Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Natural Pool Jeep Adventure (part 3)

A day in DePalm-adise on the Natural Pool Jeep Adventure (pt. 3)

Rockin' (but not rollin') in the Land Rover
What comes next is best described through the analogy of popping popcorn - like little kettles waiting to be heated up and popped, so are we! Hoots and hollers of “Yeeeeeehaw!” and “Wahoooooo!” are projected from the back. I suddenly feel as though I am a part of a Mario Bros. videogame after breaking a Brick Block only to encounter a “Starman powerup” (the Land Rover) that’s made me invincible to all kinds of hazards. 

Starting off smooth and instantly being jerked side-to-side, front-to-back, right knee smacked on the dashboard, left leg slapped against glove compartment, I am popping all over the place! Mind you, I am up front in small quarters with the captain of our jeep trip while the eight passengers on deck are being juggled around just as much, minus the knee smacks and leg slaps. I turn around and peak out my peep hole, and Rocky was right – hair like Tina Turner from shaking like Shakira

On top of the Jamanota Hill

The Watapana/Divi Divi tree
With nothing but a smile on my face while clinging on to the arm handle and clenching my teeth together, there is hardly any time to take notes. Instead, I am admiring the rustic orange-colored rocks and the ample amounts of Watapana/Divi Divi trees. At first glance, these shrubs look like the offspring of a Weeping Willow tree gone wrong. At a second glance it looks like a witch’s broomstick bundled with twigs that have been overworked from sweeping through the night’s sky. Hunched over with thorns more than blossom, this thin and rough-barked tree sprouts deep green leaves towards the tip. Facing the direction of the wind and bent at a 90 degree angle parallel to the ground, it gets its name from having been positioned the way the southwest trade winds blow that provide the island with a constant cool and crisp breeze. 

A rough and rugged sunset on land
The color of the rocks, like a sunset on land, creates a glowing, dusty presence. Taking all forms from jagged, to flat, to round, to squared, to zigzag – these rocks look as though they can cause quite some damage to anything but our jeeps, or as Rocky calls them, “Land Rovers, not Roll Overs.” The only other pioneers that dare travel across these rough parts are those smart enough to travel in a Jeep Wrangler (I have only seen two thus far). On the Rollercoaster of Aruba, we reach the top of the highest point on the island, the Jamanota Hill (yes, a hill. But don’t laugh! It’s rather high, and the island is so close to Venezuela that on a clear day one can see the coastline of our neighboring country that’s only 15 miles off the coast of Aruba). Having just as much fun bopping around side-to-side and front-to-back like us, Rocky grins saying, “Evvverybody put your hands up! Remember, you’re safe. We are here to rock, not roll.” 

The Natural Pool
Mr. Snack Truck
With all bones still intact, we have made it to the Natural Pool, or known here as Conchi, the island’s secluded gem located on the wild windward coast of Aruba. A utopia in and of itself, this sea charm is surrounded by volcanic rock that encompasses a 20 feet deep basin full of colorful marine life, like Rainbow Parrotfish, Gray Angelfish, and Spot Fin Butterflyfish to name a few. I notice an older, local gentleman and his dog that have set up shop, literally, with his truck while a green sheet (held up by driftwood) masks them from the unforgiving rays of sunlight. Selling snack items like Rice Crispy Treats and individual packets of Cheez-Its, I hear one of the group members ask, “Does that guy sell beer?” Ready to pay a pretty penny, he surrenders his Ab. Lincoln $5 bill for a measly ice-cold Balashi (the island’s locally brewed beer that tastes like a Dutch-pilsner). The dude's got to make a living somehow I guess?

Climbing down the stone stetps
Nardin playing lifeguard
 Refreshing nonetheless, the troops head down with their fluorescent masks and rubber fins in hand while their inflatable (that no one ever inflates) life vests hug their bodies as they make their way down. After a hike down stone steps of all shapes and sizes, my feet are met with (what can be described as) bits and pieces of soft, crushed coral that feels rather relaxing as I swish back and forth. Kneading into my heels and arches, the tension from having trekked down the hill is slowly but surely being eased away.

Me on my perch (Check out the view in the background down below)

Passing on the swim, I instead take pictures and jot notes before heading back up to sit on my perch that overlooks the Natural Pool while the wind seeps through my pores. After about 45 minutes or so in the water, our group heads back up to munch on an assortment of Nature Valley snack bars (I chose Peanut Butter because all of the Cinnamon-flavored ones were gone) and chips while swigging down a Diet Coke. Bobby, the gentleman with the truck’s dog, hung around exhibiting his best behavior while working the group for a “Scooby Snack” before we hop back in our jeeps and rumble to our next stop: the Natural (not-so-anymore) Bridge. 
Bobby on his best behavior

Stay tuned for my last entry on the Natural Pool Jeep Adventure next week!

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