Aruba Sunset (Susan Renee / Flickr)
Looking for tropical destination for you next vacation? Here’s my article on Aruba for the Chester County Independent:
Covering approximately 74-square-miles, Aruba is a contrast between the beautiful white sandy beaches, emerald waters – and scrubby undergrowth. Sand, that feels like fine granulated sugar meets the coast. Turquoise, blue-green water reaches as far as the eye can see. Footprints fade quickly as the wind swept terrain blows constantly. A generally flat, river-less land, this is part of the island group making up the southern part of the Caribbean.
In addition to the beauty of this Caribbean land, Aruba has a fascinating history. Alonso de Ojeda claimed the area for the Spanish Crown in 1499 and after the end of the 80-year war with Spain; the Dutch took possession of the island around 1634. Dutch is the primary language spoken, but Papiamento is a blend of several languages spoken on a few islands. Aruba has a population of around 100,000 inhabitants with no major cities. Oranjested, the capital has only about 30,000 residents.
Once known for its gold mining until the minerals played out in 1913, the country sought other resources. With only 15 to 20 inches of annual rainfall, aloe, cacti and the windswept divi-divi – the national tree – prosper in this hot, dry climate. Fortunately, the aloe plant that thrives in this climate has become the island’s primary agricultural crop making Aruba a leading producer of skin care products. Also, plantations provide local employment and supply cosmetics around the world. Farmers tend these plants like locals raise cotton, corn, and soybeans in our area.
On visiting an aloe factory, we were told the outer leaves of the aloe plant are the ones to remove. The plant puts up new shoots from the center and will continue to multiply. One of the best natural medicines for a burn, the leaves of the aloe are broken and the sticky residue provides healing qualities.
Huge boulders, the size of small houses, line the coast. Strong waves crash against the rocks. This makes docking a small boat in the area treacherous.
Like a child’s building blocks, visitors notice small rocks stacked one on top of the other. Years ago tourists started this custom which means, “I was not alone. The rocks were here too.” Viewing this practice, one is aware of the land’s handiwork as the surf and wind demonstrate the forces of nature.
Carolyn Tomlin is a Jackson, Tennessee-based author that has been writing and publishing since 1988. She has authored 19 books and more than 4,000 articles in magazines such as Entrepreneur, Kansas City Star, American Profile, Tennessee Home & Farm, Home Life, Mature Living, ParentLife and many others. You can purchase her full-length works here.