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News: Underpass Open to Traffic

News Starting October 10, 2011

Merida’s Underpass is Open

Underpass in YucatanBy the time our readers get this news, the events surrounding the opening of the underpass on Paseo de Montejo will be concluded and traffic will be allowed through the new structure. On Friday night, there was a small ceremony to celebrate the turning on of the new fountain in the park that now sits on top of the new underpass. As the water dances through the fountain, it displays a light controlled from a small building nearby. A bigger celebration took place on Sunday, with an opening ceremony that included the opening of the underpass. Regular traffic began passing through the underpass on Monday morning.

Dengue Fever: Do Not Self-Medicate

Even with the fumigation efforts by the government, there seems to be a plague of mosquitoes throughout the state this year. Residents are urged to clean their patios of anything that could provide a breeding ground for these insects, as well as to clean any empty lots they may have. Doctors are asking that people not self-medicate at the first sign of feeling unwell. Instead, go to the doctor. Have a doctor check you to determine why you are ill. If you do have dengue fever, the sooner you know, the easier it will be to treat. Dengue fever has the potential to kill and should not be taken lightly. It won’t be long before temperatures drop and the mosquitoes will stop breeding, so just be vigilant for a little while longer and all will be well again. 

UTM Computer Experts in the ParksUTM Students in the Parks

Between now and the beginning of the year, UTM (Universidad Tecnológica Metropolitana) computer science students will be giving professional advice to wireless users in the parks in Merida. The program is called “Evolve With Technology” and the students will give advice on how to use the wireless service in the parks, as well as on how to use the Internet. The goal of the program is to have the entire population computer-literate and able to navigate the websites that connect them to city, state and federal services. Keep an eye out for these students, as they will only be in each park for one week. We think it might take longer than one week to get everyone in the city computer-literate, but this is certainly a good start.

Update: Second La Ruta Solidaria del Chocolate 2012

This sailing competition will take place in April, 2012, and we will hear more about it. This week’s news is that each of the 26 registered boats will arrive with $25,000 Euros to invest in social development projects. In addition, France has promised to build a museum for Progreso, if the municipality will donate the land. This news comes in addition to the fact that France has already begun to promote Mayan culture and what some believe are predictions for 2012.

UADY Studies Food Sovereignty and Biodiversity in TzucacabGrowing your Own Food in Yucatan

This past week, Tzucacab hosted a showing of the results of a four-month study in which 60 participating families identified cultural customs they feel their children have lost or are losing. A photographic exhibition of the findings of the study was presented in Tzucacab so that everyone can appreciate the hard work that had been done. In the end, the two most commonly mentioned cultural characteristics believed to be lost, especially in the area of food sovereignty and biodiversity, is the ability to raise one’s own food, both vegetables and animals. The older members of the families who participated in the study suggest that everyone teach children to raise their own food, even if its just in a pot in their own courtyard. Older generations have been making this recommendation for a long time. Perhaps now that studies show the vulnerabilities of the next generation, this advice will be taken more seriously. We certainly hope so.

Learning About Yucatan: Interesting Jobs and Resumes

As expats and snowbirds, we often get excited about where we are shopping, which restaurants we have come to love, and what is going on with our new houses. But there is more to Yucatan than what we are up to. The local job market has the potential to impact our quality of life, even if many of us are retired. This week, we found a website that seems to be a Monster-like job board for all of Mexico. When we set the filters for Yucatan, we got quite a few surprises, not in the least of which is the variety of jobs available in our state. We do admit that the wages are low, compared to where most of us came from, but we remind readers that the difference is all in the benefits. Mexican workers are covered by health insurance, a retirement program, a program to help them become homeowners and they have their own credit bureau. Most cultural events are free and additional home businesses are encouraged. Take a look at Bolsa de Trabajo Computrabajo not only to see the wide variety of jobs and resumes in Yucatan, but to compare Yucatan with other states in Mexico. The site is in Spanish, of course… good practice!

Price of Gasoline Rises Again

At the beginning of the year, the President of Mexico announced that the subsidies on gasoline would be gradually removed in equal increments over a period of one year. So far, he has stuck to that plan. October’s increase has come and the new price is $9.56 pesos per liter for Magna, $10.50 pesos per liter for Premium and $9.92 pesos per liter for diesel. To convert pesos per liter to dollars per gallon, multiply price per liter in pesos by 3.785 and divide this number by the current exchange rate. Today, the exchange rate is 13.4427, so Magna gasoline is $2.69 USD per gallon, Premium is $2.96 per gallon and diesel is $2.79 per gallon. We hope this will help some of the Snowbirds as they calculate their budgets for the trip from the border to Yucatan. And for those of us who are expats, it is again nice to see that gasoline in Mexico is still cheaper than in the USA in most places.

Monique’s Bakery is Moving

Everyone’s favorite bakery and more will be moving in November. In the meantime, the bakery needs as much support as possible, including the donation of books for their reading exchange library. For more information, visit Monique’s Bakery on Facebook. Slow Food Yucatan also has a great new Facebook page, while you are on the subject.

Where do Turkeys Come From?Turkeys in Yucatan

This past Sunday was Thanksgiving in Canada and its almost time for Thanksgiving in the U.S. This signals the beginning of lots of Thanksgiving dinners, so its time to start thinking about our menu. Many expats in Yucatan opt for one of the wonderful Thanksgiving buffets offered by most of the larger hotels, but there are still a few who cook Thanksgiving dinner at home for family and friends. This year, among the many turkey recipe e-mails we get, we found one about the origin of turkeys. Did you know that turkeys have been here for at least 11 million years? Evidently, there are two kinds of turkeys, one from Yucatan and Guatemala (Agriocharis ocellata) and the other from the rest of Mexico and the U.S. (Meleagris gallopavo). Whether you cook a turkey at home or go out for your turkey dinner, please make certain that, this year, your turkey is from Yucatan. Its been a hard year for the turkey farmers in flooded areas and they need your support.

Courses in Maya Language Online

There is a new language course that will be taught online. It is aimed at young people and adults who would like to learn both conversational Maya and learn Maya literary expression. Teachers are well respected researchers and writers in the Mayan community. The course is two semesters in length and costs $350 pesos per semester. A multimedia approach will ensure that the student can see, hear and communicate with teachers and with other students. For more information, contact REDALICY, in Av. Itzaes # 501 C x 59 y 65, Col. Centro; Phone: 930-4700 ext 54007, 54017 and 54018; or e-mail: redalicy [at] gmail [dot] com  If you would rather learn on your own, Yucatan Maya: Identity and Culture has a Course in Maya already online. It is separated into Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced levels and includes audio, as well as a Spanis-to-Maya dictionary and a Maya-to-Spanish dictionary. Don’t overlook the songs listed under multimedia. They are all sing-alongs, with lyrics, and are great for learning the tempo of the language itself. 

Yucatan for Real Estate Developers

In the first week of October, real estate professionals from throughout Mexico, the United States and the nations of Central and South America met in Merida for several days of conferences associated with the XL National Congress of the Mexican Association of Real Estate Professionals (AMPI). They learned of Yucatan’s healthcare and educational opportunities, infrastructure, logistics, communications and security. But the real coup for this meeting was the forging of strong relationships between real estate professionals that crosses borders and languages. These are the types of relationships that bring new business to a state, and new jobs. We are so glad to know that they chose Merida for their meeting and know we will see them all again soon.

Merida’s Alejandro Pinzon: Doctoral Conducting Recital in West Virginia, October 20, 2011Alejandro Pinzon Doctoral Concert

If any of our readers knows anyone who lives within traveling distance of Morgantown, West Virginia, please pass this grand news on to them and ask them to attend this doctoral conducting recital. Maestro Alejandro Pinzon will be conducting the West Virginia University Symphony Orchestra, with professor of flute Nina Assimakopoulos as the featured musical artist. Music will be by Haydn, Moya and Mozart. To learn more about this remarkable young man, spend some time on the Alejandro Pinzon website. What we can tell you, from personal experience, is that having Alejandro Pinzon as a friend is just like having a pocket full of sunshine. Again, please pass this information on to anyone you think might be able to attend this concert. It will surely be a superior performance, and he is a Yucatecan to watch!
Location: Falbo Theater, Creative Arts Center, University of West Virginia, Morgantown, WV
Time: 8:30 PM
Admission: Free to the public


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11 Responses to “News: Underpass Open to Traffic”

  1. I totally love, Yucatan Living and it is always the first thing I read when I see it on my mail. I was hoping to come again in middle of January for a longer visit but I drive from California and so far I have not found some one to ride along to split half the gas and toll costs. I will be gone at least 6 weeks with time in Guanajuato, Oaxaca, and Chiapas and people seem to think they will get homesick. I do not understand how one can be homesick when visiting what I feel are absolutely the best places in all of Mexico.

  2. The “Guajolote” is a native American domesticated bird. “American” does not mean sepecificly to the U.S. but rather to the entire North, Central and South American Continent. Mexicans have the erroneous denomination when referring to “guajolotes” as “pavos”. A pavo is a small European (Spanish) bird that does not have anything to do with our native American delicious “guajolote-yurkey” bird we enjoy cooked with a “private home dressing” and/or Mexican mole !! So let us enjoy our guajolotes and turkeys this coming “Thanks Given Day” !!!

  3. Although I no longer live there, I still have family in Morgantown, West Virginia and I will tell them about the concert with Merida’s Alejandro Pinzon this October 20th. I hope they will be able to attend!

  4. So regarding dengue fever (DF) my question would be: when do temperatures drop enough so the mosquitoes will stop breeding? Of course nobody can forecast the weather precisely. But on average, during which months is the threat significantly diminished?

    I asked (via email) one man from Merida in his 20′s and he said that he has gotten the disease already 4 times! Each time was worse than the previous one. His younger sister has had it twice and was very sick. Last year there were 120,000 cases recorded in Yucatan. And in one video, it was said that about 70% of population in Merida has had dengue fever at least once in their lifetime. To me these numbers sound awfully high. I’m wondering what is the probability of getting DF during December-May period.

    I’ve never been in Merida but I’m planning to come there soon. So I would appreciate any answer to my questions. I would postpone my trip till November if I could reduce the risk significantly. Because I hate getting sick in general. Especially with “the devil’s sickness,” as dengue is called. I know that there are some ways to protect oneself. But I cannot imagine myself soaking for an hour in a bath tube full of DEET (chemical substance) or to cover myself completely in a climate like Merida.

  5. Margaret – thank you so much for passing on news of Alejandro’s recital to your friends. He is just one of the nicest and most talented young men I know – on and off the stage.

    Art – I think you may have been looking at “possible projections” in a worst case scenario. As it turns out, in 2011, a little over 1,500 cases of dengue have now been reported. What it looks like is that the number of cases has been almost doubling – around the world – for the past 3 years as a result of the worldwide increase in the numbers of mosquitoes. Not visiting Yucatan is not a fix for this because Dengue is also in the States, along with West Nile virus in the States and Canada. The things to do about it include deprive mosquitoes of a home, use screens on your windows, and find something to do inside when mosquitoes swarm in early morning and late afternoon.

  6. Hi Art,
    You make some good points. Temperatures here in Yucatan do not drop low enough to stop mosquito breeding. I think the author meant to say that Yucatan is approaching the dry season, (we have not had a good rain in weeks = the dry season might be here now), and when the water evaporates out of the smaller mosquito breeding sites, then mosquito breeding rates and Aedes Aegypti mosquito populations fall to low levels. Some breeding sites, like old tires, hold water enough water for mosquitoes to breed throughout the entire dry season, so, Aedes Aegyptii mosquito populations in large urban areas never go to zero due to just natural effects.

    There is good news on the issue the number of 2010 Dengue cases in Yucatan:
    “Current rate may result in over 120000 new Dengue Virus infections in Yucatan in 2010.” from an April 2010 Dept. of Salud data report. Note the “CURRENT rate MAY result…” described the risks at that point early in April, before the Department of Health took strong control measures.

    Fortunately, after a surprising number of Dengue cases during the dry season of January – March 2010, Dengue infection rates fell dramatically for the rest of 2010, eliminating that years potential epidemic. It turns out that the unusually high Jan. – March infection rates were a residual effect of a large number of infections in the previous Oct.- Nov.- Dec. 2009. In April 2010, it was not clear whether Dengue infection rates would tail-off by the start of the 2010 rainy season, or if they would jump up even higher during the 2010 rainy season. Again, fortunately, 2010′s potential Dengue epidemic never materialized, due to to Dept. de Salud’s public health subsequent efforts at mosquito control and due to the public’s back-yard mosquito breeding ground clean-up efforts.

    In 2010, the government made special focused efforts at mosquito control: in addition to general public spraying, the government ran a program of visiting the homes of reported Dengue patients for special targeted neighborhood sprayings and targeted neighborhood breeding site surveillance and clean-up, and the City of Merida even ran a city-wide program for free pickup of back-yard junk and rubbish to reduce mosquito breeding sites. The efforts worked, and the Dry Season finally did it’s job (of reducing moquito breeding rates), and due to a relatively quiet rainy season for Dengue, the 2010 spring Dengue rates were heavily curbed and the projected late 2010 Dengue epidemic never materialized.

    Merida residents are recently reporting far fewer numbers of mosquitoes on the patios and in their back yards, as a result of the past weeks of daily crop-duster airplane sprayings to control, so, Dengue infection rates should be falling.

    As a final observation, Aedes Aegypti (the mosquito that carries Dengue) hide in low places, and really loves to bite feet, ankles and our calves. As such, you can greatly reduce your risks of being bitten by either covering your feet, ankles and calves, or by treating those areas with insecticide. Aedes Aegypti are most active in the morning, so you can reduce your Dengue risks by avoiding mosquito infested areas (like patios and yards) in the morning.

    All the best,
    Dr. Steven M. Fry

  7. Art, Several things with your questions:

    1) I have never caught Dengue Fever and I’ve been living and visiting and traveling throughout the Yucatan peninsula for nearly 20 years at all times of the year – wet and dry. So, don’t think that just because you visit, you’re going to catch something.

    2) The temperatures are less relevant than the rains. The dry season starts about November or so and lasts through April or May. During that time, mosquitoes are less of a problem, but they still are a problem where there is standing water. It never gets cold enough to freeze, which is what kills mosquitoes.

    3) Unfortunately, many locals simply do not have screens nor do they have or use repellent., which leads to a higher infection rate. You can’t really relate the experience of someone living in an unscreened home with a screened hotel or guest house.

    4) Dengue is a “city disease” because the mosquito must bite someone infected and then at just the appropriate time later, bite someone else to infect them. This chain of events is nearly impossible in rural areas, unless you are in rural areas where crowds of people gather day after day. The mosquito itself doesn’t travel far during its lifetime.

    So, keep the screens shut (don’t lodge anywhere without them) and use repellant on your ankles, legs and arms at a minimum. The mosquito tends to bite low.

    If going to an outdoor concert or restaurant or gatherings of people, be sure you have your repellent on.

    And that’s it. Very simple.

    There’s no reason to panic, just be aware and be sensible.

  8. Casi – I totally agree with no reason to panic if one is aware and being sensible about precautions. …and as for dengue being a city disease – or a disease found in places where large numbers of people gather… Yucatan’s recent levels of success and growth may be playing right into that scenario. Many still think of Yucatan as Merida and the Interior. That is no longer the case. What used to be tiny towns are big enough and successful enough to support big box stores that draw in shoppers from the smallest villages. Plus, Yucatan has between one and a dozen huge festivals every week. So this is plenty of opportunity to pass dengue from one population to the next. This means that dengue is active now throughout the state and no longer just a danger in cities.

  9. Great reminder from the doctor about the mosquitoes being most active in the mornings. That would give me more of a reason to linger in bed in the mornings, Doc.

    I have a genetic immunological problem, however, which gives me great reason to fear dengue. Perhaps, I could devise something with a large, Asian style hat with mosquito netting coming down from it, to puddle around one when sitting outdoors? That would cause a great deal of discussion, no doubt?

  10. Thanks to all who responded to my questions about Dengue. Now I should feel less afraid to come to Merida! :)

  11. Brenda – the costume sounds MARvelous and great fun! I vote “Do It!”

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