It began on the Thursday after the wedding, as Jesse and I drove through Brooklyn in the back of a car, towards JFK airport. We sat there, holding hands, looking at each other: I peered into his eyes with a squint to see if I could discern the destination of our honeymoon. I had yet to ascertain where we were going, only that it was that morning and I should pack plenty of bathingsuits for a beach and hot weather.
At the airport, Jesse retrieved our tickets and took care of putting the luggage on the right flight, so I wouldn't see the destination tags. He wouldn't let me see my ticket. Until, that is, we reached security and he passed it over to me nonchalantly as I scanned the boarding pass looking for "DESTINATION."
I was going through the long lanes of the security line ecstatic - hugging and kissing and jumping and talking a mile a minute. How did you pick Aruba? What have you heard? What's the weather like there right now? Did you know I used to live next door to an Aruban family!?
Jesse provided all due answers, of course, and I twittered about going to Aruba before leaving, which showed up on my Facebook page, which my old friend Verena saw and commented on because she would be in Aruba that week as well! She, along with her parents, and her brother Dan and sister Sohira were all to be in Aruba the following week, and they were the family that I used to live next door to and I haven't seen in maybe five years.
Those coincidences just keep coming.
Anyway, back to honeymoon-romantic-getaway time. Jesse and I took our breezy four hour ride to Aruba, and walked out of the airport into sunshine, heat, and WIND. Aruba, as I came to find out, is a very windy island. Normally I'm not one for wind - I'm the person who can't have a fan's breeze placed directly on me. However, the humidity and heat made the Aruban winds quite necessary and I grew to love them and also, not care about my (then) long, messy hair.
We arrived at the Bucuti Resort, among the low-rise hotels on the island, as opposed to the high-rise area with the Marriot, Holiday Inn, Ramada, etc. I called this little area the "Spring Break (with the kids!)" part of the island. The Bucuti is a somewhat secluded couples resort. Literally, our wing of the hotel doesn't even allow children in it. (These things, I love.) Jesse did an amazing job of picking the perfect place - if we were to go again (and we already hope to!) we'd only stay at the Bucuti again!
More reasons why? Well, it's environmentally friendly, it's on the best beach on the island, and they have flags in your little beach hut to summon a bartender to jot down your order and then bring back your drinks. Writing that just made me a little sad as I remembered gazing at the vast turquoise blue ocean from the shade of my little hut on the sand, sipping a pina colada.
I've gotten ahead of myself! When we were ushered into the hotel, they sat us down and gave us each a glass of champagne. And then they took us to our FANTABULOUSOMAZING room which had a living room (replete with welcome package that included cheese, crackers, and -you guessed it- a bottle of champagne!), kitchenette, two tvs, bedroom with sliding door, and balcony overlooking the beach! Sigh. Again, I want to be back. Do you realize how hard it is to write this reflection!?
Jesse on the balcony with our complimentary champagne, cheese, and crackers!
Jesse and I spent most days waking up early and treating ourselves to the free breakfast buffet that was beyond delicious - I usually got a couple of boiled eggs, some french toast, and papaya fruit. Yum. Then we'd hit the beach (we got up early a few days to save a prime hut nearest the water!) and lounge about reading, sipping tropical drinks, tanning/shading, and jumping into the clear, cooling but not cold water. Around lunch we'd either go to Subway for a fast, cheap eat (don't want to spend too much time away from our sandy paradise!) or to Pizza Bob's which had - I'm really not lying about this - some of the best pizza I've ever tasted.
Then we'd head back to the beach for more reading and swimming and lounging, maybe a walk, and then it was 4pm and 4pm meant HAPPY HOUR at the hotel's bar, which was conveniently right on the beach. For ten days, we were happy hour regulars. We knew all the bartenders by name and joked around with them, we made friends with a few other couples in our revelry, and we drank. You know, in New York, it's not always wisest to order a pina colada or mango frozen margarita at a bar. But in Aruba, lemme tell ya, I had heaps of coladas and frozen margs and even something called a slippery monkey. They also made me a white russian - frozen. Stellar.
So, that was what we did most days. At night, we would seek out the best dining experiences! We went to a French steakhouse, Mexican place, traditional Aruban food establishment, American steakhouse, a delicious seafood restaurant, etc., etc., etc. It was always romantic and we did that newlywed thing where we talked about how we couldn't believe we were actually MARRID and to EACH OTHER. No, but seriously, Jesse wined and dined me (& I tried to do the same to him!) and I can already tell the years ahead will be filled with many a great vacation because he'll be there next to me, leading the way. He's my HUSBAND. Then, by about 9 or 10pm, we'd be exhausted from the sun and fun and pass out. On one evening we decided to see a movie (District Nine) and we were incredibly tired when we got out. (PS Most Arubans speak English, the movies are in English, and you can pay for everything via credit card or US currency.)
Those were the days of our honeymoon and I LOVED IT ALL. Honestly, all I wanted to do on my honeymoon was get away from the crazy hustle and bustle of New York and get back to slow-paced life, relax a bit, swim a bit, enjoy each other more than anything else. And that's exactly what Jesse gave me.
BUT! We're not done yet. Because while most days were just so, we also had some days of activity in store - let me tell you.
On the Tuesday of our honeymoon, we signed up for a jeep tour of the island. We got picked up and arrived at a headquarters for the company, where they split up all the tourists into groups. They made some of the tourists drive the jeeps, following the tour-guide jeep. So, we had a nice family guy from Ohio up from with his wife at his side and his daughter right by us in the back. We also had a mother and son from New York, as well as a couple from New York. Apparently 90% of the tourists to Aruba come from the East Coast, mainly New York. Like us.
the "natural pool" where we got to snorkel and hang out with the fishies for a bit -
(Well, we took those pics with an underwater cam - but you can see one at the bottom of this post!! On the side of the natural pool!)
and an old gold mine! Then we got back to the hotel and lounged on the beach again...obviously.
The following day, Jesse and I decided to take a morning boat trip which would bring us to three locations. Two of the locations we would snorkel, and in the third we would do something called "snuba-ing". Snuba = snorkeling + scuba. We got to breathe underwater with a mouthpiece hooked to a 20-ft long tube connected to oxygen tanks floating on a raft on the surface. Presto. Oh, and the boat trip featured an open bar and free lunch. WAHOO!
This was Jesse's first time snorkeling, and I think he enjoyed it quite a bit. I was already a seasoned pro, as I lived in Hawaii for two years. We saw a bunch of fish, a school of squid (so weird), and Jesse saw a barracuda. Jesse was trying to show me said barracuda but I knew what he was pointing at and decided to head back to the boat at that point. You can see barracuda teeth: I don't like that.
On the second dive, we were seeing a sunken warship! From WWII! It was totally rad to see. There's a whole backstory about the captain sinking it himself so that the opposing side couldn't use it in their own war effort. It's been over 60 years, and the thing is lying there on it's side covered in wildlife and barnacles with fish swimming throughout its nooks and crannies. It was also very eerie - seeing a sunken ship in the silence underwater.
Then we were off to our snuba adventure on another reef! It was a bit strange, psychologically, to maintain breathing underwater. I kept on going deeper and almost panicking because "How am I still breathing for this long underwater?!" - very hard to get used to. But I did, and we had a fantastic underwater time, with our guide making us pose for very silly pictures. And, us posing of our own accord, too.
We have pictures and video of that, as well, but I am in the process of making an explosive, crazy, amazing facebook album with pics from the wedding and honeymoon - so, just wait for those links. Trying to upload them all here would just clutter the place!
And after our boat adventure we came back to relax on the beach and get some happy hour and went out to dinner and fell asleep early.
On THURSDAY was what I like to call our "uber-relax" day because Jesse treated himself and me to a SPA DAY. Four hours. See, we got up early and went to the beach (duh) and then after lunch we went to the spa and I got a fruit scrub + mud wrap + massage + facial + manicure. I KNOW. I could hardly move my limbs afterwards, they were so soft and jelly-like. FANTASTICO!!
On Friday evening, our last night on the island, we met up with my former next door neighbors, who were gathering on the same beach for a pre-wedding get-together. It was great to see everyone again after so long and Jesse and I wished we could have stayed the next night for the ceremony and reception! We seriously considered staying just one more day. Alas, it was not in the (credit) cards.
After the beach romp, Jesse and I came back for our final happy hour on the island. The bartenders were so nice to us and really stretched out that happy hour for our enjoyment. We then asked to take a picture with them -
Okay, that's Juan Carlos and Aldrick. Aldrick closely resembles my brother and it freaked us out a little bit. Mannerisms and all. But I guarantee you Aldrick is better at making a margarita!
Here's a slippery monkey - which is served with a straw full of rum, so you now you understand the face. Also, I've never eaten more maraschino cherries than I did in that ten day period.
And so on Saturday, Jesse and I woke up, and went to the beach for one last soak before checkout. What was really strange about our last day were the waves - the entire time Jesse and I had been in Aruba, the beach was calm, without a wave big enough to even body surf on. On Saturday morning we were in and out of the water like crazy and trying to take pictures from the top or bottom of the waves.
Then we packed up, headed to the airport, and came home. Where I've been trying to catch up with life, check off items on my post-wedding checklist (almost as long as the pre-wedding one! jk!), and retain some semblance of the utterly relaxed lifestyle that Aruba brought to us. However, there's no beautiful beaches 'round here, and there are definitely NO FLAGS.