Bicycles, Remittances & Credit Card Fees
And a Happy New Year for All
The State of Yucatan intends to transform much of rural Yucatan in 2008 by completing at least a decade of work in less than one year. This includes both urban and agricultural infrastructure projects, the Visual Health Program, and support programs for children, the elderly, and those who are disabled. The State is expected to provide a total of at least 60,000 pairs of glasses in the Visual Health program, as well as an undetermined number of wheelchairs, and support for our wonderful senior citizens' programs. The State will also build irrigation systems and streets, as well as participating in the general cleanup of the entire state in preparation for the birthday of the Nation two years from now. Looks like all of Yucatan is on the bandwagon whose destination is the improvement of life for all Yucatecos. Someone recently commented that our news often makes Yucatan sound like Eden. Maybe not yet… but soon!
Street Safety During Major Holidays
We recently discovered that several tour developers are now among the regular readers of Yucatan Living and are so pleased to have them with us. Our safety during festivals is something that folks who live here rarely think about because we take it as simply “normal” to be safe all over Yucatan; but others might be interested in just how far out state and local governments actually go to ensure that every holiday ends in a wonderful memory. One example of the efforts put forth by the cities and towns of Yucatan can be seen in the nearly 200 street closings in the Municipality of Merida on New Year's Eve. Most of the streets are closed in neighborhoods, where community events take place; but the rest are the major arteries to hospitals and emergency services. This ensures that the 1.2 million inhabitants of the Greater Merida area and the tens of thousands of visitors are all kept safe from holiday traffic through areas around parks and street celebrations, and can receive emergency services quickly if there is a need. Yucatan Living once again recommends that our readers get out that 2008 calendar and mark off New Year's Eve in the State of Yucatan as “the” safest place to ring in the New Year of 2009! We hope to see you here!
Chichen Itza and the Grandmasters
Two grandmasters of chess battled out the last championship game of the Carlos Torre Repetto Memorial Chess Tournament in front of the great pyramid at Chichen Itza. Ukranian grandmaster Vassily Ivanchuk won the 10 hour session in a 10 hour tiebreaker over grandmaster Pentala Harikrisna of India. This chess tournament is the largest chess tournament in all of Latin America.
Secrets of Hammock Weaving to Remain in Yucatan
After one trip to Europe and some initial involvement with foreign investors, the women of Zazil Be, one of the new women's cooperative business entities, has decided that they will no longer teach the more intricate methods of weaving hammocks to individuals and groups in other nations. Fearing competition, especially from the Chinese, the women of Zazil Be, have decided it will be better for them to protect their market by keeping their more complex hammock-making secrets to themselves. Of course, hammocks are made around the world, but not of the quality, nor the intricacy found in those produced in Yucatan. Congratulations to the “business savvy” of the women of Zazil Be as they move their focus from rural Yucatan to the competitive marketplaces of the world.
Hunucmá Helmet Laws
Throughout 2007, the municipalities of Yucatan enacted a number of laws related to motorcycles, with particular attention to requiring helmets, as well as limiting the number of people who can be carried at one time. There have also been laws enacted that forbid children driving motorcycles on city streets. In an effort to give people more time to purchase a helmet, Hunucmá waited until January 2 for its helmet law to go into effect. However, once in effect, the fine for not wearing a helmet on a motorcycle is $50 pesos. More than a decade ago, there was a study in the U.S. showing that each head injury resulting from a motorcycle accident in which the rider was not wearing a helmet ended up costing the American taxpayer over $250,000 due, in large part, to permanent brain damage, loss of ability to earn a living, and time spent on disability. With the increasing numbers of motorcycles on the roads of Yucatan, helmet laws can go a long way toward reducing not only the suffering of the motorcycle riders and their families, but the overall burden on Yucateco society.
Cycling: Chichén Itzá to Izamal
Over the past few years, Yucatan has begun to develop into a major cycling destination, a fact not lost on the Director of Tourism in Izamal. Beginning in January, there will be a new bicycle tour, Paseo en Bicicleta, between Chichén Itzá and Izamal. The tour will include stops at artisan workshops and cultural centers. Cycling visitors will see all of the usual tourist areas, will have time to stop and eat in restaurants and visit the convent, and will even be treated to a lecture on Mayan astronomy. What a wonderful way to slow down the often hurried tourist experience! The tours will be conducted on a daily basis and will last approximately 3 hours. In the beginning, the cycle touring groups will be limited to 10 per group so each rider can receive individual attention. If you want to go on a multi-day bike tour of the area, we can recommend Bike Mexico. Otherwise, stay tuned to Yucatan Living for new cycling events as we hear of them.
Mexico to Become World Leader in Aircraft Manufacturing
Almost without fanfare, Mexico has become a world leader in aircraft construction. This includes 124 aeronautical companies who now operate within the nation. Goodrich is moving to Sonora, and there are 39 companies now in Baja California alone. The plants in Baja account for 12,500 good jobs, with many more to come. It actually looks as if Mexico will be a full fledged competitor with China in this active and aggressive industry. The best thing Mexico has going for it is location location location! The time and money cost of shipping to and from China ensures that Mexico will remain in the winner's circle in aviation construction. Mexico's excellent university and technical school system has also produced a workforce that is more than capable of handling design and engineering. Taken together, those characteristics make Mexico one of the most attractive of all the developing nations and we think it won't be long before “developing nation” will be a phrase of the past for this nation.
Agribusiness and Remittances
Once upon a time – a long time ago it now seems – remittances from Mexicans living in the U.S. were used for consumption by their individual families at home. Such is no longer the case. Here in Yucatan, residents can enjoy the 3 x 1 program in which federal, state, and local agencies match remittances 3 to 1 if the money is used for community projects. Now, the Federal Government is providing 40% matching funds for remittances invested in agribusiness. This will help to provide good jobs that will stem the outflow of Mexicans across the border. There is an active Mexican organization in Houston that can be described as the poster child for this new program. You can read about them here.
Mexican and American Trucks Will Continue to Roll Across the Border
Yucatan Living was pleased to see that the NAFTA treaties, related to trucking, will continue to be honored by the United States. Unfortunately, there is still a steady stream of opposition coming from the Teamsters in the U.S., where the people are being told that Mexican trucks are unsafe and that Mexican drivers will cause accidents because they cannot read road signs. Neither of those claims are true, as we all well know. It is interesting to note that those same “leaders” do not object to American truckers rolling into Mexico. We will not get into the argument any farther than to tell our North American readers that the long distance truckers we know are not, in any way, a danger to the traveling public in the U.S., nor are they a danger to the payscale of American truckers.
Credit Card Foreign Fees
Sometimes, the little guy wins in the end – and what a thrill to see the credit card companies (all of the major companies) paying out a $336 million dollar settlement to cardholders – not because they charge fees for the use of their cards in foreign countries… but because (a) they didn't tell the cardholders they do so and (b) they didn't disclose the fees in the cardholders' billing statements. Approximately 30 million globe-trotters will share in the settlement.