us, so we were ready to get back to that world. Wandered about the main area of the Tamarijn saying "See ya" to everyone I could find, the usual "No, it's not long enough, I wish were staying longer...." and on and on.
Our compadres from England came to see us off, we'll make arrangements for next year, do the phone thing.....
Bus comes, on we go, off we go. Sigh.
Westjet booth decides to open when they decide to open. Definitely not Canadian employees..... Aruba time for sure.
Board the plane... fairly smooth. Not a full plane, possibility to change seats if necessary, but why bother?
Here's why. Remember the families I mentioned WAY back at the beginning?
Well.... the flight home was a repeat of the flight down, however, it was ramped up.
The parents basically let the small ones do as they wished, including screaming, constant repetition of the same word for about 5 stretches of 20 minutes each, food scraps and peels, potato chips, changing the little poop machines only after about 10-15 minutes of asphyxiation....
And then while disembarking the plane, considering they sat themselves as close to the front of the plane as possible, they decided to take their time getting prepared and off the plane, all the while giving all the other passengers the look of death because we apparently were rushing them to get off the plane. At one point one woman, having only looked at the "princess" mother received a barrage of "What the hell is your problem? Do you have kids? Do you have any idea what this is like?", only to respond, calmly, "Yes, as a matter of fact I have four that I raised and have and had no problem travelling.... what's wrong with your one child?"
It got better.
Just outside the cabin door, where the ramp comes up, they had decided to stop in the middle and assemble all of their strollers and such, along with spreading all their cabin baggage across the middle of the ramp.
Fun days at Pearson to be sure.
The chatter went on about it all the way through the customs line.
Ah well, somehow it's livable having just come home from paradise.... carry on the vibe, carry on the vibe.
This kinda went on. If you made it all the way through, congrats, and masha danki.