In Aruba since Wednesday and looking forward to my first day of teaching Monday at the University of Aruba in Oranjestad (left). On Friday we took 27 UA freshmen on a nature hike into the island's interior. Led by a local environmentalist and park ranger who also works part-time for the university, the students were amazed to learn about the island's geological and cultural past. The highlight of the hike was the site of a shell mound left by the Arawak natives, not unlike what we might find along the South Carolina coast. After the hike, we were treated to a barbeque and pool party put on by the staff from the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management Studies--fun people!
My first impressions of Aruba: Friendly, safe, peaceful, exciting, and did I mention fun? The island's residents exemplify hospitality. There is always a nice, constant breeze that cools the island day and night. Especially easy to drift off to sleep at night after a day on the beach to the peaceful sound of the winds. Again, comforting and familiar like my native South Carolina, yet a different and fascinating Caribbean culture, steeped in history, and only short plane ride (about four hours) away.