Oranjestad, Aruba – Just to prove that I can still be spontaneous, I accepted a last-minute gig covering the ABC Islands. That’s Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao, otherwise known as the Netherlands Antilles (for those of you who were not required to spend Thursday afternoons of your freshman year in college sitting through Map of the Modern World).
Even if you aced Map of the Modern World, you might not know that the Netherlands Antilles no longer exists as an entity. It was dissolved in 2010. (I had missed that news myself.) Aruba had long since seceded from the Antilles (in 1986), though it is still an autonomous state within the Kingdom of Netherlands. In 2010, Curaçao adopted this same status, while tiny Bonaire was subsumed as a special municipality of the Netherlands–essentially, an overseas territory. So, yes, I will visit three different countries on this trip!
Some other fun facts about the ABCs:
- Spanish, Dutch and English are widely spoken, but the local language is Papiamento, which is a Portuguese-based creole language.
- The three islands use three different currencies: Aruba has its own money, the Aruban florin; Curaçao still uses the Netherlands Antillean guilder (also called the florin, but not the same as the Aruban florin, just to keep you on your toes); while Bonaire keeps it simple by using the US dollar. US dollars are accepted on all three islands, but you might get your change in florins.
- Curaçao is the largest of the three islands, both in area and in population. Aruba is not too far behind in terms of population, but it is a much smaller island geographically. Bonaire is actually second in size/area, even though its population is tiny (less than 20,000 people).
- Most importantly, the ABCs are only 18 to 50 miles off the coast of Venezuela, which is out of the hurricane zone. Bonus!
So, here we go. The twins are with the grandparents in Michigan. Daddio is home in the pink house with the cats. And I have two weeks to frolic with the fish and the flamingos in the ABC Islands. Biba Dushi!