Bati Bleki Weekly Recap, November 16th, 2015

WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT E-GAMING IN CURACAO. I recently read a long article, the Story of Pinnacle Sports, focusing on a bookmaking site, which is illegal in the United States, but comfortable and making tons of money in Curacao. Pinnacle Sports is very famous and successful, and it operated for a long time out of the shabby Holiday Beach Hotel & Casino. For the purpose of the article, published in October, reporters attempted to interview the Pinnacle executives, but on the morning after reporters arrived, Pinnacle began moving its computers and furniture to another location in Willemstad. It’s all interesting, don’t you think so? So, I learned that Internet Gaming became illegal in the US in 2007, and that the island then stepped in and has been doing well, ever since. How do they do it? They offer e-gaming licenses and sublicense. In fact, they have been active in the off shore gaming since 1996. Interestingly enough, Curacao was one of the first islands to regulate online gambling. One of my friends working for a Curacao Trust Company reports it is easy to get a legitimate license for on-line gaming. I looked at the requirements, easier and cheaper than buying a house, as long as you are older than 18 and you block access to minors. Moreover, the island offers turn-key E-Gaming business packages, incorporating everything, obtaining all permits, cla, for a modest fee and a 2% low-tax annual levy! Anyway, it’s a good business, for the free-zone, I know Aruba has been talking about it.

WHAT I LEARNED IN CURACAO ABOUT FUNCHI. We hungrily investigated the funchi situation, while on the island. As explained to me by my expert tour-guide Tabitha Fecunda, funchi in Curacao is soft, creamy and moist, portioned and rolled in silver foil, molded into a giant sausage. We had some at Plasa Bieu, in the far end of the hall, in the kitchen run by Zus’ daughter, who follows in her mother’s culinary footsteps. We also enjoyed similar funchi at the Golden Horse on Caracas Bay. The funchi in Aruba is different, served in squares or slices, a bit dryer, and gratefully, it appears on our plates in smaller quantities. I had to try the typical Tutu, funchi with black eye peas, coconut milk and butter. I totally get why they like it so much. While travelling the western part of the island we came across a Toko, selling pan será. In the mini market across Jaanchie’s restaurant, the skinny shop-keeper, safe and secure behind iron bars, reported that her pan será  was sold out. Wow, what disappointment. We asked if any other lady in the area was a baker. Bingo, we found one on the way to Playa Forti. The baker came out of her kitchen dressed in a terry cloth tube, and slippers. Having bought an ounce of worst dushi and an ounce of keshi, we opened our pan será, lined it with goodies and took a bite. I totally get why they like it so much, and Tabitha will never forgive me that I finished mine completely, she wanted another piece. The homemade bread is dense and filling, and soft, and slightly sweet, made with very cold water, and an expert hand I am told, so the dough never hardens. My friends told me that pan será dates back to when there were no bakeries on the island and islanders had to bake their own.    

10 DAYS 1 PLAY. Looking for 15 people, to donate $100 each for an art project, this coming Wednesday! The Aruba Academy for Fine Arts & Design is playing host to a group of young actors and theater director Ira Kip. The actors and director are putting together a play in just 10 day, and will premier their work at Cas Di Cultura on November 26th, with an encore performance on November 27th. Ira reports the play is about beauty. So, prepare to start a conversation about beauty and why we value it so much, and how it affects our culture and Identity. The group has been rehearsing diligently at the school on Wilhelminastraat, but in order conclude the production, they need a little extra cash to cover the rent at Cas Di Cultura for both performance nightsATT: Art & Theater Lovers, your HELP is needed, join our Wednesday fundraiser, Nov 18th, 7.15 to 8.30pm. Donate $100 and you will receive free ticket to the premier. Please become a patron of the arts, for $100. There will be a short presentation and a Q & A session, then you get to meet the young local actors: Lyrick Perez Jonovan Wernet Amanda Alders Britt Trinidad Tavin Blanche Georgina Richardson Luis Villegas Pablo Aguilar Shanika Clark Juliette Carti and Darlin V Hernandez.Thank you Aruba Academy for Fine Arts & Design, and its director Glen Goddijn, thank you Hertz Aruba, Paradise Beach Hotel, Jan Van Nes, Marketing Plus NV and VNO, companies dedicated to the advancement of our youth through Arts & Education

DUSHI BAGEL CELEBRATES ANNIVERSARY. Friends of Carina & Fernando Latorraca flocked to Dushi Bagel for Happy Hour on Friday, to celebrate the restaurant’s 15th year at Playa Linda Beach Resort and its 10th anniversary as a family business. It all started when Carlos & Myrtha Sonensein offered Dushi Bagels to Carina & Fernando, as a business opportunity. I imagine that the charismatic Fernando who had been working for the now defunct Carlos and Charlie’s, in its heydays, also wanted to become his own boss! So they did it. They took the little hole in the wall over. Carina reports they had no money to buy it, but they bought it anyway because they had just bought their house, in spite of the fact that they initially had no money to afford it. So with that God Will Provide attitude, the Latorracas became the proud operators of the bagel factory and the bagel shop. Which only proves what we already know, that in life you gotta take a risk, and move on an offer when it presents itself, whether you can afford it or not. Over the years the business grew and son Francisco joined the company. He is in charge of the kitchen, making sure that food is delicious and the menu updated, for breakfast, lunch & dinner. Francisco who studied under one of Argentina’s best chef is happy to share that the recent addition to the menu, Mac Attack, a colossal gourmet burger topped with homemade macaroni, cheese and bacon, is already very popular. The bakery, says Carina, produces 13 kinds of fresh bagels every day, and Francisco adds that his favorites are the Asiago cheese and the Jalapeno ones. So Honey Pot played, Chayo sang livin’ez, beautiful Carina danced, beer and wine flowed like water, and the Argentine well-wishing community showed up in full force. Dushi Bagel was recently renovated. It now looks adorable with an outdoor and indoor dining room. The oil paintings on the walls are by Carina, and copies on canvas are available for sale. One more reason to celebrate, the arrival of Thiago, Emma’s and Francisco perfect baby!!

KUDOS TO ARUBA’S FIREFIGHTERS. As the Papagayo Restaurant on Renaissance Private Island was on fire just recently, Aruba’s firefighters kept dousing the gas tanks and prevented them from blowing up, so basically all that is left of the restaurant are the gas tanks, protected by the firefighters. They are very courageous people, says General Manager Paul Gielen. The Papagayo Restaurant was just two years old, when it went up in flames and it is being rebuilt, right as we speak, in the exact same way. But meanwhile with construction going on, Cado de Lannoy and his team of carpenters from Korteweg built a recycled wood bar, which makes for a good story, because the island now boasts a fully operational kitchen and a bohemian bar, proving what we already know, that it doesn’t matter what happens to you in life, what matters is how you rebound, and how you react to what had happened. Kudos to Renaissance for not missing a beat!

HACK ATTACK. Many Setarnet clients’ accounts were hacked yesterday and Setar required account-holders to show up with their ID at the company’s headquarters in order to log into their accounts with new passwords. All Setar passwords were compromised and the company opted to make a fresh start by insisting on personal visits to their headquarters. That was quite an inconvenience, after all to stand in line at Setar, is one of our least favorite things. I want to tell all these companies, WEB, SETAR, and the Airport to hold on to your cash, dedicate the funds you collect to upgrades and upkeep, do not pay any government bills presented to you, hold on to all of your resources so that you can protect your infrastructure because hackers get smarter and your systems must keep up with the time, we’re all very vulnerable if you don’t watch out!

SELLING WATER, SELLIN AIR. We recently came across a let’s-make-a-fast-buck scheme, Aqua 48, selling tap water in restaurants, for a token amount as a so called fund-raiser. I have been seeing the glasses around several eateries in town. Not surprisingly, a few restaurateurs who cannot say no, signed the so called contract, obliging them to sell Aruba’s tap water. Admittedly, it’s a nominal amount, so tourists wouldn’t want to look foolish or cheap refusing a one dollar donation; on the other hand you really have balls. What a scam. Almost as good as the Best of Aruba Awards. And of course you got WEB Aruba to support you, these people have no common sense. Besides, you’re doing it all for charity? How much of your income goes to charity, and which foundations are you supporting? The plan looks inoffensive, what’s one dollar between friends, but you know, small amount accumulate, and I hear you have been terrorizing the market attempting to enforce your initiative. This is what I found on Trip Advisor, written by an island visitor: “I was offered the option of “Aqua48”, of which you would pay approx $1 for a glass of water to contribute to some charity. I politely declined, since I’m not going to start “paying” for a glass of tap water, even if it’s for charity & even if it’s Aruba water. Then, upon receiving my bill, I see that $2 was added for water for the 2 of us. I told the waitress & the manager that I declined the option initially & was not interested in paying for tap water, & that I wanted it to be removed from my bill. She said many restaurants will be doing this & that it was their new policy. I said it wasn’t my policy & I wasn’t going to pay for tap water. After 2 attempts, it was finally removed from my bill. Being offered the option is 1 thing, but after declining & then being charged for it & being told that it was their new policy …That’s the 1st & last time I’ll be dining there. Beware of any restaurants that may try to bully you into paying for tap water.

ACOYA RESORT, MY NEW HOME IN CURACAO. We stayed at the Acoya resort in Curacao last weekend and enjoyed the hospitality of their Sales Manager, a gentle giant and a hospitality veteran by the name of Henry Martijn. We checked in, in the evening, Insel Air was very much on time, and met super friendly and helpful front desk agents, who briefed us on the ins and outs of the resort. Room keys in hand  we drove to our free-standing two bedroom villa with swimming pool and settled in. Our villa bedrooms were very comfortable and inviting, with comfy double beds, ample closet space and to-live-for bathrooms with the latest Jacuzzi tubs, and rainfall shower heads. The kitchen was fully equipped to handle any cooking and partying inspired by the dining room with rustic long table or tropical garden with inviting lounges. The restaurant at the Acoya Resort is first-class, Seasons, apparently, a brand name with a dedicated following on the island and we enjoyed great a la carte breakfast, overlooking the lagoon and the resort’s swimming pool. We met Henry again the following day and he took us on an orientation and exploration trip to Mambo Beach Boulevard. All Acoya guests are welcome to use the tremendous facilities at Mambo, with shopping, dining and tanning offered as a fun-filled, memorable full day activity. On our last day we went to the spa for excellent manicures and massages. The resort is centrally located and offers a self contained vacation experience, within the gated complex, perfect for extended families, with kids. I also grabbed a shuttle to the nearby supermarket, at no charge, the driver waited for me while I shopped, then dropped me back and our villa and carried my groceries in…What we enjoyed most? Sitting around drinking coffee, enjoying a relaxing quality time in our blooming garden.

ECO CONSCIOUS FRIENDS, GATHER AROUND. The Aruba Marine Park Foundation, a not for profit organization, is hosting a Sundown Lionfish and Wine Tasting on Sunday November 29th, from 7pm – 10pm at Nos Clubhuis, Hadicurari, to increase awareness of the Lionfish invasion which is depleting our reefs and endangering our local fish. This year superstar chef Erwin Husken is rumored to be one of the chefs providing a selection of Lion Fish Tastings. E Sushi Shap chef, red-haired wonder Andriani Geerman, will be a returning favorite. The event is also co–sponsored by Aruba Wine and Dine, with the island’s Marine Biologist Byron Boekhoudt, on hand to outline the foundation’s efforts to keep reefs healthy. The wine is pairings courtesy of Romar Trading, and wine artist Clive Faustin!  It sold out fast last year, so get your tickets early at the Jolly Pirates shop. Chief promoter Carla Cavallaro promises a wonderful sunset to paint the sky all colors imaginable, on the festive occasion.

THE SKYFALL AGENCY. Former Funchi Gal, on-the-go Amy Richards, updated me this week on her adventures. She says she is no longer active in the cooking and blogging scene, but she has been focusing on the arts, managing a unique type of talent resource called the SkyFall Agency, recruiting local artists in order to create a witty and fresh, new TV show. I understand that the island’s crazy comedian and slapstick genius Gilmher Croes, is part of the show’s artistic lineup. Amy is also participating in a young entrepreneur contest, by the Jaycees, at the end of the month, where she will make a presentation to some serious movers and shakers in the business world, to see if she can win endorsement for SkyFall. The talent agency was born when Amy met Aaron Croes, of Extreme Machines, the video and photography wiz. Together they talked about a synergy of entertainment and technology, creating a one-stop-shop for musicians, singers, photographers, drone-nographers, videographers, graphic designers, actors, and singers. We’re sometimes asked, where did you find these people, so talented, so versatile, and we always say, they just fell from the sky, hence SkyFall agency! Check them out on YouTube. On a personal note Amy is still juggling her university education, motherhood, a singing career and a full time job: Being an artist myself, she says, I’m really interested in creating a platform for local artists and promoting them through social media/tv/radio. Talk to Amy & Aaron about your artistic aspiration, they can help promote you!

DELICIOUS DINNER & WINE. Duckhorn Wine Company orchestrated an exciting wine dinner, hosted by International Sales Director and Wine Expert, Brian Bostwick, at the Sunset Grille, November 12th 7pm, Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino. Scallops, Rack of Lamb, Filet Mignon, Dark Chocolate, all four important food groups, in one sitting, you cannot afford to miss this, the Sunset Grille is worth a return visit. Reservations can be made at Pepia Est, Raymond Kok, #730 9975.

MALMOK IN AN UPROAD. Residents of the Malmok area privately met with the Prime Minister of Aruba this weekend to protest the building of a HeliPad in the neighborhood and to vehemently object to the plans to operate OceanZ Aruba Hotel, gearing up for opening, as a party center. The meeting was held at the home of long-time resident Sheila Lampe, on the porch. Sheila recounted that she first moved to Malmok, to get away from it all, and while most of her friends complained it was too far away from Oranjestad, Malmok’s peace and tranquility called her name.  Other invited meeting-goers included Marisol Lopez Tromp, the President of the Aruba Parliament, as a private citizen since she lives in the area, Raymond Maduro who introduced the boutique hotel concept, on the previously sleepy residential street, when he opened Ocean 105; Rick Timmer, who constructed a humongous private residence at Boca Catalina, attorney Lincoln Gomez, a neighbor, it’s always useful to have a pro bono lawyer in the mix, Louella Brezovar, Sheila’s daughter, an executive with the Ritz Carlton Aruba, concerned about the proximity of the Helipad, and Sheila’s daughter-in-law turned activist, Farina van Veen; Greg Peterson, representing the Aruba Birdlife Conservation, and the operators of Malmok’s existing, thriving boutique hotels, the Boardwalk Small Hotel, and the Beach House. The Prime Minister who arrived alone, no press, no entourage,  was welcomed by this respectable crowd of stakeholders, who expressed their wish to continue living in Malmok in an atmosphere of understated commercial exploitation rather than blatant commercial exploitation. As it turnout out, the HeliPad is not a done deal. It first must obtain the blessing from General Aviation. We hope that that particular government agency will be diligent and transparent, and send the HeliPad to a more appropriate location behind the lighthouse. As for OceanZ, owner Eva Zissu, a successful retailer, reports it was never her intention to turn the place into a party center: “We are not party animals,” she says, “and this is not why we created this hotel. This is only for people who would like to chill out, have great dinner and drinks and enjoy the beauty of the sea, in front of our hotel,” she concludes.  In reality, the neighborhood got flustered when a full page ad appeared in the Diario advertising the readiness of OceanZ Aruba Hotel to host holiday season celebrations, as well as business, charity and gala events, for anywhere from 75 to 120 guests at the Ibiza Blu pool and/or the rooftop deck. It is easy to understand their concerns, and from what I hear from Zissu, she feels the same way, pledging no parties, no loud DJs. That said, there was a unanimously accepted government motion,  voted on in 2012, to conserve portions of the Malmok area as nature reserves, and to affiliate them with Parke Arikok, for the purpose of nature conservation. With the area rapidly changing into Boutique Hotel Capital of the World, residents asked the Premier if the government decided to change the area’s designation, or it is just letting it happen.

 

 

 

 

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November 15, 2015
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