Here's a little update, just to catch up on Mrs. 44 and my stay here on the island.
Tried some new dining spots (new for us). Moby Dick's was good. Great Rich and Young Fellow were zany local joints, also good.
Went back to some favorites: L.G. Smith served a perfect steak. Madam Janette didn't miss a trick despite 10 people at our table; the place deserves all the accolades they get. My local joints from Pueblito Paisa to Casa Vieja to The Sultan, to JoAnn's are all on par.
Crowds and such: Mrs. 44 enjoys the beach and on Sunday mornings and several weekday mornings as well, she ventured to both Eagle and Druif. Not crowded at any time. Went to Palm Beach near the Radisson, walked just about to Marriot and back. Saw lots of people a few days but nothing that would be considered "over-crowded." I stress these are jaunts taken and completed prior to 10AM so this info may not apply later in the day.
Beach note: Due to some odd wave action, the bottom was scarfed out inshore at some places, then there was a ridge maybe 30 or 40 feet from the waterline. Mrs. 44 headed out there (by Druif), stood in waist deep water, and soaked up the salt and the sun. Water was not crystal on most excursions but nice enough for frolicking. Can't say that further north this time of the year.
Folks at the Tamarijn: Both staff and guests here seem to me to be more low-key than the high-rise area. Reminds me of Aruba from my early visits. More of this would be a good thing. Dig those rooms right on the beach, eh?
Folks at the AM Manor: Mixed bunch of Europeans and Americans here and generally friendly and low-key a la Tamarijn with a bit more international flair. Bulletin board parties were a blast, meeting new people, hanging out, and dare I say having a drink other than club soda sometimes. Sometime I'd like to stay here but since I have the shack in Savaneta, that's probably silly. Still, would be fun to camp out and give it a try. Bars that close to the pool are hard to resist even for a guy who can be in Aruba 3 months and not get a tan.
Continued development: Yeah, there's talk of the Ritz and Riu. We'll see. No shovels in the ground as of today. The Aqua Condo spot is underway. Lots of steel above ground now and concrete being poured, too. The mall across the street has the roof on, many of the walls complete, some of the plaza area paved, and even a window or two. Not sure on the opening or what's going to be in the shops there.
Continued development continued: The Village has mostly opened. Had drinks at Chino Latino with some finger snacks. Good. Had chicken at Cactus Jacks. Decent. Went up to Red Sail Sports office and talked to the powers that be; sorry that's irrelevant. Haven't been to Papillon or that other joint but will try before departure.
Boring Technical Things: As for the roads. Plenty of paving going on. Latest stretch to get the asphalt was from Marriot down to the first light on the way to Oranjestaad. More places into neighborhoods around Piedra Plat and Paradara and Mahuma also saw some new pavement as did the drag strip straight stretch from Mahuma leading up to the light at Balashi. (Great wreck there the other day as predicted). As for the road by my shack, it still looks like the 8th Air Force just finished a bombing run. I am seriously contemplating renting some equipment and fixing it myself, if only to save my poor Nissan the pain and suffering. The Chevy can take it, and enjoys such trials as it was built to take more than the road can give. (It's on the road again, repaired to about 90%, and the last 10% I'll do myself for love and lack of money.)
San Nicolaas: Might be called Sleepy Hollow. Not for the fright but for the lack of evening action. No one on the streets much at all. Daytime: Charlie's Bar still holds the seat of imbibe central and well it should. Rincon Colombiana and Pueblito Paisa will feed you well if you want some off the list local chow and to peg your cholesterol meter. My theory that Jack Daniel's when consumed directly before, during, or immediately after such food has not been proven by the FDA or any other agencies, but I'm still working on it. Amazing (formerly the Promenade of San Nicolaas) continues to be reliable for rib nights on Tuesday and Thursday and I dig those picked onions with the bread to start.
Other boring stuff: House prices here are stable, don't seem to be falling much according to some recent buyers and sellers I've spoken to. Inventory is not huge so this makes sense. Seems there are more Dutch people headed here and building houses but that may be because lately I'm getting to know some of them and they are introducing me to their friends. Thus, the data may be skewed. Construction materials are available in quantity and some places are stocking more variety of tools and light equipment. Caterpillar dealer opened in case you need something a little larger to clear the acreage, dig a massive foundation, or just ride around and burn some diesel.
Driving: Bring a helmet, fire suit, and/or your crash test dummy. Really bad stuff on the roads these days. Not sure why this turn of events has taken place. 99% of the crashes I see are natives. Visitors seem to be much more cautious. Either way, pain and suffering can be avoided simply by lifting the foot off the accelerator or waiting a minute or two to safely pull out. Nonetheless as statistics usually show, try explaining this to males in the 16-21 year old range. If they keep it up, they'll cull their own herd. Just hope they take no innocents with them.
Semi-summary: Aruba remains a worthy destination and I feel privileged to have a place here. It evolves as does any place and not always to everyone's liking. I would encourage people (in the sincerest way) that if you are somewhat disenchanted with the high-rise area and its course, to steer further south by east. Things here are not as convenient: no beachside drink service, small grocery stores, bumpy roads, and such. But they are more economical, authentic, and generally a simple kind of fun and relaxation if those two things are key elements to your program. This is why I like it here. However, I understand that other people have their own desires and goals. Hopefully, you can find what you enjoy and in plentiful supply.
Finally: Yeah, I'm about finished. I want to thank all the people who came out to my book signing events. Universally a good time and fantastic experience. I am grateful. Seriously.
Bon dia from Aruba.
PS: See my blog for all the stuff mentioned here and more.