Bati Bleki Weekly Recap June 18th 2017

You are invited to the New & Improved Carubbian Festival

The Carubbian Festival conceived a few years ago in order to give San Nicholas a chance to shine, once a week, and make a little extra money, will apparently be coming back.

I spoke to its spiritual leader last week, Leon Berenos, and he confirmed they are almost ready to roll; some budget has to still be approved, so the starting date has been pushed back by a week, from June 8th to June 15th.

The way Leon explains it, it makes perfect sense.

The festival draws an average of 125 paying visitors, $65 per person, about 4,000 locals and another 500 walk-in visitors who find their own way.

Basically every Thursday, the roti and cocada venders of San Nicholas gain access to a great number of wallets, allowing them to regularly make an additional income.

The cost of the festival? About Awg 10,000 a pop which includes early evening entertainment, steel pans or an organ grinder, set-up, lights, security, a cultural show, and more Latin and Caribbean dance music post-show.

“We hit a record number of people with Mike Eman’s birthday when we had 10.000 people in the street, in 2011,” Leon recalls.

So that’s the idea, invite the locals, bus some tourists and showcase the town’s unique Caribbean flavors.

The festival is budgeted to unfold 45 weeks a year, and in its previous format 195 tourist busses made the trip to the sunrise side, in 2016. For the 2017 edition, their ticket would also include a visit to two museums, the Community- and the Industrial museum, besides food and transportation.

On a personal note Leon says he oversaw the festival for a number of years then took a leave of absence for two years. Things went downhill fast at the Carubbian, thus on March 11th, 2017, he returned, and will now be in charge of the improved production.

Leon reports the festival now unfolds on the Promenade of San Nicholas. He personally designed and produced the cultural show, which he now owns, and is prepared to share it with the resorts for a modest fee.

The show will undergo regular changes and refreshes every 3 months; he hand-picked the four program emcees with Clive Burke and Quincy Hasham among them, all professional, seasoned entertainers.

The investment in infrastructure, will pay off he says. Almost Awg 400,000 in water/electricity, lights, tables, tents, and chairs. It has all been ordered and it’s on its way, including uniforms for the vendors, nice menu stands with product descriptions and an overall improved “everything.”

We’ll take a trip down to San Nicholas to see you Leon, for the first edition, June 15th.

 About Aruban Culture, a conversation with Glenn Thode, rector UA, Universidad di Aruba

Glenn says we have to pay close attention to details, for example the third couplet of our national anthem: Grandeza di bo pueblo ta su gran cordialidad.

Many consider the famous friendliness of Aruba’s people a virtue, an element of added-value that comes with sun, sand and sea.

But Glenn says it is a core value of the island’s culture. Arubans, and the residents of Curacao and Bonaire to a certain extent, enjoy a rare gift, he calls it “cultural code switching,” and it occurs intuitively and instinctively when we alternate between two or more languages, in the context of a single conversation.

In Aruba we alternate between five. Kids do it, adults do it, even babies do it: Papiamento, English, Dutch, Spanish and whatever else is thrown into the heritage, Italian, Chinese, Hindi.

And that is a unique, authentic and particular aspect of the island’s culture.

Here comes the part which some might contest: You cannot say that Papiamento is the sole communication vehicle in our culture. It’s simply not true. Our culture is inclusive and makes room for five languages, including a sixth, body language.

Arubans can act like Americans one moment, speaking in a clear gringo accent, then switch to Dutch and douse their French fries with Mayo; then order an Old Parr on the rocks in perfect Spanish, and always address  the server as dushi.

So that openness to other customs, tastes and sounds, typifies our culture, Glenn states. We are not protectionists, exclusionists, on the contrary we invite in, assimilate, and adapt.

We were sitting in the coffee shop at UA, as Glenn referred to Star Trek, where the Borg, a fictional alien group, collects other organisms and links them to the “collective” so they all become part of the “hive,” and, quoting THE famous line: “Resistance is Futile.”

The beauty of this is that you do not have to give up anything to become Aruban, because all of your cultural distinctiveness of origin, can just be introduced and added to the local customs.

Aruba is a bit like that “hive,” says Glenn, when people come here from all over the globe, in a short time, they start switching between languages and developing a fondness of Bami Goreng and Keshi Yena. Aruba transforms immigrants into Arubans by teaching them the Aruban ways and by accepting and assimilating their imported cultural contributions.

It makes the island very cosmopolitan, Glenn reiterates. Our strength is in our flexible mentality. We easily make people feel at home by communicating in their language and by reading their particular social cues correctly!

Glenn also points out that the island has no China Town, no Little Italy, no isolated communities. We live together, Chinese and Haitian, Venezuelan and Dutch, everyone mixes, there is no aristocracy or elite, we’re all equals.

Glenn who has a PhD in Criminal Law from the University of Groningen, is himself a graduate of the University of Aruba and Colegio Arubano. He served as the governor of Bonaire, at the time when the island was preparing to pick the federation of the Netherland Antilles apart, reverting to the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

It wasn’t easy to serve as Kabinet Gezaghebber, says Glenn, but I lasted three years, two months and fourteen days.

Glenn hopes that one day the UA will study our Aruban code switching competency, and then teach it to the rest of the world. The curriculum will include how to identity key components, how to absorb the influences and finally, how to assimilate them, on just about everything. It’s a survival strategy and it works beautifully and intuitively on the island!

The Dutch, he conclude,  operate from their head. Latin communities often operate from the area above the heart to below the crotch. Some unenlightened communities just use their legs, they do the work but don’t feel it, nor do they think about it.

Wouldn’t it nice to incorporate our heads, hearts and legs, for the good of humanity, and think with all three holistic parts?.

Thanks to educator Gershwin Lee for educating me about Glenn Thode.

Guy Bavli at the Alhambra Ballroom, the Master of the Mind, is back

Guy Bavli is a Mentalist, illusionist, an Entertainer and a friend of Aruba. He was here last summer for a short engagement and returns this summer for a longer run every, Thursday and Friday at the Alhambra Ballroom until the end of August.

Bavli will be taking audiences on a journey into the mysteries of the human mind, as the evening is filled with mind-games and humor, demonstrating Bavli’s hidden powers, which defy logic and science. His astounding telekinetic powers can move objects without the use of a touch!!

Laughter is great medicine, says Bavli, and his interactive audiences laugh and shake their heads in disbelief as he reads their mind with a mix of mentalism and illusion, psychology, physiology and intuition, that’s pure entertainment.

Born in Tel-Aviv, Israel, Guy began performing before live audiences at the age of five. When he was eight years old he had his first professional performance at a swim club in Tel-Aviv, it was his first-paid show and he hasn’t gotten off stage since them.

Tickets for Bavli’s performances are $35 per person, including a drink during the show, children under 12 escorted by two paying adults, are free. A Dinner & Show option is $55, including a starter and a main dish, at Fusion Restaurant Wine & Piano Bar; children pay $15.

You may buy tickets at the theater or at any De Palm Tours desk, at all hotels; doors open at 7:30pm, show starts at 8pm. Ticket-holders are advised to leave their logic at the door, and take a walk on the mind’s wild side.

Divi Resorts is proud to introduce the celebrity mentalist who appeared on TV more than 400 times, in more than 60 countries, and performed 1,200 shows at Caesar Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada. The show is suitable for kids 7 years and up. They will love you for taking them.

You are advised to leave your logic at the door.

Beach Clean Up, please lend a hand, it’s our beach!

For the upcoming 2 weekends Parke Arikok will be having an oil spill cleanup at different beaches in the park. The dates will be: Saturday June 17, 2017; Sunday June 18, 2017; Saturday June 24, 2017; Sunday June 25, 2017. Each day from 7:00am to 11:00am

The aim is to have a minimum of 20 Volunteers at each location. Kindly sign up for the next two weekends. If you have a volunteer list, please submit with Volunteer Name & Number.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR VOLUNTEERS

  • Wear old clothing or clothing you can dispose of after the cleanup in case you can oil spots on your clothing. Please bring a change of clothes with you, any clothing with oil spots on them would have to be disposed in a bag before leaving. We will have Dawn Soap, Corn Oil and Tissues available if you have oil spots on your body.
  • Use plastic hand gloves.
  • Sunblock, Hat and Sunglasses recommended.
  • Materials: If they can supply mini garden shovels will be great if not we will have available.
  • If the shoes you will be wearing get covered considerably in oil, you will have to dispose of them.
  • Further, explanation will be given by Park Rangers and cleanup volunteers will be supervised by Parke Arikok Rangers and DOW.

The park will have containers with Ice Water, additionally they will have Apples and Oranges for all volunteers. They will have garbage bags. If volunteers would like to bring their own gloves, they can use plastic gloves. They are free to bring additional food items on their own expense.

The meeting point will be Visitor Center at Parke Arikok. The groups start leaving at 7:00 AM. You can start arriving as of 6:30 AM. Briefing will be given by Park Rangers.

If you have a vehicle that can handle the Park roads we encourage you to bring your vehicle so we can transport additional volunteers to all the points where we will have the cleanup.

The cleanup will be supervised by Park Rangers and one DOW staffer and is organized by Parke Arikok, DOW and Rampenbureau.

If you have any questions please  call cell phone 7496191, or write to: c.quant@arubanationalpark.org.

The Next Challenge: CATS

It is no secret that we have a dog issue on the island, with thousands of unwanted animals born because of a local lackadaisical attitude towards spaying/neutering.

However over the last year, we have noticed a proliferation of stray cats, as well. The cat situation is not obvious because they are nocturnal animals and we hardly see them in day light, but my vet tells me that when we finally wake up to deal with cat spaying/neutering, we will be in felines up to our noses.

Last week I attended a small lunch meeting at La Cabana Beach Resort & Casino. Three of the resort executives, Frank Sabago, Environment and Safety Manager, Maureen Kelly, Staff Accountant, and Johnny Kock, Loss Prevention Manager, sat down with Yessy Arends, a Vet Tech at Animal Health Veterinary Hospital Aruba, to agree on a protocol how to handle cats, adopting the resort, and its guests, as its own.

With the blessing of General Manager Joe Najjar, who dropped in for introductions, the resort will now dedicate a set monthly amount to the spaying/neutering of cats and dogs, wandering into its boundaries. The money will be administered by Yessy, and used at all vet clinics, and once the animals are spayed/neutered and vaccinated they will be returned to the resort grounds to live a five-star beach life, as resident pets, and occasional mouse catchers.

During lunch Yessy announced her upcoming #PAM, Please Adopt Me, initiative. Having visited the vet’s office and being issued a clean bill of health, spayed/neutered cats and dogs will also receive a small tag engraved #PAM, which will become the key to their future, indicating they are available for adoption and that Yessy could be located via the hash tag, to take care of export arrangements.

It’s worth noting that while dogs are being rescued by a number of local organizations Yessy’s focus is on cats, and she is the only one, so far, zealously protecting their right to live happily, on One Happy Island.

At the end of the meeting I agreed with Yessy that as soon as her collaboration with La Cabana’s staffers and guests is cemented, we will approach all other resorts, to identify a to-go-to person, and set up a direct line of communication between guests, management and veterinary services.

In La Cabana’s case Frank Sebago who has been the diligent environmental steward at the resort for over two decades is the contact man, we couldn’t have asked for a better person.

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=528474703

Encouragement of Entrepreneurship

I was astounded when I saw about three weeks ago, a shiny new tourist product down the street, a bank of bicycles, Green Bike Aruba, lined up like soldiers, powered by solar, ready for a credit card to be swiped at the touch-screen kiosk, no employees, no reservation, no fuss.

Wow, how did that entrepreneur swing that?

I am full of admiration.

From infrastructure to advertising, these little bike stations are as good as any around the globe.

How was that possible with all red tape and redundant regulations, that a product like that appears on the market, no warning signs, overnight, ready to rock and roll.

Then Speed Andrade educated me in a TV interview: The new bike network includes 8 Green Bike stations; they offer a reasonable annual membership for locals; I also found out it’s a family business, run by two female investors, supported by family members

Then I saw on FB an E-AruBike reminder, a local project introduced in 2015 to the banking community and to government. It was a green project, so the MinPres was pleased to hear about it, and according to an official government publication, was the first one to take a bike for a spin.

Then nothing happened because the local banks stalled the approval of the project and the local entrepreneur bumped his head against a glass ceiling he couldn’t penetrate.

While declaring their support of small to medium businesses, reality proves it is not a government priority and that the famous entrepreneurial ecosystem is a fiction of our imagination.

So with government policy absent, favorable regulations nonexistent and funding impossible, nothing happens.

Then a foreign investment did the trick. An entrepreneur with deep pockets delivered the product.

My FB friends were up in arms that the idea was presented by a local entrepreneur and was not supported, because it was business risk, and the banks as we know, stay away from any loan that is not 100% secure.

Bottom line, the development of small business is no one’s priority.

I also solicited the hotels’ feedback about the project, because Costa Linda Beach Resort, La Cabana Beach Resort & Casino and the Marriott Aruba Resort & Stellaris Casino woke up one morning to a bank of bikes. All agree they should have been consulted on the location and all are concerned that by naming the stations after their properties, potential liability is implicated. They want their name taken off the bike stands, and raised issues of insurance and safety.

Then I talked to some other friendly experts, and they believe the actual bike stations are the last piece in the puzzle. The first piece?  Bike lanes and a national refresh campaign on two-wheel, road traffic regulations.

Lastly, I heard: Who wants to ride a bike in Aruba? The wind challenging. And the corrosion is a threat, the bikes will gradually be destroyed by our environment, the weather will not be gentle on the bikes.  Expect a Hunk a Junk within one year. That was harsh!