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Merida News: Organic Produce, Expat Housing

Cruise Ship Ports in Southern Quintana Roo Scheduled to Reopen

Cruise Ships in Mahajual and ProgresoAs 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

Dinosaurs and the Chicxulub CraterAs 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 MeridaOrganic Produce in Merida Yucatan

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 and the YucatanCuba 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 Carnival in Merida YucatanIbarra 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

Gringos bring school supplies to Yucateco childrenChris 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?

UADY NewsUADY News

  • 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!


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17 Responses to “Merida News: Organic Produce, Expat Housing”

  1. UNAM Contest: Housing Plans for Foreigners in Mexico- As a contest this might be considered interesting. But it is the best way to keep the Expats and the Mexican people from learning about and from each other. To really live in any country you should really live in that country and NOT in some gated “Little USA”. As a Yucataca at heart it makes me sad and a little angry. Yes, I know that some Expats might need some accomdations. Give me a break!

  2. Gated communities are such a mistake. Too bad that UNAM is participating in such a thing.

    “Even in the USA,” gated communities do not guarantee anything. People commit crimes no matter where they live. Statistically, for example, most killings are among people who know each other – family, friends, co-workers… exactly those who live alongside you within the gates. And the homogenization of all the fearful people within the gates is – to me – just ghastly. Why live in a foreign nation, just to re-create the USA within gates? There are plenty of cheap places in the USA where folks could live or have a gated community and never have to understand exchange rates, another language, residency and visa requirements, etc.

    The joy of Mexico and Yucatan is the Mexican people, the Yucatecan restaurants and bars, the sports, the neighborly visits at the corner coke stand and the passing vendors in the streets. At my own home, in one day, the following folks passed by my house: water sales-boy on tricycle, ice cream salesman on a tricycle, junk man collecting any metal, furniture truck – buy it right off the truck, literally, in front of your own home – try it out in the room you’re thinking about before buying, fruits vendors of various types, dirt salesmen, gas truck (propane for stoves and water heaters), dessert (postres) fellow with a big tray of sweet rolls, and a few more I cannot remember.

    Lose all that to live with other gringos within a walled and gated community? ugh. No way!

  3. How sad it would be for Americans and Canadians to relocate here and not experience the everyday challenges, wonders and sometimes frustrations of adapting to this wonderful country. It would be a terrible waste of an opportunity for personal growth.

  4. How disappointing to see “expat communities” being endorsed rather than discouraged. We are moving to be part of the community, to learn and support, not to isolate and take advantage of. Let them keep this concept out of the Yucatan state.

  5. Kudos to Mr. Ross for his admirable program. However, using plastic bags to deliver the supplies creates another program. If I got the number right, that’s 25,000 one gallon plastic bags over the course of his program. Since these are rural villages (and I live in a rural village), I can be pretty certain that the bulk of those plastic bags have been burned causing the release of dioxins and other toxics. I applaud the help he’s giving these children, but would it be that difficult to put them in paper bags or something that won’t end up polluting the environment?

  6. I’m with you on that one.

  7. This may be a reflection of the resorts the Nortenos lock themselves in while vacationing in Mexico. I for one, prefer the interaction with the people who live in the cities and towns of Mexico and when ever I get the chance to take my family to Mexico, we always choose to be nearer the people of Mexico. This has had the effect of teaching my kids the beauty of the country and it’s people. People who choose to live in this type of a community, may already live in similar surroundings in their home county. Gated communities abound here in the states. It is most unfortunate that some folks prefer isolation to participation. They don’t know what they are missing.

  8. how upsetting that UNAM sanctions (in a contest) the idea that expats should be segregated from, rather than integrated into mexican communities. imagine if u.s.a. schools started to design segregated communities for the foreigners who wish to live in the united states.

  9. I pray the a train between Cancun and Merida never comes to fruition. Merida is special because it isn’t attached to the likes of Cancun and Mexico City.

  10. Which markets have the local organic produce? It is the one thing I truly miss in Merida so am thrilled to hear that I can buy organic.

  11. Gated communities isolate and prevent cultural exchange, friendships and understanding……. We are moving (retiring) to Merida in a few months to experience all Yucatan has to offer and be absorbed in its culture and beauty, not to live in ivory towers as foreigners……. How sad for those who do……!

  12. Charles W, I agree with you.

    In fact, less important than a bullet train from Cancun to Merida would be a light rain passenger system circulating through and around Merida. It would take traffic pressure off the existing streets, greatly reduce pollution, provide an alternative means of transportation from taxis and buses, generate jobs and help prepare the city for massive increases in oil prices that are coming for all of us.

    Electricity could be generated via wind, sun and waves — Yucatan has a lot of all three — as well as the existing natural gas generators and oil generators.

    Merida also has existing rail rights-of-way through most of the city. If used soon, instead of being torn out and built upon, those would greatly simply construction of a light rail system. Rail is the most efficient transportation means outside of shipping, particularly regarding energy consumption.

    A light rail system would fortify the city’s economy, rather than tying it to the whims of tourists and foreign travel, which will only cause more headaches.

  13. We just started ordering bi-weekly ‘baskets’ of organic products from a local organic store. The store name is “aromas” (www.aromasorganicos.com.mx) and it is located in Fracc. Francisco de Montejo on calle 50 near the Mestiza fountain. The cost is around $110pesos and includes fruits, tomatoes, tortillas, jicama, oregano and some other products I”m forgetting (oh yea, horchatta).

    The produce is coming from Chacsinkin in south Yucatan and looking at their brochure there are probably other places that these baskets can be bought. An email address for them is chacsinkin [at] gmail [dot] com.

    And looking at the little blurb on organics in this report it gives virtually no information and honestly isn’t really worth the time publishing. If there are specific details, let’s see em.

  14. Does anyone know whether Xcatic chiles are imported into the United States? And, if so, where I could find them in New York.

    We were just in Cancun and had delicious stuffed Xcatic chiles in a tomato sauce – it was wonderful! I would love to recreate that at home in New York.

    Thanks!

  15. I’m looking to retire in the next 10 yrs, and while i appreciate the Mexican population and the Mayan culture, having visited Progreso a few times, i do like the idea of a gated community. Sure there is crime in all area’s and yes, family members do tend to be the perps, however, I would like to live in a community full of expats and retiree’s. Why? because of the language barrier mostly. I’d find more friends to hang out with, be a part of a community where i could be with my American friends easily, while still being able to enjoy whatever i want to enjoy in town.

    As for taking advantage of the community peoples…huh? I’d still buy my food, visit the vendors, hire the locals etc. I’m not sure where I’d be taking advantage! My money is just as good in a gated community as in the middle of town.

    To each his own. If your thing is more authentic mexican, or if its modern living in a mexican village, so be it. Everyone has their idea of the perfect retirement!

    So kudo’s to offering gated communities!

  16. Most of us in Merida have found it rather easy to be with our ex-pat friends when we want or be with whoever we like when we want. We (my household) feels much safer in Merida anytime day or night than most any city in the USA. So, safety isn’t really an issue.

    Anyway, a number of Mexicans actually prefer “privados” or gated communities (a dead-end block with a guard box at the open end, many times) in Merida. There are any number of them. I guess they offer something – living with people of like incomes, perhaps? So, there are various places already.

    I only wonder: Why move to a foreign country if the desire is to be surrounded by Americans (or whatever nationality)? The answer doesn’t really matter. It’s just what I wonder.

  17. I’m a single female writer who is really easy-going, down-to-earth and fun looking to share a house with others for safety. I want to put everything into (Mex./seafood) cooking as my next novel is based on gastronomy.
    So if anyone knows of someone who has an extra room in a house and would like to share with someone that, if compatible, would gladly cook for the other housemate(s) – please reply. And who knows? If our needs (we) are compatible you just might someday end up in a novel!

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