Bati Bleki, August 9th, 2015

SHE OWNS THE STAGE. Ami Henriquez made a tremendous comeback on Friday at Moomba Beach, reuniting with the Last Minute band after 13 years, strumming her skinny bass guitar like nobody’s business. She went on stage with a small band, sounding like a big band, and proceeded to rock the place, because our venerated Filipino Consul is a Rock n Roll queen. Her son Aga is thirteen now, she says, and she feels she can go back to her roots, at this time. I remember Ami from the time she was stoking Tamarijn’s popular happy hours with her music. She’s back with a new look, and fresh energy, and the audience, a bunch of terrible dancers, was having the time of their lives. Chido was in the audience, in a support role. She still has it, he said. You betcha!

ECOLED IS OPEN AT KING’S PLAZA. I bought a few new LED bulbs, producing eye-pleasing, soft light, for my bedroom at ECOLED Aruba. A few years ago I traded all my incandescent lights for energy saving bulbs, the curly fluorescent ones, and I am now slowly transitioning to LED, ‘cause it’s a costly initiative, but it’s supposed to save me even more money! Last week, Daniel Beerens wrote to me and said ECOLED provides hotels, casinos and private residences, with high-end LED lighting. We have bulbs in every shape, he explained, and always come up with a low-energy solution, for every energy guzzling challenge. I can come to you for a meeting, he offered, or you can check us out at King’s Plaza, which I did. Next door to ECOLED, a cute everything-Italian store is about to open in a few days, Il Mercato Beach House, by Maria Pucci.

LIKE PULLING TEETH. I recently saw an interesting video on Youtube. It was recommended by dentist Marvin van der Linde. It was an eye-opener, and I will only share the bottom-line with you! If your children’s teeth are crooked, and the dentist tells you: Let’s pull a few of those out to make room, don’t do it. It will negatively affect the development of facial features and the beauty of a nicely formed face. Opt for the long-term fix of making room, with braces, spacers, retainers, whatever, just don’t let anyone pull anything out!! Our diet also has a lot to do with crooked teeth. Apparently chewing hard, raw, natural foods helps us get beautiful teeth and good bone structure, while the soft, gooey, factory-made, boxed, industrial food we eat results in cavities, narrow faces, and big orthodontist bills. Kids with their mouths hanging open, especially those breathing through their mouths, will end up with dental issues, and crowded lower teeth. So, keep your mouth closed, and your tongue firmly attached to the roof of your mouth, in order to maintain that beautiful, sexy jaw-line! You should read about the subject if you have kids, it’s super interesting. Who knew?!

A HORSE OF ANOTHER COLOR. My late Haitian mother-in-law used this expression, that’s a horse of another color, when she meant to say: This is another issue, this is altogether something else. And the saying comes in handy here. To start: I applaud and support public art projects and love the horse idea for Paardenbay. That said, I put myself in the horse’s shoes, literally. I am travelling from Spain to a remote Caribbean island by boat, a long, exhausting voyage, in a crammed, stinky, dark, steaming, belly of a creaky vessel, no exercise for weeks, no fresh air, no adequate food. Then as soon as the boat is anchored in the Bay of Horses, we are made to jump in the water and swim ashore. I am thinking about that exact moment, where as a horse, I swim like a maniac, struggling to save myself, and finally, finally reach terra firma, grass, air, freedom, I am crazy to get to land, as fast as I can, skinny, wet, eyes burning, huffing, straining, skin, bones, muscles, I hit the beach, wow, my head is about to explode from the sensation of having solid grounds beneath my hooves. And that is the horse-image that I have for Paardenbay. A dynamic, sinewy, muscled, wet and wild, just-arrived stallion. And blue is fine. The gordo, diki, dushi mare in Oranjestad is a decorative, carousel creature. And to prove that point I already saw a number of people lifting and seating their kids on the horse for a photo opportunity. When I asked artist Osaira Muyale why was the sculpture removed from its patch of artificial grass, she told me it went to the beauty salon to get a pedicure and foot massage. Really? Is that what you say when a reporter asks you a legitimate question?!

KORTEWEG, TOO SHORT.  The street art festival in Oranjestad enjoyed a record number of people who came to see and be seen under the stars, in the little side alley, bursting at the seams with activity. Thanks to UNOCA ARUBA, they will be able to keep it up until the end of this year, and for the next one in September, they will pop up elsewhere, I read. I had shiitake mushroom soup courtesy of Greg Croeze, and bought some natural, local, sea salt, collected, filtered and flavored by artisan Susanne von Saalfeld.  The custom tee shirts by Fernando Vermeer were super cool, combining different images all taken out of context and inserted into a fantastic alternative reality. It’s wearable art!

VEGAN GOURMET, NOT. My pathetic attempts to cut down on calorific Dutch cheese, found me one day in the market looking at an attractively packaged Follow Your Heart, Vegan Gourmet Mozzarella. The list of ingredients should have scared me away, but no, I am brave. I peeled the wrapper and cut into the, ahem, cheese alternative. Surprise, it offered no resistance, it felt like cutting into soft butter. I sliced a corner prepared to savor a piece of heaven, but instead it tasted like sawdust and glue.  So if you decide to cut down on calorific Dutch cheese, give it up all together, or eat less of it, but don’t get tempted into buying any alternatives.

ARUBA’S MOST SUCCESSFUL EXPORT. I am happy to report that my friend Jeff Lesker was tapped for the redevelopment of the famed El San Juan Hotel, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Lesker accepted the position of General Manager in conjunction with the purchase of the property by new owners, who announced their plans to convert the iconic El San Juan Hotel into a Curio, by Hilton. The Curio brand boasts a collection of unique hotels, and with a massive $40 million investment the Grande Dame of Puerto Rico, that island’s most famous landmark resort, will be making a comeback. Jeff was handpicked from among many candidates by his employer Aimbridge Hotels, because of his track record as global-repositioning and turn-around specialist. In Aruba Jeff is remembered as the hotelier who converted the Aruba Hilton into the Wyndham Aruba Resort & Casino and as the mastermind behind the stellar success of the millennium reopening of the Radisson Aruba Resort & Casino formerly and today the Aruba Caribbean Resort. Jeff is recently credited with a multi-million dollar turnaround and development of two LAX Airport hotels, in California, USA, for the Marriott and Starwood brands. He is also a frequently returning Aruban resident, as he visits his super-smart son Alan, an ISA student, here.