News: Birds, Trains and Sister Cities
The Fast Train News
The State of Yucatan is ready to initiate a financial feasibility study aimed at getting the fast train project underway. This feasibility study is going to cost $4 million dollars and will be paid for by the World Bank. The first part of the project will be a train from Progreso to Quintana Roo, passing through Valladolid. Almost every department of government in Yucatan has been given the opportunity to have their input into the project considered. The
private entities most often associated with this project include Banobras and the Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo (BID) (Inter-American Development Bank). Commercial interests are already looking at relocating along the proposed train route, with Valladolid looking more and more like the clear winner here, especially in the area of potential for new jobs. When this project is completed, Valladolid will have an international airport, a major train station on the route between Progreso and Quintana Roo, and will be the closest city to Chichen Itza. We wish Valladolid all the best during what will surely be boom times ahead.
6th Annual Toh Bird Festival
Hundreds of species of birds either live or pass through the Yucatan every year. A culture of birdwatching has begun to build, with the aim of protecting and preserving the bird populations here. Beginning on November 29th until December 2, the Sixth Annual Toh Bird Festival, named for one of Yucatan's most colorful and unusual birds, will be happening in the Yucatan. Venues this year are in Merida and Izamal. Activities this year include a special workshop on Coastline birds, a discussion and presentation about Birds of Life and Death in the Mayan Culture, some bird-watching workshops and the ever popular birding Marathon.
Tourist Taxes Begin July 1, 2008
When the new fiscal year begins, the 6 million cruising foreign tourists, who come to Mexico each year, will be asked to pay a tax of $56 pesos. At this point, they pay no tax at all, which places a tremendous strain on impoverished communities as they attempt to maintain the very wonders these tourists come to see. As you may recall, many of our smaller beach towns cannot afford beach cleaning crews and often have to depend on local residents just to pick up trash on the beaches after tourists leave. This is a nearly impossible task for residents who already work 6 days a week at their regular jobs. 95% of this tax will remain in the areas where the cruise ships dock, for the sole purpose of maintenance, conservation of the ecosystems of the beaches, and the upgrading of infrastructure. While about $5 USD may not sound like much to many folks, that tax will go a long way toward helping to alleviate some of the pressure that constantly increasing tourism is placing on the State of Yucatan, and Progreso in particular. But not to worry – Mexico has not forgotten about you folks who fly here for vacation. Your tourist tax will be $47.5 pesos, which will be paid upon departure from the country.
Mexican Passport Costs Going Up
We know that we have a number of Yucateco and Mexican readers, as well as gringos who have Mexican citizenship and/or dual citizenship, so we thought you might be interested in knowing that the price for your Mexican passports will be going up. These will be the new prices: Up to 1 year: $385 pesos; over 1 year and up to 3 years: $800 pesos; over 3 years and up to 6 years: $1,100 pesos. You might want to keep that in the back of your mind, especially if you are living on a retirement budget.
Dock Upgrades with Added Security
Over the course of the past few years, fishing has developed into a major industry in Yucatan, with little having been done to improve the working conditions of the fishermen on and around the docks. That is all soon to change. New lighting, for the comfort and safety of fishermen, is being installed at the major fishing docks, and it is getting easier for fishermen to finance the necessary tools and motors to ply their trade. There will even be two new trucks, manned by the newly created Fishing Police. With luck, this should help to stop the taking of contraband species and help our own fishermen have a far better fishing experience. While this is a great boon to our local commercial fishermen, it is also expected to help those fishermen who live in the indigenous areas of our coast, and the coastal habitats themselves. In addition, we cannot ignore the fact that, until now, it has been only the Armada that has protected the shores of the nation in Yucatan. It will be the mission of this new police unit to help with that as well.
Merida's Newest Sister City
The Mayor of Merida, César Bojórquez Zapata, and his wife, Susana Bustillos Lope, have traveled to Incheon, South Korea, to participate in the Summit of the Sister Cities of Incheon. Also attending this Summit Conference were Marsha Ramos, of Burbank, California; Bill Potts, of Anchorage, Alaska; Kenji Kitahashi, of Kitakyushu, Japan; Tran Van Hieu, of Haiphong, Vietnam, and Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, of Kolkata, India. Merida is not a stranger to Korean culture, since we have a very active Korean community that has been in Yucatan for several decades. We all look forward to an active relationship between Merida and Incheon, as well as with the other sister cities that were represented at this Summit Conference.
Machismo and Yucatan
We, along with our readers, have recently noticed an ever increasing amount of pressure being placed on those who allow their abuse of alcohol to impact the lives of others. We also know that there is a residual machismo component to society in Yucatan that, coupled with socio-economic pressure and alcohol abuse, often leads to spousal abuse. It is further believed that only 5% of abused Yucatecos are willing to report their mates' behavior. Not to worry. Health care workers throughout the state are taking classes on how to recognize spousal abuse, as well as how to council both those who will report it and those who won't. If an abused spouse refuses to report their mate – or even to admit they are abused - health care workers can now make the determination, report it to the Public Health Ministry, and a commission set up for just that purpose will investigate the case. Yucatan is determined to end machismo and make life safe for all of her citizens, no matter their age or gender.
Flooding in Southeastern Yucatan
It has been raining for weeks in southeastern Yucatan. Flood waters are now between 50 cm and 80 cm deep, making it all but impossible for ranchers to reach their cattle and sheep. Livestock has been moved to the highest ground possible, but it is now feared that no ground is ultimately going to be high enough to save them. Please keep our cattle and sheep ranchers in mind as we go into this holiday season – and keep an eye out for anything we can do to help them during this trying time.
Fall Arrives in Yucatan
Those of us who live here know that Yucatan is now, has always been, and twill ever be – dressed up!!! That's a lot harder to do when it's so hot outside. But the weather is starting to cool down. The new Fall fashions are in the stores! You might as well just have your hair done, get a manicure, and find a good seamstress. Go on a heart-smart diet, and get plenty of exercise. Dressing up, looking good and feeling great are as much a part of the definition of living in Yucatan as are Centro and the beach. If you aren't here yet – come on down… the season is just getting underway and its going to be fabulous this year! Great parties too (Watch for art openings at Art in Merida!)… you're going to love spending “the Season” in Yucatan!