Imagine our combined (Katy’s, mine and Debbie’s) surprise one year when Debbie said “Don’t tell me where we’re going, I don’t want to know until I get to the airport. Only tell me what kind of clothes to bring.” Wow! Katy and I commence to planning and voila, we tell Debbie what time to get to the airport and what clothes to bring. Right before she leaves for the airport, we tell her what airline and not until she arrives at the counter to check in does she learn, we’re going to ….. ARUBA! She was excited, we were excited and we’re off.
Aruba was incredible, the weather, the open hotel lobby, the beaches and the clean clear water was breath taking. It didn’t take long, after talking to others, for us to decide we just had to go to the other side of the island, to the Natural Pool, a unique formation of rock. Volcanic stone circles form a small depression, creating a tranquil pool known as "conchi" or "Cura di Tortuga. It’s said to be “the only attraction on the island that getting there will require all your adventure spirit and patience”. It was only about 3 miles to the pool and can be reached only by hiking or 4 wheel drive. We quickly rent a Suzuki Samuri for the following day.
We drive to the entrance of where the 4wd road begins. The first part is pretty rocky and a little bouncy but not too bad. We pass a couple of other folks on their way out and they’re giving us strange looks. Like maybe they want to tell us something or were going the wrong way. It’s always men driving and maybe they're surprised to see 3 incredible women in a 4wd with no man driving and continue on our merry way thinking “they don’t know us! Hell, we’re from Utah, people, we got this!” The terrain gets much rougher. The rocks are easily as big as or bigger than the tires. The only way to really tell it’s a road, is because it appears flat under the large boulders between the hill up on our left and the extreme vertical drop on our right. OMG! The road is now so narrow the samuri barely fits on it. As a matter of fact, I believe at some points the runners on the side of the vehicle under the door may actually be overhanging the edge. We continue on our way, frankly because it would be impossible to go back. I’m driving, well more like walking this small vehicle one tire at a time over the boulders. First the passenger side right tire, up and just as it’s coming over and down, the drivers tire up, then one back tire up, then the next and so on and so on. I’m hanging on to the steering wheel for dear life, scared, scared, friggin SCARED! Debbie’s in the passenger seat and Katy’s in the back. There’s no top on the vehicle and they can clearly see the steep edge of their side. At some point, I must have said, shakely, in my growing doubt as to my ability to get us there safely, “I don’t know about this”. Both Debbie and Katy responded with “you’re ok, you’re doing good, don’t worry, we trust you, you can do this”.
We did make it and the pools were fantastic! Debbie’s a little nervous about the water and doesn’t really want to be swimming in the pool, it looks a little deep. We coax her by telling her it’s salt water, you’ll float anyway. After what we’ve just been through getting here how could this be the scary part? She tentatively gets in and it’s pure, clear, crisp, cool, joy. We float, we see the fish. We hear the ocean crashing behind us on the rocks when …. again, to our total surprise …. the ocean waves actually crash over the rocks creating a huge crashing water tidal wave in this little pool. We hurry, try to swim to the side as hard and fast as we can but it was futile. The water slams us to the front rocks. We go sprawling forward, flailing around trying to stay above water, and after what seems like a lifetime, but was probably 20 seconds, it subsides. We look at each other, checking for injuries, disheveled, hair and bathing suits askew and just begin to laugh. You know the kind of stressful, scared laugh, which could turn into crying at a moment’s notice? But we just laughed and laughed and then spent a pleasant hour or so floating and relaxing. When we heard the next huge wave cresting the rocks behind us, we just went limp and rode the wave, resistence was pointless and we knew it and it was ok and maybe a little fun..
Then, to my dread, it was time to go, back, the way we just came, the narrow road, the rocks, there’s no other way. I buck it up and get in the car. As soon as we start, Debbie and Katy begin the mantra again. “you’re amazing, you’re ok, you’re doing good, we’re so proud of you, we’re not scared, we trust you to get use there”. They didn’t subside the whole way, reassuring me over and over again. A couple of times, one of them would have to get out of the vehicle and walk in front to guide me due to not being able to see over the hood as we went up a boulder and now, the drop off was on my side! After what seemed like forever we get to the place we started. We’re safe, the vehicle is safe and we’re headed for some nutrients and libations..
As we sit quietly on the patio, we reminisce about the ride, Debbie and Katy compliment my driving saying they knew I could do it. Then, when Katy leans back, we notice these marks, or sores or something on the tops of her thighs. Our first thought was she got scraped in the pool or something bit her or she had a rash. They were strange marks, half moon shaped. As we discussed them and looked at them longer we realized they were the exact shape of Katy’s fingernails. Katy moves her hands over and sure enough, each of her fingers fits perfectly into each dark pink indentation in her legs. Apparently the whole time she was saying “you’re ok, you’re doing great, we trust you”, she was so scared, she was actually digging her nails into her legs. We laughed so hard! We all admitted our fears and laughed some more.
As I look back on it now, I’m still amazed at their relentless encouragement. Not once did they say “watch out for that rock!” or “maybe you should go this way” or “do you want me to drive”. All they did was tell me how great I was doing, whether they really believed it or not at the time.