By Clyde Harms
On February 25 Aruba Tourism Authority (ATA) honored two loyal Aruba visitors with a certificate naming them “Ambassador of Goodwill”.
In a mildly emotional, yet very professional speech, Mr. Johnathan Boekhoudt of ATA thanked the Peetsolds profusely for their loyalty to Aruba and presented them with some Aruba souvenirs. He also gave a history of the three different ATA certificates, “Distinguished Visitor” for those coming to Aruba regularly for 10+ years, “Goodwill Ambassador” for 20+ years and the more recently created “Emerald Ambassadors” after 36+ years.
The Peetsolds’s close relationship with Aruba goes back more than 50 years. After marrying Geertje Dokter in June 1972, Cris Peetsold came to Aruba for the first time in December 1973 to assume a teaching position at Abraham de Veer School in San Nicolas. They first lived in Santa Cruz, but later moved to Siribana 4A where they stayed till August 1977 when they returned to Holland. During these 4 years the Peetsolds made many friends among the people of Aruba.
Their daughter Marieke was born in Oranjestad in June 1977. After she obtained her VWO-diploma in Holland, Marieke returned to her birthplace and worked for 9 weeks at a vacation job on the “Jolly Pirates”. Following her graduation in Holland in 2000, their second daughter Evelien did an internship at THE NEWS for five months. THE NEWS was an English language newspaper published by the legendary Gerrit Schouten. Cris and Geertje returned to Aruba for 10 days to visit her, look up old friends and get re-acquainted with this beautiful island and its people. It felt like coming home.
Little had changed visibly, except that there were many more houses in the “kunuku” (countryside) and there were fewer empty beer bottles on the side of the roads. Beaches were still clean and quiet, and almost always there would be a traffic jam on the boulevard. The Aruban people were as friendly and courteous as the they remembered them. The Peetsolds met good vibes everywhere. Since that visit to Aruba, Cris and Geertje have returned at least 15 times, staying at different places looking up old friends and making new acquaintances.
Cris said that he and Geertje had stayed at Airbnb all over the world, but have never enjoyed one as much as Milagro’s Garden Apartments’s tranquility, responsiveness, cleanliness and friendliness. They have already booked reservations for the whole month of February 2023 for themselves and friends.