Twenty people, two houses, a hotel room, and seven days in the country of Aruba proved to be an interesting experience. The core group, self-named the Carnival Club, formed after spending time in the military together and now takes a trip together every couple of years to reunite and adventure. Friends, significant others, cousins and acquaintances jumped aboard this trip expanding the group to twenty and representing a variety of careers: pilot, doctor, physical therapist, pharmacist, meteorologist, entrepreneur, engineer, corporate manager, teacher, mom, marketing consultant, and professional gambler – all interested in adventure. Aruba itself was beautiful, warm, and windy – a much needed change from the many consecutive days of rain continuing in my hometown of Seattle…I mean Denver. (Isn’t Denver supposed to be one of the sunniest places in the U.S.? Just checking.) Aruba is known for a few things like turquoise water, white sand beaches, wind surfing, kite boarding, deep sea fishing, and wreck diving. Many of the residents are from Venezuela, because it is close, and the Netherlands, because of the colony and rule of the Dutch. At one time, one of the biggest refineries in the world operated in Aruba, and though the boneyard of a facility still exists, it no longer operates, and tourism now almost fully supports the country. And as tourists, so did we.
Our main vacation rental (Villa Tropical) had beds for twelve, a full kitchen, ping pong, darts, corn hole, pool, games, a hot tub, sand volleyball court, and a swimming pool with a waterfall. We played sand volleyball the first night, four-on-four, and realized that we were in a danger zone. Someone must have hauled in the sand directly from the beach – broken shells and all – leaving us with bleeding cuts and scratches. We kept playing. Then, if the ball went out of bounds, the goat heads (the meanest stickers your foot has ever encountered) pierced the soles of the retriever and stuck in the ball meeting the next server’s hand. We kept playing. When the ball went over the fence, Justin went to get it and came back with a seriously sprained ankle. We finished the game and stopped playing. We didn’t play volleyball again.
For the next six days, we swam, snorkeled, dived (SCUBA), laid on the beach, wind surfed, and did all the things the ocean calls to do. We even took a Jolly Pirates Cruise fully equipped with pirate punch, snorkeling stops, and a rope swing. The rope-swing antics grew with each swing, and at the end two people came out of the water with injuries. Is anyone surprised? No. On another night, we formed two teams to compete in Aruba Mansion Olympics (AMO). Z and I put the games together using almost all the resources from the house. We played in relay fashion starting with a shot of tequila. Two balls to the corner pocket, a volleyball serve, rolling a seven with dice, taking out one piece in a Jenga game, a corn-hole toss, a ping pong ball throw, and one dart to the board, all while carrying the football baton that had to be passed down the stairs to the next contestant. In the end, the teams tied because Z and I finished the relay racing against each other but in all the confusion, he ended by throwing the football and I ended by jumping in the pool. Then everyone jumped in the pool, someone made chocolate chip cookies, and I don’t think anyone really cared that we weren’t certain who won!
Overall, I got to lead yoga a couple times for a few of the girls in the house. I had two wreck SCUBA dives, which were my first wreck dives, and two reef dives. I got to see Panama city for one night on the way in and another night on the way out. I felt the heat of the sun and the cool of the ocean for a few days in a beautiful place with some really interesting people where I heard incredible stories of passion, dreams, and adventure. It’s a good reminder to me to be thankful for what I have, to appreciate where I’ve been, and to look forward to the future.