Bati Bleki Buzz Weekly Recap, October 29th, 2017

The Aruba Challenge Endurance Festival score sheet

We all agree it is a great idea, to diversity the island’s calendar of activities with a world-class sporting event. Let’s have fewer concerts and more culinary and sporting events.

Now, in its second year, the international Challenge Aruba Triathlon enjoyed the participation of hundreds of pro and amateur athletes, competing in a variety of events. The main challenge on Sunday morning consisted of a 1.9km swim, followed by a 90 km cycle and finally a 21 km run.

Generally speaking, the organizing committee did a good job on pre-production. They posterized every pole with directional instructions and published alternative traffic routes in the newspapers.

Then on October 22nd, they closed of the boulevard for traffic and banned driving in the area of Palm Beach, and Malmok.

While I did not mind, I was staying put, many visitors were inconveniences.

And all the pre-event meetings which promised access to tourist transportation were for nought. They traffic ban did not help those who were leaving on planes, snorkeling boats, and island tours, they inconvenienced many,  just like last year, visitors has to scramble, carry luggage, and get upset, because life on Palm beach came to a stand still for the annual event.

Everyone staying on Palm Beach from the Ritz Carlton to the RIU was on home arrest.

Rocky, the volunteer on my street, dropped off early in the morning to direct traffic, was there again. He was better attired this year, but also on his own from the crack of dawn to midday. He is a ukulele teacher in a local after-school enrichment program, and this time he did not tie any pink ribbons to prevent us from leaving our homes, he trusted we knew the drill.

It was fun to watch the fancy bicycles whizzing by, navigated by skinny men and women, in tight spandex, and futuristic helmets. They were chased by even fancier paparazzi motorcycles, the ones with the raised back-seats, where an in-your-face-photographer with a giant camera lives.

This went on for a couple of hours, with Rocky motioning them which way to go.

This is what I wrote last year: If the race takes place again in 2017, it would mean the athletes were satisfied with the arrangements, hotel guests however, were inconvenienced…. stupid planning…can’t close off all the roads to the high rise area and not care about workers and guests!!! What a mess!!!

Anyway, it happened again!

This year the expo at the Hyatt Regency parking lot got some publicity and I trust it was supported!

Challenge Aruba Endurance Festival: This was a 3 day event consisting of a Sport Expo including a food & music festival, the Challenge Aruba RunWalk, the FitVille Caribbean, Seminars, a Kids Splash & Dash race, besides the main event the International Challenge Aruba Triathlon, with competitors from USA, Colombia, Venezuela, the Netherlands, Brazil, Surinam, Canada, Cuba, Costa Rica, Mexico and Aruba.
Challenge Aruba is member of the Challenge Family. Challenge Aruba is globally broadcast with a possible reach of more than 600 million views.

The Malmok swim zone vandalized.

Since October 19th the Malmok swim zone has been vandalized on four occasions, just cut clean with a knife once 150 yards removed, then another 150 yards removed, then 75 yards removed this morning again…. the yellow buoys were just cut off and left to dangle, this is a real pain in the ass activity in view of the fact that the swim zone was designed to protect visitors and accommodate swimming in the Malmok aquarium, not to mention the cost, the effort, and the aggravation to repair…..if you’ve seen any undesirable activity please report to the beach police or let us know right here on Bati Bleki, and we will inform the authorities….some lowlife is entertaining himself with a deplorable activity, let us know if you see anything.

Wisdom of a Taxi Driver

My favorite Taxi Driver compiled some notes which he deems extremely important for our tourism:

Gravel road to Natural Bridge and the Goldmine Ruins: This road should be taken care of every three to six months and especially following hard rain.

Crazy Wooden Ladder next to so-called New Lagoon near the Goldmine Ruins should be banned OR safely constructed.

General road-markings should be repainted every three to six months.   Our tourists depend on the markings, in order to drive safely. We know our way, tourists don’t. Road markings in front of the Marriott Resorts are extremely important, must be maintained.

All pedestrian crossings marked at the hotel entrances must be continuously maintain, because of the high tourist traffic.

Speed bumps on the roads should be clearly marked. Many elderly drivers hit the speed bumps unprepared, because they are not properly marked.

Street lights on the road to the California Lighthouse, must be installed, this is a major tourist attraction and deserves TLC.

The DTP booth at the airport, the so-called Airport Dispatchers, should be sent to Customer Service training. They must manage that bottle neck more efficiently. Elderly people struggle with their bags at the booth window, going up the line, then down the line to catch the first cab. It doesn’t make sense, the way it is set up now.

The I Love Aruba sign in front of the Parliament building need some extra attention, TLC, the spotlights there are broken, and the area shows signs of neglect. I recommend a weekly maintenance, because there are a lot of pictures taken daily there. We should look good on instagram.

Making a left on LG Smith Boulevard to enter Renaissance Marina is not permitted. WHY??  In the past, some planters prevented the turn but they were carted away. I do not see why we cannot make a left turn there in the direction of the airport??!! The alternative routes feature the shabby areas in the back of Royal Plaza, and at the back of the Protestant church, which are overdue for a facelift.

Stray dogs! Visitors are very sensitive in regards to stray dogs. They consider this a serious issue, and the rescue organizations deserve EVERYONE’s support in the effort to spay and neuter.

The exit road next to the Fire-department, en route to the airport: As this is the last impression of our visitors I feel that something needs to be done, landscaping, cleaning it thoroughly.

Visitors complain that they do not see any Policemen around here. I joke with them saying: “Why do you need Police for in Paradise.” But more visibility of the Police would be appreciated by visitors.

Yours Erwin

It is all possible at ATECH, the Startup Pitch Competition.

I sat in on some pitches, Friday afternoon, crazy geniuses pitching their ideas for the winning start-up title, in a hushed room at the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino, filled with interested and interesting people.

Wow, people have ideas; they follow their dreams, with a sense of entitlement.  In my generation we all got there at age 40, not at 22. We wrestled with the world’s permission: Will the world be kind enough to allow us to pursue our passion, could we, should we? Then when the inner conflict got unbearable, we went for it, and found success, most of the time.

Now, these kids at age 12 are already the CEOs of their own dream enterprises. I’ m exaggerating, but you get my drift, this millennial generation wants to work to fix the world. They pursue their ideologies.

So how about the pitches? Travel was big. Two start-ups tackled travel, facilitating quality experiences, which convert us into travelers, not mere tourists.

In the case of ZOMOZ, a startup from Venezuela, AirBnB already offers a similar program whereby locals take you to practice mountain-top yoga, or teach you to make Arepas in a country kitchen. But programs like that are unforgettable — I made pasta and pizza when in Rome — and result in a sharing economy. While I don’t see this saving Venezuela, it’s a step in the right direction.

Kryha, Blockchain solutions, enjoyed a warm reception. Apparently the young man pitching is from Aruba, a member of the Croes family, as in Fito Croes, and doing quite well in the Netherlands in the cryptocurrency field – something to do with digitalized money — when you grow up, you’ll get it. Very cool. He quoted Mike Tyson saying: Everyone has a plan ‘till they get punched in the face, meaning, watch out for the unexpected, cryptocurrencies are coming.

The startup which gave me goose-bumps came from Haiti. A young stylish woman, Daphnee Charles, with a pronounced French Creole accent, single handedly found a way to end poverty, starting with the poorest nation, Haiti, by making every single citizen an entrepreneur, a businessman/woman. She gave an example of her mom, a street vendor in the Iron Market selling spices, who took five kids through school, including university degrees on the wings of her diligence and creativity. Her group CoCread created a start up city for Micro Entrepreneurs.

The last one was a Dutchman, cracking down on food waste as the middle man between overstocked supermarkets and hungry consumers on a platform called No More Food Waste. According to his pitch about one third of all the world’s food goes to waste, and cutting down on that provides for the needy at discounted prices, makes the supermarkets some money, but more importantly, puts precious produce to good use.

I also met an innovator at the expo, Open Data Nation, a woman with a genius idea. Her start up pours over millions of city records, from accidents to insurance claims and health inspection reports to reveal leading indicators of risk, and deliver business intelligence to plan for safetyFinally, someone to read all those reports and draw some good conclusions. It’s an all women company and I think that Carey Anne Nadeau is on to something.

I had a great afternoon. Results of the competition, revealed later today.

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October 29, 2017
Rona Coster