Bati Bleki Buzz, Weekly Recap, Sunday, August 13th, 2017

And then God Invented Video

They keep telling me that video is the most important tool in the digital world, we can’t do with it!

This week we were treated to a super cheesy but cute video starring the lovely Kimberly Kuiperi, promoting the island to a celebrity Italian millionaire businessman, Gianluca Vacchi, inviting him to celebrate his 50thbirthday on the island, all expenses paid. The video was created and shot by a Colombia ad agency, and you can see it posted on:

In fact it is worth watching, Aruba looks lovely.

So by now you are asking, if that man is a millionaire businessman, why does he need us to foot the bill for his 50th birthday celebration? Why can’t he pay his own way?

AHA, it turns out he is an instagram sensation, billed as the Happiest Man on the Planet, with 10.7million followers. Imagine if he took Kimberly up on her invitation, the island would have instant access to 10.7million like-minded people around the world.

Forgive me, with all due respect, but they are 10.7M morons. I checked gen-xer Gianluca Vacchi out, he is an attention-craving cross between US President Donald Trump and Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, with some machismo similarities to Vladimir Putin, in his beefcake, bare-chested appearances on horses, boats and motorcycles.

Billed as the new coolest man on instagram, this guy is a world class narcissist, severely affected by fear of aging, a 49 year old tattoo-covered Peter Pan, refusing to age by dating young women, and hanging around in expensive silk pajamas. As I said Hugh Hefner, with just 514K followers on instagram — all in wheels chairs by now — invented this old trick in the 1953, when he first published Playboy magazine.

To add insult to injury, GV is a pathetic dancer, though he fancies himself a Reggaeton star. Notably, he keeps a carrot in his pocket when photographed. I had the privilege of watching an Instagram video where he emerged from a sub zero liquid nitrogen tank with a hard on. Really?!

Anyway, we invited him for an all expenses paid birthday party on the island. So now you know what’s trending. And it’s too funny!

#Gianlucanecesitasaruba @gianlucavacchi

Another silly video I had the privilege to view was one starring a student & entrepreneur, with moderate political view, he says, whatever that means, #29 on the AVP list, the sexy youth representative, landing on a beach with his Sea-doo, talking straight into the camera, to me, telling me he came to get me to join the “Entregamento di e lista AVP.” Get there, he commands, then having dispatched the stern message, the hunk mounts his watercraft, and pumps it back into the sunset!

So video is important, to show us how shallow we’ve become.

Nostalgia: A column I wrote for an upcoming commemorative book will be published by ECA NV, about Ling & Sons Supermarket!

I became a client of Ling & Sons Supermarket at their downtown location on Weststraat in the late ‘70s. I was new to the island at the time, and everything seemed different and challenging except the market shelves, which carried products, I was familiar with, making me feel right at home. I also learned a new thing: to buy bok choy for my soup, and sweetened condensed milk for my coffee! If truth be told, I was perfectly happy at the four-aisle Weststraat store, with the occasional leaking refrigerator. I developed informal and friendly relationships with the Ling family members, especially Mrs. Ingrid Ling, who listened to every request, big or small, for specialized products and seasonal selections, which she promptly imported, making sure we were notified that the items arrived in time for the holiday.

The big transition came with the move to Eagle. I simply loved that new and improved market! It was big enough and small enough, I learned the ins and outs in just one walk-through, and things were laid out logically and never changed location. The easy-to-trace, foolproof layout was genial, and we were introduced to a great selection of new products. Yes, you are right, who needs 20 brands of tomato ketchup when I only buy Heinz, but it’s really nice to have them available for price-conscious shoppers!  That market ushered in a new era for fruits and vegetables on the island with unprecedented amazingly fresh displays. The butcher shop was five-star and the bakery—wow, the bakery—was over-the-top delicious!

I was perfectly content at the eight-aisle supermarket on Italienstraat and continued to nurture friendly relationships with the Ling family members, adding Yolanda Ling to my list of special people. She always had time to chat, comment, educate, and enlighten.

Then came the surprise. The eight-aisle supermarket on Italienstraat turned into a twelve-aisle giant—a much-improved, modern and stylish food emporium. The larger-format market allowed the introduction of more specialized products and seasonal selections. The expatriate community in Aruba was happy when Mrs. Ingrid Ling adopted the American holiday calendar, remembering to bring in every traditionally required item to celebrate fun occasions from Halloween and Thanksgiving to Easter. She made sure to save me a Butterball turkey if I was late shopping in November, and she recalled we liked glazed spiral hams for Easter. Giving Passover an equal opportunity, Mrs. Ling regularly brought in the unleavened bread crackers eaten by the Jewish community. She steadily diversified our diets by presenting us with many Indian and Chinese ingredients, and looked out for our health with more fruits and vegetables, never neglecting to order the latest diet trends, including extensive low-fat/low-sugar everything.

Clean, friendly, nicely merchandised, and best of all, manned by the same expert butcher, the same wizard baker, the same smiling cashiers, and the same efficient supervisors, with the ever-sensible, available, and patient Mrs. Ingrid Ling on the floor, ready to answer all questions and follow up on all requests. 

And, of course, we enjoyed the annual New Year’s firework show. It was well orchestrated and enthusiastically received.

The Lings had their finger on our lifestyle pulse for many years. It all seemed so easy and effortless with them around, and the store was always stocked and prepared. I have to shower them with special compliments for that: In spite of the difficulties of being dependent on ocean liners and containers, the show went on, and we never left the market disappointed.

Pika’s corner, Aruban food with a soul

My friend Hubert Solagnier is a cat with seven lives.  I met him in the early years, as the General Manager of Arubiana Inn. He had graduated the Bushiri hotel school, and was nurturing a career in hospitality. Later on he spent some good years at the Steamboat Buffet serving a million breakfasts each day, and then two decades or so at Tony Roma’s and Amazonia Churrascaria, both great successes at their time. Curacao came next. He hopped across the pond to develop a churrascaria concept there.

But he missed Aruba, and upon arrival on his native isle it seemed to him that a sports bar overlooking Palm Beach was the right thing to invest in. Hubert is a great story teller, and this one is one of his best, how he managed to escape disaster when he successfully sold his Sport’s Bar at Brickell Bay, after opening it and spending serious money, shedding blood, sweat and tears, and still the place was not going anywhere, it was underperforming. Hubert felt like pulling the plug, but then miraculously, a buyer appeared, just in time.

At a funeral a few days later, Hubert heard that the old Palm Beach Refreshments location was available. He immediately said “I do” to the owner, and took the eatery over.

He was on a lucky streak, because he also met a pallet wood furniture maker, when he needed tables and chairs for his new operation. In a nutshell, just when he was thinking of relocating to Colombia to find his fortune there, everything fell into place, here.                               .

Hubert now serves local cuisine, for breakfast, lunch and dinner, from that great location on the Palm Beach road. So next time a visitor asks you where he/she can have local food, send them to Hubert for Sopi Carni or Galina Stoba, with Funchi or Pan Bati, and awa cu lamunchi.

The chalk board has a list of daily specials including stewed goat, tongue, tripe, cucumber or pork, and different soups every day. Keshi Yena Hubert says always sells out first. Fresh whole fish, fillet of fish Creole, fish balls, and snail stew are popular. Meat lovers enjoy the rib eye steak and the BBQ ribs.

Hubert’s recently-introduced dinner menu is a hit, simple skewers on the grill, one pound each, of chicken, picanha, ribs, and steak, at super-reasonable prices, good to share, with garlic and chimichuri sauces, and fries. Not just any fries. Yummy yucca fries.

And you will be pleased to see Juancho, a retired Divi bartender, among the friendly, helpful dining room staffers.

One thing I guarantee, Hubert has no more time for golf, Pika’s Corner keeps him and his supportive, hard-working wife Paola very busy!

#ArubaIDo features romance on Eagle beach!

So by now you know we had a mass vow renewal ceremony on Eagle beach on Tuesday, with more than 160 couples from around the world, and from Aruba pledging “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.”

I get mushy reading the text, let alone saying it out loud.

ATA promoted the event on social media, and got a strong response, meeting and exceeding the goal set at 150 couples. They promoted it among timeshares owners, and resort guests, concierges, wedding and event planners, and recruited some glittery star power via the island’s NY public relations company.

Standing on the beach, I saw my friends Pedro & Rosario Vargas, and Christine Leo & Lionel Kaarsbaan; they were all gorgeous, and beaming. I met Pedro & Rosario at the supermarket the day before and they invited me to “their” renewal ceremony. I loved it.

The forefront of the group picture featured some international influencers in the romance biz, Mr. & Mrs. Worldwide, Scott & Colette, of the Travel Channel, and travel couple Hannah & Adam Lukaszewicz, of, both couples with millions of followers. streamed the ceremony live, and Tamra & Eddie Judge, famous for “The Real Housewives of Orange County,” already gave us some on line coverage. Take a look:

Ruben Trappenberg struck the perfect tone as the wedding official, he wasn’t cheesy, he wasn’t melodramatic, he was playful and fun, talking about love and commitment without scaring anyone off the beach! Kudos on how he handled the challenging occasion.

Emcee Michele Brooks must have been a sergeant major in her previous life; she exercised crowd control, got everyone’s attention and conducted a cute Q&A session: Where are you from? How many years have you been married? Did you tie the knot or honeymooned in Aruba?

Not surprisingly, the majority of the crowd has been here before, and enjoyed emotional ties to the island.

I liked the casual, spontaneous, unrehearsed and non-commercial beach ambiente, it was a free-of-charge event, the sand and sun are priceless and so is love.

The ceremony offered a steel pan version of the wedding march, champagne, live music, and a short Carnival show, then the buses loaded up the lovebirds and left at 7:30pm. The beach emptied, only memories remain.

So, the Caribbean’s largest vow renewal, on the 3rd best beach in the world, Eagle Beach, was a success; Lissy Lampe and Letz Aruba helped set up the symbolic arches and flowers. Thank you for not overshadowing the beach.

Take a look at Artnphoto Aruba pictures.

Pepe Marin: Have Camera Will Travel

Pepe Marin is a self-styled, Spanish-born explorer who happens to be producing 24-minute documentaries for El, a popular online community featuring movies, recipes, contests and mostly famous, but also not-so-famous chefs from around the globe.

He already went around the world twice and has his own YouTube channel where he posts his global findings. Besides, he is prominently featured on, and has a great following in Spanish-speaking Europe and South American.

How does he do it? He travels, meets a local connector, and the rest is history, all he needs is to indentify that first connector who give him an “in” to the local community.

He was lucky to find Mariza Garcia on Aruba. He found her on Face book. He was going to produce a movie here about expat Argentinean Chefs for the South American market and a movie about expat Mexican Chefs for the Mexico-Caribbean market. Mariza, who knows all addresses, opened all doors.

No, he did not want to go to the tourism authority, he explains. He was looking for spontaneous and authentic footage which he believed he could identify, and approach on his own.

I met Pepe on his last evening on the island, at a cookout on Eagle Beach. The friends he made here during his ten-day stay all came together to eat and drink in community, one more time, and to shoot a nice outro for his movies.

Pepe reports he first met executive chef Romeo Penacino, of the Marriott Aruba Resort & Stellaris Casino. Romeo, an avid diver took Pepe diving, and introduced him to the fabulous kitchen of Ruth Chris. Then they drove down to Savaneta one afternoon and Romeo got into the Zeerover pit and cleaned fish with the local fishermen, all captured on camera, following a great dinner.

The local lion fish hunters took Pepe on a mission to spear as much fish as possible. Aruba’s champion lion fish hunter Candicio van der Biezen, escorted Pepe on that adventure, then Candicio’s wife Lyssette, the executive chef of Pure Lime, Divi Resorts, a Mexican-born chef, made an amazing fish chowder, for the cookout on Eagle Beach. It tasted like heaven. Luciano Mazzeo, of the Environmental Education Foundation, also a lion fish hunter contributed greatly to that unforgettable soup!

And just to make sure Pepe doesn’t lose any weight while on the island Ruben, El Mexicano, from the famous Palm Beach food truck, set up the grill on the back of his truck, and served Mexican drunken steak, under the stars, with a side of hot, homemade onion-cumin salsa.

That’s not everything. One night, just to break things up a bit, Pepe learned the secrets of Dominican Arroz con Coco, with freshly grated pulp, forever changing the way he looked at long-grain rice. He captured it all on video. He also has footage from a spectacular sailing trip on board the Montforte luxury yacht, dinner on the Pelican Pier, and the San Nicholas street art murals.

Pepe swears Aruba’s people are the nicest, he’s enjoyed his time here, coming from Colombia, going on to Grand Cayman. He was treated like a VIP, he says, and now has materials for two movies, one for Mexico and the Caribbean and one for Argentina & Chile, starring Aruba’s eclectic kitchens and their diverse and crazy chefs.

Watch the 24-minute programs on the Elgourmet channel later this year, following Pepe Marin’s visit to Aruba. He is a journalist who films the best Latin American chefs in action.

Who needs a life-coach? I do. You do too

I met Nathaly Cabrera about two years ago, and finally hooked up with her this week. She is a life skill coach and trainer, and her company Dynamis is active in the HR management field. At the same time she has a private practice and she helps people get from A to B, when stuck.

I enjoyed talking to her, and I loved the fact that she is active in government circles, because these people need all the spiritual help they can get. As Nathaly explains it, people often compromise, opting for safety and security, keeping a job they dislike because of its fabulous perks, never realizing they have a choice, and that they are allowed to follow their heart, and pursue their passions.

Most people are miserable if they compromise, she says, if they settle, if they say yes all the time, when they long to say no. They have a certain belief system, and they follow it without examining the truism in it.

They think: I am too old, I am too young, I am too fat, I am too skinny, my hair isn’t right, I have no leadership skills, I will probably fail and embarrass myself, no one will hire me, I have no experience, I have too much experience, I am under-qualified, I am over-qualified, this is not feasible, they will never pay me what I want, who do I think I am?!

All these thoughts hold people back, but the few who visit Nathaly Cabrera’s office, can get off the sidelines, and into the highway of life, including men, women, teens, retirees, and students.

Why do we have these wrong beliefs? Often based on other people’s experiences and most of the time because of fear. Fear is in general a good thing, a protective mechanism, but when fear paralyzes us, it is a bad thing.

Nathaly goes on to explain that the initial in-take is free, then she designs a plan, and her clients often see immediate change, because they are liberated from their self-imposed chains.

Most people, explains Nathaly, are emotionally illiterate. They feel, but they cannot put what they feel into words and they cannot talk about what’s going on or explain it to others; they are not literate, they need to learn to talk about their feelings and identify them correctly.

Nathaly is especially critical of over-protective, overbearing parents, especially mothers. Over protection is not love, she says, it is a lack of respect for the child, thinking he cannot fend for himself. It is the parent’s job she says, to teach the kids to get along without their parents, letting go of kids teaches them to stand on their own. So mothers, hands off.

In essence, everyone needs a coach, and I would love to send you all to Nathaly, her goal is to make you happy, so you get what you want out of life!

Gotta love it.


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August 13, 2017
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Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
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