This week's News
Merida's First and Only Cigar Store & Bar
Last Friday, the Working Gringos felt privileged to be invited to the opening of Mercer Cigars, Merida 's first and only cigar store and bar.
In the front of the store, we found a traditional storefront selling cigars, humidors, lighters and other cigar accoutrements. The next third of the store houses Yucatan 's largest walk-in humidor, with glass walls so you can see inside even if you don't go in. The best cigars from Cuba were lined up on shelves along the wall. And in the middle of the wall are some individual lockers which can be rented for storing your own personal stash of cigars or whatever else needs to be kept at a constant and cool temperature (one customer has rented a locker to store nine bottles of wine).
The owner explained to us that he built the humidor for comfort, so it includes benches for sitting and contemplating the extensive array of cigars on the opposite wall. He also explained to us that his store is for those people who want authentic cigars, which apparently are hard to find anywhere on the Peninsula . Those cigars you buy in the zocalo? Or in Playa del Carmen? Counterfeit cigars. They aren't really made in Cuba ; in fact, they are probably made in Veracruz , where the bands and boxes are also printed. Apparently, counterfeiting cigars is big business, especially because tourists tend to buy them and never return.
But Mercer Cigars and its owner are hoping to create a lot of repeat business and steady customers, so these cigars are the best and they are authentic. Another way to build clientele for cigars is to give them a nice place to smoke them. At the back of the Mercer Cigar store is a bar and smoking room. Comfortable chairs, a big flat screen TV broadcasting whatever game is being played at the moment, a fish tank, art on the walls, and a cozy wooden bar at one end make this the perfect smoking room. About five or six men were already sitting around, smoking and drinking and thoroughly enjoying themselves when we arrived at the party.
Mercer Cigars is open from Monday to Saturday, from noon until 11 pm and is located on the Prolongacion of Paseo de Montejo, #85 x 15 & 17, Colonia México.
Driving to Yucatan: Distances and Tolls
Within just a week or two, Snowbirds will be on their way to Yucatan, many for the first time and with no clue which way to go, how far it is, or how much extra money to allow for tolls. To make matters worse, they can ask a hundred gringos which roads to take – and get a hundred different answers – because we all take different little side trips and scenic routes along the way – old favorites that we don't want to give up, but that wouldn't mean a thing to new Snowbirds. That leaves our information “almost” what you need – but not quite. Why not just ask the Mexican Government? Just go to the website for the Director General of Road Development (DGDC), put in the state and city you are starting from, and the state and city you will end up in. They calculate a route, give you a map, list every little town along the way (including distances), AND they give you how much the tolls are and where they are! If you don't want to go the way they map out for you, there is a “click aqui” in the middle of the page that will allow you to change the route to the one you want to take – and you still get all the towns, distances, and how much and where the tolls are. That site tells me it would take about $673 pesos in tolls for me to make a trip from the border to Merida. I looked at the dates on the pages and the site hasn't been updated since 2006, so I would designate around $1,000 pesos for tolls on my route, just to be safe. Overall, this is a great site and takes much of the guesswork out of the “which way,” “how far,” and “how much” associated with driving on any trip in all of Mexico.
Free Wireless Internet in Merida
We previously reported on the fact that the Mayor of Merida is going to put in 50 wireless Internet locations in the Municipality of Merida in fulfillment of a campaign promise. The city sent voting booths to various locations to find out which 10 parks Meridanos want to have free wireless Internet service first.
Amazingly, 22,614 Meridanos voted. We have the list of the winning top ten: Plaza Grande (Centro), De Las Americas (Garcia Gineres), Aleman, Centenario (at the Zoo), Del Parque, Brisas, El Papa (Juan Pablo II), Pensiones IV ETAPA, Francisco de Montejo III, and Cantaritos (Francisco de Montejo).
That doesn’t mean all 10 parks will be getting wireless Internet immediately. There will be 10 sites immediately, but 3 will be chosen from the 10 winning parks, 6 will be various other public locations, and 1 will be reserved to travel to educational institutions and other points of interest.
But that isn’t all…. We have new statistics on Meridanos and the Net. Did you know that there are now approximately 142,800 homes with Internet access in Merida? …and 56% of those who own a computer also own a laptop.
Church in English
It has come to our attention that there is an English Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses that holds services in English every Saturday at 4:00 PM. Their address is Col. Jesus Carranza, Calle 38 x 37 y 39. It is almost time for the Snowbirds to come back. We know there will be religious services held in English after they get here, but we don’t have a full listing of the English language services. If you know of a church service, anywhere in Yucatan, that is held in English at any time of the year, please let us know in the comments section below. We surely would appreciate it and will be happy to list the service on Yucatan Living.
Merida and Yucatan Living in Seattle News
It is always nice to see Merida and Yucatan Living mentioned in news stories from other places. Marc Ramirez has an excellent article in the Seattle Times that includes Yucatan Living in his description of Merida. We would like to thank Marc for mentioning us and hope to see him in Merida soon.
Progreso Will Recycle
According to Mayoress Reina Mercedes Quintal Recio, Progreso is looking forward to developing local industries based on recycling. The first will probably be a blown glass factory. Other uses for recycled resources are currently being researched. For those of you who do not live here, you can well imagine the problem created by garbage when one lives on a limestone shelf. To its credit, Yucatan has always had recycling projects, but now is getting serious about the “business” of recycling. Yucatan is experiencing a tremendous growth in population, so innovation in this area is an absolute must. If anyone knows of a successful industry based on recycled resources, do leave us a note in the comments.
This is one area where all suggestions are welcome. Does longing to see a horse and wagon making its way slowly down the street show our age?
The Feria de la Naranja is Growing!
Who would have thought it? Planning begins a year in advance! The southern part of our state is more economically successful than it has ever been and we are hearing about many of its wonders for the very first time, almost as if it is a brand new country! The Orange Festival has been held in Oxkutzcab, in mid-August, for the past 22 years and is developing into a must see annual event – complete with orchestras and the Folkloric Ballet. This year, it was August 10 – 16. Since the Orange Festival is in Oxkutzcab, it is also in the coolest part of Yucatan in the month of August – the perfect place to spend part of La Temporada. I do believe it is time to find a 2008 calendar and mark off mid-August as time reserved to visit the 23 rd Annual Orange Festival (Feria de la Naranja ) in Oxkutzcab, Yucatan. Click here to visit the Municipality of Oxkutzcab. It has only been in existence since 1577, resettled from an older indigenous city. That makes us a little on the late side in discovering its wonders in the 21 st century, but we're catching up. By the way, if you do plan to go to the Orange Festival in Oxkutzcab next August, there are only 72 hotel rooms in 4 hotels in the entire municipality – we hear they are planning more, but if you want to stay the night, make plans early.
Speeding in Oxkutzcab
One of the things that comes with economic success is vehicles and Oxkutzcab is learning that lesson the hard way. They are asking that folks please do not speed, even though they have a really nice road there that invites you to do just that. There is a stretch of that road that has no sidewalks and lots of houses on it, so speeding cars create a serious danger to both residents and drivers. If you are in the habit of visiting Oxkutzcab, we suggest you take it easy on the gas pedal. They will soon have few little surprises for speeders. Welcome to the wonderful world of topes... Mexico's answer to the 21st century love affair with speed!
Yucatecos in the U.S. Remember Their Communities with Gifts
No matter where in the world you find Yucatecos, their hearts are always still with Yucatan and their people. As reported in El Diario, Yucatecos in the U.S. are remembering their communities with their dollars, as well as their sentiments. Yucateco groups in San Bernardino, San Francisco and Los Angeles, California, Portland, Oregon, and Colorado are working with state, federal, and local groups to fund one project each in Cenotillo, Dzan, Maní, Santa Elena, Sucilá, Ucí, Comisaría de Motul, Xul, Comisaría de Oxkutzcab, and four in Dzidzantún.
These are not small projects. The Cenotillenese Club of San Bernadino is helping to purchase an ambulance for Cenotillo. The Club Naranjeros de Dzan, of Portland, Oregon, is helping to build a Presbyterian church in Dzan. The Voices of Maní, in Portland, are funding the rehabilitation of the baseball field in Maní. Yucatecos who live in San Francisco are financing the construction of a football field in Santa Elena. Yucatecos who live in Colorado are supporting the repair of streets in Sucilá. Yucatecos in Los Angeles and members of Club San Antonio de Padua are funding the rehabilitation of the walls of the vestibule of the Temple of San Antonio de Padua in Ucí, Comisaría de Motul. Yucatecos in Portland are also supporting the rehabilitation of a primary school in Xul, Comisaría de Oxkutzcab. Finally, Yucatecos in Los Angeles are helping to fund three outdoor projects, including rehabilitating a park, and an access road to a church in Dzidzantún.
We know you may be getting tired of hearing about reforestation, but please realize that all of the people who died in Central America in Hurricane Felix lost their lives because of deforestation and its effects in extremely active rain events. Our latest bulletin tells us that Yucatan has lost 24% of her forests in the past 30 years, mostly in the eastern part of the State. This is a loss that has been serious enough to actually affect the weather by decreasing the average precipitation in the very area where most of our cattle farmers live. All of our lives, we have heard that deforestation would catch up with us someday. Someday is here. Please get involved in planting trees in Yucatan and in protecting the trees we have now.
We can't do much, as individuals, about global ecological tragedies, but we can certainly save our state – even if it is one tree at a time.
Foreign Students in Yucatan
We stand corrected! We received a bulletin stating that there are 23 foreign students at UADY this semester when, in fact, there are many more. At least 18 are from Butler University. The rest come from universities all across the United States. In the summer, students who are getting their dive certification in the Marine Biology program, at Texas A & M at Galveston, come to Quintana Roo. So there is never a time when we don't have plenty of foreign students in many of our schools and universities in Yucatan. We invite all of their families and friends, especially their parents, to spend some time here with Yucatan Living and feel free to ask us any questions you may have.
School of Psychology's 35 th Anniversary
Congratulations to the UADY School of Psychology on its 35 th anniversary. The department is currently home to 480 undergraduate students and 60 post-graduates, led by their Dean, Lic. Efraín Duarte Briceño. This is not your ordinary psychology department. The School of Psychology at UADY is state of the art, and works with legal, sports, and scientific communities on a number of ongoing projects. A reading of some of the things they do sounds like they stepped out of the script for one of those forensic television shows that are so popular now. They actually conduct psychological autopsies for the Office of the Judge Advocate General of Justice, as well as conducting other justice related research. In addition, they have a program that helps sports teams stay focused and become winners. In fact, they are one of the resources used by our own Los Leones championship baseball team. It is always such a thrill to find yet another of Yucatan's treasures. Congratulations to UADY's School of Psychology on their 35 th anniversary!
School of Architecture's 34 th Anniversary
We think all one has to do is spend a little time in the State of Yucatan to know just what a treasure UADY's School of Architecture really is. Just being here is a spectacular architectural experience and this university department is one of the finest in the world.
School of Mathematics' 44 th Anniversary
In addition to all of its scientific accomplishments, as well as its support for other disciplines such as engineering and the other sciences, any Department of Mathematics that can shepherd 3 pre-university students to a bronze medal and two honorable mentions in the International Mathematics Olympics can only be described as a State Treasure.