Izamal, Turtles & Chichen Itza Airport
Here's some news from the local Yucatan papers this week...
Hotel occupancy rates in Cancun were up 18% last weekend and 15,000 visitors arrived in Progreso on the first official Sunday of the vacation season. Retailers, service people, and public service agencies expect approximately 15,000 more visitors in Progreso next Sunday. Many of these visitors are Meridanos, who own second homes on the coast and who spend at least the month of August, if not July and August, in Progreso and other towns along the beach. This time of year is called La Temporada, and it is a Merida tradition.
Last Sunday night, at about midnight, Mama Sea Turtle decided that the beach along the malecon in Progreso would be a great place to lay her eggs. Needless to say, the police and ecology folks were called and took the eggs to a safe place when Mama headed back out to sea. Good job! …by Mama Sea Turtle, by the quick eyes of those on the beach, and by the police and ecology people.
Look out Izamal – here come the tourists! With the election of Chichen Itza as one of Seven New Wonders of the World, the eastern end of our state is going to see a rapid increase in tourism. A few years ago, Izamal was designated one of Mexico's Pueblos Magicos, and with that designation came an influx of money and attention. Now, this little municipality is loaded for tourism bear! With the help of Banamex, they have a new spa, called 'Three Cultures' at the Cultural Center. Here visitors can get massages, based on mystical practices from Mayan culture, that harmonize body and soul. All massages are done by well trained local Mayan women. The municipality also has a museum and a store, with almost every product and craft indigenous to the State of Yucatan. In addition, there is a cafeteria staffed by students who are learning the arts of cooking and operating restaurants from teachers and chefs. Izamal also has Hecho a Mano, another great craft store with handicrafts from around Mexico, as well as a calesa tour of the homes of the local craftspeople.
Did you know that Tizimín has a zoo? Yes! – it's in a recreational park and is named La Reina. This past week, three white-tailed venaditas (little female deer) were born there. One was born 15 days earlier and did not survive, but these three are in excellent health, as is their mother. Oscar Nah González, manager of the facility, assures us that there was a general cleaning of all the spaces these babies will occupy so that they will live and grow under the best conditions. They also have a mama turkey incubating 22 peacock eggs! Can you imagine? …and they have 15 more peacock eggs being incubated artificially. …and the authorities of the zoo have also found 25 lagartos eggs! For more information on the White-tailed Deer of Yucatan, see the website of the Rainforest Alliance.
Through the years, women have formed groups for various functions throughout the State of Yucatan. Some have more than 100 members and meetings are well attended. Yet, we have never seen as many women come together as did those who visited “Marine Breezes” (Brisas Marinas), a exhibition of floral designs by 30 members of Club de la Flor Alhelí. For this event, 300 women visited the summer home of the Millet Vales family, on the highway between Progreso and Uaymitún. Far from being just a little local floral club show, this event was attended by Lucia Gómez Lynx, of Mexico City, making her third trip to Yucatan to teach new floral design techniques to the members of the club. All flowers used for the show were cut by members in their own gardens and designs included a number of other elements, such as bamboo, all of which had been approved by Maestra María de Lourdes Muñoz Delgado, of the Federación Mexicana de Jardinería y Diseño Floral. With 300 ladies in attendance at one floral design show, something tells us that it won't hard to reforest – and maybe even landscape – the entire State of Yucatan!
New news on tree planting! According to Greenpeace-Mexico, our planting 250 million trees this year will only make up for about half the deforestation that is going on in the nation in this one year. If deforestation is taking place that fast, we can’t do much about Mexico (or about the rest of the world either), but we can sure do something about Yucatan. Never mind about planting a tree… plant two trees!
Looks like that big old airport out at Kaua (Valladolid) isn’t such a white elephant after all. Chichén Itzá was named one of the Seven New Wonders of the World on Friday night and 1,000 Spaniards landed there on Saturday. The airport is an international airport named Chichén Itzá. It officially opens in August and one of the first big planes to land there will carry 50 wealthy and powerful industrialists. They’re coming with the resources to have a significant impact on life in that entire end of our state. Airlines, and investors in airlines, are jockeying for position in what is going to be a new tourism boom in Yucatan. Is this a good thing? Maybe… maybe not… just so long as we remember what happens when people are ignorant of – or ignore – history.
Don’t swim in those artificial lagoons left over from road construction over around Progreso. Several local people have already lost their lives there. The lagoons don’t seem to be that deep, but the depth is not marked. This could lead to someone hitting their head in shallow water that they assumed was deeper. In addition, some of these lagoons have broken through to the paths of the underground waterways that lead from the cenotes and/or to the Gulf.
Ticul needs blood donors, according to Juan Robert Ayuso Centurión, Hospital Director for El Comunitario. If you can help, why not drive down and donate? Its a nice drive and you’ll be saving lives. Or if anybody has worked on blood drives before, how about organizing one to travel through the north end of the state? We gringos (visitors too!) do have a few skills we can bring to Yucatan and this just might be one of them.
We often forget that much of the population of Yucatan lives in isolated villages throughout the countryside. In many areas, children still suffer from infant malnutrition. When recently surveyed, it was discovered that 75% of Yucatan’s two-year olds are deficient in height and weight, and 35% suffer from a delay in cognitive development, according to Abelardo Avila Curiel, a researcher for the Dr. Salvador Zubirán Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Médicas y Nutrición. Six years ago, Yucatan had the greatest incidence of infant malnutrition in the nation. Today, we stand at number five from the bottom of the list. This is an big improvement, due in large part to a successful, state-implemented, public initiative that targets children under the age of two, but more needs to be done.
Rates of diarrhea, long a problem throughout the nation because of water quality, are improving dramatically throughout the State of Yucatan. Last year, rates among children, age five and under, decreased by 32% and decreased 18% among adults. This has taken a statewide effort in both education and infrastructure. Congratulations to the combined efforts of Health, Water, and Ecology professionals for this one!
The preference for whiskey, in Mexico, is growing by 30% per year. Target marketing is pushing this as a party drink to the 18 to 24 year old age group that is just finishing school and starting to work. With our new super-highways in Yucatan, there can be little surprise at the number of alcohol-related, fatal automobile accidents lately, mostly all young people and mostly all one car accidents at night.
If you take the free road between Merida and Chichen Itza, just to avoid paying a few dollars in tolls, be aware that the free road has a local name – La Via de Terror.
While we’re on the subjects of alcohol and roads, it is strongly recommend that, if you are anywhere near the beaches of Yucatan, you have a designated driver with you. Just a little word of warning - the police (especially in Sisal and Celestún) are cracking down on driving under the influence. They have decided it is easier to stop your vehicle before you kill yourself and others, than it is to pick up the pieces after. So – have a good time, but remember to have a sober designated driver.
The people who live in Cancun are finding it increasingly difficult to enjoy their own beaches and just getting to the beach is listed as their biggest problem. Crowds of foreigners cover the beaches, fill the streets, and take up all of the parking places. Could this be a harbinger of things to come in Yucatan? It might be a good idea to begin early to think about ways to ensure that the people of Yucatan are never displaced from their own beaches.
All over Mexico, graduates of the best schools in various medical technologies and engineering are taking their degrees and leaving their home states. El Diario published the salaries of some professionals in Campeche, noting that "low salary" is listed as one of the reasons for this nationwide migration of the professional graduates of Mexico. Mining and Electrical Engineers make $12,822 per month ($1,187 USD). Graduates in Ecology, Environmental Engineering, and Atmospheric Sciences make $19,141 per month ($1,772 USD). These are the graduates who are most likely to move, as are people in biomedicine, accounting, and finance. Of the Library Sciences and Education graduates, almost all remain in their home states, in spite of very low wages, as do – oddly enough – physicians, who could easily leave for higher pay but choose to stay and serve their own people. Unfortunately, many college graduates (up to 80%), in Dance, Music, and the Arts, are not able to find full time work in their field. Since somebody has got to handle all that paperwork and all those databases, the fastest growing work sector in all of Mexico is public service and administration.
Quote of the Week: On the subject of the purpose of Animal Welfare Associations comes from Dr. Mariano Romero Méndez, president of the Asociación Yucateca Protectora de Animales: “It is not that we want to place animals on a plane that is superior to man; what we want is that man does not descend to below the level of the beasts himself.” Want to help some of the animals of the Yucatan? Donate to AFAD.