Yes, really Aruba. The island feels blissfully isolated from ‘real’ problems in the world. That’s a deception, we are very invested — you could say too invested — in the economy of the USA. We need you to do well. Well enough for you to keep coming on vacation and keep our economy turning.
Living here can be whatever you want it to be, but you certainly need a bit of a sense of humor and a lot of patience to get through the day.
For one, there are our notorious street gangs.
Seriously, these guys will hold up traffic as they please. They are completely unfazed by honking cars. And they know people will stop for them — a goat does a lot of damage to a car and the insurance here refuses to pay for it. They don’t care if you’re running late. Of course, no one here ever is on time, so that cancels out a bit.
Speaking of animals, the concept of cages or fenced in spaces is a little foreign here. Guess how I found out we have pigs in Aruba? Yeah, by stepping out of the office for a smoke and finding this little guy in the driveway.
I’ve also seen cows roaming the street sides looking for food. We used to get roaming donkeys, and in the dry season they would get into your yard to suck the moister out of the laundry that was drying on the line, chewing up your clothes in the process, but we have a sanctuary for them now with plenty of water. So no more roaming donkeys.
All those are imported animals. Indigenous animals are lots and lots of different lizards. Most people know about iguanas, but have you ever seen a aqua colored lizard?
They are called Blauw Blauw (translates to Blue Blue). And as with most brightly colored animals they are toxic. Not deadly toxic, but enough to make your cat puke all over the place if it catches and eats one.
And last but not least, we’re currently plagued by an invasive species: boa constrictors. Probably pets that got too big and were released into the wild. They are thriving and wreaking hell on the bird population. There’s a kill on sight order out on the boas. I’ve not yet gotten used to waking up to this…
But I have stopped being so squeamish about cutting the head off with the hedge scissors. And yeah, I’m aware it’s a ‘baby’. I don’t really want to see the mommy.
Aruba is very dry. Dry enough that people act like it never rains here, and build accordingly. Which means that if it does rain, we get this:
Kids around here get rain-days off from school like they would get snow-days in other parts of the world. That picture is not the result of a hurricane. Hurricanes all pass north of the island, and the south part of a hurricane is the weak side. Meaning even if we get one close enough to warrant a warning, only beach side properties are in any real danger because of the waves.
Socially Aruba is buzzing about 3 different issues: A graffiti vandal who is upset about the bad treatment of a child predator case. He (she? they?) been spraying slogans everywhere stating Aruba is friendly to pedophiles. It’s working though, the graffiti is calling a lot of attention to the case.
We’ve also just passed a measure that allows gay domestic partnership. Not quite gay marriage yet. We’ll get there eventually. It’s seen as a huge step in the right direction by half the population and as a road straight to hell by the other half.
And Aruba is trying to become the greenest island in the region. One of the most recent things towards this goal is a ban on disposable plastic bags. That went in on January 1st. There’s a bit of complaining about that, because people are now expected to bring their own shopping bags. Also, everyone is now forced to buy trash bags for the bathroom bins. See, culturally no one throws toilet paper in the toilet. There’s no sewers, only septic-tanks. Paper tends to clog those, or so people say (I’ve not had problems with that personally). We used to use the plastic bags from the supermarket for bathroom trash. Now we have to pay money for them. And of course those trash bags are plastic as well. So a lot of people’s opinion is it makes no difference. We’ll get used to it, but change never comes easy.