Gotta Start Somewhere
I took a week off from writing and lost the habit.
It is so easy to fall out of a discipline. Think about how easy you abandon your fervent resolution to lose weight, and you’d understand my difficulty.
So, let start somewhere.
I spend a terrific staycation in Aruba
Sometime before the holiday we attended the Dande event in Paradera, Ata un Dande pa bo, on the roundabout, with Robert Y Su Alma Folklorico featuring many members of the Boekhoudt family, Haidy, Jair, Julisa, present and past Dande kings and queens, all cousins of Elton Hart who promised to participate with a beautifully penned Dande next year.
The Police had politely asked organizer Luigi Rasmijn to move the event from the actual rotunda to the side of the road and he complied.
We had a beer bao palo and enjoyed slowing the traffic down. Only in Aruba.
The famous 6-million shot Renaissance pagara went off at 1pm, snaking its way from the Marketplace over the downtown bridge to the Mall. There were hundreds of people to witness the explosions and experience the ambiance at that magical moment, escorting the old year out.
The noisy succession of smoky shells, erupting one after the other, culminated in a gigantic bang, all in the hope of driving evil spirits away, ushering in prosperity and good luck.
That downtown pagara is a time old tradition, sponsored by the Mall, Marketplace, Restaurants, Spa and Casinos, and it was lit, again, by General Manager Paul Gielen, from in front of the Movies, then it traveled to the Wind Creek Crystal Casino. Only in Aruba.
I noticed that the list of companies opting out of the pagara and fireworks tradition for environmental reasons grew to FIFTEEN, including some very prominent members of the hospitality sector.
A proposal to limit the use of fireworks to just two days, is a step in the right direction.
Post-pagara we enjoyed a gezellig lunch at 5’Oclock Somewhere Bar. Chicken Keshi Yena with funchi fries, Seafood Ceviche, Aruban Cuban and Fish & Chips, at the Renaissance Marketplace. The new bar, a Margaritaville brand, inspired by American singer musician Jimmy Buffet, boasts a large number of craft cocktails, specialty beers, and bites to share. The atmosphere at the bewitching time in the last hours of the last day was carefree and gezellig, I said that already, making this last lunch of 2019, memorable.
Then Michael v/d Berg told me the following story: When Jeon, recorded Gosa Bida with Grupo di Betico just before the Christmas holiday, he approached Divino NV for sponsorship of the video clip. The charming song he composed talked about the simple enjoyments of life, such as dancing in the wee hours in the backyard, a glass of white wine in hand, advocated living life for the moment.
The musician was looking for a wine purveyor to cross promote his favorite 19 Crimes Chardonnay and his new composition.
Michael, the owner of Divino NV didn’t hesitate. It was his philosophy too, that we only have one life to live, and that the simple pleasure of a chilled white wine deserved exposure and promotion.
He struck a deal with the singer to sponsor the clip production against a personal appearance at his company’s Customer Appreciation event on January 3rd.
We all had the pleasure of sipping the famous Chardonnay, while listening to Grupo di Betico and Jeon doing their thing in the Divino NV warehouse, and we all agreed: Enjoy your life, because you only have one; today, you’re here and tomorrow, who knows, as loosely translated from the Papiamento version of the lyrics.
HOWEVER, I could not stop thinking about it. The message is great. But Jeon forgot to include the last couplet to this hedonistic, happy-go-lucky song, saying you should be dancing in the wee hours with a glass of wine in your hand AFTER putting your kids to bed, reading them a bedtime story, making their sandwiches for school for the following day, helping your wife/husband clean up the kitchen, feeding dogs, turning off all unnecessary lights, THEN after having met all obligations, you may go out to the backyard with a glass of wine, and dance to the wee hours.
The Happy Go Lucky thing cannot be our priority.
We must meet our obligations first.
I heard some sad stories about poverty over the holidays. We should as a nation realign and reconsider our priorities.
(This column written while watching Fakkel on TeleAruba)
How do you do it, go straight from the over-kill of Christmas to New Year and Carnival??
The Land of Law & Order
When mom punishes all brats because one of them took her car for a ride without permission and smashed a headlight, who knows which kid, it’s easier to impose a collective punishment, instead of taking the time to investigate the crime and punish the real culprit.
No electronics for all of you.
You are grounded. Forever.
But then poor mom has to deal with a bunch of miserable, disgruntled and ungrateful conspirators who would go to any length to violate her imposed, what they perceive, unfair judgement.
A collective punishment is difficult to enforce, because it’s too general and unrealistic, and doesn’t correspond to the true nature of the infraction. It leaves the issue unresolved.
On Monday, yesterday, in the Isla On Line January 2020, a GOA digital newsletter, the MinJust was featured talking at a press conference regarding beach-walking-dogs.
In view of the disproportional and unnecessary disturbance of our tourism, he stated, he was talking about the viral video of pups being stuffed in a trunk – by one person or more, he continued, who walk the beach with dogs for sale, it was decided following a thorough investigation to prohibit that dog-beach-walking activity.
The MinJust reported searching the island’s existing laws and its penal code for an alternative legal instrument, and when he found nothing appropriate – our laws are antiquated, he remarked, and he is working on their modernization, and will share with the press when done — he decided to issue a decree whereby certain areas of the island shall remain dog-free.
He decreed that the beachfront between Divi Phoenix and the Ritz Carlton should from now on be off limit to dog-walkers, with a number of exception:
Tourists traveling with their pets staying at the resorts.
Dog shows, in honor of Animal Day in October.
And…. neighbors who traditionally walk their dogs on the beach, are invited to ask for dispensation.
His goal, he reiterated, is to spare our tourists the aggravation, since tourism is our bread and butter.
I think I don’t have to comment any further on this. You understand that this really solves nothing, and that those stuffing pups in trunks don’t read governmental decrees. And they can easily move their activities to Arashi or Surfside, and continue to outrage visitors there.
Why don’t you just knock on his door, and explain in clear terms that certain behaviors are not acceptable in Aruba, a country of law and order. If we pitch it that way, and hold people personally responsible, it will remain the land of law and order and we may continue, to occasionally take our dogs to the beach, providing we clean after them.
Integrity, the ultimate fix
Armand Hessels of deugdelijkbestuuraruba.org, send a 147-page document around on January 2nd. He titled it Fundacion pa Gobernacion di Calidad Aruba: Rapport Integridad den administracion publico, having as you can understand to do with integrity in public administration.
He sent it to the Prime Minister, who instituted a bureau of Integrity last year, and to the Head of Parliament, to the newspapers, and also to me. I looked at it with despair. Dutch is not my forte. And promised to make slow progress over the next few weeks. From what I have read so far, it is a profound study of the lack of ability and lack of skill of all those who have ever governed this island, and the steep price paid by us for having such bumblebees at the helm, motivated by personal gains and/or the strength of their political party’s influence.
I know we have to support Armand, a one-person protest movement. A Don Quixote, who dedicates his retirement to the betterment of our lives, by pointing out the weaknesses of our current quagmired system.
He publishes his findings under the umbrella of his not-for-profit foundation for quality government. Where does he get his information? He basically reads all reports commissioned by the government and filed away by the officials in the bottom drawer. He has been reading reports issued by the Central Bank, the IMF, the local government supervisory boards, accounting firms, and special envoys summoned by this department or the other to study challenges. He is a voracious reader, and while facts and figures appear in black or white, they are consistently ignored.
You will be flabbergasted when you read some of those documents masquerading as legit projects designed to milk public funds, you will be overwhelmed, he predicted.
This was Armand’s sixth report, the others had to do with GOA’s personnel, how our government spontaneously hires, the second dealt with the half-baked finance administration, the third with transparency or the lack of, the fourth with how our parliament functions, and doesn’t, the fifth lamented the sad state of our Social Economic Policy, and now the last and most important, the ultimate fix, Integrity, when you run with integrity, he says, everything falls into place.
While he points out the failures of our current nepotistic and corrupt system he is suggesting a new form of government designed to replace the now-stale and dysfunctional form of parliamentary-democracy we don’t enjoy.
According to Armand, the deep distrust in government is shared by nations all over the world and what worked in the 20th century in answer to despotism and autocracy is no longer working in the 21st century.
He proposes a new form of government that relies on highly experienced legal, financial and economic experts, of both sexes.
Instead of constantly trying to curb the appetites of politician for power and financial gains, scrap the system all together and start fresh, with a business government, staffed by union leaders, NGOs, and private sector representatives.
I will gladly share the report with you, if you wish to know more about it.
Armand recommends: This latest report seeks to create a picture of the way in which the Aruban policy has for decades dealt with initiatives / projects, often at the expense of the public interest. This report serves to provide insight into the way in which this took place (?), The serious consequences thereof for the community and the need to put an end to this quickly. Sound governance and trust in a sound government is a precondition for successfully addressing the challenges facing our country
Ned-BIG vs Aru-BIG
When you go to see a doctor in Aruba, you know that he/she underwent the BIG-register certification in the Netherlands, upon graduation, and that they are professionally competent in the healthcare field.
The BIG-register also means that if you have international qualifications, having gone to school in the USA, Colombia, Costa Rica, or anywhere else, there are extra conditions imposed in order to obtain that coveted, top notch registration, and that you would be required to travel to the Netherlands, have your qualifications acknowledged, then pass whatever extra courses needed, providing you have sufficient command of the Dutch language, and then, upon completion of all obligations, you may use the title belonging to your profession, you may start practicing, and begin your specialist training.
All kids from Aruba who go to med-schools in the region know, before even packing their suitcases, that they will not be able to practice in their homeland, unless, post-graduation, they travel to the mother-patria to comply with the BIG-register demands, at the end of which they may be granted their LB, their permit to work here.
In the past few years we have been hearing gripes about that system. Well-connected kids graduating from regional med-schools whined it wasn’t far. And that the island must have some kind of Aru-BIG instituted to accommodate those who finished secondary-schools and wanted to practice their profession here.
(Fact: Top students head to the Netherlands for higher education. Average-plus students enroll in schools with less stringent requirements, in the area.)
This week we were told by the MinHealth that indeed an Aru-BIG is on the drawing board. We will be certifying our own healthcare professionals, and meanwhile a number of people in healthcare, already got the minister’s blessing, and are practicing.
I recently saw an ad for gynecological services, approved by the MinHealth.
What is the equivalent? Me starting to drive with an authorization from the MinTransport, without passing the official driving test. Or me operating a restaurant with a note from the MinHealth without passing any of the safety, and sanitation tests.
The MinHealth now considers the LB, his prerogative.
A local BIG it is indeed a good idea, in principle, and something developed counties have, such as the National Boards in the USA. We are fortunate to have the NED-BIG, which protects and supports the quality of healthcare here, and we have enjoyed good doctors in Aruba, for decades.
This new development, like everything in Aruba, is very political. If the MinHealth relaxes the certification process with the introduction of the Aru-BIG, he is about to please many potential voters. This will accommodate friends and family members, as a populist move.
In the past, every government said they would introduce an Aru-BIG, but they never did, because they knew that at least with Ned-BIG our doctors were well educated.
BOTTOMLINE: As a country we have enough issues with our healthcare system, and it doesn’t look like this minister is fixing any of it. So far the only fixing we see is permitting non-BIG doctors to practice. Our hospital is in serious trouble. But no real action is taken there. At least we don’t see it, and we hear the minister’s own representative on the hospital RvT board just resigned. We lost the two only competent members of that board.
Personally I think the MinHealth has his work cut out for him, sorting the hospital out, without messing with medical certifications.
Get us some qualified specialists, cut down the waiting time, conclude the construction of the hospital, clear all fraud cases, get rid of incompetent of management, sort out the thousands of PAP tests still hanging, tested / not tested. Under normal circumstance we should have some people in jail for messing up our hospital. And the job satisfaction rate among doctors employed by hospital, is in the gutter.
The healthcare professionals I spoke to called the Aru-BIG scandalous and shameless.
So first things first, fix the hospital, then mess with certifications.
Sin Webo No Tin Fiesta
Two weeks ago, Janiro Eisden, known by his stage name, Ataniro, released a fun video clip titled #SinWeboNoTinFiesta.
Right from the start he checks out the list of secret party ingredients, delicious cake, drinks, piñata and eggs, because as the title implies, no eggs, no party.
You know for yourself that without Dressed eggs, also known as Stuffed Eggs, Russian Eggs or Deviled Eggs there is no party in Aruba. It is a favorite snack, and some of my friends have indeed very delicious recipes for these butler-passed hors d’oeuvres.
Are you with me? So far we have a catchy song, a video clip, and a colorful entertainer, performer, a rapper, singer, chanter, whose genre is undefined, yet his music infectious and compelling.
The way he tells it, in the Netherlands, during one of his performances a little girl cried to her mom, ata Niro, here’s Niro, using his nickname, instead of his full name, and a stage-persona was born.
He has been performing in Aruba for many years, a popular musician since his revolutionary breakthrough with the Basic One trio.
In his #SinWeboNoTinFiesta he is again collaborating with Kurt Labadie his buddy from Basic One. I find the years have been kind to Kurt. He looks dashing in formal wear, or any wear, in the video clip.
The clip was filmed in Curacao in accordance to the story-line in which Ataniro hops across the pond, and attends a swanky fiesta in a retro pink suit, with pink sneakers wearing stylish white sunglasses, flanked by two tweedy-bird-yellow dancers with big hair and short skirts.
The clip is fun. Shot artistically by Ryan QD Navarro, it depicts a Hora Loca night-club event, and a midday street happening, serving deviled eggs as snacks. I wish I could have attended, the driving music, the Carnival dancers, the women in their floral lays, the blue limo, the stripped bus, some more expensive sunglasses, a variety of Hawaiian shirts, it’s all a feast to the eye.
The way he tells it, in Bonaire, during one of his performances an older woman declared #SinWeboNoTinFiesta and rushed to the kitchen to make some.
Ataniro filed that comment away for further use.
Of course I wasn’t born yesterday. Kurt Labadie and Ataniro are double-entendre specialists. They are cheeky, and fresh, representing the true macho Criollo. They are cute, but risqué.
So what do the eggs stand for? Your guess is as good as mine.
Producer: Kurt Labadie (Dj KD)
Co-Producer: Janiro Eisden (Ataniro)
Author: Janiro Eisden (Ataniro)
Ryann QD Navarro
Op=Op is opening in San Nicolas
San Nicolas, get ready for a new shopping experience!
Op=Op the popular local chain offering personal care, household and health products, the things we use every day, from toilet paper and laundry detergent, is coming to San Nicolas, opening next door to Wema, helping transform that part of town into a hub of activity, across Tropical Bottling, lending the neighborhood a giant economic boost.
With this bold move, the company is relocating the Savaneta outlet into a four-times bigger space, with 40 parking slots, vowing to become an active partner to its neighbors and the San Nicolas Business Association.
Because Op=Op operates a number of outlets on the island, it consolidates purchasing and is able to buy in big quantities, handing the savings over to consumers. Dove, L’Oréal, Zwitsal, FA, Nescafe, Oreo, Gillette, Pringles, Colgate, Huggies, Gain, Sanex, Listerine, Crest, Nivea, Palmolive, Cif, Downy and more, the company’s high volume purchasing, results in competitive sale prices.
At Op=OP you may enjoy shopping at leisure in a clean, air-conditioned environment, no rush to go anywhere, just take your time to study the incredible selection at deep discounts.
The store in San Nicolas will be beautifully merchandised, just like its sister stores in Oranjestad and Paradera, neat and well organized, it will stock the best international health and beauty brands, home items at phenomenal savings, weekly rotating sales on specialty items from pillows, to suitcases and marshmallows, with extra discounts granted on the purchase of three items of the same price.
Op=Op products target both male, and female clients, young and old, with shampoos, conditioners, deodorants and detergents by top brands, our daily and frequently used products. The more you buy, the more you save.
You are invited to visit during the first week of February. And if you are looking for work, and are a self-motivated team player, Op=Op is looking for you!
The store will promote itself nicely by sending us home a pamphlet with the familiar brands at ridiculously low prices. It also promises a gift with every purchase for the first 50 clients on opening day.
In February, take advantage of the convenient parking, come in, fill your shopping basket with the world’s most popular brands and be surprised at the BEST prices, up to 50% cheaper than other drugstores on-island
Op=Op management is extremely grateful to its loyal clients and appreciates their patronage which motivates the company to keep serving the island in more locations.
Aruba’s first Op=Op location opened on April 28th, 2017 in Savaneta, and the second on Italiestraat 38, servicing the Eagle/Sasaki area, followed by a location in the heart of Paradera, and now SAN NICOLAS!