News starting November 09, 2009
This relatively rare November hurricane hit our peninsula with only a glancing blow on Sunday. Ida’s effects were felt mostly in the areas of the islands off the northeast coast of Quintana Roo. She certainly brought new meaning to the phrase “threading the eye of the needle,” as she passed through the Yucatan Channel and headed on for the coast of what looks to eventually be Alabama, Georgia, and the Florida Panhandle. Louisiana went under a hurricane watch at about noon on Sunday. By mid-afternoon, military helicopters were heading south and, by late afternoon, the Governor announced a state of emergency. No one is taking any chances with this hurricane. Ida is expected to make landfall in the U.S. on Tuesday. We wish the best for all of the folks affected by Ida, from her beginnings in Nicaragua and Honduras to wherever she finally ends up.
A Message From the Consulate in Merida
Over the weekend, we received several e-mails from the U.S. Consulate in Merida. These contained information about what Americans should do in case a hurricane threatens the State of Yucatan. In this alert, there were links to monitor the situation online. These included links to the National Hurricane Center and Mexican Government’s Proteccion Civil. All foreigners are encouraged to keep all travel documents at hand and in waterproof locations. You may also go to the website of the U.S. Consulate in Merida and sign up to receive these alerts in your own inbox.
The Price of Deforestation: 124 Dead in El Salvador
As slash and burn societies grow, the destruction they can cause to an already fragile environment can be devastating. Add illegal logging to that, along with a mountainous terrain and you have a recipe for disaster every time there is a significant rain event, and certainly when there is a hurricane. Such is the case in El Salvador. The government has reported, at last count, 40 dead in this tiny country from a hurricane that was only a category 1, winds of only 90 mph, and that did not even linger long in the area. The deaths were, most likely, the result of mudslides.
Donations Following Hurricane Ida
Please watch local newspapers and other media for ways you can send aid to the Mexican victims of Hurricane Ida. Most of their needs will be covered by the National Disaster Fund. If you want to help the victims of Hurricane Ida who live in Honduras, please contact La Gringa, an expat who lives there, and ask her what you need to do. If you want to help in Nicaragua, join the forum at Nicaragua Living and ask what they need. Unfortunately, we could not find an expat in El Salvador, so we recommend that you only donate to those charities that are well known in El Salvador and have earned a minimum of 4 stars on their Charity Navigator rating. You may do the same for Nicaragua and Honduras if you cannot reach an expat who lives there. Before you give anyone any money to anyone, make certain that they already have people on the ground in the country you want to help. The people need help immediately. They cannot wait while groups are formed and supplies are collected in foreign countries. We thank everyone who is able to help in these most unfortunate circumstance.
Hurricane Effects on the Beach
This particular hurricane, even though it did not actually hit here, seems to have sent an awful lot of churning water our way and several beaches were chewed into rather badly. In addition, huge amounts of seaweed were washed ashore. Not to worry, however, because everyone, especially the downtown merchants, has gone out to clean the beaches. The State of Yucatan has already announced that beach restoration programs will begin anew after the first of the year, so Yucatan’s beaches should be back to normal soon.
Hurricane Effects on Fishermen
While Yucatan’s happy accident of geography usually serves to protect us from being hit by hurricanes, it does not protect the waters off of our coast from the effects of hurricanes that pass many miles away. While the people on shore are given the all clear, it is reported that Yucatan’s fishermen are already dipping into their savings from their bumper pulpo season. It should not take long for fishing to return to normal, but normal is so close to the edge, for them, that any bobble in the economy or in weather conditions holds the potential for economic disaster. We hope that everyone, including our fishermen, are soon back to life as usual here in Yucatan.
A New Friend in China
China is producing some lovely travel articles and we would like to give our readers an opportunity to read one of them. “A Spell of Mayan Magic,” was written by Chen Liang, in English, for China Daily. We would like to congratulate both the writer and the paper for a job well done and to thank both for presenting the beauty of our state to the people of China and the world.
In Hunucma: An All Female Society for La Santa Muerte
The concept of a good death has long been an issue of interest for people all over the world – so much so that in centuries past, there developed an off-shoot ministry devoted to just this purpose. To everyone’s surprise, one was recently found just north of Lafayette, Louisiana, and – right here in the 21st century – it has over 1,200 members. These societies are, by the way, usually associated with the Jesuits or near to Jesuit centers of spirituality.
Now such a society has been found in Hunucma. It is led by a woman from Veracruz and is spoken of in terms of being a spiritual center where people can go and experience a ritual cleansing. In these days of modern medicine, the mission of these centers is not just to minister to the dying. Instead, they have evolved to minister to the living and to help all who come their way to be able to live a better life until their own end does come.
While La Santa Muerte is often thought of in terms of drug traffickers, it must also be remembered that many in the military and police are also aware of how fragile their lives are and carry the image of La Santa Muerte themselves. This is not about facing death. Instead, it is about facing life and making the most of it while you can. The lady who leads this group can be found at Calle 30 x 43, Colonia Guadalupe, in Hunucma. Her name is Blanca Santos Rodriguez.
Merida Architects Win Several Awards in Cemex Prize XVIII
Designing with the environment in mind is the only way to go these days and Merida’s architects and engineers are well aware of that fact. Congratulations must go to Javier Muñoz Menendez, who won first place in the single family home division for his design of a beach house on stilts, which is now required in many areas by Decreto 801. Second place went to Mario Peniche Lopez, with a home in La Ceiba. This home is set among trees and can be completely opened to the outside. Third place went to Juan Carlos Seijo Encalada and Josefina Peón Puerto de Seijo, who designed a home for several generations of the same family. Here, sections of the home are staggered so that each generation has its own space. In the category Trade and Mixed Use, first place went to Augusto Quijano Axle, Jorge Carlos Zoreda Novelo and Javier Muñoz, for their design of the new City Center shopping mall.
In addition, about a month ago, William Ramirez, architect of Casa de Los Venados, won the VIII Bienal de Arquitectura Yucateca competition … the First Prize in the category of Turismo.
We are very proud of the architects, engineers and builders here in Yucatan and can hardly wait to see what future they will bring to us.
Do You Like Fashion?
Look for loads of fashion shows in the very near future as the National Chamber of the Clothing Industry in Yucatan (NVIC) goes into high gear promoting the fashion industry in Yucatan. There is not one creative area in which Yucatan’s artists and craftsmen do not excel on the world stage and that should be true in the fashion market as well. We couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow, however, when we heard that one of their strategic plans is to modernize the guayabera. This is something that may appeal to a younger market, but we know many older folks who will gasp in shock at the very thought of such a thing. Obviously, we must all move forward but, we hope, someone will still keep a little factory somewhere that makes only “vintage” guayaberas.