Or should I say, YEARS!
This time 9 years ago I was boarding a plane, about to embark on a new adventure. Aruba was waiting for me and I was sooooooo ready for Aruba!
This tiny little piece of paradise that I now call home was just a place on a map that I had never even heard of back then.
When my boyfriend told me that he had been offered a job in Aruba... I was like, "Hold on a minute, you just made that name up... You must mean Cuba, right?..."
Cuba, Aruba... Sounded similar to me!
He assured me that this mysterious island I didn't know existed was in fact real... And we had the chance to go there.
So always one for adventure, I decided, "HELL YEAH! LET'S DO THIS!"
Another stamp in the passport, another country to tick off the list, another pin in the map...
Little did I know that I would still be here 9 years later...
I can remember breaking the news to my friends... They wasn't that surprised or shocked really... They knew me too well... I was the gypsy nomad, the party girl, the adventurous one, always wandering and wondering where to next.
They was happy for me and excited too... Free holidays to the Caribbean... The perks of having a best friend living abroad I guess!
Nine years has gone so fast. I almost forgot about this special day... Until I realised yesterday that it was one of my best friends daughters 9th birthday... That promptly reminded me of today... You see my best friend had just given birth to her daughter the day before I was scheduled to travel. And because I didn't know when I was going to see her again I turned up at the hospital with a bottle of Pinot Grigio and begged the nurses to let me see her... After 2 days of labour she wasn't up for visitors, only immediate family... But I had known her since I was 2 years old so I figured that would practically make me "family"... The nurses were having none of it until I told them I was emigrating the next day to a little island on the other side of the world and had to hug her and say goodbye...
They let me in and we hugged, we cried, we laughed and no, we didn't open the wine, but I did get to say goodbye.
It was such a whirlwind last minute decision to come to Aruba and even though it was hard to leave my friends and family behind in good old Blighty, I knew this was an opportunity I couldn't let pass me by.
So there I was 9 years ago today, boarding a plane from Manchester to Aruba. Excited, nervous, full of expectations...
Aruba did not disappoint... It was everything I thought and more... Coming in to land I could see the California Lighthouse. Something which now every time I fly in I always look at and give a sigh of relief and think to myself, "I made it. I am home."
The drive from the airport was amazing... We took the road by the beaches and I was blown away... It really did look like the postcards and google images!!! The sand really was that white and the sea really was that aqua/turquoise/blue/green!!!!
WOW! This is paradise I thought!!! 🌴
My first year on the island was spent exploring and taking adventures at every opportunity. We ate out a LOT! We had never been this spoiled for choice by all these restaurants... Madame Janettes, Screaming Eagle, Passions, Windows, Tierra Del Sol... We thought we were millionaires hanging out at all these fancy restaurants.
My first night out in Aruba was to Bugaloe. We sat on the weathered wooden pier, dangling our bare feet over the edge watching the most amazing epic sunset. Which always amazes me even to this day. I can still even remember what I ate that night, a goats cheese salad bowl, washed down with a gin and tonic. Aah!
As time went on we did discover some little local gems too... Patacon at Tia Rosa Snacks in Pos Chiquito, The Mexican food truck for late night drunken burritos, El Pueblito Paisa in San Nic for empanadas... I have become slightly addicted to Latino food during the last 9 years... Although every now and then I do crave fish, chips, mushy peas and gravy... It's a traditional Northern English dish... Google it... Gross to some... Heaven on a plate to me and my Mancunian friends! Ha!
One of the things I love most about Aruba is the eclectic mix of nationalities here on the island. I have met so many amazing people that had I not come to live here I never would of had the pleasure to become friends with.
Aruban, Colombian, Venezuelan, American, Peruvian, Brazilian, Chinese, Dutch, Belgian....
I remember one year we invited all our friends to our house for a traditional Christmas dinner... British style... Roast turkey, ham, beef, veggies, roast potatoes, mash potatoes, Yorkshire puddings, sprouts, stuffing, cranberry sauce... And gravy of course! Looking back I have no idea why I thought that would be a good idea... Cooking in the kitchen in the scorching heat (no aircon) for 20 people... Twenty hours to prepare.... Twenty MINUTES to eat! Ha! Never again!!! But it was a success, everyone enjoyed themselves and we got to spend the day with our adoptive relatives here in Aruba.
Thats what I love... Friends here become more like family.
It's very rare that I get "homesick" and by homesick I mean missing England and Manchester... But lately I have been thinking more and more about my friends and family back in the U.K. Maybe it's because of all the tragedy and heartache thats been happening there recently...
It has always been an open house policy for us here on Aruba... And we LOVED having friends and family come to visit us... That would give us an excuse to pretend to be tourists and take them around the island showing them all our favourite hot spots.
We love Rogers Beach, Baby is nice too of course... But we became spoilt and like the less crowded beaches. Dos Playa is also one of our faves... The off road journey to get there is always fun! The landscape in Arikok is wild and always a breath of fresh air whenever we go there. Arashi another cool spot and always a great place for photo opportunities... Well let's be honest... All the beaches in Aruba are great places for photo opps!!!
For me One Happy Island has some of the best beaches I have ever seen. I have travelled to some awesome places but Aruba is up there with the best. Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsundays, Australia and Bottom Bay in Barbados are hard to beat but Aruba sure does give them a run for their money!
After spending nine years here it's hard to imagine living in a big city again. The lifestyle is so different, so much more relaxed and chilled out here.
The beach bum way of life is definitely for me!
So today is the day when I wish myself a happy 9 year anniversary for my love affair with this tiny paradise Caribbean island that I now call home.
Bida ta Dushi... Life really is sweet on One Happy Island!