Transamerica 2021 STOP 9 

October 7, 2021

Willemstad, Curacao – Oranjestad, Aruba

Flight distance: 65 nm
Hours in the air: 0:30

Oranjestad, Aruba – the federated cultures of The Netherlands, the USA and the Caribbean

Handling leaving Curacao was a dream again and happened to be topped off by receiving permission to fly very low around the southern part of the island, what a treat.

Welcome to the USA, ahh, no sorry, Arrrruba!
“Landing” at the Hilton literally meant arriving in the US. If one would not know better, you thought so for sure. We find it hot and windy here and after a quick change of cloths we take care of our hunger, you guessed it, at Gilligans at the beach where the portions, you guessed it, are out of this world.

The chief decided we should go on an Off-Road-Tour and see the Arikok National Park and combine a scenic drive with some serious fun. Now this park offers some semi-arid desert vistas of Aruba’s rugged terrain, hills filled with tall cacti, a breathtaking coastline and protected local flora and fauna. The highlight might very well be the caves who let some incredible rays of sunlight inside. The hefty price tag of this tour was offset by the way our guide Mark was driving this beast of a vehicle experiencing a continuous roller coaster ride over a good part of the entire trip which lasted about 2 ½ hours.

For dinner we joined the reign of all the other Northamerican birds fleeing the upcoming fall, left alone winter at a nearby busy restaurant. Next time I want to go the the US, I better go to the real USA. 🤫

Wait, here it comes, we got to see the first picture perfect sunset since we came to the Caribbean.🙏👍


Facts & figures

Together with Bonaire and Curaçao, Aruba is known as one of the ABC islands. Formerly part of the Netherlands Antilles, today Aruba is one of the four constituent countries that form the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

With an area of 180 km², the island is the size of Liechtenstein, or slightly larger than Washington, DC. Aruba today has a population of 116’000. Capital and largest city is Oranjestad. Spoken languages are Dutch, English and Papiamento.

There has been a human presence on Aruba from as early as circa 2000 BC. The first identifiable group are the Arawak Caquetío Amerindians who migrated from South America about 1000 AD. Archaeological evidence suggests continuing links between these native Arubans and Amerindian peoples of mainland South America

The first Europeans to visit Aruba were Amerigo Vespucci and Alonso de Ojeda in 1499, who claimed the island for Spain. Both men described Aruba as an “island of giants”, remarking on the comparatively large stature of the native Caquetíos.[7] Vespucci returned to Spain with stocks of cotton and brazilwood from the island and described houses built into the ocean.. From 1513 the Spanish began enslaving the Caquetíos, sending many to a life of forced labour in the mines of Hispaniola. The island’s low rainfall and arid landscape meant that it was not considered profitable for a slave-based plantation system, so the type of large-scale slavery so common on other Caribbean islands never became established on Aruba.

The Netherlands seized Aruba from Spain in 1636 in the course of the Thirty Years’ War. Peter Stuyvesant, later appointed to New Amsterdam (New York), was the first Dutch governor. Those Arawak who had survived the depredations of the Spanish were allowed to farm and graze livestock, with the Dutch using the island as a source of meat for their other possessions in the Caribbean.

During the Napoleonic Wars, the British Empire took control of the island, occupying it between 1806 and 1816, before handing it back to the Dutch as per the terms of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814. Aruba subsequently became part of the Colony of Curaçao and Dependencies along with Bonaire. During the 19th century, an economy based on gold mining, phosphate production and aloe vera plantations developed, but the island remained a relatively poor backwater.

The first oil refinery in Aruba was built in 1928 by Royal Dutch Shell. The refineries processed crude oil from the vast Venezuelan oil fields, bringing greater prosperity to the island. The refinery on Aruba grew to become one of the largest in the world.


In August 1947, Aruba formulated its first Staatsreglement (constitution) for Aruba’s status aparte as an autonomous state within the Kingdom of the Netherlands,. By 1954, the Charter of the Kingdom of the Netherlands was established, providing a framework for relations between Aruba and the rest of the Kingdom.That created the Netherlands Antilles, which united all of the Dutch colonies in the Caribbean into one administrative structure. Many Arubans were unhappy with the arrangement, however, as the new polity was perceived as being dominated by Curaçao.

In March 1983, Aruba reached an official agreement within the Kingdom for its independence. After elections were held for its first parliament, Aruba seceded from the Netherlands Antilles, officially becoming a country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, with full independence planned for 1996. However, with the closing of the refineries Aruba became financially dependent again from the Netherlands and never sought full independence.

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