The paintings date back between 2,000 – 3,500 years ago, meaning that they’re older than the bible. I had never seen cave paintings in real life before. They were only something I had seen in movies. Something mythical and exotic, but never real and tangible. To see them in real life is absolutely life-changing. They’re physical markers of the humans who came before us. The humans who began civilization as we know it. That’s the kind of curveball that life throws at you sometimes. You think you’re headed for Aruba to sit poolside at a resort all day, and before you know it, you’re standing in a cave, covered in bat shit, staring at cave murals that pre-date Christ.
Afterwards, we hopped back in the jeep and made our way to Zeerover (Savaneta 270, Savaneta, Tel: +297 584 8401), an oceanside restaurant that sits on a dock jetting out over the shoreline.
Fishermen bring the daily catch straight to the restaurant, which is more like an overgrown dive bar with no walls, just open views of the Caribbean sea. Here, the kitchen staff gut, clean, fry, and serve the fish along with french fries, fried plantains, and pan bati, an Aruban corn pancake that’s pan-fried to a golden brown. A fair warning, this place can get busy and is cash only. Luckily, almost every place in Aruba accepts the US dollar. Before you leave Aruba, make sure to exchange some of your money for Aruban Florin, the local currency. Aruba is one of the few countries around the world that has square coins! It’s a unique souvenir that beats a logoed beer cozy any day.
On my final day in Aruba, I was off for a sailing and snorkeling adventure aboard the Monforte III (J.E. Irausquin Boulevard 232, Oranjestad, Tel: +297 5830400. www.monfortecruise.com). We departed Aruba’s Pelican Pier in the heart of the hotel district and headed southbound towards the lagoons and reefs. There were about 10 of us total, plus four crew members, and it was an excellent way to get out onto the ocean. It was a beautiful day on the water. We snorkeled, did some kayaking, and best of all, got to jump off the boat on a rope swing. The ship also has a bar serving cocktails as well as their homemade lemonade, which I highly recommend. They even serve a light and fresh lunch because all that swimming has a way of making you hungry.
Afterward, I had a free afternoon back at the resort, and as much as I loved exploring Aruba and discovering all these new things, I also really wanted an afternoon where I could just sit on a beach, listen to the waves, feel the sun, go swimming, and lounge around drinking an ice tea. I thought about the book Eat, Pray, Love. In it, Elizabeth Gilbert talks about a phrase she learned in Italy, dolce far niente, meaning, the simple joy of doing nothing. Well, I really wanted to do some nothing that afternoon, and that’s exactly what I did.