Cancel Yoga Girl favorite_border

Conversations from the Heart - August 14th 2020

Author: Rachel Brathen

Topics: Exciting Guests, Healing

Links: Apple Podcasts / Spotify

About the Episode

Following the recent Aruban backlash from a social media post of Rachel’s, Rachel and Dennis are facing a situation they have never experienced before: feeling unwelcome and unsafe in their own home. In today’s episode, Dennis interviews Rachel to discuss the entire series of events that have unfolded.

After living in Aruba for 10 years, having residency, being married to an Aruban, promoting the island endlessly and working hard to raise money and awareness for the abuse of women, children and animals on the island, Rachel is shocked and saddened by the situation they are currently facing.

Cancel culture is real and exists for a reason. It is important to call out individuals so they can learn and do better. But does a poorly timed, out of context opinion warrant harassment, abuse and death threats?

This episode is a chance for Rachel and Dennis to explain where Rachel’s story post was coming from, offer sincere apologies to anyone negatively affected, and to also share the darker side of cancel culture and social media.

Tune in for a genuine and heartfelt episode on the entire story behind the attempt to cancel Yoga Girl.

Key Takeaways

  • If you have a larger platform online, it is your duty to make sure that environment is safe for everyone. It is okay to call people out and ask them to do better, but it is not okay to harass and abuse others – even if they are on your ‘side’. The line between calling out and abusing is not thin.
  • Take time to do your own research and discover your own opinion on sensitive topics before you react. Posts are often taken out of context and do not show the full story.
  • Aruba is not a reflection of this backlash. Aruba is a safe and happy place to vacation. Cancel culture exists everywhere and often goes too far.
  • If you feel touched or called to donate after the conversation about child abuse, which has seen a spike since lockdown, please consider donating to the Yoga Girl Foundation.
  • When you are ready to travel, put Aruba on the top of your list for its amazing white sandy beaches, turquoise ocean, beautiful wildlife and the many adventures the island has to offer.



[0:02] Dennis: Hi, and welcome to another episode…podcast [laughs]. I can’t even do the intro.

[Dennis and Rachel laughing]

Dennis: Who are you? Rachel. Today on the podcast, I have Rachel Brathen, slash…

Rachel: Start over, start from the beginning.

Dennis: What is it again?

Rachel: “Hi, and welcome to a brand new episode of the Yoga Girl podcast.”

Dennis: Okay. Hi, and welcome to a brand new episode.

[both laughing]

Dennis: I can’t do it.

Rachel: [Laughing] What’s wrong with you? It’s literally one sentence.

Dennis: You’re staring, staring at me. This is the proof that I can never do my own podcast. Hi, and welcome to another episode.

[both laughing]

Dennis: Okay, let’s cut this one.


Dennis: Hi, and welcome to a brand new podcast episode.

[both laughing]

Rachel: Do you want a teleprompter?

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: [Laughing] Okay.


Dennis: Hi, and welcome to a brand new episode of Yoga Girl podcast, Conversations from the Heart. Today on the show I have with me, the host of the show actually, but I guess I got to start the show today for a very important reason.

Rachel: [Laughing] Even with a teleprompter you miss a word.

Dennis: I know. For probably…did I miss a word?

Rachel: [Laughing] Yes.

Dennis: For most of you who probably is getting the clean version of this, this is my ninth try…

[Rachel laughing]

Dennis: …trying to do the intro. And direct proof that I could never host my own podcast show.

[1:33] Rachel: People always ask “why can’t Dennis have his own show? Dennis needs his own podcast.” This is, this is… [laughing] this is…

Dennis: Talking is hard.

[Rachel laughs]

Dennis: It is.

Rachel: Alright everyone, welcome to the show. Welcome to the show. So today I, I, you guys know I had Dennis on the show last week already, you’ve never been on the show two weeks in a row…

Dennis: Whoa.

Rachel: Whoa. Such an honor. Do you feel, do you feel special?

Dennis: Super special.

Rachel: Well you, you are very special.

Dennis: I don’t know…

[Rachel laughs]

Dennis: …what you’re trying to imply with that.

Rachel: [Laughs] You’re a special, special man, okay? So I decided to bring Dennis on the show because we’ve had a shit show of a week…

Dennis: Not an easy week.

Rachel: Hasn’t been a, hasn’t been a fun week.

Dennis: No. It’s not the, even though we’re laughing in the beginning, but it doesn’t feel like the jolliest of podcast…

[Rachel laughing]

Dennis: …or of weeks.

Rachel: I think it’s a good representation of our relationship though, because you keep making me laugh, every day, which is…

Dennis: I have a hard time taking things serious, yeah.

Rachel: I married well, I think.

Dennis: You think so?

Rachel: Yeah.

Dennis: We did get really good news today, even on, in the, even…

Rachel: But maybe they haven’t announced that yet, so we can’t…

Dennis: No, we can’t say anything, it’s been a, definitely like a ray of sun in a dark week.

Rachel: Yeah. We’re not pregnant.

[both laugh]

Rachel: Every time we say…

Dennis: Someone else might be.

[2:58] Rachel: Someone else might be. Every time we ever say we have good news, we have to do the disclaimer that we’re not pregnant. Okay, so yeah, this, this podcast episode is really, really, really hard to record. [Laughing] Literally before Dennis started doing nine variations of the intro to this show, I was debating like, “let’s cancel this, we cancel the show for this week, we don’t have to do it. It feels really heavy to sit here and share anything.” But I know a lot of you guys listening have been following some of the developments online, a lot of you guys listening have been really worried about me, or about us, and I know you have a lot of questions, and it would be really bizarre and absurd to not touch on what’s going on. So, I already decided for the title for this podcast, and the title for this podcast is “Cancel Yoga Girl.” This week, I, I was cancelled.

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: How, yeah. [Laughs]

Dennis: That’s true.

Rachel: How do we feel, how do we feel about that?

Dennis: It…well…

[Rachel laughs]

Dennis: Can you ask anyone in their career who got cancelled how they feel about it?

[Rachel laughing]

Dennis: Like I’m sure it’s something that’s not so nice. We’re in a, we’re in a very…this age we’re in right now, it’s a call-out age, which is a good time, like a lot of times when something happens, you call people out and they fix it, and it comes to light, and that’s, that’s a great…it’s a great way to fix things rapidly, you know? To fix things, great, but there’s always, there’s always a way of…

Rachel: There’s a limit.

[4:30] Dennis: There’s…well, you can call out, but you cannot harass, and abuse, and threaten. And that’s the, and it’s not a thin line at all. It’s not like calling out and harassment, there’s a thin line there, it’s not at all. And I guess that’s what this show is about.

Rachel: Yeah, so, speaking from the heart right now, how are, how are you doing?

Dennis: I’m personally okay. I’m…I wish I can speak on your behalf, but I can’t. But I’m okay. I’ve had, of course, had way better weeks.

Rachel: Is this not one of the hardest things to ever happen to you?

Dennis: [Pause] I don’t know if I can say that. I’m sure it is for you, but you’ve been in the spotlight about this. It’s been really tough on the family, it’s been really hard, it’s been immense of an eye opener, an incredible learning lesson, and then like to just see who, who you think your friends are, people you have been, like that you’ve known for 20 plus years, and they, they just follow the flock, without context, without knowing, without any, any fact check, people who have my number who don’t even text, like, “hey, holy shit, is this true?” Like, you know? Not even that courtesy. And for me, that was a huge eye opener.

Rachel: Mmm.

[5:55] Dennis: I think we’ve, we’ve had close friends that had to unfollow like 150 plus people on their own platforms, just in, just in respect to us, I guess? Or in, in, to defend us because they don’t share the same point of view. And that’s one thing you, we can always disagree on different points of views: everyone has their own opinion, that’s not a problem. But to, I don’t know man, to harass, to threaten, to post a picture a a three year old online? I think that…I don’t know.

Rachel: Yeah, there’s a limit. Yeah, and we’re going to start from the beginning and kind of share the story, but speaking from the heart right now, me, so today we are recording this, it’s Tuesday, everything that went down kind of started Friday evening, became a thing Saturday morning. So we have like…I mean Saturday and Sunday were the worst. Saturday and Sunday together were the worst, yeah. I mean the, the, the cherry on top of the shittiest year of all time. But for me, definitely the scariest experience of my life — I’ve been through a lot of weird and terrible, and hard shit in my life, nothing really compares to this, also because it’s been such a shock, I guess. And today it’s Tuesday, I went for a run this morning. Already yesterday evening, I made a joke about it, which was like, with a friend, and I caught myself like, “oh, it’s been like two days and I’m already like, able to take a moment to distance myself a little bit.” You’ve been making a lot of jokes [laughs].

Dennis: From the get-go…

Rachel: [Laughing] From the get-go.

Dennis: …I’ve been making a lot of jokes. I started making my own memes, but I’m not releasing them to the public because…

[7:29] Rachel: Dennis making his own memes, and printing his own shirts…

[both laughing]

Rachel: But for…

Dennis: In sarcasm.

Rachel: In sarcasm.

Dennis: But…

Rachel: But I mean, you are like a little, it’s, it’s different, of course, this relates to all of us, you’re my husband, we’re a family, but it’s different when it’s, it’s not directed toward you.

Dennis: I’m not…

Rachel: Yeah.

Dennis: …at all.

Rachel: I think that’s the difference. But today, for me, I mean I went for a run this morning, I am taking a few days completely off all, like I canceled all my meetings, all my work this week, and just, I’m trying to anchor into my body as much as I can so that I don’t like, jump off a cliff or something, because that’s what I felt like Saturday and Sunday. But let’s start from the beginning, yeah?

Dennis: Yeah. I just wanted to add to what you just said that…

Rachel: Yeah, you’re the host, you…

Dennis: [Laughs]. It is Tuesday, we’re recording this on Tuesday, mid-day. And every single day, every single hour, there’s a new development. Maybe…

Rachel: So it, maybe we don’t even want to release the podcast come Friday.

Dennis: Maybe by Friday, we’re, we’re in the government of the island. Or, maybe we’re living somewhere in Alaska. So…

Rachel: Yep, could be.

Dennis: There’s…

Rachel: It literally could go in any direction.

Dennis: Yeah.

[8:35] Rachel: Things could be wonderful and really great come Friday, things can be much, much, much worse. It hasn’t been a linear experience of things getting bad, getting bad and then, you know, in the sucks, successfully — successivt in Swedish, I forget the word in English — progressively getting better, no, it’s been worse, better, worse, better, so who knows. But yeah, hopefully you guys are listening to this on the Friday and things are better in our lives. But just to give some context: so basically what happened is I had a little faux pas [laughs] and said something really clumsily online that blew up in a, in a undescribable way that no one could have really expected. And it’s interesting because you and I were, we, we recorded the podcast of last week…

Dennis: It’s, yeah, it’s basically what we talked about last week.

Rachel: It’s what we spoke about last week, and I had people now, like Jess is downstairs now playing with Lea, was like, “hey, I just listened to yours and Dennis’s podcast yesterday, like the whole show is about protecting Aruba, and how can we support the economy of Aruba and bring more people here, and like, really just navigating this conversation in a really positive way.” The way we have been talking about this in a positive way, and doing so much over these past couple of months. So how it kind of went from there is we have been involved in what has been, at least for us, the most personal, personally challenging experience of all of this is, is navigating the conversation around Lea having to be forced to wear a mask. And it was kind of funny because you had what, a week ago — we talked about this on the podcast — you posted a photo of her wearing a mask and people lost their minds, it was like a whole big thing. And then, this was before we had all these new case in Aruba, we currently have how many cases?

Dennis: As of Tuesday, I think we have 520, or 550? I, I, don’t, don’t like, quote me on that…

Rachel: Yeah.

Dennis: But it’s 500 and plus active cases.

Rachel: Right. Like when I said it was 400 cases total, because there was 290 cases active, people were calling me a liar and things like that.

[10:31] Dennis: They were calling you a liar and then the same day, a hundred new cases came…

Rachel: Came, and then we were over 400.

Dennis: …and it was more…

Rachel: Yeah, immediately.

Dennis: But that’s…

Rachel: But so tell me about that graph, like the amount of cases per capita.

Dennis: Yeah, I, I, again…

Rachel: We need to fact check this…

Dennis: …we need to fact check and…

Rachel: But in terms of a wave…

Dennis: Please…

Rachel: …and a spike…

Dennis: Please don’t quote me so I get cancelled by the next week.

[both laugh]

Dennis: But from…

Rachel: There’s nothing that could possibly happen to you that could add to this, like come on.

Dennis; I don’t know man, I saw a lot of new shit going down this week that I thought I’d never see in my life.

[Rachel laughs]

Dennis: But I seen a picture that has the New York Times title in it, so I’m assuming it’s legitimate, and it says that Aruba at the moment, as of, I think Sunday, had the most cases per capita in the world.

Rachel: So in terms of spikes…

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: …like the spike we’re seeing here is bizarre, absurd, crazy, compared to the size of our island.

Dennis: We went from I think five local cases, active cases, to…

Rachel: Five fifty, yeah.

Dennis: Five-something now, right now. And it’s…

Rachel: In a very short time. In a matter of days.

Dennis: Within a week, not even seven days passed yet.

Rachel: It hasn’t even been a week yet, yeah.

Dennis: And as of Tuesday, but it can get worse, it can get better, like we had like, two or three days of like, a huge spike…

Rachel: Right, right.

Dennis: …that was over a hundred. But in all fairness, this island, this island of a hundred thousand people population, has been testing about 900 to 1000 tests a day…

Rachel: A day, yeah…

Dennis: …which is…

Rachel: …there’s been a lot of testing.

Dennis: …which is incredibly high.

Rachel: So it’s also very hard to compare…

[12:00] Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: …people are saying that, you know, “Sweden didn’t get a second wave, because Sweden has…”

Dennis: Sweden didn’t test.

Rachel: …Sweden is not testing, no.

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: You get in a test in Sweden if you’re like, on your death bed, or if you really…

Dennis: If you’re sick.

Rachel: No, or if you have private health care and you ask and pay for one yourself, but Sweden is not conducting, you know…

Dennis: No.

Rachel: …nation-wide testing. But anyways, so we have this huge, huge spike going on right here, and for us in our family, the biggest thing that’s been on-going for like a year past is that Lea’s starting this beautiful, beautiful school…

Dennis: [Laughs]

Rachel: …that we are so excited about, she’s starting Montessori. It’s the most personal, sweet, intimate place where there are home visits, and we’ve been visiting the school tons of times; it’s basically like her Disneyland, you know; we’ve really been building up this school for a long time. I’ve been so excited that she’s going to have a, this beautiful, natural, organic environment to, to grow in, and it’s a, it’s a beautiful community. And then, so, this school decided to, you know, and everybody has their own reasonings and is doing the best they can with all the information that we have, and I’m, I’m not judging anybody for an decisions, ever. And I think we spoke about this in the podcast last week too, that if, you know, everyone’s debating “does wearing a mask help or not? Is it tyranny, is it,” you know, it’s so controversial, that if there’s a chance that by, by, by wearing a mask, you’re going to make this go away faster, then fuck, wear a mask, it’s not that hard. What’s been really challenging for me is forcing the masks on young children who, in my point of view, are not old enough to communicate if they’re having a hard time breathing, if they’re communicating if they’re very uncomfortable. And also most importantly, the topic of making children even more vulnerable to abuse, which is a conversation that I am immersed in 24/7 on this island, and have been for the past two years.

[13:44] Rachel: So they are deciding to, to, to mandate, or to, to enforce a mask rule at the school. Now the government has said that no child under 13 has to wear a mask, and if that gets stricter, I think it’s going to go to children ages six and up. For me, it’s been a huge triggering, trigger point, really, and I had to talk about this with my therapist, like it’s such a big deal for me, the idea of Lea being forced to wear a mask all day at such a young age. It’s such a big thing to not be able to communicate that if something is wrong. And she’s the type of kid that would, if we say, “here’s something you have to do,” she’s going to do it, you know, and she’s not going to second-guess, or question, or maybe even communicate if something is wrong, right? Especially in a new environment where she doesn’t know the teachers yet, and she’s probably not going to trust the space…

Dennis: No.

Rachel: …immediately. And then, in Aruba, you know, you guys, if you’re listening to this podcast you know — and I think it’s a, it’s like shocking to me that so many Arubans are, are, are shocked by me talking about this, because we have literally have a foundation that’s dedicated two and a half years to one single cause on this island, which is sexual abuse and physical abuse towards children. And it’s, we poured I don’t know how much money into this foundation, employed two people full-time for two and a half years working on this; we spent a year and a half on research, interviewing every single health care specialist, social worker, every organization, the police, the hospital, I mean we’ve been to conferences, we’ve been to, you know, talking to UNICEF, we’ve been doing everything, you know, in our hands. Up to the point of, you know, getting calls when there are severe case of abuse on the island, when people need help.

[15:22] Dennis: And helping with those.

Rachel: And helping, and providing housing, and, and feeding, and taking care of, of families, you know, on the run from a predator. Like we, we’ve been doing this for a long time. And I was thinking about this the other day also, how this is of course, I think it’s impossible to be immersed in such a heavy topic, and not be emotionally affected. Like of course, just, you know, when we get a call saying that there’s a four-year-old at the hospital for rape by her grandfather, and they know that family, no one’s going to report it because it’s an embarrassment to that family, that’s how that…

Dennis: The hospital are not, they’re not, there’s no obligation to report, or I’m not sure if they’re allowed to report?

Rachel: They tried to change it as far as I know, it was supposed to be a…

Dennis: That only a direct contact can report it.

Rachel: Right, so a parent or a guardian of the child can report abuse toward that child, but there’s no obligation, so if, yeah, a child comes in and needs literal — trigger warning for everybody — but surgery after having been raped as, as, as a toddler, the hospital does not have to report that to the police. And…

Dennis: Or is not allowed to? It doesn’t…

[16:27] Rachel: No, they are allowed. They cannot take it, they can’t receive the report, they’ll say, “oh, you have to send the parents,” but what if the parents are complicit, or the actual abuser?

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: It’s such a complicated thing.

Dennis: Yeah, I don’t want to go too deep into this either…

Rachel: No, no, but it’s important…

Dennis: …but…

Rachel: …to go deep into this because that’s…

Dennis: …I’m saying that we’re such a small community…

Rachel: Right.

Dennis: …that…

Rachel: That is the…

Dennis: …that’s the problem. Everybody knows each other…

Rachel: Right.

Dennis: …and every time there’s a family member trying to protect the family member.

Rachel: Right. But that’s why…

Dennis: This is…

Rachel: …this is a bigger issue here than in other places.

Dennis: Yeah, and a lot of people don’t understand, and I was one of those people myself because I’ve been always, been hidden from it.

Rachel: Right.

Dennis: As a local, I never knew about this. I see like some pedophilia march, I’m like, “oh, someone in their family had an issue,” you know, like, I saw it, but you don’t think too much about it.

Rachel: Most countries don’t have quarterly marches against pedophilia, just FYI for everybody listening. It is a huge, huge issue in Aruba and it has been, also because of laws and structure and unwillingness to, to have a sentencing that’s appropriate for child abuse and things like that.

Dennis: Yeah, it’s mostly about structure and law, and I know that there’s a great group of people here working very hard to change that structure.

Rachel: Yeah, including us, including Yoga Girl Foundation. Now we had to put all, Yoga Girl Foundation on pause when COVID hit because we couldn’t afford to keep the organization running any more. But we already had a Family Justice Center in process, even the, a, a, a government arm, or the Center of Development of Aruba even went to Sweden to model this project that we’re doing in Aruba from a system that works really well in Sweden, called Barnahus, which is like a safe space for kids to go after abuse has been, has, has come to light.

[18:00] Rachel: So it’s been, it’s been a lot of this, anyway, this conversation. And then for me over these past couple of months — and I haven’t spoken so much about this publicly because it is so controversial, and I also have been mindful of, you know, the most important thing is that, is that we get this virus under control, that we can all have some sort of normalcy, right? So anyways, so a couple of things about the, about the masks. So, and this is, you know, from, from all of my own research, this is also my own community, globally, and everyone is going to have different points of views, and the point is we all gotta do what we gotta do in our communities to, to, to get a hold of this virus, like that is the most important thing, I understand that. But for me, the idea of children this young having to have their faces covered, especially when we know there are a disappropriate amount of abuse happening, is not okay with me. So covering children’s faces, not being able to tell them apart, all children looking alike, increases the, the ability for a predator to take advantage. It makes it much, much, much harder for children to, for teachers to keep track of the children, or to know if a child is missing. So to me, it’s like, you know, and people can say “well how likely is that?” And yeah, I mean, unfortunately, in Aruba, quite likely. And to me it seems unnecessary for children that young who are going to poke their noses, and take the mask on and off, and refuse it, and touch their face, and, you know, how likely is it to even prevent that kind of spreading? We don’t know.

[19:23] Rachel: And there’s something in me, it’s like my whole being resists Lea being forced to wear a mask, especially since the government hasn’t said that we have to do it, right? If the island of Aruba decides, “this is island-wide, we gotta do it, this is the only way,” okay, then I can choose, “does my child have to go? She’s only three, maybe she stays home with us.” So anyway, this has been on my mind a lot. This is one, one point. And then the second point is, if this continues getting worse, spiking like this, we are going to face an inevitable second shutdown.

Dennis: Airlines already cancelling.

Rachel: Airlines are cancelling Aruba, like big airlines are now not traveling to Aruba anymore, with a second shutdown — and this has been proven statistically, you can look this up — in any country that when children are forced to stay at home, they don’t have the chance to go to school or go to daycare any more, the children who are already facing physical or sexual abuse at home, those cases are going up by, like, three-fold, five-fold, ten-fold, also because the abusers are normally at work, or somewhere separated from the child by what’s happening in the day.

Dennis: The second point is a world-wide issue.

Rachel: This is a world-wide issue…

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: …yes. And we know already, they called us, like this was the second of shutdown, they called us with so many new cases, so many new reports of child abuse happening at home because everybody, no one has anywhere to go. So of course, if normally the children get a moment of res, reprieve by being away from the person who’s abusing them, now they’re locked in a house with them all day long. So it’s awful. So I’m sharing this now because this is where my brain has been over the past two weeks, in this conversation, this is where my mind is, my heart is, is in fear, in worry, thinking about the children who are already facing this here and globally, everywhere. Thinking about my own daughter being forced to, to, to cover her whole face in a new environment, in a part of the island that’s so far away that, you know, it’s also, for me it’s about trust, you know? Like I don’t know that area.

[21:17] Dennis: It’s the unknown for you.

Rachel: It’s the unknown for me, and also knowing there are a lot of crazy people out there. You and I have, have, have an alarm and car, cameras out in the street, not because of what’s happened now, but what’s happened and the kind of attacks we’ve been under from stalkers and things before, right? So the thought of…

Dennis: International stalkers, right?

Rachel: Yeah, international.

Dennis: Very important to…

Rachel: Very important, but also off…

[both laugh]

Rachel: People will come and drop things off at our house all the time, little packages, balloons, cards…

Dennis: Knowing where we live.

Rachel: Knowing where we live, right? And even things that are, that are done with love and that happens locally, by Arubans and things too, which is super, super sweet, the thought of “everybody knows where we live. Everybody knows where Lea goes to school, everybody knows everybody here.” So there’s a feeling of safety is a, is a huge thing. And I think if we don’t have to cover three-year-olds’ faces, then why do it?

[22:02 — Commercial Break]

[23:13] Rachel: So, when everything spiked — this was on Friday, like Friday afternoon I think, or when everything really went super intensely — and the story then was that these tourists had come in from the U.S., and you get tested when you land in Aruba, and then told “wait 24 hours, self-quarantine or isolate, you know, don’t be around other people until you get the test results. And for most people, they’re negative, because they have to test three days before flying as well, and then once they get the call, they’re free to roam about the island, you know, adhering to all the guidelines and rules of course. But that there are tourists that haven’t done that, that we super sure, “we have no symptoms, we feel so fine, we took a test three days ago, like there’s no chance we have it,” that went out partying, and went out to the centre of the nightclub life here in Aruba. And infected a bartender who was asymptomatic, didn’t know he was sick, and several days working, partying, in a super close quarters with a bunch locals, and not adhering to social distancing rules. Which by the way, I don’t know how you could possibly ever socially distance at a nightclub, like that’s insane. It’s also part of the government…

[24:17] Dennis: The government changed that…

Rachel: …that the nightclubs are open.

Dennis: …since then…

Rachel: They changed…

Dennis: …of course.

Rachel: …that now again, but the thought of thinking that locals are going to be socially distant at nightclubs is, is bizarre, like it’s not, it’s not going to happen [laughs].

Dennis: I have to put a disclaimer in there.

Rachel: Yeah, you think so?

Dennis: Yeah, one disclaimer. We don’t know if it was someone from the U.S….

Rachel: No, no, that was the story.

Dennis: …but we do know, yeah, that was a story…

Rachel: Yeah.

Dennis: …but we do know it, it must be visitor because we had zero cases.

Rachel: Yeah. We had zero…

Dennis: It must be…

Rachel: …local cases, we had two months of no local cases, if all this time we still had corona going out and about, we would’ve had an explosion much earlier.

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: And it’s also, you know, not just the young people who are in that area, but these young people are going home to their parents, and their grandparents, and meeting immunocompromised people, and the elderly, you know, we really had two months of this being a safe, safe, safe place compared to other places.

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: So we know…and it’s no coincidence. We have no cases, borders opens, five minutes after the borders open, we had cases. Of course. Everybody knew this was going to happen. And a lot of people were vocal about, “please don’t open the borders, it’s not ready yet.” Or, “if we’re going to open the borders, don’t open to the U.S. right now, who are seeing the worst spike in cases, and continues to get worse.”

Dennis: And that’s where it’s sad, because all of our income, all of our…

Rachel: Not all. Not all. What is it…

Dennis: …majority…

[25:28] Rachel …sixty-five percent of our comes from, comes from the U.S.

Dennis: I think it’s more, but yeah.

Rachel: Yeah, but I mean…

Dennis: I don’t want us to quote…

Rachel: …there’s also Holland is a huge, huge, huge center for, for visitors and Europe…

Dennis: But let’s be, let’s be honest.

Rachel: Yeah, but, so I, if I could, like, give my two cents would be instead of going from complete shutdown to complete opening to all the worst parts of the world, why not do that gradually and make sure we don’t see a spike like this where we face another complete shutdown…

Dennis: We did do it gradually…

Rachel: …involuntarily? Yeah, in two weeks is not enough time. And then no other place, no other island in the whole Caribbean, Central America, South America, even Canada has opened their borders to the U.S. Florida has 10 000 new cases a day, they are two hours from here. You know how many visitors we get from Florida? It’s bizarre. So for me, that was just, I couldn’t comprehend. It’s like, we know the economy has to, has to move forward, and that’s also for the sake of the children, people were putting…

Dennis: This is where we’re all confused.

Rachel: Right, there’s no correct answer…

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: …or like, a step to follow, everyone’s trying their best.

Dennis: Like even from the 500 cases now, majority or all of them are asymptomatic.

Rachel: No one, it…there’s no one in the hospital.

Dennis: No one, no one in the hospital. And then…

Rachel: That’s insane to me.

Dennis: …for me, I started to question, like, “what the…”

Rachel: “Well what is this then?”

Dennis: Yeah. Are we like…

Rachel: Yeah, right, are we all going to go, the island is going to sink, you know, 30 000 people without a job, people not able, you know, in a month…so we’re getting support from Holland now, but that’s not…

Dennis: We don’t know if…

Rachel: …forever.

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: We don’t know for how long. You know, all of this because, and we suddenly have 550 cases, and no one’s sick? What is this virus?

Dennis: Exactly.

Rachel: It’s making everybody…

Dennis: And this is…

Rachel: …question everything.

Dennis: And this is where everybody’s going crazy.

[26:59] Rachel: Right.

Dennis: This is where the whole island doesn’t know…

Rachel: Everyone is on edge, everyone doesn’t understand, “what are these rules,” you know. But for me personally, like this is why I’m explaining this, you know, on Friday, coming from this place of meeting about the children, about the abuse on the island, having spent these past couple of months raising funds for the women’s shelter here, because they’re in a super dire place, really worried for my own kid, you know, and as a mom, as I know every other person is, worried for her safety. I, I’m less worried about her getting the virus as I am for her safety, and also what does it mean when we start enforcing these kids, these things on super young children? If, if they can do that, okay, now all three year olds have to wear a mask, okay, what’s the next step from that? That’s also what I fear is, is giving up this, this autonomy of keeping our children’s safety as the number one thing, which I feel now is like out the window, so we can invite people from peak centers of infection to come here and party without waiting for their test results and get people sick. That was my frame of mind on that day.

Rachel: So anyway, and when I speak to the community, you know, I speak on this platform of, of Instagram all day, seven days a week, and have done so since 2012, right? I, I talk to the world all the time, all day. And if you follow me online, you know I say, sometimes I say stupid shit, I have intense points of view on a lot of things, sometimes I talk about political things, you guys have heard me talk about politics, about abortion, about gun laws, about voting, I mean there’s, I generally don’t shy away from having hard conversations, right? And you’ve heard me speak about child abuse for years, right, this is not something that’s new. But so on this day, I know…

[28:35] Dennis: But usually that you don’t do it in a, when you’re…

Rachel: No, I will. It’s not that different…

Dennis: …you’re doing it when you’re spiraling? That day you were spiraling a little bit because it…

Rachel: No…

Dennis: …because of fear.

Rachel: …because of the clip I shared later, people think like, “oh, my God, this woman is like…

Dennis: Having…

Rachel: …off her meds, having a meltdown or something.”

Dennis: …Britney Spears moment.

Rachel: No, no, not at all, not at all. I mean five minutes after that I was baking with Lea, taking a breath, like, “everything’s fine.” And the difference is, you know, I picked up my phone like, “okay, come on. Come on people, if you’re going to travel….” So what I said which I deeply regret, and I need to make that super, super, super clear: if I could take this back, I would take this back. If I could, you know, go back in time and rephrase it, I would completely rephrase it and change how I said it, right, because it upset people a lot. Not just because of the contents of what I shared…

Dennis: How, how it was shared.

Rachel: …but how I shared it, because how I shared it doesn’t reflect what I actually mean, actually, to be completely honest. So I started it off saying like, “aw, come on you guys, don’t come to Aruba right now.”

Dennis: Such a sensitive subject.

Rachel: Such a sensitive subject, right? And then I had several stories, I don’t know, it was like ten story frames or something like that, where I go into depth of like, “okay, here’s what’s going on, we have so many cases, and then just finding out that people coming from abroad have gotten locals infected, and now we have this huge spread because people felt safe, but it was a false sense of safety,” and, you know, like, “let’s be responsible when we travel during the pandemic, and if you can’t be responsible, then travel locally, like there are amazing places to visit around your local area,” and I went into these things, right? So…

[30:05] Dennis: But you didn’t say it the way you just said it now.

Rachel: No. So what I meant, what I should have said is like, “travel responsibly,” right? “Really travel responsibly, follow the guidelines, listen to what the government of the country you’re visiting is saying. And if you can’t travel responsibly, like if you’re coming from a place with 10 000 new infections every day, that makes it near impossible for you to travel responsibly, then don’t travel,” right? But it came off as, “don’t come to Aruba,” you know, that’s it. Beginning and end, full stop, period boom.

Dennis: But the problem is you said that exact sentence, followed by other sentences that like, kind of explain what you meant with it…

Rachel: Yeah.

Dennis: …but a local columnist took that one sentence, took like a, a four minute rant, turned it into an 18 second video…

Rachel: Right, and just…

Dennis: …where you, where you literally said this word by word. Because this I remember, not the intro of the show, but this I can remember.

[both laughing]

Rachel: This is imprinted on your brain forever.

Dennis: You’re like, “don’t come to Aruba,” and then you go, you wave your hair, “should I get bangs? And people got fucking crazy.

Rachel: Yeah, they lost their minds.

Denis: Like lost their minds.

Rachel: And the thing is…

Dennis: [interrupting noises]

Rachel: [mimics Dennis]

Dennis: And for someone that only saw that, because that has been shared, and I guess even though…

Rachel: I don’t know how many times.

Dennis: A lot of times. Apparently this, this columnist is known to stir the pot a lot, but she has a lot of credibility in the local community, apparently. And so…

Rachel: Yeah, it’s…get back to that.

Dennis: …that’s your view…

Rachel: Let’s get back to that, yeah.

[31:30] Dennis: But this was shared, and all these Arubans saw a White, blonde woman saying “don’t come to Aruba,” that has….

Rachel: And most of them don’t know me, also.

Dennis: …that don’t know you, that has, all they know is “this White chick with two million followers are telling people never to come to Aruba.

Rachel: “Don’t come to Aruba.” When we need tourism, and we need the economy to work.

Dennis: And because it spin out of control, it spun out of control, like all these people saw it was like liked, and shared, and anger, and reposted, so all of them would think that it had some kind of value, it had some some kind of…

Rachel: Impact, yeah.

Dennis: …it had some kind of credible to the story, because…

Rachel: They assume it, always.

Dennis: They assume it’s a credible story because everyone agrees that…

Rachel: Eight hundred people commented on this, so it must be real…

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: …right? This must be the whole story.

Dennis: No one, none of those fuckers…sorry [laughs].

Rachel: No one paused to question and even, you know, go to my account and watch the whole thing…

Denis: Yeah.

Rachel: …even to the point of people who know us, who when they see us at the grocery store, at the beach…

Dennis: Friends.

Rachel: …friends who hug us…

Dennis: People who have our personal numbers.

Rachel: …people who call us anytime, who, you know, when they see me, hug me and kiss me and say “how is Lea Luna doing?” Even to the point of those people not even taking a breath and saying “hey…”

Dennis: “Is this true?”

Rachel: “…let me, let text Dennis or Rachel right now, just to be like ‘what’s actually going on?’”

Dennis: We had a couple people, like couple of people saying like, “hey, I fully disagree with you, let’s talk in person.”

Rachel: Yeah, a handful….

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: …like I can count them on one hand.

Dennis: Fucking awesome, yeah.

Rachel: Those are people in our closest, closet circle who know us, who also can immediately say, they can look at that clip and go, “oh, that’s not the Rachel I know,” right?

[33:00] Dennis: No.

Rachel: So most of the people here, you know, don’t know me; they’ve never been to Island Yoga, they didn’t know that “oh, there’s a person that goes by Yoga Girl who lives in Aruba, who’s promoted this island for a decade,” they’re just like, “who’s this White bitch, trying to interfere with, with me putting food on my plate?”

Dennis: Yeah, but our bread…

Rachel: It became, yeah.

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: It became, it became like that, basically. So, and you know, the thing about this that I find also so, you know, I…and if I was in my frame of mind, right, of just being fearful, worried about my child, worried about this island, right? We’ve had so many months of promoting Aruba, of worrying about Aruba, of talking about the community of Aruba, I have literal Instagram posts urging people, “when it’s safe to travel, put Aruba as Number One on your destination list,” begging them, “please, promise us you’ll visit,” right? Every single day, posting pictures of beaches, of things we’re doing around the island with the location, with where we are, constantly, constantly. We raised tons of money for organizations now, without talking about it, because then I have to talk about all the good things that I do all the time, it’s not for show. I joined the Happy To Give Back initiative with Sarah-Quita in June, who are two amazing personalities on the island to raise money for Aruba. Like nothing we have done, nothing I have personally done since lockdown, and prior to that, has been anything but “how can I support this island the best I can, “ right? And even, like why I’m sharing this now, even that sentence which was extremely insensitively phrased, worse, poorly timed. Like the timing of that. Had I said that one week earlier, no one would have shrugged their shoulders. Had I said it even, you know, now, there’s a lot of people out there saying “people need to stop coming here because cases are insane.”

[34:43] Dennis: Yeah, to the…

Rachel: The timing could not have been worse for me…

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: …to, to have a blunder and, and, and share something in such an insensitive way. So, for this, you know, and for everyone who’s listening, I am so deeply, deeply, deeply sorry; for anyone I offended with that comment, I am so sorry; for anyone who felt like I disrespected them, or disrespected the island, I am so, so, so sorry. If I could go back in time and change it, then yeah, that moment I wouldn’t have picked up my phone at all, I would have gone about my day, vented with my husband like I normally do, or taken a moment to rephrase that to, you know, “travel responsibly,” which is really, really, really what I mean. And for everyone to know that even that insensitive comment, it didn’t come from a place of, of wanting to be hateful to the island, or wanting to do something bad, or a bad intention, it was literally me wanting to protect the island, right? So if cases go up, up, up, inevitably, we will have another shutdown, it will get worse and worse and worse, and I was trying to avoid that.

Dennis: We can’t have that, yeah.

[35:43] Rachel: We can’t have that, right? So there’s a lot of factors to this, but you know. And, and I think anyone who, most people ate least, you know, who knows me knows that, that, I honestly think before this became a shit show, I was really sitting with the first original post, I don’t think a single American, Swedish person, Dutch person went, “oh, I was planning to come to Aruba in two weeks from now. Wait, I’m going to go cancel my ticket, or I’m going to choose another place.” It was literally just such an in-passing mention, you know, and everyone understood what I mean, what I meant, you know, outside of here, right? That it was just, “oh, yeah, there’s not a lot of governments that are urging people to travel in the peak of pandemic,” like there’s a big conversation around that happening in a different way globally than it is in Aruba. And that’s what I failed to see and failed to recognize. And of course, my privilege is also a huge part of this, if I was sitting here, not worried about my child’s safety in sense of “how is she going to be safe in school, how will she breathe with this mask, how are we going to make sure she’s okay, can I trust this new place?” But in a sense of “oh, we don’t know how to feed our kid, right? Because we have no tourism, we’ve lost our job, the hotels have closed,” yeah.

Dennis: And that’s where the major difference is.

Rachel: Of course. Of course. It’s spoken from a place of privilege in terms of us…

Dennis: We’re okay…

Rachel: …being financially okay…

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: …still being able to take care of our employees, you know, you know, things like that. So, there are a lot of, a lot of things I did terribly, terribly wrong this weekend, like and I will stand for that, and hold that, and apologize for that, which I have, and did, and am happy to do again.

Dennis: The funny, but when I say funny, I mean really sad part is that, like…

[Rachel laughs]

Dennis: …you made a, like a national, I guess it’s a national apology, in my native language, Papiamento…

[37:29] Rachel: But before that what happened, let’s do it like step by step.

Dennis: Okay.

Rachel: So what happened is normally, when I share something controversial, which I do all the time, right? And I’m not going to say on this podcast…

Dennis: You’re prepared for it [laughs].

Rachel: Yeah, I’m not going to say on this podcast what exactly I am controversial about, because maybe a lot of Arubans will hear this now and they don’t agree, but things around gun law, and around abortion, and women’s rights, and things like that that I talk about a lot. When I share something that I know, “ooh, this is a divisive issue,” then it’s not that I won’t go talk about that, because I will share my opinion, I am entitled to have an opinion regardless of what it is about, but I, I have a little bit of awareness around, “okay, I just shared something sensitive, which means I’m going to….”

Dennis: You know what to do next.

Rachel: Not just that, it means I’m going to be extra-present on my channels. So I’m going to be looking in my DM’s, I’m going to be reading all the comments very carefully, in communication, in discussion, in conversation with the people who are taking in what I just shared online. Which also means that I can gauge the vibration of that, like, “ooh, wait, wait. Did I share something now that was insensitive? Wait, is this very controversial to talk about?” And then I can out, I can weigh it, “okay, is this important enough that I will continue to talk about it regardless of what people think.” For instance, sexual abuse toward children is a horrible conversation to have, no one wants to talk about it; I talk about how prevalent it is in Sweden, in the U.S. — it’s a huge thing in Sweden as well — particularly in Aruba compared to the size of the island for, for a variety of reasons.

[38:55] Rachel: In those cases, I can go, “yeah, it’s worth having this conversation even though people get upset, because not having this conversation means children will have to suffer more,” right? So it’s actually helpful. Then there are other conversations that maybe are about things that are lighter, it’s about, I don’t know, some drama about another person or, I don’t know what an example of what that could be where I can go, “huh, this was a lot of controversy,” like the, like for example the mask thing with you and Lea. If that was on my account, I probably would have either shut the comment section down, or posted a second post clarifying…

Dennis: It’s still going on [laughs].

Rachel: Yeah.

Dennis: That shit is two weeks old [laughing].

Rachel: I mean but I could of posted a second post, clarifying “hey guys, here’s what I actually meant,” like keep it tidy.

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: I would be moderating that comment section as well, so if someone is going into hateful, violent stuff, like to make sure they don’t do anything inappropriate, and I also have the option to delete it, which I’ve done before. “Oops, did something. You know, I’m a human being, fucked something up, said the wrong thing.” Like Black Lives Matter, when that happened I shared a hashtag that wasn’t put in an appropriate post and can immediately go, “hey guys, I’m learning here,” you know? And say, “I didn’t know that was inappropriate to share that hashtag on that post, I deleted it, I will do better from now on.” And I don’t have to sit with shame, or humiliation, “oh, I cannot believe I did that,” no one has to sit and feed me hate, it’s just, “I made a mistake,” I can say it and move on. What happened with this specific post is because I didn’t catch in the moment that what I had said was so controversial, right? I genuinely…and now I can see it, but I was speaking not with Aruba in mind, which was my biggest mistake of all, but with only my family in mind, with the global population in mind, with all the other, you know, places where we have a lot of community, where everyone I know, literally every day is urging people, “don’t travel, don’t travel, don’t travel, don’t travel.” So when I went to be that night, I didn’t have it in, I didn’t have a single thought to go, “hmm, should I go check on my DM’s?” You know, because already then there was a lot of upset, a lot of people really, really, really upset, “can’t believe you said that, why would you phrase it this way?”

[40:56] Dennis: You, you could have fixed it by then.

Rachel: I could’ve fixed it, a hundred percent, I could have gone, “oh shit,” I could have deleted that or just added something to clarify immediately, and gone “hey, hey, hey, you guys, of course we need you to come to Aruba. All of Aruba depends on the world traveling here, we need the tourism, this is the most beautiful island in the world, of course come here, just make sure you come when it’s safe, or just make sure you come in a responsible way,” you know. And I could have fixed that, woken up the next day, we would have had a normal life. That did not happen, right? So what happened, I don’t know if it was in the morning when I was still asleep, or before I was…

Dennis: Yeah, I remember waking up upset with you [laughs].

Rachel: Yeah, you were upset and you had some, like one or two people, or a few people in your close-knit group going, “hey, can’t believe Rachel shared that.”

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: And I went, “what? It’s just people shouldn’t travel in the pandemic, like it’s just, I’m not saying people should never come…” I’m like, “what do you mean, that’s not a huge thing.”

Dennis: Yeah, and I went to look at it, I talked with my group of friends, my triathlon buddies…

[Rachel laughs]

Dennis: …and I’m like, “well, I just saw her whole post,” like because I of course go to your, I’m not that much on Facebook…

Rachel: He, you never watch my stories. And if you do, you don’t do it with sound.

[42:00] Dennis: Exactly.

[Rachel laughing]

Dennis: But what I’m saying is that, locally here, everyone uses Facebook. I haven’t used Facebook in awhile.

Rachel: We don’t use Facebook for anything, no.

Dennis: No. So I went of course, when they said something about it, I went to your story, I’m like, “I don’t understand, what’s the problem? Like she says like, like during corona, don’t come.” Like I don’t agree because — we had a whole podcast about this last week…

Rachel: Yeah.

Dennis: …we don’t have to go into details. But, but…

Rachel: But you kew what I meant.

Dennis: Someone that saw that whole story, knew…

Rachel: Would know, yeah.

Dennis: …would know exactly what you meant, knew that you, even though they don’t agree, knew that you are trying to protect.

Rachel: Right.

Dennis: You were not trying to, like, boycott…

Rachel: To harm or hurt, no, no.

Dennis: And that’s where it went. And I asked my friends, “am I not getting something here? Is this really…” And they said “well she said the words ‘don’t come to Aruba,’” I’m like, “okay, that’s bad, that’s not so good.” I didn’t think much of it at all. But then this…

Rachel: Yeah, because you didn’t see the, the clip that was shared on Facebook.

Dennis: Then that one columnist took that one clip, only that clip, and says, “don’t come to Aruba…”

Rachel: Right.

Dennis: …and posted that. And people lost, people rightfully in the beginning lost their mind. There was a lot of neutral comments like, like “who is she to say that? I can understand if she’s talking about corona, but why not come to Aruba at all,” so she was…

Rachel: Which is not what I said at all.

Dennis: Exactly, she was like completely misleading…

Rachel: No, it was totally…no, and what we know now, so this woman, Rona Coster, she has a blog called Bati Bleki, and it’s, Bati Bleki literally is like the gossip…

Dennis: To gossip.

Rachel: …gossip, it’s the gossip of the island, I think they used to be a radio show or something…

[43:29] Dennis: I don’t know, it, you’re….

Rachel: No no, but we know it’s something along those lines, it’s always kind of controversial, it’s always very dramatic, it’s always, it’s not something, I would never follow in a million years. And what we’ve heard from now is a lot of people reached out like, “yeah, that woman ruined my life. I have no business…”

Dennis: Ruined their business…

Rachel: “ruined my business, ruined my life.”

Dennis” All these victims come forward…

Rachel: All these victims coming forward because she, she had a grudge with them and then posted something terrible that, you know. So of course, it’s like a, and I think that is a community where there’s already a lot of drama, and it’s a different age group than ours, and people who don’t know who we are, what we do for the island, you know, I think it’s easy to, to pull a conclusion right away.

[44:04 — Commercial Break]

[45:12] Rachel: I’m going to read, so for anyone who didn’t read this, who doesn’t understand, I’m going to read word for word what her, what her post said. Okay, so her post has this 18 second clip which is basically just me saying, “don’t come to Aruba,” and then I’m like, doing something with my hair…

Dennis: And then, “should I get bangs?”

Rachel: Yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s like the stupidest clip ever.

Dennis: It’s not the best, it’s not your best moment.

Rachel: [Laughing] Not my best moment, not my finest moment. So Rona Coster from Bati Bleki writes: “such callousness, the video by a so-called yogi. This shameless business woman launching a new vegan food line right now in the U.S., meanwhile she tried to damage Aruba. This island was her canvas: Aruba made her Instagram what it was, and separated her from all the other yoga do-dos out there. And this is how she thanks the island. I hope her yoga studio is affected. Stay away from Yoga Girl. Let’s give her some negative PR to go with the launch of her ridiculous pancakes. No amount of back-peddling will redeem the callousness you demonstrated. Your hair? Really? Bangs? The island that made you who you are is suffering. #bitingthehandthatfeedsyou.” And then the comments that come from this immediately, they go from “oh, my God, what a horrible person,” to “fucking bitch, whore, cunt, piece of shit, let me show you what I think of you, let me come to your house and let you know what’s really on my mind,” and it goes from, it just, you know, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundred of comments. And then it’s shared by another person, this is the second person that I, that really was…

[46:41] Dennis: This person, right away…

Rachel: …instigating. This guy now deleted all his shit.

Dennis: …he tried to make it right, but this guy is a national treasure. He sings the anthem of Aruba on YouTube with the most views.

Rachel: Yeah, he also made a song about me.

Dennis: No, that’s another guy, he promoted the song.

Rachel: Okay.

Dennis: I like the song, it’s catchy.

Rachel: Okay, so Edjean Semeleer, “Feeling angry. Fucking shameful. We consider this to be an ambassador to our island? We consider this as a person that genuinely wants to help the people of Aruba? We hire this for campaigns to help Aruba?” Side note: never hired to do a single campaign to help Aruba in my life. “It was thanks to Aruba that her people that you’ve filled your coffers and became what you are today, Rachel. You don’t kick and punch this country while it’s on the floor bleeding. Go report and unfollow Yoga Girl on Instagram. [speaking in Papiamento].

Dennis: I can report this actually. I didn’t know, this is slander. Oh, good.

Rachel: [Laughing] Of course it’s slander.

Dennis: I need to…he deleted it, but anyway.

Rachel: Yeah, but this was one of his six things, and this post was the one where, where we had death threats, people urging to, to share our address, people urging to share our first and last names so they could find us, urging to share our phone numbers, people posting photos of Lea Luna in this comment section saying, “this is their three year old.” People saying, “burn her place down with the bitch inside. She should drown, she should die, stab her.”

[48:01] Dennis: Okay, okay, like…

Rachel: No, this isn’t…

Dennis: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Rachel: I’m not going to tone down my voice, this is for me to, one of, a hugely, hugely important part of this, that this is, you know, one thing is calling someone a bitch, a whore, a cunt, right? One, one thing is saying “hey…”

Dennis: One thing is calling…

Rachel: “…I don’t agree…”

Dennis: Yeah. One thing is calling out…

Rachel: Calling out, letting know, “hey, this is not helpful. Hey, do better,” right? “Change this.”

Dennis: “Take it down.”

Rachel: “Take it down, fix it,” you know, “do better.”

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: Like, you know. Which I think the purpose of callout culture is…

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: …right? Is not just to have someone’s whole entire life for all eternity cancelled, but to, to have a society that grows…

Dennis: To fix it.

Rachel: …and evolves, where we, where we fix what we did wrong, right? And then for this to become, you know, not just a place of, of, of, of, of abuse, and of, of harm, and of calling horrible, horrible names, and of course, you know, it’s also my appearance: a lot of people calling me fat and disgusting, calling me bony, bony ass, I’m like, “like can you pick? Am I fat or am I bony? Like it’s very hard to be both at the same time.” I was called Granny Yogi, apparently I look very old, Wrinkly Yogi, Piece of Shit Yogi, like it…

Dennis: It got really out of control.

Rachel: …goes on and on and on and on and on. Got really out of control, and…

Dennis: …and it’s, it’s, it’s very…sorry, am I cutting you off?

Rachel: You’re cutting me off constantly.

[both laugh]

Rachel: So then from this to memes being made, to songs being made, that they started a, someone started a GoFundMe to raise money for me to get a plane ticket…

Dennis: To Europe.

Rachel: …to go back to Sweden.

Dennis: To go back to where you’re from.

[49:30] Rachel: They started a petition to the government to deport us, which…

Dennis: Us?

Rachel: …I don’t know how you could get deported. Yeah, the family…

Dennis: I would like to see that too [laughs].

Rachel: …and how you could get deported because you’re Aruban. There’s stores that put signs in their storefront and on their social media pages, “Yoga Girl not welcome here,” right. So it went from literally a fumble, right, a sentence phrased really poorly with bad timing, a genuine mistake; any human being, you know can make a mistake, and I, I think it would be very interesting to see that the people who are…

Dennis: I, I…

Rachel: …not allowing mistakes of any kind, if they are so perfect and never did any mishap in their life.

Dennis: This is where I completely disagree with you.

Rachel: Meaning what?

Dennis: Meaning that like, yes, it is a mistake or poorly put, but you did not grab a, like a, like a pretty obvious what you meant video and turn it into “don’t ever come to Aruba” back…

Rachel: No, no.

Dennis: …and this is one that twisted the word, this is someone that misleaded the whole island. Like I’m not that like upset with the people commenting like, “you bitch, you cunt,” because they’re just following the flock and you can see the whole world is just trying to follow the flock. But these two credible influencers, these two credible Arubans…

Rachel: And a third one. Aten Lee Junior also was the first one.

Dennis: Yeah, okay.

Rachel: No, there’s three people from the beginning…

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: …who started sharing, tagging.

Dennis: But the Aten Lee Junior one, he wasn’t, for me, he wasn’t the worst one, it was like this two other person, one of them is not even Aruban, I don’t think she can even speak the language?

Rachel: She’s been here 35 years and doesn’t speak the language at all.

Dennis: Doesn’t speak the language, at all, and the other one is like, I can understand your anger, but these people are adult, like…

[51:00] Rachel: No, and it’s, it’s, it’s something called social proof. It’s like you see something, a lot of people are already on it, so it must be true.

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: Right? And it’s also, I mean okay, doesn’t show a huge amount of discernment, right? I would like to be able to think that if I saw something shared widely about someone that I know as an acquaintance, that I know in passing, that is a friend, or a friend of a friend, that I would have enough discernment in my body to go, “aha, let me look into that…”

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: …right? Before I go telling them, that person that I’m going to stab them in their fucking gut. Like, if I was the kind of person who would speak like that.

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: But what’s, what’s really scary is that almost no one did, right? So we have thousands of people, it’s not a few hundred people, it’s thousands of people jumping into this scary, scary, scary, scary, scary place of sending death threats, right? Sharing my daughter’s picture in a thread filled with hate and harassment and threats. And this for me is like, unbelievable, inexcusable…

Dennis: It’s…

Rachel: …it’s, I cannot wrap my head around…

Dennis: Me either.

Rachel: …and then I click on these people, of course now that the wave of the shock has died down and I’m going back into these things, to click on these people’s names…

Dennis: Normal people.

Rachel: …here’s a person, she’s an early fifties, the last five things she posted on Instagram was church, talking about Jesus, right? Telling them to share our address so they can come to our house and show us in person what they mean. And I’m like, “who is this lady? She’s a grandmother! She has children.” I, I cannot, I cannot for the life of me wrap my head around how, how these, you know, how this works. How can you go from being a Jesus-loving, churchgoing person, or like another person was like a mom of four who’s posting totally normal things, and then yeah, “burn the place down with the bitch inside.” That’s a murder threat.

[52:45] Dennis: Yeah [laughs].

Rachel: It is. how do you go from that to that? I cannot…

Dennis: But that’s…

Rachel: …understand.

Dennis: …that’s one, that’s one part of it, and that’s like a stranger who don’t know who we are, and then it’s harder…

Rachel: Yeah, and then the people instigated, no, so, so this example of this first woman, this Rona Coster who, who instigated the mob, is like, where do you draw the line between “hey, here’s a behaviour I don’t like,” right, to seeing that “okay, I now have a comment field, feed with a thousand comments filled with threat and abuse,” to not put your foot down, or moderate your own comment section, or report people. If I share something, even if people are in my own viewpoint, they’re trying to defend me, and they’re doing that with threats, with violence, with calling people names, I am going to report those people, I’m going to delete those comments from me feed. I know as a person with a platform, just like she has a platform, how to moderate a comment section, it’s not that hard. Or realized, “hey, this turned dangerous,” right? And I know what happened now, it’s also a reflection of the mental health on the island, it’s a reflection of the state of the island, the island is hurting, this wouldn’t happen if the island wasn’t hurting, it’s not a, a genuine reflection of who Aruba truly is, right? But the person who needs to then responsible in that moment and go, “hey this became a dangerous situation for a young family with a three-year-old at home, I’m going to delete this post now.” Or, “I’m going to shut this comment section down,” it’s still up there, it’s still alive and thriving.

[54:07] Rachel: This to me, I cannot…and this is unforgivable for me, this, this, this woman who feels okay allowing these kinds of threats. And the worst part for me to this, I mean the worst part from her end, is that later in the evening, or the next morning, she has the guts to write me a direct message on Instagram, “hi sweetheart, really, this is terrible what’s happening to you. Social media is, can be such a difficult place to navigate, you know. Really wish that things will calm down for you. Take care of your family, take care of your health.” And I wrote her back, “if someone physically harms my daughter, that is on you. That is your responsibility.” Like I can’t, I don’t understand how this woman sleeps at night, it’s impossible for me to understand. So there are certain components to this, one is the responsibility we each have as human beings instigating this, these things, or pushing drama forward, or adding gasoline to a fire, you know, we don’t have to go there even if we disagree, right? Absolutely not. And in Aruba, we’ve had controversial things before: we’ve had politicians be called out as pedophiles, we’ve had families kill, terrorize their own children, we’ve had terrible thing happen, of course drama and people, you know, publicly cheating on their spouses, you know, terrible things people do; have you ever seen the community, ever in your life, turn to this?

[55:25] Dennis: No. But I’ve never seen the community in this situation either, like in this corona situation either. And I think that’s where the biggest difference is. People are usually much more content in their life, people are usually set up better, people are usually in a better place where they can support their family, they know when their next paycheck is going to come, they know what they’re going to do, and now we’re in a time that we don’t know if next season, we’re going, next month we’re going to have a paycheck, you know? And, and these are all people with valid fears that just, they didn’t know how to express it.

Rachel: They needed, I mean it was…you told me the first day, “if you want to feel better, at least now the whole island has a distraction.” It was kind of like, “everyone is worried about feeding their kids, everyone’s worried about paying their bills, what’s happening to the island, now it’s like, “what? Yoga Girl said in an 18 second clip, ‘don’t come to Aruba,’ ay dios, I feel, now I really…”

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: “…have something big to focus on,” you know? [Laughs]

Dennis: I remember what I think I said also was that I think there’s one particular politician on the island, like, incredibly under fire right now, and I think this is the first weekend she had off in a long time [laughs].

Rachel: She had a break, she’s like, “ah, let me take a vacation.”

Dennis: Thank God, go…

Rachel: “let me go get a pedicure.” [Laughs]

Dennis: …go fuck over Yoga Girl, I can sleep in today [laughs].

[56:42] Rachel: No, but it’s also, and I’ve spoken with other people also who are educated in this, you know, as a phenomena, because we know mob mentality’s very real online, also, cancel culture is really real, there are all these terms for this stuff, like doxing, and I mean this is all very specific, and it’s also very prevalent toward women. I think if I was a man, this would not be the same thing, a hundred percent; it would not be the same attack on body, on sex, on character, these kinds of things generally do not happen to men in the same regard as they do to women. And especially the threat of safety. We don’t see that with men in the same way. And for us, you know, for me what became the extremely traumatic, and I’ve been on social media for eight years, I have a big platform, I’ve had a big platform for a long time, I, I know how to navigate negativity, I know how to navigate negative comments, I’ve done it for a long time. I have no, no clue how to deal with feeling unsafe in my own home. I’ve never had that experience in my entire life.

Dennis: Are you still feeling that unsafeness? Do you feel it’s getting less, or do you feel…

Rachel: At home now, I feel fine. When you leave, no, no. I cannot be alone.

Dennis: Let’s be honest, when I leave, who feels safe if I’m not in their presence?

Rachel: [Laughing] Okay, very true. But no, I have not been able to be left alone for one moment since this happened, of course not. And then the first night of all of this, with all of these rumors, and then people writing me personal messages, sharing with me our address, you know, “I know where you are,” “okay,” you know. And our house is set up in a way where like, because we’ve had stalkers at the house before, we had a people, you know, walk into our kitchen before, completely deranged, like we’ve had weird things happen, we already have, I already…

Dennis: International people.

Rachel: Yeah. I already have a trigger around…

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: …some of this unsafety at the house, because of being a public person.

[58:29] Dennis: I remember that, I went…where did I go? I went on a surf trip I think, with my best friend and then…

Rachel: No, you did your teacher training.

Dennis: I was in my yoga teacher training…

Rachel: In Mexico.

Dennis: …and then all of a sudden, like some, some stalker fans were writing like, “I can see you in your glass house.”

Rachel: Yeah, they were describing the shape of the house, describing the room I was in saying they could see me, this was before we had Lea, so…

Dennis: It was 2013, I think.

Rachel: Yeah. And then after that, we had a stalker come to the house. And then we’ve had a lot of moments of people just coming to the house, not with bad intentions, and of course most of them are super happy and joyful, and also like, every time Lea and I have a birthday — it’s not your birthday so much, I’m sorry about that — but someone drops off like, like a cake or balloons or something at the house, which is so sweet and the nicest intention, but the feeling that anyone can come to our house at any time is not a nice feeling for a person to have. So for me, this first night, you told me you, you fell asleep, but you can also sleep at any moment of any time.

Dennis: You were glued to our security cameras.

Rachel: I was glued to, and we have security cameras, we have one by the front door, we have one in the street, and you said you fell asleep, and then every 45 minutes, you were woken up by the sound of [gasps] which was me gasping because I saw somebody outside, or I thought I saw somebody outside, or the camera…

Dennis: Or a car passed, or…

Rachel: Or a car passed, or a, the, the notifications of our security system went off that someone is there.

Dennis: And then we got a security guard, and then you slept much better.

[59:51] Rachel: Yeah, and I saw someone in front of the house, and then the flood light goes on, and then the — and this is a coincidence, I know now — but in the moment, I’m sitting there in complete panic having all these threats, knowing everybody knows where we live, my three-year-old is sleeping in the house, my husband is asleep because he’s cool as a cucumber at all times, and someone is in front of the house, and then 15 minutes after that, the electricity went out at the house. And for me, you know, knowing now, like after you texted a few neighbors and then we found out it was the whole street, so it was a coincidence, it was not just our house, but I had, like, a ten minute span, sitting with cold sweat dripping down my back, just knowing, “okay…”

Dennis: “Someone cut our electricity,” yeah.

Rachel: “…there’s people out of our house, and someone cut ur electricity, now.” And I was going through my mind like, “we don’t have a gun, obviously, and we don’t have a bat, we don’t have a taser, we don’t have pepper spray…”

Dennis: We don’t have weapons, you can just say…

Rachel: No, but I was going in my mind through the things, “what does a person need to defend themselves when there’s a mob coming to kill you, or to hurt you, or to coming to teach you your lesson, punish you?” All these things people were saying. And I realized, I never in my life had to think, “I need something in the house to protect myself. I need something to keep me safe, or to cause another person harm, so they don’t harm me first.”

Dennis: Are you advocating for a gun now?

Rachel: No, but a few people wrote me that, “eh, don’t worry Rachel, just tell Dennis to load his gun and you guys are going to be fine,” and I was like, “okay, well yeah, I’ll just go…”

[both laughing]

Rachel: “…I’ll just go tell him to get the gun then.” We don’t have a fucking gun, are you kidding?

Dennis: We do have one massage gun.

[Rachel laughs]

Dennis: But I don’t think they want to get massaged…

Rachel: You can massage them…

Dennis: Maybe…

Rachel: …into a coma.

Dennis: …maybe people would want…

[61:29] Rachel: [laughing] No, and then I actually thought when we were going to record this podcast, I thought I was going to cry, I thought I was going to be on the floor, I thought it was going to be like almost not possible to talk about this because it’s been so fucking traumatic. It has been horrible. And now, I feel like, “eh, okay, I feel steady, I feel…” if anything else, I think I’ve transitioned through different stages. Now I’m more in a place of anger, I think, than anything else. And I think, you know, before anyone goes, “what do I have to be angry about?” Obviously I have a lot to be angry about; I can feel apologetic, and sorry that I made a mistake, and also feel completely upset and betrayed and angry, and have a loss of trust for this whole country where I live now. And it’s not going to last forever, I hope, but this is how I feel right now is that not knowing if I’m safe to go in the street, not knowing what it would be like to be at the grocery story, go to the beach, are people going to pull my hair, are they going to spit in my face? How on Earth are we ever going to go back to some sort of normalcy here?

Dennis: I think we’re working on that.

Rachel: Who is?

Dennis: We are all, are. I think this is, I think at some point, this is going to get better. I’m from this island, like things seems to change, I know what you’re saying though. Like I went to the supermarket yesterday, I didn’t tell you yet, but I went to the market to buy, what was it?

Rachel: A battery.

Dennis: I needed to buy a battery for our heater, to start the heater, and, and I walked in, and, like, everybody just stopped. There was like four people in there, they just stopped, they looked me, and like, eyes went wide open. Kind of you know when Ringo comes into your, like, yoga classes, and everybody goes like “[gasp] oh, my God.”

[63:07] Rachel: Yeah, but then they get really excited because Ringo’s there.

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: Was that, was that the reception you got?

Dennis: There were, it wasn’t negative, I think it was like a shock…

Rachel: Yeah, you’re a celebrity…

Dennis: …they didn’t expect to see me…

Rachel: …now.

Dennis: Well I wouldn’t say a celebrity, the second-most…

Rachel: You’re infamous.

Dennis: I’m the second-most hated [laughs]

Rachel: Second-most hated person on the island, you’re infamous, I guess, that’s the word.

Dennis: But anyway, I, I went in, people like, [gasps], no, no bad thing, everybody was friendly after that, but it was like a shock. And I think that’s going to happen a couple times, then it will go away. And it sucks that it has to be like this, and, yeah.

Rachel: No, but I mean now, so we had a guard outside in the night that helped a lot, it really helped me, helped me sleep. I had a lot of people saying, you know, “you didn’t get only negative things,” because of course now that, after we shared…the only thing actually — and this is important that I point out because I had a few people upset that I shared some of the threats we were receiving, or not even the worst threats, I shared just…

Dennis: That was really bad for Aruba.

Rachel: No, I shared some, and this was in the wave of it all, in the full, we had 48 hours of shock…

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: …it was like a super traumatic thing, where I just started screenshotting, and I just boom, boom, boom, put some things out there. That’s the only thing that stopped it.

Dennis: That stopped it, yeah.

[64:21] Rachel: Yeah. I put the things out, and then I think for some people where were like, very gossipy, and, “fuck her.” So I shared those things, a few of those threats and some of that abuse online, and I think a few people thought, “okay, just calling her a bitch, or this is stupid, or sharing this post, what’s the harm in that? She, she deserves it.” And then realizing that, “oh, actually that’s me fueling the fire, making an actual impact in a, in a family’s life, in an innocent child,” I think that changed some things. And then suddenly we saw people like “whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, okay, okay…”

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: Some of the people who wrote the worst things, all of a sudden went like…

Dennis: Immediately delete.

Rachel: …delete it, and then “yeah, everybody, hello,” if only people could unite for a good cause on behalf of the island, the way people just united to destroy a person completely. You know. Like imagine if Aruba could rally for the safety of the children, to change some of the legislation on the island.

Dennis: Half a day.

Rachel: Half a day, boom man, no pedophile will every walk this island ever again. It’s, it’s in a way, it’s interesting to know that Aruba can unite for a common cause, it’s just very unfortunate that the common cause is to, to ruin my life.

[both laugh]

Rachel: And I guess that fact that I can laugh about it now has some sort of, some sort of meaning.

Dennis: Yeah, I think you’re, I think there’s something…

Rachel: This is it, I’m done, I’m healed, yeah.

Dennis: You’re completely healed.

Rachel: It’s because I’m on…

Dennis: You saw the light.

Rachel: Saw the light.

Dennis: What chakra is good now, for you?

[Rachel laughs]

Dennis: Which one of your chakras?

Rachel: That’s not, that’s not how that, that’s not how it works. No.

Dennis: Oh okay. Which crystal?

Rachel: No, I would say my root chakra has seen like a huge disruption. That’s the thing, so, so the place that has been, you know, I’ve been here for ten years, I have residency here for…

Dennis: You speak the language.

Rachel: …so long.

Dennis: We didn’t get back to that.

[65:59] Rachel: We didn’t get back to that, so my apology that I issued, the first thing was I said, I just went in English and I explained “hey guys, for anyone who misinterpreted this or saw that short clip, like here’s what I meant,” you know?

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: “And I should have said ‘be responsible when traveling.’” But then people got even more upset that I shared that. It was kind of like after this happened, no matter what I said made it worse.

Dennis: And then I thought, “okay, you’e going to talk in Papiamento,” which is my native language, which is like, I can count a shitload of people that I know personally here, living here their whole life that doesn’t speak Papiamento, that doesn’t speak the local language. And then you’re there apologizing to Aruba, in Papiamento, showing that you’re immersed, that you know how to speak the language…

Rachel: Showing that this is my island, this is my community.

Dennis: This is your home.

Rachel: This is my home.

Dennis: And then it’s like, “you fucking bitch, why don’t you say it in English?” [Laughs]

Rachel: Yeah. If I would have said it in English, they would’ve said, “this fucking tourist. If you’re going to speak to us, at least speak the language,” okay, I speak the language, then I’m a fucking bitch, “why don’t you do it in English.” It’s like, okay, there’s no, there’s no way around it. And I honestly thought…

Dennis: It was all so unfortunate.

Rachel: And I even had a friend, like one of my best friends on the island, like, “Rachel, I had no idea you were so fluent in Papiamento,” and then I said, I was like, “yeah, you know, but I don’t speak it so often because I speak a lot, and I speak fast, and I don’t like to think before I speak, you know.”

[Dennis laughs]

Rachel: And she goes, “well, maybe that’s your problem.”

[both laugh]

Rachel: “Maybe if you lived your life in Papiamento, this would never have happened.” [Laughs]

Dennis: That’s true. It wouldn’t have happened.

Rachel: No, and I really felt like after that apology, I felt like, “okay, now I have apologized, and you know, I deleted that original thing already much before,” not to hide it, but to make sure that…

Dennis: More people…

[67:32] Rachel: …you know, that more non-Arubans didn’t see it, you know, because that was the worry, that I’m harming the island, that I’m keeping important tourists from coming here, so just making sure that more tourists weren’t going to see it. And it wasn’t even, you know, it wasn’t even up there for a very long time, not that many people saw it, I didn’t get engagement around it even.

Dennis: A lot of people saw it in Aruba [laughs].

Rachel: In Aruba, yes, but like world-wide, or in the U.S., I didn’t get any engagement on that thing because people didn’t catch it as a thing, you know, at all. But then now, it became a thing. And I think, you know, sharing that we received these threats and things like that was super unfortunate, it was the only thing I could do to stop this and keep us safe, so I’m, I don’t regret doing that…

Dennis: I fully agree with you and your decision there, but it was, that was what hurt the island.

Rachel: Yeah, of course.

Dennis: People from abroad seeing angry people, and angry out of context.

Rachel: It’s not a good look.

Dennis: It’s not good look, and these are people that are normally, I would say…

Rachel: I don’t think so. The people who threatened our lives and who put our children on there, those are not the general, they do not represent the general population, for sure…

Dennis: They’re not, yeah.

Rachel: …but I also have a hard time believing they are normally nice people, people who can stoop that low have something wrong with them, for sure.

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: But that’s a handful of people who say we had what, 15 threats or 20 threats or something like that…

Dennis: From a hundred thousand people.

[68:44] Rachel: …from a hundred thousand people, and then we had what, 3 000 “fuck you, you whore, go back to your country.” So that’s a big percentage, the actual threats were enough to definitely make us feel unsafe, a hundred percent, a very real, very, you know. We had so many people writing the studio, on the studio channels, that they were on the way there to vandalize the studio that one of our employees — bless her heart, she didn’t tell us because I would have told here “absolutely not, this is not safe” — went there in the middle of the night to make sure the studio was standing. She thought she was going to get there and it was going to be in flames, right? And I was like, “how…did you bring someone, did you like…what were you thinking?” She’s like, “I don’t know, I just had to make sure the studio was okay,” [laughing] you know? So I mean, it’s just absurd. And then after that apology, I decided, “okay, these things are up there now, I’m leaving social media, I need to like, have a moment to…”

Dennis: You deleted all the, the negative feedback.

Rachel: I left them there enough for people to stop, right? Until I felt like, “okay…”

Dennis: A couple hours.

Rachel: Yeah. No, half a day probably.

Dennis: Okay.

Rachel: And then people were upset, “well why aren’t you sharing positives?” I’m like, “I’m not receiving any positives from anybody, what are you talking about?”

Dennis: Because I did that too.

Rachel: Should I share the positives I’ve receiving from non-Arubans? No, that’s not helpful in any way.

Dennis: Yeah, that’s true.

Rachel: Mm-mmm.

Dennis: But I had that too, i also shared like on my platform, like two, like of them was like a little bit of a threat, I guess, but it just made the island look bad, and I, that’s not my…

Rachel: Yeah, Aruba’s Tourism Channel, that was a big one. I think anything that leaked into the, like we had some things that were spreading in the Yoga Girl community group on Facebook where some people jumped to our defense, like “hey, how you call yourself an Aruba Tourism Channel,” whatever that is, I don’t know even what that is.

Dennis: Yeah, it’s not, to be clear…

Rachel: The tourist authority is something else, yeah.

Dennis: That’s not the Aruba Tourism Authority, it’s a completely different thing, but they’re big enough. They have like 17 000, 20 000 followers? Which for a small island, it’s a big…

[70:30] Rachel: Yeah, and then they said any time anyone who defended us, or who said like, “hey this is not okay,” all those comments were deleted, and those people were blocked. And then…

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: …eventually, I think because they got so many, you know, not, potential tourists, people who are like, “hey I only ever visited Aruba because I found out about Aruba through Yoga Girl’s channels,” or, “I’ve always wanted to go to Aruba because I see Aruba through Yoga Girl’s channels, now I don’t want to go.” And then they deleted what they wrote, and they started sharing in direct message, privately to each person that they apologize, and this is not appropriate, and they are on our, on Rachel’s side, and I’m like “well, why don’t you post that publicly then?”

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: No one, can you can count anybody who…

Dennis: My mom.

Rachel: Your, your mom and your sister, bless their hearts, are the only ones and then a very few few friends we have…

Dennis: There was…

Rachel: …who are super…

Dennis: …a few people.

Rachel: Yeah.

Dennis: There was a few people, even people I…my ex-girlfriend’s mom [laughing] for instance.

Rachel: Aw, what a sweetheart. No, but I mean to, to actually go and publicly say like, “stop. This is not okay, you know. Even some of our closest friends, and I told them “don’t, don’t jump in here because they will take you down.” We had one or two friends who right away, early in the morning went, “hey, hey, hey, this is not okay,” and then all of a sudden…

Dennis: They got threatened, yeah.

Rachel: …they felt threatened, and their businesses was threatened, and it was like, “they are getting pulled down in this whole thing, this is not worth this affecting anybody else’s life, like it’s okay,” you know? All those things are gone from Instagram, I deleted anything that’s ever remotely, you know, reflected poorly on Aruba. What I think is really, you know, in a sense interesting is we’ve somehow managed to be here for ten years, like I’ve lived here for ten years, this has begun the eleventh year already, I’ve been here for such a long time. Since I’ve had Instagram, since I’ve had Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube, every channel that we’ve ever been present on, every day of my life, I’ve promoted this island. There’s not a day where it’s not, “this is the most beautiful place in the world, come visit.” We do, what, 20, at the studio counting other people visiting, 20, 25 groups every year. Not just where people find out that the island exists because of our channels online, but because we bring them here.

[72:39] Dennis: Directly bring them here.

Rachel: Directly bring them here, it’s like eleven hundred people a year that directly come to sit in circle with me at the studio. And then, you know, we, we use the local hotels, we buy food, we go to local restaurants, we have lists, long lists of recommendations where “here are the activities that we recommend, go here to get your massage, go here to get your pedicure, go here for this amazing food, go here to go sailing,” you know. And I know already just with the groups we have in-person, that sit with us in-person, huge impact, huge footprint on the economy of this island, constantly. And then of course is the thousands of people the find out about Aruba just because they are part of the Yoga Girl community. Or a country like Sweden, you know, that has seen a huge direct, of course, upswing in tourism because that’s where we promote Aruba the most. We work with this Tourism Authority of Aruba in Sweden, direct office, so much, and I want to make a hugely important point to share that not one time has, have I been contracted by Aruba Tourism Authority, or anyone from the government, have they paid us to promote Aruba, have done a single campaign, collaboration of any kind. No one is making me…

Dennis: Yeah, and there’s…

Rachel: …do this in any way.

Dennis: …some kind of belief, local belief…

Rachel: Yeah, of course.

Dennis: …that you are.

Rachel: Because…

Dennis: …It looks like it.

Rachel: But yeah, so we have never been paid, we’ve never had an incentive to do this, there’s no, that belief is very important for me to be clear that there has never been a, a payment exchange between Aruba and me. Also we’ve never had any favors, we’ve never had help with taxes, with the permit, like nothing in that sense. And then in terms of us personally, we have seven businesses in four countries where we bring all the money we make from abroad to Aruba. And we have options there; I’m still a Swedish citizen, we have companies in the U.S., if I write a book sitting in Sweden, I go to the U.S. and I teach in 25 cities on tour, we take that money made for the book, for classes, for events, we bring it to Aruba, and we pay all our taxes here by choice, right? We do that in every single endeavor.

Dennis: It’s not a haven by the way. It’s not a tax haven [laughs].

Rachel: It’s not, it’s not the British Virgin Islands, or anything remotely like it. There’s one country in the world that has a higher income tax than Sweden, and that country is Aruba. So, it’s not, you know, if we would listen to our tax advisors, this is the worst place for us to live, but we love it here. This is your country, this is, Lea is Aruban…

[75:01] Dennis: We were a little unlucky there, you married an Aruban, I married a Swedish…

Rachel: [Laughing] Yeah, I know, could’ve been…

Dennis: You could’ve got a Cayman man [laughs].

Rachel: …could’ve been smarter. But I mean, this whole belief that like I’m biting the hand that feeds me, you know, it’s very different than what it looks like, and in terms of, in terms of our monies being made, it’s not from the island, nothing is taken here, it’s brought here to, to help and support. And I mean, we have a, you and I, we don’t use AZV, we don’ have any social support…it’s, it’s, it’s really important that there’s not part of this where Aruba is giving to us and we are taking and not giving back, it doesn’t exist, we don’t live that way.

Dennis: I understand that.

Rachel: Yeah. And then I think, you know, I would maybe this, the only thing I can think of that what if there’s something positive that comes out of this is maybe the work we do with the two foundations on the island, either the animal rescue that’s been, you know, we’ve saved over 2000 animals in Aruba over the past few years, we do hugely good things for the, for the animal population…

Dennis: In July alone, there was a hundred dogs…

Rachel: Over a hundred, yeah.

Dennis: Over a a hundred dogs that was brought…

Rachel: Yeah, in the quarantine, in isolation, it was crazy.

Dennis: …in isolation, brought to their forever homes.

Rachel: Brought to their forever homes. And Yoga Girl Foundation that has spent two and a half years doing this work for the children of the island. So the only thing, I was sitting with this yesterday, is there a plus, is there good that could come out of this — maybe the foundational work, or maybe the issue for the children, maybe that will got some attention now, like that’s one thing. And then i was really sitting with it, like, “okay,” the same feeling of is any of this work, if one child gets help that should be getting help, then this is worth everything, right? Any amount of abuse, any amount of, nothing is worth the, the, the feeling of not feeling safe…

[76:40] Dennis: Not being able to sleep, I don’t know about that.

Rachel: No. But like…

Dennis: But if we get to help one kid, I agree, like it’s…

Rachel: Yeah, it’s a change of somebody’s life. And I mean, and that, that’s, that’s just who we are. And the thing is it made me thing, “maybe we should be talking more to Aruba about what we do in Aruba,” because we don’t. No one is advertising here, “look, here is the money donated, here is the support given, here’s how many people, here’s the footprint for the economy,” no, never, because that’s not why we do what we do. We’re just here, this is our lives, we love Aruba, that’s why we live here, that’s why we promote it here, that’s why we bring people here, it’s why we opened the studio here, it’s why we you know, we’re sitting here having this conversation now and why we’re not in Costa Rica or something. So what do you think is going to be the the, I mean you and I are speaking about this a lot, but the Swedish National Television were asking to interview me today, what’s your future in Aruba?

[both laugh softly]

Dennis: It’s hard to ask that question…

Rachel: Yeah.

Dennis: …when you’re this, this just happened. By the time this podcast gets out on Friday, your answer probably will be different from the answer right now. That’s something I can tell you.

Rachel: What, in a better or a worse way?

Dennis: I don’t know.

[Rachel laughs]

Dennis: It will for sure will be different.

Rachel: Yeah, so what would be your, like what’s your, do you have a dream outcome? Do you have something you would wish to happen now, or something that you long for?

[78:06] Dennis: I wish it can come to a place where, you feel safe here, that you can walk around, and you feel like you’re, like, you’re liked. Because that’s what any…

Rachel: But that’s not true.

Dennis: But everybody wants…

Rachel: Yeah, but how am I ever going to feel that way, I’m literally the most hated person ever.

Dennis: You just asked what I, what’s my dream case scenario…

Rachel: Yeah, but then I try to apply that in real life, like how would I, how would I get there, you know? It’s like, you know that feeling, like I know if we’re going to a party or we’re going somewhere and there’s one person there that doesn’t like me, then I’m very uncomfortable.

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: You know, it’s like I don’t do well with, for a person that doesn’t do well with like, someone not liking them, I am definitely in a life lesson of, of all time.

Dennis: This is definitely going to be very new for you, and I don’t think running is the answer, if you ask me.

Rachel: I think we can like, spin a globe and then you just put your finger there and then you see where you end up, you know.

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: [Laughs] You don’t, you don’t agree?

Dennis: I think time heals everything, and I think a lot of people already are seeing the, how far this has gone. This was no one’s intention to go this far; maybe a handful of people with really be intention had this intention, but for the rest, majority of it didn’t mean this at all. And this is what it comes down to. And you might feel a little ashamed to be seen in public because of that, but I think at the same time, the people who threatened, if they see you, they will feel that shame a lot more.

[79:34] Rachel: You think so?

Dennis: I, I know so. I know so. I have said stupid things to people before and immediately regretted it…

Rachel: Bai pais bek.

Dennis: [Laughs] That’s something trig, that’s something very triggering for me, that everybody, like a lot of people said, “you go home, bai pais bek.

Rachel: Go back to you country.

Dennis: Go back to your country.

Rachel: Now there’s no such thing, just to make a point because we’ve had a lot of conversations about this with professionals and educators, there’s no such thing as reverse racism, no one can be racist toward a White person, but there is a prevalent thing here between all, you know, we have 83 nationalities in Aruba, between all different nationalities that if someone has done something wrong, “go back to your country,” also towards Venezualans…

Dennis: But you, you see that a lot.

Rachel: …Dominicans. Yeah, all the time.

Dennis: I mean not only here…

Rachel: And it’s not “poor me,” because someone said that I’m a White person, it’s not, it’s not racism, but it’s definitely a…

Dennis: Nationalism…

Rachel: …shitty, shitty thing to, to, to, to…

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: …to say to another person, especially someone who lives here and calls this place their home. People will say that to people who were born here, just because they have Hispanic parents, or something like that.

Dennis: But…

Rachel: So you’re, I like your like, you were like, that’s like a…

Dennis: I want that shirt.

Rachel: I want to walk out in public in that shirt, like “go back to your country.” I’m like well, for someone who doesn’t know the context of this it’s going to look very racist, because you’re going to be a White person wearing a shirt that says “go back to your country.”

[both laugh]

Rachel: He’s like, “yeah but for the people who know I’m talking about my own wife, that’s funny.”

[Dennis laughs]

[81:00] Rachel: [Laughing] I was like…let’s take a beat with that, I think. I think. Well, I think, I guess is some sort of, some sort of closing, like, I was thinking today, “okay, if I were to like…” this is also something really, really beautiful, like okay, I was contemplating Aruba, like what, why do we live here? We’ve been here for ten years.

Dennis: Because…

Rachel: No, is…

Dennis: You want me to answer that, or you’re just…

Rachel: You can answer, I want to know what you’re going to say, yeah.

Dennis: Because I’m from here.

Rachel: [Laughing] Yes.

Dennis: This is my fucking home. This is where your daughter was born, this is where was grandma was born, this is where my great-grandma was born, this is where her parents were born. I don’t know if it keeps going there, because at some point, someone came from outside.

Rachel: You have Caquetio blood, supposedly, way back.

Dennis: Yeah, and like Arawak. I think Catquetio is part of Arawak, right? I have Indigenous blood, somewhere.

Rachel: Somewhere way, way, way, way, way back.

Dennis: Direct line.

Rachel: You still look like the Whitest man born alive.

Dennis: I still look like the White, adopted kid in my family when we have family gatherings, yeah. But it’s direct line, it’s not like my cousin, it’s like direct…

Rachel: Yeah, yeah. No, and it’s, it’s, it’s, of course we live here because you live here, but I’m Swedish, we don’t live in Sweden, when we met I lived in Costa Rica, we don’t live in Costa Rica, like we chose, we chose to live here because Aruba is a beautiful place to be. Aruba is generally, and this has been my experience for every year I’ve been here, aside from this weekend…

[Dennis chuckles]

Rachel: …this weekend aside, Aruba is a really safe place to be.

Dennis: It has it’s charm.

[82:29] Rachel: Not just it’s charm, Aruba is a safe place to be, we have great drinking water, we have a decent education system, you have health, Universal healthcare here, the beaches are the best in the world, you know, there’s…and I was really thinking about that, like we chose to be here, okay, and in terms of the community, I always felt really welcome, I always felt like there’s something very kind about Arubans, there’s something very inviting about Arubans. You know you can sit down and talk to anyone from here, and they’re excited that you’re here, you know, they love tourists, they love people visiting. The, the, the, the slogan of the island, “One Happy island,” this weekend aside, is true as far as I…

Dennis: It’s very much true.

Rachel: Right, as far as I, my, in my own experience, you know. But for me to sit with that, it’s like, “okay, if maybe this is the end of our time in Aruba, is this the Universe telling us to go live somewhere else, maybe it’s, it’s I have to believe there’s some other bigger piece; maybe it’s tome to move on? Is this the community showing it’s real colors, that “hey, I thought I had a lot of love here but I don’t, okay, if that’s true, it’s important for me to know so we can, you know, not live in some sort of veil that isn’t real,” like this is the year of things that have been hiding under surface coming to light.

Dennis: There’s an iguana…

Rachel: There’s an iguana pressing his nose against the window.

Dennis: …staring death through the window.

Rachel: [Laughing] No, because so that could be the case, big piece, like maybe it’s time. Maybe it’s not, what we thought we had here is not real, okay I can accept that, if that’s what it is, I can accept that and also decide to transition. We have all the options in the world, we don’t, the work we do is not something we do in Aruba, it can be done anywhere in the world.

[84:09] Dennis: Yeah, we can work anywhere in the world. That I do agree with.

Rachel But i could also be, it could also be that, “okay, maybe we have had something muddied, or something unclear, or something going on in Aruba that we haven’t been aware of, that there’s something I should be doing that, that should be more supportive toward the island or more present on the island in a way we haven’t done before. Maybe this is the catalyst that makes me more Aruban in the end of the day. I don’t know, I feel like it could go…

Dennis: Either way.

Rachel: …it could go both ways.

Dennis: I, something I do know for sure is that your wound is very much fresh.

Rachel: Yeah dude, yeah.

Dennis: And that we, I don’t think now is the time to make any decisions.

Rachel: No. Today was the first day, I still woke up crying, I’ve woken up crying every day. Today was the first day where I felt like, “okay, I can go for a run, I can move my body, I can be here,” but my friend was asking, like, “how does it feel like, I never could imagine this happening, could never imagine this happening, what it’s like to be in this kind of storm,” and I said, “I feel like I’m mourning. I feel like I’m grieving. I feel like somebody died, except the person who died isn’t just a person, it’s the whole island, I feel like the island died, I lost the island. I lost my home, I don’t know what my home is.” And saying that, yeah, makes me super…

Dennis: It makes you sad.

Rachel: Makes me super sad because it’s also part of, like, you know, where you put your feet every day, like, yeah. And it’s part of my identity too, like being here, loving to be here, my daughter being from here, your being from here, and now I don’t know if this is our place.

[85:35] Dennis: I always, to be honest, I always wanted to live somewhere else for a year or two, but I’ve always seen myself like, coming back here, always being back home. So it could be the thing that we do for a year, I think it’s not the smartest thing to do right now, but not only because of this, but because fo the corona [laughs].

Rachel: No, of course.

Dennis: But yeah, I, I always wanted to…I, for people that don’t know me, I’ve never lived anywhere except for Aruba.

Rachel: You’re an island boy.

[86:06] Dennis: I, I literally lived here 35 years. I’m not 35 yet, 34 years. Shit.

Rachel: [Laughing] Look it, look how fast that rolled off your tongue [laughing]

Dennis: I’m still in my early thirties. I lived here for 34 years, my whole life, and I always wanted to live in a city or live somewhere else, just to see how it is. But I…

Rachel: Then maybe this is it.

Dennis: …this is my, this my home, this is where I need to come back to though.

Rachel: Yeah.

Dennis: So you know.

Rachel: This is like a year of detoxing something, for sure. Yeah. I want to take a moment to just, anyone listening, if you made it all the way to the end of this podcast, this is probably the longest podcast we ever recorded. But anyone listening who has shown our family love and support, both from afar and also the people present on the island who especially are close, like now we know who our friends are, it’s very, you know, in a good way, I think.

Dennis: And the people who stood up for us.

Rachel: And the people who stood up for us, the people who spent hours in comments sections defending us and reporting people, and, you know, no, I want to, I feel like I can’ shout anyone out by name, because maybe that will pull them down [laughs] into something else, but you guys know who you are, and I love you so much, and if it wasn’t for you, yeah, I wouldn’t be sitting here talking calmly about this today, for sure. So that, that feeling that, you know, we have a core, core group fo people who are our ride or dies, who I love so much. And for everyone here, because of course not every Aruban sat here doing this, you know, there’s so many people who didn’t agree, who were quietly in their homes, moving on with, going about their day that didn’t even, you know…

Dennis: Know.

[87:45] Rachel: …know that this was happening, that this was the biggest thing ever in our lives, because it was everything. But for a lot of people, you know, everyone is trying to make the best they can out of a bad situation, everyone wants what’s best for this island, everyone wants to feed their kids, everyone wants tourism to come back, and for this virus to go away, those are the two things that we all want. So, I’m hoping that we can…

Dennis: We’re hoping that we can move forward, I hope we can grow from this, not we, but I mean we as a country, and we as a community. That we can, like, this all happens in the worst, worst peak of the, the, the pandemic for Aruba, because it went so fast, so many days, and no one knew who to blame, no one knew what to do.

Rachel: Well now we know who it blame.

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: It was all my fault [laughs].

Dennis: Big companies starting, like, telling, sorry cancelling flights, organizations, health organizations saying that Aruba’s high-risk, don’t go there, like all these things happen at the same time. And it’s so unfortunate, and I really hope that we can all move forward from this, and like kick this virus to the curb, and like be open, get all of our visitors coming back, showing them our beaches. Aruba has been the cleanest it’s ever been because of, because we took a break from all the visitors, now the beaches are super white, super…

Rachel: Turtles are back.

Dennis: …turtles are like, back, it’s the people who come, like, now or the nearest in the future will see the cleanest the island has been since the last 20 ears. It, it reminds like family members of mine that, how, what it used to be back in the day when we didn’t have hotels, and it just used to be like plain beaches.

[89:34] Rachel: Like when your mom met your dad…

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: …on the beach in the 80’s, you know?

Dennis: You know? So it’s kind of, it’s kind of.

Rachel: Yeah. Yeah.

Dennis: I hope we can share that back soon with our international visitors.

Rachel: I hope so too. So normally at the, at the end of a, of a podcast…

Dennis: A five hour podcast.

Rachel: Normally at the end of a podcast when I’ve had a guest on, I say “thank you so much,” and then I ask that guest “how can we all and everyone listening be of service to you, right now?”

Dennis: Oh yeah, you asked me that last week too.

Rachel: [Laughing] You didn’t like it.

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: You were like, “be of what? What does it mean?”

Dennis: I’m as confused now.

[Rachel laughing]

Dennis; It’s brought up so many feelings.

[both laugh]

Dennis: How to be at service for me, like to be honest, I would…

Rachel: No, I was meaning for you to ask me, because…

Dennis: Oh, I’m the host!

Rachel: …you’re the host [laughs].

Dennis: Oh, I forgot, okay, what was I supposed to say again? This is going to be like the intro all over again.

Rachel: [Laughing] Do you need the teleprompter again?

Dennis: Maybe.

Rachel: Do you?

Dennis: So what was it?


Dennis: So normally after my show, I always ask my guests how can the people be of service to you?

Rachel: Nailed it.

Dennis: Did I remember that correctly?

Rachel: [Laughing] Yes, you did.

Dennis: I’ve said it so many times.

[90:48] Rachel: You said it so many times, every interview. So for anyone listening who feels touched, or moved by the, the topic of child abuse, and everything happening here, so not only in Aruba but across the world, of course, you can donate to Yoga Girl Foundation, we support here in Aruba and also in Sweden. And you can go to for ways to donate, or look up any local organization in your own area if you want to support an organization where you live, because this is a global issue, not one that is unique to where we live. And in addition to that, you know, anyone listening to feels like they want to be of, of support to us, if you want to go on Google or TripAdvisor, Facebook and help Island Yoga out with some reviews, we had a lot of one-star, really, really bad reviews as a result to, to the hate and harassment we received over this weekend. So if you want to go and give Island Yoga a five-star review of any kind, that would be, that would be super, super helpful, I mean of course. And then of course, when you’re ready to travel again, whenever that is, whenever you feel safe, whenever you can travel responsibly, put Aruba at the top of your list, and I hope to see you. So, you want to close?

Dennis: Yeah.

Rachel: Okay. What do you, what do you think I say? What do I normally say? We just did this.

Dennis: I know.

Rachel: [Laughs] You can’t…

Dennis: I can’t…

Rachel: …thank your guest.

Dennis: …I can’t think and talk at the same time.

Rachel: [Laughs] Apparently neither can I. So normally, you thank your guest, and then…

Dennis: Do I say your name full?

Rachel: No, you don’t do that. Just say, “thank you so much for coming,” and then tell everybody listening, “thank you so much for listening, we appreciate your support, and Yoga Girl podcast will be back next week.”

[92:35] Dennis: I forgot already.

[both laugh]


Dennis: Thank you much for joining us…

Rachel: [Laughing] Oh, God.

Dennis: Okay, I would like to thank my guest for joining me this week on the show, and thank you for everyone else for listening and supporting us….Wait, what the fuck?

Rachel: [Laughing] That was pretty good. Normally, you thank the guest, you’re like, “thank you so much for joining me on the show.”


Dennis: Thank you so much for joining me this week on the show, and for everyone listening, thank you for all the support. Yoga Girl podcast will be back next week.

Rachel: [Laughing] That sounded so natural [laughs]. Thank you, dushi, for hosting the show today, I appreciate you.

Dennis: You’re welcome.

Rachel: I love you. Thank you guys. Yoga Girl podcast will be back next week.

[93:23 — End of Episode]