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Midsummer’s News in the Yucatan

Each week, we bring you our readers synopses of the most interesting articles we’ve read in the local papers. The middle of summer is a quiet time in Merida and the Yucatan. But we read a few interesting things this week…

The Start of the Next Six Years

On August 1, 2007, at 11:45 AM, Ivonne Ortega Pacheco was sworn in as the Governor of Yucatan. On hand for the swearing in ceremony were the members of the Congress of the State of Yucatan, as well as 10 governors of other states in Mexico and a representative of the President of Mexico. The visiting governors included: Enrique Peña Nieto of the State of México, Félix González Canto of Quintana Roo, and Amalia García Medina of Zacatecas. Representing President Felipe Calderón was Secretary of the Interior Francisco Ramírez Acuña. Governor Ortega Pacheco assured the people of Yucatan that she will be hard but just in her policy toward governing, and will not tolerate crime in any form. Her first act, as Governor of the State of Yucatan, was to cut the salary of the governor of the state in half. Yucatan Living would like to congratulate Governor Ortega Pacheco and wish her and her administration all the best between now and 2012.

Crocodile in SisalCampeche: Tastes Like Chicken

Vegetarians, cover your ears. The State of Campeche is on its way to thriving markets in organic honey… and in crocodile skins and meat. Yes, you heard that right. Campeche is going into the commercial crocodile business. Apparently, the cienegas (swamps) near the Gulf are a good place to raise crocodiles. If crocodile tastes anything like alligator, then folks from the Gulf Coast of the U.S. will testify “Tastes like chicken!” We know some people that can’t wait to try some. And we are already trying to find out where you can buy some crocodile meat from Campeche!

Be Careful of Pets, People, and Horses on the Roads

Horse and Car in the Streets of MeridaWhen you visit in the beach areas and small towns of Yucatan, please be careful on the roads. These are very small towns, but it doesn’t have to be a small town. Day and night, pets and children play in the streets everywhere from small towns to the centro of Merida. Elderly people walk to and from the market, and young people on horseback are used to being able to ride wherever they want to go without being in danger. When roads become congested, or when you are inconvenienced, try to remain calm. Six people were injured this week when a motorist hit a horse. Even hitting someone accidentally is a heartbreak for everyone involved, including the driver. Especially in the summer months, watch extra carefully for people and animals on the roads.

Motorcycle Helmet Law in Hunucmá

Wearing a helmet in MexicoEveryone who lives here has seen whole families traveling on one motorcycle. Last week we advised our readers to have a sober designated driver when driving anywhere near a beach in Hunucmá Municipality (county). This week, Hunucmá has a new law. They have lost too many young people on motorcycles. Two more died on the very night this law was being passed. If you ride a motorcycle in Hunucmá, you must wear a helmet. This is actually a law now in all of Yucatan, but in Hunucma, they intend to throw added weight behind it and fine offenders heavily. And don’t even think about drinking and driving on a motorcycle in any part of Hunucmá Municipality. If you do, it is their express intention to hurt your wallet, badly. The new law also covers taking small children riding on motorcycles, but they did not give an age limit – so check with the police before you take a child riding with you. Everyone wants to enjoy living and playing in Yucatan, so obey the law and be extra safe on motorcycles.

Some Unsafe Beaches in Mexico

Unfortunately, there are still some unsafe beaches in Mexico due to pollution and bacterial contamination. In our area, Cozumel is having problems, as are the states of Campeche, Veracruz, and Tabasco. There is a report of a problem on one beach in Yucatan, but we could not find out which one. These are Federal reports for the first half of the year, but Yucatan has been cleared for “clean beaches” certification within the last two months, so we are not at all certain that we still have a beach on this list. We will investigate and keep you informed. In the meantime, do be careful on beaches in other states.

Its Pulpo Season in Yucatan!

Pulpo season begins the first of August, with lobster season following close on its tail (do octopus have tails?). In the beginning, the catch is relatively light, but continues to climb until it hits its peak in September and October. Of course, its always camarones (shrimp) season in Yucatan. Throughout the Gulf of Mexico, we have brown shrimp in the summer, white shrimp in the fall, and pink shrimp in the winter and spring. If you love shrimp, octopus and lobster, the overlapping peak seasons begin now – but it is really September and October in Yucatan that were created just for you.

OctopusHere are a few pulpo prices for you local bargain hunters. In Celestún and Sisal, pulpo is between $35 and $37 per kilo. Average that to $36 and you’ve got fresh squid for $1.67 USD per pound. Promarmex and Pescamex charge $40 per kilo and Yucalpetén (a.k.a. “King of the Pulpo”), which has more fishermen and more pulpo, charges $42 per kilo. That may sound like a good bit of money but, you must also consider that Yucalpetén is relatively easy to get to (saves time and gas) and that $42 per kilo is still only $1.77 USD per pound.

(The Working Gringos want to mention here that they don’t support eating pulpo, having spent way too many hours diving and playing with pulpos, who are obviously both intelligent and beautiful sea creatures. But they support Khaki’s right to both eat them and tell you about it.)

Heat Waves and Tornadoes

Between March 22 and July 26, nine people in Mexico, have died of the heat – 4 in Sonora, 2 in Baja California, 1 in Veracruz, 1 in Quintana Roo, and 1 in Tabasco. Please be careful and follow all the precautions we all know so well. Now is not the time to take foolish chances by ignoring the heat. Heat stroke happens without warning and you have no guarantee of surviving it. Even if you do survive, you could end up with brain damage. This is a great time to resurrect the tradition of the siesta. At least in Yucatan we only have to worry about the heat and a hurricane now and then. They have recently had several tornadoes in the Jalisco area, with property damage and 5 deaths. Give us a hurricane any day. You know it is coming and you can be prepared or get out of the way.

Beach Parking and Riding: BIG $$$ Fine

Evidently, asking people to protect turtle nests by not parking or riding on the beach was not sufficient. Now, ten inspectors (in effect, policemen) from the Federal Office of the Judge Advocate General of Atmospheric Protection (Profepa) will remove your motorized beach toy (4-wheeler, etc.) and/or your car or truck from the beach for you. Whether – and how – you get it back may be another story. I believe the word “seized” was used. The fine is 500 minimum wages ($22,500 MXP – about $2,083 USD). Ignorance of the law will not be accepted as an excuse, nor will crying. Crying, we hear, has already been tried and failed miserably. Human beings are often shocking in their level of self-centeredness. They want the baby turtles – right up until they want to park or ride on the beach. Then they could care less. Not to worry. The Judge Advocate General of Atmospheric Protection cares.

Click here for this week’s Events.


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4 Responses to “Midsummer’s News in the Yucatan”

  1. I can personally testify to the accuracy of the warning about Heat Stroke: No Warning.

    Therefore, you must take care of yourself actively: Drink water – more than you think you need. It’s never enough. On discharge from the hospital, the doctor gave me a 2 liter bottle of water and told me to drink Two of those each day for the rest of my trip. Carry water with you everywhere, all the time, and drink it.

    Stay out of the hot sun needlessly. If you must be out in the heat of the day, walk on the shady side of the street, even if it means walking a bit more to cross the street. Early mornings and late evenings are often delightful in Merida. There is a reason siestas are in mid-afternoon.

    Rest if you feel tired. No sense pushing on to see more and more and collapsing. “Time for a rest break” is no cause for shame.

    Do you see other gringos bravely going about their business and see no reason why you cannot also? Stop to think that they have acclimated to the heat. That takes several months at the most – the body actually adapts and operates a bit differently. The British believed it took up to 5 years to acclimate well in India. You won’t get there on a two week vacation.

    Finally, try drinking water like the Maya rebels did during the Caste Wars: rest in the shade, hopefully with some breeze blowing. Take a mouthful of water and just hold it in your mouth. Wait, wait, wait… then swallow when it seems to be the same as your body temperature. Then take another, wait, wait, wait… then swallow. Eliminates brain freeze possibilities, plus some people believe that this helps the body control water / mineral balances better. The Maya used to believe that cold water was dangerous to your health.

    So, reasonable precautions to avoid Heat Stroke and you won’t wake up to find yourself on someone’s flattened coffee table as the ambulance pulls up out front!

  2. I had fun writing the news this week! As a French Creole from Louisiana, I can’t wait to get crocodile meat from Campeche! As for lobster, we once had a pet crawfish who lived in a casserole dish on our stove and terrorized everyone in sight for a whole summer. They are not nice animals. He swore constantly – and spit too! …and this after we rescued him from a crawfish boil! I expect that, given opportunity and the upper hand, lobsters are much the same. Pulpo is another story. I have no clue how to cook it – but there is a “little old lady” in every neighborhood in Yucatan, who cooks pulpo at least one day a week for the entire area – for a nominal fee – and it sure is good. I think I am going to find a Louisiana recipe for pulpo and see what happens.

  3. Well, I am a transplant to TX, from a part of the south where crawfish were found in creeks, and we played with them, but definitely did not eat them.

    When we moved to TX, we were confronted with people eating them in huge mounds, wearing bibs, large bibs, and arguing over whether to suck the heads. Yuck.

    However, lobster is a whole different thing. Mucho gusto. Squid, I think are beautiful, but the eating is not so great.

    Personally, I think most people who love all seafood grew up in an area, and a time, where it was available all the time, and since we were inland, we like some fish, but love is another thing.

    Keep up the good work on this website. I have such a great time reading all the different posts and the insight into living and working in the Yucatan.

  4. Brenda
    Inland? Ya’ll had those little pale brown crawfish – the kind that make mounds in your yard when it rains. Compare that to the “Big Reds” you see in South Louisiana and South Texas and they might as well not even be the same animal. By the way – those are imported. Blues are indigenous.

    What inland folks DO have is white perch and brim – food for the Gods! Put a few chipped onions and chipped shrimp in your hush puppies… half-n-half sour cream and mayo in your potato salad – and some Steens cane syrup and slab bacon in your baked beans and you DO have dinner for the Gods!

    I had a North Louisiana Daddy and a South Louisiana Mama – so if it lives in the woods or water, I’m not much into killing it – but I can sure clean it and cook it! (and before anybody asks – yes – gar and coon too lol)

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