I recently visited Aruba for my honeymoon and I a fantastic time on the island. The people were great, the food was great, and the activities on the island were awesome. But there was one thing I left there wondering, how was everyone so happy or seem to enjoy life so much?
How can an island of people with so little be so happy ? I know that not every single person on the island is truly and deeply happy, but as a whole it seemed that Aruban people enjoyed and loved the life they were living there. (Im keeping in mind that most of my time was in the tourist area where most of the fun is going down).
As I spoke to the natives that were working at the resorts and restaurants they all expressed how much they enjoyed life in Aruba. About half of the people I spoke to had lived in other countries at some point but came back to Aruba because “life is more enjoyable in Aruba and the people are more happy” one cab driver told me. Most said they came back because life in Aruba is peaceful, safe and enjoyable. “Whats not to love about Aruba” is the statement that most people responded with.
From the outside looking in it would make sense that people would be be striving to get out of the island knowing that their future, for the most part, entails serving and living off the tourists. Walking the streets in the tourists areas you see vendor after vendor selling anything and everything from shirts and jewelry to vaps and novelties which makes it so hard to believe that these people are happy. Whether they eat or not relies on if a tourist walking by likes what they have to offer which may not be too different from the next person. But believe you me, they were full of joy when you spoke to them.
My view isn’t just jaded from seeing what its like in the tourists areas. I had the pleasure of touring about half the island that included the heart of where the natives live, on top of staying off shore in a neighborhood and boy was it eye opening.
Driving our UTV through the heart of the island we saw children and parents walking down the street with smiles on their faces and people enjoying themselves in conversation as they stood along the side walks. Sitting in traffic which moved inch by inch, never did I hear an impatient person honk a horn at the next person even if they were cut off – by the way its a fend for yourself motto when driving as they have very few stop signs, if any at all, and no merge lanes when not at a major intersection.
What really blew me away was people leaving their front doors open all the time. I mean sleeping at night with their front door of their house open. There were at least 5 house on the block we stayed at that had doors open 24 hours. I stopped and ask one gentleman why and his response was “why not? We don’t need air conditioning here right now the weather is beautiful and there is not threat of anyone coming in.” Amazing!!! To live in an area where you can leave your front door open all the time with no threat of anything happening.
As I learned more about the island and the harsh punishments for the “bad guys” I could see why threats and crime were very minimal on the island. I could see why people felt safe. But still how can they be so happy with such minimals.
Maybe thats just it. Living with less and not expecting more. Appreciating what you have knowing life is great just to have food and a house over your head.
As I sat and thought more it’s becoming clearer that life may just be happier when you take away all the “worldly” pleasure and desires and just focus on life itself. Not chasing after the “finer” things just to say you have them or for personal pleasure. Or living in the fast pace life that western civilization so much craves. When there is no time to slow down how can you enjoy life? How can you see the joy in whats around you and what your doing when your only thinking about whats next and how can I get this or that?
I may not have a full understanding just how and why Aruba is “One Happy Island” but I think it has something to do with living with less.
*And I am sure that there is a psychological aspect to it when you live in sunshine year around with warm temperatures.