Friday, August 10, 2007

Awakening from an Aruban Adventure

During a week-long honeymoon in Aruba, my new wife and I took a "Jeep Adventure" starting in the busy town of Oranjestad and wrapping around the rural, dirt-trailed back country. The natural beauty of the island is beautiful and memorable. From the ocean views to the desert wildlife, going off road was a tremendous experience. But I wouldn't do it again!

The trip started by meeting at the company's headquarters and dividing the group of about 30 people into 5 cars. A guide drove the lead car and had a radio to the following cars, which were driven by us unassuming tourists.

The tour started on main roads, and wound around to dirt roads, and eventually steep, bouldered paths. The part of the tour I drove on was the steep, bouldered path section. Wowsers.

So here I am commandeering a LandRover I've never driven before, on paths in the middle of nowhere, going over massive chunks of rocks, all while 5 other people are at my mercy. Plus, it was dusty and hot and 4 hours removed from breakfast. Four and 1/2 hours after starting, I was positively exhausted, mentally and physically by the time we finished. It sure was an adventure, but not exactly what I had in mind.

But I did learn two lessons from this trip:

1. I gained a tremendous amount of respect for the brave and rugged soldiers fighting in Iraq. Not that I didn't have respect for them before, but bearing that brutal desert heat and unfriendly terrain, and mixing in an incredibly dangerous atmosphere must be an unbelievably challenging job.

2. After driving through that brutal desert heat and unfriendly terrain, I lost a tremendous amount of respect for our leaders to think that we could waltz into that country, take over, and not really have any plan for succeeding. It's scary to think that our troops will have to struggle in that environment for an indefinite amount of time. This is no "adventure," this is plain scary, and hopefully, once we wrap up there... never again.

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