Even those who are challenged with mental illness can use a vacation now and then. Many have to struggle every waking moment in an effort to minimize mental pain and anguish. Dealing with stress is a full-time job for someone whose illness remains symptomatic.
I was able to leave many of my stressors behind during my trip to Aruba. Fortunately, I was able to compartmentalize them, realizing that they would still be there waiting for me when I got back from my vacation. For my time in Aruba, I decided to take a vacation from my Illness. Nothing was required of me there except to eat.
The climate in Aruba makes for an ideal vacation spot for rest and relaxation. The average temperature there during the day is 85° F (32° C). There is very little humidity, and there is a constant ocean breeze resulting from the trade-winds. It doesn’t rain during the day that often. Most of the precipitation occurs during the early morning, leaving most of the day to enjoy the sun and water. My family stayed at a resort named La Cabana in which we have a time-share for two weeks. La Cabana is located in Oranjestad, the nation’s capital. Downtown Oranjestad is a mixture of old and new architecture. It becomes very busy when the cruise ships are in port. Jewelry is big business there.
Aruba is not known for its adventurous recreation, but there are some locales where watersports are available. Also, there are some interesting overland tours that take you through the national nature preserve, Arikok National Park. We attempted to follow the main road through the rocky terrain using our rented Hyundai Accent. Navigating around the rocks and ditches was an adventure in itself. The park is best explored with a four-wheel drive vehicle. There are plenty of Jeeps available. You need one to drive to the caverns and negotiate the wondrous rock formations. Aruba is a rather arid island. Much of Arikok is covered by cactus and Aloe. In fact, farming and exporting Aloe had been the nation’s biggest industry until tourism took over. Aloe is not indigenous to Aruba, but was introduced in 1840.
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Aruba is food. Aruba is known for its fine restaurants and exquisite cuisines. They easily rival those that can be found in New York City. Much of what is served is locally-caught seafood. However, just about every type of food is represented in Aruba. Whether you want filet mignon or barbecued ribs, you will find what you want within a few blocks. This is especially true in the high-rise hotel district in the north. The best Chinese food I ever had was located in Palm Beach opposite the hotels. There are casinos in Aruba, but I don’t see them crowded with people.
The majority of tourists in Aruba follow a rather simple daily itinerary: Sun, swim, and eat. Also, one has the opportunity to watch others sun, swim, and eat. Relaxation is inevitable. My two favorite places in the Caribbean are Jamaica and Aruba. Although the atmospheres of these two islands are very much different, the net results are the same. Escape.
As I foresaw, my real world was waiting for me when I returned from Aruba. It was back to the struggle to survive and function independently while being challenged by mental illness. The brain is my mind’s worst enemy. Hopefully, this will soon change as new treatments become available. I seem to be stuck with having a never-ending supply of hope and optimism. This is a blessing.
Blog posts are written by Shore House members and staff.