It was the May of 1995, and my husband and I had gone shopping for bathroom tiles one Saturday afternoon in Scarsdale, NY, and somehow came home with two tickets to a tiny island in the Dutch West Indies called Aruba. They were sold to us by a diligent Liberty Travel representative named Karen, who is one of the best salespersons I have run across to this very day, after luring us inside from where were browsing the travel specials on the outside display window.
I have a vivid memory of stepping off the plane into the airfield of tiny airport after we landed, and being hit by the forceful trade winds that this island is known for. My other fond memories include the pristine waters and sandy beaches, and a special feature of this particular island, which is a mini "desert." Yes, that's right. Aruba has a desert area, complete with cacti, aloe plants (another thing this island is famous for) and a dusty aridness that could easily remind you of the Mojave. Touring this area in an army-style jeep was quite a bumpy experience for my husband and me, reminding us both of the old TV series, The Rat Patrol. There's also a strange bush-like tree with branches that grow "sideways" throughout this island called the divi-divi tree. And along with the spectacular, multi-colored Tucan birds that many people keep as pets, and a charming language made up of Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, and a few other languages thrown in, called Papiamento, it was one of the most charming and idyllic places I think I've ever visited. God, how could I ever forget sitting at a poolside bar with my husband one afternoon, and having the bartender, who spoke several of these languages fluently, including English, help to conduct conversations between people who couldn't speak a word of the others language. He'd simply ask my husband a question someone who spoke Dutch had asked in English – and then he'd shoot it back to the Dutchman in Dutch, or Spanish, or Portuguese, or whatever the guest happened to speak. This guy was truly amazing, and number one in "bringing people together."
In fact, I'd have to say that each and every native person that I came in contact with on the island of Aruba were some of the kindest, most accommodating people you could ever ask to meet. Every one.
Therefore, I'll continue to hope for the safe return of Natalee Holloway, the Alabama teen who still remains missing in Aruba. My hope is that everyone there will continue to be as kind, caring, and wonderful as they were to my husband and me when we were there, and help to find this young girl and reunite her with her family soon.