Bati Bleki Weekly Recap, April 10th, 2016

LOVE AT THE TIME OF CHOLERA

I don’t know why but as soon as I heard about Oceania Riviera and the fact that the cruise ship was not allowed to tie up in the Oranjestad harbor because of an intestinal virus outbreak on board, I thought about that famous book, by Miguel Garcia Marquez, Love at the Time of Cholera.

Aruba’s health authority denied the ship access, following a report that “For the third time since Dec. 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) is investigating a norovirus outbreak onboard the Oceania Cruises vessel, Oceania Riviera.”

I especially thought about the ending of the book where the old Florentino Ariza convinces his long lost love Fermina Daza to take a cruise down the Magdalena river that is now filled with floating corpses due to a raging Cholera outbreak.

A lot happens in this book on many crazy levels, but at the end when the two aging lovers are faced by the option to go back to reality and get off the boat at the end of the cruise they opt to keep sailing forever and in order to not be disturbed they hoist the yellow flag on the boat to signal everyone that there is Cholera on board, and that they should stay away.

It’s a very macabre honeymoon for the lovers who continued to long for each other through many ups and downs, in the span of 368 pages of poetic prose, but the fact that there is Cholera on board guarantees them privacy. In this case it is Cholera in the sense of Passion. So at the end they cast off their worldly obligations and continue sailing up and down the river forever instead of going back to the city and facing the “horror of real life.”

While thinking about the long passionate love affair, I decided to read up about naval flags, and International maritime signal flags and found out that plain yellow, green, and even black flags have been used to symbolize disease in both ships and ports, with the color yellow having a longer history as a color of marking for houses with infections, and later for vessels which require quarantine.

I visited the house Miguel Garcia Marquez built in Cartagena Colombia, overlooking the ocean, just inside the walled city, and could see why he advocated living with passion = cholera, i.e. excess, infatuation and enthusiasm, rather than living with reason, temperance, control and restraint.

Good News: We’re experiencing a Wave of Culture

Resurgence is such an ugly word, associated with the rise of terror and extremism. Resurgence means things are increasing or reviving after a period of little activity or popularity, but here on the island I’m happy to declare a resurgence, “A Resurgence of Culture,” and my friends Johan Stopples and Arien Rasmijn agree with me that we have a hopeful, and active, young generation, and that things are moving along nicely with grass root movements such as PopUp CleanUp and Blue Block, both related to conservation. How does culture relate to cleaning and painting rocks blue? You’ll have to think about it, it’s all part of our cultural long-awaited resurgence.

https://www.facebook.com/popupcleanup/

https://www.facebook.com/ashlin.ahlip/media_set?set=a.10154120167888383.1073741829.751338382&type=3&pnref=story

The other night I swung by Cueba, now under the wings of dancer Alydia Wever and film maker Ryan Oduber, on Dominicanessestraat, the former old digs of Mascaruba, in the heart of town, a two story historic building. The room was full of people, of all ages, for Open Mic, Poetry Night. Organized by Maria Silva for almost ten years, what started at Cuba’s Cookin’ on Wilhelminastraat is now a PopUp event, at Cueba last week, then heading to the Incubator Garden at Cas Di Cultura, on April 27th. The performances start at 9pm, but you may come early and mingle.

Poets signed up earlier in the evening to stand up and speak their minds. I was fortunate to hear Munye Oduber Winklaar recite her Papiamento verses, wow, this women makes Papiamento sound rich and filled with nuance. A talented young women, Pearl Dumfries, accompanied her tentative lines with her guitar while Leonardo Phillips picked prose for his stint on stage; Henry Dabian, an incurable romantic, shared some of his flair, and Maria Silva, provided poignant social commentary, see my post from yesterday regarding the late Dyron Franken.

Unconventional actress, angst poet and writer Natusha Croes is a regular contributor, and so is the more traditional wordsmith Ruthy Vrieswijk.Both color the stage with Juxtaposed scripts, and the dynamics of their individual personality.

I also witnessed an Adonis with dreadlock, nicknamed Beach Lama, who shared his artistic flow against the backdrop of Mo Mohammed’s rhythmic drumming.

It was an exhibition of words not a competition. It fueled my desire to return next time.

I heard from Maria that other regulars include linguist Raymond Todd Dandare and that Ephrayim Odor also belong to the group of thinkers who air their thoughts in public, at a free of charge event, that’s exciting.

So that’s the good news: We’re Experiencing a Wave of Culture, as a young generation of philosophers and dreamers, brimming with ideas and enthusiasm, finds its voice.

Last but not least Beam, under direction of Michael Lampe, at the Old Botica del Pueblo, on Steenweg 17-19. It just opened this week as a bohemian multidisciplinary space for artists to work and meet their audience/clients.

I saw the work of adorable and creative Maria Onni and Maja Lepsanovic, talked to slimmed down columnist Arien Rasmijn, ceramic artist Trudy Lampe, multi-talented Jes Wolff, whose work in now on display at Fort Zoutman, the amazingly put together Natusha Croes, the ever helpful Daphne Cohen, and the poster child of Poetry Night Beach Lama, at ‪#‎BEAMON downstairs.

In his welcome address Michael Lampe promised to nurture a creative center, or rather a creative platform that facilitates innovative concepts, workshops and events by local and international artists. We visited the paintings’ exhibition by Jocelyn Martinez  at #Beamupstairs. The young artist is an exceptional colorist, making her autism a secondary thought. #‎autismawareness

https://www.facebook.com/beamyourselves/

The Mother of All Island Tours

We started on Easter Monday next to 080, in Noord, with a nicely stocked cooler, towels and beach chairs, packed into an SUV.  I was told to show up in sneakers

We cruised up the road to Alto Vista and then down the trail to the first boca. Druif? Urirama? Coming to think about it, we should probably identify and name these lovely places, sign-less up to now. It could be a good project for the Blue Blocs, must tell Ashlin Ahlip.

We rolled carefully along the coast, stopping here and there, past Bushiribana to the Natural Bridge, admired the ruins of the big fallen one, and found beauty and serenity sitting quietly, watching the waves crash under the smaller one.

De Palm Tours face lifted the building recently, and put in a souvenir shop and a snack bar. We bought a unique, yellow, plastic butt beer opener/magnet for $8. It now holds on to my fridge, at home, as a souvenir from a wonderful day.

Leaving the Natural Bridge behind us, we headed to the Ayo Rock Garden, taking what seemed like a fifteen delightful minute crawl all over the garden. Then on to Andicuri, to sit in the shade of the giant rock and put the unique, yellow, plastic butt beer opener/magnet for $8, into action. I enjoyed my beer, pondering the human profile of the rock overhead.

We waved to the trio of Natural Bridges further up the road and parked next to Black Stone Beach. Then we hiked, on foot. Up and down, and up and down, then took a dip in some charming surf pools whose location shall remain secret, and continued to Arikok Park, bumping into 44 of those canyons in the road to Boca Prince for lunch, followed by ice cream at Ritz Savaneta.

Nice.

We enjoyed a perfectly planned and superbly executed program. Thank you dear tour guide/photographer/driver, we had a blast.

A few things remain to be said: The 4wheel drives, the ATVs and Dune Buggies are grinding the back roads to dust. They are driving in total disregard of nature, dispersing dunes, slicing into river beds, stacking stones, and completely altering the face of the landscape on the “wild side.” Black Stone Beach was difficult to access once. It was protected. It’s very exposed and accessible now. The road practically leads to the water. How did that happen?

ALSO: Some crazies are taking the unprepared and unprotected tourists down a wooden ladder into the turbulent waves right next to Boca Mahos, down the face of the rock to some tiny trapped ‘lagoon.’ The guide wore an ABC Tours uniform. We watched and prayed. Gratefully nothing happened.

The beaches seem cleaner than ever before, pa bien, whoever is doing the job. We thought they had less plastic, less marine debris, just driftwood, rocks and shells. Bottle caps, we saw plenty of those.

Another request: An ancient oil drum is banging against the rocks at Budui, under a beautiful natural bridge. I think it’s Budui. Can someone volunteer to retrieve it?? We’ll write the press release about the project free of charge, to publicize it as a public service. (editor’s correction: It was Wariruri)

Food at Boca Prins: Very nice whole red snapper, tasty Keshi Yena. They are sweet and accommodating and the toilets are clean.

Ritz Ice Cream: To live for vanilla/banana soft serve swirl.

Arikok Park is dry, super dry. Must dance for rain.

ZARA – a retail revolution, in need of free parking on Saturday

The opening of ZARA’s fashion emporium at the head of the main street yesterday revolutionized retail in Aruba. What’s required now is FREE parking on Saturday, because Zara carries stylish skirts for Awg 35, vavoom tops for Awg 49 and slinky pants for Awg 69, and every one can afford that, providing you give them free parking on Saturday. ZARA will reintroduce shopping here, on its fully stocked four floors of elegant and amazingly merchandised retail space, with fashions for ladies, gents and kids.

The building is super impressive and reminds Glen Goddijn of the work of some famous Spanish architect, especially in the use of natural light and clean vertical lines. The name of the business is prominently displayed. Wow, these people spent $12 million dollars I hear, and it shows. Escalators, elevators, digital displays, the store delivers a fun experience.

The opening press-event with some dignitaries including the MinPres featured a red carpet and delicious pink champagne cocktails courtesy of Fernando Mansur and a master of ceremony in the form of Maria Silva, dressed in Zara. She said it was old Zara, but it looked new.

If I had a store on the main street selling secondary fashions I would be afraid, very afraid today for my livelihood, because all half-ass stores AND one of a kind boutiques, on Caya Betico Croes will now be going out of business. The branded stores at the Renaissance mall have their clientele, and they will benefit from the stylish new neighbor attracting much foot traffic, and attention. But looking into my crystal ball I see many store fronts shut on the main street, unless they raise the bar and reinvent themselves.

So we must develop Plan B, to determine what to do with the empty spaces. Retailer Jodi Tobman believes that small cafes and restaurants will save the main street, mixing shopping and dining because shopping along cannot make it.

Back to the press-event: I enjoyed listening to Zara’s commercial manager, Julio Monasterio, an eloquent Venezuelan, he spoke from the heart. He told his audience how Zara scouts travelled the Caribbean in search of a perfect location for a flagship store, and when they arrived in Aruba and emerged from the Renaissance Mall into the square they all said EURICA,that’s it, this is where the store belongs.  That was a few years ago, before the street car, the place was upside down, but they used imagination, and flew on the wings of faith to get where they are today, having spent money, and shed sweat and tears.

The pre-opening team included many Zara Venezuela visual and display specialists who helped lay out the new store. They were all in attendance, fashionably elegant.

Our own Lorena Bikker became one of the store managers. She has good experience in retail and is a dedicated fashinista.

Free parking on Saturday and it’s a home run!

The shortest most fatal Bati Bleki you ever read!

The Central Bank just released the 2015 year end numbers.

Ouch.

One of my clever friends told me to get a calculator and add Revenue VS Expenditure of the current government, 2009-2015!

So, I added the Government’s Revenue in Billions: Awg 7,763.2 (I omitted 6 zeros)

I added all Deficits, because this is money already spent, in Billions:  Awg 2,060.5 (I omitted 6 zero)

Total government spending in six years, in Billions: Awg 9,823.7 (Again I omitted 6 zeros)

(Debt as % of GDP is 83.3%  — we owe a lot of money — remember the Netherlands stepped in when we reached 80%)

SO….where did the money go??

To Panama? No, I am pretty sure of that.

Clinkers?

Sidewalks?

Tram?

Linear park?

Maybe 100 million in spending that we can see, including harbor & highway.

That’s 1%.

Where is the rest?

What did we spend it on?

AND  We didn’t create, not even one, new income generating enterprise.

Heartfelt letter from an Animal Activist!

Hello Rona, glad to hear from you!  There’s a lot going on at the moment and truly, since you wish to help with writing, I honestly can’t think of a topic that would make an impact at this point.

You see, as you might already be aware, we do have a Spay & Neuter Campaign going on – FINALLY!!! My wish since…forever! It took about a year, and it did happen courtesy of Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort. They made it possible!!

So, all I care now is that we DO have an active spay & neuter campaign!

Back to my point, that writing is ineffective: So we have a S&N campaign and ON TOP OF that, we will also have a MASH spay and neuter campaign with Animal Balance (They are heading to Aruba for Operation Cunucu targeting the island’s population of street dogs, aiming to sterilize 500 dogs over 6 days. A team of 12 techs and veterinarians, along with 5 experienced trappers, will use the MASH framework that they have developed over the last 11 years. They will teaching local groups how to humanely trap dogs, focusing on the estimated 150 dogs currently living at the local dump and the street dogs living in San Nicolas. They will be working closely with the team from United Dogs of Aruba, training them in all aspects of MASH so that they can continue to replicate the clinics in the future. )

That program is so great! And so challenging!! Can’t wait to see their work! However…this is only a ‘temporary’ solution to the problem.

The real/true problem is not even touched, or attended accordingly, or paid attention to. I’m trying to find the right word here. You see, there are GREAT people on this island and more and more people are willing to help with rescuing animals however, there are also those MUCH less great…those who constantly dump dogs/cats in the kill cage, either because they are irresponsible, or because they STILL don’t know, that animals left there are going to be euthanized the following day!

There is still this small percentage of people that ‘actually believe’ that all animals left there, will end up in the shelter, when it clearly SAYS everything by the entrance at the door in WRITING.

Now, not only do these people LACK knowledge, but the surely lack intelligence and EDUCATION.

You know, it is so damn sad to hear from kids, how ‘oh my mom took care of the puppies, she threw then at the beach’ or ‘my dad killed all of them!’ Kids say the saddest things, but they actually SEE what happens so this is where we really have to start, by grabbing the bull by its horns – EDUCATION!!!

By talking to these kids and TEACHING them on how to be more responsible pet owners – less pet abusers like their ancestors!!

They do understand and they do learn! And fast!

But…who’s got the time to do so?

The only moments I get to talk to kids about this, is maybe on Oct 4, Animal Day, when all schools beg for ‘chatter with the kids about animals’. That is never even close to enough…unfortunately.

Attention to pets and education about their well-being should start in kindergarten!

Oh, I wish I could be paid to give classes about my work at a Vet assistant, instead of working…teach kids about how to be more responsible pet owners, about what to do, what to expect…and I can go on and on!

THIS IS ALL WE LACK in this community.

The example being given to kids is still very very extremely poor!

Although I can say, that the current generation is SMART, regardless of what their parents might think and believe, I’ve seen enough young couples asking to spay & neuter a pet AS SOON AS THEY ADOPT IT OR AQUIRE IT, which makes my heart sing.

THIS is the mentality we need! Once we have ‘reproduction’ under control, then we can start/continue teaching about the ‘quality’ of a pet’s life. Necessary vet care, vaccines, annual blood checks etc. There are quite a number of organizations now, appearing out of nowhere…some of which I didn’t even know existed, but once they are overwhelmed by vet bills and lack of time to take care of all the rescues…they will slowly ‘disappear,’ as fast as they ‘appeared, ‘I fear. We can have a loooong talk Rona…I wish I had more time. Let me know if you need anything else for now. Have a fantastic day!!! ♡