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8 – 11 January 2014

My plane to Aruba was not until 14.10 but there was little reason to stay at the hostel without internet, so I left early and took the metro bus (transmilenio) to the airport. Good decision as check-in was ridiculously slow despite (or maybe because?) flying the national carrier Avianca.... As I had not checked in beforehand I was sent to the manual check-in counter, but after 15 minutes with no progress at the (only 2) counters, I realised I would miss my plane despite arriving 3 hours early... I spotted a sign for self check-in and as the line for bag drop was similar length I assessed it a better choice... however, the machines didn't work properly and nobody to help (!) so it took a while before I finally got my boarding card... And again the line didn't move - the locals had countless bags and the people at the counters chitchat'ed a lot (as everywhere in Colombia); normally a bagdrop takes 1-2 minutes but here nothing happened for 8-10 minutes with 6 counters. I raised my concern to a staff member controlling the line but she told me to wait – luckily a local had heard it so as he checked in he sent his daughter to get me and suddenly I was in the front of the line... surprisingly nobody said anything! On the plane I sat next to a woman scared of all the air holes – she was Colombian but had lived in Aruba for many years and provided a lot of information. We arrived on time and my host Rose picked me up at the airport. We had a quick dinner before she went to the gym and meanwhile I tried to get internet connection – it didn't work so I pilfingered with my computer settings assuming it might be the problem. I messed it up and when Rose came home, she told me the connection was the problem.

Rose had borrowed a bicycle for me from a friend, so when the weather improved late next morning I biked to Alto Vista Chapel and then down the north coast to a natural bridge. It was a nice ride along the rough coastline with big waves crashing against the rocks, and at the same time fairly tough with the headwind. There were many other tourists but they came by quad bikes, rental cars or tour buses, so part of the way was fairly busy.... The fact that so many tourists went these places says everything of how little there is to see and do in Aruba. Riding back up the coast was easy with the tailwind, so I continued all the way up to the lighthouse at the northwest corner of the island and from there I went down the westcoast and back to Rose's place. On the way I did a bit of shopping in a Chinese store surprised that they spoke what sounded Spanish - in turned out to be the local language Papiemento which is a simple form of Spanish. The afternoon I spent relaxing at the terasse and in the evening Rose and I had many interesting conversations over dinner.

The next day I biked into the capital Oranjestat where I spent some hours sightseeing – well, there was not so much to see. Only a few old buildings as the island has never been seriously colonised because of the inhospitable environment – the Spaniards arrived in 1499 and later the Dutch took control in 1636. However, not until an oil refinery was etablished in the 1920s the island became prosperous but it closed down a couple of years ago and now the island is left with tourism... Water is drinkable due to the second-largest desalination plant in the world. Late afternoon Rose and I took her dogs for a walk along the north coast...

 We had heavy rain during the night and saturday morning there was no electricity in the house and my computer didn't work – it startet but the screen was black. We went to get new fuses and tried an external screen in a shop – neither made a difference. We also went to the internet provider to have the connection fixed and to the airport for me to buy flight tickets (as they couldn't be bought on the internet). Just before we went sightseeing part of the electricity came back so we assumed it was the humidity causing the problems... In the afternoon we walked along the coast to a natural pool and late afternoon we had some beers at a cosy bar by the ocean. Back home the computer and electricity worked again and for dinner we had wine and cheese - a rare treat for me....

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