Saturday, April 2, 2016

One Happy Island

Here we are, now in April of 2016, and I just returned from the best vacation I ever had. My big surprise Christmas gift from Jeff was a trip to Aruba and we actually went this past week! I say "we actually went," because for the past few months I've been sort of going back and forth between being super excited and thinking that perhaps something could still happen to prevent the trip. It all just seemed so built up and too good to be true. Part of me I think was used to being disappointed. But as we lifted off in the airplane, Jeff said, "See, we're really going." And when we got to Aruba, he said, "See, we're really here."

And then we proceeded to have the best vacation ever.

We met great people. We ate great food. We saw beautiful things. We had a beautiful time.

There were so many highlights. I felt spoiled every day. I had fun every day. There were special little moments and epic adventures.

On Sunday morning we had Easter brunch at a beautiful place called Windows overlooking a golf course. We watched iguanas parade about on the green while we were served course after course (and mimosas) and spent the holiday in a completely different but satisfying way. 

That same night, we went to dinner at the Flying Fishbone and ATE WITH OUR FEET IN THE WATER. The servers were barefoot and the table was out in the sea. There was a little rack for our shoes and tiny fish swam beneath blue lights that danced on the water in the moonlight. It was unlike anything either of us had experienced before. 

I climbed a 3 story rock wall on Tuesday morning and made it to the top. Jeff got it all on video and I spent the rest of the day saying, "I'm a climber now."

We took sunset photos, danced (impromptu) in the moonlight before dinner one night, enjoyed the biggest and most festive-looking drink ever (a Pelican-rita) at a local pier bar, did lots of walking, and met cute Aruba cats.

On Wednesday, we went deep sea fishing out on a local boat with a crew of 2 where as Jeff says, "My rare catch caught the rarest fish in the sea." I CAUGHT A BLUE MARLIN. Not only did I catch the FIRST fish of the day (a big yellowfin tuna), I caught the rarest fish in the Caribbean sea and the fishermen were so super psyched they couldn't even contain themselves. They bragged on their radio, they screamed and cheered, and they were amazed. They won a bet and yes, we threw it back because it's not an eating fish and is super special. It was about 5 feet long and strong as can be. I could barely hold onto it for the photo. 

Of course, very shortly after my amazing Blue Marlin skills, I got epically sea sick and threw up about 8 times before the boat ride was over, but hey, I caught a Marlin and spent the rest of the day saying, "I'm a fisher now."


One of our awesome days found me at the beach, out in the ocean, praying. I stood out there in the beautiful, warm water up to my shoulders and thanked God for my beautiful life and my beautiful trip. I breathed deep breaths, moved my arms in the water around me, let the unique Aruba wind blow my curls around my head and shoulders and back, and I said "thank you" for everything that came to my mind. And I reminded myself out loud, "No matter what happens moving forward, no matter if I am faced with more tragedy or pain or sadness, no one can ever take this moment from me. And no one can ever take this trip from me. I will always have this. I am truly lucky. Truly blessed. Truly loved. And truly happy."

I could write a whole blog just about all the wonderful food we ate in Aruba. I wrote down every menu item I could remember. I wrote down the name of every server. Everyone seemed to have his or her own flair. Every restaurant had its specialty. I could write a whole blog just about all the little moments, the sweet, the funny, the random - like the violinist who played Ed Sheeran's "Thinking Out Loud" or Jeff's way of not getting sand in our hotel room (throw the shoes off the balcony to the beach before heading out of the room and throw them back up onto the balcony before heading back in). I could write a whole blog just about the average Aruba things we did, because nothing was mundane on that happy island. But there's simply not enough time or space to do it all. I did cross something new off The List, but I subtly updated it in that tab so as not to draw too much attention. :-)

Our last morning in Aruba, Jeff and I woke up at 5:45 am, rolled out of bed onto the beach (which was right outside our door), and swam out to into the ocean to watch the sunrise together. It was a cool feeling being the only two people out in the aquamarine sea as the sky went from dark to shades of pink to morning's first light. 

We left Aruba refreshed and content with our experiences. We left with stories. We left with photos. And probably the most exciting thing of all, a resolution: We'll be back.