On Easter Monday we arrive at Aruba. Now you can look for it in your atlas or I could just tell you it is 17 miles off the Venezuelan coast and in the Caribbean Sea. It is the original desert island. It has the same rainfall as Arizona and so very similar vegetation, cacti, dusty scrub etc. It is weird to see somewhere that looks as if it came out of a western yet turn around and see the sea.
Aruba might be in the Caribbean but it actually a part of Holland. The main town is neat and tidy and well maintained. However with the exception of one candy pink building with turquoise sun shades and white plaster work there is nothing really striking. Much of the rest of the town is composed of low rise small buildings generally beige or grey in colour with red roofs.
But we are not spending time in the town, we are off to De Palm private island for a day of relaxation. (Vital after so much travelling.) it is a short bus and ferry ride to this resort. It has all the usual facilities, water slides, bar, restaurant and assorted water sports. It is one of these we have come for, specifically the aqua safari. We have a while to wait which Ian spends snorkelling on the reef and taking snaps of some of the highly colourful fish that appear in large numbers.
After an hour or so we are called for our safari. This involves donning a 35kg helmet that totally encloses your head and has its own oxygen supply piped in from a source on shore. You then walk into the sea to a depth of about 15 feet. Once under water the air in the helmet cancels out much of the weight so it is really quite light. Besides you need the weight to keep you on the sea bottom or you would simply float to the surface.
We have 30 - 35 minutes walking around an area that has been prepared for the activity. A sunken plane, bus and land rover provide homes for hundreds of fish and assorted other marine life which we get to see close up. The sea spider is a remarkable creature but would probably not be to everyone's taste. Visibility is good and the water is relatively warm although by the end we are all glad to return to the warmth of the beach.
After a couple more hours we return to the main island and travel back to the ship. Not much to say about that other than we see a rather remarkable sight. One of the hotels (they are all quite up market here) does not have its own private beach. So they have built a channel from the sea, under the main road and into the hotel reception. There guests can take the hotel launch to their own private island a few minutes away. Smart eh?
No such luxury for us as we once again embark on the Queen Victoria, having missed afternoon tea and either having to help ourselves at the buffet or having to wait two hours for dinner.