Tag Archives: Long Island

Why We’ll Never Go Back to Aruba: Part 2

I already told you about how miserable check-in was when we arrived in Aruba HERE.

And while an air mattress did eventually arrive for Tech Support, there are plenty of other reasons I’ll never go back to The Happy Island.

Inconvenient Flights. We got up at 4:30 am and took three flights to get to Aruba. We all know the airlines don’t offer much in the way of edibles anymore, so we made sure to eat before our second flight.  The last leg of our journey involved traveling from Charlotte, North Carolina to Aruba; it would be four hours. We knew we wouldn’t have time to stop and get anything, so we mentally prepared ourselves to shell out $24 for sandwiches we wouldn’t normally consider consuming. But it was a complete shock when the cart finally made it to us back in row 25  — the non-reclining last row of the plane in front of the bathrooms — and we were told there was no more food. Nothing. We were ravenous, but managed to stave off our hunger with chewing gum and gummy worms.

I would have paid $30 for these nuts.

The Smokers. They should call Aruba The Smokers’ Island. When I am on vacation in a tropical paradise, I like to smell the fresh air. Quick word to the smokers out there: If you are smoking a cigarette within six feet of others, please know that we can smell your stinky second-hand smoke. And while you might enjoy the stench of your cancer stick, you should know others do not. If you light up when people are eating, you are officially a douche-bag. Sorry about your addiction, but we are hating on you. As far as I am concerned, there were way too many smokers in Aruba.

Smokers in paradise suck!

The Americans. Downstate New Yorkers had taken over the island and, I have to admit, initially, I looked for camera crews because Tina and Chrissy and Margo and Ellie were like something out of The Housewives of Long Island. {Is that even a thing?} These folks and their families were every bit as loud and demanding as they were pierced and tattooed. I tried to ignore them, but they spoke at a decibel that made this impossible. Here is a bit of unintentionally overheard conversation:

“Omigawd, Teeeeena. Yor down! Howa you feelin?”

“Omigawd. So sick. You have no idea. Last night, I thought I was gonna die.”

“Do you think it was the food or somethin’?”

“I dunno. But I was pukin’ until like three or somethin’.”

“Shuttup!”

“No, I’m serious.”

“Omigawd, that’s terrible. How are you now?”

Believe me when I say, I didn’t want to hear all about Tina’s dosing schedule.

How the Tylenol wasn’t touchin’ it. How she was “gonna take sumthin’ else around two OAR so.”

The moment she went back up to her room, Tina’s devoted friends shared their thoughts:

“Can you even freaking believe she came down he-AH? Omigawd. Keep that shit to yor-self.”

“I know, right?”

“I paid seven thousand dollahs for this trip. Fuck if I wanna virus! Jeezus. What is she thinkin’!”

You get the point. We got to hear that for six days.

Oh, and we also got to hear the Downstate New Yorkers at 2 AM as they stumbled back to their rooms, cackling and swearing.

Most. Unpleasant.

The Palapa Line. If you wanted to make sure to get some shade on the beach, you had to stand in a queue to reserve one of those circular thatched-roof structures. Palapa reservations started each day at 4 PM. I assume at any other time of the year, this would have been no big whoop because there were 147 palapas. But because there were sooooo many guests at the hotel during this particular week, folks started lining up at 3 PM. Which made me feel like I had to get in line at 3 PM. If my math is right (and it might not be), I spent five hours waiting in lines trying to ensure my family would have sun protection when I could have been doing water aerobics with Dushi.

Put 1,500 people in this picture and then you'll have a more accurate idea of what we were dealing with.

The Lack of Non-Touristy Destinations. For some, sitting in the sun doing nothing is the best vacation in the world. But Hubby and Tech Support have ants in their pants, so we had to move. And frankly, I was underwhelmed by Aruba’s downtown that was filled with one souvenir shop after another. Perhaps the greatest disappointment? Baby Beach. I had been told this beach would be deserted and romantic, but we encountered a crowded beach with dozens of travelers who were obviously thirsting for solitude as well. Meh.

Baby Beach would have been great if it had looked like this.

The Public Pooping. I still can’t believe I really saw this, except I did. If you walked waaaaay past the fancy hotels, you would have seen children using Nature’s potty. And I’m not talking #1. {I assume they were doing that in the ocean.} No, I’m telling you I saw littluns crapping in the sand. To be fair, I did see one mother pick up her kid’s turd in a plastic grocery bag, tie it up, and toss it into a larger trash bag. I’m not known for having delicate sensibilities, but I did not want to walk on that stretch of the beach after that. Hubby declared it was my fault. “You went past the last resort,” he said. “You went too far.”

The Surprise Charges at Check Out. I enjoyed arguing with the manager about the $87 worth of bar charges that the hotel said we had accrued. Thing is, we didn’t drink any alcohol or charge anything to our room. The hardest drink I consumed was a mango smoothie. After much investigation, we discovered the drink charges were leftover from the prior occupants of the room. (I’m guessin’ they may have been from Downstate New York.)

Wheeeeeeeee! Yeah. No. That wasn't us.

The Masters. Hubby had prepared me that The Masters was going to be on while we were on vacation. I knew this meant I would be on-duty with Tech while my husband relaxed in the room. For two full days. Secretly, I prayed Aruba would not have televisions, but they did. And of course, Hubby had to watch. Until the bitter end. So good for you, Bubba.

"Must. Watch. Bubba."

The Cranky Arubans. We visited Aruba over our son’s April Break which coincided with Easter and Passover this year. It seemed the whole world had come to Aruba. Like nineteeen-bazillion people had crammed themselves onto this relatively tiny island. People told us we wouldn’t have any problem grabbing dinner; that we would be able to just walk into restaurants and be seated. Um, not so much. Every restaurant was packed with hungry tourists. One night, we had to wait 45 minutes to be seated at a mediocre Italian place. Two hours and two meatballs later, we realized our original server had vanished. There had been a shift change (or something), and we had to beg the manager to please take our credit card so we could leave.

My Theory. Peak tourist season in Aruba is between December and April, so if the Arubans had to deal with abrasive, high-maintenance visitors for five months, well…who can blame them for being exhausted? I know the Housewives of Long Island wore me down, and I only had to listen to them for six days. {This is why we told everyone we were from Canada.} Still, when your nation’s economy depends on tourism, you’d better smile and figure out a way to be nice.

Grrrrrrr.

But it wasn’t all bad. I mean, we were together on a tropical island, right?

So here is some cool stuff I’d like to remember about Aruba:

The colorful lizards & iguanas

The fabulous, consistent weather

The soft sand

The $87 smoothies

The funky trees

The awesome starfish I stepped on

Finding a live starfish was pretty cool.

The 20-minute ride on the Big Mable. Worth every florin.

From here on out, I’m taking a tip from Annie over at Six-Ring Circus and keeping my vacation expectations low.

If you could go anywhere & money was not an issue, where would you go?

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Lessons From The Great Gatsby

The House Where Gatsby Lived

I read The Great Gatsby for the first time in 11th grade and promptly fell in love with Gatsby: His decadent parties. His fancy cars. The flowers and champagne he showered on his friends. The opulence of the time. I understood Gatsby’s romantic notions and tortured love for the wilting Daisy Buchanan. I loved how Gatsby stared across the water at the flashing green light, clinging to a dream because, for Jay Gatsby, for a time the world was green with possibility. The narrator, Nick Carraway, realizes Gatsby’s dream is  seriously flawed – and Nick walks away one night leaving Gatsby alone in the moonlight “watching over nothing” (153).

Anyone who has read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel knows that Gatsby was all about illusions. He was stunningly good-looking, which can get you pretty far in America. He was born James Gatz, the son of unsuccessful farmers, but he reinvented himself. An officer; a gentleman; a businessman.

Gatsby was the lover of ideas. Fancy ones. He had the audacity to believe in the American Dream, where anything was possible. But his thinking was terribly flawed. He believed in things that could never be.

For all his faults, Gatsby was beautiful because he was so very vulnerable.

Oh, how I wept.

(I don’t mean to sound dramatic. Any student who has ever sat beside me as I watch the film version knows I weep like a baby at the end of Gatsby.)

A few days ago, a former student told me The Sands Point, Long Island mansion – that is said to be author F. Scott Fitzgerald’s inspiration for his legendary novelis about to be demolished.

The 24,000-square-foot, 25-room home, which in the 1930s used to be the scene of lavish parties by celebrities, is now a deteriorating shell of its former glory.

After sitting on the market at $30 million, the home — called Lands End — is set to be knocked down, and plans are in the works to split the 13 acres of land into five lots worth an estimated $10 million each.

“The cost to renovate these things is just so overwhelming that people aren’t interested in it,” Lands End project construction manager Clifford Fetner told Newsday. “The value of the property is the land.” Source

It’s all just so damn symbolic.

I know we are struggling right now – as a country, as individuals – but like Gatsby, we have to have hope. There were many tragedies here, to be sure – but to take this magnificent house and demolish it? Call me sentimental, but it seems a little short-sighted.

Sigh.

Ain’t that America?

I wonder if anyone will show up for the funeral.

What do you remember about reading/seeing The Great Gatsby?

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. Macmillian Publishing Company: New York. 1991. Print.