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Like many Arubans, I grew up on the island until I was 18 and then moved to the Netherlands to receive higher education.
After many years of studying, followed by a gap year in South Korea, I moved back to my native land of Aruba. When I came back, it was atypically raining almost every day, so my family and I looked for activities to do inside. On one of those days, we sat together to enjoy the nostalgia of looking through old family photos. Perusing through the pictures made me think back to when I was young, and how we had school trips every year to visit different places around Aruba to learn about those locations.
In particular, we came across photos of my second birthday party. At our house, the norm was themed birthday parties, and we often visited places that matched the theme. Clearly, we chose a Native Amerindian theme for my party, which was held at Ayo Rock Formations, known for its Amerindian petroglyphs. We went to see the beautiful rock drawings and learn about the history of Ayo with the other kids at the party. The memories attached to this experience of my birthday party at Ayo so long ago inspired me to want to visit again. Plus, I had forgotten much of the history: it was time for a refresher!
On my recent visit to Ayo, it looked very different from how it looked when I was younger in some ways and in others it was unchanged. In the ‘90s, there were no gazebos, and the sandy pathways were just outlined with rocks. Since then, the pathways have been paved with rocks and there are three gazebos inside and two outside the entrance. On the other hand, the rock formation was the same. Some of the Amerindian paintings on the boulders were still being protected behind the bars just like in the picture above. Unfortunately, however, what I was hoping to find—a history lesson on this very important Aruban historical site—was lacking. There was some general information about what I would be visiting at the site, but very little beyond that.
While exploring new locations is a nice experience, learning about the location and its history greatly enriches the experience. This is precisely where the new project to develop an interpretive plan for the Ayo rock formation site comes into play. As part of this project, developments are in the works for in-depth onsite information to be easily accessible to everyone who visits Ayo. Finding out more about our own heritage and history is very important to me, so working on this project with others is a perfect opportunity for me. This is the first part in a series of four (once a month blog) posts in connection with the development of an experiential trail. Stay tuned for updates on this exciting project!
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