By Lyn Brubaker
Aruba Today loves portraying its visitors. We love sharing their stories of what Aruba means to them. For today we received an amazing story from Lyn Brubaker from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, who has been coming for almost 30 years to her beloved island. She wrote:
“My husband and I came to Aruba the first time in 1992…and have been coming every year at the beginning. We learned to scuba dive here in 2002. We have many happy memories of this beautiful island. Sadly, my husband, diagnosed with an aggressive pancreatic cancer in the summer of 2015, died less than 6 months later. As difficult as it has been, I have continued to return to Eagle Beach every year since his death (except COVID 2020). This was my 23rd return visit. I love the immersion into this beautiful island. On my way back home and waiting for my flight many memories started popping in my head of the many things I have seen and experienced during my 23 visits”.
Here are some highlights:
Aruba Airport: evolved from passengers exiting the airplane outside, down steps, walking outside in the sun/heat to be “processed” in the no air conditioning airport.
Aruba’s Natural Bridge landmark: beautiful to visit, sadly collapsed; the harsh, barren, rough waters on the “other side” of the islands beautiful white sand beaches
Donkeys: roaming freely on the island, frequent encounters on our walks, now in a sanctuary on the island, beautiful Christmas cards I bought to support the sanctuary
“Hot water”: Steam from desalination plant provided “hot water” in our hotel for showers, wait too long into the evening and there was no more hot water for bathing
Aloe plants: were “everywhere”, along the road, amongst the scruff of cactus, Divi trees, along walking paths
Bubali Bird Sanctuary: taught us much history of bird migration on the island, climbing the steps to peer out over “the landscape”, instilled an awareness that respecting the Aruba environment is crucial to the island’s sustainability
Butterfly Farm: I think we were two of some of the first visitors to see butterflies on the island, again, environmentally, butterflies support the sensitive Aruba ecological environment
Time Share’s: “salespeople” walked the beaches (at least on Eagle Beach) enticing tourists to invest in a piece of property ownership for a lifetime of returns to “One Happy Island”. Our first visit to Aruba in 1992, we stayed at the same hotel every year, Manchebo Beach Hotel on Eagle Beach. Eagle Beach remains as beautiful as ever, thankfully it remains a public beach for all Arubans to enjoy, as … it is Arubans beach.
Scuba Diving: learned to scuba dive in Aruba from a local Aruban dive outfit (husband & wife business), exploring under the water’s surface in Aruba reinforces the essential environmental balance between Aruba’s gifts of nature
Low Rise/High Rise: in 1992, low rise hotels were established, high rise hotels were being built further up the island. Golf courses were “not a visible draw” for tourists…today golf seems to have taken priority over the natural landscape with unnatural manicured grass. Low rise hotels seem to offer an ambience of “sun, sand, Aruban’s sensitivity to their culture”. High rise hotels seem to offer “replicas” of glamor, activity, amenities that tourists expect albeit the lack of Aruban culture (obviously my opinion)
Hurricane winds: brought change to things we were familiar with, such as the storage buildings at the hotel for wind surfing boards, etc, only to be replaced by red tiles, plants, ornamental fixtures. I smile each visit to the hotel, as no one understands the history of those cement/tile covered areas in the sand
Things that have NOT changed:
- sunshine, white sands, the breeze
- brief rain showers followed by sunshine
- beautiful sunset
- colorful rainbows
- swirling clouds
- pelicans, butterflies, hummingbirds
- clear blue waters, seashells
- drinking the most amazing water from the spigot
One Happy Island: YES!! After 29 years Aruba remains most definitely “One Happy Island” for me. To return, each visit for me has strengthened my friendships with staff who have become “seasonal” friends, deepened my respect for the island of Aruba, calmed the challenges that life has placed before me, renewed my belief that all people are truly good. And most important part of it all is that my husband spirit is “in the Aruban air”.