Private Island, Snorkeling, and Beer

Before we ever left for Aruba my sister-in-law was after me to snorkel.

"Sheila, will you snorkel?  Please?  I'll take care of you, I promise!"

"I promise to think about it, I'm not saying no, I'll be open to it (I've got to find a way out of this, I don't want to do this! You do remember I can't swim for a reason - fear of having my head underwater, drowning, etc.)

Planning our days it became apparent we couldn't go to the hotel's private island (where there would be snorkeling available) until Sunday.  We wanted to get a tour of the island first, which meant Friday, and we wanted to shop - which needed to be Saturday because most of the shops would be closed on Sunday (imagine that - taking a Sabbath) unless a cruise ship comes in (which isn't often is my understanding - we saw them come in on Friday (2 of them) and on Saturday (3 of them) for the day).  So I could put off the snorkeling issue until Sunday.

Look at that rain cloud!
The sun rose on Sunday morning with no concern for my anxiety. In fact, there was actually a little rain storm, and I almost hoped we'd get rained out. No such luck. Rain doesn't last long in Aruba.

Look at that crepe!
We went to breakfast at The Dutch Pancake House where we really felt like we were in a bit of Holland as the menu was full of Dutch items and language (crepes mostly).  With breakfast over, the three of us headed back to the hotel to put on our swimwear.

On the boat!
A short walk to the marina and we were at the boat launch that would take us out to the island.  I didn't know what to expect.  I didn't feel too much anxiety as it had turned into a beautiful day, and at the new age of  50 I have learned how to say "NO".  Having taken my Dramamine (I discovered seasickness on a glass bottom boat in the Florida Keys a couple of years ago), I set my eyes on the horizon and enjoyed the ten minute ride.

After staking out my lounger, I waded out waist deep into the crystal clear water of the lagoon while Jane and Sue went swimming and snorkeling.  Tanning time and lunch passed (where the three of us shared an locally brewed Balashi Beer, which we all disliked), and at last the moment of decision arrived (my mother-in-law had already given me permission to do whatever I wanted) and Jane handed me the mask.

Now, you need to understand - I don't swim.  I play in the pool, I wear a swimsuit and get tan. I have been known to almost drown being flipped out of an inner tube in a 3 foot deep lazy river at a water park. Occasionally I will consent to go out and play in the ocean waves with my husband if the water is calm. I love the beach - but I don't "do" water.

I'm as ready as I'm gonna get!
Sucking it up I heard myself say, "okay, let's do this" and I proceeded to put on the mask.  I declined the flippers as I intended to never let my feet get off the bottom. I hated the mask.  Suck it in, no breathing through your nose, yuck! Jane patiently showed me what to do and I finally came to terms with the mask.

I'm doing it!
With our big blue raft/mat to hold on to, I proceeded to bend over and put my head in the water.  Nothing, not a thing could be seen in the middle of the lagoon.  Disappointed, I asked if there was more over by the rock wall.  With Sue standing above the rocks, camera in hand to document this historic occasion, Jane and I made our way over to the side.  Once more my  head went under, and this time - success!  Little neons, bigger fish of some type appeared at once.  Off I went to explore.  Picking my way carefully over the rocks I made my way along the wall. My ears were out so I could hear the conversation between my SIL and MIL (who had by this time put the camera away and joined us in the water). "She's doing it, she must be seeing something." "I'm not even touching her, she must be okay." I listened to them with amusement and continued my exploration.  I thought "I'm probably never going to do this again, so I'm going to do it all now."  Coming up for air I was surprised to find I had made my way all the way to the end of the lagoon, actually finding myself at a place where my feet couldn't touch, I was grateful for the mat and my SIL there to keep me safe.  Taking a few breaths, I went back under and made my way all the way back to shore looking at the sea life below the surface.

It was with a great sense of relief and accomplishment that I surrendered the snorkeling mask to Jane and sent her on her way for one last exploration of her own.  Laying out on the lounger, I thankfully reapplied sunscreen and laid back to enjoy the Caribbean sun.

See dinner above our heads!
The trip back to the hotel was pleasant and we once more rested a bit, cleaned up and headed to El Gaucho Argentine Grill that came highly recommended by a friend of Sue and Jane's. With a strolling Cuban guitarist serenading us, we ate a great meal and I indulged once more in a glass of white wine Sangria (which was much better than the one I had the night before).

As I went to bed after having packed, I acknowledged that it had been a good day.  I had gotten a fair amount of sun, had faced a fear, and enjoyed a great day and evening in Aruba.

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