On February 25, Aruba Tourism Authority (ATA) honored two loyal Aruban visitors with a certificate naming them as “Ambassador of Goodwill”. In a slightly emotional, but 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 who have been coming to Aruba regularly for 10+ years, “Goodwill Ambassador” for 20+ years, and the more recently created “Emerald Ambassador” after 36+ years.
The Peetsolds’ close relationship with Aruba goes back more than 50 years. After getting married to Geertje Dokter in June 1972, Cris Peetsold first came to Aruba in December 1973 to teach at the Abraham de Veer School in San Nicolas. They first lived in Santa Cruz, but later moved to Siribana 4A where they stayed until August 1977 when they returned to the Netherlands. During these 4 years, the Peetsolds have made many friends among the people of Aruba.
Their daughter Marieke was born in Oranjestad in June 1977. After graduating from high school in the Netherlands, Marieke returned to her hometown and worked for 9 weeks in a summer job on the “Jolly Pirates”. After graduating from Groningen in 2000, their second daughter Evelien did an internship at “THE NEWS” for five months. “THE NEWS” was an English-language newspaper of the legendary Gerrit Schouten. Cris and Geertje returned to Aruba for 10 days to visit her, visit old friends, and reacquaint themselves with this beautiful island and its people. It felt like coming home.
Visibly little had changed, except that there were many more houses in the ‘kunuku’ (countryside) and there were fewer empty beer bottles on the side of the road. Beaches were still clean and quiet, and there was almost always a traffic jam on the boulevard. The Aruban people were as friendly and courteous as De Peetsolds remembered. They met good mood everywhere.
Since that visit to Aruba, Cris and Geertje have returned at least 15 times, stayed in different places, visited old friends, and made new acquaintances.
Cris said that he and Geertje had stayed with Airbnb all over the world, but never enjoyed the tranquility, responsiveness, cleanliness, and friendliness of Milagro’s Garden Apartments so much. They have already booked reservations for the entire month of February 2023 for themselves and their friends.