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Thread: My most recent trip to Aruba report 8/15-8/20

  1. #1
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    My most recent trip to Aruba report 8/15-8/20

    Hello,

    As some of you know I recently took a trip to Aruba to look at properties, access the crime situation and take a very short mini vacation.
    I stayed outside the tourist/resort areas and spent most of my time exploring the island, talking to many locals and asking MANY questions.

    The first day I got there, I went to the condominium complex where I was staying in Matadera.(Essentially Tanki Flip) I was approximately 2.5 miles or a 6-7 minute drive away from Eagle Beach. I chose this particular location because there were 4 condominiums for sale (at an attractive price) in this complex and I wanted to rent one to see if I liked it and felt secure.


    Anyway, I didn't rent a car for the first few days so I could explore the island; walking and using the public transportation system.
    I walked to the near by grocery stores and carried supplies in a back pack.
    It was very HOT walking around and there were several dogs roaming off the main road(2a/2b), who at that time left me alone(other than barked). This was not the case the following evening, but I will get to that later....


    I stopped several times and asked people for directions to the grocery stores, back to the street where I was staying on etc. Everyone was EXTREMELY friendly. One woman thought I was crazy walking around at 3:00 in the afternoon. She told me that as a local, she doesn't do that on account of the heat. I spoke with another woman who was waiting at the "bus stop".(under a tree) I asked her for directions to my street. She spoke Spanish. Fortunately I know conversational Spanish. When I told her where I was going, she gave me directions and then warned me about the dogs.... I thanked her and walked back to the condo complex. Other than a couple of dogs barking at me and arriving very hot and exhausted, I arrived without incident.

    I have to get back to work now but will continue with the rest of the story later today.
    Last edited by vincep; 08-23-2013 at 11:10 PM.

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    Earlier I wrote a lengty detailed explanation as to how the second day went but somehow it didn't post and disappeared; so I'm going to give a condensed version. If anyone needs clarification, feel free to ask.

    The next day I got up to take the bus to Oranjestad and San Nicolas. I walked to the bus stop. While waiting for the bus, there was a car full of Spanish People at the stop who ran out of gas. They were getting filled by a friend in another car who brought gasoline. The person was dispensing gas using a 5 gallon water cooler bottle and a funnel. To make a long story short, the driver offered me a ride to Oranjestad. I accepted. They dropped me off in downtown Oranjestad near the bus station. I gave them a few dollars for gas. They were all very nice. I ate lunch and shopped for souvenirs. I then took the bus to San Nicolas. I paid the fare in Dollars and got shorted on the change given back to me in Florins. The fare one way for a bus in Aruba is $2.30 or 4 Florins. It's cheaper, by one dollar each way, if you are a resident and have a card. I was the only tourist on the bus.

    In San Nicolas I stopped at Charlies bar. Had a beer and a soda. Didn't order any food as the prices were too high. I then walked to a nearby grocery store to buy water and coconut water. On the street a group of people offered to sell me drugs. I said no thanks. I also witnessed at least 15 prostitutes on the street.

    I went back to Charlies Bar. I told the bartender and some patrons what had happened. In a nutshell, they told me that while drugs are highly illegal in Aruba, they are available everywhere. They also said that prostitution is legal and regulated by the government. They also warned me to avoid San Nicolas after 9-10PM; as there is a high likelihood that a person walking, especially alone, would get robbed.

    I took the bus back to Oranjestad. I paid the fare in Dollars using more exact change and got jipped again but not as bad as the first time.

    I ate some really good ice cream at a shop next to the bus station, which is a free wifi location.

    I then waited for the bus(a passenger van) back to my condo. I paid in Florins (exact change) and didn't get jipped that time. I met some really nice tourists from South America on the Arubabus Van.

    I got dropped off on the corner and had to walk back to my Condo. It was dark, around 8:30 PM.

    I started walking down the street and some dogs started barking and growling at me. I backed off and told a guy sitting on his porch what was happening. He broke a stick off of his palm tree and gave it to me. I proceeded to walk towards my condo again. I got past the dogs. Then further down there were three more dogs that came in the street and barked, growled and aggressively came at me.
    I waved the stick and they slowed down their advance towards me. I ducked into an apartment complex and waived down a passing car. I told the driver (a man who appeared to be in his 60's), who only spoke Spanish, what was happening. He told me to hop in and he drove me down the street and dropped me in front of my condo. I thanked him kindly for his good deed.

    I went inside, ate dinner, jumped in the pool, took a shower and went to bed. After the dog incident, I planned on renting a car for the remainder of my time in Aruba. Everything gets better the next day.

    End of day two. I will continue with the rest of my story tomorrow.
    Last edited by vincep; 08-24-2013 at 10:33 AM.

  3. #3
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    thanks for sharing your "adventure".
    i know that you were trying to get up close and personal with the island, but why did you not rent a car earlier?
    to me, walking in poorly lit neighborhoods at night is a recipe for disaster.......dogs, cars etc.
    i am glad that you were not attacked by the dogs.
    there is now a leash law. it will take a long time before the residents follow the law.
    many folks have the dogs in place of house alarm systems.

    we rode horseback (walked) thru a malmok neighborhood a number of years ago and the dog situation was scary.......the horses got spooked and a few of the dogs got kicked.

    sadly/weirdness...prostitution is legal. it is tightly controlled apparently.
    i think it came to being in that area when the refinery was operating full tilt.
    but, aruba is not my home so i will not delve into the topic as it is none of my concern.

    i look forward to part 3
    again, thanks

  4. #4
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    Can't wait to read more of your experience Thanks for sharing!
    Jacki ~ loving Aruba from NJ

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrea J. View Post
    thanks for sharing your "adventure".
    i know that you were trying to get up close and personal with the island, but why did you not rent a car earlier?
    to me, walking in poorly lit neighborhoods at night is a recipe for disaster.......dogs, cars etc.
    i am glad that you were not attacked by the dogs.
    there is now a leash law. it will take a long time before the residents follow the law.
    many folks have the dogs in place of house alarm systems.


    Like you said, I was trying to get up close and personal with the Island. I was considering buying a condo in that neighborhood and wanted to see if it was safe to walk the streets. That and I wanted to learn the public transportation system; which by the way is inexpensive, clean, efficient and SAFE. I did take precautions by having a flashlight while walking in the dark. I didn't do anything different than I would have where I live in the US; with the exception of accepting a ride from strangers. I don't know why I did that. I guess I didn't want to wait for the bus (which only passes every hour at that location) in the heat. They looked like nice young people. It was broad daylight and there were lots of people everywhere. The driver of the car operated an unofficial/illegal taxi service. I was told there are several that operate on the island(mostly operated by people from South America) that give rides at a discount. I gave the driver $3.00 for the ride and he was very happy. The bus would have cost me about the same; especially if I paid in dollars and got shorted on the change. A Regular taxi would have charged $12-14; easy.


    Quote Originally Posted by Andrea J. View Post
    thanks for sharing your "adventure".



    sadly/weirdness...prostitution is legal. it is tightly controlled apparently.
    i think it came to being in that area when the refinery was operating full tilt.
    but, aruba is not my home so i will not delve into the topic as it is none of my concern.

    i look forward to part 3
    again, thanks
    Yes. According to the people I spoke with in Charlies Bar and elsewhere on the island, prostitution is legal and tightly regulated by the Aruban Government. (which I guess is better than it being unregulated) The women come mostly from Venezuela and Columbia and stay 3 months on a "work" visa. They to have weekly health checks. The going rate is $30.00 for a local and $40.00 for a tourist(for 1/2 hour), according to what I've been told. It's really a sad situation for the people involved.
    Last edited by vincep; 08-24-2013 at 03:56 PM.

  6. #6
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    I look forward to hearing about the condo.

    I would imagine prostitution will be delegalized there someday.

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    Ok, now to day 3.

    I woke up around 9AM and had coffee and breakfast. I searched on the internet for the nearest rental car company, which which was by the Super Center, just off Bubali. I don't remember the name of the company right now but it was a local one, not a Hertz, Avis etc. I actually have one of their business cards. Anyway I called them and asked them the rate to rent their cheapest car for 3 days. They were out of the their cheapest car(a stick shift) but had an car with an automatic transmission for $111 for 3 days($37 a day); taxes included. BTW, the weekly rates for a car(automatic) is less than $200 ($28 per day); tax included. IMO, that's a great deal.

    Anyway, I agreed and asked them if they could pick me up. They offered free pick up service. 20 minutes later they picked me up in front of the condo complex. While waiting, I was talking with the caretaker and telling him about my experience with the dogs. He was telling me about the problem with dogs roaming around Aruba. He said there is a law in Aruba what requires the owners to keep them secure on their properties but it's not enforced.

    20 minutes later, I was picked up by the rental company. On the way to the location, I was telling the driver about the incident with the dogs. He was telling me of many stories where dogs attacked people walking and that he was chased by dogs not too long ago. He told me that there was a story in the Aruban paper where a postman riding a scooter was attacked by a dog and knocked off his scooter. The postman was injured, his scooter was wrecked and the owner had to pay for the medical expenses and for a new scooter. This is the law in Aruba when a dog attacks someone.

    Supposedly, the government is considering cracking down on the owners who don't properly secure their dogs.

    One thing to remember. The Aruba outside the hotel and tourist Areas is significantly different.

    Anyway, I picked up my car and drove around quite a bit. I took notes to where the grocery stores and other places were located; in relation to where I was considering buying a place. I did some shopping and looked at other properties for sale. After that, I went back to the condo, took a nap and went in the pool and enjoyed the rest of my evening.
    Last edited by vincep; 08-24-2013 at 03:58 PM.

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    Days 4 and 5.

    On both days I got up early in the morning. had breakfast, drove around the island and checked things out. I got lunch at an inexpensive fast food restaurant or local Aruban or Spanish Restaurant. The Spanish Speaking(South American) Restaurants offer a good deal when compared to most of the Restaurants in Aruba. You just need to know enough Spanish to read the menu and order what you want. I was the only "gringo" in the Spanish Restaurants and the people were EXTREMELY friendly.

    As a matter of fact, of all of the people I encountered in Aruba, generally, the people from South America were the friendliest, followed by the Aruban's and the European Tourists. The American Tourists came in last. I ran across a lot of "ugly Americans" while in Aruba.

    In the mid afternoons to early evenings on both days, I went to Eagle Beach; right across the street from the Amsterdam Beach Resort. It was too hot, for me, to swim and be on the beach earlier in the day.

    Speaking of the Amsterdam, it was a VERY nice place to stay when we went there the first time we were in Aruba. Personally, I much prefer it to a crowded highrise hotel or resort. Mostly Europeans stay at the Amsterdam and it's quiet, as compared to the rest of the resorts.

    While at that particular beach I felt very safe. I detected the visibility teams everywhere (I was looking for them) Even so, and especially since I was by my self, I only took a little money and my drivers license to the beach. I put my DL and money inside a zip lock bag and carried it in the Velcro side pocket on my swim shorts. The zip lock bag did a good job at keeping everything dry. I brought along a beach towel, sunscreen, some water and coconut water; which I left on the beach while swimming. I also put the keys to the rental car and the condo in my pocket as well.The Velcro does a good job at keeping your belongings in your pockets when swimming.

    In the evenings, I checked out the shopping mall and restaurant area by the high rise hotels. I ate dinner there and found a CHEAP place for Cuban Cigars. 2 days earlier I paid $13 for the most inexpensive Cuban Cigar in Down Town Oranjestad. This place has them for a low as $3 for 2 for mini cigars and $5.00 for a full size. I have the business card for this place as well as the other cheap(er) place in Oranjestad. I will post the names later when I find the cards.
    Last edited by vincep; 08-24-2013 at 04:01 PM.

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    The last day in Aruba I got up early and met with the realtor who inspeced the condo I was staying in. She returned my cash security deposit. I ended up biding on another condo in the unit. To make a long story short, the owners counter offered, I counter offered and ended up buying the place for a GREAT deal.

    It's a small one bedroom, furnished with appliances, with a living room and half kitchen with new fridge and oven and kitchen appliances. I even have a private patio. I ended up scoring it for $62,000! The condo I was staying in was listed for $90,000 and the owner wouldn't budge much. The only significant difference between the two units is that the one I purchased has no hot water. I can install hot water for under 1k. I was at the right place at the right time. I'll end up spending around 3k and have a better condo than the one I was staying in. The fees are cheap, $210 per month and include, security, cable and gas etc.. Wifi internet is an extra $5 per week and I only pay for that when I'm there. You pay your own electricity and water which averages around $150-200 per month; when occupied. I plan on renting out the unit when not in Aruba to offset the expenses and perhaps make a few dollars.

    As most of you know, condos on the beach are MUCH more expensive to buy and own. This condo is only a 5-7 minute drive(depending on time of day) to the beach and besides being MUCH cheaper, it's MUCH better IMO. Its very quiet at night as opposed to a noisy crowded resort. I can go to the beach when I want and return to a quiet and peaceful place with a nice swimming pool.

    There were slightly bigger condos for over 100K(asking) but they were only 25-45 SQ ft larger and not worth the premium, IMO.

    I went with a decision to buy a condo as opposed to a home because I don't live in Aruba and don't want to deal with home maintenance long distance. That and more importantly, I've determined through research that many homes are targeted for burglary in Aruba. There are many expensive homes for sale in Noord, for this reason. This condo complex is secure with a big wall that surrounds it, as well as cameras out front, an alarm system around the perimeter and a caretaker/watchman who lives on location.

    There was actually an attempted burglary of one of the other condos around 3 years ago. Since then, they beefed up security and haven't had any problems since. This was the only incident since the complex was built in 2004. I checked with the police and verified with the caretaker.

    The maintenance man, a resident of Aruba for 15 years and originally from the Philippines, told me that Aruba is MUCH safer than all of the other Caribbean Islands. I verified this through research. He also said there are FAR more burglaries in the Philippines than Aruba. Having traveled to the Philippines, I believe that.


    Anyway, I returned the car and got a ride to the Airport only 1 hour and 30 minutes before my flight left. Fortunately, it was mid week and it only took me around 35 minutes to clear both Aruban and US Customs. I had almost an hour to kill and was hungry, so I decided to make the mistake of buying food in the Airport.

    One large hot dog, one small hamburger and a can of diet coke cost me $16.00! I thought I broke a window,..... lesson learned.

    If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask.
    Last edited by vincep; 08-24-2013 at 04:04 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrea J. View Post

    I would imagine prostitution will be delegalized there someday.
    I wouldn't count on it any time soon. The Aruban Economy and the bars who hire the women make too much money.

    I don't ever want to go back there.(SN)There is lo legitimate reason for anyone to visit San Nicolas. All they have to offer is drugs and prostitutes. Charlies Bar, IMO, is a tourist trap ripoff too.

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