Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Spotlight on Aruba

Most of us, when thinking of Aruba, imagine a tropical island paradise; even the name sounds delicious.  Indeed, the “Official Tourism Website of Aruba” displays a rather scantily clad gent on a lovely beach, while several hefty (but scantily clad) women advertise a carnival. There’s also a woman snorkeling who appears to have lost part of her bathing suit…. (If you really want to see those photos firsthand, click here).  Wikipedia (I know, they do make mistakes) describes Aruba as an arid, cactus-strewn landscape rather than a tropical paradise.  The only naked creatures they have photographs of are iguanas. So, ultimately, my impression of Aruba is of a mysterious desert surrounded by wonderful beaches. (Been there, seen that?  Give us your 2 cents in a comment!)

But what if you seek our family lore, rather than a suntan?  Roy Maduro, an Aruba native and proud family member, was happy to educate me on our family origins in Aruba; we’ve been on the island since 1754. At that time, Moses Maduro and his brother were the first white inhabitants of Aruba.  According to Roy, they had large families, most of which converted to Christianity; very few bothered to document their history so we don’t have many details. Roy’s father moved to Aruba from Curacao in 1937 to work.  Roy’s mother came from another Caribbean island called Saba.  In 1944 they married and started Roy’s Maduro line.

According to my research, Aruban citizens hold Dutch passports, which perhaps hints at the link between the Dutch Maduro lineage and the Aruban Maduro families. Certainly the Dutch Maduro line, descents of Jewish refugees from the Inquisition in Spain and Portugal, settled widely throughout the Caribbean.  

Rather than crediting the old-time Maduro families or today’s semi-naked Arubans with bringing culture to the island, Roy points a grateful finger at the Standard Oil Company, who set up a refinery on Aruba in 1924, setting the tone for a booming economy and cultural development. Having grown up in California, it’s hard for me to equate an oil company with culture but I think we’ll take Roy’s word about this. 

Have you been to Aruba?  Send me the photos you think best represent the island (WITH clothes, please!) and I’ll add them to this post.  Email for photos –

And thank you, Roy, for sharing your history and Aruba’s past with us!
Photgraph of Aruba, taken this year by Grace Maduro, and provided in response to my request.... Thank you Grace!