My mom and I visit the island of Aruba every year, and this year we are here for a month.
It has been such a great trip that even LinkedIn's News Editors selected an article I submitted along with my new song about Aruba, "Aruban Sunsets", for their Reclaiming Summer From Nonstop Work. You can find that collection here: LinkedIn.
Thirty years ago, my mom bought our first week at a timeshare (see last week's article https://www.socialmusingsbyaustin.com/post/did-the-pandemic-change-the-island-of-aruba for the story of our first visit to this island paradise).
In my many years visiting Aruba as a tourist and through the entrepreneurial research and due diligence I once performed in pursuit of owning my own boutique hotel on the island, I have noticed that Aruba has a certain magical aura that keeps beckoning people to return.
In fact, over a quarter of all tourists to the island of Aruba in 2021 are staying at a timeshare (https://tourismanalytics.com/aruba.html), which likely represents only a portion of the actual repeat visitors (with some guests at hotels comprising a portion of the rest).
Early on, we realized greedily that while one week in Aruba is a blessing, two or three weeks is absolute Heaven, since you don't have to rush anything while you are here. For this reason, we have been extending our trips ever since; the normal vacation stress of trying to see and do everything in one week simply vanishes.
Working on Wall Street in a high-stress role, my annual summer beach vacation in Aruba provided me the opportunity to unwind and take stock of my life.
A few years ago, I realized that I was headed for burnout, meaning I was so overwhelmed with work and life that I eventually spiraled into a vicious cycle of addiction, vanity and despair.
When COVID hit, my mental state became so precarious that I ended up in the hospital and almost died.
Ironically, my hospital stay in 2020 occurred exactly during the time I would usually be in Aruba for my annual summer unwind*, and sometimes I wonder if I had been able to travel to Aruba last year if things might have been different.
* I entered the hospital on July 31, 2020, which is exactly a year to the day from today.
Nevertheless, I realized I needed to make beneficial changes in my life so that I can actually be alive to make my annual trips to Aruba in the future.
A few months ago, I made the difficult decision to leave my lucrative career in financial services in order to enjoy a calmer and simpler headspace, and it has made a huge positive impact in my life. My health vital signs have improved, my mental state is much more stable, and I now have the time to fully take stock of my life, which I am doing in a memoir to be published in the coming months (you'll be hearing more about this soon).
Now that I am an aspiring blogger/author/entrepreneur as my LinkedIn profile proudly states (Austin Rosenthal | LinkedIn), I can work from anywhere, and in fact, my mom and I are working a few hours a day during our trip.
I have never been a digital nomad** before, as my prior employer required all of its employees to be in a suit and in the office every single day from 8am - 5pm before the pandemic struck.
** Wikipedia defines "digital nomads" as the following: "Digital nomads are people who use telecommunications technologies to earn a living and conduct their life in a nomadic manner. Such workers often work remotely from foreign countries, coffee shops, public libraries, co-working spaces, or recreational vehicles."
This year in Aruba, Mom and I are enjoying our new, health-focused, digital nomad routine. Here is what our every day in paradise looks like:
6:30am: Alarm, Coffee, Gym, Check Emails
One of my closest friends on the island is a very successful restauranteur, and he thinks we are crazy to wake up this early in paradise. However, I am not alone in my habits, as the gym is usually packed in the morning.
9:00am - Noon: Beach Time***
We choose from a plethora of amazing beaches every single day: Palm, Eagle, Manchebo, Arashi, Boca Catalina, Mangel Halto, Malmok, the list goes on and one. Same for sunsets.
*** I have also witnessed the phenomenon of the Aruban "Monday sunburn". Most timeshare owners and many other Aruba visitors arrive on Saturday in the afternoon too late to make it to the beach. Then, they send the entire day at the beach on Sunday and end up on Monday saddled with horrific sunburns in unspeakable places, huddled under shade and wearing multiple items of clothing while at the beach. Staying for multiple weeks, you can spread your sun exposure out in a healthier fashion.
1 - 4pm: Work and Nap
The only downside to being a digital nomad is that you are completely dependent on your internet situation, which quite frankly, isn't the best in Aruba. However, we have been making it work, despite my mom and myself having multiple meltdowns over video upload speeds. I guess I still need to work on my daily mindfulness...THE STRUGGLE IS REAL
We do yoga at our resort using the Peloton app on my iPad; however, Island Yoga in Noord is also a great option.
5pm: Early Dinner
6pm - 7:15pm: Sunset Walk on the Beach
Refer to above list for beaches; I also recommend doing a walk or jog on the Malmok Boardwalk as you take in the sunset sights and sounds of beach life on this special place in the world.
THEN REPEAT EVERY DAY****
**** Groundhog Day with Bill Murray was one of my absolute favorite movies as a child. Every day for me here is like Groundhog Day, but in a way better environment than Bill Murray had to endure.
No matter how you choose to live your life, you will find joy on the island of Aruba, where the beach is just a plane flight, a negative COVID test within a narrow 72 hour window, a series of online health submission mazes and numerous required additional travel and health apps on your phone away.
Thanks again, COVID!
One more thing - when you have a moment, please check out my first new original song release in over 25 years, inspired by the island of Aruba and my 30 years of sunset walks on the beach. Here is my single "Aruban Sunsets" in its entirety, which is also available on my Social Musings by Austin YouTube channel, along with several other songs I wrote when I was a teenager.
See ya next week!
- Austin from Austin (currently in Aruba)
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