Bati Bleki Buzz Weekly Recap, December 8th, 2019

Remembering Padu del Caribe

The last time I saw Padu publicly was on his 98th birthday at the Mill resort, where a sunset concert was given in his honor by family members and friends.

All of Padu’s CDs were available for sale and I bought the latest, a compilation of 24 songs. I put the CD on in my car. It made me instantly happy. Such joyful music.

Vivian, Padu’s daughter reported she made the selection of songs with pianist Johnny Schaarbay. They listened to all 140 recorded songs and had a hard time deciding which one to dust off, they wanted to include all. Finally, they maxed out the file with 24 tracks, Padu sings on five.

In the good old days, Padu was a favorite crooner on TV, and on vinyl records, delivering sentimental Boleros in an emotional, personal singing style.  The music is soul-soothing and sweet. All 24 tracks feature Padu on the piano. No one plays piano like Padu does, he practically devours the keys, racing up and down the scales, improvising in the most unexpected places, in the most intricate of ways, like the greatest of the great American jazz pianists of the early 20th century.

His music is layered, each hand flying through the notes in complete abandon, playing independently of the other, yet it all fits together, in an unmistakable Padu style. You know it’s Padu when the piano sounds so bright and effervescent.

Vivian told me a story, that Padu was 8, when he wandered the neighborhood streets, two dirt roads down, to listen to 11-year-old Rufo Wever play the piano. That was his inspiration, a boy just three years his senior, and Padu in turn was an inspiration to many young local musicians, who couldn’t believe the confidence and speed with which Padu connects with the ivories.

One and a half years ago on King’s Birthday there was a 98th birthday celebration at Plaza Padu in the afternoon with a giant cake, and well-wishers, I am not sure Padu knew what was going on, he was there in body, not in spirit.

After that I saw him again at his home, he was seated in a chair, on the terrace, with family members around, drinking fresh tamarind juice. We were visiting. I am not sure he knew, but he must have known he was loved and appreciated.

It is good to note that Padu’s music, was finally put on paper a few years ago by Johnny Croes so that 24 pieces are now available to the public as partitures. The rest of the music was recorded on cassettes and vinyl and had to be digitalized and cleaned up for the new CD, by Tony van Veen and Discmakers in NJ, who has also produced the previous albums.

From my article about Padu, written in 1995, from my Book Island Life:

Juan Lampe is the most outstanding nationally and internationally recognized Aruban artist. He is a widely loved and appreciated musician, who in cooperation with the late Rufu Wever coauthored “Aruba Dushi Tera” and many other wonderful songs. “Dushi Tera” was popular among Arubans long before it was officially proclaimed the national anthem in 1976. “It somehow inspires patriotic feelings and expresses our boundless love for this beautiful island,” its humble composer explains.

Nobody here ever bothers calling this national treasure by his real name. It’s his stage personality, Padu Del Caribe, that people are proud of. Ironically, music has always been his hobby, a spare-time activity. A onetime professional electrical installation dealer, Padu also spent a long time with the airlines, officiating over ALM, the Antillean carrier, first as sales representative and later as station manager. To me, Padu is mostly Vivian’s piano-loving father and Ervin and Sonia’s utterly devoted grandfather.

Born in Aruba into a musical family in 1920, he was instantly attracted to instruments, he recalls, expertly playing the mandolin, cuatra, and clarinet. It soon became clear that his favorite form of expression was the piano, though he never learned to read or write music.

May Padu, the Father of our Culture, rest in peace. He left great music behind, and we will remember.  

Wariruri Bay, in the news

Wariruri Bay is a charming small, white-sand boca, a cove, with its own miniature natural bridge. You will find it on the map, on the island’s North coast, when you let you eye travel over the ridge, down the coast, from the neighborhood of Calbas.

We have been to that beach a number of times. One cannot really swim in the water, the Northern coast is rough, but one can sit in the shallows and enjoy the spectacular scenery, and the washing of the waves, until the caravans of ATVs and UTVs descend from the dune, like locust, in billows of sand, and fumes.

I remember that once rolling dune. It is all but obliterated today.

Most tours drive down from Alto Vista on the backroad leading to Bushiribana, and perhaps stop at Wariruri Bay for a snapshot. Most riding ranches do the same, crisscrossing the countryside with visitors on trail-horses, every single day of the year, not really lingering to appreciate the beauty but rather passing through.  

Yesterday, an unexpected communication from Tamara Beaujon, a press member, announced she was putting a cease and desist order on all companies and people who use that privately owned Wariruri Bay and its beach as a tourist attraction. That meant that all advertising mentioning Wariruri Bay and its baby natural bridge were off limits, and that the next step for her, in the name of the owners, was to fence off the property because trespassing was no longer tolerated.

Apparently, Tamara’s dad, J.R.L Beaujon, had bought the 11.780m2 property in 1966 hoping to build a few vacation bungalows on it. He never managed to obtain a government permit for that. And over the years when he tried to exploit his own asset, he was never successful.

The government on the other hand, allowed every ‘Tom, Dick & Harry,’ to excavate the location for sand for construction purposes, and later granted dozens of tour permits to local companies, leaving the legitimate heir of J.R.L Beaujon’s estate, out of the equation.

No, there is nothing we can do, the authorities stated, this is a green zone, and nothing can be built or developed in the area.

The issue came to light recently as the MinInfra was editing and re-writing the existing zoning plan for the island, the famous cROPV, valid for the next ten years. And while the Beaujons tried to complain about the unfairness of the situation, in writing and in court, their plea was unheard, though their lawyer David Kock, gave it his best shot.

So, this is where we stand. If the area is protected indeed, it should also be protected against the abuse of heavy motorized traffic.

If the area is OK, to be exploited by vehicles and horses, the family, the legitimate owners of the property should be compensated.

For now, says Tamara, when I spoke to her on the phone, the Cease & Desist order stands. And she will be talking to the prosecutor about past violations against the family property. The status quo has been disrupted.

The former Mill Resort & Suites, officially rebranded the new Courtyard by Marriott Aruba Resort

The reveal of the entrance sign signaled the addition of the Courtyard by Marriott Aruba Resort to our island’s room inventory, after an extensive renovation project of the former Mill Resort & Suites.

This was the fourth opening this month, a sign that our tourism industry is growing, first with the Hyatt Place Airport Hotel, then the Boardwalk Hotel, the groundbreaking of Secret in San Nicolas, and the official opening of what is dubbed as Palm Beach’s Best-Kept Secret, the brand new Courtyard by Marriott Aruba Resort.

A modest reception, with just a handful of top tourism representatives, and fewer Marriott brand-colleagues, marked the occasion.

The owner, a cheerful Venezuelan businessman in a black leather bomber jacket, Dr. Carlos Alaimo, of Trust Hospitality, whose name was omitted from the press release, gave an enthusiastic and personal account at the opening, how Aruba has always been his ideal vacation get-away destination, and when the opportunity presented itself, he ventured into business here. He seemed pleased with the results of his labor.

In his discourse, the MinTour touted his own horn, a total of 2,100 Marriott rooms, across 6 Marriott brands: Our tourism industry is growing under his stewardship.

With the rebranding and reflaging complete, I believe it’s time to change the phone greeting from Welcome to the Mill resort & Suites to Welcome to the Courtyard by Marriott Aruba Resort.

Here is the official announcement:

PALM BEACH—On December 2, 2019, Courtyard by Marriott officially opened its first resort property in the Caribbean. The Courtyard by Marriott Aruba Resort, ideally situated in the heart of Palm Beach and just steps away from the sugar-white sands and clear turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, features 200 guest rooms centered around an oasis of tropical gardens and pools.

Formerly known as The Mill Resort, the new Courtyard by Marriott Aruba Resort is operated by Trust Hospitality, a top boutique and resort hotel management company.  A $25 million investment in upgrading the existing property brings to life a contemporary design and approach to cater to today’s savvy travelers.  A soothing palette inspired by nature—soft tones of green, beige, brown, gold, and cream, with infusions of natural textures like wood and marble—set a decidedly fresh and modern tone that welcomes calm and relaxation.

All guest rooms and suites are undergoing a complete transformation with new bathrooms, tile, furniture, bedding, and décor (more than 75% of rooms have been fully renovated). Two saltwater pools—the only resort saltwater pools on the island—grace the courtyard area, and a chic swim-up bar is also featured. Families traveling with children can take advantage of the new dynamic and engaging Kid’s Club, located adjacent to the pool area. Anchoring the pool and garden space is the Allegra Bistro, an on-trend, al fresco bistro that will have a soft opening in late August. 

Newly-appointed general manager, Vicky Perez, is thrilled to be a part of this ground-breaking endeavor, pointing out that investors, after a global search, decided that Aruba would be the ideal location for a Courtyard by Marriott-branded resort.  Shares Perez, “Our island has some of the best beaches in the world, exciting activities, and world-class dining and shopping, but Aruba’s best asset is its people—hospitality is not just a job here, it’s our way of life.”

A visit with Dr. Richard Visser and Aysel Erbudak

Following reports in the Dutch media about a court case involving Aysel Erbudak and the Slotervaartziekenhuis, when she was chairman of the board of the now bankrupt hospital, the local media joined the circus and spilled buckets of ink about the story, here, in Curacao, and in the Netherlands. It’s a juicy story and it has been going on for five or six years.

The case will be appealed because every disagreement has two sides, seeking their own justice. But then I heard Richard & Aysel were back in Aruba, and I asked to be invited for coffee.

While tall trees usually get hit by strong winds, I have enjoyed a personal friendship with Richard and his family for a very long time, and there is no reason to stop being fond of him now, that the press has a field day. On the contrary, as the old paraphrased typing drill instructs:” Now is the time for all good people to come to the aid of their friends.”

We had espresso and talked. He told me about his latest innovation project, The VERA health revolution, “that offers healthcare that treats people, not symptoms — a model that creates opportunity instead of costs, and emphasizes value over profit.”

We will be able to visit top doctors across the globe via our tablets and enjoy advanced primary care that would minimize obstacles to health.

It all sounded futuristic, and very common-sense. 

Then I remembered that Richard has always been involved with important issues on the island. First there was treatment for addiction, and the Fellowship Foundation halfway house.

Then, as the former Minister of Sport he gets full credit for getting us to exercise the way we now do. Under his leadership this island started to move. Before he left office, he had the hospital deal set up, and even the San Nicolas radiation facility, both were part of his improved health care vision for the island.

Childhood Obesity? Remember that?

Richard was the first to sound the alarm AND outline a fix, by raising the level of activity and continuing to organize the Extreme H Games. As a minister, he actually wrote and presented a National Plan Aruba 2009-2018. He wanted to make teaching children about health Hip & Cool.

Ten years ago, he already considered the excess weight issue on the island the number one public health threat, and continuously raised awareness to the growing problem, we are now facing.

Remember Cyclovia? When he closed traffic on weekends to allow children and adults on bicycles, skateboards, and on foot room to exercise and move, along Eagle Beach.

As a result of his high profile and the great publicity he generated for his cause, our former MinPres had to dump him, for an alternative minister of health, who proceeded to remain fast asleep at the wheel for four years.

You know what happened to the unsupervised hospital project, right?

And just now, the clinic in San Nicholas will be opening, 8 years late, thanks to another bulldozer of a man, in charge of that project.

Then Richard tackled education and the Steve Job schools, SJS, a dream that eventually fizzled.

In 2017, the former MinPres lured him back again into politics, expressing regret, shame and remorse, over the original dumping, and asked for another chance.

Halfheartedly, Richard signed up again as #9 on the list, he wanted perhaps to add to the total party package in innovation or education. But that plan never took off, and the party gratefully, lost the elections in 2017.

We don’t have that many free-spirited entrepreneurs/business people on the island, visionaries who go from one idea to the next, exploring, taking risks and willing to try different perspectives. We should support these people, instead of joining the vultures..

With a good legal team at work, the Vissers enjoy walks, sports, raising five kids, and living in two places at the same time. He stands by his woman 100%. And that mutual personal responsibility is admirable, at an age where no one wants to take personal responsibility for anything.

Solo PopUp Exhibition by Grace Ashruf Rahusen

By nature, once you realize a popup exhibition is there, it’s gone.

Artist Grace Ashruf Rahusen presented a show of over 40 new works on Italienstraat, in a location once occupied by a furniture store, between BodyTech Gym and OP=OP, just a perfect warehouse that embraced her colorful canvases in a nicely air-conditioned hug, over chilled wines by H&H Fine Wines & Spirits.

The popup remained on view for one week, and 10% of funds from sold works were donated to Fundacion pa Hende Mujer den Difficultad.

Grace gave a short description of her work before opening the door to the exhibit, she talked about Balance, which was the title of the expo, the balance she finds between conflicting poles and complementing colors, as she divides each canvas into seemingly-different visual fields, that hang in a balance.       

Grace incorporates some enigmatic lettering and symbols in her work, layering them thick with paint to create a tactile effect. Her contemporary designs and color combinations, are as striking and evocative as ever.

An exceptional colorist with a warm and vibrant palate – her red/rust is especially memorable, Grace enjoys a local following of contemporary art lovers, and she has shown her work at various solo exhibits, I counted five in recent years, always dedicating some of the proceeds to charity.

Grace thanked her husband Ferdinand for his support, making the space available. It is on the market for rent, and meanwhile, serves as a gallery.

RAGE Silver ushers in a new era and welcomes sister store Jolie Jewelry Boutique

Locals and visitors to the island have been upgrading their wardrobes with the exclusive and distinctive accessories from RAGE Silver for two decades, and now shoppers can delight in even more fab options with the addition of Jolie Jewelry Boutique. 

Fashionistas in the local community appreciate owner Marny de l’Isle’s eye for curating her shops with on-trend collections, and now have new collections of both jewelry and apparel to choose from at Jolie Jewelry Boutique.

Marny has been a respected personal stylist for years, and with the addition of Jolie Jewelry Boutique, located at Renaissance Mall (behind Prada and next to BCBG), clients can shop in one place for complete looks for an elegant and sophisticated style. 

Marny reports calling it a jewelry boutique because in addition to jewelry collections, she also carries clothing presented in a chic boutique setting that offers professional, personalized service.

Big-city trends are Marny’s inspiration, carefully selecting each and every item herself, while also making sure her collections are of the utmost quality and adhere to Jolie’s ‘confident simplicity’ philosophy.

You will find basics with a twist, at the store, so that you can dress it up or down…wear it for work, a cocktail party, dinner, or a night out.

Look for exclusive jewelry brands at Jolie Jewelry Boutique like Uno de 50, Ti Sento, Rebecca, Beck Jewels (designer from Curacao), and Calvin Klein watches and jewelry, as well as clothing lines from New York’s Lola & Sophie and Amanda Uprichard, Los Angeles’ Bobi, and east coast/west coast style blender, David Lerner. 

Marny’s team is well-trained and excited to help clients put the perfect look together. 

Fans of RAGE Silver, located across the street at Renaissance Marketplace, can rejoice!  Marny has consolidated her two locations, moving her Palm Beach collections to the Renaissance Marketplace store, now offering an even wider selection of silver jewelry, watches, stainless steel jewelry for men, and a small selection of piercings, all at affordable prices. 

Marny reminds shoppers that parking at Renaissance Marketplace is free for RAGE customers in the right-side parking area and in the back.

Jolie Jewelry Boutique is open Monday-Saturday from 10am to 7pm.  RAGE Silver is open Monday-Saturday from 10am to 8pm.

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December 08, 2019
Rona Coster