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Yes 2 Aruba - Tony - (Aruba # 1)
I think I once mentioned something about my long,long love affair with Aruba - or as Grolier notes ah-roo'-bah. We go back to 1960. The Aruba Caribbean hotel (it has a different name today), was under construction. Probably the best thing about Aruba in those days was (I believe the immortal Gertrude Stein said it first) there was no there there. No casinos - no fancy night life - no big restaurants - just the beach and every once in a while a short trip to the old gold mine or to watch the garbage being dumped on the rough side of the island in order to keep the sharks away from the swimmers at the beaches. I believe they still do this. There was a tiny hotel downtown (if that's what you want to call Oranjestad), a comfortable guest house at the refinery at Saint Nicks. The refinery built in the early 20's and once I think the largest in the world, was a brainchild of the
Rockefellers. They were scared of the of the political siuation in Venezuela, where they obtained most of their crude. Later they did build a huge refinery on the Paraguana peninsular just across from Aruba. In the 60's when everyone talked about closing Lago, the Aruba refinery. The end of Aruba seemed imminent. I don't think this has quite come about. I believe that the refinery is now basically a skeleton of what it once was. There was also the small phosphate mine and the, at the time, world's largest desalinization plant.
Anyway getting back to the hotels. There was a small hotel (probably an exaggeration to call it that) right in the middle of what is today the hotel Casino strip - Palm Beach - This was the Basi Ruti.
A tiny but extremely well run place with fine cuisine. ( I attended my first food fight there and ended up paying my share of $200.00 which the owner insisted on for damages). Now I'm getting to the object of this short story. In the port area, where the small boats from Venezuela leave their produce, there was a spectacular restaurant BALI. This place
only had a few tables and was located on an old Dutch river barge. One of the things I fondly remember of the Bali was that your dinner plate was always on a tilt. Their specialty was Ris Taffel
Nasi Goring (spelling probably wrong). The restaurant was always filled with friendly, cogenial, fun loving people, tourists, business persons, day laborers etc. It was always one big family. I loved Bali. I understand it is gone. Too many casinos, hotels, restaurants ostentatious in style but not in quality. I have only had decent Indonesian food in the Netherlands Antilles and in Amsterdam. If anyone reading this knows of a first rate (not fancy) authentic Indonesian restaurant please post it. It has always fascinated me the language capacity of the Arubans. It is absolutely amazing to be spoken to by a 4 year old in Dutch German-English-Spanish-French and even sometimes in Chinese or Japanese. They of course have their own language - papiamento - which I am told no foreigner has ever mastered completely.
I make a generally futile attempt but no way can I compete. ARUBA # 2 will follow sometime.

Reinaldo (Ron - no decaf tonight)
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