Saturday, January 29, 2011
Pop math quiz: Arubian currency exchange is 1.75 Arubian florin = 1 U.S. dollar. Gasoline is sold by the liter. So, here's the fuel we just put in the rental car. Is the price on this pump pricey or cheap compared to the U.S.?
Thursday, January 27, 2011
We studied a bit of Papiamento; I love the insights you get into a culture by understanding the structure of the language. In Papiamento, the pronouns for ‘he’ and ‘she’ are the same – does this imply an underlying gender equality? There are 3 different words for ‘relax’ but only one for ‘work’ – don’t you love those priorities? (We have no way in English, for example, to distinguish between ‘relaxing by resting’ and ‘relaxing by playing,’ if you get the idea). Best of all, they have no word for weather, and no jobs for weather forecasters! Why bother? It’s always 82 degrees and sunny, and south of the hurricane belt.
The trade winds blow constantly from the east. The iconic divi-divi tree, something of an island symbol, shows the effects of these winds by growing only in one direction [photo – divi tree]. The windward (northeastern) side of the island is wild – rugged, dry, and desolate, waves crash on rocky cliffs.[photo – crashers and splashers] The leeward (southwestern) side is mild, with miles of gorgeous sandy beaches and extensive development – tourism is the number one industry. [photo – palm beach] There is also a bit of oil revenue and a refinery. There’s somewhat less grinding poverty, and somewhat higher education, than many other islands we’ve been on. The total population is about 100,000 (?) mostly concentrated on the downwind side. [pink areas on the map are population centers] Most of all, the people are utterly fantastic, friendly not because you’re a tourist and they want your money, but just because that's the way they are.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Most of the reusable grocery bags in the States are green – the color claimed by the pro-environment movement, symbolic of the trees that are saved. Here in the Caribbean – doesn’t this make perfect sense? The reusable bags are turquoise blue – their biggest environmental resource is the crystalline ocean. The bag says, “Keep Aruba Clean,” and “Aruba Sweet Land.” (The latter phrase is also the title of their national anthem.)