I woke up full of hope for the New Year and my enthusiasm lessened a bit, by the amount of trash found seaside on my Malmok walk this morning. Revelers had a great time welcoming the New Year in our lovely neighborhood, and just left their garbage behind, walking away from the mess they’ve created, just like that, leaving their empty bottles and wasted fireworks shells, for the housekeepers. Who are these people? How can they leave bagged trash and many times just empties under a tree? How can they walk away, disappear into the sunset, leaving unfinished business behind?
Don’t they know that wilderness has no housekeepers; we are the stewards of beaches and trails. Here’s a New Year resolution for you: In 2018, we will never walk away from a mess we’ve created. We won’t move on, until it’s fixed.
And you know I am not talking about trash alone.
So I was optimistic. Then I noticed the to-cry-for new shopping mall exactly across the cruise ship terminal and I wanted to just throw myself on the ground and cry in despair. The just-opened store units are filled to the brim with poor quality rags, schmattas, demonstrating zero effort and nul komma nul creativity, foretelling zip business success and zilch for ROI.
But I was optimistic. So many good changes are in store for us in 2018. Innovation in our educational system, slowly transitioning to English as the language of instruction. The after school activities will guarantee all kids are off the street and off their phones, in the afternoon hours. Adjustments will be made in social affairs, people saying something when they see something and an excellent response and monitoring systems will be placed for cases of suspected child neglect or abuse. We will pay great attention to our kids and our elderly. We will spend 70% of our salaries on living expenses, save 10%, give 10% to charity and spend 10% on travel and enrichment, on interesting hobbies and leisure activities. We will take good care of the ocean the reefs and our beaches. There will be no more stray cats and dogs on the island, they will all be adopted. People will report most of their income, I say most in view of all the flea markets and kiosks, and pay their taxes on time, allowing our progressive government to meet its obligations. We will get better at preventing crime and responding to it.
As for our government, no minister will hire his sisters; there will be zero nepotism in the coming year. People will not be fired based on their political color – I just heard the diligent cleaning lady of the MFA in Paradera was let go because of her suspected political color. Government employees will be hired on a merit system. The Beach Policy will come into effect, licensing and regulating the use of our #1 asset. The bureaucracy will catch up on all files at DIMAS, and DIP and wherever files are accumulating. Our health care system will improve the ease of access to specialists – I just heard a patient passed away, waiting to see a gastric specialist for an appointment in May 2018. A new psychiatric ward, affiliated with the hospital, will help care for the haunted and suffering. There will be no big public works project undertaken without polling us for our opinion first, no new bridges, no trams.
Less concerts, less noise, more culture, more connectivity and better technology.
And let us once and for all, let go of the dream of a lucrative refinery. It’s all political trash. Verbal pollution. In 2018 we are letting go of petroleum, and sticking to alternative sources of energy!
Let me stop here, I can go on forever, but no one will read. Here’s to a successful 2018.
My Computer is back in business
I just read that Dr. Roberto Bryson passed away.
My deepest condolences are hereby extended to family members and friends. Dr. Bryson’s passing is a great loss for our community.
I first met the good doctor when my son as an infant ran into some medical challenge, on a weekend or a holiday, I forgot what it was. But Dr. Bryson never forgot that I once came to see him, and that I had a son. He always asked me about him, with a bright, sunshiny face, and that eternal I-so-happy-to-see-you grin.
I also met him on a number of occasions at the then Radisson Resort, where his colleague Dr. J. R. Rajnherc organized the annual Dr. Bryson pediatric symposium, on a few consecutive years.
Rajnherc told me at the time that it all started when Dr. Bryson retired, reaching the young age of 65. Up until then none of the medical specialists have ever been honored while still well and alive, for his/her contributions to this island’s health and well-being. “For that reason,” Rajnherc explained, “I decided to organize the conferences titled Dr. Bryson Pediatric Symposiums, in honor of the retired, most-loved and most-respected pediatrician.”
I also interviewed Dr. Bryson about two years ago, for the Rotary club book, he was president of the club in 2000 -2001. The interview was titled “Great Awareness – Take Action,” and I think it is worthy of a reprint because we just lost a great human being, and shedding light on a small portion of his life, honors his memory.
Dr. Bryson decided to join the Rotary Club in 1988. He came from school 10 years prior to that, after a decade of studies, and enjoyed settling down on Aruba with his family, dedicating much time to his many patients. But the quest for more persisted, and when he was invited to join the Rotary Club, he answered with great enthusiasm and has been a staunch supporter of everything the club does.
Helping the community, via the Rotary Club, he felt, was as good as being a physician, because it was satisfying and gratifying, that members could serve each other in more than one capacity.
Enjoying both ends of spectrum, Dr. Bryson had a thriving professional life and great interest in the Rotarians. Some of his favorite projects included the Kibrahacha 60+, which he believed was fantastic.
Also during his presidency Rotarians performed hands-on community work by helping out a kindergarten in Savaneta. One of the best club initiatives, he explained, was the Back to School activity in conjunction with Roteract, where each August an outing for 40 underprivileged kids was organized, serving breakfast or lunch, and handing out fully equipped school bags.
Then of course the distribution of funds to charities was always moving and emotional. Dr. Bryson believed that all human beings are here on earth for a reason, and one of those reasons was to help each other and change the world, one day at the time.
“We changed some rules during my presidency too,” he revealed,” when the first woman was introduced to the Rotary Club, it was a major departure from tradition, and Avi Swaen, had the honor to pioneer that.”
Dr. Bryson was always very active around Fiesta Rotaria, and during his term as president and event raised more than one quarter of a million florins, which presented a modest increase over the previous year, and it has been increasing ever since.
While the eradication of polio in India and Africa was the Rotary’s main goal, Dr. Byson explained, the club thinks globally, and acts locally, in a most effective manner.
May his memory be blessed. And may he rest in peace.
Some old news, some good news
There was a lot in the media this week about the excessive number of coordinators who worked for the former MinPres in the previous government who were officially let go.
Remember, they stopped working on the fatal night of Sept 22nd, election night, when the MinPres decided on his own to forfeit the election results, in spite of the fact that he won 39.86% of the vote, which would have given him the right, with 23,376 votes, to remain head of state; but because his party lost 4 parliamentary seats he decided to head to the opposition benches.
This week the people working for the previous government on TEMPORARY employment agreements, got their walking papers. It’s the beginning of January, and they were finally officially dismissed. Keep in mind that they have NOT been working since September, that’s FOUR salaried months, AND they all knew when they got into it, that job security is relative to their employer’s ability to stay in power, but the former MinPres, as well as the former MinJust, still found it necessary to shed public crocodile tears about ‘mother and fathers’ ushered out into the snow coatless and shoeless, by an unsympathetic government. They delivered addresses and interviews laced with great pathos and drama.
(If indeed, and you really cared about employing your people long-term, you should have stayed in government, you shouldn’t have spent the reported Awg 141.811,20 on your birthday party and left the country with a 131-million-florin hole in the budget. But that’s water under the now-banged-up bridge.)
It has always been self-understood that the coordinators gotta go. Stop talking about it. Those permanently employed and borrowed from other government departments will be absorbed elsewhere, and the temporary forces will have to update their resumes, get haircuts, and go job hunting. There is opportunity out there.
The election results clearly indicated that the people of the island empowered the current government to reduce its overhead, mostly payroll, which is reportedly twice the size of Curacao’s government apparatus, with a similar number of island residents.
Please stop talking start doing.
HOWEVER, if our new government intends to fill all these positions now vacant with locals of another political color, then the in-and-out maneuver becomes an exercise in futility. Hopefully not. If the cleaning lady at the MFA in Paradera does a good job, she should be allowed to stay, even if a green lining is suspected.
But I have good news
A billboard in Noord publicizing the number of traffic casualties in 2017 indicates we just had two during the past 12 months, which is a considerable improvement over last year.
True, every casualty is one too many, but traffic seems to be safer on the island. I called the Police spokesperson who took most of the credit. He reported to me that the frequent police checks must have contributed positively. He also opined that the improved roads, and the changes made at deadly intersections, added to traffic safety.
Sure the redesign of bad roads and dangerous intersection helps, but for the coming year remember improved signs, and better light, better pedestrian crossings with warning lights and the elimination of taxi stops mid road — they should have designated, well-defined areas.
I asked the spokesperson if we managed to minimize drinking and driving. We’re working on it, he said. And the recent don’t-text-and-drive regulation was helpful too!
At a recent holiday party, some of my friends decided to drink and use taxis coming and going. The beginning of the evening proved easy, they climbed into a taxicab and arrived at the party’s headquarters ready to rumba. But as the event wrapped up BEFORE midnight, it took them 90 minutes to get a cab. The dispatcher announced that the driver could not find the address – Waze? Arubook? – and that all drivers went home. Sort of counter-productive!
Shall we continue to drink and drive if taxi cabs are unavailable??
My New Year’s diet only lasted one day
Boxing Day, as soon the fireworks subside, I usually embark on an ambitious diet plan. For the record, in early January 2018, my good intentions only lasted one day because Executive Chef Matt Boland, who ruined the plan with his new lunch menu at Gilligan’s Seafood Shack seaside at the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino.
A few things ruined my diet that day, not just one, but the chief culprit was the Lost Island Lobster and Crab Grilled Cheese, loaded with chunky lobster and crab salad, pepper jack cheese, and island slaw, on brioche Texas toast, with chipotle aioli.
And Texas toast meant that the brioche, a tasty butter and egg enriched French bread, was sliced at double the average thickness of most sliced breads.
It was a temptation I couldn’t resist, I love crab and I love lobster and the warm golden-brown crust of that fat sandwich was pure decadence with the spicy, gooey cheese in the center.
I shared a few menu items with Nunette Maduro, she is a skinny-mini, she can take it. True to the restaurant’s name, the Gilligan’s Seafood Shack menu now features a number of lobster and crab combos such as Lobster, Shrimp & Corn Fritters with a citrus chili sauce, the Millionaire’s Lobster Roll, with lobster and crab salad, celery, tarragon herb mayo, Dijon mustard, and a squirt of lemon on a buttery toasted bun; Crab Cake Burger BLT, with an old bay lump crab cake, bacon, lettuce, tomato, crispy onions, coleslaw, and a lemon herb tartar sauce with French fries.
The fries deserve a big mention on their own. They are real fries, made from whole potatoes, crazy delicious, they have never seen the inside of a freezer or been to any factory, the Belgians take credit for inventing the frites, but Gilligan’s Seafood Shack perfected them.
The menu also includes other notable dishes named after the characters of a legendary sitcom from the 60s, the year the resort was originally constructed, Gilligan’s Island, about seven tourists accidentally stranded on an island, and their failed escapes from it.
On my list to try one day, the Coconut Shrimp with mango sauce, I already know that the seared Ahi Tuna Salad with sweet chili orange vinaigrette on a bed of green is phenomenal, and have eyed the Grilled Salmon Salad, with a mango salsa, next.
Fish Taco? Of course, filled with crispy grouper and chipotle cream.
Our waitress revealed that Freddy’s Crispy Fish Fry with lemon dill tartar is the most popular lunch item, competing with the grouper sandwich, with a lemon dill sauce. Her eyes sparkled when she said that, apparently guests love the new lunch menu.
Anyway, and that’s just on the Sea Side of the menu. The Land Side is also filled with deliciousness: Castaways Chicken Sate, escorted by coconut peanut sauce and shrimp crackers, and the jaw breaking burgers, USDA half pounders, quesadillas, wraps, chicken wings, chicken sandwiches, pita pockets, salads, all served with chef Matt’s signature throw-caution-to-the-wind-let’s-just-make-it-as-delicious-as-possible attitude.
Great view, to match the serious food!
From the resort’s newsletter
MATT BOLAND, Executive Chef: It is with great pleasure that we extend a warm bon bini to the one and only Chef Matt Boland. Chef Matt opened up our prime steakhouse, Sunset Grille, in the year 2000 and he is now back as our Executive Chef. Matt will dedicate his talent to develop a fresh concept for Gilligan’s Seafood Shack, our seaside restaurant and continue to nurture and expand the steakhouse experience at the Sunset Grille, enhancing the already very welcoming environment with over-the-top delicious culinary offerings, infusing innovation, and producing cutting edge food.