Merida News: Organic Produce, Expat Housing
Cruise Ship Ports in Southern Quintana Roo Scheduled to Reopen
As we all know, Puerto Costa Maya and the village of Mahahual took a direct hit from Hurricane Dean and were all but destroyed. Since then, the State of Yucatan has been accommodating the cruise ships that would have gone to the southern part of Quintana Roo. This brought Yucatan a tourism windfall of almost $2 million U.S. dollars per week! News has now come that work on Puerto Costa Maya and Mahahual is ahead of schedule and the port complex and piers in the area will be open by summer. From what we hear, the entire town of Mahahual is being rebuilt! Yucatan will not, however, lose all of the new cruise ships that stop here. Quite a few have signed continuing contracts to dock at Progreso. We believe that Quintana Roo and Yucatan are so different from each other that there is room for both to continue to be more successful than ever before in providing tourists with the ultimate in vacation pleasure.
Bullet Train Update
The World Bank has begun its feasibility study of the proposed bullet train between Merida and Cancun. We will know their findings in approximately five months. There is already speculation that they will find the train to be a nonviable project. This is one project that has strong opinions on all sides and the findings of the World Bank are going to be anxiously awaited.
What Really Killed the Dinosaurs
As more research comes to light, we learn the exact mechanism by which the Chicxulub asteroid was responsible for the demise of up to 70% of all life on Earth. New research from the University of Texas at Austin, to be published next month, shows that the center of the strike zone is actually off the coast, in deeper water than was once believed. Not only did this strike release 6.5 times more water vapor into the atmosphere – but the exact place it hit was literally loaded with sulfur. Whatever was living near the site died from falling debris and from firestorms caused by extreme heat generated by the impact. Everything else, around the world, was killed by sulfur-laden acid rain. We have seen this phenomenon many times, such as when the debris from the eruption of large volcanoes is carried around the world, but this is the first documented evidence we have of the specific mechanism by which the Chicxulub asteroid was actually responsible for killing approximately 70% of all life on the planet.
Organic Produce Now in Merida
We have already reported on the fact that our farmers, throughout the state, are very careful about how the crops of Yucatan are grown, including ensuring the quality of irrigation water. They have gone so far as to take agricultural classes at UADY to make certain they are up on all the latest information concerning the production of food for human consumption. Now, produce farmers in Dzemocut are taking full advantage of our growing numbers of residents who prefer organically grown vegetables and fruit. Our organic farmers report that 100% of their products are now bought in the markets in Merida. This type of production is a huge leap for rural farmers, but they have educated themselves and are organic experts now, so look for Yucateco grown organic vegetables and fruit when you go to the markets from now on.
Cuba and Yucatan Sign Cultural Cooperation Agreement
Cuba was our honored nation during the recent Festival of the City of Merida. After helping us celebrate the 466th anniversary of the founding of the city, Cuba joined with Yucatan in announcing that a new, bilateral accord has been signed, between Cuba and the State of Yucatan, to promote cultural exchange and education in the arts. Both Yucatan and Cuba have schools of art, dance, and music that are acclaimed the world over. For the two to be able to work together, sharing talent and resources, will not only bring them to the attention of all the world, but will result in our being able to enjoy the best in world wide cultural offerings right here at home.
UNAM Contest: Housing Plans for Foreigners in Mexico
It looks as if there are so many expats now moving to Mexico that the Architecture students at Mexico City’s UNAM have received a grant, in conjunction with Homex, to plan communities that will specifically meet the needs of Canadians and Americans both before and after retirement. This is only a design contest at this point, but the five best projects will actually be built somewhere in popular expat and tourist destinations in the western part of Mexico, as well as in Quintana Roo. What they are describing is the building of “towns,” but what it sounds like is self-contained gated communities that include their own commercial enterprises – making them totally separate from the communities that surround them. This brings up a topic that is dear to the hearts of most expats in Yucatan because most of us are quick to say that we came here to be a part of Yucatan, not to create a “little America” or a “little Canada.” In fact, mention the term “gated community” in Yucatan, especially at the beach, and the negative reaction from expats will be swift and certain. We love our adopted state and we love our adopted people. This is a time to redouble our efforts to ensure that our footprint on the culture and land of the State of Yucatan is minimal, other than to do what we can to help when there is a need.
Investment Firms Scramble to Develop Future Plans
As the recession in the U.S. deepens, we were surprised this week to receive a bulletin from a financial investment firm suggesting that smart investors consider living in Latin America, and investing in Asia – China in particular. They have picked up the International Living story on Yucatan’s having become the number one retirement destination now, and pieced it together with drops in real estate and the stock market in the U.S. – plus huge investment gains in blue chip stocks in Asia. Of course, we think Yucatan is the only place to live – but that’s because we love her peace and tranquility.
Kings and Queens of Carnival Crowned in Progreso
A huge stage was set up on the beach, along with 5,000 chairs, for the coronation of the Kings and Queens of Carnival in Progreso. The coronation was held on Saturday night and included the crowning of Queen Laura Ibarra Peña as “Laura I” and King Víctor Israel Roché Cárdenas as “Víctor I.” The children’s king and queen were Queen Jessica Aylín Alvarez Acevedo as “Jessica I,” King Moisés Alvarez Torres as “Moy I.” Each year, Carnival at Progreso grows larger and more like the Carnival experience of much larger cities. This takes much hard work on the part of all of the citizens of Progreso and they are to be commended.
6,000 Attend Fair in Sampool on Last Day
They say that the economy is not doing well in any number of places around the world. That is certainly not the case in Hunucma. Six thousand people came to the esplanade of little Sampool on the last day of the fair to shop and enjoy the festivities. Artists, craftsmen, and shoe manufacturers all say the fair was a great success. As the economy of Yucatan improves, more and more of our artists, craftsmen, and local manufacturers are able to provide us with these types of venues and more and more of our people are able to attend with money in their pockets. We are just thrilled for both those who are selling their work and for those who are now able to enjoy shopping with money in their pockets.
Ejidal Boundaries Alert
The growing population in urban areas of Yucatan has, in some cases, spread out to the point that it has encroached on ejidal land (land held in common by indigenous people), and several cases have now landed in the courts over the issue. This situation will be one of the topics covered in the V Reunión Nacional de Magistrados de los Tribunales Agrarios y un Seminario Internacional sobre Cambio Climático, Campo y Justicia Agraria (5th National Meeting of Magistrates of the Agrarian Courts and an International Seminar on Climatic Change, Field and Agrarian Justice) that is set to begin on Monday, January 28, in Merida. While everyone is excited about all of the new tourism money and all of the new folks who are moving here, it must be remembered that Yucatan is, for the most part, an agrarian state and that agricultural interests cannot – and must not - be ignored. The winds of tourism and immigration wax and wane - but the Yucateco farmers and ranchers will be here forever. Their right to their land, and the resources necessary to make and keep it productive, must be protected so that they can continue to feed and care for all of the people of Yucatan.
Nebraska Gringo Brings School Supplies to the Yucatan Peninsula
Chris Ross, from Plattsmouth, Nebraska, has been coming to the Yucatan Peninsula for 24 years to distribute 1 gallon plastic bags of school supplies to children in rural schools. Like our own Kitty Morgan, Mr. Ross brings contributions in cash and puts the bags of supplies together here on the peninsula, ensuring that children will receive the school supplies specific to the requirements of their school. Through Mr. Ross’ efforts, the children of 75 rural schools on the peninsula are receiving much needed pencils, paper, and other supplies. It is estimated that Mr. Ross has provided this service to over 25,000 children in 24 years; and this year, for the first time, he provided school supplies to the child of one of the original beneficiaries of his program. As Mr. Ross noted, roads and schools have all improved immensely throughout the Yucatan Peninsula, but supplies are still a problem, especially in rural villages. If you would like to know more about Mr. Ross’ program, you can Google his name and city, or get in touch with two of his supporters: the First United Methodist Church, Plattsmouth, Nebraska, or Christ Lutheran Church, Louisville, Nebraska. They will know how to reach him.
How Long Did It Take for You to Become a Yucateco(a) at Heart?
If you read the pages of Yucatan Living, especially the comments and interviews, you will see the almost universal description of our adopted home as a “magical place” and claims that individuals do not choose Yucatan – she chooses them. This past week, the grandson of former American Consul O. Gaylord Marsh visited Yucatan – drawn here by stories told to him by his mother, Eva Mary Marsh Baxter. Mr. Baxter’s mother was here from the ages of 5 to 12. She left in 1924, the year that Governor Felipe Carrillo Puerto was assassinated. One of Mrs. Baxter’s mementos from her childhood is a jade ring from Chichen Itza. She never forgot Yucatan and, evidently, Yucatan never forgot her. According to her son, Harlan Marsh Baxter, his mother was Mexican at heart. We suspect it very well may be that Mr. Baxter’s mother was actually a Yucateca at heart. How about you? How long did it take for you to become a Yucateco(a) at heart?
- On Monday, January 28, UADY and the University of Sun Yat-Sen, of the People’s Republic of China, will sign an Agreement of Academic Collaboration. UADY is one of the five academic institutions in Mexico that house a Confucius Institute. As we have reported earlier, Mandarin Chinese is now taught at UADY and is considered to be as important as English to the futures of our students, who must now be able to compete on a global level.
- UADY teachers to receive 4.25% pay increase and a 1.5% increase in benefits. These are the hard working folks who help to build the intellectual capital that has made Yucatan so successful! Congratulations on a job well done and a raise well deserved!
- UADY’s “Today in Your Community” program has set its Spring schedule. This is a program that, in just 3 years, has included 3,000 students helping 27,000 citizens in 76 rural towns and villages. This semester, there are 80 students working in the program and they work every Saturday to bring health, social, and legal services to people who would otherwise not be able to afford to pay for these kinds of assistance. This program is a wonderful resource for rural citizens and a priceless internship for students of 11 different schools at UADY.
- The National Program for Superior Studies (PRONABES) has increased the number of scholarships granted to students at UADY from 901 (last year) to 1,433 (this year). These scholarships are in the fields of: Anthropological Architecture (76), Sciences (76), Accounting Office and Administration (224), Law (123), Economics (53), Education (143). - Infirmary (141), Engineering (57), Chemical Engineering (61), Mathematics (134), Medicine (106), Veterinary Medicine and Zootecnia (Animal Husbandry) (77), Dentistry (20), Psychology (76) and Chemistry (76).
- The myth of Mayans sacrificing virgins has finally been dispelled. At Chichen Itza, of the 127 skeletons found in the cenote, approximately 79% belong to children between 3 and 11 years of age. The other 21% are adults. Almost all, both infants and adults, are males. There have been 2,500 additional skeletal remains found in other cenotes and their analysis will begin in March.
- The Schools of Law and Psychology are working to address the increase in delinquency brought about by modernization and by the influence of outside cultures. The influence of different cultures and even the influence of violence shown on news programs are experiences that are having a huge impact on the level of violence that is beginning to show up in the young people of Yucatan. This is a phenomenon that UADY hopes to reverse and, working together with the State, it is believed that early recognition of the problem, along with early intervention, will be successful in saving Yucatan from the difficulties now faced by many other modern cultures.
Quote from the New York Times in 1993: “Yucatan is having a regular boom”. We had to laugh. How long is a “regular” boom? It is now 2008 and we’re still “booming.” If you haven’t been here, now’s the time to come. Come enjoy the “boom” with us!