I (Sonia) was born and raised here on the island and left to Holland when I was 16. I have also lived in Bolivia, Portugal and backpacked around the world. My partner Steffen is Dutch and together we decided to move (back) to Aruba in December 2015 to fix up my family home and turn it into a guesthouse and also try to grow our own veggies. Aside from that Steffen works and teaches at the art school in town.
We have done some volunteering in the past and have met several people who are doing permaculture and also regularly visited a community garden in Rotterdam (where we lived for a long time) where permaculture principles were applied. Our dream is to have a food forest and plenty of our own fruits and vegetables, as almost all (95%) of the food and other supplies on the island are imported. This means that everything here is very expensive and buying organic food is practically unaffordable here (and travels from very far in shipping containers and is not very fresh and good quality). Also the water here is very expensive because it has to be desalinated from the sea, so irrigation is very costly, but essential in this hot and arid climate. So we would like to install a rainwater harvesting system and also reuse grey water for the plants and need to make the necessary infrastructural adjustments for that. The ground is coral rock and we'd like to build up soil by buying some but also by doing more/better composting and more chipping and shredding of yard waste to compost and use for mulch. Another project is making some raised beds with pallets and installing a drip irrigation system. Making holes in the coral rock to plant some fruit trees (with jackhammer?...), finish enclosing the greenhouse to keep out lizards and iguanas which eat all the vegetable plants (and the sun and wind). Find natural ways to combat various diseases (mealy bugs, spider mites, scales etc.), build a chicken coop and improve the outdoor shower.
We are located in a nice residential area in front of the sea, so afternoon and weekend swims and snorkeling are always a nice way to cool off.
DIY and building projects
Creating/ Cooking family meals
Help with Eco Projects
Aruba is a mix of cultures: it's still officially part of the Dutch Kingdom and many students go to Holland for further studies. It's also heavily influenced by the US because of the Exxon refinery which was here from the 1920's - 1980's and the tourism and geographically we're only 20 miles off the coast of Venezuela and have a large immigrant community from Venezuela, Colombia and the Dominican Republic. Most people speak 4 languages: Papiamento, English, Dutch and Spanish.
Regarding gardening it's a semi-arid climate, so it's a challenge to make anything grow. But the current situation of importing all our food is not a healthy (nutritious) or sustainable way of living.
As mentioned above, we would need help installing a rainwater harvesting system (putting up gutters and downspout to an IBC (square 1000 lt tank) on the corners of the house, greywater recycling system (laundry to landscape) and drip irrigation system. We'd also like help making a plan for planting little (fruit) trees and vegetables in raised beds and with building a chicken coop.
We have a spare bedroom with 2 single beds with private bathroom and sometimes we also have one of the guestrooms available if they're not rented out (queen or king size bed with private bathroom).
Everything on the island is very expensive and this includes water (comes from energy-intensive desalination plant), electricity and food. So we kindly ask to be conscious of water and electricity use.
There's a bus stop right in front of the house which goes passed the hotels to downtown (Oranjestad) twice an hour till 8 pm, but we can usually give you a ride to the hotel area, downtown or the supermarket. Beaches are within walking distance (Malmok, Boca Catalina, Arashi, Palm Beach).
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
More than two
Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week