Today was day 1 of our five week journey to visit the Antarctic region. As we live on the small Caribbean island of Bonaire, a mere 12 degrees or so north of the equator, we’re actually already a lot closer to the Antarctic than perhaps any of the other people we will be meeting in Santiago for our group trip. But being closer does not mean it’s any easier to get to southern South America.
After researching our options, which including the possibility of flying four or five hours all the way up to the U.S. only to fly all the way back south, or the option of having a 15 hour connection in Guayaquil, Ecuador or Quito, Ecuador, we found that we could fly relatively painlessly from neighboring Aruba (only 80 miles west of Bonaire) to Santiago, Chile. From a travel time and hassle perspective, never mind price, this ended up being the best option.
What we didn’t count on was the challenge of getting all four of us and our luggage to Aruba from Bonaire. The problem is that the only planes that fly between islands are all relatively small and that means they too have luggage restrictions. After researching those options last month we finally settled on Tiara Air, which offers a roundtrip flight several times a week between Bonaire and Aruba, non-stop between the islands. We were able to arrange a deal where we purchased two additional seats (for a total of six) to ensure that we would not have to pay additional luggage fees, and a guarantee that all of our luggage would make it on the flight. The only downside was that we could only fly today, and could not change tomorrow’s flight from Aruba to Santiago, so we had to schedule an overnight in Aruba.
Tiara Air came through for us today, and we greatly appreciate it. The Short 360-100 aircraft they use for the flight is comfortable enough, although a bit tight for people with long legs, and the flight was quite smooth and short (45 minutes).
Once we arrived in Aruba, we grabbed our luggage, headed to our hotel in nearby Oranjestad, checked in and then went out in search for lunch. We found our meal right next door to our hotel at a place called “Cafe The Plaza”. The food quality and service was reasonable, but nothing really exciting.
After that we went out to find a pair of closed toed waterproof slip-ons for Bas, as he had outgrown his old set of Crocs. It took more than a half dozen beach-oriented stores to find a pair of Croc knock offs that fit him and were not in an offensive color (e.g. pink). He ended up with blue ones, as that was the only color available in his size.
As we wandered about in search of the shoes, we started noticing an over-abundance of jewelry stores. By my estimation, in the half hour of wandering we did to find the shoes and return to our hotel, we saw at least 15 jewelry stores. We were completely dumbfounded at how it might be possible for all of them to survive with such competition. I guess there’s a lot of loose money floating around here from somewhere.
Getting back to our room Linda discovered that both of the pairs of polarized Oakley sunglasses she had purchased in Chicago last summer were missing from her luggage, and while she believes this was a nefarious deed, we found nothing else missing. So, we ran out to a nearby sunglass shop and bought her some replacement glasses. She’ll need them when looking at ice, snow, and icebergs in about a week.
We capped off the evening with a couple of rousing games of Five Crowns, and dinner at a nearby Japanese restaurant (which employed only South Americans and Filipinos) by the name of Sushi-ya. Nice meal!
All the selected photos from the day (which includes those above and a number more) have been uploaded to my Flickr page.
I will mention that I probably will not be writing as detailed daily commentaries as this one once we’re further south due to time and bandwidth restrictions, and that will also, in turn, limit the number of photos I can share. So please don’t expect huge daily missives from us, but if you get aone occasionally, enjoy!
The next post will probably be late on Sunday after we’ve arrived in Santiago and spent the day out and about.