We are in Aruba where everything is dushi. I just love the word dushi. Papiamento is the local language spoken in Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, the ABC islands. They also speak Creole, Dutch and sometimes Spanish. Papiamento is sort of a combination of all the languages. We are so happy we have found most people on Aruba also speak English since our Papiamento needs a little work. Dushi is a Papiamento word meaning so many different things: The calling someone ‘dushi’ means “sweetheart”, “babe” or even “sexy”. You also use it for tasty foods or to describe good things in life. It’s all dushi!
The check-in process for Aruba is a little different than that to which we have become accustomed. Normally, we anchor the boat in a bay and take the dinghy to shore. Or, we will pull into a private marina. Then we make our way to the local Customs and Immigration (C&I) office with our paperwork. On most islands we have up to 24 hours to check in. We can usually walk or take the bus. Sometimes we are charged by C&I a fee for entry. It is usually minimal. We do the same process in reverse when checking out. However, Aruba requires us upon arrival to take Cream Puff to a commercial dock in the main harbor where C&I come to the boat. We must radio the Harbour Master and request permission to enter the harbor. He monitors ship traffic. Once granted permission we are told where to temporally tie up. A port authority officer is assigned to watch us the entire time. Our officer turned out to be really friendly and gave us a ton of information about the island and places to visit while we waited for C&I. She was getting off duty and was happy we were her last assignment of the day. Dushi!
We arrived at Aruba from Bonaire just before sunrise and waited a little while offshore so we could enter in daylight. Since it was really early we had no issue getting permission to enter the harbor and were the first in line with C&I. Cindy, very cleverly, had also timed our arrival day to be one of the few days when no cruise ships were present. Cruise ships really stretch the capabilities of the local officers and private vessels are put on hold. Our entire check-in process took about an hour. We were not charged any fees and the government officials were super friendly and every single one of them welcomed us to Aruba with a nice smile. Dushi!
Before leaving Bonaire, the people of Bonaire kept asking us what our next port was going to be. We told them we were heading to Aruba. They would smile and say, “Ah yes. The party island”. The locals on Bonaire say that every day on Aruba is like a Saturday. They look at Aruba as the island that never sleeps. We haven’t been here long enough yet to make a determination. We’ll let you know.
Some aspects of Aruba are just as we expected. It is an island with an economy based on a tremendous amount of visiting tourists. Beside the fancy resorts with casinos and golf courses, Aruba can handle up to seven cruises ships at one time. That’s a lot of people. Most of the tourists are Americans. This is good for us as the restaurants cater to the tourists and have menu items we have been craving. Within a few yards of the marina are American icons like Dunkin’ Doughnuts, Starbucks, Häagen-Dazs, Burger King, KFC, McD’s and Wendy’s etc. Where did we eat first? Hung Paradise. Yum! Chinese food restaurants are not common in the Caribbean islands. We have been craving Chinese food for some time now and we couldn’t resist the temptation to satisfy our taste buds. Isn’t it funny how we always crave the things we can’t have?
We haven’t yet had the chance to venture much beyond walking distance. We are in the heart of Oranjestad, the capital of Aruba. This is the area where the cruise ship ports are located and when we walk about downtown we join up with the masses of people from the big ships. Later we plan to rent a car and get out to the more rural areas of Aruba and explore the offerings. One of the first places on our list of things to find was a grocery store. Bonaire was beautiful in so many aspects but really lacked a good grocery store. Yes, they had a couple of nice stores there but keep in mind the population is less than twenty thousand people so the stores do not carry much in the way of specialty items. With more than 5 times the population of Bonaire, Aruba offers more variety and shopping choices. Dushi!
We hit pay dirt with the Ling and Sons grocery store. They have a lot of American items such as frozen orange juice, pork and beans, breakfast sausage, canned chili and cheddar cheese to name a few. It still seems funny to me we have to shop for some American items we want in the international section of the store. I still haven’t got used to checking this section for something like Pork and Beans. We will definitely load up before leaving here. We also wanted things like fragrant free laundry detergents and some toiletry items. It is hard to identify which are the good brands when everything is foreign. Labels are not usually in English so we have to use Google Translate to see if a detergent has added fragrances. We both seem to be sensitive to these pesky fragrances. At Ling and Sons we found a lot of brands we recognized. Dushi!
Best of all, Ling and Sons has really fantastic produce, a butchery and bakery. We treated ourselves to a couple of nice size rib-eye steaks to grill aboard the Puffster. As much as we loved the French islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique and the Dutch islands of Bonaire and Curacao, these islands really lacked good beef. We will eventually get to Colombia where we understand the beef is excellent and not as expensive as on Aruba. But for now, we are happy. It is the first time in a few months we have eaten steak that wasn’t frozen at some point. Well, it may have been but nonetheless it was tender and tasty. We were also able to buy fresh milk. This is also a big treat for us. Can you tell yet we are pretty excited by the food here? Dushi!
They’ll be more to come soon as we start to find our way about Aruba. For now, everything is, you guessed it, dushi!