Islands, like everything else have size categories. But (like the saying goes) size isn’t everything. On a return flight to Aruba, I was chatting with my son and telling him about the benefits of small island living. I explained about how I was trying to figure out a rating system for the different sized islands. He asked me what category Aruba was. I stalled because I wasn’t sure yet how to answer. There are so many factors to consider. So I continued talking and he listened.
“Let me tell you about other islands first. I have been on some darned (not allowed to say damned) big islands in the Caribbean. Yet is seems to me that the bigger islands are missing something. Not sure what it is but it is missing. They have fabulous things to see and history to learn about. This history is always scattered all over since history doesn’t all happen in one place, at least not on islands. The vacation routine on the big islands is to rent a car, get a map, circle the locations you want to see, figure out the roads and drive a couple of hours from one piece of history to the other. Once there, you walk around (sometimes) get out the cell phone or camera and snap some photos. Then back to the car and get the map again and look at the next circle and drive a couple of hours to that one.” He looked at me and said one word, “Boring.” I nodded since as a boy our family did that during a New York vacation. Been there done that and that is why I live on Aruba. He decided that big islands would have a category called Boring.
I continued, “Now some of the mid-sized islands are interesting but they tend to be volcanic. Not active just inconveniently dormant. It bothers me that something that could wipe me out in a mini second – is sleeping in my back yard.” He nodded. “Anyway, when going from one point to the other on these islands you find that there are no straight lines to move around on. Also, it often happens that the nice places to see are the other side of the sleeping mountain and getting there requires traveling in a big semi-circle. I have nothing against scenic semi-circles but a straight line once in a while has its merits. On Aruba we have lot’s of straight lines and for those visitors that really like circles, our government made plenty or roundabouts all over the island. There is a real nice one just in front of the airport with tons of flags posted all around it. Now THAT is customer service. Aruba just loves its visitors and they love Aruba.” He looked at me and said, “I know what to call them, they are the sleeping monsters category.” He smiled then asked, “Do the visitors love us?” I said, “No not exactly. Let me explain that.”
I thought a moment and continued. “We live on a small island where we are all connected to each other. We all somehow relate to each other in what we do and in who we are. Even when new families come to Aruba, they blend in. The children learn our language and go to our schools. Instead of it being ‘Us’ we are a ‘Constantly Changing We.’ Instead of the visitor loving us, it is better to think that We are loved by the visitors. You know, some great documents in the world start with the words “We the people…” Does that make sense?” He gave me a blank stare.
A bell rang indicating that we would be going into Aruba and to please put on our safety belts etc. The captains’ voice came on and he explained that we would be arriving in a few minutes and that 99% of the time that there was really only one landing approach . The captain went on to describe the best approach to Aruba was arriving with the downtown of Oranjestad to the left. My son looked out the window then leaned over and hugged my arm. He said, “I know.” I asked him what he knew. He said, “WE are the Best Approach category.” I looked at him and said, “Really? Could you explain that to me? He said, “We live on an island that is so small that you can see all of it through one window when landing on the Best Approach. Our visitors can see different things all day long without being in a car and they can go in straight lines or circles because on Aruba, We love our visitors. And I can see all of that through a window on the Best Approach.” I leaned my head on his and said, “Do you know what you did not say?? He shook his head. “You stopped using the word “US” and that is perfect. However the category name is a bit abstract.”
He asked me what I meant with that. I told him that I would explain that during another flight. Until then I suppose that we would settle on the category for Aruba as being the “BEST APPROACH.”