Thursday, February 9, 2012

Natural Pool Jeep Adventure (part 2)

A day in DePalm-adise on the Natural Pool Jeep Adventure (pt. 2)

Rocky :)
As we pull away from the jeep tour, Rocky instructs us females to take as many pictures of ourselves to capture the before shots – “Once the wind gets hold of your hair,” Rocky chuckles, “it will look like Tina Turner’s from shaking like Shakira.” After a couple of pounds on the horn, a few whiiiewwww wiet whistles, and fist pumps the excursion begins. We start off going through the District of Santa Cruz.

*I’ll be honest with you – Aruba has been my home for over 10 years, yet something as simple as knowing precisely how many districts there are on the island (a whopping six, in case you were wondering) or the actual size in length and width (19.6 miles long and six miles wide f.y.i.) are among many of the facts I learned while playing tourist on the trip.  

We finally arrive at the first scenic stop of the day: Arikok National Park. As we pull in past the visitor center Rocky halts the jeep to talk to the gate keeper. I can tell that they are familiar with each other when they do the Aruban handshake, (slapping both hands together like a sideways high-five only to slide the fingers back against one another’s palm and snap as they jerk it back), before Rocky tears open a value pack of snack-sized chips and gives Mr. Gate Keeper a bag of cheese Doritos. After handing over bright blue wrist bands (the Park charges a fee to enter that is already included with the tour), Rocky starts in on the history of Arikok National Park. 

The Cascabel Rattlesnake (taken from
Once owned by, and named after, Dutch farmer Mr. Arikok, the land was given back to the government when he passed. Taking up over 18% of the island, you can only imagine the life it holds, like the Cascabel snake. Indigenous to Aruba, the Cascabel is the island’s prevalent rattlesnake, that doesn’t actually “rattle,” and sports the distinct markings in pale pink, blue and brown with a grin on its face and piercing glass eyes – ew!

The Male Cododo (taken from
The Male Cododo lizard is another critter that’s recently spotted in the Park. Rocking a navy blue scale coat with a pattern of electric indigo polka dots, this whiptail reptile is a soothing site to the eyes and not to be missed! As we continue to bobble along in our school bus yellow-painted, zebra striped four-wheel-drive Land Rovers, tropical colors of the flora and fauna, like mango peach, sunset red, and parrot green catch my eye. The array of Candle cacti that coats these rolling hills is quite the view. 

The "adushi di pushi" cactus (notice the big hill coming up...*gulps)
Referred to by the locals as “adushi di pushi,” (a-doo-shee dee poo-shee), the bundles of eight to nine cacti that stand upright have lengthy white hairs and long yellow spines atop each stem. At night they bloom so that during the day we can all get a slight glance at the cream-colored flowers nestled in-between this spineless, yet spine-full, plant and its red fruit sweet enough to pick off and treat your taste buds to.       

How many shades of blue can you decipher in this picture? I count at least four.
While venturing along the only man-made path in the Park that is two cars wide, I see up ahead that this cobblestone-like trail comes to an end. I start to feel as though I am on a rollercoaster at an amusement park  where I suddenly feel as though I am a few feet from the sky – chugging up the hill unaware of what comes after the drop, or in this case, the end of the road............  

 Want to find out what happens next on my “Rollercoaster of Aruba” adventure? Tune in next week for pt. 3!

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