Bati Bleki, April 14th, 2014

STREETCAR NAMED MALFUNCTION. Besides the unbearable screeching, our streetcar also suffers from malfunction when it comes to the end of mainstreet, a dead-end, since it cannot loop around, then passengers have to disembark while the chairs get flipped over. I understand it is not a major engineering snafu. It’s a fixable challenge. Then the street furniture will be installed and the fountains turned on. Rene Herde is the official in charge. I have confidence in him, but perhaps he has too many projects to oversee and his prioritizer is malfunctioning.

GOSSIP NOT GOSPEL. I often say, the gossip column is just that, gossip not gospel. It’s the opinions expressed by the undersigned, and you know what they say about opinions: Every nitwit has them! If you are offended by my writing, it means I am right. I managed to expose your shortcomings, which maddened you! When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering. Top of Form

NIXSON IN ARUBA. My clever friends tell me Aruba’s Premier reminds them a bit of the late President Richard Nixon, good at foreign affairs, troubled domestically.

INSEL AIR SPECIAL FARES. Start packing. Insel air is going to Miami at special fares until June 15th. From Aruba to Miami Awg 425 (round trip, incl. taxes) and from Miami to Aruba US $225 (round trip, incl. taxes). Go to to book, and be flexible with travel date, to take advantage of this bonanza.

POETRY IS AN ISLAND. The Derek Walcott movie was created by inspired Ida Does, tenacious Rebecca Roos and our very own poetic cameraman Ingmar Maduro. I hibernated the first part of the film, trying to keep warm, and left the room at Cas di Cultura towards the end when icicles formed on my eyelashes. The air-conditioning was freezing, but I am immensely impressed by the trio of local film makers who shot a full-length lovely movie on a shoestring budget, focusing on a Nobel prize laureate, a poet and a playwright from St. Lucia.

KEEP TIARA AIR FLYING. I met Fritz Israel in the supermarket. He is very optimistic about Tiara Air, he says, working as an independent
consultant, participating in the effort to keep the airline afloat – no pun intended, despite the Venezuelan government’s ridiculous and unlawful freeze on the airline’s cash. I keep praying for positive results.

BANKERS DO IT WITH INTEREST. Javier Wolter on the board of both ATA and AHATA attended the Aruba Meets Europe event at Divi Phoenix this week, keeping a finger on tourism’s pulse. Last year, after fifteen years at the helm of the Banker’s Association Javier passed the baton to Marcelline Richardson, Managing Director Aruba Bank N.V., as President and Pierre Raffini, RBC Royal Bank, as treasurer. These days Javier is helping his staffers go through 100+  HopiTeca mortgage application filled in during Grand Avenido di Aprobacion, which was a genius hoopla by Armin Solognier and his crew, last weekend.

THE NEXT BEST THING. When the Phyto Hair Care line was launched at Maggy’s I did not want visiting Rihanna’s hairstylist, Ron Williams, to analyse my hair. I did not want to hear any of his negative comments about my poorly colored, badly nourished, chemically treated, brittle, fly-away hair. But I did get a Phyto Paris sample. OMG, it’s excellent. I love the Phytojoba shampoo and the Phytobaume Repair conditioner. Recommended.

SUEPRISE. I got a letter from Openbare Ministerie in the mail. In Dutch. It took me a few minutes to understand what BOET Awg 200 means. Really?! Ok, I recall an incident in which I was stopped by law-enforcement, but I was never ticketed, and to this day, I swear, I  have no clue why “the white line” is so important and what is its function, on Sasaki, taking a left into the Palm Beach road. Ok, so I went to Openbare Ministerie on Havenstraat 2 risking a strafbare parking violation, because there is NO parking in the area, and went in to pay. The ladies inside were having coffee and tea in air-condition, discussing diets and fashions. The cashier efficiently collected my fine on Maestro. My question: What happened to traffic tickets? You get a ticket, you pay it via the bank, what happened to that friendly procedure?

TASTE OF HEAVEN. Rocky better known as Boochi, a veteran food man, took a lickin’ when Enchanted Aruba folded at Paseo Herencia but kept on ticking. You may find him making his delicious seafood combinations next to Rat Land, yes, the food truck. He set it up to his liking and he now serves guests going to the former Tiki Bar, now Buster’s Mini Garage, with the same enthusiasm as ever. It’s only money, he says.  I lost some cash, but not my passion for gastronomy!

RENOVATED. Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa is continuing its journey of excellence having just completed the renovation of Ike’s Bistro restaurant and lounge with new furniture, light fixtures, tropical fans, crisp linen and stylish tableware. All of that tropical splendor goes hand in hand with Chef Ever De Peña considerable culinary gifts, Carla van Loenen‘s marketing efforts and Gerald Sarmiento‘s dedication to service. Monday is Lobster Night at both Ike’s Bistro and the French Steakhouse with two different, equally tempting Caribbean and Maine lobster menus at a super-reasonable price: Lobster Thermidor, Lobster Risotto, Surf & Turf, Lobster Bisque, yum.

GREAT INITIATIVE. Zena Neme reports that Aruba Aloe just opened the ARA change-boxes after they felt they were heavy enough, depositing Awg 811.76 into the Animal Rights Aruba account. They will be creating boxes for the rest of the stores, to be able to collect even more, she says. On another bright note, three puppies found in the aloe fields last week were taken to Contreras Vets, then they got to recuperate Chez Zena for a number of days, before being successfully adopted. Jesus, Chucho Zendejas, Zena’s partner is back in town, at Senior Frog’s, welcome home buddy, we missed you!

BOUTIQUE WITH A HEART. Boutique resorts are the growing segment of hospitality on the island and leading the way is the Boardwalk Small Hotel. It has been a leader in this niche market since its inception.  It made the news this week when it launched its Treasure Box, placed in each of the 14 totally cute casitas, containing 10 small cards with information and directions to must-visit places, hotspots and hidden gems such as lesser known local eateries and beautiful viewpoints on the island, offered to all guests as an in-room amenity. Owners Kimberly & Stephanie Rooijakkers continuously find ways to distinguish themselves from the rest which mostly takes investment and heart. Take a look at their totally out-of-the-box website. It looks fabu and it’s amazingly interactive. Just like their big neighbor across the street, they get big guns to help them develops their biz with a buzz, including an imaginative Floridian photographer, excellent in-room art, Eliza Lejuez, and the island’s top PR and marketing professional Karin Swiers. As summed up by Ronella Tjin Asjoe, ATA’s CEO: A great product, well-kept and run by a strong team.

FUN ON THURSDAY. The Carrubean Festival made positive changes and improvements, and continues to encourage tourists to venture beyond their hotels and explore Aruba, inviting the locals too. We went to San Nicolas last Thursday and after the first beer at the White Star bar enjoyed the music of Tropical Wave in the street. In the food area, with Gerardo de Veer at the next table, we shared a roti for dinner – juicy chicken, peas and potato, also splitting a Johnny cake with salt fish, washed down with another beer, to the music of steelpan man Nico Connor. I was surprised the Caribbean Bar was closed, but Charlie’s bar was fairly busy and we bought some freshly baked cinnamon bread for breakfast the next day, from one of the street vendors. Later on, at the still-nameless plaza next to the bank and the Aruba Tourism Authority’s Visitors’ Center, masterful Clyde Burke entertained a mixed crowd of Dutch and American tourists.  The plaza is lovely, and we liked the show, the brass band, the carnival costumes, best of all Shake your Booty 1.0, with dance instructor Clyde Burke. Even Leon Berenos looked entertained. Come any Thursday from 6 pm – 10 pm.