"If you hear a cracking sound, run." That's the advice our guide gives at the entrance to Aruba's Arikok National Park, a 3,400-hectare expanse of rugged, typically arid terrain that covers almost a fifth of the island. My initial thought is that he's launching into a warning about the cascabel rattlesnakes indigenous to the area, but he continues to explain that after the rainy season, the cacti in the park will on occasion absorb more water than they can stand, resulting in the noisy collapse of one of their arms.
It's not a problem in the grand scheme of things, as those arms will root, resulting in more cacti - but obviously, you don't want to be standing in the way of the process. Now more attentive to the surrounding sounds, our group carries on. Visiting Arikok National Park at the tail end of the rainy season (which arguably runs October to December in Aruba, with the rain typically falling in short bursts that then give way to sunshine) is an experience that allows for different adjectives than you’d typically use to describe the place. Green is the primary color of the backdrop, and at one of the circles of benches for resting and chatting, the tree canopy could be described as downright lush and verdant. A brief morning shower gave way about ten minutes into our hike, and we saw a rainbow as we looked out across the park.