Bati Bleki Buzz Weekly Recap April 8th, 2018

Otmar King of Aruba

I enjoyed the weekend, and this morning on my walk along the Malmok strip, the trash levels were totally under control. Sometimes I encounter the unholiest of sights on my morning strolls, but today is a good day. Locals enjoyed the beaches and took their trash along with them. As it should be, we should all be responsible for our own junk.

Our beaches.

Last week, DOW and KPA removed an unlicensed beach vendor from Palm Beach. He’s been warned for two months that due to his shaky legal status, he will be exorcized. He did not budge. On the contrary, he built a bigger palm-thatched palapa for his clutter. So finally, a crew of DOW moved in, removed the hundreds of chairs he had illegally stacked, and will bill him for the transport to his new location.

On behalf of all of us concerned, thank you so much.

I attended a Carrying Capacity meeting recently in the MFA Noord — which we will be paying for starting this summer via the tax increase — and there was a sense of real urgent despair to save the beaches from being overrun and over-exploited, this long-awaited move by DOW and KPA is welcome.

According to Chief Winklaar, KPA Noord, he is working on a general beach regulation document which all vendors will have to sign and adhere to.

The remaining, compliant beach vendor on the Hilton Beach is encouraged by resort ownership to upgrade his chairs and umbrellas and give them a classy South Beach look.

I wish the hotel would conduct some chair wiping classes, on Arashi and Catalina beaches, because the vendors there shamelessly rent filthy and broken beach chairs for $30 a day, tax free!

They don’t even wave a cleaning rag over the chair before renting it, let alone report that income to the government.

Besides being grateful to Chief Winklaar, the Minister of Infrastructure must be acknowledged for his part in the cleanup.

He is a politician, and under pressure to hug and hold voters, but he did the right thing this time. The gang evicted from the beach was not employing locals, as they falsely claimed, their motley crew of migrants were stealing towels and intimidating guests with their sloppy attire and erratic conduct.

So, thank you Minister Otmar Oduber for supporting the hotels’ call for help!

AND

I am happy to report I heard through the grapevine that an agreement between Siemens & Ecogas is in the works to help us deal with household and commercial trash, close the dump, and join the enlightened world by properly recycling, reducing and reusing.

The MinInfra’s office is in charge of formulating the agreement, it’s a big job, and following a worldwide search for ideas, and RFPs, requests for proposals, a solid local company and an equally solid international partner, were picked for the job.

I can assure you minister that there is an island-wide support for that decision, this is exactly what the general-consciousness wants!

Wikipedia told me that Siemens is incorporated in Germany, has operations in around 190 countries and approximately 285 production and manufacturing facilities, in the fields of Electrification, automation and digitalization, including Power and Gas, Wind Power and Renewables, Power Generation Services, Energy Management, Building Technologies, Mobility, Digital Factory, Process Industries and Drives, Financial Services, Healthineers – a cross between health and engineering, Automation and Drive System for Steel Mills.

My Wishful Thinking Combined with Carrying Capacity

Wishful thinking, or tying the horse in front of the carriage

Guilty as charged.

It does happen sometimes that I tie the carriage in front of the horse or jump to conclusion and express wishful thoughts.

This is after all a gossip column not the gospel.

And when it comes to my materials, they are designed to entertain, more than inform, so please take everything with a grain of salt and make sure your sense of humor is fully charged.

If I bestow a royal title, it is only for one day, not forever!

As I mentioned before I recently attended a Carrying Capacity encounter at the MFA Noord hosted by the Aruba Tourism Authority.

There were about three dozen locals in attendance, all concerned citizens, some representing environmental foundations, which proves that the majority of islanders are not really aware of the need for them to speak up and express their opinion, or come up with their mira pa futuro, their vision of the future. They are too busy to make ends meet and do not have the time to question anything.

Thus, it is the responsibility of those who can spare a minute, to speak up in the name of the silent majority.

The well-meaning gathering presented a series of multiple choice images of Aruba’s iconic landmarks. Alto Vista without people, some people and hordes. Eagle beach with three sun worshippers, a modest group, and bus loads. We were asked to pick the image we can live with.

Then the group split into a few work groups presented with talking points and assigned to discuss important issues.

Ask yourself:

What is the impact of tourism on our Economy/Community/Environment, from 1 to 10.

How does “Balanced Tourism” look to you in the future, taking our Economy, Community and Environment into consideration.

What does “Quality of Life,” mean to you?

Pick three: Employment opportunities, Income Possibilities, Less Traffic Congestion, Better Medical Services, Better Environmental Practices, Better Educational System, Protection of our Culture, Access to Affordable Housing, Neighborhood Security or More Leisure Time.

Do you feel tourism impacted our traffic, how much longer does it take you to commute to work or home when cruise ships are in.

Select two options you can take, to reduce road congestion: Car Pooling, Better Public Transportation, Leave Earlier, Car Pool subsidized by the workplace, Adjustment of Cruise Ship Schedule, or other suggestions.

The group was then asked to rate the impact of Tourism on Alto Vista – from my own experience that place is bursting at the seams every day.

The last part of the conversation solicited suggestions on how to raise the quality of life here by means of Economic Development.

There was a question regarding which part of the island should be developed next, with new small, medium and large hotel construction.

Suggestions for the protection of the environment were requested.

Finally, the last suggestion asked was on how to improve visitors’ experiences.

And to wrap it up, the pivotal question: How can we reach “Balanced Development,” through tourism in the areas of Economy, Community and Environment.

All very hard questions, I wish I had the education, experience and wisdom to answer them all correctly.

Soul Beach Music Festival celebrates its 18th edition, Memorial Day Weekend

The week of May 23 to May 28th is SBMF18. According to Tita Iglesias, Aruba Tourism Authority, last year we were blessed with 6,000 visitors, and this year the promoter is tied to an equally magical number: 4,500 visitors.

Usher was the headliner in 2017 and propelled many of his fans to travel. This year a super star, Alicia Keys, will surly mobilize a great number of people to come here for some sun and recreation. She has over 30 million followers on social media, and we hope once she announces her plans to perform on the island, her community will follow.

At a press conference yesterday, Renaissance Convention Center, concert promoter Mark Adkins shortly described the stellar lineup for this year’s concert series. He also reported he is heading to Curacao and Surinam, to promote and encourage regional travel.

Immediately following, Patrick Melchiors, also with the Aruba Tourism Authority revealed that in 2016 the economic impact of the concerts amounted to 13 million and in 2017, that number went up to 16 million, hopefully more this year. The data, he said, was collected via a Big Brother phone tracking system, that recognized cells numbers and registered their activity.

This is the first time that I notice talk about economic impact with specific numbers. By comparison, Curacao, host of the CNSJF, Curacao North Sea Jazz Festival, had always released extensive findings at the wake of each annual festival edition.

(In comparison: In 2015 Curacao enjoyed 7.216 concert goers, many from regional countries, one in every four was a single female, they stayed about a week and spent on average e $311 a day)

But the news from Aruba is good. Our visitors each spent an average of $362 a day in 2016, and $417 in 2017 on hotels, in shops and restaurants.

This is what you need to know if you want to see Alicia Keys in concert: Tickets are available at the gas stations, and in select cafes including the Fun Miles office which will redeem your points against admission. Hurry up, the promotional special won’t last forever.

Some of the SBMF18 events include radio remotes, beach parties, after parties, celebrity DJs, a comedy concert on Friday May 25th, and two music concerts on Saturday 26th, and Sunday 27th, both in Oranjestad at the Harbor Arena.

The festival enjoys the generous support of the Aruba Tourism Authority, JetBlue The Aruba Hotel & Tourism Association, The Renaissance Resorts, Divi Resorts, The Hyatt Regency, The Tropicana Resort, The Mill Resort, Aruba Ports Authority, Setar, AAA, De Palm Tours and Fun Miles.

www.Soulbeach.com

Visit the Expo on Saturday @AcademyofFineArtsandDesignAruba

The Preparatory Course 2017/18 presents an exhibition on Wilhelminastraat, across Brenchie’s Park, on Saturday from 10 am to 5pm and the general public is invited to view it.

I am encouraging you to visit the collaborative efforts of 25 art students, working on five large scale installations within a fashion design context.

Our island has a very artistic heart, we have amazing talents among us, which express themselves during Carnival. The rest of the year, that flair and creativity is impossibly paired with the island’s innate conformity, the desire of people living in a small community to fit and blend in.

Artists by nature, have a hard time to fit and blend in, and sometimes they feel compelled to sacrifice their ingenuity in order to belong to their environment, accepted as an organic member.

Except at art school. Here anything goes, and for a short time, before bowing to social and financial restrictions kids are free of experiment and explore their artistic boundaries.

We should support that freedom of spirit, by showing up to view their creations.

We should be proud of our Academy of Fine Arts and Design Aruba. It has been operating for a number of years, first under the Rietveld Academie name, later under a more modest, more self-explanatory definition, as the Academy of Fine Arts and Design Aruba, with director Glenn Goddijn, and a gallery of imported and resident teachers in all art disciplines from design to architecture to movies.

Among teachers and supporters, the talented film maker Rebecca Roos, Carlo Wijnands, who taught the wearables’ module, Stephanie Kratz, whose specialty is the Maquettes StopMotion Video – must visit to experience, Ruud van de Pejil, a Tableaux Vivants specialist, and Steffen Maas, in total eight teachers, from around the globe, including Cuba.

The school prepares aspiring artists determined to further their education in the Netherlands and the programs in Aruba are accredited and count toward the coveted Bachelor degree in Art.

Goddijn originally arrived here as a designer and an Advisor in the Public Space for the Ministry of Integration, Infrastructure and Environment.  It was a big job. The InfraTeam collaborated on the still unfinished Oranjestad revival plans, with water elements, tram stops, plazas, vertical and horizontal loops, for visitors and locals exploring the urban Renaissance downtown.

Having banged his artistic head against bureaucratic constraints for a while, Goddijn then transitioned to the school and became a regular, an island resident, lending his flair to teaching.

The students are locals, but the school also attracts regional genii from neighboring countries. So, it would be interesting to see their five Tableaux Vivants, as presented at the end of the fashion portion of their study, as well as other works, completed earlier this year.

From Facebook: The Academy of Fine Arts and Design Aruba is the first and only Art and Design Academy in the Caribbean. Founded with the Rietveld Academy

EXHIBITION ON SATURDAY APRIL 7, FROM 10 AM TO 5PM

@AcademyofFineArtsandDesignAruba,  Call 592 5245

 Eric Wente in Aruba

He’s been coming here for fourteen years, playing golf, and drinking wine. What’s not to like, he asks.

But we should acknowledge the fact that Eric Wente, the brand ambassador of the popular California winery picked Aruba, as his charity recipient in the Caribbean, by becoming the chief sponsor of an annual Golf Tournament.

You have it all, he explains, all tournament components are in place, and we have enjoyed putting this together. Each year I love to see the winners of the Aruba tournament in California, playing golf, and drinking wine, I try to spend some time with them each year.

Going back in time, first there was Arion wine company. Then in collaboration with the Ellis family at the Papiamento restaurant the charity Golf Tournament was conceived. Then Wente Vineyards came on board, and the rest is history. It’s a great tradition, says Eduard Ellis, chef-proprietor of Papiamento Restaurant, we really look forward to it, each year.

The partners have been hosting the event with the longest name – Wente Vineyards, Arion Wine Company, Papiamento Restaurant Charity Golf Tournament, with great dedication.

Wente, fourth generation winegrower & chairman of the board at Wente Vineyards, reports five of the sixth generation Wentes are working in the 135-year-old family business, and the sixth, is gaining some experience at an equally prestigious neighboring estate. His 42-year-old daughter is now CEO, a position he held for 29 years, since the age of 24.

The wine business in general is very competitive, he shares, only getting more competitive as we go along and while people are quick to say they world drink ABC – Anything but Cabernet, or Anything but Chardonnay, they are very faithful to the popular varieties and continue to faithfully drink Wente’s famous Morning Fog Chardonnay and Southern Hill Cabernet.

Staying at the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino, general manager Hans-Georg Roehrbein was his golfing partner last year, this year the man sharing his golf cart is the general manager of the Mill Resort, the two will be talking about the upcoming rebranding of the property, as a Marriott Courtyard!