Un machi sintá / ku su parasòl kibrá / ta bende suerte.
Old lady sitting / under broken parasol / selling good luck.
– Un mushi di haiku by Elis Juliana (Sede di Papiamentu 1993)
Approximately 800 resellers, often elderly women (sometimes men), in need of extra income, sell bièchi for our Landsloterij (the only Public Lottery in Curaçao and the Dutch Caribbean). Drawings are held on an approximately bi-weekly basis (24x a year) and resellers receive a commission on every bièchi they sell. Each drawing offers roughly NAf. 600,000 ($340K) in cash prizes. The ‘normal’ first prize is NAf. 200,000 ($115K). In April and October the first prize is NAf. 500,000 ($280K) and in January and July, the first prize is NAf. 1,000,000 ($570K). We never feel like guilty gamblers when we buy bièchi as Landsloterij’s proceeds are used to fund socio-economic, charitable as well as arts and science projects.
Our Prome Sorteo ‘Milionario’ di Anja (first million guilder drawing of the year, held on January 1) is by far the best-seller. Our bièchi resellers can be found dotting strategic traffic points all over the island between Christmas and New Year’s Day, braving our hot equatorial sun under shaded trees and parasols, waving their bièchi enthusiastically at our cars (spitting fumes) passing by.
This year I lucked into 3 (really, 4) generations of bièchi resellers while buying my bièchi milionario. This fine lady on busy Schottegatweg descends from a long line of bièchi resellers (grandmother, mother, niece). Her two sisters, also bièchi resellers, were parked a bit further down the side of the road. She’s a financial advisor at United Distributers and was just helping her pensioned mother out with the new year’s rush. Her mother is grandmother to several, but still needed something to do to get her out of the house when her father passed away. She decided to follow in *her* mother’s footsteps and sell bièchi.
Grandmother and 18-year old niece were selling bièchi on the opposite side of the street, facing Salinja. “I stopped turning years after 35!” says grandmother with a big smile on her face.
SUERTE! May we all become strong, good-looking millionaires in 2013 :)