Bati Bleki

news_item
Click to read more

Agriculture? In Aruba

about 23 hours ago

I recently spoke to a friend, an agronomist, a man who deals with field crop production and soil management for a living. We talked about agriculture in Aruba. According to my well-informed friend, agriculture is a three-way collaboration of soil, water and weather, all crucial aspects of food-production, offered less than perfect conditions in Aruba,

batibleki.wheninaruba.com
news item

Agriculture? In Aruba

about 23 hours ago

I recently spoke to a friend, an agronomist, a man who deals with field crop production and soil management for a living. We talked about agriculture in Aruba.

According to my well-informed friend, agriculture is a three-way collaboration of soil, water and weather, all crucial aspects of food-production, offered less than perfect conditions in Aruba, thus anyone undertaking the daunting task of growing anything here, must think out of the box, and cannot rely on time-honored traditions, such as of planting peanuts in the cunucu.

He also said something important: Agriculture, contains the aspect of culture. Immigrants leaving Italy, Portugal and Spain, landing in Mendoza, Argentina or Napa Valley California, brought their grape growing, wine making culture along. It was part of their heritage, their way of life, and while they relocated geographically, they fell-back on their true and tried generational knowledge of cultivating crops, in their new homes.

It is no wonder that our Portuguese immigrant community, started gardening in Aruba. They imported agricultural knowledge. But that was not enough to scale up production and lay the foundation for modern day agriculture, here – except for our fantastic pepper farms making Madame Janette sauces. In recent years new farmers became a great addition to the island’s economy, they are aided by science and technology to grow greens, white button mushrooms and herbs, but their contributions do not amount to an economic pillar. Their farms provide some employment and a decent livelihood, but you must be passionate about it, otherwise it isn’t easy.

The new farmers include Petite Greens, Cunucu Fresh — expect the freshest seedless cucumbers, soon,  Happiponics, Cunucu 297, Cocolishi Greens Aruba, Aruba Eco Living, and perhaps many more I am unaware of.

These growers are visionaries, people with courage and determination, kudos to them.

Lorraine from Petite Greens told me about a new Urban Farm, located at Royal Plaza.

Tattoo artist Rachel Peterson always grew mushrooms, as a hobby, until one of her clients, favorite local chef Urvin Croes, told her she should make a business out of her hobby. She was admiring the mushroom tattooed on his arm, and they started talking.

When the pupil is ready the teacher appears.

Rachel now grows 18 species of wood-loving mushrooms in a tent, mimicking the mushrooms’ beloved levels of temperature and humidity. She finds mushrooms fascinating, besides being delicious,  with many health benefits attached, they have a long history on planet earth, perhaps on other planets too.

Rachel’s mushroom collection will soon include some medicinal varieties, she has applied for a permit, But meanwhile you are invited to buy a pound for Awg 25 to Awg 40, of Pink and Black Oyster mushrooms, De Ridder mushrooms, Italian Brown Oysters, King Trumpets, Black Pearl Kings, and many more, with beautiful names such as Blue and Golden Oyster mushrooms, Lion’s Mane, Lion’s Pride, even Lion’s Beard.

Rachel, a member of the Peterson family has always been creative, she graduated the Rietveld academy in Amsterdam and dedicated the last 13 years to her body arts tattoo shop, the Black Sheep, at Royal Plaza, where she cultivates a following of locals and visitors.

Who’s the Black Sheep, I asked. Any creative soul who offers a lot to the community, but it’s not always obviously clear how valuable he/she is.

news_item
Click to read more

A warm welcome to the Olive Garden, @Gloria

2 days ago

Monday evening, members of the De Veer family and senior leaders at Meta Corp greeted guests to a convivial short ceremony followed by dinner at the new, about to open the following day, Olive Garden, @Gloria. According to Zach Reams, Learning and Development partner at Darden International, Olive Garden is the leading restaurant in the

batibleki.wheninaruba.com
news item

A warm welcome to the Olive Garden, @Gloria

2 days ago

Monday evening, members of the De Veer family and senior leaders at Meta Corp greeted guests to a convivial short ceremony followed by dinner at the new, about to open the following day, Olive Garden, @Gloria.

According to Zach Reams, Learning and Development partner at Darden International, Olive Garden is the leading restaurant in the Italian dining segment with more than 1,800 restaurants around the globe, and more than 96,000 employees. On Tuesday, Aruba welcomed its first Olive Garden, ready to serve us daily from 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM, for lunch and dinner.

The ribbon was cut by the cutest family member of the 5th generation, the 4th Gerard de Veer, who helped Eddie de Veer with the giant scissors. Guests were then invited to be seated in the intimate dining room, for cocktails and a taste of the menu. More than a taste: It was dinner.

In his informal address de Veer explained Meta Corp is growing again after seven years of relative calm. Mid-pandemic management decided to undertake a few dynamic growth initiatives, embracing the family’s long-standing, famous tradition of expansion.

Among initiatives evident from recent developments, a substantial investment in the Apex cement bagging plant, a substantial investment in a propane gas storage facility, capable of receiving gas in bulk shipments, the acquisitions of the Antillean Soap Company in Curaçao and its ongoing upgrade and best of all, in December 2020, the inauguration of the Gloria complex, named Gloria in honor of the company’s first movie theater, commemorating the 100th year anniversary, of the oldest, private  enterprise in Aruba.

De veer was visibly pleased to welcomed guests to the inauguration of the Olive Garden, a lovely new addition to Gloria’s collection of popular eateries.

Those familiar with the brand appreciated the many new design features, especially the indoor and outdoor terrace seating, and the long, inviting bar.

I got a tour of the kitchen, all stainless-steel equipment and cutting-edge technology, custom built to meet Olive Garden’s international standards.

The pre-opening effort of the Olive Garden, also enjoyed the expertise of Darden’s International Roberto Rojas Tejas, Director of operation franchise, who brought to Aruba an impressive army of trainers and coaches with international experience, to share their Food & Beverage knowledge with a just-recruited local team, many of whom have never worked in any restaurants before.

In addition to inhouse training, a great number of staffers attended intensive courses at the Darden training center in Orlando Florida, and came back to Aruba eager to demonstrate what they learned about high level of service and delicious food.

Nice touch: Besides the pictures of drop-dead gorgeous Italian seaside villages on the Olive Garden’s walls, a bank of TVs streams live, from Venice, from the Bridge of Spiers. The Live Cam of Ponte delle Guglie is a fun feature, with people crossing the Cannaregio Canal, and boats speeding to the Grand Canal, in real time. I hear it was Eduardo de Veer’s inspired idea.

Olive Garden, like all other outlets @Gloria is owned and operated by Meta Corp through its subsidiary E. De Veer chain theaters,  better known as, The Movies.

This enterprise was started by the De Veer’s great grandfather in 1920 and Gloria is the name of the first cinema, by E. De Veer chain theater, and the previous incarnation of Meta Corp.

De Veer also took the opportunity to introduce a familiar personality, Bas Olde Riekerink, the just-recruited Managing Director, a resident of Aruba for more than 20 years, who returned from an assignment there, to assume leadership @Gloria. Bas, an experience hotelier, joined the team on June 6th, and was warmly welcomed by the entire Meta Corp family.

Olive Garden’s manager is the dedicated Amarylis van Boekel.

De Veer directed special thanks to Felix, Gerardo Jr, and Amarylis who escorted the project from start to opening day.

Among famous appetizers on the menu: Never Ending Dipping Sauces and Breadsticks; $9 Take Home Entrees; Stuffed Pastas; extra delicious Alfredos with Shrimp, Seafood or Chicken, and Create Your Own Pasta, a mix & match possibility.

Weekday lunch is served from 11am to 3pm, listing favorites such as Spaghetti & Meatballs, Lasagna Classico, Chicken Parmigiana and Shrimp Scampi. The desserts are yummy, I tried them all.

 

news_item
Click to read more

They all played nice

3 days ago

The press conference on Monday, featured three heads of small Dutch island-states and the Secretary of State, in charge of the islands, on behalf of the kingdom. They all played nice. They said it was a productive meet and that they will continue talking. About what? About maintaining a budget, and running their countries by

batibleki.wheninaruba.com
news item

They all played nice

3 days ago

The press conference on Monday, featured three heads of small Dutch island-states and the Secretary of State, in charge of the islands, on behalf of the kingdom.

They all played nice. They said it was a productive meet and that they will continue talking.

About what?

About maintaining a budget, and running their countries by the book.

I noticed from their tight faces and from their controlled tone of voice that the press conference was the last place in the world they’d rather be in.

Down deep inside, they do not want to comply.

They want to continue to do their thing, the way they see fit.

But they are bound by insurmountable debt and heavy financial obligations to their voters, thus they are today in a position where the Dutch push them to comply, to make baby-steps towards Good Governance.

 

State secretary Alexandra van Huffelen, sounded sweet, as usual, but my friends tell me she was tougher this time, from her severe black dress to her repetitive mention that all countries must comply with obligations.

Her predecessor, Knops, seemed to yield his stick more frequently.

She is politically-correct to the extreme, and dresses extravagantly.

Can’t help but notice!

However, we won’t talk here about the practicality of her shockingly-colorful Parke Arikok jumpsuit, and the Salomon hiking shoes.

(One of my friends mentioned she should have had her own water bottle in hand, not the plastic one, but we are now diving into minutia.)

 

The Premiers, Evelyn Wever-Croes, Aruba, Gilmar Pisas, Curacao, and Silveria Jacobs, St Martin, convened here to conduct weekend talks with the State Secretary and her delegation. It was a unique, historical get together, then at the Monday press conference they fielded questions from the press, few from Aruba, most from Curacao. The questions were repetitive and minor. The answers were perfunctory.

There is a lot going on, but never above ground.

There is a lot left unsaid.

 

On the surface the main concern among the islands’ government employees in the reduction in pay they took during the pandemic. A few weeks ago, GOA’s employees were told their salaries will be restored to pre-pandemic level, under 3 condition.

There are now 4 conditions.

Just to refresh your memory: The Aruba parliament would adopt into law the Wever-Croes norm referred to as LNT, standardizing top incomes. Heads of state-companies, about 40 of them, will no longer earn exorbitant salaries. Their pay scale will be anchored by law, as comparable to that of MinPres – this will no doubt, be tested and contested in court. (Opposition leaders were fast to point out that if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.)

The second condition deals with Aruba’s budget, which must reflect ALL of the country’s expenses, including the 12.6% additional funds, required to restore GOA’s employee salaries.

The third condition requires the 25% salary cuts of politicians, to remain. Their level of pay will not revert to pre-pandemic level.

The new 4th condition now involves a blessing from the financial supervisors, CAft, who must agree that conditions have been met, and salaries can be restored.

I think. It is very complicated.

At the time, during the secretary of state’s previous visit, MinPres thanked all public and semi-public employees for their patience, and sacrifices. The negotiations were hard and took a long time, she said, but the results were positive.

But they are still talking about it, and the island must comply before anything can happen.

 

At the end of the visit, MinPres indicated that Aruba is committed to reforms, as promised. No doubt Covid hit us hard, she said, and this is why we acknowledge and appreciate the aid we got from the Dutch, and from now on we are committed to doing our best to reform, so that Aruba emerges stronger and more resilient, guaranteeing progress and wellbeing to the citizens of our country.

 

news_item
Click to read more

Left Over from Last Week

4 days ago

Mike Eman in Parliament Of all speakers in parliament last week, the former-former prime minister of Aruba was the only one who made himself the center of discourse. As a speaker, he is very good. He introduces a mantra at the beginning of his flow, and repeats it cyclically, so that we all walk away

batibleki.wheninaruba.com
news item

Left Over from Last Week

4 days ago

Mike Eman in Parliament

Of all speakers in parliament last week, the former-former prime minister of Aruba was the only one who made himself the center of discourse.

As a speaker, he is very good. He introduces a mantra at the beginning of his flow, and repeats it cyclically, so that we all walk away with that mantra playing in our heads. He has good cadence, and rhythm, he speaks in waves, organizing his thoughts in run-on sentences, that are repeated, with the mantra in between.

It’s a good technique.

His mantra this time was: Five Lost Years.

Meaning there was no progress in the alternative energy field. since his departure from power.

He went on to list his fantastic achievements, dropping BIG names:

Harvard

MIT

TNO

TESLA

Carbon War Room

Delft University

Rocky Mountain Institute

Rietveld

His so-called partners in progress, who abandoned Aruba, at the end of his term as premier.

What happened in Aruba, they ask him, he said, the island was a leader in the alternative energy field, what happened here, how did the much-admired small country loose its leadership position, he wondered.

Parliamentarian Miguel Mansur had a good answer.

All above so-called partners-in-progress were paid to make appearances in Aruba, staging photo opportunities with the great leader, endorsing his TOTAL VISION, that totally bankrupted the country.

All those conferences cost a lot of money and yielded ZERO benefits, besides self-congratulatory pats on the back.

At the end of his rhetoric flow two interesting truths: Aruba’s twenty-year contract with the LNG provider leaves no room for the pursuit of renewable energy – reminder, we never saw the contract.

And the cancelled ECOGAS contract, concluded our conversion of waste to energy. We were heading in the right direction, then WEB found fault with the quality of gas produced by ECOGAS from waste, and dissolved the relationship.

It is now in court, and I must check up on the story. I will.

news_item
Click to read more

Band leader Antonio Gario found dead in his cell, at the Police station in Shaba

5 days ago

Not many details were revealed about the circumstances of Gario’s death, and I imagine we will never know for sure whether he killed himself out of remorse and regret, or because he was looking for a way out of his troublesome brush with the authorities, as he was defending himself against allegations of sexual abuse,

batibleki.wheninaruba.com
news item

Band leader Antonio Gario found dead in his cell, at the Police station in Shaba

5 days ago

Not many details were revealed about the circumstances of Gario’s death, and I imagine we will never know for sure whether he killed himself out of remorse and regret, or because he was looking for a way out of his troublesome brush with the authorities, as he was defending himself against allegations of sexual abuse, made by his own daughter, at the time barely 16.

The complaint was lodged a few years ago. Lady Justice is slow in Aruba.

I believe Gario had eight children, with multiple partners, and perhaps his suicide indicates he assumed responsibility for his alleged deeds, or maybe his suicide indicates he denies all responsibility, and by taking his own life, avoids the confrontation.

But it is disturbing that a man in custody, presumably under guard/watch, was left alone long enough to not just attempt, but succeed in killing himself. Was the Jeffrey Epstein story retold in Aruba?

Did he have help?

Early on, Gario turned community-organizer of sorts, for whoever courted AVP voters in San Nicholas, where Gario considered himself Sheriff.

I did lecture him when we occasionally met, that while he was getting old, his companions were getting exponentially younger, but he always counterattacked stating I was jealous, and the nymphs were of appropriate age. He always explained he was helping the kids; they were homeless and neglected and he is providing adult guidance for the elves.

I was never quite sure about that.

As a musician, we adored Gario and his band, Le Groove, and I thank him for many J’ouvert Mornings, where I trailed behind his band shuffling happily down the streets, in the dead of night, at the opening festivities of Carnival. He was flashy and crude, a human peacock. His music, the real Caribbean deal.

May he rest in peace. The music will go on, with one of his musician sons.

Magic 96.5 FM