Bati Bleki Buzz, Weekly Recap December 24th, 2017

Papiamento takes on Aruba

The MinEdu apparently surprised many this week when he announced changes in the educational system, but I suspect he is simply sanctioning something that is already in practice, as far as I know most schools are already teaching math in Papiamento and Dutch in Papiamento, contributing to the demise of Dutch as a language of instruction.

And while I am no expert on Dutch, my Dutchy friends explain to me that the level of Dutch communication has deteriorated in past years, it is colloquial at best, and certainly not good enough to handle the pressure of university studies, as the number of disappointed returning students indicates.

I am just stating the obvious. In recent year with Latin-oriented immigration, Spanish has take over, and a great number of kids speak Spanish at home as their maternal language; the minority is immersed in Dutch, the off-springs of Dutch-born parents.

So Papiamento is the common denominator and my friends in education confirm that kids understand more when addressed in Papiamento, and are able to retain more, so while many school pretend to uphold Dutch as the language of instruction, they make their life easier by communicating with students in Papiamento.

I understand that the Papiamento curriculum is ready, having been used successfully in one of two schools for five year – the second school faced some challenges .

But where does it get us?

This is a rhetorical question; I’m not going to answer for fear of being beaten with a flag pole by readers with strong nationalistic feelings.

What kind of higher education opportunities does Papiamento open for our kids?

Many think the answer is English. Perhaps we should try English.

Follow St Maarten’s lead with an international baccalaureate curriculum. It opens the world up, and affords islanders with strong English language skills infinite educational possibilities.

Naturally the local system would have to be adjusted so that these accredited diplomas from English speaking institution of higher learning are recognized in Aruba that currently only recognized Dutch certificates.

Again, don’t beat me with a flag pole but I am just asking: Is Papiamento ready for the starring role assigned to it by the MinEdu. Wouldn’t it be useful to further develop the language, first?  How about an academy, just like the Academie Francaise, the French Academy, a special council in charge of growing and enriching the French language since 1635, we could have one right here.

The MinEdu could appointing a council for Aruba, entrusted with further structuring and broadening Papiamento, so it may rely on scholars for updates, and upgrades, and not on the street.

We don’t need a language academy? I found 39 synonyms for the word CUT in the Thesaurus. Thirty nine different ways to express a simple three letter word, and each expresses a totally unique idea:  Lacerate, wound, slash, pierce, rip, shave, slice, dice, stab, snip, nick, mark, cleft, chop, I can go on. That richness provides nuance, and with it complex thinking. The richness of a language delivers intelligent speakers.

How many words can you find in Papiamento to express that one idea? We should give the language a hand before it is made to star in the educational system. Bo sa.

Cold Coffee biographical notes

By her own testimony Yakari declares she’s angry, brought up with little to no love. Of course her mom would disagree, but to the little girl Yakari was the adults in her life, mostly females, were too busy, too stressed, too worried…. they wanted the lil’ one to take as little space as possible, to be quiet, never demanding, always grateful and content, for having food on the table, a roof over her head, and bills, which she wasn’t responsible for.

My mom was the same way. Children may be seen, not heard, was her way of telling me to get out of her way.

So many of us share that childhood experience, we were loved, but not the way we wanted and needed to be loved. Those were difficult times, so many mouths to feed, so much work, so little help or support, our moms were young women themselves, THEY needed everything.

In her writing Yakari details how formative that child experience was, it made her the writer she is.

I am still waiting for someone to call me on my bullshit, she said to me this week, at Flor da Oriente at the launch of her book. I promised to do my best, but having gone through her materials I think there is no bullshit here, I think she is the real deal. A poet, with plenty of things to say, because of that conflicting, impossible upbringing, and her poem Forgiveness, expresses it very eloquently.

She made lemonade from lemons.

The anguish miraculously resulted in gratitude.

In a perfect world, all children have a happy upbringing surrounded by people who listen to them, and encourage them to evolve, and bloom. But then we would have no great writers, no poets.

Because, that painful residue is exactly the fertile ground for unique expression.

Yakari found a person who believed in her, a teacher, an educator by the name of Stephanie. That woman listened to what her student had to say and valued what she heard. The universe gave her the roll of reassuring the young poet, she had substance, then Maria Silva took over.

So no, the king is fully dressed, not naked. The poetry is most enjoyable and we read some verses Sunday afternoon, watching the sunset over the cliff at Malmok. It was perfect.

Cold coffee – Yakari explains she makes coffee every morning, then starts writing, by the time she get to drink it, it is cold.

Genius illustrator: Josianne Coutinho, wow, she provided the perfect imagery.

Poetic forward by Maria Silva.

Cold Coffee, Vol. I, Poems and Thoughts by Yakari Gabriel.

What a long-time visitor says

Captain Jerome Schaum, with Southwest Airline Company, suggested a fluff piece about a long time island visitor, every once in a while, perhaps about his memories of Old Aruba and the realities of New Aruba?!

I said I would write, and invited him for coffee on Sunday; then we went to the cliff for sunset, and read a few of Yakari Gabriel poems as the sun did a good job wrapping up her business for the day.

The Captain who first flew to Aruba with Eastern Airlines has fond memories of Aruba in the 80s, when landing at Reina Beatrix involved mobile boarding stairs and later just rolling steps, activated at the push of a button,  in smaller aircrafts…. those were the days, and luggage was brought out by hand.

In those days, Eastern Airlines arrived here well past 10pm, and the feeling of landing on the island, as the door swung open, allowing the warm night breeze to invade the aircraft, that remains the same, and passengers and crew members look forward to that moment, as the island  welcomes its newly-arrived with a gentle windy embrace.

It’s that spirit of hospitality that motivated the Captain to buy a second home in Aruba, pre-construction; he had faith it will all work out and it did; he’s been coming to the island on and off all these years and has no regrets. His advice to anyone entertaining the thought of making an investment and buying a home is “Do it,” and “do it while you’re still young, so you can enjoy the outdoors, and actively benefit from the island life-style.”

For those making the move, he recommends buying furniture and equipment on the island, to support the locals, he adds, so that Crown and EQ3 participate in the creative process. In 2012 when he finished putting his home together he commissioned local artist Eliza Lejuez to paint a pineapple, symbolizing hospitality and three Shoco owls, the island’s indigenous birds, perhaps symbolizing his own wisdom, of becoming part of the island he loves.

Beaches? He is enchanted by them all. In his book there are people-watching beaches, and meditation beaches, and they’re all his favorites, depending on his mood, and the amount of time on hand.

The Captain speaks highly of Aruba, and the Arubans. He is also warm and fuzzy about his employer, Southwest Airline Company. I checked. According to Wikipedia, Southwest Airlines Co. is a major U.S. airline headquartered in Dallas, Texas, and the world’s largest low-cost carrier. The airline, the Captain explains, offers great deals on discounted air fares, runs convenient daily nonstop flights and tries to make the trip as easy and as fun as possible. With more than 70 destinations Southwest comes to Aruba from Baltimore, Atlanta and Orlando, Fort Lauderdale soon, and aims at a hassle free passenger experience. You can even take your cat along, the airline is pet friendly and Duster, the Captain’s Aruban-born cat, takes the trip often. She loves coming home to Aruba.

Before we parted way, the Captain expressed concern about the island’s ability to maintain its identity despite the enormous pressure of global forces. I said I was concerned as well, but as long as we love pastechi, and take time to watch the sunset, all will be well.

Here’s the Captain’s original note to me:  We met last Saturday at Lings when you were gracious enough to sign a copy of your new book for me.  Thank you, again! I have been savoring each and every page like a condemned inmate in the KIA, eating his final pastechi!!! The columns I have enjoyed the most have been the ones about “Old Aruba,” before Status Aparte and the closing of the Lago.  The dawn of Tourism, the role of Culture on the island as it was reflected in the simple everyday life of the people, and the stories of kindness and the gentle soul of the Aruban people have been the most impactful for me. Thank you for chronicling the oral history of the island, Rona. That will be your legacy to Aruba! Also, Rona, I’m wondering if and where I might be able to purchase original art by Padu Lampe.   I would like to display it in my place here. I don’t even know if his work is available, but I bet you do or you know someone who does! Bon Pasco, Jerome

Are you forever in search of doing something different and authentic?

Head down to Savaneta this evening for the Cadushi Festival.

Cadushi Festival is not just a local market, it is an inspirational festival aimed at promoting a move conscious lifestyle and highlighting the importance of supporting local artists, artisans, small business owners and creativity in general. The festival strives at creating a community, a connection, and abundant positive energy.

Cadushi Festival focuses on activities that create awareness towards mindful living and sustainability, healthy foods and beverages, local artists and artisans, and ethically-made products from Aruba.

Check it out at:

Today is the annual Christmas edition taking place from 6pm to 11pm at Baranca di Yerba, Savaneta.

The festival was started in 2014 by young local entrepreneurs. It started out as a small grass root event and has steadily grown in a very intuitive and natural way; this Christmas season marks the 8th edition with even more participants and products to explore.

Expect local arts, gifts, and farmers market, food, beverages, a meditation tent, creative workshops, inspirational cinema, local performers and much more.

Visitors will experience a unique and uplifting ambiance showcasing a different side of Aruba.

I will be there promoting my book 🙂

Hope to see you there!

One Ingenious Island

What can I tell you about the Cadushi festival? It was awesome. I met so many extraordinary people, doing so many ingenious things. If you ever doubted that Aruba is an exceptional island, the Cadushi festival confirmed it – we definitely live on a super creative island.

Getting there was a challenge and a half. Baranca di Yerba is located the end of the rainbow, on the hills rising above St Nicholas, the road meanders and rolls, then at tip of a dirt road the grassland presented a totally charming backdrop to inventive people, doing their thing.

Some of the locals I met, at no particular order:

Red Cactus Pizza = Redefining pizza, it was the hit of the night, made with maishi rabo and artisanal vegan cheese. It was worth waiting for 90 minutes. Find them in Oranjestad next to Djiespie’s Place for an ayaca pizza, if you believe there is such a thing.

Cream of Wu’s = Very edgy tote bags and black & white t-shirts with funky designs. The designer is adorable, and fired up about her own stuff.

Mijenou = I met Mijenou before, she is a recycler and a one woman solution to our disturbing landfill, her recycled crafts are very cool.

Awa salo = Sea glass artist from Aruba, Bohemian combinations of seeds and shells.

Rahaida = This is the bedazzle queen; she decorates empty wine bottles, making them into conversation pieces.

Bou Palo Beer = Our very own craft beer maker, he is an engineer of sort; I think his name is Tony, and then he decided to become a brewer. Makes perfect sense. He poured two flavorful types of suds last night, made in his backyard.

Taki = Our forager Frank Kelly is a hit craft cocktail-maker. I tried La Mala Rodriguez, with oregano and Dirty Hairy, with dirt, I suspect. Delicious. He ran out of everything. Arubans drink, he said.

Dushi cakes = This girl is super cute and acts like she invented superior cupcakes. Her creations are proud and meticulous.

D’abaru Snack = The Kelkboom family, the trailblazers of Vegan, artisanal food on the island, their snacks were super popular, they also offered a new vegan rice which was a best-seller.

Funky Vegan Kitchen = She lived up to her name with appetizing appetizers. The line was long I did not get to taste.

The Fermentation Station = Kimchi, sauerkraut, sourdough bread, Anna is a talented hobbyist, she did natural salt from Aruba last year, this year she is out to improve our digestion. She sold everything out.

Creole Element = A consummate recycler, impressive jewelry and healing stones.

Anna Buryakova = She was my neighbor, at the adjoining booth and kindly shared her lights with me. True to her Russian heritage she adds drama to her our local landscapes, iguanas and pelicans.

Gumbs juice = A charming, easy talker, his OJ is delicious, so is the fresh squeezed pineapple and apple, this guy is a trip. Find him in town, tucked in a giant orange, next to Djiespie’s Place.

SoGreen Hair products = The gook looks like guacamole but my hair loved it

Cunucu Mondi Fierno = A very impressive line of craft wines, liquors and spirits, beautifully packaged from organically grown local fruit. These people are organized; it’s all nicely packaged and professional.

Carolina de Waard = A most delightful ceramic artist; her plump birds, and silly reindeer are poetic and whimsical, catch her stuff on

Aruba Coffee Roasting Company = I had an amazing cold latte made by a cute barista, also an impressive operation; they brew and serve their coffee at Coffee Break, in the Djiespie’s Place area.

ArubaLife = Organic make up by Julienne Paskel, we also met before, her products are 100% handmade.

The Plant Guru = Ingela Lacle is a plant healer, an environmentalist / recycler, find her on Facebook, she has answers to your questions.

Goshen Sustainable Solutions = James and Jardin — the exact name spelling escapes me, surprised me totally with their okra and beans, organically grown here in Alto Vista at a farm operated in conjunction with Adult and Teen Challenge Aruba, a center dedicated to breaking free from addiction.

Diana Hopman = Well established artist, her mixed media collage work will light up any wall. If you have an old atlas at home, please donate it to her, she recycles maps, incorporating the world into her pieces.

Jes Beachbags = Jeanine and Sascha are eternally creative this week they turn accent rugs into beach bags, very colorful and fun.

Did I mention the kids had lots of creative activities, Including Yoga with Maria Pucci and storytelling by Liliana Erasmus, in an oriental tent.

The entertainment was stellar with Los Picaflores a bad girl band that formed in honor of the occasion; they got together in some garage with minimal practice and delivered maximal sound.

Ellen Buermans gave a Tibetan Sound Bowl concert, Beach Lama and Sirena recited poetry.

The traffic was a nightmare. Parking was a pain.

It was all worth it.

Random thoughts on the eve of a holiday

The results of the recent lawsuit between parliament and a certain media personality fizzled predictably with a loss for parliament. From the public’s reaction one could ascertain that many sided with Thijsen trying to curb disrespectful behavior. His motives were clear only he picked faulty methods, reacting emotionally, imposing restrictions that cannot and should not be enforced. We are a democracy and the media is free to wave the Freedom of Speech banner every time it feels threatened.

The lamentable incident – lamentable reporting from the seat of government, and lamentable  verdict — brought back memories of some wise advice given to me by a friend when I shared with him my decision to ‘ground’ my then teenage son. Don’t do it, said the wise man, because then you have to stay home to enforce the punishment, and you will be punishing yourself.

Think about another method, something more effective, you can’t just get rid of the problem, you have to deal with it.

Similar thoughts came to my mind when I read the raw, graphic interview on December 18th on 24Ora of the now jailed Gabriel Martiens sharing the consequences of Eugene Frans’ tragic death and the events leading to the hospitalization and consequent death of Rishandroh Anastacia. It is a difficult read as this problematic, immature man, unfit to be a father recounts that he was just disciplining his kids for unruly behavior. His account is filled with magical-thinking, the belief that all will be well in the morning, and that he could walk away any time, clearly indicating the long-term use of drugs and the inability to make good decisions.

With an action-packed weekend ahead of us, fueled by food, drink and leisure, our patience will surely be tested. Our decision making ability perhaps affected. Think about it when you accept that umpteen cocktail and decide to drive, or when you opt to finally settle the score with your pesky mother in law.

I wish you a great holiday, an uneventful one.

We’re all in the wrong profession
This morning 24ora published a detailed report about the dispute between the former director of WEB and GOA. The item included the details of the former director’s compensation, amounting to more than THREE HUNDRED AND THIRTY THREE THOUSAND FLORIN a year, in 2015. Wow, we’re all in the wrong profession, we should have been directors of government entities, and remember that under his watch the company’s irresponsible hedging practices cost the country of Aruba triple digit losses in the millions, but my friends insist the wrong man got fired, but that’s a story for another day.
Enjoy the holidays, take a few days off, I will do the same.
If truth be said I miss the previous AVP government, they irked me so, everything they did was wrong, I wrote passionately every day, the materials were never ending. Now with a pledge to patiently wait and see for 100 days, until February 16th, the political fire is under check, and I have nothing to complain about.
Happy holidays

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December 24, 2017
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Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
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Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster