A column from 2012: October is the best time to visit Australia
AUSTRALIA, THE LAND DOWN UNDER. I never plan any vacations, I wait for a friend to come up with a do-able plan, and an invitation, and that is how I get to see the world without doing much research or planning. Thank-you Yvonne for the trip to Surinam and thank-you Jodi for the trip to Morocco; I can go on and on, because I’ve been around the globe with friends, and they did most of the planning. So, when in May, Mariza Garcia suggested Australia, since we’ve never been, we put a savings plan in action, and got tickets via Argentina to Australia and Samoa. Which was a fresh idea, traveling in the Southern Hemisphere. Then why Samoa? Because it is the last of the Polynesian islands to still fully embrace the old way of life, the authentic and original Bida Dushi which here is referred to here as Fa’a. But first things first. We landed in Australia having flown via Panama to Argentina, then across the Ataractic to Sidney.
JET LAG. A serious issue. With 15 hours of time difference, I could think of nothing but my bed. It took me days to adjust, I was ready to fold, every day at 5pm.
SIDNEY. A wow of a city, a truly amazing cosmopolitan hub, with a deep picturesque harbor, one thousand times the size of our and lots of waterfront parks and attractions, you will never get tired of the sights and the buildings, oh-ah, the Opera House, the Harbor Bridge, The Sydney Tower, they are all bigger than life and look great in pictures. It is very easy to be a tourist in Sydney, mass transit of trains, ferries, and hop-on/hop off double-decker sightseeing buses make it very convenient to move around. The city is filled with modern and classic artwork, statues, and monuments, breathing life into its history when 200 years ago this was a British penal colony. The old Victorian architecture is well preserved and blends in with the futuristic skyline. There are many wild, white, yellow-crested cockatoos flying FREE above the city, yes, a native bird screeching just like the prickichi, I couldn’t t believe it. I have never seen this bird in the wild.
THE AUSSIES. They are great looking people, all chicks are blonde with straight lovely hair, and crazy platform shoes, and all the guys broad shouldered, tall, really tall, we’re talking Hugh Jackman, and have amazing legs. The gorgeous Crocodile Dundees wear short shorts everywhere and show off very well-developed calf muscles thanks to the Rugby they play on every field in the city. According to me, the Aussies living in Sydney, don’t work, they play all day, they jog, they run up and down park-stairs, they exercise with their bare chest muscles showing, the run along the waterside, in small group, talking funny, sounding even funnier, and when they finish their exercise routines, they go to the pubs and drink beer, a lot of beer. If truth be said we met more foreigners than Australian, a Pakistan taxi driver, a French waiter, a Greek barista, backpackers from all over and an Argentinean bus driver. All happy. All friendly.
COMMON SENSE. As tourists, we loved the common sense of the Australian tourist product, you don’t have to make reservations, just walk in, buy a ticket, it’s immediate, customer friendly and uncomplicated. Example can be found everywhere, in restaurants, on trains, and spas. They take your credit card without looking at your ID and let you check out your own groceries in the supermarket with no cashiers. We had two massages, two days in a row, because it is so easy to get one. You walk in from the street, no mystic, no candles, you don t even take of your clothes, in and out, feels great at $1 a minute.
RULES AND REGULATIONS. They have rules hanging from every street light and wall. No fishing. No diving. No loitering. No noise. No alcohol zones. Keep dogs leashed. Pick up poop. Visitors and Australians must just be able to read to know exactly what is expected of them. Sidney is highly regulated and looks great. In the Botanical Park we found signs: You may hug any tree, talk to the flowers, and walk on the grass as long as you don’t feed the birds!
IT’S A DOG’S LIFE. If it is indeed true what Gandhi said about the perception of a nation, judged by the way it treats animals, I recommend you all to move to Australia. We saw a dog weight-loss salon and a place advertising dog sitters and dog communicators. There are no stray dogs in Australia, none, all the pooches we saw were gordo-diki-dushi, walking good looking humans. We visited many dog parks and every one of those had a low-lying, filled water fountain for dogs! Gotta love Sidney!
FOOD. We were super impressed with how fresh everything is. You can taste the field in the arugula, which they call roket here. The kiwi, strawberry and tomato, wow, juicy and tasty. From fish to lamb it’s all so good. We even liked the steak and kidney pie, served with mashed potatoes and green peas looking as if someone just threw it up in the back of the kitchen. The Aussies have a sterling coffee tradition and all cappuccinos are perfection, served sprinkled with chocolate. The coffee beans from the island of Timor are amazing. Besides that, ethnic fast food is everywhere and delicious, attesting to the fact that this is a true immigrant nation.
DIFFERENT. They drive on the left side of the street. We almost got killed every day. They say Ring instead of Call, Bin instead of Can as in garbage bin, they use rubbish, glorious, superb, and call their little streets, lane ways. We saw the entire city in 4 days, and will recommend to anyone, go in the spring, which is October!
Vegan Aruba in collaboration with WheninAruba.com and the Aruba Tourism Authority host a group of Vegan Social Media influencers
Six Vegan influencers visited the island last weekend to answer the question whether Aruba is Vegan friendly or not.
The decisive answer is, yes, it is, thanks mainly to Meredith Marin who showed up here not too long ago, found nothing to eat and started a one-woman Vegan revolution.
She is today, a helpful resource for recipes on social media, and has helped many resorts and restaurants add vegan options to their menus.
The list of her clients is already long. Additionally, she is raising a family and teaching at UA.
Superwomen come in all shapes and sizes.
The program put together for the six Vegan influencers could not have been put together without the relationship fostered by wheninaruba’s Tina Bislick over the years with local hospitality providers, and thank you Aruba Tourism Authority, for the inclusion in Eat Local month.
The Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa, a trailblazer in the wellness field played gracious host to the group who hailed from North America.
Their first experience set the tone, sunset dinner at Elements Restaurant, Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort. It was fantastic. Food & Beverage Director Marc Giesbers dazzled the group with exceptional flavors and brilliant presentations. @bucutitara,
Breakfast at Eduardo’s Beach Shack, @eduardosbeachshack, the following morning, featured overflowing bowls of fresh exotic fruits, yogurt, and grains. Eduardo transformed the breakfast scene around the Highrise resorts, in fact, the shack enjoys long lines of customers the whole day, not just for breakfast.
The group was greeted with super generous tastings of the shack’s colorful specialties.
Their next activity was Stand Up Paddle Board Yoga, SUP Yoga, courtesy of Island Yoga, @island.yoga @yoga_girl, followed by lunch with Rachel Brathen at Yoga Girl’s Nourish Café. @nourish.aruba @island.yoga @yoga_girl, Noord 19A.
The food there is always good, something that even non-vegan would appreciate.
The afternoon Ritz Carlton Spa Experience included a workshop on how to make your own aloe drink, with the bartender lifting the fleshy gel off a leaf, exhibition style, just before plopping it in the blender.
The visitors enjoyed 25-minute Hydro Aloe Body Scrubs, and 50-minute full body massages, at a memorable afternoon @RitzCarlton, creating #RCMemories in #Aruba.
The evening Cocktail Reception at the Manchebo’s Beach Pavilion, @mancheboaruba, included some off-the-chart Vegan sushi from Omakase Sushi Bar, and Chef Sandro’s Vegan paella, which was incredibly tasty; most reception guests went back for seconds.
Dinner at Ike’s Bistro followed. The chefs at Ike’s elevated Vegan food to an art form. @mancheboaruba @ikesbistroaruba
On Saturday, the busy visitors woke up to Sunrise Meditation on the beach, meeting meditation guide Maria Pucci, at the yoga deck adjacent to the Pavilion @cacaoyoga
They had a hearty breakfast at Ike’s Bistro, @mancheboaruba @ikesbistroaruba, before heading out for a sailing tip on board Monforte Luxury Cruise. @monforteluxurycruise, #monforteluxurycruise, #arubaluxurysail, #indulgeinaruba, #privateadventure
The Monforte sailed to Spanish Lagoon, and catered an excellent Vegan lunch on board, snorkeling and kayaking included. It was a glorious day and the super friendly and accommodating crew on board Monforte hand crafted fresh Mojitos and poured bottomless flutes of Roseco, Rose Prosecco.
A Party Bus Food Tour on board Kukoo Kunuku, @kukookunukuaruba, chased the sailing experience with four interesting stops for tastings: 1st Stop: Faro Blanco Restaurant @faroblancoaruba; 2nd Stop: White Modern Cuisine @whitemoderncuisine; 3rd Stop: Hadicurari @hadicurariaruba and 4th Stop: Yemanja Woodfired Grill @yemanjaaruba.
Having enjoyed a light breakfast On Sunday, smoothie bowls at Ike’s Bistro before a Terra Wave Yoga class at the Manchebo’s Pavilion yoga deck with Yoga teacher Carolien @dushiyoga, the visitors took a dip in the amazing ocean @mancheboaruba
Their next experience, at Taste of Belgium, Palm Beach Plaza, where the chef just launched a new vegan brunch menu with gluten free options available, to be served from now on every Sunday. @tobaruba
The visitors then went straight from brunch to a Jeep Tour with De Palm Tours, exploring the Donkey Sanctuary, Arikok National Park, Quadirikiri Cave and Boca Prins, @depalmtoursaruba.
In San Nicolas, they enjoyed a refreshment break by The Little One, @thelittleonearuba, against the backdrop of a gorgeous mural, swinging by the Bushiribana Gold Mine Ruins, on their way back to their resort.
The group’s final dinner party on Sunday evening unfolded at Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino, Sunset Grille restaurant where Executive Chef Matt Boland and his culinary brigade created an array of innovative and delicious vegan specialties in their honor. @hiltonaruba, #hiltonaruba
At the end of that experience, all six Vegan Social Media influencers visiting the island to answer the question whether Aruba is Vegan-friendly or not, provided a decisive, unanimous answer, YES. The island offers plenty of option to the Vegan traveler.
Just before leaving Monday morning, they got one more in. They were the first ones to have breakfast at One Happy Bowl, @onehappybowl, @renaissancemarketplacearuba, and report the place will be opening shortly to provide a healthy, wholesome food option in town.
Check out their weekend impressions:
Remy Park @veggiekins with 9.4k followers
Marina Qutab @ecogoddess with 22.4K followers
Brian Turner @brianturnerofficial with 89.3K followers
Sammy Grimm @sammy_grimm with 16.2 Followers
Chris Petrellese @ consciouschris with 84.8k followers
Jasmine Briones @Sweetsimplevegan with 214k followers
Meredith Marin @VeganAruba
Tina Bislick @wheninaruba
Hacking is common
Even the MinPres isn’t immune against it.
Remember, a few weeks ago, a rumor about ATMs being hacked in Aruba was vehemently denied, yet a number of arrests were made in connection the following day.
Remember when the Arubus bank account was hacked and more than half a million florins syphoned out to Hong Kong. Most of the money was recovered then, with the help of the Interpol.
So, hacking is common, just ask any IT guy what a pain-in-the-you-know-what that is. And how much money is being spent on cyber security.
But from what I understand, the challenge here in Aruba is that we have no legislation regarding the bank’s responsibility towards clients, when a hacking incident is reported.
It is all covered by law in the Netherlands where banks are insured against fraud, but here?!
Logic says they must be, they must be insured against losses, yet in this case, CMB wouldn’t take responsibility for the stolen funds.
As you recall a couple from among my friends informed that their bank account was hacked and drained of nearly 44,000 florins! It was done by transfer, 7 different transactions over a period of one week. The money went to Mexico, California, Florida and Georgia (USA).
My shocked and dismayed friends discovered the hacking and called the bank.
That was in early August.
To date, the bank is shirking responsibility, it says it is collaborating, but in fact it did not provide the client and/or his lawyer with the IP address where the transfer were made from; it did not provide the client and/or his lawyer with a copy of the investigation file and it did not provide the client and/or his lawyer with the name of the insurance company where a claim could be filed.
My friends have been banking with the same establishment for 20 years and have NEVER sent money off island. This deviation from their normal spending pattern, did not raise a red flag.
And the bank charged all taxes and fees on the transactions, running the account into red.
The bank claims they are investigating, the Police is involved, lawyers speak to lawyers, they call it an isolated case, their banking system was not compromised, they say, and that the clients’ private and personal electronic signature was used to execute the transactions, thus “not my fault, not going to pay.”
The clients and their lawyer categorically deny that anyone had access to that private and personal electronic signature used in the hack. The numeric card was locked in a safe.
Bottomline, same as last time: Banks cannot wash their hands off and walk away in cases of hacking, they are responsible for the safety of our deposits, and that is why bank charges are so high, security, we have to pay for their firewalls and hack protection.
Silly questions: How did the hackers know how much money was available to syphon from the account?
The Water Challenge
Climatestotravel reports: Precipitation is scarce in Aruba, so that in an average year, the island receives about 500 millimeters (20 inches) of rain fall; the only fairly rainy period goes from October to December, when 80/95 millimeters (3/3.7 inches) or rain per month fall, due to the north-east trade winds, which can cause rain showers quite frequently even in January …
This year the so-called rainy season came early, and October will be remembered as a wet month, also the month when everyone was late to work, because of the closing of roads for construction, and because of the frequent inundation of the Cumana roundabout.
We seem to completely fail to manage the water in certain key areas, Sun Plaza, Downtown Oranjestad, and as soon as it rains these low-lying areas get flooded.
Fact: Water always finds its way to the lowest point.
One of my exercise-friends has a Water-Engineer son, who could not find employment on the island, in his field, and is now managing people for a technical service company.
What’s with the water, I asked. Is it feasible for the sewage sucking trucks to be syphoning the flood water away, as a long-term solution?
No, he said.
It’s an integration challenge. They have to spend more time thinking how to integrate the new project into the existing water infrastructure, no project stands along, it is all connected, if you solve the Tanki Leendert challenge, for example, you may flood Madiki, so careful thought consideration has to be given to height differences, and to retaining more water upstream, instead of it all rushing and flooding downstream.
And thought must be given to the construction of culverts – the concrete, stone or pipe tunnels carrying the stream, or an open drain, so they are carefully engineered to handle the water load. While culverts prevent flooding by channeling the water away, they are also wasteful, and hamper the island from retaining the water for the dry months, and for agriculture.
In Aruba, my new friend explained, the water is diverted into dams, via a naturally occurring rooi system, but home construction and lack of planning often result in flooding, then the water must be diverted again, otherwise bigger dams must be created, which require more land, which we don’t have.
Water-engineering is a branch of Civil Engineering, and as a civil engineer you may pick traffic, construction or water specializations. Who knew?
I can’t do it anymore, by myself!
Yesterday reminded me of an old movie, perhaps you did not see it, but in its most famous scene actor Jack Nicholson sticks his head out the window, and yells that he is so mad he can’t take it anymore.
The movie was the four Oscar winning Network. Nicholson plays a news anchor frustrated and appalled by his boss’s shameless greed.
Recently we saw this in Aruba when well-respected oncologist/hematologist Jonkhoff, a hard-working cancer specialist, with 25 years of experience in the Netherlands and a successful seven-year stint here, stuck his head out and yelled, that he cannot do it anymore, on his own, the burden is too heavy, and help from the medical establishment has been withheld.
He said he was going on vacation, and closed shop.
And before the medical establishment scrambled to fire his butt, he announced he was resigning.
No more cancer specialist on the island, he was the only one, and all those suffering from Lymphoma, Anemia, Hemophilia, and Leukemia were left to scratch their heads, and wonder, who will come to their rescue.
Jonkhoff explained that the medical establishment consistently refused to recruit another oncologist/hematologist to help carry the burden of patients’ care, and that it simply became too much, for one individual.
From time to time a part-timer was hired, and once he became familiar with the work, he had to leave as his contract expired.
Jonkhoff added that much of his time was spent on breaking the newbies in, and sadly he had to see them go, as the medical establishment cracked down on ‘expenses.’
So, Jonkhoff went public, washed all the dirty laundry in the town’s square, and as a result a big meeting was called yesterday with all health management decision-makers on hand, it seems they have reached an agreement to import not just one but two oncologist/hematologist BUT Jonkhoff’s gotta go, his relationship with the hospital management became too toxic.
This is what the good doctor circulated this week:
Dear friends and fellow students.
I want to play my last card today. I am not only a (good) doctor, I also introduced many initiatives to improve oncological care in Aruba.
In August 2016 I became the chairperson of the just-founded Aruban Foundation for Multidisciplinary Oncology and Hematology, in collaboration with Ebby Ruiz, the hospital pharmacist, and Deepu Daryanani, the oncology surgeon. The foundation was born at a fantastic international conference which we organized on October 2015 at the Holyday Inn. That would be unthinkable now, with the dictatorial and uncooperative climate in the hospital
The doctor goes on to list the initiatives with cancer registration, oncology cooking on TV with ever-changing chefs in collaboration with SuperFood, including kitchen demonstration and the supply of patient information about rules of life, myths and the often-natural origin of chemotherapy. The foundation also advocates early reporting for patients with complaints, and it undertakes the protection of physicians, as the medical establishment attempts to cap their annual compensation, and encourages referrals between oncological specialists.
Donations can be deposited on Aruba bank #6003560190
Garage Centraal Aruba N.V., presents the new Hyundai Santa Fe 2019
A new generation of cars, the Hyundai Santa Fe SUV, was presented at the garage this week at an elegant showroom event directed by Marketing Manager Rodney Kock.
The newly designed car described as Advanced Adventure, features a cascading new grille, LED daytime running lights above the headlights, aerodynamic lines on the sides, a new 3D effect light set up in the back, with a redesigned bumper.
It is the most advanced SUV, ever.
The car Rodney explains, is designed to ensure the safety and comfort of family members, with spacious second row seats and an optional third row, that becomes available at the push of a button. You may also lower down the second row of seats, with the push of a button, to accommodate cargo.
The car’s quality features include electric seats with memory, Android Auto or Apple Car Play, a 360-camera system, Bluetooth, a Head Up display which projects the car information on the windshield, power tailgate, smart key and more.
The Advanced Adventure Santa Fe offers great security to passengers, with a solid steel frame capable of protecting all occupants under all weather and traffic conditions, with steel uniquely manufactured by Hyundai.
The most interesting contribution to safety, according to Rodney, is the car’s smart technology, delivering an efficient Exit Assist, alerting the driver in the event that a backseat passenger, a child for example, tries to open the door, in oncoming traffic. The car locks automatically and the driver is alerted via dashboard indicators.
Additional features available include Blind Collision Warning, Cross Traffic Warning, Airbags and more.
The reliable and efficient 2.4-liter engine, the automatic transmission and the comfortable suspension, guarantee a most pleasant SUV experience for the entire family at work and at play.
And the garage was happy to report that two cars left the showroom that night to be driven away by new owners.
Catered by Papiamento Restaurant the evening presented an excellent social and commercial opportunity to mix and mingle with the garage car experts and obtain information from the knowledgeable sales team.