News: Cell Phones, Hospitals and Sushi!
Older Adults of Tekax
It all began quietly throughout the countryside of the entire state... first, with a few groups of elderly folks taking tours of Centro. The next thing we knew, they were taking art classes. After that, they started dance classes and, then they started building senior citizen centers in every nook and cranny of Yucatan's villages. Well, that led to a type of senior citizen volleyball and now... in October - the Older Adults of Tekax are taking off to a foreign country! It seems that, a few months ago, Tekax had a visit from some elderly folks from Argentina. Now 50 of Tekax's elderly adults, mostly housewives who take the same exercise class every day, have gotten themselves invited on a reciprocal visit to Argentina. Billed as a "cultural exchange," it looks as if the Older Adults all over Yucatan, and especially those in Tekax, are having themselves a grand old time! We are thrilled that they have this opportunity and hope they have a wonderful trip!
Wood Flooring Manufacturing in Uman
Uman has a new wood flooring plant that has the capacity to produce 25 to 30 thousand square meters of wood floors per month. This flooring will be shipped to California, Texas and Florida. Initial capacity will produce $210, 000 USD per month but, within a gradual increase to $630,000 USD per month. This plant was transferred to Merida from Chetumal, QR, due to the skill of Yucateco artisans and the availability of the Port of Progreso. It is interesting to note that Engineered Flooring Solutions Mex will be producing not only laminate flooring, but also high end exotic flooring from more than a dozen types of wood. 100% of their sales will be to the export market.
San Francisco: 2nd Vaqueria Expo Feria Yucatan 2008 en Estados Unidos
The pictures of the Expo Feria Yucatan 2008 in San Francisco are now online and are just beautiful. This fair is sponsored by La Red de Clubes Yucatecos de San Francisco (The Network of Yucateco Clubs of San Francisco), and is fast becoming one of the major cultural events in all of that state. This network of clubs includes Hoctun Club, Kini Club, Uci Club, Dzoncahuich Club, Chumayel Club, and Cenotillo Club. Sometimes, our readers ask us for contact information. That can be found listed under "Yucatan" here or visit the Federacion de clubes Yucatecos website here.
Cat Research and Free Sterilization
The Radio Motul website is one that we have only recently discovered and now highly recommend. Motul is near Merida, to the east, and a city well worth visiting. As we clicked through their pages, we discovered that, in early June, a call was sent out to the people of Motul that Dr. Antonio Ortega, of the Campus de Ciencias Biologicas Y Agropecuarias, would provide up to 2 feline sterilizations per person in exchange for blood and urine samples from the cats and their owners. Dr. Ortega is conducting research into toxoplasmosis, as it is related to individuals who own cats in the region. We think this is a wonderful idea and were especially taken with Radio Motul's choice of a photo to go along with this article.
Inside El Diario
As we wander the web, looking for news we think might interest our readers, we never forget to pass through the website of our local newspaper, El Diario de Yucatan. Sometimes, when we have a little time on our hands, we wander through their extra publications and find real treasures. For example, El Diario in the Schools has a whole page of recycling projects that teachers can do with children. These are great projects to pass the time during summer vacation. But don't forget El Diario's Plan B. This publication is twenty-four pages of fashion and lifestyle for older teens and young adults. That translates to 24 pages of advertisements, but will give you a pretty good idea of the direction in which young Yucatecos are looking. If you can't read Spanish, pull up a copy of Babelfish and spend some time looking through sites that are aimed at different age groups in Yucatan. We love surfing these sites and thought our readers might enjoy them too.
Number Portability Comes to Mexico
As of this past weekend, telephone customers (including fixed-line customers) can now take their telephone number with them if they decide to switch carriers. This is great news for the people of Mexico, as well as for gringo expats. Watch for attractive offers to switch carriers, but always read the fine print to make sure the new "deal" really is better than the old one. There are over 70 million cell phones and 20 million fixed-lines. Only about 5% are expected to switch carriers, but that comes to a total of 4.5 million subscribers, all moving their numbers to new carriers at almost the same time. This could make for an interesting summer calling experience. (Reuters)
Valladolid To Get Two New Hospitals
Remember those "quaint little country towns" that used to be in Yucatan? They still retain their historical flavor, but they are all 21st century bound. This is certainly the case with Valladolid. It has been announced that Valladolid is to get two new hospitals and that one of the two is already under construction. As this area becomes more popular, due largely to its proximity to Chichen Itza and its new international airport (soon to be finished), we can expect more and more expats to begin considering retirement in Valladolid. The addition of two modern hospitals will do wonders for the future of the city and for the future of the entire area.
Sushi Wins the Prize!
Who would ever have believed that sushi would be the prizewinning dish at a cookoff between Yucateco and Caribbean gastronomy students? But it was! At the 2nd Convention of the Degrees of Administration, Tourism and Gastronomy of the University of Valladolid Yucatan (UVY) there was an international gastronomy cooking contest. The final contenders were two teams from UVY and one team from the University of the Caribbean. Yucatan's Aida Pech Poot and Oswaldo Pinzon Dzul won first place with their sushi de xmaculán y espuma de clara de huevo, revuelto con jerez y chocolate, y como plato fuerte, lomo glaseado con naranja (sushi de xmaculán and egg white foam, mixed with sherry and chocolate, and as a main dish, glazed pork loin with orange). Sounds great, but that chocolate pie presented by the Caribbean team sounds pretty good too. Congratulations to all the participants in this international gastronomy cooking contest and best wishes for a long and successful career!
Speaking of Gastronomy
And every time we speak of gastronomy, we think what a funny word it is… not a very common English word, but gastronomía is very common in Spanish. But, we digress! The Working Gringos have recently heard from Roberto Solis, the owner and chef at Nectar, Merida’s most haute cuisine restaurant. And where do you suppose Roberto was emailing from? Why from New York City, of course, where he is spending a few months working (and learning) at Thomas Keller’s restaurant Per Se. (For those of you who don’t know who Thomas Keller is, he is the best chef in the United States and owns the most highly rated restaurant in the United States, the French Laundry, located in Yountville, CA). This is an incredible opportunity for Roberto, and when he reopens Nectar in September, we predict this will translate into even more incredible dining experiences at Nectar here in Merida.
Storms to the West & Storms to the East
It seems that, for most of every summer now, Mexico is sandwiched between two developing tropical storms. They come at us from the Pacific and from the Atlantic. Most fizzle out, but a few manage to make it on land somewhere in Mexico. If you have not prepared for hurricane season yet, please do so now. Remember - many summer visitors do not have cars, which could pose a problem. If you live here and do have a vehicle, try to include those with no transportation in your hurricane evacuation plans. And please don't forget to prepare for your pets as well.
Seattle: Che Lopez
One of Working Gringa's favorite places is Tulum, so a notice of upcoming watercolor classes by Che Lopez caught our eye when we saw the tag "Tulum." We have seldom, if ever, seen watercolors of Yucatan - so we thought our readers might like to see some of Che Lopez's work. He has been a visitor on the Quintana Roo coast and has done several series of paintings featuring the area. Quite a few of our readers live in the Seattle area, so we thought we would let you know that Che Lopez's work is available for sale and he is available to paint new commissions.
Prices Will Rise on the 20th
The price of chicken, turkey, and eggs will go up 15% on the 20th of July. Eggs are currently between $16 and $18 pesos per kilo. Their price will rise to between $19 and $21 pesos per kilo. Chicken is currently selling for between $20 and $22 pesos per kilo. This price will rise to between $24.50 and $26.50 pesos per kilo. Remember that a kilo is 2.2 pounds, so you must divide these prices by not only the current conversion rate, but also by 2.2 to get the cost per pound in your currency. With these new price increases, chicken can run as high as $1.16 USD per pound. This may not sound like much to the folks back home, but it is significant for many retirees who live on fixed incomes. Yet, we cannot expect the Yucateco farmer to shoulder all of the increased costs of raising their products and bringing them to market. We certainly are living in interesting and often trying times, but we totally understand the situation and will make the best of it.
Other Price Increases
From El Diario (June 5), we learn that other prices have already gone up. The following is the list from their report and should give potential expats an idea of what is happening to current food costs in Yucatan:
1 kilo tortilla: up to $10 pesos from $8.50/$9 pesos
pan dulce: up 50 centavos
potable water: up from $15 to $25 pesos monthly
1 kilo of rice: up from $9 to $15 pesos
1 kilo of kidney beans: up from $15 to $18 pesos
1 kilo of sugar: up from $11 to $12.95 pesos
1 liter of cooking oil: is now $26.10, $28 or $30 pesos
1 50 gm pkg coffee: up from $15.20 to $16.35 pesos
1 kilo of milk: up from $158 to $170 pesos
Laundry detergent (no size given): up from $6.5 to 7 pesos
1 kilo bath soap: now between $3.50 and $4 pesos, with some as high as $10 pesos
A tank of L.P. gas: up from $188 to $200 pesos
20 liters of drinking water: local: $10 pesos; foreign (such as Electropura): $16 pesos
While some prices have now been frozen throughout Mexico (corn products, beans, rice, and juice), these already increased prices make it virtually impossible for the ordinary, rural Yucateco citizens to properly feed their families because the cost of food alone is more than many workers make in a day. Yucatecos are survivors and will get through this, but this is a world wide tragedy that is not likely to go away soon.
We sometimes see the little cone-shaped blocks in the markets, or see the word piloncillo in a recipe and don't have a clue what it is or how to use it. Other times, we'll see the word with "a natural sugar of Mexico" after it. We thought you might like to know exactly what piloncillo is - as well as why we should all be cooking with it. Yes, piloncillo is brown sugar, but it is not unrefined white sugar, as some believe. Instead, piloncillo is the juice of sugar cane that has been cooked down into these small, cone-shaped blocks. You can reconstitute it by adding water or use it just like you would use any brown sugar - but this product has a little something extra for you. It can actually help keep mosquitoes from biting you! We had to laugh as we read an advertisement for a dietary paste, made with a honey base, that contains calcium, iron, phosphorous, copper, potassium, manganese, sodium, and sulfur. ...and they are selling that "revolutionary product" online for $46 USD, when you can make it in your own kitchen in the time it takes to melt the piloncillo in a little honey! This little concoction can also replace that high priced energy drink they're trying to sell you. Read about the components of cane juice here and start using piloncillo in as many recipes as you can.
National Honey Board
We just received our gorgeous monthly newsletter from the National Honey Board and thought our readers might like to see a few of their recipes. These are all foods that we can get locally, so they should all be easy to make.
Game Hen (Quail)
Bored at Your Desk?
Here’s a little pretty thing to play with called Phyta (turn down your speakers so people will think you’re working…).