Bati Bleki Buzz Weekly Recap August 25th, 2019

Follow your dreams

The local media gave it ample well-deserved coverage as Marrit Gorter, 44, landed her first plane, Aruba Airlines AG902, coming from Havana Cuba, at Reina Beatrix Airport as the first female Aruban pilot.

It was the fulfillment of an interrupted dream, and a very unique phenomenon against our island backdrop, where careers ordinarily take off at age 20, and only a few dare change their professional direction, thereafter.

I remember Marrit as a Windsurfing queen, a fearless, athletic tomboy of a girl shredding the waters off Fishermen’s Huts, in a mini bikini. She was flying, on a board with a sail.

The way she tells it, as a ten-year-old student, she gave a presentation in the local school regarding space and space travel. She was passionate about the subject and decided to become an astronaut, an extraordinary professional choice in view of the fact that she was born on an island. That later evolved into piloting fighter planes, but meanwhile she dedicated most of her time to windsurfing.

When she finished high-school in Aruba she pursued an academic business education, in the Netherland which did not light her on fire, but going to flight school in the USA did.

Love interfered in her well designed plans. A man came along and snatched her away from school and from Aruba, and life unfolded quite predictably, with kids coming along and adult life.

About five years ago, Marrit recounts she was at Schiphol airport with her two teenage girls, taking a transcontinental flight when a 100% female crew rushed by her, Captain, First Officer, Cabin Crew, not a man in sight, and as she couldn’t believe it, she questioned one of the flight attendants who confirmed. Yes, girls rule.

Marrit got an idea in her head that wouldn’t let go.

The next four years she dedicated to accumulating flying time and certifications, then she showed up for interviews and trainings, and waited for Aruba Airlines to have a pilot job-opening for its Airbus A320-200 aircraft.    

That day recently came. Marrit’s husband, also a pilot for Aruba Airlines, videoed her flawless landing here, and you can hear him hooting in the background, proud of the woman that could.

Beautiful, charismatic, and passionate about flying, she followed her dream.

Chiara Soldati, Owner and Export/Marketing Director, La Scolca, hosts a Wine Maker’s Dinner

The Chophouse at Manchebo Beach Resort entertained a select group of foodies and food & beverage professionals for a special 5-course dinner, expertly conceived by executive chef Sander Herold and Kavey Yarzagaray, of TEC Inc. Aruba.

Serendipity brought all players together. Kavey met La Scolca’s vineyard representative at a wine show in Miami, he expressed an interest in its famed Gavi De Gavi wine, and found out that the charming wine maker Chiara Soldati, Owner and Export/Marketing Director of La Scolca, was in Aruba on vacation with her son, staying at the Manchebo Beach Resort.

The meeting of minds created a great culinary experience.

Kavey and Chef Sander tailored a delectable menu to pair with Gavi La Scolca and Gavi Etichetta Nera, its mature sister, presenting an excellent soiree introducing the two famed wines, accompanied by carefully prepared dishes in the elegant, contemporary ambiance of the Chophouse at Manchebo.

Dinner took off with an Amuse Bouche by chef Mayling of Omakase sushi bar, paired with a Gambino Prosecco; The first Scallop appetizer on a bed of couscous, with red beet puree and baby lettuce, was paired by La Scolca Gavi; The fish course featured pan seared Halibut, cauliflower puree, green asparagus, red bell pepper coulis and herb oil, paired with the distinctive Scolca Gavi De Gavi black label.

The main course, Sirloin au Jus, cooked sous vide, was escorted by the Daou Cabernet Sauvignon, from California, a powerful wine, distributed on Aruba by TEC Inc. Aruba.

We enjoyed a yummy La Scolca infused sorbet for dessert with berries.

The fine dining experience was further enhanced by Chiara Soldati, the fifth generation winemaker from her family’s estate, La Scolca, located in Gavi, in southern Piedmont, Italy.

She introduced herself at each table, elaborating on the vineyards wine making traditions since 1919. La Scolca is best known for dry Italian white wines, especially the trademarked « Gavi dei Gavi » launched in 1969.  Chiara has been working at the winery since 1995, helping her father, Giorgio Soldati, to produce Italy’s premier white wines.

Chiara now runs all Sales and Marketing aspects of La Scolca and is actively involved in promoting the Piedmont region and its wines. 

It was a very touching chant: Thank you Divi for the Airco.

On Tuesday morning 8am, the kids of elementary school Pius X in Dakota were waiting outside in the schoolyard, on the freshly laid asphalt, in a neatly arranged circle waiting for the headmistress to lead them in the morning prayer, followed by an exciting breakthrough.

Airco.

Divi & Tamarijn All-Inclusive facilitated the installation of 12 air-conditioners in classrooms, previously left to sizzle in the heat under uninsulated corrugated roof panels.

It was a long process, beginning in March, when an electrician went through the school wiring, redoing the installation. The work had to be inspected by ELMAR, then Crown came in to hook things up.

Divi’s Managing Director, Alex Nieuwmeyer, pressed the remote, cool air started flowing in, like magic.

The school was apparently on the list for air-conditioning, but the list is long.

SKOA, Stichting Katholiek Onderwijs, the foundation running 15 kindergartens, 25 elementary schools, 5 secondary schools and 1 school for students with special needs, still has 18 school without.

SKOA director Anuesca Baly was on hand to express gratitude to Divi and to ponder which other local companies will come to the rescue of the other 18 schools, melting away!  

We stood outside in a circle. All kids seemed impeccably groomed in their little yellow polo shirts and freshly combed morning-hair, they did not mind waiting for the ceremony to unfold, they were missing the first hour of the third-day of school and seemed OK with that.

The headmistress led the morning prayer, Our Father, students crossed themselves judiciously, then sang the school’s anthem, filled with gratitude and praise.

Any day, which starts with a prayer and a song is a good day, said the headmistress.

It was a touching moment, my eyes welled a bit, as she led two hundred little voices in a charming chant: Thank you Divi for the Airco.

The school, while seemingly in good shape, needed a fresh coat of paint, it was not painted over the summer vacation.

Where is the PTA, I wondered?

Is there a PTA.

The balloons and confetti also surprised me, I thought we could do away with that. Sure, for environmental reasons. I was fine with the air horn. It added to the applause.

The two girls who welcomed the day’s visitors at the school gate, 6 graders, spoke no English, which surprised me.

Divi & Tamarijn All Inclusive was paired with Pius X on the Kids Council platform, initiated by Dutch Princess Laurentien in which local 6 graders got to brainstorm resolving adult challenges, in hospitality.

The initiative, now in its fourth year, resulted in collaboration beyond Kids Council, and Divi & Tamarijn All Inclusive deserves recognition for the ONGOING good work it does in our community.   

Third annual Vow Renewal on Eagle Beach

Aruba, I do, presented a heartwarming celebration on Eagle Beach, with couples young and old, visitors and also a few locals promising Andy Osborne, our fantastic wedding official to remain best friends, mentors, playmates, and confidants till the end of times.

This year’s edition seemed a bit more casual with Ruben Garcia as the slightly distracted emcee. He was not as structured and regimented as Michele Brooks, so the ambiance was a bit more laid back and relaxed.

It‘s not an easy job, to take charge of 230 love-struck individuals, and get them to focus on the task at hand, namely the repetition of vows, eloquently composed and recited by Andy.

The beach looked virgin and lovely, and the Hora Loca complete with champagne toast and hors d’oeuvres, butler-passed by the generous Hyatt Regency people, beads, masks and hats, Carnival dancers and a full band, made an impression.

The arches, swings, trellises, triangles and the Aruba sign, provided attractive backdrops for photography. I saw some great stuff on social media.  

We’re very lucky, said Andy, post ceremony, that we can congregate on this hassle-free beach, and celebrate life’s pleasant moments undisturbed. And he is right.

Though the sunset was nothing to write home about, it just dipped into the ocean, no technicolor output.

As I was walking off the beach, I hated myself for being a party-pooper and just thinking about the plastic cleaning crew at the end of the event, as guests left behind crystal welcome-drink cups AND champagne flutes, besides discarded party favors, once the music died.

I have become a kill-joy. But I am sure ATA had prepared for the inevitable aftermath.  

Attention Tourism Product Enhancement Fund: Eagle Beach requires bigger trash can, they were all overflowing.

ON ISLAND SPEND

The Aruba Tourism Authority hosted a strategic session regarding tourism in Oranjestad, the result of a survey of 6,763 departing guests, leaving the airport from January to December 2018. They were asked about their spending pattern on the island and provided interesting, albeit subjective information.

ATA also presented the results published by VISA, the credit card, data derived from 594,017 cardholders hailing from 146 countries. They spend a total of $430 million on Aruba, and also used their cards to withdraw cash, as much as $46 million.  Their average purchase was $162, and the average total spend per person amounted to $723. Visa also reported 8% were business travelers, and 92% consumers on vacation.

Other staggering amounts, I rounded them up, reveal that 190M were spend on lodging, 79M on restaurants, 53M on retail, 30M in department stores, 18M on car rentals, 16M on food & groceries, 13M on clothing and accessories, 15M on entertainment, 8M in casinos and 5M on spas and wellness.

God bless our tourists.    

Life is full of fun surprises OR the exotic abundance of the Indonesian kitchen

Eduard Ellis doesn’t usually WhatsApp much but then he surprised his friends yesterday with a delightful text: Dear friends, it said, we are finally opening our Indonesian pop-up on the terrace at Papiamento restaurant. I would like to invite you tonight to have just a glimpse of what we are going to do, look around, have a drink and have a bite, dress casually, it’s a pop up.

And that’s how we all found out that Eduard decided to give his favorite cuisine a remarkable stage. The charming occasionally used portion of the garden to the left of the restaurant entrance will from now on serve Rijstafel, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, under the door sign: Wayang.

Wayang will be open most weekends, but might have some dark nights when the terrace is booked for an event, or when entertaining a private group.

Bottom line: If the Wayang sign is lit, come in and enjoy a veritable feast. If the lights are off, your cravings for Indonesian food must wait, but Papiamento restaurant is sure to please.

Eduard explains he loves to do the cooking himself and that family-friends know his Rijstafel well. Why not expand the concept, he thought, and offer a pop up, open most weekends, no reservations needed, and you may even eat standing, at a cocktail table, if in a rush.

Wayang boasts a Balinese style bar, with a limited wine and beer menu, but according to Eduard, your inner child will be overjoyed to pair his food with Manzana Postobón, from the Bali bar or Orange soda, pineapple punch, perhaps even a Coco Rico, definitely a throwback to everyone’s childhood on the island.

When we went to Colegio, we practically lived on those sugary soft drinks and pastechi, jokes Eduard, and I find they also pair well, he seriously adds, with the fusion of Indonesian species and herbs.

As opening night progressed more and more of Eduard’s friends showed up hungry. His beautiful wife Arlene reports Eduard has been working on his project for a while now, and even created the décor himself.

A short survey among diners confirmed, Rijstafel is among everyone’s most favorite food genre, though not very often enjoyed.  Hence Wayang, all you care to eat, $38.50pp, not doggy bags. No take out yet!

You heap some white or Turmeric rice in the center of a large plate, and Wayang’s plates are extra-large, and then you circle your rice with as many choices possible, of the twenty-two delectable dishes offered:

Ikan Pedis: Oven broiled fish with tomato, lemon grass & chilies

Ajam Smoor: Slow cooked chicken, shallots, sweet soy, nutmeg & ginger

Ajam Besengéh: Braised chicken with ginger, lemon grass and coconut milk

Rendang: Stewed beef cubes with garlic, ginger, cardamom & coconut 

Bengala Gaging: Braised pork with onions, turmeric, laos and coconut milk

Saté Ajam: Skewered chicken marinated with cumin & molasses

Saté Lilit: Speared ground beef with coriander, tamarind & cream of coco

Sajoer Lodeh: Assorted vegetables poached in a coconut butter broth

Gado: Chilled vegetables tossed with coconut oil

Atjar Tjampoer: Sweet and sour carrot, cabbage & cucumber with turmeric

Seroendeng: Pan fried peanuts and coconut with sugar & sea salt

Pinda Katjang: Toasted peanut sauce

Ketimoen: Cucumbers in lime juice, sweet soy sauce and peppers

Tossed Greens with radish and sprouts

Fresh fruits & coconut 

Krupuk: Deep fried prawn crackers

Sambal Brandal: Spicy pepper paste with lemon grass & molasses

Ketjap Benting: Sweet soy sauce with toasted onions & garlic

Saludos and salamat makan to all Rijstafel Lovers

The Marriott Curacao is Reopening

Have a Dream Getaway, at affordable rates

Remember the good times we had at the Marriott Curacao during the North Sea Jazz Festivals?

The most fondly-remembered year was 2013, when his Purple Highness and his amazing band members went swimming with the caliente chicas from Aruba, all day, all night.

I can tell stories.

That was so unforgettable.

The following years we though the hotel was a bit frayed as we were crunching Hummus and veggie sticks for lunch at the pool bar, the selection of edibles was limited, but we all swore to be back once the big reno project wraps up.

Then Louella returned to Aruba, the resort sold, and closed September 16th, 2016, or perhaps it sold first then closed and the project said to take 18 months, took almost three years, but guess what??

The beloved resort is opening October 21st, under the Aimbridge Hospitality flag, for a very soft pre-opening sneak peak, with a special rate for locals.

You read it here first.

Start booking your flights, or just call Isabelle @Maduro Travel.

Oct 21 – Nov 15th: Pre Opening Sneak Peak Special

Nov 15– Dec 1: KLM Marathon Run-cation, event Date Nov 23 & 24

The rate: $115 Locals. Only Rate for Curacao, Aruba, Bonaire & Suriname  

That’s a fantastically affordable price tag. Remember it’s a pre-opening sneak peak, so you should expect water in the pool and palm trees, also 324 lovely rooms, but perhaps there will be some work still ongoing.

The fine print:

Pre-Open “Sneak Peak” Special 1 – Locals: Travel dates of Oct 21st-Dec 20th, black-out dates Nov 21 – Nov 24, book by Nov 14th

Locals Only Rate (ABC & Surname)- The Big Splash Pre-Open Special – 25% off retail rate special, rates starting at $105.00 (plus 7% tax), Valid ID required for local rate. Advance reservations required. Other restrictions may apply. Rates are per room, per night and based on availability at the time of reservations.

Method of reservations: email [email protected] or call 5999-736-8800, 9am – 5am M-F

Special 2 KLM Marathon: Travel dates of Nov 15th-Dec 1st, – Book by October 1st,

KLM Marathon RUN-CATION LOCALS Special

Marriott Official Start Finish Hotel

Book by October 31st for any KLM group dates (Nov 15th – Dec 1st); Special Locals rate of $115.00.

KLM Run-cation Promotion – $150.00 F&B Credit, 3-night minimum, Credit applies to F&B charges only (not including taxes or gratuities) does not include Pasta Party. Valid ID required for locals’ rate (Curacao, Aruba, Bonaire, Surname). Reservations required. Other restrictions may apply. Rates are per room, per night and based on availability at the time of reservations.

Method of reservations: Book your group rate for KLM Marathon Local Group, email [email protected] or call 5999-736-8800 9am – 5pm Mon-Fri.

“On The Beach Pasta Party” Saturday evening, November 23rd can be pre-purchased at a discounted rate of $28.00 per person plus taxes & gratuities. If you would like to add this to your room please send email to [email protected] and advise on the number of guests you would like to add to your reservation. The discounted amount will be added to your room bill. Or order via your race entry form on KLM Website https://curacaomarathon.com/enT

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