Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy 2008!

Christmas and New Year has been very enjoyable here on Aruba, with plenty of presents, plenty of family time and plenty of crazy fireworks. Pretty much the oposite of the quiet Christmasses and New Years that we've had in Belize for the last 6 years.

In Belize we had to remind ourselves that it was New Year Eve, for instance, whilst in Aruba there's no escaping it. Everybody spends a small fortune on fireworks here and goes out on the street creating their own little (or not so little) fireworks show. So at midnight the whole sky above Aruba was alight with fireworks, you simply didn't know which way to turn, it was everywhere. Andy was really surprised to see it as even in the UK people don't do that, but I told him that it reminded me of my childhood in Holland as the Dutch do the same thing.

Something else that I really enjoyed here were the traditional Christmas singers. I forgot what they are called, there's a special name for them. Anyway, they are big groups of people (about 20 per band, with about 8 to 10 of them singing). The music that they make does not sound like Christmas music to me though, it just sounds Tropical and kinda salsa to me. It's really good fun. And these bands are everywhere around the Christmas period in Aruba. They play at the supermarkets, in the shopping streets, out at parking lots, etc.

The traditional Christmas lights on the islands were wonderful to see as well. The boys (of course) loved them.

And the other traditional thing that the Arubans do is scare away the bad spitits from the past year by letting off thousands of firecrakers outside virtually every store and business on the island around New Year's Eve. It's rediculously noisy, but I like the thought behind it.
The following pictures were from our Christmas Eve dinner, which was at a Lebanese restaurant. Which is of course not particularly traditional for Christmas, but we had great food and good fun too.

So there you go. That's what's been happening here. I hope you've all had plenty of good times and I wish you all good health, love and joy for 2008 and for the years that follow.

Blog on!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The clown doctors Aruba

The clowns sorting out the Christmas tree decorations. I didn't take any pictures of them 'in action' as I wasn't sure if I was allowed to take and/or post pictures with the residents of the old people's home or the children with special needs on it.

Before our move to Aruba I had already been thinking that I had wanted to do the following things here:
  1. Sing in a band
  2. Join the clown doctors

Well, it looks like I will be doing both those things. The band has already been formed. Currently it's just the 4 of us, with 2 Dutch guys (guitar & bass), one Aruban guy(drums) & we may still take on one more person (keyboards). They really are a nice bunch, so I'm very happy. We haven't got a name yet, so any suggestions would be welcomed ; )

And then there's the clown doctors...

I went to see them in action yesterday & loved what they did. They had invited some special needs kids to a retirement home-with mainly people with Alzheimer’s-to help them decorate their Christmas trees. It was a wonderful experience.

As I arrived, most of the residence were sitting motionless in the hallways. I was surprised at the lack of reactions from them. I would greet them as I walked by, but most would not acknowledge me at all. I guess its part of the Alzheimer’s? Anyway, what was interesting was the things that did make them react. For instance, I noticed the difference music made. As soon as the salsa music started to play many residents would start dancing and singing and you could see how they were transported into another space and time. Suddenly you could see how these people had once been, dancing the night away, celebrating life, feeling sexy and confident...I instantly realized that one day I (like any of us) could be just like them & that music would definitely do the same thing for me as it did for them (already, when I hear good dance music I get transported back to the nineties and I get a huge grin on my face; )

The other thing that made the residents react was the sight of children in the hallways. Most of them loved the kids. We tried to get the old people involved with the decorating of the trees by giving them some decorations to unpack-it was as much as most could contribute-and to hand the decorations back to the kids to hang in the tree.

The clowns were wonderful in how they would approach people and get them involved. It seems that their most important role is to be the icebreaker. It's not about tripping up over banana peels or squirting water out of plastic flowers (though they may do that at times?) It simply is about approaching people, it's about playing with them, holding them, smiling to them, it's about sharing love with them. At least, that's how I see it. That's my feeling of it.

So I would love to join the clown doctors. It's quite a commitment though. It's not something you can do once every few months. You have to commit to one or several 4-hour sessions a week. Still, I would love to do it. I'll first receive some training and after that I'd have to create my character and outfit. I'll keep you informed on it all. Just like the band, it won't really start until the New Year. But that suits me just fine. It gives me a few more weeks to settle in.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Our 5-year-old and God

Lucas has started to have a bit of a spiritual life all of his own. He talks to God quite a lot these days and it's so sweet to listen to. He asked God the other day why people have 10 fingers and then continued to ask him to please, please, please give him 17 fingers. When he opened his eyes and I asked him what he was planning to do with his 17 fingers, he went quiet for a moment, closed his eyes again and said: "No please God just give me 10 fingers, just 10, that's all I want. Not 17 fingers. Please God, do not give me 17 fingers!"

And the other day there was a TV show on about religion when Lucas walked into the room. He said: "Is that show about God mommy?" I told him that it was. He then looked at the theologist talking on the screen and said: "You know mommy, God made that man". I said that that was right. He then continued: "And you know what else? God even made himself and that's a very tricky thing to do".

Andy and I may not be part of any kind of organized religion, but I do find it important that my children develop their own spirituality. Oh, and whenever Lucas asks God to help him not wee the bed at night, he doesn't wee the bed. So his prayers are being answered ; )

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Belize supermarkets versus Aruban supermarkets...I think we have a winner!

For those of you who've never lived in a developing country like Belize it may be hard to imagine, but I am in heaven every time I walk into a supermarket here in Aruba. In the supermarkets here you can get pretty much everything. Which isn't always the case in Belize. In Belize you can never get any kind of mushrooms, fresh asparagus, soy yoghurts, blueberries, veggie burgers, etc. But in Aruba you can! So I'm having a field day here. Not that I've really got into cooking properly yet. I'm still getting used to this kitchen and figuring out what things we still need to get for it.

And the other cool thing is that nothing on the supermarket shelves in Aruba is out of date. In Belize you have to check everything you buy. Sometimes things are more than a year out of date. I recently bought some children's vitamine C there that turned out to be from 2002! Five years out of date. Can you believe it?

Anyway, I better get ready and start my day. Have a good one, where ever you are!

Monday, December 03, 2007

We're here!

We arrived in Aruba last Tuesday night, but it feels like we've been here much longer than a week already. My dad and Ina had flown over to Aruba from Holland on a last-minute deal that they found, which was a wonderful surprise! We had some great family time with them (not long enough though)

Our house here is great, Andy is happy playing golf, I've found a band to sing with, the kids are settling in well at school...all is good, really.

It's so hard to imagine that the following pictures were taken just a week ago in Belize. Bart had come back over to spend some time at the Belize Jungle Dome to help out the ladies in the kitchen (congratulations Nora on the birth of your baby girl!!!!!)
It was great to spend some time with him, John and Silvia before we left. And of course with Karen. I will miss you her whilst we're here : (

Will blog more soon....