Thursday, November 6, 2008

Cruise Update: Aruba

CELEBRITY CONSTELLATION, ORANJESTAD, ARUBA — While in port in Aruba Diane and I decided to go ashore and walk around a little bit in the capital city of Oranjestad. It was remarkably hot, bright, and sunny, a marked improvement over our stop on the island together in January 2007, during which it rained off-and-on the entire time.

Highlights of our brief visit included watching the iguanas that dwell along the rocky shore to the east of the cruise port, going by the Fort Zoutman Historical Museum, and walking as far as the statue of Queen Wilhemina at the eastern edge of town.

A characteristic of royal statues bears mentioning here: any dates they bear are likely to refer to the years that the monarch reigned. Thus, on the afore-mentioned statue of Wilhemina, the inscription “Nos Reine Stima 1898 – 1948” refers to the years that she ruled over the Netherlands, not the dates of her birth and death. This was not readily apparent to the group of tourists who stopped and posed for pictures with the queen while we were there.

“She wasn’t very old,” one the of the men said upon reading the dates at the base of the statue.

“People didn’t live very long in those days,” an equally vocal but apparently more stupid woman in the group said, referring to the brutally short lifespans of the Paleolithic Era/mid-20th century. “They were lucky to make it to 40 or 50.” She was doubtless grateful to have reached that age herself in our own more forgiving times.

During our stay in Oranjestad we also had a nice chat with Senator Benny Sevinger, a member of the Aruban parliament. Like many people we have spoken with, U.S. citizens and non-Americans alike, he expressed pleasure at the results of the recent presidential election. He was also very well informed, and when we mentioned that we were from Virginia immediately knew that was one of the states Obama had carried.

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