Brilliant colors glitz before our eyes as the ornately adorned dancers beat the ground with their feet to the vibrations of the deafening music pounding out of the speakers strapped to forklifts. Decorated floats carry beautiful women wearing vibrant dresses juxtaposed to jewels and feathers along with the smiling musicians steadily tapping away their beat. Valentine sweethearts cozy up to the barricades lining the streets dreamily gazing not at each other, but at the spectacular visions that dazzle before them. It’s Carnaval in Aruba and rather than enjoying a quiet, romantic evening for two on Valentine’s Day, people have hit the streets to take part in the festivities.
Not even a week yet in Aruba and we are completely stressed out from tying up loose ends with Brian before his trip back to the states, petty arguments over money, insanely long work days, and sleepless nights due to the noises of Carnaval ringing throughout the boat each evening . Mike and I decided we needed to to let our hair down a little bit. We followed suit of our boat neighbors and took our dinghy ashore and staked out a seat behind the barricades on the sides of the streets amongst the mass of Aruban locals. The children ran around with dyed hair and ear plugs in anticipation of the parade while the adults kicked back with alcoholic beverages and prepared for one of the largest Carnavals in the world.
The parade began and we were amazed by the amount of detail that went into the costumes. Being a fan of dressing up, I was highly entertained by the beautiful get ups and the pretty painted faces. My favorites, however, were the men driving the forklifts wrapped up in feather boas. They must have been hot! The people danced their hearts out for hours as they paraded a hefty distance across the heart of Aruba’s Oranjestad. Dancers would move along in the hot sun, constantly revived with beers or cocktails handed out by the refreshment carts that trailed behind them. Smiles were abundant and spirits were high as the entire population of Aruba celebrated the last day of the Carnaval in style.
It was a treat to see such a spectacle; however, we didn’t have the stamina to last the duration of the parade. After four hours, Mike and I said farewell to the festivities as our ears begged us for a bit of a reprieve. We took refuge in a few cold beers by the beach as the afternoon sun dipped into the sea. That night our ears did not get the break that they had hoped for as the sounds of the music traveled loudly through our hatches until the early hours of the next morning when Aruba was finally put to rest. At last, a bit of much deserved r and r.