#FREEASABIRD. Talk to any person, and he/she would tell you how stressed they are, how strapped for time, and that there are not enough hours in a day to do everything they are expected to accomplish. In contrast, Aruba just bid adios to Franco Boggio Halbinger Claire, an Argentinean national who spent the past few years here at Fishermen’s Huts, on staff at Aruba Active Vacations, a company owned and managed by Wim Eelens. Their trailer on the beach is manned by a great bunch of guys teaching our visitors to windsurf and kite surf, embracing a salty, barefoot lifestyle. While visitors stay a while to connect with their inner beach-bums, Wim’s crew stays just like Mary Poppins, until the West Wind carries them away. Recently, the West Wind hit Franco, otherwise a regular, sun blistered dude, with a gaucho passion for horses, and moved him to fulfill his dream of traversing Europe, destination Mongolia, by horseback. Then true to what Shakespeare wrote in 1593: A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse, Franco traded his predictable life in Aruba, for an uncertain adventure. He left the island to the Netherlands with his two West-Pointers, Vito & Morgan, and off they went to buy a horse, in Spain. They found a beautiful white Arabian, in Pontevedra, Galicia, fitted him with a small green wagon designed to carry their worldly possession, and completed the 67km journey to Santiago de Compostela as a test-ride. PS. As far as I know this did not qualify them as pilgrims, because to qualify one must walk at least 100km, or bike 200km. In any case, do you see the pictures? Two spotty dogs, an Aruba flag, a Gaucho, and a horse called William Brown named after an Irish/Argentinean half-pirate Admiral who helped fight the Argentine War of Independence in 1810. Last Wednesday, they turned around, walking away from Compostela against the influx of pilgrims, on a cross-continental adventure of a lifetime. So, why Mongolia? Mariza Garcia says Franco is determined to teach Mongolian children who are excellent horse people to play juego de Pato, a game played on horseback that combines elements from polo and basketball, which is the national sport of Argentina. I love that story about a man trading one life for another, and if you like it too, you can follow his adventures on Instagram: #travelingfranco. Mariza is trying to talk Franco into a Facebook page, but he thinks it’s too much of a commitment.
MAKING A GO OF IT. Chef Paul Zijlstra met F&B professional Marco v/d Linden at Le Dome Restaurant, in its fading years, around 2008/9. They both moved on, as Paul became the executive chef at Windows on Aruba and Marco joined him at Divi Links as Restaurant Manager, also overseeing Mulligan’s Golf Cafe, Bar & Restaurant. In March this year, they teamed to open Truffles an international restaurant at Sun Plaza, checking into the space vacated by the Promenade Restaurant. Peter Dorer, one of Aruba’s culinary pioneers and the developer of the destination-restaurant concept enjoyed a stellar career here even before he opened the Buccaneer Restaurant in 1979, with another venerated food professional. He later moved on to the Promenade in San Nicholas and opened the Promenade in Oranjestad, but apparently in recent year couldn’t convince his son, working for the Ritz Carlton Aruba in the Purchasing Department, to take the business over. With no succession, the restaurant was put up for sale, and following a period of negotiations, was acquired by Paul and Marco. They baptized it Truffles, with a little piggy digging for white gold ‘shrooms under a tree in the logo, designed by Yoa Beke. The restaurant will offer a menu based on specials, and ever-changing seasonal items, with strong daily Early Bird offerings, and a weekly Friday Happy Hour, on the terrace overlooking the boulevard. Eric Semeleer picked up the phone when I called, and recognized me by voice, impressive!
GUERRILLA MARKETING. Apparently those who came out of the Aruba Yellow Pages, Google Ad Sales Pitch Seminar, last week, found a flyer under their windshield wipers featuring a fat burger-munching slob in underwear, with food that looked like poop smeared all over his upper body. The flyer read: Interesting online marketing event? Usually nothing happens after marketing seminars, get up now and do something about it, you can go at it alone, or you can call us with over 12 years experience in digital marketing, with clients from here to there, telephone this and that! It was very effective guerrilla marketing because I picked up the flyer, I looked at the disgusting image, read the text, went tsk, tsk, tsk, and concluded that indeed, the average person sees 5,000 ads a day, and that marketing is everything.
LITTLE SWITZERLAND ON THE MOVE. We were invited just recently to a trunk-show at the Ritz Carlton, featuring John Hardy jewelry by Little Switzerland. It was a cozy lobby champagne reception in which I reconnected with Jeanette Keith, the store’s General Manager and Nathalie Van Trikt, its bright marketing diva. The party introduced the Palu line, Indonesian inspired hammered jewelry, the new beaded bracelets and the elegant Bamboo collection. Just in case you did not know, John Hardy plants bamboo seedlings for every piece of the bamboo collection you purchase and to date, nearly one million seeds have been planted, which is a super initiative. For your information, the jewelry is also available at the equally awesome Diamonds International stores. Then this weekend we were invited to the last breakfast at Tiffany as the boutique within the LS flagship store at Royal Plaza will be closing. Rumor has it, that the brand might be opening a dedicated outlet at the Renaissance Mall, but you shouldn’t pay attention to rumors. Now for the good news: LS will be closing for total/complete renovations with crews working around to clock in effort to deliver a wow shopping emporium, by mid-summer with boutiques within the store dedicated to John Hardy, Rebecca, Marco Bicego, Lagos, Ippolita and other surprise brands which Nathalie did not want to reveal. Ever-diligent Humphrey Odor, reports that while some people will be going on vacation, most LS employees will be covering shifts at the company’s four other stores on the island. Miss Aruba, Digene Zimmerman in a Tiffany blue dress showed off the retro Ziegfeld Collection pearls, and shoppers were treated to cute Tiffany box inspired cup cakes. If you happen to get a Tiffany T bracelet for Mother’s Day, you should be very pleased! #getmeonetooplease.
SAIL ARUBA. Don’t miss the coming weekend’s excitement, with the Dutch Marines celebrating their 350 year anniversary, and a ton of activities coming to the Port of Oranjestad. The Seafood Festival sounds delicious and the sail in cinema featuring classics such as Finding Nemo, Pirates of the Caribbean, Titanic & Jaws, should be a one of a kind experience. I bet you that watching Jaws, overlooking the water, will be every bit as scary as it was back in 1975 when the movie was first released. The Aruba Tourism Authority already marked the entrance to the Port of Oranjestad by two welcoming towers, and I hear that organizers are expecting 30.000 visitors over the span of three days, ogling the tall ships, watching the races, attending Soldaat van Oranje, and cheering for the Dutch Royals, for the largest event to ever take place at the Port of Oranjestad! [email protected]