Bati Bleki Buzz Weekly Recap October 15th, 2017

In protection of fishermen

Let’s say you had a teenager, and you would one day tell him/her, that’s it, I am cutting you off, no more electronics until the day you get married. Ipad, Iphone, they are all banned, prohibited. No mas.

What reaction would you get?

Rebellion, resentment, wailing and endless whining. Your life as a parent would be miserable, because a miserable teenager is unbearable.

Then, let’s say you are a progressive parent, and you decide to regulate and negotiate, iron out a win-win agreement in which your teenager is allowed some access to the idiot box, and his electronics, providing priorities are set.

What reaction would you get?

Some whining, but basically, a workable truce, an agreement we can all live with.

This type of negotiation takes time and patience, but it pays off on the long run, when all sides buy into an arrangement, all stakeholders heard, and respected.

What’s your point, Rona?

The sitting MinJust, in his great lack of wisdom just nailed another piece of difficult legislation into our hearts, the Landsbesluit bescheming inheemse flora en fauna, BANNING the picking, bulldozing, hurting or touching 76 different animals and plants.

The list finally provides legal protection in the form of a TOTAL BAN on turtles, sharks, sea stars, conch, flamingo, Iguana, all coral, agave, local orchids, many indigenous trees and bushes –  including Yerba Stinki, not sure what this stinky herb is. The legislation looks like a cut and paste list revealing the Latin and the colloquial names of animals and plants.

So, listen carefully, effective August 8th, if a bulldozer touches a cactus – any cactus, tall, short or round, we can call the cops; if just one fofoti, or ficus is touched, we can call the cops.

You can no longer raze, or clear any large areas of land, mangroves, cactus and divi trees, they are all protected by law now.

And while I welcome the belated, much-needed protection to Flora & Fauna, this island’s fishermen are in an uproar, protesting that they have been thrown under the bus with these new draconian measures.

In 2001, the sitting government, two second before it was shown out the door, banned spear-fishing. An outright prohibition, instead of a well-thought out regulation. Incidentally, spear-fishing is back now, the only suitable weapon to combat the infestation of lion fish.

So, the fishermen have been resentful for 16 years, since that first ban.

Now again. Just before curtain call, a law with a broad, umbrella ban, instead of intelligent regulations, which may include specific zones, and restrictions on quantities, the time of year, gender, size, etc.

The fallout and the uproar? The new GOA will have to deal with it.

For example, the just-introduced legislation bans spiny lobster. You can no longer fish, sell, or eat Caribbean Lobster.

And what about frozen? Imported?

Can we still eat frozen, imported spiny lobster while the fresh one, that provides a livelihood to a local fisherman, is banned??

It is hard enough to be a fisherman, a humble, bone-breaking occupation. And it was just made even harder by banning species they fish all the time.

GOA promised to run the draft of the legislation by the stakeholders, and listen to their input. Blablabla.

There is an urgent Fishermen’s meeting at Piedra Platt Entertainment Center on Tuesday, 7:30pm, to see what can be done about the new law. Fishing is an ancient profession, an authentic Aruban way of life. Doesn’t it qualify for some kind of protection?

The Flavors of Peru, Make a Reservation

Peruvian food. We can never get enough of Peruvian food and I think we should thank the humble country-chefs for being so open minded and welcoming foreign influences into their kitchens, which made it so interesting to the palate, hot, and tart, creamy and crunchy, the marriage of seemingly contradictory opposites, we always seek in a dish.

Peruvian cuisine, the way we know it today was born when indigenous cooks met European immigrants of Spanish, Italian, German, Chinese and Japanese origins. That encounter regularly fused fresh local ingredients such as corn, potatoes – with more than 3,800 potato varieties – and quinoa, with different cooking techniques from around the globe.

And as this turns out, the whole world is now interested in native Peruvian foods and culinary traditions.   The cooking style burst upon the world stage on the wings of the imagination of two legendary chefs, Gaston Acurio and Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, rising to fame and fortune armed with a bunch of peppers, and extraordinary noses! Consider this: There are 3 Peruvian restaurants among “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017.”

Aruba is blessed with its own share of fine Peruvian restaurants. These taught us to love ceviche and Aji de Gallina, but the evolution of the cuisine continues and this week we are fortunate to have on the island some outstanding culinary ambassadors, to cook for us at the Ritz Carlton, on the weekend of October 13th and 14th.

Mark your calendar, then make reservations at Solanio for the upcoming Flavors of Peru. The dinner will be hosted by newly appointed Executive Chef Rafael Lopez-Aliaga, who is, you guessed, a native of Peru. Rafael is planning a five-course journey throughout Peru’s mountains, rivers, valleys and coastline, escorting our taste buds into culinary nirvana.

Chef Rafael will not be alone in the kitchen, he is being joined by chef Valerie Schroth, the pastry chef of JW Marriott Lima, and our own Aruba Iron Chef competition winner, Teddy Bouroncle, the Food & Beverage Director of the Marriott Aruba Resort & Stellaris Casino, who is a magician in the kitchen.

Communications Manager, Yahira Santori reports that dinner will kick off with the classic Peruvian cocktail, the Pisco Sour, the national cocktail, a light and sweet appetite stimulator, then next, guests will enjoy Peruvian king crab, yellow potatoes and an avocado emulsion, followed by grouper ceviche marinated in a sundried chili sauce, and a epic Cordero Norteno, Peruvian lamb stew, before ending with Suspiro Limeno, a creamy dulce de leche custard topped with fluffy meringue.

Peruvians have always been crazy about their own food. I joined them in 2001 when Chef Nobu published his cook book, then went on to open amazing restaurants around the globe. Nobu definitely contributed to the recognition of that kitchen and the mind-blowing success of his restaurants further exported Peruvian elements into our culinary dictionary.

Chef Rafael says he is delighted to join the dynamic team at The Ritz-Carlton, and that he finds it exhilarating to bring people together through food, creating unique and memorable dining experiences for people from all walks of life. While his culinary roots are firmly planted in Peru, he will be further incorporating the flavor of Aruba into the eight food outlets of the The Ritz-Carlton, adding his personal and sophisticated techniques to his culinary creations.

Solanio is open for dinner daily from 6 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Louella Brezovar reports: The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba recently introduced the new Ritual Coffee Culture coffee shop to the island, and announced that the New York City Italian eatery Casa Nonna will open at the hotel in 2018 – the first location outside of its New York City flagship location. To learn more about these and other dining options at The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba visit

TRIVIA: According to the Censo, there are 550 naturalized Peruvian born citizens here, with Dutch passports, which were eligible to vote last month; 272 women, 278 men.

Join the event at Solanio restaurant, this weekend.  For reservations, please contact the hotel’s concierge at (+297) 527-2217; $59p.p., cocktails 7pm, dinner 7:30pm


Better Late Than Never

I hooked up with Michella #12 on the POR list late in the game, just before elections, but it was nevertheless an opportune occasion. We talked for two hours, and could have gone on, but her husband and kids showed up to collect her, and we parted ways, vowing the reconnect.

Michella is a school teacher, she worked for a number of years in the Netherlands, she is married to a teacher and passionate about education. Disillusioned with the system, she opted to join POR and see if she could bring about some change.

And by system she means the need to photocopy books at the beginning of each year, because otherwise there will be no books, the long and complicated route a purchase order must travel before a teacher receives any of his/her needed supplies, and in general the lack of structure and accountability in education.

So she worked very hard, campaigning since January, and for the closing of her campaign she orchestrated a book drive for a number of schools on the island, for KIA and imeldahof, SPO Savaneta, and SPO Santa Cruz. I still have books for your Michella, for the next round. P.S. Her campaign concluded with 68 votes, but she is a woman to watch!

But the elections took place what seems like a lifetime, and coalition talked are ongoing. I hope POR can make room for members of the upcoming generation, in the future, so we, as a country, could benefit from Michella’s positive energy and enthusiasm.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Michella is an offspring to a political family. Her paternal grandfather was a deputy for AVP, her maternal grandfather, Fichi Croes, was the Gezaghebber for Aruba under Juancho Yrausquin.  He started his political career with AVP then left the party with Juancho to create PPA. Apparently, later on, MEP was founded in his living room, on Papilon 74, and Michella remembers Betico Croes and her grandfather brainstorming.   Her mom Diane was part of the AVP talent pool in the Tico Croes era. And she has been in the Otmar Oduber court for many years.  So now you understand that Michella’s DNA is laced with political activism.

Did I say beautiful, ambitious, intelligent and educated? Yep, that too.

Vela Loves Locals

Vela Aruba is sandwiched between the Ritz Carlton and the Marriott Aruba Resort & Stellaris Casino. It is a well-established watersports center and it is unlike no others.

Why, you ask, why is it so different?

Because the good people at Vela Pro Surf Shop & Hang Out focus on gentle, wind-powered activities, and their headquarters on the beach aren’t slapped together helter-skelter, but are nicely laid out and inviting, with a colorful board-storage facility on the side, comfortable lounge chairs in front, sturdy shade umbrellas, a sandy-bottomed living room, and super friendly front desk people, answering questions before setting you up on your next wet adventure.

So what do they do at Vela, and why should I go there?

You should head out to Vela because they just introduced local rates for kite surfing and windsurfing, and are discounting the beach & paddleboard program, with florin for dollar prices, free infused water, lockers, beach chairs, hammocks and lounging areas.

If you have a day off on the horizon, you should spend it at Vela, like you left Aruba on vacation at some exotic Caribbean island, without ever buying an airline ticket.

So now you know why you should go, here’s what they do: Windsurfing, Kite surfing, Hobiecat sailing, Kayaking, Paddle-boarding and Snorkeling. Additionally, they offer all the crazy related activities such as Paddleboard Yoga, Paddleboard Pilates, Paddleboard BodyFit, Beach Yoga, Beach Boot camp and Beach Tennis. You can buy a strip card with 5 or 10 sessions at a discount, and enjoy ‘out of the box’ activities, whenever your schedule allows.

Guests staying at the Ritz Carlton may take paddleboards out at no charge, as an added value to their hotel room rate. Wouldn’t you know, it pays to stay at the RC.

SUP was first introduced in Aruba in 2013, when Stand-Up Paddleboarding on oversized surfboards with a long single-ended paddle, arrived. A few years into the craze I noticed Paddleboard Yoga started catching on and further into the timeline Paddleboard Body Fit joined the scene.

Manon Hekman, in charge of the friendly Vela front desk, reports SUP’s easy to learn. It originated in Hawaii, centuries ago, and was revived in the 60s when lifeguards on the beaches started using wide boards for rescue, standing upright and paddling themselves forwards to fish swimmers-in-trouble out of the water.  Then later, the activity reached main stream.

VELA is now the sister company of Aruba Active Vacations (AAV), and Fiberworx (FX) Aruba, the Surf Shop in Rooi Santo. VELA’s local owners Wim Eelens and Geert V/d Berg, also cater to Aruba’s mountain bikers, in addition to windsurfers, kite surfers, landsailers, stand up boarders, and their adorable wives and kids. Wim’s wife, the tireless Maartje, runs Vela, sprinkling her shine and charm over the daily operation.

You may visit VELA and/or the surf shop, Rooi Santo 28, finding boards, sails and accessories by brands such as JP-Australia, Neil Pryde, Starboard, Chinook, Fanatic, Select Fin and Loftsails, also kites by Cabrinha, Core and North, and everything you would require to pimp up your surf gear!

At FX professional advice comes with the territory. The store also offers repair and service for anything from sails, to boards, kites and bikes.  For tourists, if your idea of a good time is a combination of relaxation and active exploration of the island, you have come to the right place, FX Aruba Surf Shop, +297 592 2707 / +297 731 2991 or mail: [email protected]

Trapping with Jacqueline B

Obsessed by the dumped puppies, from last week, I made a date with Criollo Trappers, to try track this poor mama dog down and fix her, so she won’t have the same situation again, in a few months.

I thought I had that dog’s address, but it was a false lead. Apparently, the pickup truck whose driver dumped the puppies was purchased by a certain still-to-be-identified Ricardo R. Dirksz, but he provided a bogus address on the sale receipt. Dead end.

But since I was traveling with Jacqueline in St Nicholas, the land of endless stray dogs, we lingered for a while and trapped two females, who then took a courtesy ride to the vet’s office, for a life changing operation in the morning.

Jacquline is a volunteer with the trappers. She got into it last year, when the mass spaying and neutering operation took place, and she stayed.  She already volunteers with the donkey sanctuary and with Turtugaruba, Criollo Trappers fit in nicely.

So in turtle nesting season, she walked about 7 km every two days scouring the sandy beaches of Rincon and Grape Field for turtle tracks, then she monitors the hatching, in charge of the nests on that side of the island.

In between she spends long patient hours waiting for street dogs to please enter the trap, following the scent of food, she cleverly leaves behind.

Donkey, Dogs, Turtles, it’s all in a day’s work.

I told her, her place in heaven is guaranteed.

Jacqueline has been on the island for a few decades. She is the wife of a practicing family physician and she enjoyed a career, a cross between education and nursing, before retiring. With her kids grown, the animal kingdom and its urgent needs took center stage.

We were at the De Vuyst residential area in St. Nicholas. Parked on a crossing, with the neighborhood kids as our audience. The adults are always away at work, there were only kids around us, watching suspiciously but patiently from there porches.  ‘She will be coming back,’ said Jacqueline to whoever cared to listen. The puppy she was trying to lure into the trap will be brought back neutered, ‘and she will no longer be able to have puppies,’ Jacqueline explained, into the air. The kids were unimpressed. They were not sorry to see the black puppy go, they were not thrilled about the news of her return. They were sitting around, nothing to do, waiting to become grown up.

Later at another neighborhood Jacqueline put out a trap for a female she knew, a friendly girl, a fence jumper. She looked well fed, no ticks, but as her nipples were slightly engorged, Jacqueline could see the puppy factory was switched on, and wanted to get her fixed before they came.

That took patient. The dog wasn’t hungry. But she was curious. She played hard to get but Jacqueline did not lose hope. She was persistent.

Finally we left San Nicholas with two dogs, a black puppy, homeless, available for adoption, cute, and an owned stray that will be going back to its home.

They were petrified in the car, frozen, terror in their eyes, but I knew they would have a great life as stays, if they cannot procreate.

Kudos to Criollo Trappers. They need our support. Leave some money at their MIKO account at Contreras Vets, or  make a direct deposit at Aruba Bank 26.0552.0190.

If you really have big bucks and a big heart go down to De Vuyst and offer the kids some after-school activities and adult guidance and supervision. But that is a horse of a different color.


Volunteers needed

Next week marks Global Week of Service, at the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino, and their department of Human Resources put together a plan of action involving Children’s home Imeldahof.

That kind of community outreach is to be admired and appreciated. The resort will also put its hospitality skills to work, orchestrating a fun day for the kids and their caretakers on property.

But that’s not the only aspect of the plan that got my attention, Reading Moms & Dads, did too. As I found out, Imeldahof is home to 33 kids at the moment, and most of them would benefit from help reading. The home has an ongoing project where “Reading Moms and Dads” are solicited, prepared to practice reading exercises.  Reading can take place on school days, between 1:30pm and 3:00pm, and if you volunteer you will be reading with kids ages 8-10, in Dutch.

Nathalie Hernandez at the helm at the children’s home explained to me it is a one-on-one interaction whereby one adult helps one to three kids with their challenges, and it is a year-round program.

The Hilton is soliciting commitment to this project during Global Week of Service, from among its team members. Perhaps some of my retired Dutch speaking friends are also available for one or two hours a week??

This kind of interaction makes a lasting impression, and leaves a positive impact on the kids, say Nathalie, who adds that achieving a certain level of reading, is part of the school curriculum, and must be obtained in order to graduate successfully.

The department of Human Resources at the Hilton also shared that the home has a wish list, that is embarrassingly simple: Game Sets, Basketballs, a living room wall clock, a few packs of coloring markers, and modest numbers of Lego boxes, alarm clocks for the kids, laundry baskets, waste baskets, bed sheets for single beds, room curtains, bathroom curtain, bath mats.

So simple.

The Hilton is getting its team members involved, but the more the merrier, one can never have too many bath mats, and that’s why I decided to involve you. The home has many other needs too, call them if inspired: #587 6085,

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October 15, 2017
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