Most people who visit Aruba, just 15 miles from Venezuela's coastline, never see this north side. They stay in one of two hotel zones, and who can blame them? There, on the island's west coast, the Caribbean beaches are calm and turquoise, and the sand is as soft as 1,000-threadcount sheets. At night these beach-goers tend to head to the casinos and, on the rare occasion when they get sick of the beach or the even rarer occasion when it rains, they might shop in Oranjestad, the capital. If they want the back story, they visit the Aruba Historical Museum, housed in an old Dutch watchtower -- the Fort Zoutman and Willem III Tower built in 1796 -- to learn about Dutch and African infl uences on the island as well as the history of gold mining and aloe making.