Rachel Brathen opens Island Yoga on the Noord road, in December

At the beginning there was a beautiful blonde yoga girl, a man in love, a camera, and an island with gorgeous beaches. Then a few dogs came along, a goat, and as of recently, a poppy-seed, a baby bump.

What happened in between is a success story. Yoga Girl became an international celebrity, a mini empire, against the backdrop of her home island.

I saw her speaking at TEDx Aruba 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=950lAeiJ1zI; please watch it, it’s really good and tells her story, from the horse’s mouth. If you think that living on a small island is a handicap that will prevent you from realizing your dreams, think again.

Yesterday, Dylser construction raised the Aruba flag on the roof, and the construction crew got to sip a few beers in honor of the building’s Spantenbier.

The location of Island Yoga on the Noord road is excellent. I have great memories from that address: Pasion, a restaurant Frans Sydow opened, around the Millennium, then a Mexican/French joint by the name of Senior Sanchos which flopped in 2005. Then there was nothing, then a Sports Bar, and another Sports Bar, and nothing again, until Rachel and Denis saw the building and decided to save it.

The project is ambitious. The original front of the building hosts a reception area and a store, a retail space for yoga clothes and sun dresses, then a large studio overlooking a beautifully landscaped garden, a Reiki room, an office for Yoga Girl, with an adjacent nursery, an office for her staff members running her international speaking engagements, her international teaching engagements and the events in Aruba, such as the upcoming Sup Yoga Teachers’ Training. Yes, little Yoga Girl is a serious business now. Including yoga video which will be shot from a professional studio.  Power to her.

We continued to tour the building, Dante, the contractor, says it’s not easy to mix new and old construction, but it lends the project a special feel. In the new part of the building in the back there is a vegetarian café, and a smoothie bar, a garden, a place to hang out between classes. Parking, of course.

I went to Rachel’s Facebook this morning, she has almost 400,000 followers. The posts are poetic, quirky, and inspirational, she pokes fun at herself, talks about mortality, and living in the moment, showcasing the beauty of Aruba. If I had been living in a city, working 9 to 5 in a cubbyhole, I would also be fascinated with Yoga Girl’s life. A few days ago she recommended hot lemon water, chia pudding and cuddles with an odd-looking stray dog for breakfast. I liked it.

When the island Yoga center opens in December it will host yoga retreats with up to 50 people. The first group in January has over 60 registered; they will be living in vacation rentals in the Noord area, practicing Yoga and lunching at the center, all for charity. The money will be earmarked to Sgt Pepper, http://www.sgtpeppersfriends.com/, Rachel’s dog rescue organization, she wants to build a shelter, and expand her organization’s ability to help the strays on the island.

Denis’ mom makes the best peppery croquets. I took one with my beer. Wish I had two. Also a pastechi, befitting a local Spantenbier celebration.