History & Fun Facts

about Aruba 

California Lighthouse Image Circa 1930

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The Location

 

The amazing Island of Aruba is located just 15 miles north of Venezuela.  Aruba is surrounded with the warm and welcoming waters of the Caribbean.  The weather is perfect and typically stays the same year round, averaging 83 degrees with rarely any rainy days.  

 

The entire island of Aruba is just under 20 miles in length and about 6 miles wide.  Happily, Aruba is also located just outside of the hurricane belt.  

 

The capital city of Aruba is Oranjestad.  This beautiful and quaint city is a blend of Old and New.  Colorful Dutch colonial facade's reside next to modern structures in perfect harmony. The Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA) is also located within the city limits of Oranjestad.

 

One of the very interesting features of the Island is that you can enjoy areas that are gentle white sand beaches with lush and green and thick with vegetation, and you can drive a few minutes away and find the desert like Arikok National Park, with it's abundance of cacti, dramatic rock formations, and rugged coastline. 

 

The constant trade winds (which are a blessing for Aruba), are also the reason for the distinctively sculpted trees around the Island.

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The Location
The People
The Language
Alta Vista Chapel
 

The Language

 

While the official languages of Aruba are Dutch and Papiamento, you will find that the majority of most Aruban's speak a minimum of four languages.  This includes English and Spanish.

 

Papiamento which is Aruba's native language has many unique saying's in it.  It is a friendly language blending Dutch, English, Portuguese, Spanish and African.  It is known as Afro-Portuguese Creole and is completely unique to the ABC islands.  The ABC Islands are comprised of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. 

 

The first Papiamento-language newspaper began in 1871.  Although Papiamento was the native language for well over 300 years, it was not declared the "Official Language of Aruba" until 2003.

Handy Phrases in Papiamento

 

Papiamento:                                         English:                                                    

Bon Bini                                                   _                  Welcome

Bon tardi                                         _               Good Afternoon

Bon nochi                                               _           Good evening

Bon dia                                                          _   Good morning

Pasa Bon dia!                                            __    Have a nice day!

Por fabor                                                                         Please

Ami                                                                                       Me

Abo                                                                                      You

Con ta bai?                                               _          How are you?

Mi ta bon                                                                     I am fine

Hopi bon                                                          _       Very good

Mi nomber ta...                                                     My name is...

Con jamabo?                                       _      What is your name?

Unda bo ta bai?                              __     Where are you going?

Tur cos ta suave                                        Everything is allright

Di nada                                                           You are welcome

Mi tin sed                                                                 I am thirsty

Mi tin hamber                                 _                       I am hungry

Mi por a hanja un cerbes?                 __       Can I have a beer?

Mi por a hanja un glas di awa? __ Can I have a glass of water?

Con e tempo ta bai bira?   __    What is the weather forecast?

Ta bai hasi solo                               _                  It will be sunny

Awa ta jobe                                                              It's raining

Con mi ta jega...?                               How do I get to ...(place)

Unda e bus ta bai?                   _          Where is the bus going?

Cuant'or tin?                                                     What time is it?

Mi dushi                                                      My darling (sweety)

Un sunchi                                                                          A kiss

Un braza                                                                           A hug

Mi amor                                                                        My love

Felis                                                                                 Happy

Mi ta stimabo!                          _                               I love you!

 

 

The People

 

The people that make-up Aruba has a sincerity and a warmth unlike anywhere else.  They have an overall friendly and welcoming demeanor.  This is believed to be one of the main reasons that so many guests of Aruba return again and again.  It's not uncommon to pick up conversations with locals and upon returning at a later date, be welcomed with smiles, hugs, and a welcome back home attitude.

 

There are a broad and International mixture people that live on the Island.  Over the years, a significant number of people from all over the globe have made their way to Aruba and now call it home.  It is said that there are more than 90 different nationalities making up the Island's Inhabitants.  A good many of these Immigrants hail from the Netherlands and from South America, but also as far away as China.

 

The Aruban people share a strong national identity to Aruba, no matter where they or their ancestor's originally hailed from.  

 

 
 

Historic Alta Vista Chapel

High atop a little hill in Aruba, surrounded with cacti and breath-taking views of the ocean, sits a tiny little chapel filled with Aruban history.  The Alto Visto chapel. While the chapel that now stands is not the original, the story behind the first church in Aruba is filled with a rich History and remains an important part of Aruban culture. 

The Chapel, which is also known as 'Pilgrims Chapel', was originally built in 1750 by a Venezuelan Missionary named Domingo Antonio Silvestre. Silvestre was on a mission to convert the local population of Caquetio people to the Catholic Christian faith.  He was so dedicated to achieving the conversions that he funded the building of the Chapel himself. 

 

But 26 years after the chapel was built, the plague swept through the village killing many. It is said that many of the survivors fled to escape the plague, leaving behind the little chapel for many decades, allowing it fall into disrepair and ruins.  

 

The story of how the chapel came to be rebuilt is one of much determination, similar to Silvestres' quest those many years before.  During the 1940's, a local school teacher named Francisca Henriques Lacle, took her students on a hike near the site of the ruins of the chapel.  During their exploration, they found an Alter of sorts with a painting of the Virgin Mary and was surrounded by flowers and candles.  Evidence that this was still a place of importance to the Aruban people.

 

Francisca appealed to the Bishop of Curacao for funds to rebuild the chapel. Unfortunately, her request was denied.  Francisca was not deterred.  She organized picnics to raise funds for a statue of the Virgin Mary.  When she had raised the 5000 Florins to pay for the statue, it was sent over from the Netherlands.  Shortly after it's arrival, the Bishop of Curacao gave his blessing for the chapel to be reconstructed. In 1952, the project was completed as it stands now.  

 

Through much determination, this little chapel on the hill was built, not once, but twice. As a result, you can now enjoy the beauty and the solitude that it provides for all. The chapel is still active and regularly hosts Baptisms and Weddings. Every Tuesday the chapel has a mass where everyone of any faith is welcomed.  You can even participate on Good Friday,  as locals go on a pilgrimage up to the chapel, passing by the Stations of the Cross which are posted along the road to the chapel.

 

I encourage you to make it a priority to visit the Alto Vista chapel on your next visit to Aruba.  The little sanctuary and the Peace Labyrinth which is located behind the chapel are sure to provide you some peaceful time for meditation and some spectacular scenery as well.  Be sure to go early in the day or late in the afternoon to avoid tour groups.