With my trip to the states approaching, I wanted to make sure I carved out some time specifically for my mother and I to spend together. I know I have the Expat tax requirements breathing down my neck, so I opted to take her internationally, somewhere. Flying from Texas meant it needed to be in the Caribbean most likely. So I started looking at different Marriott properties. Some looked amazing, but the flights were less than ideal. That is when I saw the property on Aruba. The Renaissance Resort had multiple buildings, restaurants, a casino, a private beach and a private island filled with flamingos…. FLAMINGOS…
I thought about it, and that is when the Beach Boys’ 1989 classic Kokomo came to mind. Aruba it was. I had never visited the Caribbean, so I did not know what to expect: Island paradise with exotic creatures or people trying to swindle me out of money.
Sadly, this blog post does have some dark elements. The travel to the island was not without a hitch. American Airlines tried their hardest to ruin the trip. Luckily my mother and I were able to overcome their attempts. Unfortunately, we missed a half day at the beach, but I guess you have to expect that from American Airlines. It is awful to see the state of the domestic airlines.
But I don’t want to focus on how bad AA is, so moving on…
We arrived and hailed a cab. Tired from long travel, we decided to just crash out. I had picked the Ocean side building because they offered suites. The room was perfect. Even the foldout was very comfortable. I had also selected this location for its All Inclusive plan. So I did jump down to the tiki bar for a local beer before bed: there is one local brew on the island.
There were also a ton of lizards on the island. They would eat breakfast with us.
The first day, we talked and chose to grab the ferry over to the private island to see what the hype was about. This place delivered! Two beaches (one for families and the other for adults), a tiki bar, and beautiful water were all around us. We chose our seats and waited for the Flamingos. Once we ordered food, it wasn’t long before we were greeted
Turns out that they are like humans: they like french fries and alcohol. This guy was eating off my shoulder.
These funny birds kept trying to get more food. But all in all, they were funny, skiddish birds. They have beautiful colours and seemed very pleasant.
We decided to try the LG Smith’s Steak and Chop House out for our first dinner. It seemed to get good reviews. Once we arrived and told them we were in the All Inclusive plan, their attitudes switched to a dark and cynical side. They no longer treated us like customers, but instead mere vermin who should be begging for scraps. Our waiter nearly ignored us the whole night, and the manager couldn’t flip our table fast enough. The food was half decent, but the atmosphere was so close to hostile. It was sad, because this place had potential. After dinner, we changed our reservations for the rest of the trip. We would not return here to be treated like scum.
After dinner, my mom and I relaxed and enjoyed the island life.
For Day 2, we chose the private beach. There is a little seawall built up, which keeps the waves at bay. It was pleasant. Waitresses bring you drinks as we watch the sun go by. After getting a nice tan on the front, I hit the in-pool side of the bar and kept enjoying the island flavours. As I worked on my back tan, I ended meeting a girl who also used to work for Epic. Turns out, we share some mutual friends. So that is cool. She was there for her honeymoon. Good choice indeed!
For the second night, we chose to go to Aquarius for some seafood. What a difference. It was 180 degrees from the night before. The staff seemed to actually want us there. The food was just right too. They had a grill station set up with tuna, mahi mahi, lobsters and crab legs. C’EST MAGNIFIQUE!! I went all in on the tuna. The first time, he tried to go a little too well-done, but the second round was just right.
New Years Eve
For our last full day, we hit up the private island again. We had a better idea where to plant our chairs this time. My mom was able to bring her art supplies and start drawing the birds. Their colours are much more vivid than just pink. There are hints of orange and even purple. Their toenails are black.
I ordered the grouper this time. The flamingos were very happy with this choice. They flocked all around us. So much so that people noticed. They came over. My mom was able to get some good drawing in as well. It was nice to meet a fellow SMU student, who turned out to be related to some friends in Memphis. #SmallWorld. Another girl came by to talk to my mother about her art. I started talking with her, and I made a friend from Germany (hopefully there will be travels in our future).
The sun had nearly dried us out, so we headed back to the main island to get ready for dinner. For our third night, we had made plans to attend some big NYE dinner, but we opted to return to Aquarius
After dinner, I met up with Steffi (German girl from the flamingo island earlier) to watch fireworks. We enjoyed some drinks by the pool, then went for a walk. It is crazy how you meet some amazing people in such a short time. We talked about our lives and travel and all things important.
After the fireworks, we headed our own ways. I went back to the room and prayed in the new year with my mother.
After our short time on the island, I decided I never want to go back. So I cancelled my flight home and booked several more weeks at the resort. #NOT
I could only wish. But no, I had to head back and travel back to the Kingdom. The trip was more than I could have imagined. I am so thankful to have the ability to take my mom on trips like these.
One thing I learned is that you don’t need the local currency. Most vendors don’t have change for it. USD works fine.
until next time.