Bati Bleki Weekly Recap, June 4th, 2017

The critically endangered Aruban Rattle snake, the Arubian Cascabel

This is not a long story, but it is a good one. Last weekend one of our girlfriends who lives in the cunucu of Jaburibari came face to face with a rattle snake. He stood his grounds, lifted his head, lifted his tail, then started rattling. He was about 95cm long and as thick as a ballpark frank.

She screamed. He was unimpressed. He continue to shake his maracas.

The dogs came around and decided to fold. Though they have no problems going after the occasional boa, their instincts told them not to mess with this one with the fangs.

Then girlfriend scream again. And nothing happened.

She called here, she called there. It was Sunday late afternoon, no one was moving. No one came to her rescue besides Philip Merryweather of Philip’s Animal Garden who tells us he gets calls, demanding rescues all the time. An injure pelican, abandoned puppies, wandering baby goats, garden snakes, Philip is an equal opportunity rescuer.

So Philip picked up the unwelcomed visitor from Jaburibari on Sunday, and on Tuesday we drove to the top of Arikok’s highest peaks and released him. He crawled out of the white detergent bucket resentfully, and slithered away. He did not want anything to do with us! We wished him luck. Phillip wants his to find a mate and procreate because the indigenous rattle snake is critically endangered.

Here we go what I found on line:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1eJt8PbVfU

The Aruba Island rattlesnake is one of the rarest rattlesnakes in the world. Its short and stocky looking body has an overall brown color and a lighter brown tail tip and its scaly skin has distinctive pink, blue and brown diamond shaped markings. Males and females are similar in appearance though males are larger in size. The tail creates the rattling noise that gives this snake its name. This species belongs to the family of vipers, and like other vipers it has a V shaped head, and venomous long hollow fangs which fold against the roof of the mouth when they are not being used.

Philip’s Animal Garden, Alto Vista 116, #593 5363, info@philipsanimalgarden.com

Dr. Beke moved to the new Walk In Clinic at the Cove, on Palm beach

One of Aruba’s most popular house-doctors just opened a walk-in clinic on Palm Beach, at the Cove, next to Tony Roma’s.

The space is friendly and includes two nicely appointed examination rooms, an office with two administrative assistants, and a narrow waiting room, though there is very little waiting involved, just drop in and the doctor will see you.

The good doctor managed a successful family practice at Sun Plaza for many years, until she reached the official retirement age of the national health insurer, AZV. They retired her, but she refused to stay put.  She has invaluable experience in pediatrics and gynecology, among other medical specialties, and she loves her patients, her profession, her island, her kids, grandkids, doggies, orchids, and friends, and she intends to stay active and helpful for many more years.

So bring her anything that aches you, and she will fix it, with her calm, cool, and collected bed-side manners and with her keen, observant eye.

In addition to seeing walk-in patients in her new clinic the doctor also services the island’s hotels. She has been Aruba’s hotel doctor for a few decades, and will visit patients in their hotel rooms for a consultation anytime.

While I was there I also noticed some of the doctor’s loyal local patients, who followed her to her new digs, forgoing the privilege of free medical care, and paying for her time, admitting their stress level drops immediately, upon seeing her.

“Some of my regular patients just come here to talk,” she says, “I love to be helpful in that way.”

L.G. Beke-Martinez, M.D. Family Physician, md.lilibeke@gmail.com, +297 588 0539 / + 297 594 0539

The doctor’s office is adjacent to a modern pharmacy and a well-stocked drugstore, affiliated with Botica di Servicio pharmacies.

Stimami Y Sterilisami is entering a new phase

Because nearly 7,000 unwanted cats and dogs are eutanized each year by the veterinary Services – abandoned by their owners in the designated kill cage, adjacent to the animal shelter in Wayaca  – Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts took the decision to earmark considerable fund for a nation Spay & Neuter campaign.

It was super successful and a grand total of 4,450 surgeries were subsidized by the resort since the program was rolled out in December of 2015.

As of February 2017, the program entered a new phase, surgeries of all registrations that are less than 6 months old, go on as usual, but new registrations can now only be made by the legal rescue foundations that are helping the homeless dogs and cats on Aruba.

The rescue foundations, eligible for surgery subsidy are: ARA, ARF, AARF, Sgt Pepper’s Friends, New Life for Paws, Animal Shelter, Nisi Cannis (Crioyo Trappers), and Cas di Animal.

Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort has invested over Awg 375,000 so far in the program and received some financial contributions from ATA and the Tourism Product Enhancement Fund, to be able to continue the program, this year. Total contribution so far is Awg 200,000.

I personally took advantage of the generous offer to subsidize cat operations when I found out my neighbor was harboring 34 cats, as they were reproducing out of control. I registered the cats with the help of Yessy Arends, a Veterinary Technician Assistant at Animal Health Veterinary Hospital, and she scheduled the surgeries, I paid part, Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort picked up the balance. We couldn’t have done it without them. I found homes for some of the kittens, and the rest went back to the neighbor, fixed and well-behaved.

Incidentally a few weeks ago, my neighbor showed up with the cash, and refunded my out of pocket expenses from last May. It took him a while to save that amount, he explained, but he is a man of his word, and he wanted to pay his debt; the cat situation is under control now he assured me.

Gotta watch it. Under normal circumstance, one pair of dogs, can become 11.000 in five years, so in principle by spaying and neutering 3,760 dogs and cats, Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort prevented the suffering of 41 million animals in the next 5 years.

“Stimami Y Sterilisami,” processed more than 6,330 registrations. Naturally, the system was abused, many dog owners who could afford the operation, registered their pets as strays in order to obtain a 50% subsidy on the surgery, but at least the pet got fixed. At present with the donations from ATA and TPEF, all registered pets will be invited for a session with the vet until the list is finished.

Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts hope the program helped educate locals about the importance for the surgery, and that it help create more responsible pet owners of strays and pedigree dogs. Amen!

Match made in heaven: Italian Pasta & Wine

Romar Trading invited hoteliers and restaurateurs for a casual pasta dinner just recently at the Buccaneer restaurant where Chef James Rogan orchestrated a four-course dinner, and wine artist Clive Faustin matched the wines.

I did the social rounds, kiss, kiss, over a flute of Torresella Prosecco. The restaurant’s aquarium room was filled with familiar faces, also some new ones.

Nice meeting the crew from Mundo Nobo Supermarket in Santa Cruz, a group of gorgeous chicas; Chef Sandro Herold, Manchebo, Anne Morisset, Casa Tua, Shirley Barrow, Aqua Grill, Valerie Pietersz Camacho, Paseo Herencia, and Hiram Zievinger, Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort & Casino and more, all wined and dined by party host Milton Harms and his crew at Romar Trading.

The evening progressed nicely with Torresella Sauvignon Blanc paired with large shrimp, roasted garlic, grilled asparagus, lemon and lime zest on a bed of Fettuccini; Torresella Chardonnay chasing Linguini Vongole, with Manilla clams, baby clams, and scallops; Bolla Pinot Noir perfectly matched with gnocchi, and seared, balsamic glazed and grilled lamb chops drizzled with basil pesto; and Torresella Merlot, enhancing penne in sundried tomato pesto, topped with a homemade meat ball and toasted pines.

The pasta, by De Cecco, is imported to Aruba by Romar Trading. The brand was created over a hundred years ago, in Abruzzo, Italy. Both the Molino and the Pastificio, still belong to the De Cecco family members to this day.

Their product says Chef Rogan, represents superior quality and Italian authentic taste. The flour from that specific area, and the stone mill, and the cold spring water, all contribute to the taste, he adds, and cannot be duplicated elsewhere.

The pasta factory in Fara San Martino, was created by Don Nicola De Cecco, and Don Filippo Giovanni De Cecco, perfected the drying process. And that’s their secret, Chef James confirms, the best durum wheat, and the extra slow drying process.

Chef James has been at the Buccaneer Restaurant for about two years and at the Marriot Aruba Resort & Casino before that. His wife Vicky works for Romar Trading, and while he cooked, she poured the wine, in collaboration with the lovely Juliette Kerstens.

At the end of the evening chef invited me to feed the fish, at the back of the restaurant from an elevated platform adjacent to the giant open air aquariums. The fish all came rushing to accept the treats.

The experience reminded me of the late chef Joseph Munzenhoffer who created the restaurant and the aquariums. He too used to delight guests by inviting them to feed the fish, every night,  a truly thrilling experience. Some traditions never die.

Aruba is experiencing a successful tourism year.

I asked around “why?”

The former MinTour, and Founder of POR: It is a real pleasure to see the results of the additional 5 million we invested. The money was taken out of ATA’s Contingency fund, and we allocated it to the US market in the second half of last year.

I was just the pusher of that move, as I always did, and got support of the entire ATA board. We even went to parliament in September, to notify members that we would extract up to 5 million out of the contingency fund. Finally I think we only used 3 million of that extra budget, because we had some savings in the original 2016 budget, and we used that.

Incidentally: May 2017, would be the last month with negative growth, due to the drop in the number of visitors from Venezuela. Since last May, the island managed to control the influx of “Card Swipers” from Venezuela, so this will be the last month showing double-digit declines.

An Activity Operator: The first 4 months have been very good for Aruba’s tourism, no argument here, but the impact has not been a result of injecting another 3M into the US market in Q3. We wish it was that easy. The US economy is doing very well and the new JetBlue service out of Fort Lauderdale is doing way better than expected. For us to be successful Consumer Confidence must be up and more airlift available. If spending is the key, then we should have been more successful earlier, because ATA doubled its marketing spend since their Sui Generis independence seven years ago. Why didn’t the increase in US arrivals happen sooner?

To us it’s the economy, market conditions and consumer confidence that are keys.
A Hotelier: We think that Zika did not hurt us as much as it did last year. Last year we experienced group cancelations and our honeymooners and young couples cancelled, or just did not book Aruba. We also have more airlift in 2017, and that is a natural supply and demand issue. The airlines finally saw a demand and provided more seats. Lastly, the entire Caribbean is doing between 5 to 10 % more business, so we also enjoy that wave of popularity.

Of course, there are probably some more factors. Examples? Terror attacks on the capitals of Europe and the situation in North Africa and the Middle East. The Caribbean looks wonderful in comparison.

A note of caution: With all the money spent the demographic goal set by ATA was not achieved, and visitors’ spending is not up; we’re still waiting for visitors with deeper pockets to arrive!

Shocco beer is here

Bourbon Express, a local distributor, developed a new craft beer inspired by Aruba, called Shoco Beer.

The company wanted a series of craft beers that embody our island lifestyle.  They wanted it to be authentic and recognized by the Brewers Association as craft beer so they met with a few craft brewers in the U.S. to find one that understood the vision and could capture the flavors and tastes that they wanted. After a few trials and errors, they found a brew master in Kentucky and together they formulated six different craft beers that would become part of the Shoco Beer Co.

Two of the Shoco Beers were launched at last weekend’s Craft Beer Festival, the booth was swamped and it seemed to be what everyone was buzzing about.

Yes, it was a very successful launch—people loved the first two beers introduced:

Blood Orange Blond and Long Legged Lager. While everyone has their preference—some were crazy about the Orange Blonde, others were a fan of the stout…but that’s the beauty of craft beer—there is something for every beer lover out there.

Surprise: You have 4 more Shoco Beers coming, and they are Pineapple Wheat Wave, TanLine Tangerine IPA, Sun of a Beach Prickly Pear Wheat and One Hoppy Island Toasted Coconut Pale Ale

The designs of the labels are so eye-catching, because the craft beer labels and the tap handles are part of the allure of the scene. The logos and labels of craft beer are very cool works of art—each craft beer producer prides himself on cool labels and tap handles.

So far the Shoco Beer tee shirts hit a homerun with the logo and labels—everyone wants a tee-shirt and a hat.

Best of all a Donation:

Shoco Beer Co. is donating $10,000 to Arikok National Park to help support some of their projects.  Some of the funds will go to the conservation efforts for the endangered shoco owl.  Right now Arikok is working with the Aruba Birdlife Conservation to locate shoco nests that have been dug in places like construction sites.  Obviously this is very dangerous for them, so they are creating artificial nests within the park and relocating the owls there so they can be safe and continue to reproduce and populate.  Specialized equipment and tools are needed so we are happy that we can help make a difference by giving financial support for this.

There are many other important projects Arikok has on their wishlist—like bird watching towers at Spanish Lagoon, and a future aviary in the park to breed prikichis since they are also an endangered species that is endemic to Aruba.

In addition to the initial $10,000 donation, Shoco Beer Co. is earmarking a percentage of Shoco Beer sales to help with these future projects that are crucial to awareness and conservation on the island.

Where can we find Shoco Beer?

Right now they are busy filling orders and so far you can find the first two Shoco Beers at the large local supermarkets.

PS: Craft beer is relatively new to Aruba, so here is what you need to know

The Brewer’s Association has very specific rules for brewing craft beer, using 3 major guidelines:

Small—a craft brewery cannot produce more than 6 million barrels a year

Independent—the brewery must be at least 75% owned by a brew master (so no big corporations)

Traditional–  flavor derives from traditional and innovative brewing ingredients in their fermentation.

INNOVATIVE INGREDIENTS is really the key aspect for the craft beer drinker. And craft Beer can be many things: craft beer special—it’s not one-size-fits-all… you can find sweet, toasted, nutty, fruity, spicy, earthy, smoky, bitter, buttery, and on and on.