Bati Bleki Weekly Recap, May 15th, 2016

What I learned from Operation Cunucu

The recent mass spaying and neutering operation in collaboration with Animal Balance USA brought together many dog advocate organizations from the island. They were all cooped up at Centro Dakota for five days, receiving the public, handling dogs, puppies, operating on about 350 males and females of all ages, getting some ready for adoption, dealing with the heartbreak of returning neutered puppies back into the street, and most disturbingly back to the dump, and the fact that they are all still talking to each other is a miracle.

What am I talking about, that is not true. Before Operation Cunucu, there was little communication between the diverse local rescue operations. Many resented each other’s beliefs and procedures, and they all did their own thing, believing their way is BEST.

With Operation Cunucu then were brought in to collaborate. And that is ARUBA’S BIG GAIN, the fact that Aruba Flight Volunteers and Animal Rights and New Life for Paws and Centro Veterinario Contrera the government, including the MinTour and MinHealth, member of Parliament Donny RasmijnAimee Henriquez, of course the two who started the ball rolling, Gina Potter and Shelley Chadwick. Additional players, from the Netherlands, Mercedes De Bruyn, with her United Dog Foundation, and Dr. Juan Henao of Animal Health Clinic in Aruba, who showed up and lent an active hand.

Basically, the week started with a bunch of volunteers from all over, introducing and uniting the local resources. I hear talk about one big umbrella organization, that would learn from Animal Balance but do its own initiative next. I applaud that, that is BEST, while we appreciate all that Animal Balance has done for us we are NOT A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY, we are a first world country and we should be able to help ourselves. I will support any LOCAL umbrella organization undertaking mass neutering and spaying, because the rescue of puppies in noble and admirable, but we have to get to the core of the problem, which is reproduction control. We should clean out own messes and take care of our own challenges. We spend so much money on glitter and feathers in Carnival, we should be able to spay and neuter our pets!

BEFORE SIGNING OFF: The government HAS to introduce a dog tag program. Anyone who wants to have a dog/cat must present at the local vet for a tag, and vaccinations. You may charge Awg 45 for the government tag, then extra for the vaccinations. Then at Awg 75 for neutering, which is subsidized by the Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort, you stand a chance at enjoying your pet, and saving our community from unwanted animals.

IN A PERFECT WORLD: We should have a teacher, going from school to school, a paid for Animal Right advocate, a professional, making her/his way through our educational system to teach children about proper care to cats and dogs.

Dogs & Tourism, or tourism going to the dogs

The above are two much-talked about subjects in the local media today and yesterday. As for dogs, the Police just took a drastic measure in Tanki Flip, euthanizing over 130 animals. I am an animal lover not an animal fanatic, meaning I do not outright condemn the ‘culling’ of unwanted animals.  If the people of this island do not want to spend Awg 75 on sterilization, they should not have any pets. I wrote a lot about the dog subject lately, and perhaps now that the Police took a radical stand, dog owners will get it through their thick heads that we have a law on the island which protects animals, and if you abandon them, their life is in imminent danger.

I grew up in a city where all dogs were required to wear dog tags, and the dog-catcher rode around in a van, handling a long stick attached to a noose, and if your dog disappeared because you accidentally left the door of the apartment open, you had to urgently collect him from the Municipal Shelter, where he was kept alive for only 7 days, before being put down. The system worked. We paid an annual fee for our dog, we only had ONE, he was neutered and vaccinated; we couldn’t afford having one hundred and thirty dogs. The rescues in Tank Flip were doomed, kept alive by optimistic volunteers, struggling to collect donations, but their future looked dim.

Last week I found out my neighbor was harboring THIRTY EIGHT cats. That is a crazy number. He did not just have one darling kitty, he said he lost control over the reproductive abilities of his cats in the last six months, and ta-da, he got eight kittens per female, twice this year. He had no car to drive them to the vet, he explained, he had no money to invest in sterilization, bla, bla. I say: He should have asked the neighbor next door! Anyway, I am trying to cope with the cat situation without putting any animals down, thank you Stimami & Sterilisame for the sponsorship it wouldn’t have been possible without you.

On the subject of tourism, The MinTour is taking on the hoteliers on the issue of All Inclusive licences. Someone published in the newspapers this morning a fairly accurate description of what All Inclusive means. It does mean tourists with less resources and it does attract men and women who want to eat and drink themselves silly, during their vacation. I think that the fact that you don’t get a bar bill at the end of the night, and that you can drink yourself into a stupor, is a selling point for all inclusives! That said, the hotels should be able to offer what their guests want to buy with LESS government intervention. I posted some articles on my FB page, about Venezuela and Brazil where the government messed with the economy to the point of no return. I would love to see the MinTour devote some of his famous energy to environmental issues, clean up the dump. I believe in his ability to move things along, and he should focus on the way we handle garbage, then move on to improve education, and mostly MAKE OUR HEALTH SYSTEM MORE PATIENT FRIENDLY. Please minister: Apply your talents to the areas where they are needed!

I wrote about the subject of all inclusive on April 20th, I think it is worth a revisit:

Chef Urvin Croes moving his restaurant concept to Gold Coast Residence

White Modern Cuisine was introduced at the Palm Beach Plaza Mall in February of 2012 and we have enjoyed some great meals there for the past four years. No more. The restaurant closed at the end of April, and will be relocating to the Club House of Gold Coast Residence within the next few weeks.

The chef cites a disappointing high-season in the winter of 2016, combined with other unfortunate factors as reasons for the relocation, but he is grateful for the four wonderful years, and the opportunities he enjoyed on Palm Beach. In his new spot at Gold Coast Residence, White will be more family-friendly, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and thus attractive to a bigger segment of the market.

When the chef first created his all-white contemporary eatery he promoted many new concepts, at least new to Aruba, including the Farm to Table movement, the foraging for edible weeds, craft cocktails, molecular gastronomy, micro cuisine, and the fact that dainty tweezers replaced the bulky tongs as the kitchen’s handiest tool.

The creative and innovative Aruban-born Chef and his colorful and dynamic family including a super-woman support system, his wife Mary Ann Werleman, instantly became the media darlings, and the Aruba Tourism Authority showcased the culinary artists of White Modern Cuisine at every opportunity.

But the second floor location of the Palm Beach Plaza Mall did not deliver, neither did the economy. So as a strategic realignment, the chef is moving his tweezers to the just-finished club house of Gold Coast Residence, where his rent will probably be more manageable, in view of the fact that his uncle is the real estate developer.

The White Modern Cuisine menu will live on, in a new location, and Urvin will continue to teach his kitchen crew every secret of the trade, because that is also part of his mission, developing young and eager culinary talents on the island.

Urvin, your local followers will remain your local followers wherever you go!

The misplaced and misdirected shock and anger of the local community

I was a client of Happy Tails until a few years ago and recommended the services of the van Veens to a number of my friends who traveled and wanted their dogs to stay in good hands while they were away. The mother & son due were always a bit odd but always courteous and loving towards their four- and two-legged clients. The compound in Tanki Flip always had high walls, but looked relatively well taken care of.

I believe that at the time the van Veens ran a dog hotel, and they were less concerned with rescues, but then the fanatic, never-give-up Kiki, the Animal Ambulance driver and the founder of Fundashon Cas Animal walked into their lives and introduced a new and super-charged level of stress, with over one hundred abandoned dogs which needed to be “saved,” from life in the dump, and the “evil” Veterinary Dienst.

Gilbert wanted to save them all, but his illness prevented him from thinking straight and in the face of so much misery, he lost his way and isolated himself and his symbiotic mom even further.

I understand he regularly hitched rides to Santana di Cacho to bury animals, dumped by total strangers who did not want to do it themselves, but because he no longer had a car, the carcasses had to wait in the freezer, for an opportune ride.

Many locals expressed “disgust” and “shock,” over the gruesome story, but if you open your eyes you will see misery in the street every day. The mentally ill guy and the ‘crazy German lady’ are the only once doing something to help.

True, against the sea of our indifference their actions seem mad and irrational.

The Police and the Health Department self-righteously declare they have never seen anything like this…YOU JUST HAVE TO GO TO THE DUMP OR THE BACK STREETS OF SAN NICHOLAS, and you will see the same, every day.

To quote a caring friend: We should not be shocked…this shit is happening on every street in Aruba every day–dogs abandoned, no sterilization, vaccinations, or general decent care…these dogs came from the streets and they are a result of too many people on Aruba not showing responsibility and care–if people were responsible pet owners then these dogs would not have ended up here…and we have to bring volunteers from other countries to come here and clean up our mess–enough! Let’s stop making this mess of unwanted strays wandering our island and suffering–STERILIZE and VACCINATE your animals, we are not a third world country, we are suppose to be ONE HAPPY ISLAND–that should include our animals!

KPA – They published more than 80 pictures of the horror show to cover their ass, to prove the scene had to be cleaned up, radically. In reality, perhaps some of the animals could be saved. It was the first time I remember KPA ever releasing images and communicating with the public. Which proves they can! Please continue to do so as you crack down on real offenders.

Another reader writes: “What bothers me most about this whole story is, that all the pictures come from our most respected KPA. With the biggest criminals you don’t see or hear anything from them, because otherwise they will get problems with lawyers and such. But when there is a clearly mentally sick person, they throw everything out in the open. Doesn’t that have to do with a lack of integrity???”


Bruce Harms, introduces Authentic Aruba

Some people are happy to visit the Eiffel Tower at Epcot Center, but many of us want the real deal, the authentic experience, the rain forest in Surinam instead of a café by that name at the Sawgrass Mills.

In walks Bruce Harms. Visiting one of his marketing clients one day, he took a second look at the neatly lined up bottle of Pica de Papaya, and said to himself, Eureka, with the sudden, unexpected realization that he is looking at an authentic Aruban experience.

He heard about the quest for authenticity at a recent Aruba Tourism Authority gathering, and tried himself of introduce some authenticity to the island’s tourist product by setting up a Culinary Walking Tour in town, but nothing tripped his trigger, until he laid his eyes on the lovely bottles of Pica Di Papaya.

Uncovering the Authentic Aruba, he identified more than 30 artisanal home-industries producing hot sauces, wines, jams, cakes and snacks, of course hot sauces are most popular, with some of them already sold in the tourist market as souvenirs from Aruba.

To cut a long story short Bruce created an umbrella organization to market and promote authentic Aruban products, and he is now signing agreements with restaurants and retail outlets to stock, display and sell, various, genuine, Aruban tastes.

The debut took place on Friday at Local Store. The popular bar was the first outlet to receive an Authentic Aruba display cabinet, and Bruce intends to build one for each outlet he signs up. Then his job is to make sure they are always brimming with local goodies.

I met some great people at the event, Bruce had them all wearing an Authentic Aruba tag, they all carried Authentic Aruba business cards, with nice graphics by Rowald de Graaff, it looked super professional and I hope the tourists open their valets and take some of our deliciousness home.

Aruba Ginger, by Rosa & Kenneth: Five different products also available in the supermarkets. I am already using the extra hot. Goes great with everything, Tel.: 5945708

Delimy Spice-Herbs, by Shirley & Selinna: Homemade wines, syrups, jam, Mauby and remedies, Tel.: 7302612.

Zera Snacks by Zeraida Kastaneer: Pastechi, Boyo di Maishi Rabo & Pasa Boca Dessert, Tel.: 6007358

Mangiare Gourmet Cuisine: For appetizers, amuse bouche and small catering, Tel.: 5935464

Island Girl by Timothy & Richienel: Souvenirs and tee-shirts, Tel.: 5931359

Adore Wines, by Papi DeLisle: Winemaker Luiz Melatti grows a vineyard in Burubundo, since 2010, and the wine is made and bottled in Aruba. Check out the website Michael & Maurice DeLisle were also on hand for the special occasion.

About Bruce Harms: Enthusiastic, dynamic, fast talking, fast thinking, creative and fun, also married to the lovely Heidi Munzenhoffer with whom he has two equally adorable kids. When he was a kid himself, he grew up on my street and I think I have to write a book one day describing his mischievous adventures!

Kenneth Giel is Bruce’s partner in the venture, but he doesn’t have to say a word because Bruce does all the talking!


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May 14, 2016
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