Our flight home wasn’t until 3:30, so we still had some time to enjoy our vacation until it was time to pack up and leave. Guess how we started our day? If you guessed snorkeling at Boca Catalina, you are correct! As usual, we swam out to the sea grass to look for turtles. We didn’t see any for a while, but then when I came up to get a bearing on my wife, one popped up for air not 10 feet from me! Other sea creatures of note included a spotted eel, three squid, and a large hermit crab occupying a conch shell. After bidding adieu to our friends under the sea, we headed back to the condo to pack. As we were getting out of the water, I saw a cruise ship heading into port, and hoped it wouldn’t cause any traffic problems, as I had not one but two trips to the airport in front of me.
Our owner was very laid back, responsive, and great to work with. There were no exit instructions, so I called her to confirm there was nothing we needed to do before checking out. Her response was just make sure any used dishes were returned to the kitchen – no need to strip beds, sweep, clean fridge, etc.
Determined to prolong our trip as much as possible, I headed down to the pool to read in the shade for half an hour. I knew what was coming, and I wanted to get the most relaxed mindset possible to prepare for it.
Finally it was time to leave for the airport. We couldn’t fit all 10 of us and our luggage in two cars, so I took my mother and father in law at 11:30, at the same time my brother and sister in law and kids were leaving for their 2:30 flight, and then came back for my family. I dropped my wife and kids at the curb and went to return the car at Wheels2Go, which was painless as always, and I was back in minutes. There was no one in line at the Delta counter to check in, which I hoped was a good sign. Unfortunately, after we checked our bags we proceeded to a long line (actually 2 parallel lines) outside. The queues were covered, but still hot in the open air. To make matters worse, we had apparently chosen the wrong line, because we noticed people in the other line were moving through much quicker. On top of this, every 10 minutes or so both lines would stop to allow room for people to funnel through the next indoor, air conditioned line for customs. We finally made it inside to the second queue, and then through a metal detector, and then from there we picked up our luggage and waited in an even longer line with our suitcases. All in all, it took about 2 hours and 45 minutes to get to our gate, which was just enough time to grab a slice of pizza to eat on the plane before our flight boarded. A couple of comments here: 1. The 3 hour departure process is not unique to Aruba – we have seen this on other islands as well. 2. As arduous as it was, it is still much better IMO, to go through immigration on the island than when you land in the states.
Our flights home were great. I happily munched my pizza on the plane, and there were good in flight entertainment options. Unfortunately, the four people in our group who hadn’t had their American flight cancelled on the way down, did have their American connection in Philly cancelled, had to rent a car, and arrived home at 2:45 am.
I appreciate you all for staying with me through this super long trip report. I will post final thoughts tomorrow.