Okay, a brief synopsis of the journey to paradise.
We flew out on Westjet out of Toronto, the first half hour on the flight being a little painful considering a young tot, fine and eager in the terminal, decided
that he wasn't too eager to fly once on the plane. Leading to a solid 35-40 minutes after take-off of screaming and whining that he didn't want to...
After the half hour, he decided to fall asleep, to the joy of, well, apparently everyone.
Nothing to note about the flight after that... smooth, comfortable, Yay Westjet. (You'll hear that again later...)
Land at Reina Beatrix 4 hours and 20 minutes after take-off.
Walk down the stairs into the Customs and breezed through. No problems. Smooth entry.
Baggage lounge for luggage pick-up, waited not even 5 minutes and there it was.
Straight to a bus, straight to the Tam, straight to the room, straight to the Coconuts to reunite with 8-year friends from Britain, then off to the Red Parrot for our traditional first night dinner. Traditions can be good, even if you have to create them for yourself.
Monday morning, straight out for the beach walk to the other end of the beach, as in as far as Passions/Amsterdam Manor. Good solid walk first thing in the a.m. on that beach is the next best thing to a spiritual experience sometimes...
Back to the Tam to find a palapa, no problem.... lots of space.
A day in the sun, reacquainting with the family members we've acquired over the last 15 years, learned who's still there and who isn't.
A few changes, but that's life.
The beach by the Tamarijn....wow, I've never seen such rapid change in all the years I've been going.
We got there and the beach by the Cunucu Terrace was pretty much a drop off. Boardwalk, a wee bit of sand, major rocks, then water.
Up around the corner at Casa Del Mar, the beach was so "gone" that the beach chairs were like sardines, all packed in on the no more than 15-foot-wide beach, and again, severe drop off. North of Casa Del Mar was fine, that was the only really "bad" area. There were some pretty amazing waves. Over the next couple of days we got to see waves like we had never witnessed there before.
To the point of being so loud some nights that it kept us awake until about 3, and that's with the patio/balcony door closed.
Yeah, loud to say the least, but very soothing.
But I digress....
After a bit, the Lady and I wandered over to Ling's to pick up a few bottles of champagne for the upcoming renewal celebration.
Not having been there before, usually going to Kong Hing, I must say I was pretty impressed. We'll be going for that little extra
walk from now on. Amazing selection of goods and pretty good prices too.
Back to the beach, then off to meet our compadres at the Coconuts for the traditional 6:30 viewing of Mother Nature's glorious light show, then over to the Divi and the Pelican Terrace and Joseph's pasta station artistry.
The evening fun included spending the promo bucks from the Tamarijn at the Alhambra, and walking away with more than we came with. Not a windfall, but enough to bring a smile to our faces.
Tuesday morning was horseback riding at Rancho La Ponderosa.
This year we did a private ride with our two friends from Britain.
The Lady and I pushed and prodded for years to get them on the trail, then a few years back they gave in and joined us. Now there's no stopping them. At any rate, this being our 10th anniversary, our friends treated us to the ride. We were picked up bright and early by Frank, who also turned out to be our guide for the day. I was assigned Comanche, a beautiful black, brown and white paint that I always get to ride, except for our last trip in April when he was down with a fetlock problem. He'd been on rest for five months and was eager to get out on the trail and I was lucky enough to get him.... and it was a great combination. The Lady rode Zorro, another great team on the trail. They've been together many times over the years, and you can see the chemistry there.
Our friends rode two lovely horses, Bacardi and Flaco, just perfect for relatively new riders. Just active enough, but not a risk for a newbie.
We took the ride out to Alto Vista that is usually done in the p.m.
It's longer than the Gold Mine ride and the Natural Bridge ride, with a few more opportunities to let the ponies run a bit, if you're capable. This being our 10th anniversary riding with the ranch as well, the guides are pretty comfortable with letting the Lady and I go off and have a wee bit of running time, so our compatriots stayed back with Frank and got a few impromptu lessons, which really improved their ride on the way back.
The Lady and I got to get in some solid riding along the road, to the point where we got to Alto Vista, dismounted, tethered the ponies,
and managed to walk the labyrinth before our compadres showed up.
Pretty much the same thing happened on the way back, Frank gave us (the Lady and I) some space to run, and we did.
Glorious to say the least. Back to the ranch eventually, back to the Tam, and then back to the beach.
Another beach walk on Wednesday morning, and the beach was back to normal by CDM, about 20 feet of beach more than a day ago... Mother Nature can be pretty amazing. Stop at the Divi for breakfast... gotta love that bacon.
Back to the beach for the day. I have to say that it's never been so easy to get a palapa at the Tamarijn, and there was none of the silliness of getting up at 5 or 5:30 to rush out and reserve a spot. Yet another reason we go where we go. I finally pulled my guitar out and got to spend a few hours in the sun playing. I can't describe how much more enjoyable it is to play on the beach....
Off to Old Dutch at 10pm for the weekly Acoustic Jam with an amazing young musician named Alain Tromp. Some of you may have seen him with a 3-piece band called Honey Pot, maybe with a band called Sunglass Mafia downtown... he's literally all over the island.
Dragged our friends to the club as well, they figured after 8 years it was time to venture out a little more, and they had a killer time. The players for the evening were great, the pub's a great little place, pretty warm if you're not near a fan though.
Out of there about 12:30 or 1, I'm not sure what time it was, and it didn't really matter.
Beach walk...beach, quick run downtown to see a friend, back to the Tam and the beach.
(Do you see a pattern forming here?)
After a while we started hearing an odd hissing sound coming from the path by the towel hut, and being sorta curious I had to go look, only to find Francis (if you go to the Tam you'll know who I mean here) sitting on the ground inflating dozens of white balloons, because he couldn't find any black ones, or so he told me. Turns out it was for our renewal ceremony.
Which, if I may add, was wonderful.
We had some very dear friends there, the vast majority of them island natives, including two of my island bandmates, Easy B (Bradley from the Tamarijn) and Sugar from 2Sweet, lovely Iris from the reservations desk, John and Roland from the bar, a few of my patient/clients, a few of my island Reiki students and of course, our very dear friends from Britain. (Should I put your names here?)
We started the actual gathering about 6:30, mingled for about 10 minutes, then Francis, our unofficial officiant, started the ceremony. We used pretty much the same wording as the first time 10 years ago, with some added text from a renewal ceremony that the Lady wrote last year for a lovely couple that was renewing their vows.
It worked out magickally. As we concluded the spoken parts and stepped into the sea to bind our vows, the sun made a picture-perfect backdrop. There was a wispy cloud formation overhead that many said resembled an angel. I wasn't about to argue about that....
As much as I had, I hadn't really noticed the number of people that had gathered, both on the boardwalk and on the balconies facing the water, quite a few that we didn't know, to tell the truth, and I only noticed when I heard all the clapping and such when we were coming out of the sea. Pretty touching.
Yeah, a wonderful and magickal experience for the Lady and me.
Off to dinner at the Paparazzi, consistently good food no matter what some food snobs may say. And perhaps it's because we're repeats, perhaps it doesn't matter, but the wait staff were, as always, wonderful and accomodating.
Finally got to hear Dave Cousins and Joyride. What a talent.... We were hanging by the pizza bar, best viewpoint if you ask me, and watching Dave and his team crank out some pretty impressive sounds. During his break, he walks straight up to me and says "You've got musician written all over you...", to which I had to respond, "No, I'm actually an accountant...", which brought the usual laughing and such. We talked about instruments and playing and stuff, which led to me trot back to the hotel room to fetch the Little Lady (my bass guitar) so that Dave might see it. It's a bit of an oddity, 3/4 scale body with a full scale neck, overhead luggage size. Chatted with him, then he invited us out to the Hard Rock Saturday eve to jam live with him.
Unfortunately there were previous plans, so we didn't make it out. Hung around for the rest of his set, then off to bed with the obligatory bag of popcorn. Seemingly another tradition.
Friday was a beach day, but aren't they all in reality?
Due to the wonder of technology, Francis was able to give us a copy of the video that was shot at our ceremony, not that we were even aware that one was being shot.... I assumed pictures, yes, but I didn't think this.... it's a lovely 7+ minutes of the ceremony, the people, the sea, and Mother Nature's light show.
More beach time, then about 4pm, I hear Bradley at the Tamarijn pool paging me on the p.a., this while I'm on the beach at the 1500 block.... so, I wander over in that general direction to find the drummer and guitarist from 2Sweet waiting for me, big smiles, hugs and handshakes, then suddenly I'm in musician mode and moving gear from the storage area to the staging area beside the pizza bar. Set up Rocky's drum kit and sound gear, head back to the beach to the Lady asking "Where the hell did you get to?", something that's apparently not uncommon when I'm there. I never realized.
Anyway, off to the room to clean up for cocktails and dinner at the Divi, then hang about 'til 9, when we head back to the Tam for 9 pm, then hit the boards with 2Sweet. A very rockin' set for 2 hours. Sugar pulled a fast one and was actually able to pull the Lady up on stage with us when we did "Stir It Up". This was relatively unheard of, and I got a stage whisper in my ear that I was going to die later. Oh well.... it was still a killer set, and I obviously made it through the night. I got to play some material I knew, and some I didn't. As usual, I had me a real good time. Tear down gear, move everything back to where it's supposed to be, remove any evidence, bag of popcorn, hugs and thank yous and good nights all around, then back to the room. And a good night was had by all.
Saturday morning, beach walk, and on our return, we somehow scored what we consider THE prime spot on the beach by the 1500. There's a point of rocks, at least there was that week, right by the block with one lone palapa on it. We got it for the day. I settled in with my guitar and proceeded to relax.
Eventually, lunch then wandering about, ending up at the Divi Village to avail ourselves of the free wifi, and to check in and get our boarding passes printed out. Bought the Lady a "Just Call Me Dushi" T-shirt, because, well, she is.
Off to Last Evening cocktails and dinner with our friends from Britain, again at the Red Parrot, then back to the Tamarijn just in time to miss the carnival/rap/dance show of some sort. Can you tell we weren't really all that enthused? Instead, the four of us spent the next 2 or 3 hours shooting pool in the wonderfully hot night air. I've never shot pool on the tables at the Tam, usually because it's crawling with screaming kiddies, but luckily we had the lobby area pretty much to ourselves. Gonna have to do more of that. Off to see Andrea at the pizza bar for a bag of popcorn, quickly reunite with my buddy Robbie at the Coconuts bar and take a picture together... he's been off a bit and I hadn't seen him, then off to crash.
Luckily I had the foresight and wits about me enough to pretty much pack on Saturday, because I never feel like doing it on the day I actually have to leave. Leaving's always too emotional for us. Down to the Cunucu for breakfast, say "See you later..." to the girls, turn in the towels and end up doing a quick counselling session with the towel hut attendant, back to the room, down the stairs, out to the lobby to say goodbyes and hug everyone and shake hands and all that, and as that's happening, Candace, our wonderful maid, comes wandering up with my Aruba hoodie, which I had left in our room....
yes, I can be a knucklehead...
On to the bus, pleasant non-eventful ride, then, are you ready for this? Into the airport to see, to our horror, lines and lines and lines of people, BUT, we see the Westjet boarding pass line is, lo and behold, empty!!!! So, it was straight up to the desk, How you doing? Have a nice flight, then straight into the terminal, straight into the security check line, no hold up, no nothing, straight in to duty free, get the Lady a place to sit, go get pizza and how do ya do?
So, on to our seats, where we found ourselves seated beside a gent that was almost a dead ringer for my good friend from Britain, turns out he was an Irishman now living part time in Montreal, travelling here, there and everywhere on his catamaran and mono-hull boats.
At the moment they're moored in Bonaire, Belize next and on and on. Got us really wondering what our next step might be.
And as for the kid that decided to scream while leaving Toronto, it seems Aruba chilled him out nicely, not a peep out of him.
A relatively smooth landing at Pearson led to a pretty smooth transition through customs, on to the baggage carousel for a very short wait, out the doors of the terminal, onto a local transit bus, and home in less than 30 minutes after landing.
Not quite over yet.... the next day I was getting ready to download images off my phone, when, lo and behold, I discover that, much to my horror, I don't have my phone!!! Searching and scouring the house and all the baggage lead me to think the worst, so, I get in touch with Westjet online, and thinking the only place the phone could be, I headed off to Pearson International. While on the transit to the airport, I get a message from the Lady telling me that Westjet had in fact found a phone, but don't get your hopes up because it might not be mine. I get to the airport, find the lost and found for Westjet and the attendant brings out a phone, but not mine. She disappears into a back room and comes out with another gent who says he was just on the phone with my wife, and, is this your phone? You can not imagine the joy when I saw the fellow hold my phone up!!!!
All the horseback riding pix, a load of sunset photos, all manner of wonderful stuff from this journey.
As I said way back at the beginning of all this, YAY WESTJET!!!! Yeah, they do really care.
Thanks for your tenacity if you made it all the way through this.
It took some doing for you and me both.
Last edited by Mr. Ratt; 05-28-2014 at 02:44 PM.
Reason: oooh, messy line breaks...