Bati Bleki, August 30, 2015

DEAR EVELYN WEVER CROES. One of my friends wrote to the leader of the rioting party, this weekend. It’s worth reading: Evelyn, I am deeply concerned about the events of this past week in front of the parliament. I am not confident that it is understood that when we strike a match to create a spark we have no control over the flames that spark can ignite. Fear and flames can have huge consequences. One fire misrepresented in the world media can cause great harm to all the citizens of our community. With respect I ask you to please keep that in mind. Well said.

POLITICAL UNREST. On Wednesday evening I drove through town and saw a truck abandoned mid street and some lunatic going on and on from the sidewalk, disturbing the traffic. The Police was around, attempting to regulate the flow of cars, I guess it was a precursor for Thursday’s events. Around lunch time on Thursday, I noticed giant bundles of bottled drinking water under the palm trees in front of parliament. It was a sign that the hoodlums were preparing for a long day. What this tells me is that some fire-starting organization is behind our recent civil disturbance. This didn’t just happen spontaneously. The fire-starters bought supplies, and over the course of the afternoon roused the crowd, pushing it across the line. I guess it was the empty plastic bottles that were burning, spraying ashes and spewing smoke over the heads of corporate travel decision-makers, dining under the stars on the pool deck of the Renaissance Marina Hotel. Imagine the horror General Manager Paul Gielen felt when he had to explain the situation to his guests. I saw some badly edited video on YouTube, merging old Betico Croes footage with grainy, jumpy new images, loaded with incendiary rhetoric. Shame on whoever produced it. And to conclude, those who were arrested did not fight for the island’s independence, they broke the law, endangered our livelihood, and deserved to be punished. Admittedly, we’re all frustrated with the government’s lamentable fiscal management, but that doesn’t make the storming of the parliament OK.

MORE TAXES. The sensible folks in our community welcomed the so call financial supervision introduced with the new CAFT law. Our spendthrift officials demonstrated extravagant, recklessly wasteful practices, and they gotta be stopped.  Mom threatened to reign in the kids, she is now serious about it. That said, I have to admit, I am not totally optimistic about CAFT, because we know that there are a million ways around it. If the AVP government doesn’t truly buy into that curb-expenses philosophy, it will not work. As far as the people go, the government followed Dutch advise and raised taxes, cut social services, slashed health benefits, eradicated educational supplies, and reduced subsidies for orphans and elderly, but, did they reduce the number of contracted coordinators, did they deflate government expenditure, are they traveling less, are they renting less office spaces, I don’t think so. It’s been more than one year since the initial CAFT conversation, and while we have been tightening the belts, I share the consensus of many that nothing changed in government. The airco and lights are still on 24/7 in the new empty government multifunctional office in Noord.

WE LOST YOUR FILE. I recently listened to the heartbreaking tale of a permit process where the files were lost every turn of the way, thanks to the political affiliation of the person handing them in. The greens trashed anything yellow, while the yellows shredded anything green. Where am I going with this story? I am going nowhere, because on the long and treacherous journey between the Labor Department and Dimas danger lurks at every bend of the road. The Labor Department hates everyone who comes in with any kind of petition, requiring more than filing, while Dimas hates everyone who comes in with any kind of permit application. What would be the equivalent? A shepherd allergic to sheep, a teacher who can’t stand kids, a tight-rope walker with paralyzing fear of heights!

GREEN CARDS. I understand DESPA, the Health Department, changed its procedures lately and food-handlers are now required to present personally, stand in line, then get a number for an appointment for a poop-in-the-cup opportunity, a few weeks down the road. What was a relatively easy procedure is now a process at the end of which you get a temporary card, because the green ones have not been ordered, due to lack of funding. With a fresh layer of administration the Health Department now has a lot in common with Dimas. PS. The DESPA internet page with the answer to: Where can I do the test for a food-handlers card, cannot be found!

NEW STORE ATTACKED. Yolanda Hagelen shared a surveillance video on Liza Blok-Ponse’s FB depicting the breaking of the door, and the looting of the new Eva Boutique, diagonally across Fort Zoutman. The video was viewed more than 8,000 times and the store owners are asking the public’s help in identifying the criminals who got away with hand loads of women’s fashion items, last week, just before 2am.

BLT STEAK DEBUTS AT THE RITZ-CARLTON. We were invited for a press tasting just recently and mixed and mingled with resort management, Steven Redkoles and Tiffiany Holmes, as they introduced the BLT’s service trainer and the BLT President, Keith Treyball. The upscale restaurant chain operates two outposts in the Caribbean, one in Aruba and one in Puerto Rico. The first restaurant opened in NYC in 2004, serving a selection of USDA choice steaks, with weekly blackboard specials, enjoying more than fifteen locations around the globe, most of them associated to the Ritz Carlton hotels. Press members tried everything and liked everything. Two thumbs up for the Burrata cheese with Toy Box Tomatoes, Basil Seed Vinaigrette, and the Hamachi Crudo, the raw tuna with Japanese Emulsions and Espelette pepper appetizers. We also loved the American Wagyu Ribeye steak and the sauteed Dover Sole, with Soy Caper Brown Butter.  The food is great, made from scratch, the salads are incredibly fresh and the beef dry-aged, what’s not to like? The resort’s Executive Sous Chef Chelo Ballester, who worked at BLT in Puerto Rico, brings incredible passion to his kitchen here.  Most importantly, dessert was divine, especially the Crepe Souffle and the Peanut Butter Chocolate Mousse. Did I mention the bread? It’s off the chart excellent, freshly baked popovers made with gruyere cheese.  Executive Chef Stephen Toevs, laid out the food exhibition style, making it easy on press photographers, it all looked picture perfect. Service at BLT is smooth and professional. Most highly trained staffers of the former Les Crustaces transitioned seamlessly into BLT steak. Another constant is the stylish, nicely stocked raw bar. Fresh mussels anyone?? Yum.

DE SUIKERTUIN SELLS OUT ITS INDONESIAN NIGHT. A traditional feast prepared by guest chef Alice Dorff attracted many to the cute café in the heart of town. Alice who was born in west Java, Indonesia, grew up with the flavors and tastes of her mother’s kitchen who had inherited secret family recipes from a famous great aunt who was an accomplished chef. The tasty, and sold out, Java cuisine was praiseworthy. They are doing it again on September 26th. RC@visitaruba.com