On the boat and on the road

The new corona rules have been in effect with us since today. The new rules mean that there are actually no more rules. For example, the obligation to wear masks has been lifted, the masks are only recommended. Soraida, for example, immediately said that with her no passengers could get on the bus without a mask. I would keep it that way if I were you. The number of active Covid-19 cases is 35 today, and there have only been two to three new infections per day in the last few days. The vaccination program pays off. Even the beaches can now be re-entered in the evening, you can sit at the bar and when artists perform, it can even be a full symphony orchestra again. Up to now, a maximum of one artist inside or three outside was allowed. So much for that, but now I have to get to work.

I'm still waiting for the new fitting for the backstay, but that doesn't mean I'll run out of work on board.

The lost screw

I have to climb. Not on the very big mast, only on the second highest mast. He carries the wind generator, which always blows our batteries so nicely on the way. Unfortunately on the last trip we lost the screws that hold the generator in place. That didn't harm the position or the output of the power plant, but it has to be done.

Before I can climb up there, all fenders have to be cleared out of the way. The lines of the wind vane are also in the way. I dismantle them before my way up. This is difficult at first, all the blocks are screwed very, very tight - we don't want to lose them. After a good hour I have stowed all the lines below deck, I don't have to grill them in the sun for a whole year. The way up is finally free.

Freed from all unnecessary lines

Has the mast always been that high? Did I really go up in the middle of the Atlantic to replace these screws? And why do we no longer have screws of the right length (M6 with 10mm length). The screws go on the shopping list.

I won't be using the watermaker for the next few months. So I have to winter him. No life should develop in the tubes.

The cleaning solution for the watermaker is mixed.

I have never done that. The company where I had the watermaker installed has integrated two hoses into the system that can be used to create a circuit. Exactly for this purpose. I read through the relevant section of the operating instructions again, then off we go. The device starts its work with a sonorous humming and after a few seconds the bucket with the cleaning solution is empty. I beg your pardon?

Hmmm. I forgot to close the valve on the outlet. Instead of circulating, the liquid found the path of least resistance. In the Atlantic. I mix up another portion of the solution, set the valves correctly and it's all over the place. After the end of the process, I take out the filters and then it's done. Now I don't have to worry about the device anymore, the last official act is to turn off the power.

Deep inside Sissi - the Watermaker is wintered.

Then I want to do a little something on the car - I don't like the tires. In addition, the car does not drive particularly well with the four different slippers. On the way to the hardware store, I pass the tire dealer. Not just at one tire dealer, I visit several. First, I'll go to Jay's. Edward recommended it to me, and Soraida also has Jay's adverts on her bus. A specialist in used tires. I am offered four tires for my car for 200 florins including assembly. Of course, the tires are in stock.

I am even allowed to look at the tires and even choose the ones myself that will be put on my car later. That was a misunderstanding on my part. My association with used tires was that they were retreaded tires. No, you thought wrong. These things are really used and have been sorted out by their previous owners. I can't find four identical tires. I wouldn't improve.

Get ready to change tires

At Jay's, they send me to Napa. There they would have the tires in new, but would not assemble them. I could come back with the Napa tires and have them fitted here. A quick detour to Napa makes me realize that I have to pay 62 florins for a new tire, but that there are currently no tires in stock. Good to know. No, you can't tell me when the next delivery is coming. It will come at some point.

Soraida thinks I'm stupid. I should ask her. For new tires you go to JR. There is an offer there, four new tires for 200 Florin including balancing and assembly. That's the price of four used Jay's tires.

Now the transformation of the car is taking place. From a junk truck to a good car.

At JR you have the tires in stock. The assembly will be done immediately, I am announced a waiting time of one hour. That’s okay. I keep an eye out for Soraida's bus, the route of which passes by JR. After just five minutes, an employee comes and tells me that the car can now be driven into the hall. That was fast. People get to work right away.

It's very convenient. I can take a good look at the brakes. When braking, I always had the impression that something was wrong with the brake discs. Or the brake pads. I can rule that out after a good visual inspection. At this point I haven't bought a construction site.

Installation of the new tires

Fantastic. I drive from the yard and realize that I just have a brand new car. The car now drives straight ahead without my intervention and stays in the lane even when braking. I think the vehicle's value has just doubled. So off to the hardware store. The first hardware store doesn't have metric screws. The next one not made of stainless steel. The third hardware store can offer me the M6 with a length of 10mm.

I think it is like the bolts for the wind vane control. I'll buy a whole dozen. Since we have had so many replacement bolts for the wind vane, none have been lost. And a new tube of screw glue, the old one has been open for two years. But it's too hot for me now for a new climbing tour. I do that the next cloudy day or early in the morning.

Night mood in Varadero

Incompatible

A beautiful day. Looking for a new place for Sissi, I visited different places in the past week. There is the Aruba Nautical Club (ANC), a private yacht club open to members only. It was recommended to me because it is beautiful and quiet. The opening times of the office cannot be found on the Internet, but the opening times of the affiliated restaurant can. So I go to the island's usual office hours and find out that I've got the wrong day. It's Thursday and the office closes at 12 noon on Thursday. On all other days it is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. All right, I burned the fuel for nothing. I'm going back on Friday.

I'll be at the ANC office around 11:30 a.m. on Friday. Nobody can be seen there. I'll call the phone number on the opening hours sign. The phone rings in the restaurant. Of course, nobody answers, the restaurant doesn't open until 5 p.m. Besides me, another person came in vain. Bad luck. I leave the premises. A few minutes later I meet Soraida (by chance, of course) on the street, because I park the car in her turning area. Soraida wants to go to the vaccination center later that day and get her second vaccination. A little later I call the ANC again. The office is now open and I can come over and find out more. Fine.

The private club has an admission fee, a monthly fee, and berth fees. There is a discount of 20% in the club's own restaurant. Calculated over a year, the membership and the berth for Sissi would cost me about 400 US$ per month. For this price there is also a berth in the Marina Varadero, but without the formalities of membership and the waiting time until I am accepted as a member. With that the decision is clear. The berth in Oranjestad for 800 US$ is being given up and Sissi is moving to Varadero next week.

Vaccination Center in Santa Cruz

Soraida calls me. If I came right away, I could get the vaccination at the vaccination center. She's just in line, waiting for her second shot. Unfortunately, I have neither my passport nor my vaccination certificate with me. Soraida tells me that I just have to somehow prove that I will be staying in Aruba longer. I give the car the spurs and arrive in Varadero five minutes before the office closes. Office clerk Judith is happy about my reservation and about my credit card. She promises me a written confirmation of the reservation for the following day. Great! During the last visit the people in Varadero were very friendly, and this time they are too. However, this is true of almost everyone in Aruba.

On Saturday Jens and I take our passports, our vaccination cards and, to be on the safe side, all the boat papers with us. We go to the open vaccination appointment and are well equipped. The reservation confirmation brings us past the first security guard who is responsible for sorting out the tourists. The second guard accompanies us to the table for registration. There is a short discussion, then it is clear that Jens and I can get the vaccination. We are allowed to fill out the questionnaire. Excellent!

Questionnaire. Only available in papiamento.

A sports hall has been converted into a vaccination center. Music is playing. It's quiet but busy. The vaccination trolleys drive through between the rows of chairs. Jens and I sit on the chair for less than five minutes, then the car comes to us.

Jens is freshly vaccinated.

The last open question is whether it should be injected into the left or right arm. Then we have to wait another 15 minutes, then we can go again. It's that easy, it's that quick. We already have the second appointment, but unfortunately Jens won't be able to keep it. He has to find an appointment in Germany for the second shot. At least the vaccine fits, the Biontech vaccine is also used in Aruba.

My first shot

To celebrate the day we go to the Lionfish snack and eat a portion of kibbeling. Delicious. Then we let ourselves float around in the natural pool for two hours.

However, I have a problem with the vaccination. My smartphone (Android) cannot connect to the chip that has now been injected into me. Did they give me an Apple chip? Or is it even the case that the global shortage of chips means that my vaccine does not contain any chips at all? In any case, I cannot reach the chip with WLAN, Bluetooth or NFC. The FM radio in the car cannot receive it either. Or he is simply incompatible with everything ... In any case, I am very happy that I have finally been vaccinated.

Officially. Including a second vaccination appointment.

You can only do it wrong

Have you recently wondered what the consequences of your actions will be in the future? Acted in good faith to do something right and you really kicked the shit? I had an aha moment yesterday.

Sissi is pretty much ready to go. We still have to fill up, child's play, after all, we are less than 10 meters from the gas station. We don't even have to move the boat to refuel, the hose is long enough. Nothing to hold us in Aruba.

Bus stop in Oranjestad. A hub for information.

The bus stop is not just a place to wait for the bus. It's also an excellent hub for information, gossip and good coffee. So I stand around and drink a coffee when I am approached by a bus driver. Would I have already registered for the vaccination? No, I say, we tourists don't get a vaccination. I took a close look at the vaccination schedule for Aruba. The vaccine is currently being given to people over the age of 60 or belonging to groups that are at risk from working in hospitals, for example. I am not one of them.

But the bus driver tells me what she heard on the radio. Namely that in Aruba everyone is vaccinated now, even those who are illegally in the country. You just have to register and you will receive an email with the vaccination date. Wow i think. We want to leave Aruba, but with a vaccination it would be much easier to travel. In the evening I'll discuss this with Jens. We agree that we would like to be vaccinated.

So I let Soraida drive me to the authority where you register for the vaccination. I catch the perfect moment, a quarter of an hour before lunch. There is no longer any queue in front of me, I can go straight to the counter. I explain my concern to the clerk (or whatever it's called in this country). She asks me for my passport and looks at the pretty stamps. Basically I can get a vaccination in Aruba, but ...

Soraida drives, but my regular seat in the front right is occupied.

... I was right in assuming that they don't vaccinate tourists. Now I come back to my opening sentence. If we hadn't gone to Cuba and if we hadn't legalized our status by leaving and re-entering Aruba, at least I would still be illegally in the country. Then I could have an appointment within a few days. I should come back at the end of June when my status changes back to "illegal". Then I could get the vaccination. But at the end of June I'll be on the other side of the Atlantic. In Aruba, everyone is vaccinated except those who are legally in the country as tourists.

In addition, I am trying to get permission from the responsible authorities to enter Guadeloupe. There are much better and cheaper ways to repair our mast there than there is in Aruba. They haven't replied to the email from the day before yesterday, but it was in English. I didn't think about it, Smurf. Today I sent another email afterwards. In French, I can do that. It's just a lot more exhausting, the vocabulary doesn't always come to my mind. I dig in the brain and the English word falls out.

As a little hamster, I have now collected almost all the parts for an engine inspection. The only thing missing is the air filter and a few liters of oil. The oil is a very common mineral 20W-50 oil, so far I have not been able to find it in Aruba. I travel from auto parts shop to auto parts shop. Soraida lets me out today at the shop where she always buys the parts for her bus. They even have my air filter in the computer, one is still in stock. But it was hiding somewhere, after a 15-minute search the seller came back to me empty-handed.

Again waiting for the bus.

In summary, I have to say that my willingness to leave has never been greater and the possibilities have never been less. You can also cross the Atlantic from Aruba. It's like last March. Little by little, the borders are closing.

Addendum: After only three hours, the cancellation came from Guadeloupe. If you use the right language, you will get an answer.

nostalgia

For once we did everything right. We couldn't have taken the sails down at a better time. The wind picked up a lot overnight and with the gusts we are experiencing today, the genoa would still be in place. Bravo!

Cruise ship in March 2020 in Bonaire

Tomorrow is March 1st. Exactly a year ago we were in Bonaire and saw a cruise ship mooring at the pier every day, and on some days two. Of course there was this Chinese virus somewhere on the other side of the planet, but it had no effect on life. In the morning the crusaders stormed the island en masse, in the evening they disappeared again and we had our rest at our buoy - until the next morning.

Traveling was so easy. And cheap. We chose the island we wanted, when we cleared out we got the documents for the destination and then we set off. The entry into the destination country was uncomplicated, I just had to do the more or less long marathon through the various authorities. That was done in a period of between five minutes (Martinique) up to two hours (St. Lucia). In St. Lucia it took so long because the different authorities took their lunch break at different times.

The visits to the authorities cost more or less a lot of money, but it was cheap compared to the costs that travelers have to face today.

Martinique Carnival, February 2020

Now travel is complicated. And expensive. Those who want to travel these days have to prepare the bureaucratic part almost better than the sailing part. In any case, you should have additional supplies on board for two weeks in case a two-week quarantine is unexpectedly ordered at the destination. We want to move from Aruba to another island. Okay, what alternatives do we have?

Shopping street in Bridgetown, Barbados, on January 2020

Curacao. The shortest possible route. The prerequisite for entry is a negative Covid-19 test that is no more than 72 hours old. You register your trip via a website. You even have to give the estimated time of arrival in advance. The negative test result must be uploaded to a specific website. 125$ are required for each of the tests. Curacao can be reached in approx. 14 engine hours. Sailing is pretty crappy ... because the wind comes directly towards you. Choose a day of the crossing with a light wind. The number of Covid-19 diseases is very low.

Dominican Republic. Registration on various websites is required. They do not require a Covid test. When entering the country, the temperature is measured and that is basically it. Our friends at Chapo paid $ 260 in fees. This includes the service provider for the jungle of authorities. Sailing in the DR is very possible, because the wind always blows from the beautiful half-wind direction. The number of new infections with Covid is relatively high.

Puerto Rico. Is canceled due to a lack of health insurance coverage. This also applies to the US Virgin Islands.

British Virgin Islands. Still closed. The opening has just been postponed to mid-April. We cannot and do not want to rely on that.

Anguilla. When you're signed in, they let you in. There are also websites for registration here. They request a negative Covid-19 test that is no more than five days old. The problem here is that Anguilla is so far east that we have to fight quite a bit to get there. It'll take us more than five days. On arrival there is still a Covid test, followed by 10 days of quarantine and a final Covid test. That's pretty expensive, of course the normal fees come on top of that. After that life is fine because there are no more cases.

Party on Friday night in Gros Islet, St. Lucia, February 2020

There are no guarantees that the rules won't change overnight. Countries can close again because of the fear of the mutations or because of - uh - no idea. They can close, and so do they.

Grenada. The absolute toughest tour. 500 miles straight upwind. 500 miles against a current of up to 2 knots. Much harder than sailing from Cuba to Aruba. But our friends from Milena Bonatti were able to get their Covid-19 vaccination there. That would be quite a motivation for the ride. With an estimated travel time of over 14 days, we would probably no longer have to do quarantine. In Grenada the good AstraZeneca is used.

When our mast is repaired, we'll leave the island. For my soul, I would like a departure date before March 11th. We arrived in Aruba for the first time on March 11, 2020. The borders were closed on March 14th. The airport was shut down at the end of the month. Aruba went into a deep sleep.

Lockdown. March 2020

Curacao seems uneconomical to me, as the landscape is only slightly different from that of Aruba. The Dominican Republic is a so-called low-hanging fruit that is easy to pick. Will we be happy with that? All the islands in the east are difficult to reach. Should we go straight to France (Guadeloupe)? We can at least stock up there before we head back across the Atlantic to Europe in a few months. I dont know.

Or are we going to take on the effort for Grenada? The chance of a vaccination and possibly fewer visits to the authorities and Covid-19 tests in the future. I would like to use vaccination privileges. I'm still doing research.

There is still no opening perspective in Jamaica. Jamaica would be very easy to get to. According to hearsay, Jamaica will not open its ports again until cruise tourism is back on its feet. The few sailing boats that are sailing in the Caribbean are ignored by the authorities.

Britannia in January 2020. Comes too close for us between Barbados and St. Lucia. Our cell phones were in the on-board network. I can do without these things.

We'll likely be back in Europe when the first crusaders hit the Caribbean again. So Jamaica will no longer work this spring. Too bad, but not to change. Traveling used to be so easy, so spontaneous. "Hey, the wind is looking good for the next few days, let's go." Quickly to the authorities and then be free. You could change your destination along the way. The stop on Bonaire was spontaneous, we had papers for Aruba with us. I get nostalgic feelings, even though my career as a long-distance driver has been rather short so far.

I'm looking forward to a few days of sailing, even if they are exhausting. Sailing days are good for the mind.

Let your mind wander. January 2020.

Full in the face

It was a week and a half ago Fire Ball came as a new addition to the Donkey Sanctuary. He should stay in his stall until he gets used to the other donkeys. As the only real man among the donkeys, it wouldn't be easy for him. The other male donkeys are all castrated, but the female donkeys are not. Some lady is always hot, that inspires a real man. After three days in the Donkey Sanctuary, Fire Ball broke out of his stall and was definitely having fun with the ladies. So it can be expected that one or the other baby donkey will be added in 2022. When the young donkeys do not have to be euthanized because they have serious diseases due to the poor gene pool. Or because the babies are not born alive.

Fireball on October 12th, the day he arrived. The face is completely uninjured.

The fact that the donkey gene pool in Aruba is not particularly good is due to decades of inbreeding. After the car came to the island, the Arubans released the donkeys. At that time there were around 1400 donkeys on the small island. Most were shot or killed in car accidents. So it turned out that in the 1980s there were only 20 donkeys left. Around 180 donkeys are now living on the island again, so the gene pool is correspondingly poor. New donkeys should come from Bonaire or Curacao, Covid-19 has put an end to this endeavor for the time being, Desiree told me.

Fire Ball has changed a lot from the outside since day one. My main suspect is Kamino. After just one night you could see the marks on Fire Ball's face, a hoof print adorned the area between his eyes. Unfortunately, I didn't document that, but instead his face as it looked on October 20th.

Hoof marks after a week in the Donkey Sanctuary

Peter told me that Fire Ball was standing in front of the gate to his stall the next morning and wanted to be let in. He was hungry and the other donkeys did not let him feed.

Donkeys are pretty smart. That's why Fire Ball can't kick Kamino. Kamino would never push his neck through the bars of Fire Ball's stall. Fire Ball on the other hand still can't seem to get enough of the kicks. He pushes his head diligently between the bars. That's why he's a victim for Kamino.

On October 22nd there were even more scratches.

In just two days there were more scratches. I think when the donkey returns to its “owners” they will hardly recognize it.

Tiger and Woods on the day of arrival

On the day of arrival, Tiger and Woods are exhausted. After the stress of trapping, the transport to the Donkey Sanctuary and all the new impressions, this is easy to understand. On the first day she always protected her baby from us. But that changed quickly, Woods was able to build trust. Getting to the baby and treating the wound is no problem at all.

Tiger after a week. With wound care.

The next photo shows that mother and baby can really relax. It is taken from the same perspective as the first picture. On it, mother and child carefully observe what is going on on the other side of their bars. Now I can step to the grating and the Tiger even remains completely relaxed on the floor. It cannot be taken for granted.

Tiger relaxes.

On Tuesday, Desiree worries that Woods won't eat. That's why I'm grateful for the task of making mom happy with a few carrots. I should also give her some apples.

Spectators while I feed Woods carrots.

Woods likes to take the carrots and apples. There are riots in the old people's home next door. How can this person give so many carrots to a single donkey without us getting any of them?

I do notice, however, that Woods is very reluctant to chew the carrots. She can't bite through the big carrots when I'm holding them in my hand. All donkeys that I know can do that. Every donkey tries to put as much of the carrot into its mouth as possible with its lips before cracking the carrot. Woods behaves differently. She tries to bite off just a small piece of the edge and then chews it very slowly.

We try everything. We give everything. Why don't you give us anything?

The cuteness contest next door is picking up speed. It's noisy. It's restless. Of course, I won't let the neighbors go completely empty-handed, but some of them are not allowed to eat carrots because they cannot chew. I very much regret it, I remain tough on these donkeys.

The vet receives a message to look at Woods' teeth. In any case, the job was a lot of fun.

Please, please, please, please, please give us a carrot too

Again and again I get questions from Germany about the situation here with Covid-19. In view of the numbers from Germany, it is downright heavenly here. In the last seven days, the value has fluctuated around 20 new infections a day. The high was 21 and the lowest was 12. Since the curfew came into effect at night, the numbers have continued to decline. Yesterday the government announced that the curfew had been lifted. Instead, some zones on the beaches are closed at night.

The second wave hit Aruba quite a bit, at times there were almost 200 new infections a day. In my opinion, the contact restrictions caused by the curfew and its consistent enforcement brought about the breakthrough.

Before that, there was an attempt at curfew, there were contact restrictions in everyday life and the size of celebrations was limited. According to my observation, these measures alone have not brought about any improvement. Back then the numbers were still increasing. As far as I could read it in various media, most people got infected at private parties.

A table full of relaxed cats

I try to do it like the two cats so that I can get through the situation as relaxed as possible. The lower risk of infection does not neglect my relaxation. I got a good supply of FFP2 masks on board. Who knows if we can get those on the other islands when we're back on the road.

So far, however, Jamaica has not yet reopened the island to the entry of small boats. Regrettable.

It's OK…

... when you wake up in the morning with wet feet and have to quickly close the hatch over the bed. It's dark outside and heavy rain is falling over Oranjestad. All of this is developing more and more into a thunderstorm show, lightning flashes across the harbor, the clap of thunder rattles without a noticeable delay and is still reflected by the cruise ships. My gaze falls on a data carrier that I recently released from its protective cover. Usually the hard drive is wrapped in aluminum foil in a cupboard. Unfortunately I keep forgetting to buy new aluminum foil. That's why it's on the coffee table. To be on the safe side, put it in the oven. There she is also in a Faraday cage. A few minutes later I put on my oilskins, walk to my donkey cart and drive to my shift at the Donkey Sanctuary.

Sunchi at the cash register

There I take care of the feeding and care of Sonic. Then comes a message from Desiree that she is not expecting visitors today due to the weather and that I should close again. After I have locked the last lock, the first visitors come. I'll sell them some more food. Cash only, the credit card machine is locked away. No problem, I even get a donation of 20 US$.

These donkeys are begging. and jostle extremely….

The next day brings better weather again. I also have a few carrots in my luggage again. I enjoy showing the donkeys a carrot every now and then, watching their scramble, and then at some point feed the carrot to a skinny donkey. The droughts are never the ones that precede the carrot. The big donkeys are always the ones who can make the best begging faces. Some even grin.

The clever animals have learned how to motivate visitors to hold the carrots or pellets right in front of their noses. They can look "cute" while moving their ears and turning their heads.

... because carrots are her favorite dish.

On my Monday off, I especially work up a sweat. I finally find the water pump and can replace it. I curse over the narrowness of the engine room. I swear at the location of the watermaker, which makes it impossible to go to work with two hands.

After an hour, the old pump and electronics are removed. At the same time I change the color of the power cable from blue / yellow-green to red / black. Sometimes I wonder what the previous owner ridden. He probably ran out of red and black wires. Provisionally wired, the pump starts working after three more hours of fiddling. Still with flying wiring, but surprisingly quiet.

New water pump. Wired still on the fly. Super quiet.

I am very excited about the pump I purchased in Martinique. Fortunately. Here in Aruba, the same pumping capacity costs twice as much. With the door to the engine room closed, you can hardly hear the pump in the saloon. It's so quiet that I don't even notice the dripping tap on the sink. With the old pump, you couldn't miss the start-up noise, and the vibrations were felt throughout the boat.

I still have a few buns left for dinner. But they are pretty soft. In Aruba, bread rolls are actually soft when they are sold. This is certainly due to the high humidity. So I turn on the oven to bake the rolls crispy. To do this, I hold it briefly under the tap, then put it in the preheated oven.

It's okay if you find the pointer of the thermometer just below 100 ° C when checking the oven temperature. Fortunately, I use the flashlight to read the thermometer. I notice the hard drive. I take it out of the oven, the plastic of the case has not yet started to stew.

Hard disk. Medium rare.

Four terabytes fit into this small housing, the data carrier is full to 75%. It's really okay if you find out the next day that you got away with the horror. The hard drive, which has now cooled down to room temperature, has not forgotten its contents and works as slowly as before. Today I am going to buy aluminum foil.

When it comes to Covid-19, things are always going in the right direction. The curfew, which was tightened a few weeks ago, is being relaxed again. Instead of 10 p.m., it applies again from midnight to 5 a.m. The number of new infections is declining, in the last few days it was below 20. Likewise the total number of sick people, which is again below 500. I hope the easing does not come too soon.

Accident escape

I found this note on the windshield wiper of my donkey cart. A white Mitsubishi Lancer with the number 29xx8 (which I partially blackened). touched the pickup at the bottom left and drove away. At first I can't find any damage.

The white tracks are from the accident

Desiree has decided not to pursue the matter any further. It's not worth the effort. I agree, and the next time I pull out of a parking space, I hit a concrete pillar that is hidden below the line of sight over the tailgate. There was no damage to the concrete pillar. The new scratch on the car is not noticeable among the other scratches. In any case, I can't find it. It's OK.

Happy Island

As promised, I'm going to write a post about what I particularly like about Aruba. The island sees itself as a happy island and that's true. I met one unfriendly person here. He's a bus driver by profession. Not only friendly, the people here are helpful. If they are helpful to American tourists, they expect something in return in the form of dollar bills. I don't pay that. I've been on this planet for so long that they got used to me.

However, the long period of economic drought has driven some into poverty so much that cars are actually always running on reserve. Of course I compensate people for their driving services with fuel. This also serves my self-protection, I don't want to be left lying in the Aruban wasteland because of a lack of fuel.

So the people here are happy, friendly and helpful. They are also nice to each other in traffic. Even the four-lane “Highway” can be easily crossed on foot without the risk of being run over. On the one hand, the traffic is thin, on the other hand, they always brake immediately for pedestrians. This also applies to all other streets. This also applies to other drivers. For example, if a left turn from the opposite direction blocks traffic, the probability is high that someone in front of me will give him the right of way and let him turn.

The only downer is that the previous paragraph applies to cars with license plates starting with an A. Rental cars start with a V. Tourists have no idea of local customs. That sometimes creates sticky situations.

Beautiful installation. I am collecting these beauties now.

Last Friday we received a message in the Donkey Sanctuary that we had to clear the beer cans from the fridge. The government would have decided that the sale of alcohol would be banned from midnight due to the continued high number of new Covid-19 infections. Of course, I will pass this information on to the other sailors. Some had it from other sources, others were very grateful. I ask Edward to drive me to the grocery store for beer. He even picks me up at the Donkey Sanctuary, drives me to the supermarket and then to the marina. Now I can sit out Prohibition - if it comes.

On Sunday the beer cans are back in the fridge. False alarm. Instead of Prohibition, we now have a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Socks and Swa watch their surroundings

The Donkey Sanctuary is currently experiencing staffing problems. Sick reports and the arrangement of quarantines make it difficult to staff all services. Jutta will come back from Germany this week. I hope she'll take part again. There are enough free services at the moment. Last week I felt my bones quite well after four days in a row.

If the number of cases does not go down again, further measures will be discussed. Shelter at home, for example. That happened before in March / April. You can only go out on the street with a valid reason. How they want to organize this in connection with tourism is a mystery to me. The problem right now is that the people here are so happy. They are difficult to separate from their parties. If you can't party on the beach or in the beach bar, you just do it at home and spread the virus there.

There was already an alcohol ban in 2013. Only tourists were allowed to buy alcohol in bars or restaurants. At the time, they wanted to ensure that the elections went smoothly. Locals were not allowed to buy alcohol on the two days before the election.

Sweety on ice. The cats don't need an oven here.

The number of active infections has now stagnated at a consistently high level. Every day there are 100 new infections, 100 people are healthy and the total number is around 1300. Every now and then a patient dies. The hospital reports, however, that it has long been working at its limit. It is essential to reduce the number of cases.

I don't feel like the Arubans are any less happy now. The people here make my stay a great time.

Heavy rain

Shortly before the donkey feeding, heavy rain sets in on Sunday, which washes away our activities very quickly. Anneke and I don't feel like feeding the donkeys now. Instead we wait for the rain to stop. A good strategy in this country. I always enjoy working with Anneke, also because she has such beautiful stories. For example the one about the Aruban nurses who went to the Netherlands for a while to work in a hospital. One day they showed up at work very late. When asked why, they replied that it had rained.

In Holland, the strategy of waiting does not seem quite as promising to me. I love that kind of story.

Bavaria

I've been working at Donkey Sanctuary for a few months now. Of course, I come into contact with many visitors. Many are surprised by my nationality, but then really get going. People always want to know from me whether I've already eaten in a German restaurant. That wasn't the case until last night. The restaurant is located in an area where you can usually find high-priced restaurants. In addition, German cuisine is fairly well represented on board.

Jo, Stewart and Johnny made my way to the restaurant yesterday Bavaria. The only downer: I am the driver. So I'm only allowed to look at the fridges with over 100 different beers.

Bavaria Aruba, host Peter behind the counter

It seems uncomfortable at first glance. The bar, in particular, made of beer crates, makes a sterile impression. This is a result of the anti-Covid measures that are currently banning bar stools at the counter. Folk music comes out of the speakers and it hurts my ear canals. Peter from Siegen, who opened this restaurant ten years ago, explains to me with a heavy Dutch accent during his pronunciation that it is Radio Heimatmelody acts, an internet radio station from Bavaria. Every reader is asked to listen for more than a quarter of an hour.

My idea, another internet radio station from Bavaria, Rock antennato switch on was acknowledged with a smile behind the white-blue mask. His guests would expect this music. In any case, the three Americans at the table didn't look disturbed.

The menu is pretty good and represents southern Germany, from the Black Forest to the Austrian border. I can't complain about the preparation and the taste, my not so southern German sauerbraten was very tasty. Only the red cabbage wasn't my cup of tea - I was warned though. Peter explained to me that this is not traditional, it has to be sweet. OK. Stewart was more than enthusiastic about his pork knuckle. Jo had half of her goulash wrapped up, she was completely overwhelmed by the portion size. Johnny also had to have food packed up. In terms of portion size, it's really typically German here. My conclusion: I'll come back when I feel like a pork knuckle.


When it comes to Covid-19, the island is not really calm. Almost three weeks ago I wrote that the number of active cases had risen to almost 300. Mind you, we started from scratch. Today we have 1165 active cases out of a total of 1670. The first wave caused just 102 infections. On average, the number increases by around 60 cases every day.

The tourists who tested positive are only involved to a small extent; most of the infections occur locally. This is unfortunate, locals are more dangerous than tourists. Most tourists don't stay here for more than a week. They can be positive, tested negative at the airport and may not develop the symptoms until after the return flight.

The government's actions are kind of half-hearted. The bars are closed, but not all. The casinos are open. Private parties are forbidden, but tourists can gather in the hotel complex as they please. Now, as a new measure, there is a well-known measure - the curfew. It will apply from midnight to five in the morning from tomorrow so that the virus can no longer transmit locally during the night. I think it's ineffective activism that I don't care to a certain extent because I sleep during this time anyway. Good night to you!

A beautiful day

Johnny rented a car, a four-wheel drive jeep. We have been driving across the island with it since Monday, I am allowed to play the tour guide. On board are Jo and Stewart, who have been anchoring off Oranjestad with their sailing boat Patronus for a few days.

Today is a day of swimming in the natural pool Conchi hip, trendy, popular. I was last there a few months ago with Edward and Shelley. I can still remember the path we drove and walked together, so I direct Johnny to the horse farm with the parking lot.

From there we walk comfortably for 45 minutes along the shore and enjoy the landscapes that change fundamentally three times on this route. It starts with crossing a mountain range that ends in a steppe-like environment.

Car wreck in the steppe

Not even half a kilometer later we walk through deep sand. It's uncomfortable with shoes, unbearable without shoes. Either you walk on the sand in your shoes or barefoot in the glowing hot sand.

Scorching hot sand

We happily cover the last meters after the sandy beach with a view of the rock “Little Aruba”, because the reward is waiting for us right after the next ledge. A swim in the natural pool. The sea is rough, which promises great bathing fun. The sun is already glowing very, very hot. A cooling is necessary.

50 meters from the entrance to the natural pool, a park ranger suddenly appears in front of us. We wouldn't have bought a ticket at the main entrance and would have to walk back. Annoying. And yet logical. My last visit was in May. At that time the national park was still closed, so nobody could sell us a ticket. The park rangers were at home. Today they work.

We're 15 minutes faster on the way back to the car. We finally want to get into the water. We buy tickets and eat sandwiches before Johnny drives the jeep onto the official road to Conchi.

Johnny directs

The route that we now have to cover to Conchi is designated as a track for all-wheel drive vehicles. There are some big chunks lying around, but most of the time it is easy to drive. The more ground clearance the car has, the better it is. Johnny's ambition is to definitely make it to the parking lot. We have hiked enough for today.

Two-way traffic - a four-wheel drive minibus

Overall, there isn't much going on in the park. In between, a minibus comes towards us, which takes visitors from the visitor center to the pool with all-wheel drive. At the encounter we see that the two passengers are shaken up properly. Johnny prefers to drive slowly. It's gentle on people and material, my intervertebral discs thank him.

Goal in sight

After a seemingly endless drive through dust and stones, the natural pool finally comes into view. We are all looking forward to the refreshment.

The rough sea does what it can, the waves break again and again on the rocks that form the pool. The water splashes in a high arc over us bathers.

Wave breaks on the rock

We get to know a young American couple. Both have just graduated from university and are on vacation in Aruba for a week. A long conversation develops when we mention that we have been stuck with our sailboats on Aruba for weeks or months. (This actually always happens when you mention the boat in a conversation with non-sailors.)

When a large group of tourists with countless beach buggies shows up, we decide to go to San Nicolas together and do the street art walk.

Street Art in San Nicolas

In good time before sunset we manage the colorful round. We end the evening with a few beers and small snacks. On the way back to Oranjestad, all four of us are happy about the successful day. The hike along the coast was also praised as beautiful by everyone.

Covid-19 scooter

This scooter is regularly in front of the parliament building. Today I take it as a symbolic image, since the beer bottles and the cocoa drink have been seen too often in the meantime.

I am shocked to discover that I haven't published a blog for six days. This is of course due to the fact that I'm on the road a lot at the moment. Six days ago we were in 279 active Covid-19 cases. Yesterday afternoon we had 679 cases. As I write these lines, the 700 mark has long been cracked. The first five sick were hospitalized. This is what it looks like right now.

This is not the only reason why we enjoy the time we make as beautiful as possible.

Update: We landed on 776 cases today. The next death is to be lamented.

Explosive

Aruba is now in a learning process. The number of Covid-19 cases is higher than it was ever during the first wave. In June the island had no cases. On July 10th there were four cases again, the first fresh tourists from the USA were able to enter.

At some point in the past few weeks, according to my information, a bartender has returned from vacation in the Netherlands. It was tested on arrival and was negative. So he went back to work. Unfortunately, he was positive anyway. A large part of the infections are said to be due to this bar.

On August 3rd we were still with 12 cases, the first five cases were known in which the people here on Aruba were infected. On August 4, the number rose to 17 and the government announced the first tightening. On August 5, 39 new cases were reported. On August 6, another 92 cases were added. Today then 133. The total number is 279 active cases. Unfortunately this is just exploding a bit here.

Bus driver with mask and window

The most far-reaching requirement is to wear a mask on public transport. I have no problem with that in and of itself. However, some bus drivers no longer stop at all if the passenger is waiting at the bus stop without a mask. That's annoying me, after all, nothing can happen outside. Then there is the matter of that garlic... You are pretty much at the mercy of your own breath of death.

For a few days now I've been anxiously waiting for a package from home. Jens brought it to the post office in the Netherlands almost two weeks ago.

Note the spelling of the “S” in FAST. That’s the program.

In the late morning I received a bunch of messages on Whatsapp, all of which came from an unknown number in Aruba.

"Ho"
"Hi"
"My name is luis from UPS"
"Can i hafe your name?"
"Are you the owner of Yacht Sissi?"

"My name is Jörg and I am the owner of Sissi."

"Hi sir"
"My name is Luis from UPD"
"Oops"
"Are you in Aruba?"

"Yes I am. I hope you have a parcel for me."

"Correct i have a transit shipment for you, but we connot delivered, customer must to picked up at Cargo Building due that the shipment is in transit."
"Our location is ..."
"You will not pay duties"
"But our handling is"
“48.86 USD”

The package is already behind Sissi on the jetty

I ask Charly to drive me to the airport. The UPS branch is located there. Later on I get a guilty conscience. I'm in the office with a face mask on and I'm allowed to wait ten minutes for Luis to finish a phone call with his girlfriend. There always has to be that much time.

But then he immediately goes to work for me. First he collects the fees. I'm paying with cash in the hope that I might speed up the process a little. The opposite is the case - Luis won't find 1.14 USD. A colleague in the back room can change. I'm allowed to sign a few papers, other pieces of paper are stamped loudly. Then Luis explains to me that these papers now have to go to customs.

He disappears for almost a quarter of an hour, then more pieces of paper have been added to the pile of paper. Then Luis explains to me that he is going to get the package. It'll be back in just 20 minutes. I now have to drive the papers and the package to customs in Oranjestad. Or. Charly has to drive me there, we've already been on our way for about an hour to pick up the package.

Äppler on board

The port in Oranjestad is largely deserted. Nevertheless, Charly cannot find a parking space, parking is not provided there. Since I don't know where the customs are, I leave the package in the car. It drives to the gas station with Charly. A cruise ship is lying at the pier, but only part of the crew is on board. I ask the porter where customs are. He points to the neighboring building. There is a kind of cage there that I go into and knock on a tiny window.

The window opens a crack and I am asked about my request. Now I should have presented the package. However, the customs officer is satisfied with the papers and says that he believes me, I would bring the package on board. Clear! Of course!

The most expensive cider of my life

Never in my life have I had a cider that costs six euros per glass. Every sip one euro. And it tastes really, really good. Thank you!