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Coconut Telefax 05/21/18

Coconut Telefax logo - Rona Coster Aruba

Padu del Caribe Celebrates his 98th Birthday

It was Padu del Caribe’s 98th birthday recently. Family members and friends came out to celebrate the occasion on the Mill Resort’s pool deck at sunset with a concert given in his honor by his “gang,” the musicians who have been playing with him for decades.

Padu del Caribe (Father of Aruban Culture) band members
Padu's loyal "gang"

All of Padu’s CDs were available for sale, and I bought the latest, a compilation of 24 songs. I put the CD on in my car. It made me instantly happy. Such joyful music.

Vivian, Padu’s daughter, reports she made the selection of songs with pianist Johnny Schaarbay. They listened to all 140 recorded songs and had a hard time deciding which ones to dust off. Finally, they maxed out the file with 24 tracks, with Padu singing on five.

In the good old days, Padu was a favorite crooner on TV and on vinyl records, delivering sentimental boleros in an emotional, personal singing style. The music is soul-soothing and sweet. All 24 tracks feature Padu on the piano. No one plays piano like Padu does; he practically devours the keys, racing up and down the scales, improvising in the most unexpected places, in the most intricate of ways, like the greatest of the great American jazz pianists of the early 20th century.

Rona Coster with Padu del Caribe, Aruban cultural icon - Father of Aruban Culture
I have admired Padu, his music, and his paintings for many years.

His music is layered—each hand flying through the notes in complete abandon, playing independently of the other—yet it all fits together, in an unmistakable Padu style. You know it’s Padu when the piano sounds so bright and effervescent. Call Vivian Lampe for your own copy of the CD: 565-3265.

 

Barbulet Concierge, Personal Concierge Service in Aruba

Freya Kraag has been the managing director at Barbulet Concierge for four years. Freya recognized the growing niche market of vacation rentals and is now providing concierge services to visitors staying in alternative accommodations, the small boutique hotels and guest houses.

I thought she was onto something when she resigned from her corporate job in 2014 and started working for herself because the alternative accommodations market experienced a 30% growth between February 2013 and February 2014, with 348,963 visitors staying in apartments and private homes in that period. The number has since dropped but remains significantly high—286,971 in 2016 and a bit less, 222,372, in 2017. And that is the market targeted by Barbulet Concierge for grocery delivery, private chef services, other VIP needs, car rentals, accommodation searches, airport transportation, babysitting services, disability services, on-island activities, and restaurant reservations. Just ask, and Freya and her diligent team will provide answers. In their network, they have excellent resources such as chefs, romance specialists, event planners, massage therapists, and photographers who can be mobilized with a phone call.

Barbulet recently invited a select group of collaborators to their official launch party at a beautiful residence in Opal, poolside, to enjoy violin music at sunset over cocktails and exclusive hors d’oeuvres. It was a much-enjoyed social gathering that marked the debut of Barbulet Concierge as a one-stop shop for visitors in search of “something different.” Chef Ilja, your finger foods, nicely paired with Spanish Lolea Sangria and sparkling wine, were amaaazing.

To get in touch with Barbulet with all your needs and wants, call +297-661-9951 or email [email protected].

Freya Kraag, owner of Barbulet Concierge, personal concierge service in Aruba
Freya Kraag
personal chef in Aruba - Barbulet Concierge
Chef Ilja

From a recent AHATA report: The number of nights spent by visitors in apartments or guesthouses grew by 11.3% in March, from 25,597 nights in March 2017 to 28,488 nights in March 2018. The number of nights spent by visitors in private homes grew by 10.8%, from 133,597 in March 2017 to 148,053 in March 2018. In the first three months of 2018, the number of nights spent by visitors in apartments or guesthouses grew by 2.9%, from 92,199 nights in 2017 to 94,897 nights in 2018. The number of nights spent in private homes grew by 3.8% in the first three months, from 462,311 nights in 2017 to 479,834 nights in 2018.

Freya is determined to reach at least some of these guests and provide them with services and recommendations. We wish her success.

 

Get Ready for the Next Pop-Up Restaurant at Renaissance Aruba

The Renaissance culinary team reports it will be hosting a pop-up Soi Thai restaurant on June 8 & June 9 at the Renaissance Mall.

The company has surprised locals and tourists for the past few months with a number of successful summer pop-ups in surprising locations. The last one, on May 5, took place at Casa Matias, an art deco building at the head of Main Street, just behind the Renaissance Marina Hotel. The pop-up cantina celebrated Cinco de Mayo, Mexico’s Independence Day, with guest chef Juan Pedro Maldonando, from the JW Marriott in Cancun, giving local foodies a taste of authentic Mexican flavors, washed down with generous Corona beer specials. The two-story Casa Matias building, featuring a large dining room floor and a wraparound terrace on the second floor, was all dressed up in Mexico’s national colors, and a mega piñata was hung at the entrance, serving as the centerpiece of the décor.

pinata at one of Renaissance Aruba's pop-up dinners
dining room of Renaissance Aruba pop-up dinner

The piñata burst open at 11 pm Saturday night as the culmination of the promotion. I was secretly hoping to see Zugheila Lindeborg, local marketing manager, pop out of the giant colored hexogon, but I found consolation in the many gifts and prizes showered down as the giant was yanked open by Cinco De Mayo party-goers to live Mariachis Perla Di Aruba music.

Don’t miss the next one: Soi Thai restaurant on June 8 & June 9 at the Renaissance Mall.

 

The New Welcome Plaza in Oranjestad

The Paardenbaai Plaza at the cruise ship terminal is ready to receive browsers and shoppers. The plaza has a total of 34 kiosks. Nineteen of those have been relocated from the shacks across the street. The rest were designated to artisans.

new welcome plaza at the cruise ship terminal in Aruba

The original idea was to allow artisans to work at the entrance to the port of Oranjestad in view of customers. In reality, the stores have some artifacts and some souvenirs, but that is what visitors want to buy to remind them of the trip to the island, says Elizabeth Guanipa.

I have to say that ceramic artist Trudy Lampe’s kiosk is cute, and she makes an effort to work on the spot, painting souvenir plates. She also has a full-scale workshop in Savaneta, so she runs both. Divi Diva, the kiosk by Elizabeth, is also worth visiting, with jewelry made here, locally embroidered clutches, and small paintings by Eliza Lejuez.

Remember, the plaza only opens when cruise ships are in town, and it is a good place to hang out before or after a tram ride through Oranjestad. A cold beer or a smoothie is available at the heart of the plaza in the tiny café.

 

Happy Birthday, Israel

The honorary consul of Israel, Martha E. Lichtenstein, and the local Jewish community invited a select group of guests and dignitaries to an Independence Day celebration on the occasion of Israel’s 70th birthday. The celebration took place at the Aruba Surfside Marina in the presence of the Governor of Aruba, His Excellency Alfonso Boekhoudt, government ministers, and members of parliament, with entertainment by Israeli pianist, saxophonist, and vocalist Noam Vazana.

Israeli pianist, saxophonist, and vocalist Noam Vazana
Israeli pianist, saxophonist, and vocalist Noam Vazana

Vazana performed an extensive program of songs and accompanied herself on piano. Her backup band was made up of local musicians who found her mix of Middle Eastern, classic pop, and jazzy songs in a number of different languages interesting and exciting. They had just one day to practice but made it sound like they had been playing together for ages.

Vazana has been living in Amsterdam over the past few years but visits her home country, Israel, and performs regularly. Being of Moroccan origin, she introduced a number of traditional Ladino compositions to her audiences, which was a first in Aruba. Ladino, the Spanish-derived language of the Sephardic Jews in the Middle Ages, can be easily understood by Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking audiences. It is a remnant of an almost extinct culture and, according to Vazana, was a wonderful way to communicate with her late grandmother, who was born in Fez, Morocco.

The program was very well received by members of the Jewish community and their guests. Vazana also performed at Beth Israel Synagogue during the Friday evening service as a guest of Rabbi Daniel Kipper.

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