Red Tide, Progreso Malecon and Lemons!
NOB Grocery Prices
Gringos who live in Yucatan usually go home for a visit once or twice a year, and are always shocked at the prices they see there. This week, we received an e-mail from a gringa who is visiting in the Pacific Northwest for the summer. She has been properly horrified by produce prices there and we thought we would share her shopping list with our readers. Although we usually comment on news such as this, after seeing this list - we think: Nuff said! For those of you who live here in Yucatan, look at the prices she sent us - but you had better sit down first because these scary prices are in USD:
green, red, or yellow pepper are 2 for $6
small avacado are 2 for $4 and if organic, $2.99 per pound
red onion $1.49/pound
yellow onion $1.59/pound
beets a bunch of about 8 are $3.50
Remember that these are dollars and pounds not pesos and kilos.
Schools Out for Summer
Summer vacation has begun and there will be children playing everywhere for the next few weeks. Please drive carefully and pay special attention after dark, since many children wait until then for a rousing game of soccer in the street. Many children will be heading off with their families to beach vacations, but most will remain close to home. By day, they generally do their chores and nap but, in the cool of the evening, it is a joy to see (yes, and hear) them playing throughout our neighborhoods. We wish them all a wonderful holiday with thoughts of school far far away for these few weeks.
Red Tide Update: Geography Matters
The happy accident of the shape of our northern coastal geography may be serving us well once again. As you look at a map of the Yucatan Peninsula, notice that the coast of the State of Yucatan slopes downward and to your left (southwest). This means that anything blowing toward us (hurricanes) or floating toward us (red tides) from the top right of our coast (northeast) is very likely to be blown or pushed straight out into the Gulf of Mexico,rather than turning around to come all the way down the coast of our state. Such is the case now with an increasing amount of the algae in our recent red tide incident. Current monitoring shows that the algae is being swept away into the open seas of the Gulf of Mexico and that it will, in all probability, not manage to make it to shore in places as far east as Celestun. This is great news for our fishermen and for our coastal environment. We may continue to experience red tides but, hopefully, our coastal geography will help to protect us from the worst of the red tides' effects.
Extension of the Malecon
There is, evidently, going to be an addition to the Malecon in Progreso that extends the beach to the west as far as Calle 94. The new beach will have foot traffic only, as well as new, upscale restaurants and tourist attractions. Details are still sketchy and controversy is already rising with residents of Progreso suggesting that the area planned for development should remain a natural beach devoted to walkers, birds and natural beach plants; and that improvements to the current Malecon would be a better place to spend those public dollars. Dr. Luis Capurro Filograso, a researcher in the Departamento de Recursos del Mar del Cinvestav, believes the new beach to be in violation of Decreto 801, a law he says was passed with good reason, and that the new beach (and its buildings) will eventually cause more harm than good. Controversy notwithstanding, it seems as if the new addition to the Malecon is well on its way to being a reality and that construction is set to begin as soon as the holiday season ends.
The Environment Starts at Home
The Municipality of Merida is well on the way to rehabilitating approximately 300 vacant lots and abandoned properties. This is an effort to not only reduce the risk for dengue fever by removing mosquito habitat, but is also a means of providing citizens with about a million square meters of new parks, playgrounds, and green spaces for children and families to enjoy. The best part is that many new trees are being planted and the municipality has pledged to provide 100% of the maintenance for these areas in the future. If only local governments around the world would do the same, just think of the environmental impact they could make!
Oxkutzcab: Persian Lemon Juice Exports
When we think of Oxkutzcab, we generally think of oranges but this area is home to a wealth of agricultural enterprises, not in the least of which is the growing of Persian lemons. Akil, a local juice processing plant, now has a contract to export lemon juice concentrate to both Germany and to the United States. This adds to their already successful processing of Italian lemons and takes them straight into orange juice season with no break in work. This area is growing by leaps and bounds and is well worth visiting (especially for the Orange Festival) and certainly worth considering as a retirement destination.
The Irish Came to Town
We were pleased to see that a number of Irish news and travel writers were recently in Merida for the purpose of learning more about our municipality and state. It is expected that we will begin having more tourists from Ireland soon and we can hardly wait to give them a warm welcome. In the meantime, we would like to congratulate the Merida Tourism Office and our mayor for having developed this relationship.
We often comment on the fact that there is something for everyone in the State of Yucatan, and that is never more true than in the choice of places to live and lifestyle once that choice is made. First World vs. Third World is the most common refrain we still hear from north of the border. It seems that NOB folks either think that the State of Yucatan is all Third World - or that it is all First World, when the truth lies somewhere in between. Today, the State of Yucatan has a total population of 1,898,086 and a whopping population growth rate of 40% in the past 18 years. 50.7% of Yucatecos are women, while 49.3% are men. More than half of the population of the state lives in the municipalities (counties) of Merida, Valladolid, and Tizimin. Lifestyle inequities range from the outstanding First World city of Merida to the poorest municipalities in which the entire population struggles, on a daily basis, just to grow enough to feed their own families. To date, isolation has been blamed for the shortcomings of poorer municipalities, but that is going to turn around sooner than anyone hinks. The building of the Southern Highway has already begun and there are wonderful, as yet unspoiled places throughout the southern part of the state that will soon rapidly burst into the 21st century. It will be interesting to see how this affects the population and, indeed, the overall culture of the entire state.
Tourism Price Wars Coming to Q.Roo
The recession in the U.S. has caused at least a 10% decrease in tourist income for the Cancun area. This may be bad news for the tourism providers in Quintana Roo, but it is great news for travelers around the world. It seems as if price wars are brewing in the Cancun area. Look for increasingly lower vacation packages to begin appearing soon. For travelers who can, now is the time to begin watching the prices for the vacation spots you've always dreamed of.
Government Closes 5 Small Hotels & 3 Developments in Q.Roo
This is one of those "Ah Ha!" situations that will surely have tongues wagging north of the border - but we hope not. Yucatan's former governor, Patricio Patron Laviada, is now the Attorney General of Environmental Protection in Mexico and says that 5 small hotels and three developments (south of Cancun near Tulum) were built so close to the protected area that they ended up actually on public land, rather than near it. The hotel owners say their permissions are in order. The hotels have been closed until the dispute can be settled. Unfortunately, our former governor says that the dispute process can take as much as a year or more to be cleared and the the businesses will remain closed during that time. We do hope that our friends north of the border understand that this is not a situation in which the government "takes" the property of foreigners. This is a situation that could have happened anywhere in the world as human beings, even with good intentions, attempt to get closer and closer to national parks and other public lands.
Real Estate NOB: "Over" Adjectives
Today, we watched the news from north of the border - specifically the news from beach areas. What we heard, in addition to the fact that the popular beach states are in the top 10 for mortgage foreclosures, was a string of "over" adjectives. The top three over-adjectives include: overbuilt, overdeveloped, and overpriced. As our state enters this global competition for attracting industry, tourism and retirees, we hope that developers, sellers and buyers will all watch what is happening in other places and try to keep those tragedies from becoming the future of Yucatan.
American's Buying Real Estate in the Peninsula Down 15%
According to the Mexican Association of Real Estate Professionals, overall Yucatan Peninsula real estate sales are up 20% this year, but there is an interesting twist here that we didn't expect. Because of the falling value of the dollar, investment in the peninsula by Americans is down 15%. That drop is offset by the fact that 60% of all real estate sales on the Yucatan Peninsula (Campeche, Yucatan and Quintana Roo) were made to Mexicans. While we enjoy our gringo community and want to see it grow, we are more than just a little pleased to know that the flavor of the peninsula now has a little more time to remain distinctly Yucatecan.
Pepsi in Mexico
Pepsi is reporting record earnings worldwide, and attributing at least some of that to its market in Mexico. Well - that piqued our interest! Reading on, we discovered that Pepsi's Mexico per case prices went up by 8%, but their volume went down by 3%. We don't have a thing against Pepsi, but this is one of those situations where "everybody knows" what actually runs in the veins of all the people who live in Mexico (including ours). We wish Pepsi the best.
Mexico: One Day Event: 9 Million Trees
In 2007, Mexico set a goal of planting 250 million trees and met it. This year's goal is 280 million. Last week, 9 million trees were planted throughout the country to help make up for the 780,000 acres of illegal deforestation that takes place each year. This deforestation is responsible for all kinds of environmental damage, not in the least of which is the loss of habitat for the monarch butterfly and our own Jaguar. There is no nation that takes its forests more seriously than does Mexico and we are very proud of that.
Gas Price Increase in Mexico
On July 1, 2008, the price of a liter of Magna (regular gasoline) went to $7.23 pesos (Reuters). This is the equivalent of about $2.69 USD per gallon. This might not seem like much to those who live north of the border, but it is a huge increase for Mexicans who began the year with a liter of Magna costing only $7.01 pesos per liter. If this continues, it will soon create the same difficulties for workers and homeowners that are taking place in other nations.