At the Financial Technology Conference
The Central Bank invited for an interesting day of presentations and panel, discussion panels, talking about money and the challenges that come along with having some and having none.
One of the best presentations by a visitor from Barbados outlined the use of bitcoin, the currency and the technology in the Caribbean. Following his presentation, there was a lot of talk about bitcoin and blockchain, the technology behind it. And for a good reason. This technology has the potential to change the lives of billions of people that are now excluded from the global economy. The technology can also be applied across many different industries to become more efficient, eliminating friction and best of all the commissions to middlemen, i.e. banks and credit card institutions.
I asked our own bitcoin pioneer, Stefan Oosterwaal, firstname.lastname@example.org, to write a piece, in honor of the conference and he chose to teach you about bitcoin and how to download a virtual wallet. PLEASE, copy-paste your bitcoin address as a comment to my post on facebook, and Stefan will send a couple of lucky winners some bitcoin!
Places that accept bitcoin in Aruba can be found here: http://www.arubits.com/directory/
There are some great videos online where people can learn more:
Bitcoin is a digital form of cash that allows anybody to have money on their phone or computer. What makes bitcoin different from other forms of digital money is that there is no third party assisting in the transactions. You hold and control your bitcoin yourself, and you can spend it at anytime. When you send bitcoin to somebody, the transaction is person-to-person, you are not dependent on a bank or credit card company to make a transaction.
Bitcoin can be sent between persons, or can be used to make payments online or in physical stores. There are over 100.000 companies that accept bitcoin, some of the large retailers that accept bitcoin online are Dell Computers, Microsoft, Overstock, Wikipedia, and Dish Networks. There are also a small but growing number of businesses in Aruba that already accept bitcoin.
This new technology will have great implications in the coming years. There are billions of people in the world that do not have bank accounts, they are cut off from the global economy. Bitcoin will allow economic and financial inclusion on a scale that has never been seen before.
In Aruba, bitcoin could help kick-start a broader use of e-commerce. One of the difficulties in starting an online business is accepting payments. Any business in Aruba can now accept payments online without fees or long sign up processes. Think about selling your digital music, movies or photographs online. There are many different tools online that now make this possible.
Not only can bitcoin be used as digital cash, its technology can be applied in many different industries in order to help them become more efficient, reduce friction, and eliminate middle men. Banks, stock exchanges, insurance companies, and technology firms are among those looking to implement this exciting new technology.
If you want to try using bitcoin, you can do the following:
- Download a wallet to your phone. (My favorite is Jaxx Blockchain Wallet)
2. Open the app and press “Create new wallet”
3. Copy your bitcoin address (press the copy icon next to “Your current Bitcoin Address”)
4. Paste your bitcoin address in the comments to this post on Facebook
5. Keep checking your wallet balance to see if you are lucky and have won a small amount of bitcoin.
6. Back up your wallet in case your phone gets lost or stolen.
(Open wallet and press the menu icon (top-right corner) and go to Tools->Display back-up phrase, and follow the instructions)
Zoetry Eco Wellness Resort, at Isla di Oro, Aruba
We recently attended a press conference in which Grupo Isla, spearheading the Isla Di Oro project, developing a Zoetry Wellness Resort, made an excellent presentation to the press and the general public about their upcoming plans, for a true Eco-Resort.
Three environmental NGOs were present, Stimaruba, Rainbow Warriors and Aruba Mammal Foundation, also some Pos Chiquito neighbors and supporters of the project.
Conspicuously absent? ABC, Aruba Birdlife Conservation, an NGO protesting the loudest, in newspaper press releases during the month of October. It’s lamentable they did not attend because they would have been pleased with the long line of experts present in the room, outlining plans for rehabilitation of the area, now a mosquito infested swamp.
Aruba is ambivalent about development. On one hand poverty sucks, and prosperity brought on by tourism is desirable. On the other hand, over-development destroys nature, the main reason why tourists make it to our shore.
Having said that, in my book, Zoetry Wellness Resort, is a positive development and I trust that they will do what they say, and say what they do, rehabilitating the mangrove swamp, improving conditions for the neighbors suffering from a proliferation of bugs, providing employment, importing expensive state of the art technologies to the island and applying them to resort development, in an eco-sensitive area.
At the end of the presentation, the three NGOs wagged their fingers at the developers and babbled on about their fervent conservation efforts, and their opposition to the resort.
It sounded totally ridiculous to me. The Pos Chiquito area is located between the dump and the refinery. Why don’t the NGOs use ALL their resources and fervent rhetoric to fight the crimes against humanity committed by Parkietenbos Dump and the Aruba Oil Refinery. All local NGOs should band together and combat the criminal neglect and environmental suicide engineered by Serlimar & CITGO Aruba.
The Zoetry Brand, by AM resort is excellent, it’s a top quality all inclusive, just what the market is asking for, and since the Government is seeking investment ‘south of the bridge,’ towards the island’s south-western end, it is a perfect match. Best of all, developers committed substantial funds to achieve a LEEDS certification, the highest environmental stamp-of-approval for the property.
NGO’s, let’s pursue Serlimar & CITGO Aruba, you’re wasting your energies at Zoetry.
From the Zoetry brochure: “Slated for 2018, Grupo Isla’s upscale eco-resort, Zoetry Isla di Oro Aruba, will enjoy a spectacular oasis home at Isla di Oro, a site located along Aruba’s southwestern coast that includes an expansive mangrove forest and a large crystalline lagoon protected from the sea by a small barrier island and reef. With the area experiencing deterioration since 1995, Grupo Isla aims to inject new life into Isla di Oro by implementing a water circulation system to revive the mangroves, building a coral nursery, and adopting LEED-approved sustainable practices, making it Aruba’s first true eco-resort and the Caribbean’s first LEED-certified resort.
While reaching new heights in sustainability, the resort will also reach new heights in luxury, offering 63 French Polynesia-style bungalows sprawled over the lagoon. With an emphasis on wellness, the resort will offer an ultra-luxurious health and wellness spa, nature tours, non-motorized water sports, and other wellness experiences. Other amenities include a restaurant, lounge bar, swimming pool, sunning terraces, and a dedicated bird watching tower.”
Moonlit hike from Hudishibana to Alto Vista
Back in 1995, I met the Great Priestess of Stimaruba, Olinda van den Linden-Rasmijn , and this is what she said to me: “God made the earth, then He paired nature with people. Put a distance between us, and the trees will start dying. They need the friendly sounds of feet and voices in order to thrive….”
Last week I joined Stimaruba’s hike from the California Lighthouse to the church of Alto Vista. We took off at 5:45pm from below the Faro and arrived at 7:30pm, in full moonlight at the little hilltop church.
Our guide, Randolph Fingal, described the hills, bays, and salt pans along the way, just before the start, then left us to our own pace and meditation, along the way.
About 30 nature-lovers came on the trip and I made some new friends, reconnected with old ones. They are all excellent hikers, who join Stimaruba’s end-of-the-month, hike-in-the-mondi, regularly.
We started off with an incline from Sero Hudishibana, meaning the windswept plateau, to Cudarebo, the area below the lighthouse hill, then walked past Sasarawichi, the area known today as the California sand dunes. And while visitors are asked not to drive on the dunes and the blue stone project clearly states “Don’t Drive on the Dunes,” the polite request is bluntly ignored; the area is zigzagged by tire marks. The bushes protecting the dunes from erosion are called cocorobana. The birds nesting in the sand are meeuwchinan, beach nesting terns. Both bush and bird populations suffer from men’s voracious appetite for thrilling off-road speeding.
Walking past the Tierra del Sol boundaries, we encountered a hill by the name of Anabui, two of those, Anabui Grande and Anabui Chiquito, and the salt pan, the golf course’s bird sanctuary, whose original Indian name is Cubeyu. Who knew? Tierra del Sol is using the name Anabui, for the fractional ownership condo cluster next to the Club House.
Another pink salina, reminiscent of the Bonaire Flamingo salt pans, Hatabara; it glows as the sun sets over Aruba. From there on we walked in the dark. Our guide reported that Kalkof, an area famous for chalk cliffs, came in handy when the church of Alto Vista was constructed.
The island wild side, in the North-East is broken up by small bays, where the river beds end, going into the ocean. We walked past Boca Druif and Boca Sardinchi, each paired with a hill, Boca Druif with Sero Muskita, then Seroe Grandi, littered with diorite boulders.
While we could see Boca Urirama, and Seroe Labaruida, we did not get that far, but the sound of the name evoked a discussion among hikers.
My fellow nature lovers reminisced how in an era without internet or social media they managed to revoke the government decision to build a race track in San Nicholas. They told me about protests and marches and signature collections, and finally the government had to recant, withdraw its endorsement of a Florida-like speedway. It was a decision that toppled the coalition government and cost the citizens of the island some money in a lost court case, but the environmentalists won.
From the archives: MIAMI (March 28, 2001) — Two companies affiliated with famed racing promoter Ralph Sanchez, Motorsports Americas, Inc. (“MAI”), and Sanchez Motorsports Group, Inc. (“SMG”), today announced that they have filed a counterclaim in federal court in Miami against the Government of Aruba (“GOA”) seeking more than $20 million in compensatory damages stemming from the GOA’s deliberate termination and destruction of the Aruba Motorsports Complex project.
The counterclaim alleges that after aggressively recruiting the participation and financial support of Mr. Sanchez, MAI and SMG to develop the motorsports project in Aruba, the GOA, acting primarily through its Prime Minister Henny Eman, and Finance Minister Tico Croes, in a series of misrepresentations, broken promises and political maneuverings, brought about the termination and destruction of the project, even though MAI had secured major United States professional racing organizations to schedule races for the new Aruba facility.
I say good riddance, power to the people!
We should claim our collective power back!
We came back in an old yellow school bus, to reclaim our cars, from the lighthouse plateau. I have to say that the Mondi is almost litter free, we found occasional plastic items, but in general, except for tire tracks the wild side in undisturbed. On my next walk, I will be taking a sturdy bag for trash along.
Magic Mike shares prosperity and job opportunities
This week our venerated MinPres earned his nickname, Magic Mike, by sharing prosperity off the pages of the newspapers. He hosted a press conference and circulated a press release regarding the great benefits his administration plans to shower our community with. The benefits include a minimum salary and a pension increase, an increase for those collecting unemployment, and the crowning jewel of his cut and paste election platform, a reduction in electricity rates, for homes, and businesses.
Wow that’s so great! He just dusted off his election promises from 2012, changed the date on the announcement and tada, his re-election campaign was up and running.
I felt insulted and offended.
Really? That is the extent of your creativity?
I used to say that the green party, the Christian Democrats, have a large support base in the business community. And that was true a few decades ago. As it stands right now, the green party is purely socialist, borderline communist, with a large support base among the lower-income citizens of this island. The MinPres makes promises to proletarian families on the backs of the business community, and while we applaud him for his benevolent Christian attitude, he hasn’t done anything for the ones presented with the bill.
The cost of doing business in Aruba is already sky high. Moreover, the process, the bureaucracy, the permit via dolorosa, openly discourages new businesses from opening, and heavily burdens the existing ones, trying to survive.
The Chamber of Commerce has been lobbying on behalf of the business community, begging the government for mercy. So far with no results.
Mid 2014, when our new MinFin was just named, he spent considerable time promoting a simplified taxation scheme. He had the support of the business community, and the island’s tax expert. His plan was to tax the business community at the source, one time, abandoning the cumbersome BBO & BAZV; basically make life easier for stake-holders. Last minute, the MinPres squashed his proposal, and embargoed the idea for fear of voters’ reaction.
It is obvious, that Magic Mike embarked on the campaign trail this week with a dull presentation of the 2017 budget. And while we love a reduction in the price of electricity, the price is only high here, because the geniuses working at WEB, hedged their oil rates foolishly, at $80 a barrel through 2015 and 2016. All true, I didn’t make anything up.
As for job opportunities and the recent nomination of a new MinTour, who will continue to also serve as the MinEnergy in charge of the fiasco deal with CITGO: I don’t know the man, but according to me he lacks good judgment and common sense. How could anyone in his right mind gamble this island’s health and finances by pushing the refinery deal through? And he worked hard to pursue this crazy scheme to so-call supplement the government’s income and provide employment for his home town, San Nicholas.
He also knows nothing about tourism, which is an asset because then he will allow the hotels to drive their business unhampered, and undisturbed.
I checked around: Most of my sources believe the new MinTour will take AHATA’ offer of $35 million in exchange of certain condition, read on: https://batibleki.visitaruba.com/8am-buzz/now-that-we-have-no-mintour-should-wecould-we-give-the-position-up/
My sources also think he fought hard for the position because it comes with a $100 million piggy bank to be spent on tourism promotion, but as a minister, he could also spend, at least some of it, on his reelection campaign.
There was no love lost between the previous and the current MinTour. The later was happy to throw the former under the bus when they feuded over popularity in San Nicholas, both laying claim to town’s voters.
Additional reading for history buffs, our new MinTour already cost the island money before:
“The counterclaim filed by attorneys at Colson Hicks Eidson of Miami, attaches the testimony of two key high level former Government Of Aruba officials involved in the project, Gilberto F. Croes, Junior, the former Minister of Transport, Communications, Utilities, and Sports and Michael De Meza, who was in charge of the project for the Government Of Aruba, who both squarely lay the blame for the failure of the project on the “bad faith” and political maneuverings of Prime Minister Eman and Finance Minister Tico Croes.
Mr. De Meza’s and former Minister Junior Croes’ testimony describe how the Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Aruba undermined the race track project by breaking the very financial commitments the Government Of Aruba had made only months before to induce Mr. Sanchez, MAI and SMG to participate in the joint venture to develop the project. Mr. De Meza and Minister Junior Croes declare that the Government Of Aruba’s frequent reversal of course on the project and broken promises both “mistreated” and “harmed” Mr. Sanchez, MAI and SMG and destroyed the project. In his statement, Mr. De Meza states that the Government Of Aruba’s misconduct left him without any choice but to resign as the Government Of Aruba’s representative on the project.
In May of 2000 MAI and SMG commenced litigation in the country of Aruba against the Government Of Aruba to recover damages arising out of the Government Of Aruba’s wrongful termination of the motorsports project. The favorable testimony of the former Aruban Government officials arose out of those proceedings.”
Asi Es Mi Peru Opening at Paradise Beach Resort
Peruvians have always been crazy about their own food, but in recent years the world joined them on a voyage of discovery, as chefs started travelling around the world and spreading the gospel. Naturally, chef Nobu’s cook book published in 2001 contributed to the recognition of that kitchen, and the amazing success of his restaurants further introduced Peruvian elements to our culinary dictionary.
Enter Jan Van nes and his Peruvian born wife Roxanna Salinas.
Jan? Who doesn’t know Jan, currently the General Manager of Blue Residence Condo, and a kitchen apprentice with Chef Urvin Croes at the Kitchen Table by White. The later is his hobby, and he documents his adventures in the kitchen with Aruba’s famed chef, on Facebook.
Roxanna? For more than a decade, Aromi di Italia at Playa Linda Beach Resort was a great place for all-day dining and delicious ice-cream, under Roxanna’s watchful eye. Now due to some construction complication, the place got to move.
So Roxanna and Jan decided to reinvent themselves. As empty nesters, Roxanna now has more time on her hands to dedicate to her #2 love, cooking. You know what #1 is, I don’t have to explain, Jan and the kids, almost all grown, going to school in the Netherlands.
Thus Roxanna made a decision to go back to her roots and open Asi Es Mi Peru, at Paradise Beach Villas, at the former location of Camabola.
Asi Es Mi Peru will feature a genuine Peruvian Cevicheria where you can sit at the bar and watch the chef make your ceviche from scratch, to order. Ceviche, with fresh fish marinated in lime juice is the Peruvian national dish and it’s prepared with an assortment of just-caught seafood, tomatoes, tostada chips, crisp onion, salt and hot pepper, the world famous aji amarillo. The tart and salty ceviche is accompanied by sides of boiled corn or creamy sweet potatoes, and/or crunchy toasted corn, creating a symphony of tastes. The marinade called Leche De Tigre is addictive. Needless to say that the Cevicheria will also serve Tiradito, a variation of ceviche, reminiscent of Japanese sushi, also deliciously marinated with the smoky aji amarillo.
The restaurant gazebo, said Roxanna will also feature a genuine, colorful Peruvian market place, where you can buy typical Peruvian crafts, and a portion of the proceeds will regularly go to Aruba’s cancer foundation.
Inside the restaurant a more formal dining room will feature the food that made Peru famous, Lomo Saltado, a stewed beef, Aji de Gallina, a creamy chicken dish, and a number of typical preparations for potatoes, with Papas a la Huancaina and Causa, topping the list.
On the second floor a private dining room for special functions flaunts just one long community table, with fourteen seats, great for birthday parties or family gatherings.
Roxanne is a fan of classic Peruvian cuisine, she will be using family recipes, and the food will taste like grandma was in the kitchen all day, she promises.
In the process of hiring the chefs Roxanne interviewed over three hundred Peruvian professionals, taking a number of trips to the Land of the Incas to find just the right culinary wizards.
In the past weeks she has been experimenting with recipes in front of an appreciative crowd, feeding chef Urvin and Jan a steady diet of ceviche, aji de gallina and carapulca. Chef Urvin is the tasting judge, and he is overjoyed by the idea that finally someone is cooking for him. He thinks it’s fantastic.
Bottom line: Peruvian cooking is AWESOME!
Standby for the opening of Asi Es Mi Peru at Paradise Beach Resort soon