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Aruba Culture

Aruba Culture

Aruba is one of the many beautiful and stunning islands that make up the Caribbean. Aruba’s culture and people have many different backgrounds; from the Indians, to the Spanish, and lately the Dutch. However, through the years the place has become the abode of many different people.

Many Arubans are linguists – speaking four languages namely English, Dutch, Papiamento, and Dutch, while in the same conversation. Papiamento is a tuneful language resulting from every Aruba culture that has impacted on the region, including hints of Portuguese, Spanish, French, Dutch, and local Indian languages. Papiamento is spoken throughout the Netherlands Antilles but is more of Spanish-based on Aruba’s closer attachments with the South American mainland. For visitors of the place, an effort to use Papiamento words such as Bon Bini meaning welcome or Dushi meaning sweet or lovely, will delight your Aruban hosts.

The Arawak legacy is stronger on Aruba culture than on most other Caribbean islands, although the native language and culture did not last long into the nineteenth century, and no full-blooded Indians remain. The features of most islanders clearly show their genetic heritage.

Aruba has its own discrete culture that often includes celebrations. Music and color are a significantly great part in the majority of cultural events and most particularly the yearly Carnival and Dia Di San Juan or St. John’s Day celebrations. These celebration greatly portray Aruba culture, with Arubans dressing in red and yellow to represent fire throughout the Dai Di San Juan celebration. The celebration originated from a mix of pre-Christian Arawak harvest festivals and the efforts of Spanish missionaries to combine them with the San Juan celebration. The day is celebrated with dancing and singing, and Aruba is the only country who celebrates it this way.

The Carnival celebration reflects religious Aruba culture as this is about cleansing one’s body of sins, and helps Arubans to prepare for Lent. The celebration also infuses themes of colors, dance, music, creativity, and merriment. Aruba culture on superstitions and traditions shows greatly on their celebration of the New Year called Dande. The word Dande means to revel or to carouse or to have a good time which began after King William III of Netherlands declared slaves to be free. Rituals are performed by a group of five or six people, although more can join, who go along with a singer and travel door-to-door to express best wishes for the New Year with repetitive songs and the host collects money in his hat to give to the group.

Today, Aruba shows great culture that doesn’t shy away from the world. Arubans love of music and celebrations on the island reflects this, the most popular styles of which are the lyric-heavy calypso, merengue and beat-based soca, and a local blend known as socarengue. Aruba culture is truly diverse and wonderful that guests can come across with when they visit the beautiful place of Aruba.

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The Habanero Chile

The Habanero Chile

Bus Busscar Optimuss en exhibición
Source: Flickr

A friend of mine once told me there is more to the culinary life than chile peppers. He might be right, but he keeps telling me this over my diner table, so go figure.
The habanero chile (Capsicum chinense Jacquin) is the most intensely spicy chile pepper of the Capsicum genus. Unripe habaneros are green, but the color at maturity varies. Common colors are orange and red, but white, brown, and pink are also seen.
Most habaneros rate 200,000-300,000 Scoville heat units (SHU), with the Guinness Book of Records recognizing the Red Savinas variety, developed by GNS Spices of Southern California, as the ‘World’s Hottest Spice’ at 580,000 SHU. For comparison, a Cayenne pepper is typically 30,000 to 50,000 SHU while police-grade pepper spray rates 5,300,000 SHU. A typical Jalapeno pepper is about 4,500 Scoville units. This means that 4,500 parts of sugar water are required to dilute one part Jalapeno extract until its heat can no longer be felt.
Habaneros are believed to originate in Cuba. Other producers include Belize, the Yucatan peninsula, Costa Rica and some US states including Texas, Idaho and California.
The habanero’s heat and delicate fruity, citrus-like flavor make it a popular ingredient in the hotter hot sauces and the spiciest of foods. We are going to discuss some ways of using the habanero for our own person cuisine, but keep in mind some to those heat statistics above. You don’t want to accidentally get the juice from these peppers anywhere near your face or eyes. Recently I got a dose of habanero juice under my thumb nail, and it burned for three days no matter how much I washed it off. So be careful, and we’ll have some fun. Don’t and possible side effects might occur.
Bajan Chicken
3 fresh Habanero chiles, stems & seeds removed, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Caribbean-style Habanero sauce (I like Trinidad or Inner Beauty)
4 chicken breasts, skin removed
6 green onions, finely chopped, including tops
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped (I substituted cilantro)
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (Because of a personal anti-clove bias, I substituted cinnamon; thanks to my dentist father, cloves remind me of stinky tooth decay …)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 egg
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Flour for dredging
3 cups dry breadcrumbs
Vegetable oil for frying
Combine the chiles, green onions, garlic, lime juice, parsley or cilantro, cloves (or cinnamon) and ground pepper. Cut deep gashes in the chicken and fill with the mixture. Secure open end with a toothpick to keep the stuffing from falling out.
Beat the egg and combine with the soy sauce and pepper sauce. Lightly dust the chicken with flour, dip in the egg mixture and roll in the bread crumbs.
Apricot-Habanero Barbecue Sauce
You want to do this sauce over and over again.
A fruity sweetness, a rich vegetable aroma, and a dash of habanero makes this sauce just perfect for salmon, halibut, and catfish. Try this with poultry and pork too.
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic
corn or canola oil
1 yellow bell pepper, roasted, peeled, and seeded
2/3 cup (150 g) dried apricots
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinager
3 tablespoons (1/2 dl) brown sugar
1 1/4 cups (3 dl) water
1 tablespoon Colmans powdered mustard
4 tablespoon habanero hot sauce
salt
In a pan, sauté the onion and garlic in a little oil until soft. Add the remaining ingredients, except the mustard powder and habanero. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, or until the apricots are soft. Pour into a food processor. Season with mustard powder, habanero, and salt while processing to a smooth sauce. (Serves 4)
Spicy Island Hot Sauce
1 ripe papaya, peeled, seeded & coarsely chopped
1 med yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 med cloves garlic, minced
4 Habanero peppers, stemmed & seeded
1in piece fresh ginger, peeled & coarsely chopped
1/3 cup dark rum
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp honey
1/8 tsp cardamom
1/8 tsp anise
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp turmeric
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cinnamon
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in blender and puree just until smooth (do not over-blend and aerate). Pour into saucepan & bring to boil, simmer gently, uncovered for about 10 min. Remove from heat & allow to cool before bottling. Refrigerate, Sauce will keep approx. 6 weeks. Makes 2 cups.
Enjoy.

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Panama Canal Cruises

Panama Canal Cruises

China’s Belt and Road Initiative
Source: Flickr


In reliving the theatrical episode in history when two oceans were connected in an earth- moving attempt that completely changed the geography of the Americas forever, it is only through taking the Panama Canal cruises.

Time may never repeat itself once again but taking the Panama Canal cruises will surely give one a glimpse of what a challenging construction it was. It was where dams obstructed the rivers, valleys transforming into lakes and mountains into paradise. The continental division was lessened by a twisting channel of the Isthmus.

Panama Canal cruises will not only be a ride in anybody’s life but most importantly, it will bring to a poignant reminiscent of individuals that owe the credit for the completion of one of the world’s most challenging project considering the available resources that period. There will be instant discovery of how three humongous locks were raised using no other power than the force of gravity together with 53 million gallons of water.

Joining the Panama Canal cruises will allow a break to the San Blas Islands which was first settled by the Cuna Indians who were noted to be the pre- Columbian laborer of the finest multi- layered tapestries. There will also be the exploration of Costa Rica’s marine species located in the Golfo Dulce coast plus the sun- drenched haven of the Caribbean, the Mayan ruins of Guatemela, bay resorts of the Mexican Riviera and dazzling metropolis of the western U.S. will be visited.

Princess is among the water crafts that have been the common favorite of those who love to join voyages to the country just to see two great oceans, Atlantic and Pacific, kissing each other. They serve Italian cuisines as their guests will be entertained by the nightly Broadway- style entertainment. Others can also lazy around in the pool or relax in their comfortable staterooms. Their ships include the Caribbean Princess, Coral Princess, Dawn Princess, Diamond Princess, Golden Princess and Island Princess, to mention a few. Its room rates are from $652 to $3, 104 where you can contact 1-888-407-2784 for reservations.

Celebrity is among the water crafts that one can enjoy its own private veranda where it allows having that panoramic vista of an emerald isle in the sapphire sea. It has museum- quality works of art and hand- polished brass railings with piano music playing softly in the background. It has an award- winning dishes prepared by Chef Michel Roux coupled with gourmet valet for onshore bookings. Their amenities include aqua- spa with aromatheraphy, thalassotheraphy seawater baths and a lot more. Their ships include Century, Constellation, Galaxy, Infinity, Mercury, Millenium, Summit, Xpedtion and Zenith. Its room rates are $1, 229 to $3, 100 where you can contact 1-888-407-2784 for reservations

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World Cup 2006 Preview – Czech Republic

World Cup 2006 Preview – Czech Republic

Outright Odds: 33/1
Group E Winners: 9/4

The Czech Republic may be ranked by FIFA as the second best team in the world behind Brazil and the best in Europe but they made hard work of qualifying for the finals. Pitted against Holland in qualifying, they lost home and away and also suffered defeat in Romania to finish second in the group. They won both home and away 1-0 against Norway in the play-offs to secure their place in Germany.

Despite a nervous qualification, expectations are high this time around for the Czech’s first appearance in the finals since they entered as Czechoslovakia in 1990. The side have not been out of FIFA’s top six since 2004 and can no longer be dubbed underdogs or outsiders. Under their old guise they twice finished runners-up in both 1934 and 1962 and they have the ability to go one better this time around.

For many of the current squad, it’s now or never, as the attacking force of Tomas Galasek, Karel Poborsky, Jan Koller and Pavel Nedved, back out of retirement, are all entering the veteran stage of their careers. All made their mark a decade ago as the Czech Republic surprised everyone by reaching the final of Euro 96 and taking eventual winners Germany into extra time.

Under manager Karel Bruckner, who took charge in 2001 after a successful spell as under-21 coach, the Czechs can be a real force to be reckoned with. Nobody scored more goals in the European qualifying campaign than Bruckner’s side and it’s hardly surprising, given his choice of tactics.

The Czechs play a cavalier style of attacking football that can be breathtaking to watch. Who can forget their classic Euro 2004 against Holland in which they battled back from 2-0 down to win the match 3-2?

With Nedved, Galasek, Poborsky and Tomas Rosicky, the Czechs boast one of the most creative midfields in international football. Jan Koller struck nine times in qualifying to take his tally to 40 goals in 66 appearances but he is in danger of missing out on the finals after suffering cruciate ligament damage in September 2005.

While almost unstoppable in attack, where the Czechs fall short is in defence. Full backs Marek Jankulovski and Zdenek Grygera offer plenty of attacking support from the back but are prone to being caught out. But given their overall ability they are worth a shout to win the tournament at long odds.

Recommended Bet:
At odds greater than 2/1, the Czechs offer much better value than Italy to win the group given their potency in attack. According to FIFA the Czechs are Europe’s top side yet the bookmakers don’t fancy their chances given the odds on offer. At 33/1, the Czechs offer good each-way value to win the tournament outright.

Czech Republic to win Group E @ 9/4
E/W Czech Republic to win the World Cup @ 33/1

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Perking Up for Caffeinated Treasure in the Caribbean

Perking Up for Caffeinated Treasure in the Caribbean

Pula-0965
Source: Flickr

Possibly the world’s most famous coffee-growing location is Colombia, but many countries in and around the Caribbean also produce this flavorful bean. Most coffee-growing islands in the Caribbean, however, do not produce quantities large enough to export on a wide scale, like the plantations in Central and South America, which serve markets all over the world.
Growing History
Coffee was discovered in Africa, but today this drink is popular worldwide. It was passed from the Ethiopians to Constantinople’s Ottoman Turks and even to Pope Clement VIII in Italy, who is said to have baptized the drink. There are many variations in the story of how the crop was transplanted to the Caribbean, but, needless to say, the region’s land turned out to be ideal for growing this popular bean.
The type of coffee plant most often grown in the Caribbean region is called “Arabica.” It was developed from plants grown in Saudi Arabia, inspiring the name. Coffee can be grown in many different climates, but each climate will create beans with subtle taste variations.
The higher the altitude, the more time the coffee plant will require to mature, but beans grown under these conditions are full and dense and yield the richest flavor.
High altitudes are particularly important when growing coffee, which means that mountainous islands are usually better-known for their coffee than those with more level terrain.
Similarly, the geography of many Caribbean islands has played an important part in creating delicious coffee. Warm weather and volcanic soils combine to create perfect growing conditions for these plants, but each island will process the results differently.
Top Island Producers
While the Caribbean islands are known for sun and sand, so some visitors overlook their mountainous interiors while others enjoy hiking and climbing through these rougher regions. But whatever visitors long to do on their Caribbean vacations, they can anticipate a stimulating beverage to enjoy alongside the activity on every island. The most popular brews are found on these:
The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico is also a great island to visit for coffee, but most Puerto Rican coffee is consumed on the island, making it hard to find elsewhere, so aficionados may want to visit in order to try a cup. Some of the more popular Puerto Rican coffees are known for their creamy taste.
Jamaica is perhaps one of the best-known producers of Caribbean coffee. Its Blue Mountain area produces full-bodied and highly aromatic beans. However, if you’re visiting Jamaica, be wary of roadside vendors selling impostor Blue Mountain coffee. Still, true-blue coffee makes a great souvenir for those who love the drink.
The island of Hispaniola is home to two countries, the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and each produces fine coffee. The Dominican Republic is one of the Caribbean’s largest coffee producers, and Haiti is enjoying a chance to make a name for itself as well. Fans of the dark roast should try the sweet Dominican coffee, while Haitian blends offer a more mellow taste, with plenty of flavors to suit many palates.
For those outside the United States, you may be able to find imported Cuban coffee, which is known for a heavy body and particularly fine dark roasts. However, these coffee products are nearly always exported to Europe and Japan. A word to the wise – don’t be confused by Cuban-style coffee, which is not the same thing as coffee from Cuba.
Although these island producers will never have the space to grow as much coffee as you’ll find in Central and South America, their island blends each offer something unique. So try a cup of something special – coffee from the Caribbean.