This will likely be a lengthy post because I feel like so much happened that was totally not planned for. Usually my trips don’t have too many elements of surprise (because I plan the HECK out of them to the second) – but sometimes things just don’t go that way, especially during Covid.
If you’re solely here for pretty pictures, you’ll get that. If you’re here because you typed ‘Aruba-travel-rules-Covid-from-Canada‘ into Google – I made SUREEEE that was the second thing in this post. I wanted to break that down so you wouldn’t have to do too much searching. And finally, if you’re here to find out how amazing this island was, I’ve got you covered in lots of detail about food and beaches on One Happy Island aka Aruba.
Definitely can’t begin this post without explaining how Aruba ended up being my first international trip since the Rona began. In June my boyfriend and I decided to buy my mom a trip to this beautiful island for her 65th birthday – September 13th. There was a roundtrip (direct) flight by Sunwing for the dates around her birthday, so two weeks in Aruba was going to be the best and most deserved trip for my mom. What she didn’t know was that the day after we purchased her flight, I also purchased mine. Instead of her being in Aruba for two weeks solo, I was going to surprise her there and be there for the first week with her to celebrate her birthday. Sounds super cute right?
Well, yeah fuck you Sunwing. They changed my moms flight times on 4 or 5 occasions until ultimately they cancelled the whole flight. Luckily, there was a decently priced American Airlines flight (with a layover) and a Copa return flight (also, with a layover) for the dates around the original dates we had planned. So instead of me being with my mom in Aruba for her birthday on 13th, she now wouldn’t be arriving until the 14th. Loss of a day of her vacation and also a loss of a day to spend with her in Aruba, but I couldn’t do anything about it anyways, like I said, fuck you Sunwing.
Getting into Aruba
Here is the part for all of you thinking about going from Canada to Aruba as well.
So first of all, as of September 12th, 2021 when I flew into the country, they did not require proof of vaccination. I am fully vaccinated so I was prepared to offer that but it was not asked about at all, same for my layover in the United States to get there. You did need a RT-PCR, PCR and NAAT etc. You can find the list of all the acceptable tests here, but I can tell you that rapid antigen one is a NO. I have to give it to Aruba and their tourism board, they outline very clearly all the requirements for entering the island on their website.
- Get a negative molecular test (within 3 days of landing in Aruba, not 72hrs)
- Fill out the Aruba Online ED – here (this can only be done up to 3 days prior to traveling to Aruba)
- Pay the $15 USD for health insurance (part of online ED process)
I think PCR testing for travel is waaaay too expensive, but I was lucky to stumble upon MedioneRX – the cost of an RT-PCR test was $100 plus tax, and I received my results in under 24hrs. They have lots of locations all over the GTA, my closest was one up in Thornhill and my mom visited the one in Hamilton.
Once I had my negative test results I uploaded them as a part of the Aruba Online ED application. You have the choice to either upload your negative test, choose to show your negative test in person when land or pay for an on-arrival PCR test at Aruba’s airport which will also require you to quarantine in your hotel room/AirBnB until you receive a negative test result.
The $15USD health insurance that is mandatory is amazing. It covers you up to like $75,000USD in health care costs and again, during Covid that is a really comforting feeling. Having to quarantine for two weeks abroad, or heaven forbid end up on a machine to breathe? No thank you.
Sunday, September 12th
All the preparation was done. Uploaded. Carry-on packed. Scanned. Lasered. Made up a lie to tell my mom I was working a double shift so she wouldn’t be wondering why I’m not picking up my phone all day – since I was actually going to be between airports and countries for the day.
My first flight was with United airlines at 8am, I was hearing all the horror stories leading up to this trip about how badly Pearson was handling the lines (especially the pre-clearance for US customs) so I decided to get to the airport at 5am. This is officially the earliest I had ever gotten to an airport for a flight.
When I arrived there was already about 50-75 people in line for the US customs entrance. I was fortunate that United apparently was the first US flight out of that terminal, so they made their own line which was much shorter compared to the other two lines. The US Customs people didn’t even open until 6am, so it was just a whole lot of waiting this early morning. This will be part 1 of me telling you that if you don’t have your Nexus card – GET THAT SHIT ASAP. Although the scanning luggage and going through metal detector part was for everyone, going through US customs with a Nexus card was effortless. It made me completely avoid another line of 100+ people, there was only four of us in the Nexus/Global Entry line. This card would come in handy two more times during this trip.
We took off on time, landed in Dulles on time and took off from Dulles on time as well. I was so impressed with United I even gave them a 5/5 when they sent me an email to review my experience.
I landed in Oranjestad, Aruba at about 3pm and this is where the whole Aruba Online ED form became very important. Between landing and getting to outside, I believe I had to show my Aruba APP (or you can just show the printed sheet with the qualified to board checkmark) three or four times. You are separated on arrival into the aforementioned sections of people who already uploaded their negative results, those who had to show it on arrival and those who needed to be tested. The process for me, with my uploaded negative results, was super fast. I spent no time in the Aruban airport.
As you exit they also give you a ‘DVG’ card which you can give to your hotel/resort/AirBnB host to show you were approved for entry with your negative test – instead of being one of the people who has to quarantine and wait for results.
As I exited the arrivals area, I looked for the transport I had booked ahead to take me to my AirBnB. I used this company named El Tours & Transfers because a one-way shared shuttle transfer was only $13USD. Who would have known during my first conversation in Aruba with a local, I would make what likely will be a friend for life.
Update: Dwayne has now branched out on his own and of course I will promote him here by posting his business card. Tell him I sent you, he’s the kindest human ever!
So I get into this shared shuttle with the other people who arrived and ALL of them literally went to the Riu. Therefore I was the only one left in the shuttle to head over to my AirBnB. I asked the driver what was popping that night, if I wanted to hit a nightclub before my mom arrived, what would be a good place to go. My driver, Dwayne, was telling me about two specific nightclubs and that because of curfew they could only be open until midnight (it was like that the entire week I was there). Then he said he’d come pick me up at 9pm, no charge and we got on each others WhatsApp. I thanked him very much and said I’d see him at 9pm. Big win. Already found plans for the night!
Now, this AirBnB. Massive. It was located a 10-min walk from the BEST beach (in my opinion) in Aruba. Eagle Beach. Two bedrooms with impeccable air conditioning, huge kitchen, and living room. Also, the wonderful host included a cooler, three beach chairs, beach towels and even a beach umbrella. Had a seamless check in and I dropped my things as quickly as possible so I could go explore. Click here for link to this AirBnB, as I would highly recommend it!
I took a walk on Eagle Beach immediately because I had not seen a real beach since February 2020. I literally sat down on the sand and cried for a little bit. I’m not usually one for being a cry baby, but the beach was so beautiful and it had been so long. Some tears were inevitable.
After being publicly embarrassing for a few minutes, it occurred to me I hadn’t eaten since I left Toronto so I should find some food. On the beach I found a place called Coco Loco Beach Bar, my kind of place. I ordered a nice frozen mojito along with a snapper meal. This snapper? Woooo. Knocked it out the park. It was so damn delicious!
Now that my belly was full I did what any grown adult on vacation does at 6pm – I took a nap. Yes. I had been up since about 3am the night before so it was about time I rested. After the rest, I got ready and Dwayne picked me up at 9pm sharp to take me to a club called South Beach, Aruba. As he was still technically working, he just drove me from the AirBnB to the club and left me there. I told him if he had time, come by the club so I could at least thank him with a drink.
I was super duper lucky as well since NFL had just began this Sunday. Therefore while I sat in this outdoor patio blaring soca, dancehall and reggaeton – I also got to watch my favourite sport on a huge screen. I missed these moments so much in my solo travels, just going to bars/nightclubs and sitting there taking in the ambiance, and alcohol. Also should mention here, the drinks were like $10USD each, shit. I regret nothing though. I don’t go on vacation to be cheap, I just try to get there for cheap.
Managed to make some friends with girls from Atlanta and another group of birthday girls from New Jersey. Watched the NFL game and Dwayne ended up showing up later in night to have one drink with me and then later on drive me home.
One thing I’d really like to add here is that I must have some of the best luck, EVER, in the Dutch Caribbean. When my friend Lorren and I had gone to St. Maarten, the first person we had a conversation with was our taxi driver when we went to dinner. There, we had mentioned to him we were going out for my birthday the following night at a local club and he offered to pick us up and drive us for free. Which he did. To the bar and back from the bar. At absolutely no charge, and here I was again with this luck in Aruba.
I think a lot has to be said for how incredibly nice and hospitable people on ‘The Friendly Island’ = St. Maarten and obviously on ‘One Happy Island’ = Aruba. It’s so warm and so genuine.
Monday, September 13th
Finally got a nice full night of sleep and I was ready to get some breakfast and head to the beach. I wanted to swim, I needed to feeeeeel the water so I packed up the beach towel, a beach chair, a beach umbrella and my backpack. I slathered myself in sunscreen and managed to find some empanadas on the way to the beach! So far, this morning was very successful.
Eagle Beach was so empty on a Monday morning. Apparently September is the hottest month to be in Aruba, and boy were the people who said that correct. I think on that Monday it got to like 38 degrees outside and I loved it. I also loved that the winds in Aruba make sure the sand is never hot. As someone who has burnt the bottom of their feet MANY a time walking on the sands in Cuba and Croatia, these winds in Aruba were a Godsend. Unfortunately those same winds made it IMPOSSIBLE for me to put up the damn umbrella.
Now, if you’ve seen photos of me I am the palest of the pale so I cannot be in direct sun regardless of how much sunscreen I put on. I must have tried five times to put that damn umbrella up and the wind kept knocking it over. Big fail. I couldn’t stay on the beach a minute past noon because I would have been in horrible pain afterwards. The sun there is unforgiving.
Following a long, cold shower I thought it was time I try to go to the grocery store and pick up some food and drinks to have in the fridge. This is where I’ll tell you that Google Maps doesn’t mean a damn thing in Aruba. Things I thought were close by, were not and things I thought were super far were not either. It’s like I couldn’t figure out distance or something. In the hot ass sun, I decided to walk to the grocery store. Very dumb of me. It was sooooo hot and the walk took me about 45m minutes. I was drenched and so tired by the time I made it to the store. At least the grocery store (named Superfood) was totally worth it, it’s huge and had everything you’d need in there.
Once I found all the items I wanted I took a taxi home because, I learned my lesson. Listen to me, do NOT take walks in the heat in Aruba at noon-2pm. That should have occurred to me when I didn’t see a single other person gallivanting like I was.
The other awesome thing about Aruba is their taxis. There is a flat rate for all parts of the island. You’ll never have to wonder how much a ride will cost because it’ll always be the same price – you can find the PDF here for how much a ride SHOULD cost you. My taxi was always $10USD because I didn’t venture too far away from the location of my AirBnB which was pretty central.
I spent the rest of my Monday napping and eating because the heat had really gotten to me. I decided to order some Aruban KFC because every time I visit a new Caribbean island I HAVE TO try their KFC. Just saying, it was good, but not like, Jamaica good. But good nonetheless. FYI, you can’t order delivery without an Aruban phone number so shout out to Dwayne for being my fake Aruban number so I could get some chicken.
Tuesday, September 14th
My mom is arriving today! Yay! Her plane is supposed to arrive at 2pm so I wanted to get out for a little bit and pick her up some beers to surprise her with.
I took a taxi to Diana’s Pancakes Place. Breakfast was obviously necessary and I had read good things about this place, I mean, who doesn’t love pancakes? I ordered some juice along with the apple cinnamon pancake/crepe with a side of bacon. Pancake/crepe was delicious. The bacon? Ehhhh. As a Canadian I feel our bacon is superior so everywhere else I go they are just OK at best. But totally come here for the ambiance it is really cute and the servers are friendly and quick.
Now, did my dumb ass learn from the day before? Of course not. I decided to walk home from Diana’s to the AirBnB in search of beers for my mom’s arrival. Yes, again it was like 12pm and I was out gallivanting in the scorching Aruban heat.
I did find beers though! Purchased two Heinekens to have waiting for her in our spot.
Now, it was time. I had kept this surprise a secret from her and so many people. I couldn’t wait to see my moms expression when she unlocked the AirBnB and found me there. If you’d like to see the TikTok journey up to her arriving, click here. Totally worth watching the video and her reaction to seeing me!
So my mom arrives, she curses at me and my dad (because how could he know and not tell her right?) – I give her time to get changed and get ready to take her out to the birthday dinner I should have done the night before. (FUCK YOU SUNWING AGAIN)
I made reservations at Matthew’s Beachside Restaurant, which was only a 15-minute walk away from our AirBnB. To keep it totally honest, I chose this restaurant because they had an AWESOME happy hour 2-for-1 on drinks. Had to take advantage after the fortune I spent on drinks the Sunday.
We both hopped on the happy hour wave with some drinks at this very lively beachfront restaurant. It looked to be a part of a resort/hotel on the front side and then directly on the beach on the back side. For starters we got the escargot and calamari, for my main I had the blackened Covina and for dessert I chose the profiteroles because I LOVE PROFITEROLES. Everything was tasty, but the highlight was the escargot and the 2-for-1 drinks. Make it there for happy hour!
After dinner we chose to walk back to our spot on the beach. No need to hit the pavement when you can hit the beautiful sand at sunset. This was Eagle Beach, I will let the pictures below show you how incredible this moment was.
Wednesday, September 15th
Wonderful night of sleep after walking in sunlight, eating a lot and drinking a lot. That is the concoction for a good sleep apparently.
It was time to hit the beach for a full day – with real beach loungers and beach umbrellas that were in the ground as opposed to trying to set them up and fail like I did on my first day.
My mom and I walked over to Eagle Beach and paid $10USD per lounger and they had the big palm-tree looking palapas already there for shade. We spent the whole day there. Brought snacks and drinks in the cooler and just took in the nice wind and hot sun all day.
Definitely took another little nap after the tiring day of swimming and doing nothing on the beach.
I had made reservations for this evening at a local spot called Gasparito. Before coming on the trip I had read this place had some really good local Aruban food so it needed to get visited!
Dwayne came to pick my mom and I up to take us to this restaurant and we got there literally as they were opening, note, because of the curfew changing constantly they are only open like 6pm-9pm.
There were two specific things I wanted to try at this restaurant – the funchi (a dense mush made from cornmeal/polenta, water and butter. The water is boiled while the cornmeal is vigorously stirred in until it thickened and looks almost like a pudding consistency) and Keshi Yena (an Aruban and Curaçaoan main course dish, consisting of a large round ball of cheese stuffed with spiced meat (often chicken), served steamed or baked). Both sounded like they would be really yummy and needed tasting.
We began with the shrimp cocktail and a side of funchi – this I have to say had THE LARGEST SHRIMP I HAD EVER SEEN.
Then we got the Keshi Yena Chicken as a main dish and the pistachio cake as dessert. Both were very good, and crazy filling. I can’t believe how full I was after all this, walking was really tough. I should add that we met the owner of the restaurant during our time there and he blessed us with some wine for my mom (her birthday yay) and a Cuba Libre for me (rum and coke). The Cuba Libre? Yeah so this was like 98% rum and 2% coke. My first sip felt like a flying kick to my chest. STRONG. I couldn’t even finish it, but as the lovely Aruban hospitality goes, I was given a to-go cup. Wonderful.
After this super heavy meal my mom and I decided to walk for a little bit because sleeping on the road was not an option. We took a stroll through the popular area in Palm Beach. This is where all the restaurants are, the resorts and the shops. Our walk extended to behind the resorts too, got some nice night shots of the empty beach and bars.
Should note here – we tried using our debit cards to pay for things this evening and it did not work. So I’m not sure if that was specific to ours or if everyone has this issue but make sure you carry cash (we were easily able to take money out of ATMS) or use a credit card.
Thursday, September 16th
Today was an early day! We wanted to head to a beach on the whooooole opposite side of the island. Baby Beach.
We had read this place got really busy on weekends so a Thursday seemed like the perfect opportunity to head there. Shout out to Dwayne, again, because he drove us the 40 minutes there and then later in the day the 40 minutes back. When I say it’s far away from the action up in the Eagle/Palm beach areas, I mean it.
The drive through Aruba, via San Nicholas to Baby Beach was pretty awesome. There is one point where you come to this incredible view overlooking the water and it really does take your breath away.
Once we arrived at Baby Beach we paid $8USD per beach lounger and found a shady place to relax. This beach was much busier than what we were accustomed to at Eagle Beach. I was a little surprised by this because like I had said, this is far. The beach was beautiful and the water was calm. Unfortunately on the day we went the wind was relentless. It literally didn’t stop blowing the entire day. Clothes were flying, sand and the worst part was even in the shade all day, my mom and I got burnt because of this damn wind.
I would recommend making time to come down to San Nicholas and Baby Beach, but it was not my favourite. I like my beaches very quiet and Eagle Beach was just better for that to me. Nice thing at Baby Beach was there was a huge restaurant/bar there as well as a food truck. It might be in a remote area, but at least you had access to sustenance.
We headed back to our AirBnB at about 430pm because we had BIG plans for the evening. My friend Alicia (yaaaah shout out to you Alicia) had told me about this place called Lucy’s. This bar had something I HAD TO drink at their establishment.
The Scorpion Shot. Yes you read that, scorpion. It is a tequila shot with a little (dead) scorpion in it that you can drink and then you get a t-shirt saying you survived it. I had been advised to take it down like you do oysters, just chug it back and swallow. No problem.
Since my mom was disgusted by the whole idea, my new friend Dwayne said he’d do it with me. What a guy!
At $24USD per shot, we had to make sure we completed the task. I really wanted that t-shirt and obviously the superpowers that I thought would come from drinking this scorpion. To finish the story, WE DID THAT SHIT. To see the video of it, click here. Poor Dwayne didn’t down it like I did, so he had to chew the scorpion. No way I would have gotten through it if I did that. Nope.
With Lucy’s closing down soon, we wanted to go get real food after this ordeal. We made our way back into the busy Palm Beach area and took a seat at Che Bar. The reason we chose this place was because I saw they had drink specials, and yes I think that is a totally valid reason to want to eat somewhere.
As you see in the photo below, there was a drink that had *wheelchair available* in the description so naturally, that was my drink of choice. This was BY FAR the best liquor ice tea I’ve had. Usually I enjoy drinking Long Island Ice Tea, but this Arubian Ice Tea? Wowwwwww. I could have drank 10 of these and lived a very good life. (I only drank four though, $5 each, WIN)
The food orders were a chicken, beef and cheese empanadas as well as something called Patacon, which is a flattened fried plantain with chorizo and chimi. Everything was tasty, but the cheese empanada is something I thought about again. Perfectly made and cheesy. I’m hungry again thinking about it now.
Friday, September 17th
On this lovely morning we had a catamaran booked! I love being on boats and on the water so both my mom and I were really looking forward to this. She was more so looking forward to the snorkeling while I was looking forward to boat, water, liquor.
The sailing was at 930am and it would be for 2.5hrs, it included snorkeling gear, a snack and open bar. The cost was $65.00 per person and I booked it here on Viator.
We boarded and set off on our journey from Palm Beach, I really liked that there was only 12 of us on this huge catamaran as the other boats we sailed up to had 50+. I just relaxed on the mesh, took photos and at one of the stops jumped out to swim. It was the first time I saw a pelican up close too. I had no idea those birds were MASSIVE.
Following the catamaran you’d figure I’d be over the water activities but NOPE. I decided this was a good time to try parasailing. As we returned back to Aruba WaterSports Center I booked myself for the 1pm parasailing. In all my travels I never had the chance to do this activity and I had to finally experience it. The cost was $60USD and you would go up in the air for 15 minutes.
There was two couples with me on the boat and two young ladies from Brazil. I would be the only one going up alone, everyone else went in twos. Thankfully the two ladies went first so I could see how this would go, because I am a chicken, and then go up myself. I did it. It was awesome, way less scary than it looks. Because the wind in Aruba is so strong, the boat didn’t even have to move. I just enjoyed my time in the air with the nicest view of the water and beaches EVER. My only regret is that I didn’t check my phone on my chest which had been turned towards me INSTEAD OF outwards for the ascent. Shame.
Once I came down from the air, my mom and I walked over to a Covid testing site so I could get my PCR over with as I was flying home Sunday. The cost was $80USD for a PCR test and I would get my results within 24hrs via e-mail. Very quick and simple.
I will do some foreshadowing here in saying thank goodness I got my test Friday (two days ahead) instead of Thursday (three days ahead).
Arriving back at the AirBnB I had a Twitter follower who had mentioned I had to try to Domino’s pizza while in Aruba so I ordered some for my mom and I. Again, shout out to Dwayne for being our local Aruban phone number so we could make the order. I have to tell you, this pizza was VERY good and if you go, have some pizza. Why not?
Following another nap, I was ready to go clubbing. It was a Friday night and I had to see what was lively and happening. Dwayne picked me up in this crazy van with bright lights shining everywhere inside of it and brought me to a club called Sandbar. As Dwayne had to go drive some more tourists around, I got myself a table and began drinking and observing the crowd. I love people watching. It was still so weird to me heading to a nightclub at 9pm, as everything shuts down at midnight. Usually when I am in the Caribbean I don’t even reach a party until midnight, damn you Covid.
Sandbar was like South Beach – it was outdoors and no walls. I haven’t been to a nightclub since Covid began and I loved that they were both outside so I didn’t feel cramped and I didn’t need to sit close to people. I managed to make friends with the bouncer as well as this couple from New York who I swear to you gave me 25% of their Clase Azul tequila bottle to drink. That is an expensive bottle eh?
Dwayne showed up around 10:30pm and hung out, introduced me to some of the locals and then we left at midnight. Amazing night. I had a freaking ball and will literally return to this island the second we can all party until 4am like we’re supposed to!
Saturday, September 18th
Blah, this was my last full day in Aruba. That’s the worst you know? When the return to Toronto is looming over your head because you know that’s where work, bills and no beach are.
Obviously, the first half of the day was spent on Eagle Beach with my mom again. See pictures, now.
Imagine? I’m supposed to be OKAY leaving this perfection to see Toronto. Abomination in my life.
After the beach my mom and I wanted to have our final dinner somewhere fancy pants so we had Dwayne drop us off at Aqua Grill. Gorgeous ambiance and super nice menu.
There was this appetizer that had me intrigued, it was the Caribbean Sword Brochette – bacon-wrapped swordfish bites on a sugar cane skewer with tamarind sauce and mango relish. MY GOODNESS. Wow. Then I had the Cioppino as my main, with that huge shrimp you’ll see in the photo below. I’ve never had a seafood pasta that had more seafood than pasta. Big win. If you want to spend a bit more, definitely make time to go to this restaurant, you won’t be disappointed at all.
Following dinner my mom and I both went back to the AirBnB but I decided I wanted to hit the nightclub one last time before I went back to Toronto. I realized this would be my last nighttime outing until my next trip in December, so if I didn’t do it I would totally regret it. Wait until you guys hear how this night played out. Thank goodness I did go out.
Dwayne picked me up at 930pm and we hit up Sandbar again together. The couple from New York made sure to send some more of the tequila over to us, that shit burned so bad. Let’s just say we drank a bit. Yes.
We left the club like 10 minutes to closing because Dwayne knew I was a big foodie. I don’t know what food truck we pulled up to but he brought me the most perfect drunk meal EVER. It was fries, with hot dogs and melted cheese on it – and the like three sauces in baggies for dipping in. OHHHHH IT WAS HEAVENLY.
I get home from the club / food truck at about 1230am, it is Sunday now. I took time to talk to Dwayne about coming to get me at 930am for my flight at noon to Washington and then I had a flight Washington to Aruba. Took a shower and then was able to sit down and enjoy my bountiful drunken meal.
This was the most perfect last day/night on vacation and I was happy to be going to sleep partially drunk and with my belly full.
I go lay down in my bed at 1:30am finally, and I hear a notification on my phone. Thank goodness I was awake and thank goodness I looked.
So SIXTEEN HOURS before my flight from Washington to Toronto, mans had a scheduling issue. I called United right away (yes, at 130am) and they said they’d put me on another flight to Toronto, but on Monday. See why taking that PCR test two days ahead instead of three saved me? Yeah. Overall, I ended up having NO sleep that night because I was like why me? Urgh.
Sunday, September 19th
A typically shitty day as it is, now imagine it with no idea how you’re going to get home. Rough.
I said bye to my mom and Dwayne came to pick me up and take me to the airport. I was able to get through customs really fast since Aruba has US Pre-Clearance just like Pearson does, and I have a Nexus. This is me reminding you again, GET THE NEXUS CARD.
My flight from Aruba to Washington was just fine and we even ended up landing 20 minutes early. I got to speaking to three people who were also supposed to head to Toronto and were stranded in Washington, Dulles. We all went to the United customer service desk at Dulles upon landing to find out what was happening.
The couple opted to go Aruba-Washington-Newark-Toronto so they could land that same day. I was definitely not heading to Newark, no. The other man I met was rescheduled on a 6am flight Monday morning to Pearson. Me, be at the airport at 4am? Yeah I’m good on that thanks.
I was able to get a flight out at 1030am on the Monday. Yes I was annoyed because I really wanted to get home Sunday, but I’ve never been to Washington so I’m like okay, let me use this opportunity to explore. United paid for my hotel for the night and gave me food vouchers. Because Canada’s rules are 72 hours, not 3 days for a PCR I had to land before 2pm on Monday, which I would with a 1030am flight. Washington is not a far flight for us.
The shuttle got me to the hotel quickly and I was staying at the Holiday Inn, Dulles. The staff was nice, check in was a breeze and the room was huge. So far, this layover was going okay, I was making the best of it. I dropped my bags and I’m thinking to go into Washington downtown to see the White House and stuff. HA.
I didn’t know that Dulles is like our Pearson airport – it isn’t actually anywhere near the city. I’m in freaking Virginia. The Uber was pricey and I don’t even want to get into the Sunday transit schedule. It would have taken me 90 minutes minimum each way to make it into town. At one point I even looked at the distance to Baltimore because I knew the Chiefs @ Ravens game in Baltimore was going to be amazing. I didn’t end up going, but the game did end up being good. I just didn’t know how I’d get home from Baltimore after the game, so I’m glad I made the decision to not go anyways.
What I did end up doing was taking a shower and ordering food. I ordered from a place called Johnny Ray’s Sultry Soul Food. I got the mac & cheese, corn, catfish with a side of candied tams and coleslaw – and banana pudding to finish it all off. If I was going to hide in my hotel room all night and watch NFL, I wanted to be well fed too. I was. I 10000% recommend getting the banana pudding. If I knew it was that good I would have gotten like eight of those.
Monday, September 20th
Alright, today is going to be better. I will get home to Toronto today.
I arrive at Dulles and breeze through customs because I have that TSA Pre-Check thingy. When I get in I head straight to the duty free for some take-home liquor purchases and then to find breakfast. Luckily the vouchers United gave me worked at the Chic-Fil-A. I didn’t know that franchise served breakfast? We don’t have that in Toronto. I indulged in trying that and it was good.
Before my flight took off, the flight attendant asked to see my negative PCR test, my proof of being double vaccinated as well as if I had filled out the ArriveCan app. Make sure you fill that app in if you are entering Canada from traveling at any point. Very important.
Leading up to my trip I had heard such nightmarish stories about what arrivals in Pearson were like. I’m landing at noon on a Monday I was thinking here we go, I’m going to be one of the people who spends 2hrs on the tarmac and then 2hrs in customs.
Six minutes. Tops. From deplaning to going to put information into the computer thingy that takes your photo, to exiting into the terminal. I kid you not, it took NO time at all. I was so relieved. Such a seamless arrival back home after the hell of having my flight cancelled initially etc.
Unfortunately, my return home wasn’t as cheerful. I really contemplated if I would include this part in this blog post or not – but I think I should.
I’ve been to 43 countries and at this point stayed in dozens of AirBnB’s. I have never had a single issue with anywhere I have stayed. I have been fortunate that all the hosts have been really great.
So, while I was in the air – Dwayne had picked up my mom to take her to her new AirBnB. She was moving to a new one that Monday, because there was no need to have one with two bedrooms anymore. The host of the new AirBnB was lovely, she had perfect reviews and we had been in contact FOREVER with her knowing my mom was going to be the one staying there, not me. Even the night before I had received her message about what the number for the lockbox would be for my mom, since her and her husband would likely be at work when she checked in at noon. Everything was going well.
As I am deplaning, I received a phone call in Pearson from my mother – crying. My mom is not a crier, that is really unusual from her and imagine, she is calling me from a foreign country CRYING on the phone. I asked her what was wrong and she said the hosts husband was rude to her and Dwayne. She said as her and Dwayne arrived to check in, the host told Dwayne to ‘get the fuck off the property’.
Now, my mom doesn’t stand for behaviour like that and she told the host that he was not going to talk to Dwayne like that, at which point the man began yelling at my mom and being rude to her. A host. Yelling at my 65 year old mother and making her cry – DURING HER BIRTHDAY TRIP? I was ready to hop right the hell back on the plane and go back to Aruba to tell them my thoughts. I was livid. Here is the link to THAT AirBnB. I will tell all of you to avoid going to stay there because if this is how they behave to a wonderful local like Dwayne and a person who is paying to stay in their home? Avoid that shit.
The woman I had been messaging with (the wife) messaged me on AirBnB to say she spoke to her husband and how ‘unfortunate’ the situation was. Without cursing, I absolutely let her have it in our conversation. That this was inappropriate, bullshit and that such a highly rated host should be ashamed of themselves. Our friend Dwayne didn’t deserve to be spoken to like that and my mom didn’t either. To which she responded basically saying if they knew Dwayne was our friend it would have gone different. I didn’t know that someone’s occupation was the deciding factor in if you treated them as a human or not? But yeah. That place is giving me a refund and if I ever go back to Aruba I’m showing up to ask about my mom crying face to face. Hope they remember me 🙂
So we had to cancel the booking in that moment and I had to find her a new one. I was lucky to find this awesome one-bedroom spot with a pool and everything. The host responded immediately and my mom was able to check in same-day. Dwayne being the awesome person he is, drove my mom around that day and hung out with her until it was time for the new check in. If it wasn’t for him, I’m not sure my mom or I would have enjoyed our time in Aruba as much. I’m eternally grateful for him, and if any of you are EVER planning to go to Aruba and need a driver, please shoot me an e-mail and I will give you his number. There couldn’t be a nicer person to show you the island.
This is why it took forever for me to write and post this recap. As I finish this, my mom is flying home from Aruba and the trip is complete. I had to make sure no further shenanigans happened for me to put into the recap.
My mom had an amazing two weeks, aside from the asshole host, she loved the island and can’t wait to go back. I feel the same way. For all the countries I have been to, the hospitality of the locals in Aruba is second to none. I understand now why they have the highest return rate in the Caribbean. If you’ve visited, you automatically do want to come back.
I realize this was an exceptionally long post with a whole lot going on, but I hope you enjoyed reading it and consider a trip to Aruba as well.
Note: it has been about 12 days now and I still don’t have superpowers from the scorpion shot.