10.  Even in Aruba it can rain for a little while.  There are the people that run for cover and get grouchy and those that swim up to the pool bar and ignore it.  Which are you?

9.  Everyone moves slow in Aruba.  It is known as Aruba time to the the foreign invaders who come racing in from around the world/U.S.  Why do they move so slow?  A local business man said “because we are all happy with what we have and because we choose to”.

8.  Everything cost more in Aruba.  If you ever went out to dinner in NYC, Chicago, or LA you know big prices.  Go to Aruba and you will see the same or more!  I must admit the food is excellent and often worth the price tag.  Why do so many just keep paying the big prices?  Because it is worth it.

7.  When are you on vacation in Aruba?  When you slow down to or near the pace of the locals.  It happens.  Takes a few days.  But when you no longer worry about the time and judge the day by the sunset…you are on vacation.  This is the pace of life humans lived at for the first thousand or so years of our existence and there is something beautiful in rediscovering it.

6.  It is OK to have 1 to 2 foot lizards (Iguana’s)  walking around.  Why at home do my kids scream when they see a fly but in Aruba the Iguana’s are free to touch and go right up to?  I guess because everyone is relaxed around them, accepts them, and takes care of them.

5.  Baby beach.  One of the most pristine and perfect beaches in the world with white sand and crystal clear water that is about 3 feet deep for 100 yards out.  A true paradise.  I talked to a guy at the hotel who said about his visit “All they had for beer was local, the bathroom was small, and I had nothing to do so I left.”  My son (5 years old) said of his visit “Daddy that was a good day.  I liked watching the birds and the fish.  Can we do it again?”  I guess it is how  you see the world that counts also.

4.  Along the dock where the floating hotels, otherwise known as cruise ships, park for the day there is hundreds of stores selling everything from fine jewelry to clothing to stuffed toy iguana’s.  The crowds mill about and shop, eat at the McDonalds, Subway, Wendy’s, or such.  Sometimes even dropping into the local joints for a beer or sandwich.  You can’t see a place until you get past the marketing and consumerism.  Explore!

3.  I saw two types of Arubans, the locals and the Dutch.  When I talked to a Dutchman about where he was from he said Aruba, his entire life.  Here he was with his blond hair and blue eyes and yes, killer tan skin.  He corrected me and said we are all Arubans as long as we lived and worked here.  Then he said “not like that in the US is it?”  I guess perception is in the eye of the beholder after all.

2.  One Happy Island is the motto of Aruba.  And it is true.  Everyone you meet is so nice.  So much so (as a New Englander) that I need to adjust to it.  I just don’t expect everyone to be so nice and not expect anything.  But they do.  For example, I left my expensive camera in a taxi one night after dinner.  I made calls to the taxi company, the hotel, the restaurant.  Nothing.  Gone for good.  Two days later the cab driver came to my hotel.  He had been tracking me down and through the bellman and a series of others that knew I was looking for him also he found me and gave me the camera.  He refused a tip and gave me his business card asking that I call him next time I need a taxi.

1.  To continue the theme of One Happy Island:  I told that camera story to everyone I talked to.  And there were many that had stories to tell me where the people of Aruba did something to make their vacation special.  I guess what I really took away from Aruba is that simple things can have so much value.  How you treat someone, how you see someone, the service you give because you want to, and what you expect from others all impact your decisions and I believe your success in life.

I know there are good and bad things about every place.  And I know that Aruba has had its share of bad press too recently.  But I came home with a great appreciation for my vacation, the beaches and sunsets, the pool bar and food, and the people of this tiny island.  That is why the island is still so successful, even in tough times.  Like they say in Aruba, Bon bini mi dushi.

By Noel Cocca

CEO/Founder RecruitingDaily and avid skier, coach and avid father of two trying to keep up with my altruistic wife. Producing at the sweet spot talent acquisition to create great content for the living breathing human beings in recruiting and hiring. I try to ease the biggest to smallest problems from start-ups to enterprise. Founder of RecruitingDaily and our merry band of rabble-rousers.