Wikipedia says that Aruba has a hot semi-arid climate. But when you are cycling along a dusty track what you are thinking is “desert!” Maybe it is the dust or the cacti, the whiptail lizards scuttling everywhere, the rattlesnake lying on the road or just the baked rocks? Maybe it is the temperature of above 30°C or the humidity of nearly 80%?
Finally we have found an anchorage where the waves allow us to land the bikes and a possibility to store them safely on land. So we are now once again bikers and life is good. Shops, gas suppliers and ice cream parlors are now all easy to reach, at least on the downwind leg. The wind blows constantly at 30km/h from the East so upwind legs are great training and really test your stamina at the end of the day.
Today we got up early, rowed to land and headed (upwind) to the Arikok National Park. We entered along a track and were immediately “in the desert”. The park authority had laid two thin strips of concrete for 4×4 vehicles to drive along. Cycling up a steep hill trying not to wobble more than fifty centimeters took some practice. The views were stunning. As far as we could see just stone, thorn bush, cactus, sky and sea. The only rattlesnake we saw was dead which was a shame as they are a seriously threatened sub-species. Huge thorn bushes are everywhere with finger long thorns that wreck bike tires.
When we reached the north side of the island the vegetation was reduced even further by the salt laden air and we cycled through the barren landscape to reach the Quadirikiri Caves which were just being unlocked by a park ranger. We entered the cave and had it to ourselves – apart from the bats that live there and were flying around and the biggest “creepy crawly” we have ever seen. The back of the cave is dome like and has two holes in the roof. It is like a natural version of the Pantheon in Rome – just smaller and minus the crowds. Stunning!
Soon after the caves we met the tarmac road and followed it back towards the visitor center where we took a quick diversion up the seriously eroded track to the top of Sero Arikok. Steep, dusty and rocky. At least the quad drivers we met applauded our stamina and cheered us on. At the top we had a panoramic view across the island.
It was now nearly midday so we cycled in to town and bought ice cream, cycled to a workshop to collect our repaired anchor winch motor and then returned to the marina for two ice cold beers. After 50km, 650 meters of climbing and half the way “upwind” we felt we had earned a treat.
The part of the track until the ice cream is at GPSies.