As soon as we approached the marina at St. Thomas, I could see his face turning red.
“Do you see this, Laura Lee?”
“Yes, I do, Max.”
“Things are changing. I used to love this little marina. Now, it’s always under construction and overcrowded with boats in every little space. It won’t be long before we don’t have a dock for our sailboat. I can recall when we’d be the eye candy for all who loved a beautiful sailboat. Now, we can barely navigate around these obstacles.”
“Max, lookout. There’s a cruise ship coming; starboard side.”
I was tired from dancing the night before we arrived at Aruba.
After a quick shower, we went for breakfast and the nectar of the gods; coffee.
The ship would dock for 6 hours. We didn’t know how long it would take to get around the island. We needed to find the National History Museum of Aruba.
It was a small island but very busy. Cars darted by as we walked the four city streets to the museum.
It was hot and windy. The balmy breezes cooled the heat tremendously. Willie had talked about the trade wind currents of the island.
At last, we arrived. It was a small museum dedicated to the people’s history and the slaves who were imprisoned on the island.
Willie arrived in Aruba when he was commissioned to do a mural for the summer home of one of his art collectors. In the six months it took him to complete the outdoor patio wall, he grew to love the island. He purchased a home, and so began his Aruban lifestyle.
Being from New York, he wasn’t sure if he’d feel a part of the island. Slowly he began to feel comfortable with the islanders and island life. He felt part of his community.
A gallery owner had an exhibition for him within a few months of residing on the island.
Restaurant owners noticed his artwork at the exhibit. A few asked if he would barter for meals. Banks, libraries, and town buildings donned his artwork on their walls. He received a commission to do the illustrations for the Aruban History book. Life was good.
After a few years, when his health began to falter, he flew to the states to get checked at the veteran’s hospital. He had been an illustrator during the Vietnam war. He drew battle images while in the fields. He told stories of the frightening danger around him and how his lungs burned from the chemicals of agent orange spraying.
He never returned to his beloved Aruba. He died barely six months after returning to the states. His time had run out.
*****William De La Vega was my husbands 1st cousin. His entire childhood was spent drawing, painting and sketching a variety of artwork. He traveled the United States and Europe, painting his way through life. He never married or had children. He never settled down until he arrived in Aruba. Art was his life … sadly, he ran out of time at age 38 in 1977.