Bati Bleki Buzz Weekly Recap, Feb 11th, 2018

The Vegan Revolution is Upon Us

Since the day I met Meredith Marin, #VeganAruba,@VeganAruba, every single person I see tells me he/she is now vegan.

Meredith is a food consultant and personal coach — you could say she is the High Priestess of Veganism on the island, though I hear there are a few more good resources on the subject here.

Veganism, is the practice of avoiding eating any other animal and/or animal products. If it’s soil-grown, it’s OK, but the rest is unethical. Animals share our planet and deserve to be treated with utmost respect!

I agree, on a philosophical level, I totally support that thought.

In reality, I don’t practice what I preach. Not 100%

Meredith arrived on the island about one year ago. Her husband’s family is nicely rooted here, and she landed with her well-educated hubby and a cute baby. Then she looked around and as a vegan, found nothing to eat.

The situation is different today, she explains, things are changing. Even the restaurant scene is improving and she is busily consulting a number of establishments wishing to add vegan options to their menus.

(At this point we have to credit Yemanja for introducing vegan choices to their menu years ago!! Today, vegans may dine at Elements, Pura Vida, Fishes and More, Eduardo’s Beach Shack, just to name a few.)

What does vegan fine-dining look like? Marinated watermelon sushi, lychee ceviche, hearts of palm and enoki mushroom calamari, watercress, pear, ginger, lemon, garlic and tofu noodle soup.

Finally, I suggested that we go shopping together. Meredith shopped, I listened.

The goal is to eat as much organic stuff as possible, less pesticides is evidently a health benefit. Another goal is to avoid all milk products – mammary gland-juice laced with hormones.  Stay away from dairy!

Look for the ‘used by’ date on packages, to make sure your organic spinach and greens aren’t ‘expired.’

Butternut squash and any orange-colored vegetable are highly recommended.

Avocado? Buy the ones with the little stem-stump still on, eat it every day.

Try Kumato, the brown tomato for a change.

Locally grown champignons are awesome.

Cucumbers from the USA vs from the Bahamas? Buy Bahamas. Chances are, they are pesticide free.

Ditch all regular white and red potato in favor of yams and sweet potatoes.

Learn to buy and use Tempeh, an Indonesian soy bean product.

Kale? It’s all in the shredding. Shred it finely, discard the coarse parts, you’ll love it.

Don’t put your produce in plastic bags. Didn’t we outlaw the use of those?

The Vegan fridge? Take a good look at the items on display, sometimes uninformed employees display just about anything in it.

Alfresco frozen burger? Excellent black bean or vegan burgers, made here by Alejandra Maya.

Tofu? God’s gift to vegans. Healthy in any form.

Coconut water? Buy with no added sugar, and mix it with your smoothies, and your curried stews.

Vegan popcorn, plantain chips, quinoa or lentil chips, who says vegans don’t snack?

Gluten free corn crackers are good for you. Kids love them too.

Natural peanut butter – go ahead mortgage that house, it’s expensive but wow.

Dark chocolate? Sure, have a party.

Tamari gluten free soy sauce? Any flavor is delish. Read the ingredient list before you buy.

Say yes to lentils, dal, any color, in the exotic food aisle, and garam flour is great for just about anything fried.

Turmeric, a medicinal herb, adds excitement to any dish.

Almonds and cashews, no salt please.

Last but not least, because I ran out of time, Meredith still had a lot to say, Gardein products are good, chik’n sliders, or breakfast patties. Stock up!

Smoked salmon? Yes, there is such a thing, vegan seafood, Meredith says it’s delicious.

Follow VeganAruba on Instagram and Facebook for recipes. 

National Debt

Yesterday, a number of publication circulated in the media, one of them by the Algemene Rekenkamer, the island’s official bean-counters, titled Bo Aruba, they outlined their disastrous findings in a dozen pages, reporting on the fiasco of the PPP projects condemning the lack of control, the irresponsible spending, the enormous risk, the lack of transparency and the half-ass decision making process.
Remember PPP? It is a hocus-pocus procedure, in which you spend outrageous amount of money, without having to post them on your books, a trick favored by the previous GOA.
The terribly sad pages of the document outlined the spending on the Green Corridor, 130 million, the spending on the yet incomplete Watty Vos Blvd, 180 million, the spending on the Hospital, 293 million, and the cost of the MFA, the multi-purpose centers in the barrios, chum change, 12 million. Total spending 605 million, but after paying for these brick and mortar projects anywhere between the next 18 to 29 years, they will end up costing us, 1,443 million florins.
It means that every man, woman and child on this island owes just under 12 million florins, and that thought is very scary.
By the way, the PPP projects are a surprise financial burden, over the one already acknowledged of 450 million in deficit, for the budgets of 2017 & 2018.
Both the MinPres and the MinFec – Finance, Economy, Culture – struggle with the monumental financial burden, I feel their pain, I hear their teeth grinding at night. They publish long press releases daily, stating again and again, that the previous government did not serve Aruba well, on the contrary it betrayed our trust and violate every moral obligation they had to conserve and protect our resources.
OK, we know.
Now drop it.
Don’t get all wound up if a member of parliament on the opposition benches tweets. Who cares. Anything he says is irrelevant. It’s your turn now, let go of grudges and pet-peeves and govern, show us the way, let them speak, no one listens.
You should conserve your energy, and your time, use them to figure our economy out. We’re all looking at you. Don’t tell us what went wrong. We know. Veer away from drama, inspire us to fix things, look into the future, straight ahead, don’t look down, don’t turn back, we’re behind you, forge ahead!
Show’em what two determined women can do, just don’t make us read another repetitive press release about the same miserable subject, tks.

Aruba’s Lighting Parade, change the name or add lights

It’s confirmed. Many of my friends report that the reason they chose to become sideliners during the Lighting Parade in Oranjestad is silly. They didn’t wish to ruin their fancy costumes with wires and batteries.

So here is a challenge for you. How do you hold a Lighting Parade with hardly any lights?

Something’s gotta give and the current SMAC organization is fearless of change.

They moved J’ouvert Morning a week ahead of its traditional date; they successfully took the Noord Sunset Parade over, they are working on annexing the nearly expired Noord Children’s Parade and now their biggest challenge, the Lighting Parade. Change the name, or, research the nighttime illumination options and light up the spectacle. It needs it, it deserves it.

The 2018 edition of the Lighting Parade marched through Oranjestad, departing the Dakota neighborhood, and shuffling through town to the seaside boulevard, then down to the cruise ship terminal. It was a two-and-a-half-hour parade, and dancing the entire route participants covered less than 4km.

The parade delivered 2,170 carnavalistas, with about 200 of Aruba’s Men in Blue in charge of flow and conduct and Red Cross volunteers in place to fend off emergencies.

With photographer Steve Keith, who shot some stills and video, sauntering counter-traffic, checking out the revelers often in 360. It was a great party, and all those on the inside, had a wonderful time decked in feathers and rhinestones. As they did last year, the only concession to global economic slump was the switch from Made in Switzerland Swarovski crystals to Made in China Chinowski bling!

My favorite group was Champagne, their hot pink theme Wings of Hope, was visually spectacular, and their band Tsunami, sounded equally bright.

Champagne’s founder Lienchie Merryweather already announced the Carnival 65th theme, for next year, City of Ice. They are well organized. And their float by Gerard Halley, was the most spectacular I have ever seen. I hope it makes it into the Carnival museum.

TOB presented the Rise of the Phoenix, Royal Carnival Group delivered Witches and Wizards, Empire Carnival group reflected on the Garden of Eden, Los Laga Bai, marched King Robert’s army, and Dushi Carnival Group interpreted the Jewels of the Caribbean all with incredible workmanship and skill, in a relatively short period of time from early January to early February.

How do they do it? They don’t sleep at night. They spend long hours with the glue gun! This island’s dedication to Carnival is admirable.

BUVO, a call to reorganize and revive the government’s central information bureau

MinPres announced great savings a few days ago. Our new government finally let the costly PR agency of the former government go. Good move, it’s a helpful start, every cent counts, but it is small change in the bigger scheme of things, and that alleviated financial burden alone, will not save us.

But anyway, the subject of my column today is information. And my suggestion is to bring back a central authority, disseminating official information, instead of every government agency hiring its own fancy, expensive mouthpiece, spewing out countless bulletins and videos.

Have some respect for your audience, and please don’t feed us crap every day, all day.

Flash-back: BUVO used to be the government’s spokesperson. It is today relegated to exile in Barcadera with an administrator and a coffee-maker. No cameras, no talent, no action.

All talent dispersed. Some went to other unrelated government agencies, some sit at home, waiting for a fresh assignment: Elnathan Hijmering. Some were let go: Ingmar Maduro. Some were shamed: Marco Espinoza.

A lesson in history: The MEP government started the trend a decade ago, hiring its own spin-doctors, then AVP took it to the extreme where everything became a PR opportunity and we were fed a steady diet of carefully canned and stylized news, Remember? Mike flicks a light switch, Mike rides a garbage truck! The news lost all credibility, every item generated was politically slanted and self-serving.

In walks the new government, and I am hopeful.

Then in December I started getting press releases by the MinJust distributed by a social media specialist and I sighed. Nothing changed. The steady diet of carefully canned and stylized news continued.

A few days into that misery, the sender’s name changed to reflect Fraccion POR in parliament. The name has changed but the phenomenon remains, every single government department now employs outside contractors in charge of disseminating their information. And some are louder and more repetitive than others.

Have some respect for your audience, and please don’t feed us crap every day, all day.

Get a group of good, young professionals together, equip them with decent technology, and you’re ready to rumba. Create a new BUVO, with real talent, it is available on the island, and share the cost.  Don’t bother to fire anyone, if you are simply going to replace them by other similar operators.

Enough with the incessant smoke in our eyes. Just keep us informed, we want honest, straight forward information.

I know, I know, wishful thinking.

And by the way, I understand the government has a FREE, 30-minute broadcasting privilege built-in the TV station’s legal permit, so you don’t even have to pay TeleAruba for the stuff you air. I find savings everywhere.

Author Isaac Chin is no longer with us

I met him first when he published “Where is Choy,” a book he sent to me in the mail, with a personal dedication. Later “Tilly, the White-Liver Woman,” also arrived in the mail.

I liked both books, reflecting on his own experience as an adventure-loving Caribbean man-of-many-lives, reminiscing in a most descriptive and unique language, about his life in Aruba, the US, Trinidad and Guyana.

Yesterday, a small announcement in the newspaper was brought to my attention, stating that Isaac J Chin passed away, in his late 90s. He never got to be 100, which was his goal. Condolences to those who loved him, left to mourn.

In 2013, he wrote a charming introductory piece to his book ‘Sunset and Evening Star.’ That’s what he said: “In this age of hustle and bustle, dishonesty, greed for manufactured things, and the drive to get ahead, tenderness, which must be part of everyone’s heart is often displaced. In order to escape from the mess that’s all around us, it is necessary that we take time off now and then, to let sentimentality, spontaneous childishness and Christian humility take over. I do so occasionally by reading those of my writings that have come from deep within me because they reflect the value of tender, loving and lasting relationships. And, thus, I find them: Tonic and balm for my stress-filled days. I share them with you.”

Sunset and Evening Star is a collection of short poem and stories, autobiographical in nature, based on his memories. The book is available in the National Library. Some of my materials for this column were sourced from their website.

Chin was an unusual man. He was born after World War I in Spaarendam, Guyana.  As the off spring of immigrant Chinese and East Indian parents in what was at the time British Guiana, he was raised very poor, and passed through a kaleidoscope of careers, adventures and undertakings, in order to survive, from newspaper reporting, to architectural drafting, building construction, feature-writing, community activities, and globe-trotting. He enjoyed a professional career at Lago Oil &Transport Company on Aruba, and while retired, he dedicated his life to writing and being nice and gentle. “I do the things I enjoy doing, hoping that others might enjoy the things that I do,” he said.

He wrote in a kind of Caribbean fantastic realism, part fact, part fiction. The names of the places were real, but the events and the people? Who knows? Perhaps he made them up as a talented story-teller. He also loved to work in his garden and watch the stars at night. In his own words: He was spending some time trying to score points for entry to heaven, and good attendance at his send-off at grave side.

In recent years he worked on Gardening Without Tears, published by UNOCA, and Galaxy of Fruits Aruba Grows, also by UNOCA.

He self-published The Natalee Holloway Case and Joran, Joran, My Son, My Son, motivated by the desire to set the record straight, because he felt the island’s pain: “Once upon a time long ago, the Creator blessed a bit of earth with wind, sun, sea and sand, and set it apart from hurricanes, earthquakes, fire and floods. Therefore, its people basked in their blessings and called their bit of earth —Dushi (sweet) Aruba. One happy island. “

His annually published calendar with pictures of flowers, dedicated proceeds to the Aruba Animal Shelter and the YMCA.

We kept in touch via old-fashioned mail, but in recent years there were no more letters from Chin in the box. May he rest in peace. Good attendance at his gravesite, is guaranteed.

Lady Justice of Rancho

On the recent Dia Di Betico, I joint a group visiting Rancho’s historic streets and monuments. Last week I went back to see the Tempo Pa Click Exposition at Centro di Actividad Rancho, a modest community effort, open on Wednesday afternoons.

The expo of photographs by the neighborhood kids is very impressive, the youngsters looked at their down-at-the-heels neighborhood with a critical eye and capture residents, including four-legged ones, in candid moments of journalistic truth.

The Centro got a few cameras as donations in 2015, and those were shared by the kids during summer vacation, for exploration trips through the former fishing village that grew to become Oranjestad. The 2016 edition of the expo is hanging at one of the MFAs, and the 2017 is in production.

One photograph is especially poignant it depicts Lady Justice, a statue by artist Ciro Abath. The blindfolded bronze figure in front of the Oranjestad court house, is pictured from the back. The photographs is accompanied by a poem, penned by exceptional teenage poet Clementia Eugene, who also took the picture.

Eagle-eyed Mariza Garcia noticed Lady Justice was missing her scale.

On the way home, I swung by Lady Justice, indeed, scale missing, glass cast blindfold busted. Apparently, a homeless in search of justice settled the score with the 2m statue, with a barrage of well-aimed stones.

I called Ciro to commiserate. It happened about one year ago, he shared, and he is gearing up to repair the damage imminently. Lady Justice will get her scales back, and her glass cast blindfold. The interior light will be fixed. Ciro is thinking of casting another spare blindfold, in case Lady Justice suffers additional injustice down the road.

The statue is on the mend. And here is the fantastic poem:

Rancho’s Goddess of Justice

I, gazed at the deep blue-sky Sun piercing through Galvanized rooftops Saint Francis’ holy cross Pointed to heaven With a promise of manna A life of paradise And justice for us all

I, look down at Rancho As mother, father and spirit earth. Turn a blind eye. Yes, she blindfolded her face Playing peekaboo with my dignity Life is not fair Justice is indeed blind

I, maneuver to the front side Find her sword piercing though my veins Scale of inequality Hovering and suppressing my existence

I, navigate to the back side Only to find Justice is disguised. Too shameful to see, hear and accept me. Oh, goddess, goddess of justice, what is life? What is fair? Doesn’t Saint Francis’ holy sword Require of you To bring true justice.

Copyright Tempo pa click 2015, (I maintained the original peculiar caps, and punctuation)

You may visit the expo on Feb 14th, 21th and 28th from 2pm to 6:30pm, Koningstraat.

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February 11, 2018
Rona Coster