Bati Bleki Buzz, Weekly Recap November 10th, 2019

Opening Tomorrow, WVB

We were told that tomorrow, it was finally opening, the mythical Watty Vos Blvd, 25km, 13 rotondas, in 4 different designs. The Police and DOW remind us all to drive carefully, 80kmph on the highway, then down to 40kmph entering the roundabouts.

The delay was a question of “certification” we were told. And indeed anyone visiting the raised road at Hato, would immediately notice the sagging on the flanks of bridge’s foundation, immediately after the October deluge. The bundles of sand (?) at the base of the road, are no match for the giant limestone and granite base-blocks of the ancient Egyptian Giza pyramid. They look the same, but somehow do not seem to be as timeless.  

Is that bridge safe for traffic? Apparently yes. Drive carefully!

Chef’s PopUp at the Marriott Aruba Resort & Stellaris Casino

We made reservations for Friday evening and were seated at the bar, best seats in the house, to watch four chefs and their four talented apprentices at work.

Each chef came up with three original recipes, presenting diners with a choice of 12 incredible dishes.

We shared four, one for each culinary wizard.

Why did we like the event so much?

The team-spirit in the kitchen was in full display as Teddy Bouroncle, Urvin Croes, Romeo Penacino and Ever de Pena, each an accomplished star on his own, moved in sync in the tiny space, focusing on pleasing our palates.

Love was on full display as each plate leaving their space was perfectly prepared and eye pleasing.

The room was filled with locals, I could stop and socialize at every table, the butcher, the baker, the candle-stick maker they were all there, grateful to have been able to sample greatness, what is usually reserved for our visitors.

Tourism in Aruba needs local support, our understanding, our warm embrace.

This participatory, democratic moment in the lobby of the Marriott, as the product we so proudly promote was experienced, savored, and appreciated by locals, felt inclusive and embracing.

The chefs were so welcoming and proud, is rubbed off. I am beaming and proud.

Romeo’s rabbit dish? Perfection. A taste from another world, the Chef’s childhood.

Urvin’s shrimp and peanut sauce? Wow, how did he come up with such sensation.

Teddy’s ceviche? Poetic. There is really only one word to describe it. Poetic.

Ever’s Asado Negro? If I could have it every day.

Thank you for sharing the bounty, I am looking forward for another opportunity for a front row seat into your world.    

A suggestion that will, alas, be ignored and Armand Hessels delivers an historical overview

I will make a suggestion, I am an optimist, regarding the concert last weekend.

One of the first lessons I learned in hospitality, which became the opening statement to most complaint letter responses, goes the following:

We apologize, but we cannot be everything for everybody.

It is almost always impossible to mix demographics. Honeymoons and Family Vacations can conflict.

That said, you know that last weekend’s concert aspired to become everything for everybody, mixing GenX, GenY/Millennials and GenZ music genres on one stage.

Consequently, a handful of brave Baby-Boomers and a great number of GenXers were forced to stay up way past their bedtime. Many left even before the first UB40 note was struck.

The Millennials, bored by the UB40 sound, headed out the door to after-parties, as soon as the band came on stage.

My suggestion: Start the program at 7:30pm with the GenXers’ favorites, then lineup the Millennial and GenZ music stars to the end. The kids have no problem staying up late!

In other word: Turn the Program upside down!!

 #AITO2019 #IslandTakeOver #Concert #UB40 #Lunay #Sech #AlexSensation #DimeloFlow #Jeon

Armand Hessels and an historical overview

A press release by the Foundation for Good Governance, www.deugdelijkbestuuraruba.org, was circulated yesterday with an interesting topic. It protested the naming of our new boulevard. It said it was politically motivated and undeserving, and that the new road should simply be called BonBini Boulevard, BBB, instead of WVB, Watty Vos Boulevard.

Vos, 1937 – 2001, was The Ministry of Justice and Public Works, in the late 80s and remained posthumously in the pantheon of the AVP’s party greats.

As such, as soon as that government decided to overspend, and sink us into the red for generations to come, the ambitious boulevard was named after the late minister, but according to Hessel, he is no role model, and undeserving of the honor.

Hessel attached documentation to his claim:  

The 1st document outlines that Vos, as Minister in 1994, acted against the then Head of Aruba’s Veiligheidsdienst – Security Service – and obstructed inter-governmental investigations. Which led to the very first Koninklijk Besluit for Aruba, a royal decree, where the then Dutch Queen Beatrix ordered to appoint a new interim Head of Aruba’s Veiligheidsdienst, in order to restore trust and balance to the department.

The 2nd document is the actual signed Koninklijk Besluit, with the queen’s signature dated October 22, 1994. She was at the time at her vacation home in Italy, and she empowered the Gouverneur of Aruba, yes, the Governor, to see to it that Aruba’s Veiligheidsdienst, our security service, falls immediately under the direction and responsibility of the Minister of General Affairs and Minister of Nederlands/Antilliaanse and Arubaanse Affairs. She instructed them to agree on the actions of Veiligheidsdienst Aruba and the appointment of a new interim Head of Security Service Aruba.

Hessels brings this old story back to life, where the queen had to go above a politician’s head, as an example of the phenomenon whereby local officials, at some point in time through their actions, damaged the reputation of Aruba and its citizens, and he proposes to stay away from naming landmarks, bridges and roads in Aruba after ambiguous politicians, and keep those more tourist-friendly. Example: BonBini Boulevard.

I did not follow politics on the island at the time, I was at Happy Hour, but I am pleased to see that someone paid attention, and helps us gain historical perspective.

ATV/UTV, how can we move GOA to act, fish or cut the bait, piss or get off the pot

At the beginning of the year, and then again in October AHATA send the Minister of Transport, Communication and Primary Sector Government of Aruba Oranjestad, a letter.

It expressed AHATA’s concerns regarding UTV vehicles and tourists on Aruba, and it was received by the minister TWICE, recommending new regulation for reasons of safety of our tourists and the reputation of our island. Additionally, it warned against the increasing toll the large number of vehicles imposes on our flora and fauna, and local neighborhoods

AHATA stands for tourism companies that operate in a responsible and safe manner, the letter said, and we endorse introduction of regulation to ensure safe circumstances for our tourists, our community, and to protect natural habitats. In consultation with our members that operate UTV tours, we had compiled the attached set of regulations to propose for legislation, it stated. 

The strong letter also requested that the rules be introduced by law AND by a sound plan for enforcement and a clear definition of which agency is authorized and responsible for such enforcement. 

Repercussions for lack of compliance? The letter endorsed fines, and eventual loss of permits, by offenders.

WAS ANY PROGRESS MADE?

It seems like ziltch, though the letter was addressed to the Minister of Tourism, Public Health and Sport, and to the Minister of Justice, Security, and Integration, who both have a stake in the issue.

The following was suggested, for UTV Operators:

  1. Strict enforcement of required permits and regulations to be able to operate.
  2. Ban the rental of UTV/ATV vehicles directly to individuals. Rental is only allowed by a registered operator in a guided tour (caravan style).
  3. Max size of a caravan is 10, including 1 guide in front, 1 guide in back and 8 tourist vehicles in between.
  4. If vehicles are owned or leased, all rules and requirements must be complied with (including proper license plates, insurance, etc).
  5. Every operator must have an insurance policy which includes liability insurance with a minimum of USD $1M coverage per incident.
  6. All operators must have a written safety manual and proof that every employee has read and signed it.
  7. Safety and rules briefing for each tourist driver is required, prior to start of tours.
  8. Every operator must have a set of written Accident & Incident Procedures dealing with the handling of guests in the event of an accident/incident.
  9. A properly stocked first aid kit must always be in the guide vehicle.
  10. Every guide must have properly working cell phone in the event of emergencies.
  11. Every guide/driver must have a “green card” (health card).
  12. Minimum age for guides is 25 years.
  13. Minimum age to drive the vehicle is 23 years.
  14. Minimum age for passengers is 12 years.
  15. Every guide must be first aid certified and be recertified annually.
  16. Every vehicle must be inspected by the authorities annually and can be determined to be beyond their lifespan after 18 months (lifespan can vary depending on type of UTV vehicle, a Sports Side Vehicle has a longer lifespan with off-roading than farming vehicles, for example).
  17. Every vehicle must be equipped with turn-signal lights, and governors to regulate speed.
  18. UTV’s are required to be well-maintained and Operators are required to keep up to date maintenance records of every vehicle which must be made available for inspection by the authorities upon request.
  19. Dangerous maneuvers such as fishtailing, donuts, driving in undesignated areas or off the trail are prohibited by all drivers.
  20. Guides are required to respect and protect local flora and fauna.
  21. Ban the vehicles from certain roads/main arteries (such as Irausquin Blvd, L.G. Smith Blvd, Downtown, etc.)

Additionally: 22. Protect certain trails/areas from use by any motorized vehicles.  Note: Need to determine what authority is responsible for ensuring compliance and the consequences of or penalties for non-compliance. 

If you read through the suggested regulation it’s all common sense, and nothing excessive. The free for all fosters resentment. It is in the interest of the Operators to regulate.

Minister, fish or cut the bait!

Exciting: Aruba Beach Tennis Open 2019, ABTO 2019, AND the WSOP, World Series of Poker, TWO international events in November

Last evening the Panamerican Championships started on the Tropicana courts with an informal, official ceremony. In attendance, the wings behind Beach Tennis Sjoerd de Vries, a professional ITF referee, Massino Morelli, ATA and the Aruba Tennis Bond representatives, also two beach tennis stars, from Brazil the #1 female player Raffaella Miller and from Aruba, #12 in the world, the handsome Aksel Sarmardzic.  

On Friday, yes, tomorrow, the games are moving to the new Bushiri arena, and we can expect a spectacular sporting competition, from Nov 9th to 17th, with more than 1,250 participants, in a number of categories, competing on 40 courts, for more than $70,000 in prizes.

Players from Aruba, Venezuela, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, Uruguay, Curacao, Puerto Rico, USA, and their family members will be arriving on a fun vacation, more than 1,250 visitors, among them 700 players. 

The games start today at 9am, and then again at 5pm; they will be monitored by the International Tennis Federation, ITF. Please lend your support, come and watch, it’s our money that created the arena, we might as well enjoy the action, sitting high on the tribune, watching the gods wrestle for gold.

 For more information visit the website www.arubabeachtennisopen.com,

The World Series of Poker is coming

Over the past months, the team at the Casino Aruba at the Hilton made great efforts and invested considerable funds, in making Aruba a circuit stop on the World Series of Poker. They hoped it would become an annual event, in the shoulder season, designed to boost the island’s economy, when needed.

The series is targeting 165 professional poker players, but will attract up to 300 vacationers, family members and friends, similar to the successful way the Ultimate Bets poker tournaments worked, more than 10 years ago.

The casino’s teamwork will be rewarded when on November 14th to the 24th, The Casino Aruba and Island Gaming NV, host the World Series of Poker Organization, which can easily be compared to an Olympic event, or to a world championship.

On the schedule: 10 official events, presenting winners with an expensive commemorative gold ring, and one final table on Saturday, Nov 23rd, in the afternoon hours, with an attractive cash prize guarantee of $250.000.

The series will start with a welcome reception at the Casino Aruba and will conclude with a poolside farewell party, both in partnership with Tropical Bottling — Bacardi & Patron, and other generous sponsors.

It is good to note that Island Gaming NV is a local company, and its ambition to put Aruba back on the world’s poker map is admirable.

Player and their families will be staying at a number of high rise hotels while all the action takes place at the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino.

You are invited to come watch the professionals do their magic, from behind their dark sunglasses.

The subject of an Ombudsmen was in discussion last week.

Apparently in a meeting of all Dutch Caribbean islands’ Ombudsmen, the absence of one from Aruba was glaring and embarrassing.

Kingdom representatives were quick to ask, where is the Aruban Ombudsmen?

Where is that official appointed to investigate individuals’ complaints against maladministration, especially that of public authorities?

Then it became clear we have none, while as an enlightened country we should have one, help the little guy fight against the crazy system.

The word ombudsmen is derived from the Swedish, Norwegian and Danish languages and it essentially means representative. The Ombudsmen is part of Nordic culture since the 13th century, but the Chinese had a prototype defender since the 3rd century.

It is good to know that the service of the independent and impartial Ombudsmen is free, and that his/her decisions are final and binding.

Who will be our fair and politically-neutral Ombudsmen?

Preferably a lawyer or judge, 40+.

The position was promised and the finances approved, GOA must move to fulfil it.

Goa must also move on another promise, the law on financing political parties, we want to see limits set, and the veil on Campaign Contributions lifted. Transparency by law. You promised.  GOA must move to fulfil it.

I hate to sound like a nag

Yesterday I drove by the Hato new overpass, below, from the Aloe fields to Paradijs. The construction looks like hell. Ok, it’s safe, it’s working, but it looks like third world, slum construction.

We are a Dutch island and we’re used to certain building standards. It would have looked differently under the direction of ALBO Aruba NV or Van Kessel Havenbouw NV.

I will post some pictures and perhaps one of you, perhaps even the Project Manager Joao Paulo Soares, and Joao Campos Forte, both with MOTA – Engil Aruba, could explain to us what we are looking at, and what was delivered for 400 million florins.

Lanta Y Planta

We get mad every time we see a bulldozer clearing great patches of green up. Here is our chance to remedy that feeling. Start planting yourself, especially recommended fruit trees, Papaya, Mango, Lemon, if you have water, or some of the island indigenous varieties that require little care; Moringa? Wayaca?

Get them at Santa Rosa for next to nothing, or the more refined varieties at Fantastic Gardens.

Neem? Santa Rosa considers that one an invasive species, and doesn’t want to see it proliferating as much as it does.

I am preparing to plant a mango and will post pictures of my tree, about 1 meter high already. Got to get some soil first…

So that’s basically what Lanta Y Planta is, a grass root protest movement.

Following a post on FB, Ewald Biemans of Bucuti and Tara Beach Resort, inspired a group of friends to launch a tree planting initiative. Not any tree, but fruit bearing trees in local yards, where tree will be watered and tended.

Santa Rosa, the local department of nature and the environment and other avid local gardeners jumped on board and the small grass root organization conducted a press conference just recently, calling for a national tree planting campaign.

The BAN LANTA y PLANTA campaign is inviting companies and individuals to plant trees, and send in videos and pictures to the dedicated FB page, with a chance to win attractive prizes: Dinner at Elements restaurant, lunch at Baz-rrr, tickets to de Palm Island, vouchers for Fantastic Gardens, a hotel stay and much more….

How to participate in the FB “Ban Lanta y Planta!” campaign
1. Plant a tree (taller than 50 cm / 20 inch. from the soil up)
2. Make a short video of the actual planting (maximum 30 sec)
3. Post it on our Facebook Page ‘Ban Lanta y Planta’
4. Share, Like and Tag with family and friends

At the end of the campaign., on November 30th, Ban Lanta Y Planta will select winners among the posts with the most shares and likes.

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November 10, 2019
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
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
Bati Bleki by Rona Coster