Locked up abroad & our return home–Aruba Vacation (Days VII/VIII)

I suppose comparing our VERY short detention at immigration to the National Geographic Chanel show Locked-Up Abroad is a GROSS OVER exaggeration. However after watching that show I am paranoid and when the US Customs agents stopped Sam and I at the airport all I could think of was ‘OMG it’s like that show….I’m never going home’!!! Though I was obviously not carrying drugs, firearms, or explosives….my thoughts drifted to the suitcase carrying the seashells that Sam had teased me about the night before…’I’m going to die laughing when they stop you, search your bag and then the shells and you get deported’.

After waking up early and eating a large breakfast (waffles this time) we caught our shuttle to the airport where were had to navigate the hordes of tourists trying to figure out the small airport. And when I say small airport….it’s like a single terminal airport….small. The US departures part was flooded with Americans all trying to figure out which way to go. Oh and let me just say….I have never seen so much luggage in my LIFE. I swear every person we saw had a carry on, personal item, LARGE checked suitcase, and a golf bag…..really???

No one knows which way to go and they are all milling about in a panic…..like deer in headlights!!! I would like to see them navigate a REAL airport….that should be interesting!! So we take our handy-dandy little carry-ons and breeze through checkin and proceed to Aruban Customs. The Aruban officials didn’t really ask us anything, they just took our passports, scanned them, and let us pass.

Us on the bus to the airport

We had to go through security on the Aruban side and again on the American side….there was ONE yes ONE scanner/metal detector thing on the Aruban side……for the amount of people waiting in line though it went relatively quickly. We made it through and then proceeded to the US side where we had to fill out these re-admit slip things and answer questions like ‘what are you carrying with you’, ‘have you been around livestock’, ‘have you brought more the $10,000.00 with you’ blah blah blah.

Again we are surrounded by LOUD NY tourists who are complaining about the lines, and the heat, and the scanners. I was ready to scream. We finally get up to the Customs Agent who takes our slip and asks us more or less the same questions as the slip so not sure why we needed to fill it out in the first place but whatever. So he stops on the third written question and repeats it verbally: ‘have you been around livestock’?

‘Well yes we went horseback riding’ Sam told him and he’s like….hummmm, ok step aside you will need additional screening I’m going to hold on to your passports and I will call additional security, stand aside’.

Sam gives me that look like OMG really?!?!  He had asked me what he should put for question three (apparently wondering if we should not disclose the horseback riding) and I’m like no no no Sammy mark ‘yes’ it would be our luck that there would be a swine flu outbreak from this flight and they would find out we said ‘no’ and then we would be in REAL trouble. So we were honest and said ‘yes’ which clearly a good thing but it meant we would be detained for God only knows how long.

I wondered briefly what they would do with one who has been around livestock?? What could they do?? Hose us down?? Not let us in?? Quarantine????? If so for how long???? The panic grew…..an agent walked up to us and walked us over to the ‘private screening’ area while all the  tourists in line stared at us with a ‘knowing’ look…..I am sure they thought we were smuggling drugs….young couple on ‘vacation’ with only a carry on for eight days?? Not to mention everyone probably thinks Sam is Pablo Escobar with his (now especially) dark skin….and they were holding our passports….NOT a good sign.

The agent asked if we were wearing the shoes that we road horses in and we were of course…..he looks at us very seriously and says ‘ok now you need to step on this mat and scrub your shoes REALLY GOOD’. After we did that he smiles and says ‘ok have a nice day’. Sam and I just look at him and Sam’s all ‘ummm is that it’??? The agent nodded, handed us out passports back, and left. We made a beeline for the border LOL.

What was funny though was we were both thinking about that TV show and Sam’s like ‘ok was it just me or did you feel like a total criminal’??? We had to laugh because it would be just our luck that we would get stopped….out of ALLLLLL those people, it would be us :).

So we made it through back to the US and got on the plane to Philly. We didn’t sit next to each other (again) and the flight was about 4 hours. We left Aruba at 1:00 in the afternoon and arrived in Philly around 5:00 pm. We had a short layover where nothing too terribly exciting happened and then got on a plane to Phoenix at 6:00. I don’t know what I was thinking when I booked these return tickets…..I clearly wasn’t.

The "I Heart Aruba" sign at the airport

We arrived in Phoenix at 11:00 at night and our flight to Portland didn’t leave until 7:45 the next morning. The flight from Philly to PHX took a little over 4 hrs and it seemed like an ETERNITY. I felt like we were in the air for HOURS and HOURS and HOURS. I was about to come completely unglued on the flight from Philly to PHX. It was a quiet flight but I was soooooo un-godly uncomfortable and my ass hurt from sitting packed like sardines in the airplane for HOURS.

I thought both Sam and I were going to flip out by the time we got to PHX. We landed finally but of course we were in the back of the plane….I literally bolted to the exit. I was like get me the *&^(*^ off this airplane. I did not care who I made mad and who I had to take down I just couldn’t take it ANYMORE. Sam’s parents met us at the airport and said we could stay at their house till our flight the next morning.

By the time we got to their car my brain was no longer attached to my spinal cord….I could hardly function I was so tired. Not to mention cranky and hungry (I ate two $4.00 snack packs of Chips Ahoy cookies all day besides the waffles). I don’t even think I could put together a coherent sentence…though I could blurt out random curse words with surprisingly little effort!!!!

We stopped at Whataburger at like midnight but by then I just couldn’t bring myself to eat a burger at midnight, I’m not 21 anymore just returning from the bar…I can’t eat that stuff that late it just sits in my stomach ALL night and all the next day!! So I got a milkshake…that seemed reasonable at the time don’t ask me why!!

View of Aruba from the air

I felt bad because Sam’s parents were so excited to see us even if it was only for a couple of hours. Sam’s mom had packed us homemade tortillas to take home and they even gave up their bed so we would have a comfortable place to sleep despite protests from Sam and I who would have GLADLY slept on the couch. We woke up four hours later and returned to the airport….we still felt like zombies.

We got stopped again at security….I had to have my hands ‘screened’ for chemicals (it was random screening I guess) and then Sam’s bag had to be run again through the x-ray thing like three times. Needless to say we were both operating on a short fuse but were able to hold it together till we landed in Portland at 10:30 am……though I think Sam drove 90 mph on the way home from the airport…..we made it home in record time, an hour instead of the usual 1.50 hour drive LOL. I didn’t complain I just wanted to get home….see doggies, shower, order Dominoes, and watch Pirates of the Caribbean–in that order :).

Airport in Aruba

Well Dear Reader we have come to the end of the Aruba travel adventures. I know I know….it’s a sad day 😦 I have to return to my normal life but I am looking forward to the next vacation. Where shall that be? Some places on our list: Sharm El Sheikh Egypt–I know I know when I say that people are like….REALLY?!?!? You are brave!! And yes I am but I have Sammy with me who on his worst day could pass for Egyptian so I feel like I’m relatively safe LOL but no seriously, Sharm El Sheikh is a resort town on the Red Sea and according to the UN is safe for travel.

So here are the possible destinations for our next vacation/adventure…this is my ‘short’ list I suppose: Sharm El Sheikh EgyptBuenos Aires, Barcelona, Granada, Inverness Scotland, Barbados, Tahiti, but more than likely our next destination (not including Guatemala) will likely be…..Trinidad.

We are suppose to be going to Guatemala in Nov with Sam’s family….this should be interesting….the 11 of us and me the ONLY white girl :). If we can finalize this trip soon then I will be able to at least promise Guatemala adventure blog in the fall :).

Into the sunset......

I have read about some other unique places that I will probably add to my ‘future travel wish list’ like: Bali, Galapagos Islands, the Azores, Lucca ItalyMaarekesh, BhutanMauritius, and the Maldives ….just to name a few :). So who knows what the futures holds but for now….I am saving my hard earned dollars and plotting my next great escape!! If you Dear Reader have any exciting destinations or suggesitons please feel free to share….I am all ears!!!

Well I suppose it is back to book blogging and such….I did read two books while on vacation which means I will have two new book reviews coming soon!! Check back soon for more Bitchin’ book reviews Dear Reader……until next time!!

Here's to taking the road less traveled....I can't wait for our next big adventure!

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2 Comments

  1. Deb

     /  April 1, 2013

    I was searching for ATVs in Aruba and came across your blog. I have read all of your posts on Aruba and was very entertained. I am a New Yorker and am often embarrassed by my brethren!
    Your pictures did not display, but I got a wonderful vision of your trip. Your humor and disposition are similar to a great friend of mine, who I did travel with for a few years.
    My story is somewhat similar, married for 5 years, together for 13 though. We travel well together, actually he is the best travel partner I have ever had!
    You had some great tips, use the bathroom, before getting to Aruba, stick with carry ons, and don’t exchange money!
    We leave for our trip to Aruba in 3 weeks, and I am already on vacation in my head!
    We booked our stay through our timeshare! We had stayed in Pennsylvania once and did the hour tour for a $100 Visa card. They wouldn’t give us any paperwork, brochure, pricelists, nothing to take with us, it seemed shady. I did some on-line research and the company seems on the up and up. I eventually bought one through a broker at 1/2 the price they were selling for. I used a quick local get away so far and paid $154 for the studio in Aruba, hope it is nice!
    Thanks for taking the time to write all of this up, very entertaining and I can’t wait for ATVs, and horseback riding. I wish you would have gotten to try Stand Up Paddle boards, seems like I could have learned a lot if you had. Until now, I had no interest in the butterfly farm, but now it seems like that may be a nice afternoon visit (skipping the heat exhaustion.)
    Good luck!
    Please don’t spam me

    Reply
  2. Aruba gets a bad rap sometimes, due to some of the things that have happened over the last few years. However, it really is one happy island. I’m glad that you enjoyed your trip! Every year when I book my Aruba Vacation Packages through Aruba4u.com, I always have a blast! Aruba Vacations are my FAVORITE vacation to go on- doesn’t get ANY better!

    Reply

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