After a lot of beautiful sailing and adventures on Curacao and Bonair, we arrived to Aruba. That was after a night's sail at quite rough waves. My friends flew home from here, and I would stay for a couple of more days, preparing for the next step.
If Bonaire was all beautiful nature, and Curacao was all high standards of living (highest in the Caribbean actually), the Aruba is the glossy civilization (for good and bad). Everything is air-conditioned beyond apprehension, crisp, clean and very American. Pink buildings, lined-up merchandise, all-inclusive resorts, Starbucks and unnaturally green lawns. The whole island consists of hotels and very Americanized entertainment. Very clean, very strange, very… artificial.
All the air conditioning must have caused some kind of a shock, and I caught a cold. I was rather incapacitated for a few days, so the sailing off was postponed. I celebrated my birthday (got a helicopter ride around the island as a present), rested a lot, wrote an article about Aruba for All at Sea, and was finally good to sail forth.
So what can I say about the Caribbean sailing altogether?
Frankly, when I was planning the trip, it seemed that two months in the Caribbean was awfully long. I thought it would be a matter of visiting a few small islands, and then sailing on - staying there for two months would be too much. How can you sit under the same palm for two months, sipping the same rum? Does everyone smoke pot there? Is it savage and uncivilized?
It just shows how ignorant I was. I came to discover that it could not have been further from the truth. The West Indies are as vast and different as Europe, with currencies, languages, landscapes, and cultures so different that the islands seem like different countries, even if they are situated very close to each other. The islands are big - no walking distances here! The nature is fantastic, the sailing dreamlike, and it could take several years if I were to explore every city and island that I wanted to see. Now I stopped at only a handful, and still friends back in Sweden ask me why I spent so much time there. Well... it's like trying to sail around the perimeter of the Mediterranean in only a few weeks. All from Portugal nature and Spanish feasts, to Italian and French luxury, all the islands, the contrasts of Turkey, the Greek archipelago, and all the Middle East and African countries... All of them with their own secrets, hidden treasures, and treats. Would you cover all these in two weeks? Two months? I doubt even that.
I think it's a pity to skip the Antilles by going directly to South America. The Caribbean has been stunning, and I long back to Saba, Grenadines, Dominica, Klein Curacao. I could come back and sail here for seasons. But it's time to sail forth. The passage to Cartagena is one of the world's top five worst (most dangerous) passages. I have been carefully planning the passage according to the weather, so the perpetual gale off the Colombian North coast would not be there for the passage. Time to say good-byes to the gentle Caribbean and to the very-civilized facades of Aruba, and enter a more raw world of adventure.