Bati Bleki January 7

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS. We noticed over the last few days more people jogging, walking and biking. Apparently they all made a new year’s resolution determined to win the battle with their bulge. Me too. And that’s why on January 2nd, 2013, I showed up at Runners at Plaza Margarita, a specialty store for runners, bikers and swimmers, to buy new sneakers. I was lucky to run into Faissal who works there, who listened to my needs and identified the perfect fit, a purple pair of ASICS, and when I mentioned to him that I hate to tie my laces, he even suggested to get shoelace snaps, which keep the laces together at all times. I left Runners wearing my new sneakers and carrying my gift, a yellow ASICS jersey, in an attractive bag, that will from now on go to the supermarket with me. Faissal’s farewell instructions were to look up runnersaruba.com for a reasonable work-out plan that would get me running 5km, in just 6 weeks. I checked it out. It’s do-able. I will report on my progress mid-February!

REWARD FOR INFORMATION. My favorite daughter-in-law was confronted by a bike-riding lawbreaker, at exactly midnight, after the Torch Parade, on Sibeliusstraat, when she was walking toward Vondellan and Banco de Caribe where her car was parked. The lowlife rode past her on his old bike, then turned around jumped off his wheels and demanded her phone, wrestling it out of her grip. As she resisted he pushed her around forcibly, pocketed the blackberry and took off in the opposite direction. He spoke English, looked around 30, was dressed in dark jeans, with a belt, and a tucked in stripped v-necked tee-shirt. He had short dark hair, no special marks, yet he did not seem to be living under the bridge, he did not look homeless. And, he was not interested in her wallet, or her purse, just the phone caught his attention. I called #100 and asked how to register the complaint. Where do you live? They asked. Then when they heard the answer they suggested to visit the Sheba Police station. An apologetic Policeman then directed us to Dakota to the new station, since the incident occurred in that jurisdiction. In Dakota we waited until the single Policeman on duty concludes the report filed by the people ahead of us. Then he apologized and sent us to Oranjestad to the detectives, since the incident we described is considered an assault. We rode to Oranjestad and there at the station, an apologetic Policewoman asked us to come on Monday morning to file the complaint, they were busy Sunday with other urgent interrogations. So we went for breakfast, at Aromi D’ Italia on Palm Beach, and enjoyed perfect Eggs Benedict, a great Breakfast Burrito, delicious coffee, and real orange juice, which alleviated the stress of the adventure of the night before. Still, we are looking for information. This guy is a repeat offender. He must live in the area. Someone must know who this a–hole is. We are offering a reward for information that would identify him. Please call 593 1774.

GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN. We saw Hans Nooter for the last time in early October for the Café the Plaza anniversary. He looked good and was cheerful and warm, but we all knew it was perhaps the last time we see him. And indeed, Hans just passed away at age 58, after a brave battle with cancer.  His real role in life, beyond running Café the Plaza was to encourage and support other aspiring young talents. He helped jumpstart many Food & Beverage outlets on the island by sticking his hand in his pocket to lend money and by encouraging anyone ambitious, to go for it. He was the man who said you can do it, when a chef or a bartender decided to spread his wings and try to open a place of his own. Jeroen Kuling who is a super-successful restaurateur, Fishes & More, remembers getting Awg 1,000 for his first-month rent guarantee as a loan from Hans, which immediately helped him launch his career. There are many stories like that in the local hospitality community, and Hans received a royal send-off, at the cremation ceremony in Curacao, and when his ashes were spread in the sea, from onboard the Jolly Pirates on Saturday. One of his acquaintances reports: He was incredibly well loved and respected, not only for his easy going nature, big smile and great laugh but for his generous spirit. I think part of it was that although he was a big man in his energy, he walked gently. He wasn’t a man who pounded his chest and said “here I am”. You just knew he was there. He loved big. He laughed big. He touched so many lives here over the years and he will be greatly missed. Greatly.

DISAPPOINTING TRIP TO MEXICO. I finally stopped at El Mexicano, the food truck in Noord. My friends have been raving about it for months. I guess everything tastes delicious at 5am, but at 9pm, we tend to be more judgmental and more difficult to please. We ordered the steak burrito; it weighed a ton, and was very moist. I have no clue what the wrap contained but I am sure I detected sauerkraut. Sauerkraut in Mexican food?! Whatta?! My companion’s mixed grill was a hodgepodge of pulverized meat and chicken, blanketed in chili powder, smothered with cheese and crisscrossed by mayonnaise, on a bed of shredded iceberg lettuce with Russian dressing, bordered by soggy, industrial potato fries. It’s still sitting in the fridge. Even mildew won’t come near. The cook, however was charming Ruben Luna Jr who works at his father’s food truck nights and goes to school during the day. Handsome and friendly, the place is clean and organized and is reportedly super-busy from 9pm to 5am. My advice? Stick with the wraps.

NEWS MAKERS I. Decorated hotelier Ewald Biemans just got wonderful news, that Bucuti Beach Resort & Tara Suites made the Conde Nast Traveler Gold List, for the world’s best places to stay. His charming property listed among 510 top hotels, resorts and cruise lines, which is great news for Aruba. However it is also a bit bittersweet, how come just one property made it to the list?? Perhaps the GMs in their Ivory Tower 5-star resorts are missing something?  Are there any service related issues that prevent all of our hotels from being gold listed. Incidentally, the island of Jamaica is blessed with seven gold listings.

NEW MAKERS II. Decorated Hotelier Gerrit Griffith is now the General Manager of the Divi Aruba Phoenix Beach Resort. After 20 years at the helm at Divi & Dutch Village, in the low-rise hotel area, Griffith travelled up the hotel strip to Palm Beach, and is now officially a High Rise GM. Enthusiastic about the move Griffith reports the change of scene feels good. He is also excited about opening Pure Ocean, the beachfront restaurant rising like a phoenix out of the ashes of the old Sunset Beach Bistro. Pure Ocean, will complement Pure Beach, to feed and entertain guests at the lovely Divi Phoenix with upgraded facilities and amenities providing a higher quality of holiday experience.

MARISELA IS BACK. We had the best time with singer/rocker MariSela who is back after a continental tour, unchanged, well, except for a few more artistic tattoos. We hooked up with the amazing performer at Bugaloe Beach Bar and the Sand Bar Lounge! She now has a different last name, van Engelen, she says she talks to angels because they listen, but otherwise the passion, drive and spirit are all well and alive, we love this girl!