Our departure was from a large pier in Ft. Lauderdale at an entrance to the Inter Coastal Waterway. But since Leigh does such a good job at exposing the seamy underbelly of Florida, I will leave reporting on this area to him.
First stop Aruba
|Haystack Hill, tallest point on island|
|Baby Bridge, only one still standing|
The first settlers of this island were the Caiquetios, a branch of the Arawak Indians, who sailed over from Venezuela about two thousand years ago. They were followed by the first tourists in 1499 when Spanish explorer Alonso de Ojeda laid claim to the island for Queen Isabella. Guess you could say he was the first thief on the island. He named the land Oro Hubo, which meant there was supposed to be gold on it. The Spanish soon left and the island changed hands several times before the Dutch ended up with it.
In more modern days, the island has continued as a smuggler's paradise, dating this occupation back to colonial times when it was used to avoid taxes from the Spanish monopoly. For instance, Aruba was the most important exporter of coffee, however there are no coffee plantations on the island. Cigarettes and whiskey were other major exports. Appliances, perfumes and other items were smuggled to Venezuela and Colombia. Once, when a large refrigerator was being swung over from the dock to be loaded on a ship headed for Colombia, the refrigerator suddenly opened and a cache of guns fell out on the wharf. They were immediately picked up and no official mention was made of the incident.
|Downtown, Haystack Hill on distant right|
Still, we had a good time on Aruba and do not regret having made this port of call.
See you in Cartagena in two weeks.