Moonlit hike from Hudishibana to Alto Vista

Back in 1995, I met the Great Priestess of Stimaruba, Olinda van den Linden-Rasmijn , and this is what she said to me: “God made the earth, then He paired nature with people. Put a distance between us, and the trees will start dying. They need the friendly sounds of feet and voices in order to thrive….”

Last week I joined Stimaruba’s hike from the California Lighthouse to the church of Alto Vista. We took off at 5:45pm from below the Faro and arrived at 7:30pm, in full moonlight at the little hilltop church.

Our guide, Randolph Fingal, described the hills, bays, and salt pans along the way, just before the start, then left us to our own pace and meditation, along the way.

About 30 nature-lovers came on the trip and I made some new friends, reconnected with old ones. They are all excellent hikers, who join Stimaruba’s end-of-the-month, hike-in-the-mondi, regularly.

We started off with an incline from Sero Hudishibana, meaning the windswept plateau, to Cudarebo, the area below the lighthouse hill, then walked past Sasarawichi, the area known today as the California sand dunes. And while visitors are asked not to drive on the dunes and the blue stone project clearly states “Don’t Drive on the Dunes,” the polite request is bluntly ignored; the area is zigzagged by tire marks. The bushes protecting the dunes from erosion are called cocorobana. The birds nesting in the sand are meeuwchinan, beach nesting terns. Both bush and bird populations suffer from men’s voracious appetite for thrilling off-road speeding.

Walking past the Tierra del Sol boundaries, we encountered a hill by the name of Anabui, two of those, Anabui Grande and Anabui Chiquito, and the salt pan, the golf course’s bird sanctuary, whose original Indian name is Cubeyu. Who knew? Tierra del Sol is using the name Anabui, for the fractional ownership condo cluster next to the Club House.

Another pink salina, reminiscent of the Bonaire Flamingo salt pans, Hatabara; it glows as the sun sets over Aruba. From there on we walked in the dark. Our guide reported that Kalkof, an area famous for chalk cliffs, came in handy when the church of Alto Vista was constructed.

The island wild side, in the North-East is broken up by small bays, where the river beds end, going into the ocean. We walked past Boca Druif and Boca Sardinchi, each paired with a hill, Boca Druif with Sero Muskita, then Seroe Grandi, littered with diorite boulders.

While we could see Boca Urirama, and Seroe Labaruida, we did not get that far, but the sound of the name evoked a discussion among hikers.

My fellow nature lovers reminisced how in an era without internet or social media they managed to revoke the government decision to build a race track in San Nicholas. They told me about protests and marches and signature collections, and finally the government had to recant, withdraw its endorsement of a Florida-like speedway. It was a decision that toppled the coalition government and cost the citizens of the island some money in a lost court case, but the environmentalists won.

From the archives: MIAMI (March 28, 2001) — Two companies affiliated with famed racing promoter Ralph Sanchez, Motorsports Americas, Inc. (“MAI”), and Sanchez Motorsports Group, Inc. (“SMG”), today announced that they have filed a counterclaim in federal court in Miami against the Government of Aruba (“GOA”) seeking more than $20 million in compensatory damages stemming from the GOA’s deliberate termination and destruction of the Aruba Motorsports Complex project.

The counterclaim alleges that after aggressively recruiting the participation and financial support of Mr. Sanchez, MAI and SMG to develop the motorsports project in Aruba, the GOA, acting primarily through its Prime Minister Henny Eman, and Finance Minister Tico Croes, in a series of misrepresentations, broken promises and political maneuverings, brought about the termination and destruction of the project, even though MAI had secured major United States professional racing organizations to schedule races for the new Aruba facility.

I say good riddance, power to the people!

We should claim our collective power back!

We came back in an old yellow school bus, to reclaim our cars, from the lighthouse plateau. I have to say that the Mondi is almost litter free, we found occasional plastic items, but in general, except for tire tracks the wild side in undisturbed. On my next walk, I will be taking a sturdy bag for trash along.