I’m back at work full-time at the office again. Last year I was half-time from home, so I had more freedom to travel and to train. I bid farewell to freedom with a short vacation. Last week Ben and I took off for our annual January trip to “anyplace warm.” Neither of us are cold weather people, so we desperately need a trip in January to break up the monotony of bleak chilly weather. We ended up in Aruba with a stopover in Miami because Ben spent several days searching various flights to find cheap first class tickets. Since we were only able to go away for a few days, we wanted to make the flight a very pleasant experience as well. Thanks to his excellent search, our incredible international quality fully flat seats honestly were not much more than the standard economy class seats.
Because we go to Miami/Fort Lauderdale area every year, we have a set of restaurants and hotels that we like to go to when we’re back. This time, we stayed at one of our favorite hotels in Miami, Kimpton Epic. We love the Kimpton because of their dog-friendly policy, but also they have a nice wine happy hour every evening. We ran the Underline, which is a 10-mile linear park in the Brickell neighborhood of Miami. The city is still working on the Underline to make it more visually appealing, but right now it’s a pretty boring, albeit safe, route to run without much traffic. There are occasional street crossings, but for the most part, it’s easy to just zone out and run. The weather was wonderful, mid-6os with no humidity. We had a great time running.
After a 24 hour stopover in Miami, we headed off to Aruba, a small Caribbean country off the coast of Venezuela that is under the protectorate of the Netherlands. It’s about 20 miles long and 6 miles wide. When I looked at a map and thought that we had a long drive somewhere, it literally took only 10 minutes. It is pretty darn small. Traveling in Aruba is easy. The official languages spoken in Aruba are Dutch and the local language of Papiamento, but just about everyone speaks English and/or Spanish. We had no problem with English and the one time we interacted with someone who didn’t speak English, we got by with my pidgin Spanish. We didn’t bother to exchange our money into local currency (Aruba florin) because US dollars are accepted everywhere and prices were always listed in US currency anyway. It was only the really small local businesses where pretty much no tourists go that would have prices listed in florin. The current standard street exchange was $1 USD to $1.75 Aruba florin.
Aruba is a great place to be if you’re looking to relax by the beach and go scuba diving or snorkeling. The towns all appear to be pretty quiet and sleepy, even though we were there during peak tourist season. The beaches are amazing. We marveled over how smooth and creamy the white sands felt underneath our feet. The water was the perfect temperature – cool enough to be refreshing, but warm enough that you could stay out in the ocean without getting cold fast. The sun is intense, so slather on the sunblock/cream to protect yourself.
The weather in January was warm, low to mid-80s with humidity. Walking around was fine, but the weather was a tad brutal for running if, like us, you weren’t used to humidity. After a couple of months of cold weather, and it’s like I never experienced humidity. We went on an “easy” 5-miler, but I was sweating buckets and ready to call it a day. After our run, we had breakfast and then we kicked off our shoes and ran into the ocean, which was absolute bliss.
Ben and I visited a donkey sanctuary, which was a lot of fun. We petted and fed the donkeys until my allergies got too unbearable. It’s free to visit, but they suggest that you leave a donation (we did). We also drove around the island to go look at different things, a lighthouse, a natural bridge, and rugged coastlines. We took a long walk on the beach. We ate ceviche at Bugaloe because of the awesome seating right on the pier overlooking the water. The cocktails barely have any alcohol in them, but since they were only a few dollars, we didn’t care. During happy hour (5-6 pm), two of the wait staff sing songs, so it has a fun lively atmosphere. The only downside is that the service, although friendly, is slow. No matter, you’re in Aruba and you’re supposed to slow down and chill.
About two weeks ago I found out that my role will be changing in June. It will mean more responsibilities (and more pay, but I’m of the opinion that the increased pay is not commensurate with the increased workload) and undoubtedly stress. It looks as if I won’t be able to have time to train for a marathon, which surprisingly bummed me out more than I thought it would. It’s not like I like marathon training, but now that I’m faster, I do like marathons more. I may try to train for one anyway, knowing full well that it’s very likely that I will just have to call it off.