My Aruba story … memories of loyal followers

Aruba Today welcomes readers to participate in our newspaper. Now that we are open to visitors again after the three months of lockdown we are all ears to hear about you. How do you feel to be back or maybe this is your first time in Aruba? Let us know! Send us a picture and tell us about your experience because we love to share this with our readers.

What do you do?

It’s easy. Mail us your vacation picture(s) together with your Aruba story (Email: news@arubatoday.com) and we will publish this in our newspaper. This for sure is a great vacation memory to take home with you.

Yesterday Aruba Today shared Part I of an amazing story from Jo Ann Junk. Today read the sequence Part II where she tells us about her Aruba experience from 2015 till now.

“Then came May 20, 2005. We were there. Natalee Holloway … Beth Holloway. It was chaos … it was heartbreaking … it ripped your heart out. I spent time with Beth, I hugged her and we cried together. But what I saw at that time was A COUNTRY THAT ALSO CRIED …. And A COUNTRY THAT POURED OUT LOVE. The country gave all the Aruban people time off so that they too could search for Natalee … and they did. My Aruba was deeply hurt, my Aruba was deeply sorry … my Aruba cried from the depths of their souls. They did everything humanely possible to find Natalee. Aruba hurt … Aruba ached … Aruba was deeply impacted.

But wait … what is happening in the media? All of a sudden they are attacking my beloved Aruba. STOP!!! WHAT ARE THEY DOING??? This is so sad. THIS IS NOT RIGHT!! I returned to the US, and it was continuing …. Threats to boycott Aruba … people in the news saying all kinds of hateful things about my beloved Aruba … My heart is yelling … UNTRUE!!! … UNTRUE!!! … UNFAIR!!! … LIES!!! Then I got mad!! REALLY MAD!!! I wasn’t going to allow people to slam my beloved Aruba like this … making false accusations … inciting people to boycott Aruba, without reason!!! NO!!! NO – NO – NO … JUST PLAIN NO!!! I started my own “I LOVE ARUBA – AND THIS IS WHY” campaign. I wrote letters, I sent emails, I made telephone calls … to newspapers, to television stations … to whomever would listen!!! It helped my heart to not ache so badly. My communications all spoke TRUTH!!! Unlike what was being reported in the media. This is what I said (at the time):

I have been going to Aruba for about 15 years now. To me … visiting Aruba is like God saying to me that he is giving me small sample of what heaven is going to be like when I arrive. What you are hearing and reading in the media are ALL LIES!! There is no safer place on earth than Aruba. Aruba is a family island … it is an island filled with love … it is an island filled with gratitude for the people who visit it. Aruba thanks you for visiting, every time you turn around. You feel continually blessed by the Aruban people. THIS WAS A CRIME OF ONE MAN!! STOP TRYING TO SINK THE ISLAND BASED ON THE ACTIONS OF ONE MAN!!! We have millions of worse crimes in the US …. EVERY SINGLE DAY!!! LET THE TRUTH RING LOUD AND CLEAR!! THIS is what truth looks like!! Aruba has bent over backwards trying to solve this crime, but Aruba is not New York or Chicago or L.A. Give them the time and space to utilize their own means to solving this. For heaven’s sake …. How many unsolved homicide cases do you think there are in NYC, LA or Chicago? Aruba has done everything they know how to do to soothe the pain that they know Beth Holloway is experiencing. She received nothing but love, respect and compassion. Anyone that says anything different that that is simply just … LYING!!! I WAS THERE … I KNOW WHAT HAPPENED!!! Stop trying to degrade my beloved Aruba… stop trying to steal my dream, and the dream of others. KNOW YOUR TRUTH BEFORE YOU SPEAK IT … and THE TRUTH is what I have just told you.”

We all know the rest of THAT story, and things finally returned to normal for my beloved Aruba.

ARUBA TODAY plays a huge role for me at all times. Both when I am in Aruba, as well as when I am waiting to return to Aruba.

I am an early riser. I love my mornings. When I am in Aruba I am up, dressed and downstairs in the lobby by 5:45 AM waiting to get my two copies of ARUBA TODAY. One copy is for my husband, because truth be told – I don’t want to share my copy with him. I take hubby’s upstairs because he is still sleeping, then I am on my way to the pool or beach by 6 AM. Ahhhh …. My absolute favorite time and place in the whole world …. The only sounds you hear are the birds … singing love songs to you. I go through my ritual of preparing my chairs with towels – then applying my lotion – saying good morning to all the other early risers as they come down – having the first of my morning conversations and hugs with the security staff that I dearly love, and who are all just like family – greeting the singular “runners” as they begin to appear. It’s like a reunion – mostly just a 1-2 minute conversation (where did you eat last night), but it’s been going on for 20 plus years with a lot of them …. In between all of this socializing I do my first browsing of ARUBA TODAY.

Now, it is 7 AM … MY MOST FAVORITE!!! It is my beach walk time, and I can hardly wait until my feet and toes sink into that beautiful sand and water. For the next hour … I walk and I talk to God. Every day I thank him FOR THIS … exactly what I am experiencing at that moment. My beloved ARUBA, one of the biggest blessings of my life. I pray and I thank him for all my Aruban friends, asking him to always hold them in his loving arms … keeping them safe and keeping them healthy. I thank him for the beauty of this island and all the love it wraps us all in.

There are just a few people on the beach at 7 AM … many of them I have known for 10-20 years (or more), yet we only see each other during this space in time every year, at this beautiful island that we all love so much. We greet one another like long lost friends. In between, I see new faces … and I try to transfer that love, and share that joy that we have in common BECAUSE WE ARE HERE … living our dream. Some days I will see local Aruban families arriving to spend the day at the beach. It makes my heart smile watching them, and it fills me with great joy. If I find that they understand English I will thank them for sharing their beautiful island with us. I always want them to know that not only do we love their island, but we respect it … and we appreciate them allowing us to share it. I love their smiling faces, and the laughter of the children as they play. I take the time on this walk every morning to never take these sights … these sounds … for granted. It all just fills my heart with love and happiness. Today … I am completed … I am in my “happy place,” … I have my heart back. I am home, in my beloved Aruba

I arrive back at Ocean Club or Surf Club and it is now breakfast time. I go to the lobby café and greet all my friends there, feeling the love. I get my vanilla latte’ and muffin, and then visit the front lobby desk to say hello to the day crew, and share the love. I get back to my chair, and settle all in with my latte’ and my ARUBA TODAY. Life is good … it gets no better than this … I am filled with love and happiness. This 2nd time of going through ARUBA TODAY I read every word and look at every picture. It keeps me connected to the world outside of paradise to let me know what is happening. YES – YES – YES, I am in my happy place. Next, I pick up my Bible and do my Bible Study …. Because God has given me so much, I must not neglect His Words to me contained within. Later on in the day I will go through ARUBA TODAY one last time, specifically to read over all the advertising to make sure I did not miss anything that we may want to take advantage of.

These … my friends are “my Aruba mornings,” and I am very selfish with them. I always want them to stay the same. When friends come with us, they soon learn that the afternoons and evenings are certainly subject to change ….. I will do whatever or go wherever you want. BUT MY MORNINGS ARE MINE … THEY FILL MY SOUL!

When the sad departure day arrives, I gather up as many of ARUBA TODAY as I can without feeling totally selfish (usually 5-10). I also have been saving my others from previous days after reading them. When I am in the “crying room” at the airport I don’t read a book … no, I pull out copies of ARUBA TODAY … knowing that they will have to sustain me until I am able to return to Aruba … where as you know …. I will leave my heart when I walk down that jet bridge. I LOVE YOU ARUBA!