News starting June 22, 2009
The New Art Map
The new art map is out and has been distributed to downtown hotels and restaurants, the MACAY, and to the information booths and at galleries. Our good friend Kimberley Kradel even wrote it up on her website Artist-at-Large (if you are into art, a great site, by the way…). If you don’t see the Merida Art Map somewhere, please ask for it by name and tell the store/restaurant to get in touch with us (999-176-6176 or email info [at] yucatanliving [dot] com)
Free Mexico City Traveler’s Health Insurance!
Can you Believe It? There is an across the board national push on to entice American and Canadian tourists back to Mexico. One of the biggest perks comes in Mexico City itself. As of now, all tourists to Mexico City wil be given a card that entitles them to free health care for any illness they develop from the moment they check into their hotels until the moment their vacations are over. In addition, Mexican nationals can get what amounts to an interest free credit card for purchases made in Mexico City, and the monthly payments will be taken out of their salary back home. Finally, Mexico City is now working on a special coupon book that will give all tourists a discount of between 10% and 60% on purchases in over 1,000 businesses in the city. Look for many more deals like these to come all across the nation. If ever there was a time to visit Mexico, today – right now – is the time!
And if you haven’t already seen them, check out two new videos on the merits of Mexico and Merida for living, working and traveling.
And the Travel News Just Keeps Getting Better!
Summer is the "Off Season" here on the Yucatan Peninsula. Most travelers who come here usually come in the winter, in hopes of getting away from the cold to do a little diving, fishing, or sightseeing. Shopping does come to mind! In the summer, hotel occupancy usually rocks along at about 70%, at least until the H1N1 hype hit Mexico’s tourist industry like a bomb! For weeks, the hotels were virtually empty. Then, Mexico stood up and fought back. With many hotels now guaranteeing that their establishments are "flu free," and with the government supported program "Mexico Lives!" it was believed that the hotels could consider the summer a success if they could get back to 50% occupancy. 50%? Why that was just a number they passed on their way up. Hotels in Quintana Roo literally flew to 64% occupancy and that number is still climbing. There is something to be said for vacationing in Mexico when there is a great deal to be had at every step of the way! Congratulations to all of our friends in the tourist industry – and to all of the visitors who love Mexico!
Father’s Day A Huge Success!
…and they just kept coming… coming home from other cities and from other states… coming home to Yucatan… and, when it was all over, sales were up between 30% and 40% for the weekend! Speculation now is that the economic crisis, at least in the State of Yucatan, is on its way out the door. No one is saying that good times are back quite yet, but any day that sales are up 40% over the day before is a good day in anybody’s book. Congratulations to the retailers and to all of the papás for a very successful Father’s Day weekend!
Yucatan’s Gimnasia Ritmica Wins Gold Medals
The National Olympics are over and Yucatan’s Gymnastics team has brought home 5 gold medals! We have an outstanding program in Yucatan, that trains these young people to go as far as they can in their chosen sports. They are consistent winners and we are proud of the students, their parents, and their coaches for a job well done!
Tis the Season of the Nance
In all of the mercados, you should be seeing a small, yellowish fruit called a nance (pronounced NON-say). If you can get them for between $20 and $30 pesos per kilo, that is considered to be a good deal. For those who are into cooking with local foods, the juice of the nance can either be used as a fruit juice, or it can be cooked into a syrup – delicious on ice cream. You can also find them pickled like olives! The nance is used in several homeopathic remedies, and is even good for staining furniture. Of course, those among us who are winemakers, probably already are familiar with this little fruit. If you would like to investigate the nance further, its scientific name is Byrsonima crassifolia and you can find more information about the nance here. We’re not sure we like the part about stupefying fish, but the rest of the uses sound pretty good.
Summer Vacation is Here in Yucatan
For the school children of Yucatan, Summer vacation begins on the first Friday in July and classes resume on the third Tuesday of August. Except for one day in September and two days in November, they do not get another day off until Christmas vacation.
For those who do not understand the school system in Yucatan, education is free but not free. For example, Yucatan has one of the most active parent organizations we have ever seen! During all school vacations, the families of the students take the school in hand and do all necessary repairs, including painting and cleaning. This year, of course, there will be ongoing disinfecting in order to keep any risk of the flu virus at bay.
During the school year, all school children are expected to participate in a wide variety of community service projects. Many of these involve picking up trash or planting trees. These types of activities, if required north of the border, would bring on a huge outcry. Parents would want to know what they are paying taxes for, if not to have the schools maintained. Groups of workmen would be demonstrating because both the parents and children were taking away their jobs. However, Yucatan knows what builds citizenship. Every parent here – and every child – has a stake in the future of Yucatan because they have built it and maintained it with their own hands.
We hope every school child in Yucatan has a wonderful summer and is able to get down to the beach for a little fun in the sun before having to get back to class!
Telchac Puerto Gets Emergency Vehicle with Oxygen!
The older we get, the more important it becomes to have access to excellent health care, and especially to competent emergency health care. Each year, we see modern, well equipped, well staffed ambulances arriving farther and farther away from Merida. The latest community to get such a well appointed emergency vehicle is Telchac Puerto. For those who once hesitated to move "that far" from the city, those worries are fading fast, as emergency services and faster highways continue to improve throughout the state.
First Yucateco Dies of H1N1
The first Yucateco has died from complications related to H1N1. He was only 35 years of age. His family is under observation, but no one is ill at this time. There is also a child who is quite ill with H1N1 in Yucatan, but his fate is, as yet, unknown. Our hearts go out to the family of this young man, along with our deepest sympathy.
Orange Crop and Mero Catch in Danger
While everyone in at least the northern part of Yucatan is suffering through mid- to late-afternoon thunder showers, the rain is damaging the ability of the mero (grouper) fishermen to bring in their necessary catch and the orange growers say the orange crop may be in danger from draught! Growers have been irrigating, at a cost of $20 to $50 USD per hour, for up to 10 hours every 3 days. This is a drought the likes of which, they say, has not been seen in 50 years! If there is not relief soon, up to 50% of the crop could be lost. This will not only affect those who grow and export this crop, but also the cattle industry because the orange peels are used to help add moisture to cattle feed during the dry season. We cannot help but think of the mere fishermen, attempting yet again to battle Mother Nature as they try their best to feed us and their families. Our thoughts are with both the fishermen and the orange growers. Perhaps soon the rain will be where it needs to be – when it needs to be there!
Gabriel Espinosa: Talk Around the World
Since the release of Merida’s own Gabriel Espinosa’s fourth album, From Yucatan to Rio, the net has been buzzing with compliments for our hometown bassist, composer, and arranger. Not only did he collect the musicians for this Brazilian flavored album from around the world, but he was, it seems, kind enough to showcase what they and he could do with a band like that, rather than making this album all about him. As a result, Gabriel Espinosa is collecting not only gold in his pockets for talent, but stars in his crown for being one of the most professional musicians, composers, and arrangers in the world. Congratulations to Gabriel Espinosa and to the cultural environment in which he developed. We are proud of them both!
Donate to a Good Cause
Did you know that ADAY (the Association for the Rights of the Animals of Yucatan) has a spay/neuter clinic once a month in Centro? The cost is $100 pesos and $150 pesos. We are assuming that is for males and females respectively, but they don’t say whether that is for dogs or cats or both.
Wouldn’t it be great if the expats in Centro rounded up just one or two strays a month for your own mini-spay/neuter and return program, especially for the cats? Dogs could, of course, go to AFAD or Evolution after their surgery.
The location of the clinic is Calle 41 No# 563 x 82 y 82-A, Centro. Females will have to have antibiotics for about a week after their surgery, so plan accordingly. Or, if you would rather, we’ll just bet that ADAY would be deeply appreciative of your pledging enough money to do at least one spay or neuter per month. It doesn’t cost much and this is such a worthy project. We hope everyone will consider getting involved. You can reach ADAY here or through the AFAD website as well.