We went to the printer two weeks ago with the Spring/Summer edition of Island Temptations Magazine. The magazine printed beautifully, and was shipped to Aruba–hopefully it will be released from customs by the end of the week.
You might not know, but the magazine also has a US distribution which includes the North American ATA reps, who get cases delivered to them to use for their travel and trade shows.
I was very happy to receive some feedback on the new edition, which has been distributed in the US, and this is how the it read: I love this edition of Island Temptation – well they are all great but this one is super fantastic! Angelina was just asking me about a possible new 10 min presentation for an office training and I told her to go by her storage unit to pick up the magazines and use them! We have been focusing on Families and activities for them on island, San Nicolas and of course Wine on Down the Road! Love, Love, Love! Keep up the great work, big hugs, Business Development Manager, USA, Aruba Tourism Authority.
After a short trip to the printer, I courageously crossed the globe to the mid-pacific, visiting super special friends in Hawaii.
I have a lot to say about that trip.
Mostly that green will never mean the same to me. If there are 50 known shades of gray, there must 500 different shades of green. That island, Oahu, is so blessed with an abundant nature, it all looks fake, ridiculously overgrown, and tackily overdone. And Oahu is not even the best-looking of the Hawaiian island chain, I understand a few others give it a run for its money.
And people are nice.
We stopped at a Starbucks late one afternoon after exploring botanical gardens and golden beaches. There was a perfectly manly-man sitting just across my table, he was nonchalantly wearing a flower lei with purple orchids around his neck, while sipping his coffee and checking his phone messages.
Sure enough, two rows down to the left during the concert performance of the Symphony Orchestra at Honolulu’s cultural center, a woman with a Haku Lei on her head, was in full bloom, in the audience. She wore her flowers out for the night and no one complained she was obstructing the view, of giving them allergies.
What did I tell you? People are nice.
My generous host received an intricately woven-style flower lei for his birthday, a miniature carpet of cabbage and eggplant-colored flower parts, tightly strung together. They must have dismembered hundreds of individual blossoms, laid them flat and sewn them together, to create this very linear and disciplined artwork, which he wore round his neck all day, as he went about running his business.
We live on a beloved desert island, where the Bougainvillea struggles with wind and drought, and every bloom is a miracle. You absolutely have to see this tropical green splendor, at least once, the mountains, the trees, the yellow hibiscus. It’s a different majestic universe.
I am back, will try to catch up on my writing.
My mind in disconnect
While away on vacay, I tried to stay away from newspapers and digital platforms in an effort to disconnect, rest and refresh. I did an excellent job. This morning I sat across my screen with a blank page, wondering it writer’s block is a temporary or a permanent condition.
My mind is in a state of total disconnect.
Two things came to me however.
One: April 1st, 2019, Noticia Cla published a credible fake news item, in which a law was being prepared to penalized intoxicated drivers with an Awg 1,000 fine, if caught by the authorities.
That piece of fake news hit home, the fine made sense, an Awg 1,000 levy will inflict pain, and will be felt. Alas, it was a joke, Noticia Cla came clean, it was an April Fool’s Day fabrication.
But it resonated in the community.
Authorities, take notice, please.
Naturally the fine cannot be collected by the men in blue, but by some third party, but it’s a good idea.
Traditionally, local incident reports have been calling motorist driving under the influence ‘tired.’ Thus, most of our traffic fatalities have been caused and suffered by ‘drivers who are tired and fall asleep at the wheel.’
Perhaps it is time to crack down on driving under the influence, with steep fines, and call it by its name, because let’s face it, as a nation we habitually drink and drive.
Just for comparison: With just one DUI — driving under the influence — Americans usually are very surprised, when they are turned away at the Canadian border if they have any type of alcohol related offense. Canada will NOT let you in. They are very strict and non-nonsense about it.
TWO: The IMF Mission, as quoted by the AHATA CEO
Three weeks ago, the International Monetary Fund mission was on Aruba to meet with various entities, including AHATA, and to prepare a seasonal report. They discussed issues such as workforce limitations, debilitating labor laws, cost of doing business, tourism inventory saturation, etc. Then they wrote a report, which I found interesting, and I am inviting you to read it.
The text is friendly, not too technical.
A few headlines:
-Aruba’s economy is slowly recovering
-Fiscal reform should include tax reform (shift to indirect taxes) and expenditure rationalization
-Diminishing returns from additional tourists. Focus on high quality services and infrastructure to maximize visitor spending and diversify tourism sources.
-For diversification of economy, increase renewable energy and modernize health care system.
-Improve business climate by removing red tape, address corruption, policy should protect the worker not the job (promote labor market flexibility).
BOT-K9 ARUBA is in top shape
The photographs are impressive, service men in full combat gear, with their dogs in action, ears upright, muscles tight, focused and alert.
Together they scaled walls, overcame obstacles, wrestled bad dudes down, searched and shot live ammunition, this was no joke, this was how the local K9 unit prepares for crisis scenarios.
The unit, under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice, just concluded its International Canine Training Week and I cannot help but write about it in admiration.
When I look at my beloved four-legged, good-for-nothing couch potatoes who snooze all day, and compare them to their K9 brothers, I realize it’s probably all in the training, and it’s all my fault.
The 4th annual International Canine Training welcomed participants from Aruba, St. Maarten, and Australia, with an impartial observer, a judge, from the Netherlands, in charge of setting the bar high.
They went through a week of high-level training, and came out refreshed and updated.
Dick van Leenen at the helm of the unit, reports they are usually headquartered in Balashi, and this week dragged 10 handlers and seven dogs through difficult situations, in dog-hostile weather, successfully.
They even had the vet come out to talk to them about heat stroke and other threats to warriors working in the tropics in fur coats.
The K9 unit operates within the Aruba Correctional Institute, KIA, and is used for searches, and regular Police work in jail, detecting currency, drugs, and cell-phones. The dogs are also deployed as guards when high-risk prisoners are transported to court and back. They are on call 24/7 and van Leenen is proud to say that in a recent incident within KIA, his handlers and their dogs, restored peace and quiet in just about 20 minutes.
The unit ordinarily consists of 11 handlers and 12 dogs, all Dutch-born mutts, most of them are mixed Dutch shepherds that are medium-sized, well-proportioned, and well-muscled, very smart and ultra-trainable.
Dutch born Van Leenen spent 30 years with the Police in the Netherlands. On his last assignment he ran that country’s official Police dog academy, before being lured to the Caribbean and Aruba, recruited to put a K-9 program together here, that was 8 years ago.
Aruba is blessed by three K-9 units, working for the Police Department, the correctional institute and Customs, at the sea and air ports.
I will float some of the images of BOT-K9 ARUBA training. It’s impressive.
The Holiday Inn Celebrates 50th Anniversary
Luigi Wix, Associate Director of Sales, and Harmen Gieske, Director of Food & Beverage hosted a small gathering of press personalities on Friday to announce the resort’s upcoming 50th anniversary.
The exact date is October 22nd and you should mentally prepare for a party, in fact a series of festivities involving the community, the guests and the resort’s industry-partner.
Luigi promised a get-together of all resort managers past and present, for an added element of nostalgia, including the resort’s most veteran employee, still at work at the accounting, Irma Romney, with IHG from the very start.
I believe he said, 45 years!
That’s a woman with gumption.
Our Holiday Inn maintained a steady presence on the island for five decades, same name, same logo, while other hotels rebranded over time, and the chain standing for “America, Motherhood & Apple Pie,” remained a constant on our tourism landscape.
According to Luigi, with 590 room, the resort now has the most diverse array of offers, that means a mix of all inclusive, and EP, in a great number of categories, in many markets, with something for everyone, maintaining a sold 3 star PLUS rating, and an enviable average daily rate, in comparison to the chain’s other regional properties, many of them in countries in South America where turmoil hit hard.
The Holiday Inn in Aruba maintain a 30% return visitor rate and keeps upgrading and improving says Harmen, who oversees a great number of restaurants, some of them he says, are Best Kept Secrets, including a daily pop-up, and a spectacular weekly Carnival show with a real brass band!
I am looking forward to the party!
Over the years, I enjoyed some memorable moments at the Holiday Inn, including Mathilde’s Sunday BBO, we used to get it almost every Sunday, tying up with a boat and popping in for a Styrofoam plastic box bursting with goodies.
The water ballet with the Barracudas.
Art Lamour, complete with monkey and Queeny the dog.
Jan de Ruyter.
Those were the days.