Bati Bleki Weekly Recap, January 11th, 2016

Love Me Sterilize Ma. Impressive new spaying & neutering campaign was rolled out by award winning Bucuti Beach Resort & Tara Suites. I asked Tisa La Sorte Director of Sales, Marketing and Administration for some additional information regarding this private sector initiative and this is what she said: Yessy Arends, Aruba Mutts, came up with the idea and an outline of a plan for a national campaign subsidizing spaying and neutering stray cats and dogs. It was the first time that we saw a plan we thought could work and actually make a difference. We believe that a long-term program is the only way to go in order to reach more people, and benefit more cats and dogs. After meeting with all six veterinary clinics, a process that took a few months, we worked out the details, in which pet owners sign up and register their pet for the procedure Once registered they will be eligible to a reduce rate operation for their pet, and they may proceed to make an appointment at the veterinary clinic of their choice. At the clinic they will have to submit a registration number, given to them over the phone by one of the program’s volunteers. Veterinarian charges for their pet’s surgery will now be significally reduced to Awg 75 for a crioyo male dog; Awg 100 for a crioyo female dog; Awg 25, for a male cat and Awg 70 for a female cat. Bucuti & Tara Suites will be charged the balance and are also donating microchips that may be implanted into dogs while under anesthesia. Miguel Garcia is the volunteer that will be spending his time registering everyone. Bati Bleki Buzz is extending compliments to the team of geniuses that came up with a sustainable program. Compliments to the art director and the graphic designer for executing an attractive branded campaign, including posters and displays at the Veterinarian clinics, flyers, ads, registration forms, a web site and a FB page. This is no small feat, to get all these components in sync, congratulation Bucuti & Tara Suites. And the poster dogs are the cutest, white and brown Molly is a sweet rescue dogs I hear, she joins Jimmey, lending both their adorable mugs to the cause. The poster dogs were discovered in a doggy-audition by the local agency that helped conceive the awareness campaign. This is what Yessy says: We’re finally ready to launch! After months of back and forth, it is now official that all veterinary clinics are participating in our Continuous Affordable Spay & Neuter Campaign. (ACC, AHVH, CVS, VKW). Thank you for joining forces! We need you in order for this campaign to be fully productive…united we can reach our goal, efficiently and in record time. The program covers Crioyo dogs, also known as West Pointers, or Cunucu Dogs. Pedigree dogs should be spayed and neutered at the expense of their owners who paid for their purchase. Inspired by the love of animals and the love of Aruba, the Bucuti Beach Resort & Tara Suites is going above and beyond, to reduce the number of unwanted puppies and kittens, honoring Mahatma Gandhi and his famous quote: The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.

 Carnival ay ki dushi ta Carnival. I certainly miss SAC and its evergreen unlikely President Tekla Kelly. In fact I have a new appreciation for her, because during her reign, while Carnival was always peppered by heated arguments, events were never compromised, and all public components always fell into place, despite differences of opinion. Under her leadership the show went on no matter what.  True, the process was not transparent, and true, we needed fresh blood, but the new organization SMAC, immediately fell into the same unhealthy pattern even worse, spending without a budget or proper accounting, and generally speaking running a most unorganized organization. But have no fear, Aruba’s Carnival will be gorgeous, the group leaders will pick up the ball and run, and the island’s musicians in their desire to collect 6 or 7 figure amounts for playing during three parades, will come up with the music. We might not have a contest, but we will have catchy new tunes, and crazy fresh lyrics, bet your sweet bippy. The spirit of Carnival is in this island’s heart and soul, beyond suppression, beyond repression!

 Quote by the MinFin: Negotiation with CITGO are progressing…One of my friends, I met him at the hardware store and we had an interesting conversation, had asked me to publish a list of questions that perhaps the MinFin can answer, after all inquisitive minds want to know:

How much did the refinery cost us now that we “own” it again, and how are we going to pay for it?

What feasibility study was done in order to determine that this venture is viable?

Was there a NPV – net present value – study done, and what was the result; what reputable firm conducted the study?

What happened to the environmental claim against Valero?

What contingency plan does the government have if the CITGO deal does not materialize?

Did the Algemene Rekenkamer review the contract, and what were their recommendations?

Did CAFT review the financial impact of both possible scenarios:

  1. Agreement with CITGO goes through.
  2. Agreement with CITGO tanks.

Needless to say the country deserves transparent information regarding this deal, which is reportedly progressing, because when the fat lady sings, the people of this island will end up with the bill.

Babies Having Babies. The first baby of the year, born on January 1st, is usually a big deal in Aruba. The press takes its picture and it is showered with attention and baby gifts. I did not see much fanfare this year, but the picture in the paper showed a newborn boy, in the arms of a smiling young mother, with a father casually leaning into the scene. The article mentioned the fact that she was 15 years old and initially failed to say that the casually leaning in man, was 30. A few days into the New Year, the case was examined by Civil Registration and by the Public Ministry. Both institutions expressed their concerns and dismay. Civil Registration reminded us that the couple, even if married outside of Aruba, could not have the union recognized here, because of the minimum legal age for marriage. Moreover, the Public Ministry reported that no complaint had been filed against the man by outraged parents, nor the prosecutor, and that they are in a “wait and see” mode, after all the man had recognized the child as his own, and no action will be taken, for now.  Some of my friends who were outraged all had daughters, and wished to defend the rights of the vulnerable against predators. So we are hereby expressing our joint disappointment and consternation at the fact that the law doesn’t equally apply to all. Especially in statutory rape, which is the case here. This is what my dictionary says about statutory rape: The criminal offense of statutory rape is committed when an adult sexually penetrates a person who, under the law, is incapable of consenting to sex. Minors and physically and mentally incapacitated persons are deemed incapable of consenting to sex under rape statutes. These persons are considered deserving of special protection because they are especially vulnerable due to their youth or condition. And we are hereby asking the Public Ministry to file formal charges because the young mother was 14 at the time of conception, and may be considered  incapable of consenting to sex and deserving of special protection, because of her  vulnerability and her young age. The girl in the eye of the storm is a feisty one, as she writes in defiance: Pues danki Dios y por lo menos mi a duna luz na e baby, y no manera otro muhernan cu pa solamente papiamento di hende ta tuma e caminda facil di haci un aborto. Mi baby no ta impedi mi nada. Mas bien e ta dunami mas forza di sigui dilanti. Kizas mi ta un mucha ainda, pero mi ta mas responsabel cu hasta muhernan di 25 y 30 aña cu pa motibo di ta core caya y trip, ta kita bida di un baby via aborto. Esey si ta parcemi desagradabel. Danki na e comentarionan. Boso no ta bay dunami nada pa cria mi baby. Como tal e no ta afecta mi. Feliz dia y sigui papia, ya cu esaki no ta afecta mi. Quoted from  You all realize, that the young mother puts on a brave face, and that she is the victim here. Her victimizer should go to jail, because the law is the law, and recognizing the baby is the least expected of him. It should not get him off the hook.

Culinary News. BOENY: My friend, writer Isaac Chin, who lives in Barcadera, sent me a letter in the mail, in a festive envelope with pretty stamps. He wanted me to know about a new restaurant, Boeny, just below Cliffix, and the entrance to San Barbola residence. It is a Surinamese / Indonesian place that Isaac described as cozy, and classy, serving finger licking favorites, he says, such as beef and chicken sate, and bakabana and peanut sauce, in an air conditioned dining room or as take-away.  I also noticed Nasi, Bami, Roti, steamed rice specialties, and dishes served with yucca, baskets, salads, soups, including Saoto with egg and ginger juice on the menu. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 9am to 12midnight tel.: 587 0995/593 7738.

NOS CLUBHUIS HADICURARI: Best lunch place under the sun is Nos Clubhuis Hadicurari. We stopped by yesterday for some fresh wahoo on a bed of salad, it was memorable! The place resides practically on the beach, adjacent to the Marriott Surf Club, on the second floor of Centro di Pesca, overlooking the Hadicurari Pier, where local fishermen bring in their daily catch. Most guests enjoy the deep fried Dutch specialty menu, but we are usually good, and eat reasonably, because fresh fish is tasty beyond words. The wahoo I had for lunch came from a giant fish caught by Aruba’s best fisherman, Marcelino de Jesus,the fish was a tall as I am and as wide!

GRILLED DRY AGED BEEF AT FUSION:  Fusion Restaurant at the Alhambra Casino & Shops has recently introduced its new steakhouse menu. The wine bar and lounge had expanded its kitchen to included a lava stone grill in anticipation of the culinary repositioning, and it now serves classic such as Grilled Salmon, Surf & Turf, Sirloin Steak, Filet Mignon, Rack of Lamb and Kobe Beef Burgers. Your evening may take off with a selection of appetizers such as Caesar Salad, Tuna Tataki and Escargots in Garlic Butter and then continue with Grilled Entrees, each with their own suggested wine pairing, and a selection of favorite sides and sauces. According to Regional Executive Chef Matt Boland, dry-aging improves the texture of the steak and enriches its flavor. It is then grilled to perfection and served at the al fresco Fusion restaurant patio under the stars. Fusion hosts a daily happy hour from 6 to 8pm with 2 for 1 prices on local beer, house wines, and well mixed drinks. On the first Friday of each month, Fusion delivers Aperitivo, an extended happy hour from 5 to 8pm, where the first 30 guests receive their drink free of charge. Pianist Roel de Vries entertains patrons with songs on request Monday, Tuesday and Friday, and on Wednesday and Sunday, Angelo Kolman strums his guitar singing in five languages, covering everything from pop hits to Latin favorites.  The place has an excellent vibe and with the tasty steak menu guests linger longer, listening to live music, selecting a fresh cigar from the walk-in humidor, popping a bottle of champagne open or sipping fine wines. With an extensive selection of premium Vodkas, Scotches and Tequilas, Fusion is true to its name, delivering  a union of fun elements against a beautifully-appointed backdrop.

The issue is NOT the issue. So the straw that broke the camel’s back, the final limit of capacity came the day before yesterday in the form of an argument about Aruba’s Carnival. The MinTour, has had it up to here with these yoyos, and yesterday, he visited the Governor to explain his point of view and declared that if by March 1st, things don’t change in the way his colleagues go about this country’s business, he will resign his post as Minister of Tourism, Culture and Transportation and Primary Sector, whatever that is. He cited his dissatisfaction with the Seroe Colorado issue and the refinery Vs hotels argument at his press conference, and expressed his concerns about tourism, law enforcement and Carnival, as reasons for the blowup. “In matters of style swim with the currents; in matters of principles, stand like a rock, he quoted.” FYI, once resigned the MinTour will go home to his family members and friends because according to the way the pop flops here, he can no longer participate in government as parliamentarian.

I polled my friends about their thoughts:

Friend #1 said:  The ship is sinking. The government is facing insurmountable financial difficulties, and he is the first one to bail, he just wants out. Everybody wants out, but he is first.

Friend #2 said: It’s just an opportunity to prepare for his breakaway as an independent party. He found the funding, he has a backer, and he will be running next year on his own platform. The lone wolf will be weaker, but not for long, he will be picking up more votes as he goes along. This island need a strong opposition leader.

Friend #3 said: Good, it’s about time. Tourism did not need him interfering, we can do the job on our own. AHATA and the hotels can run the show. May his successor, the next MinTour, be a do-nothing, and we have many of those, a do-nothing who only looks forward to Happy Hour on Friday, and we have plenty of those.

Friend #4 said: He’s had it with MinPres who is in Lalaland with Richard Branson, it’s a ship without a captain; he is a celebrity, get him out of there.

Friend #5: Look, honey, he is a hard working man, he moves, he couldn’t stand the wishy-washy treatment of license plates, the crisis in education where all ministers’ children avoid our public schools like a plague and are enrolled in private ones; the deplorable treatment of elderly, the 150 advisors in the MinPres stable, and the 7,000 government employees, double the number of Curacao.  The fact that Dutch people don’t get any permits, while Haitians promising to vote green are ushered right in, and the reality that business is tanking, inflation rising. Remember the sad fragmented state of the opposition? He is looking at starting his own party, perhaps in collaboration with another strong vote-getter, the President of the Parliament of Aruba.

Friend #6: This guy is admirable. His voters love him and follow him come hell or high water, they are totally dedicated to him, he is not going away, you’re looking at the future Prime Minister of Aruba, and you’d better play nice with him.

Friend #7: MinInfra interferes in government, he tinkers with all decisions, he doesn’t stay on his turf, he redefined Nepotism, why would the MinInfra stick his finger in the Carnival pie, and it just pissed MinTour off.

So you see there are many opinions, but they all agree, the politically savvy MinTour, will remain a major player in the public sector, it’s in his DNA.

THE CREATOR OF PIZZA BOB, PASSED AWAY. One of Aruba’s most colorful personalities, Pizza Bob, had passed away in tragic and cruel circumstances in the Dominican Republic where he lived for the past few years. Bob Tokarz came here from Chicago, his home town, and introduced us to yummy deep dish pizza with special artisanal Mozzarella, at a place he opened in Cura Cabai, around the Millennium. We immediately discovered that it was indeed the best pizza on the island, and we flocked to that little hole in the wall where Jeffrey baked the pizza and Bob talked about it. In his personal life, Bob and his lady-love Audrey Tromp were a well-matched pair. She was a sweetheart, with lots of family members in Aruba. She met Bob in San Martin and together they came here to spread the pizza gospel. He was eccentric, charismatic, enterprising, surprising, made friends as easily as he lost them, at one time selling 25% of Pizza Bob to five different buyers all at the same time. He was great at identifying potential partners and opening additional storefronts at Brickell Bay, on Eagle Beach, and in Tanki Flip. While he had a tumultuous relationship with veteran casino operator Mike Posner, his original on-island partner, he loved kids, and he had a passion for cards and casinos. He once won a giant jackpot at the Hilton Casino – that was many years ago when the Riu Antillas was a Hilton — and management is still scratching its head, wondering how that happened. Bob’s dream was to open a retirement home for elderly people and he thought he would get to do it in the Dominican Republic. But as he was making plans other projects involving fisheries and vegetable gardens popped up so that the village for the elderly with reasonably priced health care, remained on the drawing board. He did have excellent ideas, but he was not always a straight arrow about them. Audrey’s last prediction, a few days before she passed away, was to finally marry her Bob in 2016. May they rest in peace.

Mail regarding restaurant reservations. First of all I wish you a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. I enjoy reading your Bati-Blekis and since you mentioned that you have an international audience I would like to share the following in your popular blog: We just experience a hectic, joyous holiday season as many people enjoyed the island and its restaurants. The dark-side of the island’s dining experience is the number of guests making dinner reservations and then either no-show or cancel last minute. From my days at a high-rise timeshare resort I remember many of our guests making multiple restaurant reservations through the hotel concierge and then select one last minute as they stand in the lobby with their friends. This obviously results in empty seats at restaurants holding tables for guests who changed their plans last minute, and on the flip side disappointed guests who were denied access to that same place.  Now that I am partially involved in a restaurant I am experiencing this first hand and I am flabbergasted with the ease and thoughtlessness with which guests make reservations, just to cancel them last minute, my apology for the strong language! But as they no-show without the courtesy of a call, or a timely cancelation, I now fully understand why airlines have non-refundable tickets, and why hotels charge penalties for no-shows. Yes, the answer is to secure reservations with credit cards, but even that does not deter savvy guests who know they can easily dispute the restaurant charge. If that does not work there is always Trip Advisor, used as a weapon, where the threat of an anonymous negative review, has the restaurant thinking twice before chagrining no-show fees.

In several fine dining restaurants in the US patrons pay a reservation up front with their credit card and will not get reimbursed when they no-show.  Aruba is still that one happy Island where we prefer doing business taking guests at their word, only carrots, no sticks, hoping our guests will simply comply with the Golden Rule: treat others as you would like to be treated.

Thank you Rona for perhaps bringing some conscious to your international audience.




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January 10, 2016
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