Traveling to Aruba With Friends

Traveling to Aruba With Friends
12 Jul 2015

When my BFF Mia asked if I would be interested in joining her and a group of our friends from Chicago on a trip to Aruba, my only response was, “Umm, is the Pope Catholic?” I think she got the point. I WAS IN!! I don’t know how in 3 years of working in Corporate America, I had somehow “ forgotten” to take a vacation. Yeah, how the hell did that happen? Immediately I began to visualize myself on the beach (in my string bikini) beautiful white sands under my feet and to hear the most beautiful music playing. No it wasn’t that sultry, hip winding island music one would expect. It was actually the voice of Lil’ Jon telling me to, “Turn down fa whut?? Ohhhh yeah! This is when the excitement really began to sink in. I was going on an island vacation, and as a rule of thumb, I always do whatever Lil’ Jon tells me to do.

Traveling to Aruba With Friends Kendra Merrell Pic 1I must admit, I’ve always wanted to attend the Aruba Soul Beach Festival. I remember in the 90’s, when people used to call it “The Sinbad Festival”. I don’t think he’s hosted it for a number of years, but it was nice to know that it was still going strong, and that I would finally have my chance to attend. I wonder what the crowd will be like? 40 something biz professionals? Middle aged men in Tommy Bahama shirts? How much will I have to starve myself to fit into that damn string bikini? So many questions, so little time. The good news was that I had already received my new passport in the mail 2 months prior. And if I can just be really honest, this picture is even better than the last one! I swear it’s true, good black, don’t crack! Tyra Mail!! Ok, now I’m getting silly.

 

Traveling to Aruba With Friends Kendra Merrell Pic 3   We all arrived at our Marriott Resort, and were greeted by an adorable young woman that offered us delicious chilled mango juice. Now, that’s the way I like to kick off a vacation! There was such a great energy in the lobby, just so much black love. You could see the smiles of all the festival veterans that already knew what I would soon find out. We were all in for a good time. I was so glad that Mia insisted that we get the room with the poolside view. It really does add to the overall experience. Looking in the mirror, I could tell that my starvation diet had really paid off. Thank God, now I don’t have to suck in my gut as much. Time to get the beach!

Now one of the big highlights of the festival is the day parties at Moomba Beach. Everyone looks forward to this. You will see some of everything, and I mean everything here. The music is amazing, and by the time you’ve worn your little self out at 6pm, it’s time to head out for an amazing Surf & Surf dinner. Believe me when I tell you, I could never tire of S&S. I could literally have it every single day. The portions were just right, so you never felt like a glutton after your meal. The restaurants in Aruba are very accommodating to large groups. Each night we had anywhere from 8-12 people in our party, and it was never a problem. We would meet cool people during the day, and invite them to join the group dinner. You will however, need to book a reservation 1-2 days ahead. One of our friends came with her hubby and baby, and we never had any issues, as all the restaurants are kid friendly. One of my favorite nights was when we all got together for this elegant outdoor dinner. Mia had everyone wear white, and you know how beautiful the contrast is with white and beautiful brown skin! Those pictures are some of my favorites. The trade winds make everything extra sexy , but you also want to make sure that your food doesn’t blow away. We had a couple of really close calls. I mean close. And with all that wind, you can really forget about trying to keep a hairstyle. As Toni Braxton sang to us “Just let Go, Let it Flow, Let it Flow, Let it Flow”.

Traveling to Aruba With Friends Kendra Merrell Pic 2     On our final night together, we attended the Dru Hill/Charlie Wilson concert. You know, Uncle Charlie! Believe me when I tell you, this man puts it down! They don’t even make em’ like that anymore! He looks good, sounds better, and has the entertainment factor of Beyoncé. The Gold Package that we upgraded to was money well spent. If you’re with a “younger group’, there is always a different option, on an alternate night. The following evening was Trey (I can’t sing with my shirt on) Songz, and Estelle. As much as I love Estelle, I’m glad we decided on the “Grown and Sexy” show with Uncle Charlie. I really feel that we made the best decision, what a classy show.
Overall it was an amazing group trip, with something for everyone. Aruba is very safe, there is little crime, so you feel comfortable walking around at night even if you’re not in a large group like ours. I don’t know what it’s like outside of the SB Festival week, but during that week, it’s a great time for both couples and singles. You can always keep it low key poolside (we had a band that played at our hotel) or go shake your booty and one of the day parties. Here’s a good tip though, if you’re traveling to Aruba, always make sure you ask what the price is in USD. I made the mistake of asking the taxi driver for the rate, but she gave me the rate in “their” currency, so I basically overpaid. Trust me, no one is going to confirm with you the type of currency. This is how they make their money, so always be aware of that, and enjoy your time in Aruba!

 

by Kendra

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