Bati Bleki Weekly Recap March 5th, 2017

Carnival Festival

I watched yesterday’s Grand Annual Carnival Parade unfold in Oranjestad with great admiration to the individual carnavalistas who make it happen and to the group-leaders who stitch the individual efforts together, to form that vibrant display snaking through town.

And I noticed a trend, stronger than ever, celebrating two kinds on Carnival: one luxurious and colorful, glitzy, feathery, dazzling and the other, its poor cousin, the People’s Carnival that basically consists of grabbing a pair of sneakers and hitting the road to follow the band wherever it goes.

This year, both genres did well, and received ample attention.

The Lighting Parades, and the Grand Parades paid homage to 5% creativity and 95% hard work, months of design, fitting, welding, and glue gun action.

The Torch parade, Jouvert morning in both Oranjestad and St Nicholas, the Sunset Parade in Noord, and various others low-tech barrio parades I missed, presented a low-cost, low-maintenance form of celebration.

Both traditions are worthy of keeping. The first one is costly, and requires a financial investment just few can afford; the second is cheap, and allows mass participation with minimal contribution.

When the economy was different, back in the days, the Tivoli Club, the Esso Club and other Carnival organizations enjoyed broad sponsor support and could put an amazing show on the road.

Times are different now.  But Carnival still circulates plenty of money in the economy – think about food, drink and rhinestones, designers and dress makers, they all get paid handsomely, while the overall organization, relies on 100% voluntary work!

Personally, I love the People’s Carnival, shuffling behind the band, dancing, no special preparation required, just strike the first musical note.

My two Pica 96.5% partners are luxurious Carnival fanatic who insist on dieting pre-parade, they invest considerably in their phenomenal presentation, and they work it to the last detail of decorated high heel shoes, hair, makeup and nails. They treat it as a show, and entertain their audience, making eye contact and communicating with their fans on the side of the road for the duration of the parades. They don’t hide behind their costumes, they show them off.

For them it is a stage, and the public are the ticket holders.

For me it’s Happy Hour.

We love both, and my heartfelt gratitude goes to the music makers, and costume makers for their amazing cultural contributions.

Group Leaders: Thank you for your vision, stamina, and thick skin. Carnival can’t live without you!

#WAKIENDO, Tempest in a Teapot

Marlienne, honey, the best thing that happened to you is being fired from TeleAruba, why did you want to work there in the first place? Such a stiff, old-fashioned and sleepy organization, it would have killed your spark, your brillo; good riddance, I am happy you left!

Dear TeleAruba: As a language, Papiamento is in need of innovators and modernizers, otherwise the language will remain limited, frozen in time. Native-Speakers cannot make mistakes. And let me explain. If you are a Native-Speaker, you have the language in your genetic code, you are incapable of making linguistic mistakes. A language is a living, breathing thing, it evolves, it never stays the same and we should welcome new words and new forms of expression. Please realize that ALL languages change over time, it’s the nature of evolution, and to label WAKIENDO as a corrupt and/or inferior format is ignorant, since from a scientific point all changes are neither good nor bad, they are just adjustments in the way we communicate.

TeleAruba should be proud of innovations in the language introduced by its commentators and anchors; TeleAruba should encourage free thinking, a sense of humor, and nonconformity, instead of choking creativity, poopooing fun, and molding everyone to look/sound the same.

As for the matter of selling Tee-Shirts: Every government person I know, has a side job, his own company, and an additional source of income. The former MinTour is rumored to own a radio station, the current MinTour is rumored to own two contracting companies. So what’s wrong with selling a few fund-raising tee shirt?

Did Marlienne sign a formal Code of Ethics when she went to work for TeleAruba, stipulating what she can or cannot do? Does such a thing exist?

TeleAruba should be pleased that its anchors have diverse interests, it is an asset to have connections and relationships in alternative social/professional circles, the more the better.

So anyway, Marlienne, honey, the best thing that happened to you is being fired from TeleAruba, why did you want to work there in the first place? Such a stiff, old-fashioned and sleepy organization, it would have killed your spark, your brillo; good riddance, I am happy you left!

What’s Happening at the Refinery? Nothing

I wrote two positive articles about RDA in January; things looked up when a consortium formed by France’s Technip and Venezuela’s Tecnoconsult and Y&V Group was picked to refurbish the refinery. Technip was a serious partner and remember they said they were willing to finance the $700 million project, which could take up to 18 months, IF when done they could pay themselves, let’s say $800 million, why not, they made the investment, took the risk, they should be allowed to make some money on it.

So I wrote some positive articles, Yuppie, we’re gonna have a 225,000-barrel per day refinery, someone in the region must help Venezuela dilute its heavy, sticky crude oil, in order to formulate exportable crude blends. If they manage to improve the quality of the product, and fetch $10 dollars MORE per barrel, per day, that’s a huge income. Why not Aruba, right?

Not so fast, cowboy. Apparently the French changed their mind because the deal was too risky, the collateral belongs to RDA not to CITGO Petroleum, so the deal fell through, the French walked away, and so far no one else showed up to take their place.

So what’s happening at RDA right now? Nothing.

This week we were treated to a picture opportunity as so called 100 badges were handed out at the Lab Building to so-called 100 workers of four so-called major contractors entrusted with the rehabilitation of the refinery.

Which is a partial fabrication! There are presently some people working at RDA but their work has to do with safety, not rehabilitation. The maintenance people are just making sure the area is safe for the estimators, charged with estimating, the scope of work, and the size of the investment required.

At the moment, they have no clue if $600 or $700 million are required to resurrect RDA, idle since 2012 when it was shut by the previous operator, U.S. Valero Energy.

Guestimating how much money would be required is a difficult task, and until they know how much they will be asked to spend, CITGO senior management is afraid to pull the trigger.

And don’t believe anything else anyone tells you.

You should also know that, PDV MANTENIMIENTO N.V., is bringing in Venezuelans to work in the refinery rather than hiring good, experienced Arubans who are standing outside the gates ready, willing and able to go to work.

My upcoming book launch and a compliment to TeleAruba

We were doing the walk-thru at the Arubiana-Caribiana department of the library on Bachstraat #5 yesterday, discussing sound, light and ceremony for the upcoming launch of my first book, it’s a hint, there might be others, on March 15th.

The book was compiled and edited by my girlfriend Karin Swiers from articles I wrote for The News, the English paper, between 1992 and 2002, imagine, that’s 25 years ago.

Padu Lampe will be getting the first copy, because I wrote about him frequently.

At the time, print-executive Fernando Schouten, Oranjestad printing, suggested I could/should write for the newspaper, The News, his sister Sonia Wever-Schouten was running from the next door set of offices on Italienstraat.

True to the adage that “when the student is ready the teacher appears,” I went home and knocked out a column.

It wasn’t so easy. I labored over every word. Every nuance. It took a long time to complete and polish every piece. It felt like I was threading beads, bead after bead, word after word to make a pretty necklace. I still feel like that about writing: I just put words together, pearl after pearl, to string my thoughts together.

The columns compiled in the book talk about Aruba and its people. At the time I was blindly in love with the island, and the columns served as love notes. Sonia Wever-Schouten proof-read the text, Eric Boeldak took pictures to accompany it, and Mauro Jones laid it out for the presses.

Another talented crew delivered the book to print in 2017: Karin Swiers did the difficult job of editing, Kyrenia Jonkhout-Delgado designed the graphics and layout and Debbie Kunder proofread the endless text. Kenny Theysen shot the cover photo.

So now you know about the book, it will be available for sale at various outlets, after the 15th, Bruna book store, Plaza Book store, T.H. Palm & Company, The Bazaar at Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, The Marketplace at the Marriott Surf Club, Coconuts beachside at Barcelo Resort and the De Witt Stores at the Airport.

So yesterday, in the garden of the Arubiana-Caribiana department of the library, Karin gave me a valuable piece of advice. You need TeleAruba to cover your launch book, she said, so lay off them, please. Don’t you have books to sell, she added.

If you are a regular reader you would know that a few days ago I picked a bone with TeleAruba. Then I remembered that the new director of the TV station is a member of the Schouten clan, Andree, he has always been very supportive of my writing, and must be a guest of honor at the book launch.

That’s such a typical island story, we’re all related, we all have intertwined histories.

So, here goes a compliment for TeleAruba: I think you were right to recently air the interview with the prisoner on leave. If he earned the privilege, and if the law stipulates it, then what’s the fuss?? Furthermore, the release of the furlough papers was indeed politically motivated, designed to get the MinJust in trouble.

Telearuba decided to give airtime to a news item. What’s the fuss?

If they only aired politically-correct, propaganda materials, we would be upset as well.

News is news, neither good nor bad!

Please continue to feed us items from across the board, we don’t want our national TV plant to only air biased stories, promoting just one point of view.

Aruba Doet 2017

Please consider volunteering your time to an important local social cause.

Go to:, and check out what jobs are available, because we are again looking for volunteers for community projects.

ARUBA DOET 2017, is the fifth edition of the grass root, volunteer event, taking place on Friday, March 10th & Saturday 11th. You may volunteer for a few hours on one or both days.

Organized by CEDE Aruba in cooperation with Oranje Fonds, it’s the largest volunteer event on the island. Should you also want to participate, sign up today and help a social organization or a good cause together with friends or colleagues, your school or your company. Yes, you may sign up as an individual or as a company. Whether you help painting, repairing playgrounds or spoil a group of elderly, you are guaranteed to have fun!

In 2016, 153 projects registered to receive help and 3,250 volunteers rose to the challenge, including me!

ARUBA DOET, is part of a larger organization by Oranje Fonds, with NL DOET, ARUBA DOET, BON DOET, CURA DOET, STATIA DOET and SMX DOET, unfolding at the same time. The Dutch fund makes large investments in social causes on the islands and strengthens the ties between the islands and the kingdom.

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March 05, 2017
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Bati Bleki by Rona Coster
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Bati Bleki by Rona Coster