This week I returned from Aruba, and re-entry has been a bit rough. It was a typically beautiful week there, wherein my days were mainly spent chasing pelicans in the ocean, eating seafood, reading Larry McMurtry novels, watching the World Cup, and trucking out my absymal Spanish and Papiamento to the amusement/irritance of the local populace. Working in my windowless nook in waterlogged DC is none too appealing this week.
As I've blogged about Aruba before, I won't waste your time with the same old tish and piffle. Noteworthy activities this year included engaging in some quality sibling bonding time getting wasted with Bobby in the clubs and pubs of Oranjestad, winning $35 at blackjack (whilst wasted, thankyouverymuch), and climbing the highest point in Aruba -- a 188m-high hill named Mt. Jamanota (but we call it Mt. Bobs, because we're strange).
This is also the first time I've been back since the Natalee Holloway debacle. Note of caution: There be some opinionated pontificating ahead, mateys. Click away now if ye be afeared. The effect on the island is very clear -- much of the downtown area is noticably more empty than it's been in previous visits. This has the Family Shepherd hopping mad. While none of us have any doubt that something terrible happened to Ms. Natalee and those responsible should be brought to justice, Aruba remains a very safe, stable and friendly place. It's not the Third-World hellhole that some of this good nation's media outlets like to portray it as. The crime rate there is very low, especially compared to other Caribbean countries. Truthfully, I feel safer there than in DC. It just so happened that one year, something bad happened to a pretty American girl, and now the whole economy of the country is suffering badly. I don't believe that the Aruban government is trying to protect anybody, because whatever power any suspect's parents have, American tourists and their dollars have way more. There's just no evidence at this point to charge anybody. I truly hope they find out what happened, but in the meantime, the entire country shouldn't be held accountable for the nefarious deeds of a few. End of sermon.