Yucatan Midsummer News
News starting July 20, 2009
Rotary Club of Evansville Plans New Project
Rotary is an international organization of business and professional leaders who strive to provide strong humanitarian services, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and to build goodwill and peace throughout their community and the world. Yucatan's Rotary Clubs, and more than a few Rotary Clubs from north of the border, are spectacular in their dedication to and love for Yucatan and her people. Now, the Rotary Club of Evansville is attempting to raise $50,000 for its Yucatan Project. The money will be used to restore a vacant hospital in Tizimin, which serves not only the City of Tizimin - but 54 surrounding towns and villages as well. Rotary is doing a great job of getting in-kind gifts of the latest equipment from manufacturers and from warehouses to which hospitals donate surplus medical equipment. They already have eye diagnostic equipment from Vincennes, Ltd., an ambulance from AMR, and equipment donated by St. Mary's Medical Center. They are working on equipment to break up kidney stones and a shockwave device to treat diabetic foot. However, there are some things - such as transportation and renovation - that call for cash. If you can make a donation (cash, services or equipment) to this worthy cause, please call the Rotary Club in Evansville at (812) 962-4687.
Yucatan Will Be First State Using Statistical Software
Yucatan will be the first state in Mexico to use Comité Estatal de Información Estadística y Geográfica (CEIEG), a software system that tracks not only what public money is being used for - but where it is needed and whether public programs are cost effective or not. This software will be used by 65 different departments in state government to determine which groups in the population are in need of assistance and, once programs are implemented, the software will determine their impact on the well being of the population. If this program, backed by the World Bank, is successful in Yucatan, then it will be used throughout the nation of Mexico. Since so many NOB state school systems have made the heartbreaking move to stop funding the arts, we are particularly interested in what the software says about the value of such programs as our statewide culture and music classes and workshops for children and the elderly. In fact, we can't wait to see the outcome of all of the sectors measured by this project. We do not know how Yucatan was chosen to be first in using this software, but contratulations to everyone involved!
XL International Physics Olympiad Held in Merida
This past week, 400 of the best and brightest physics students in the world met in Merida, with the President of that institution declaring that Mexico is positioning itself in the world map as a nation that makes world-class science. The fact that the physics students in Mexico have been able to organize and carry out this event ensures that they will be the future leaders in their field; and their participation in the competitions will result in a great leap forward in each of their careers. One of the best things to come out of such events is that the Mexican children can see that these students are ordinary young people, just like they are. Coming out of this week-long conference is news that the young physists of three nations will come together in the middle of 2010 and work on investigating the forces at work on the Chicxulub crater from the time of the impact until now. They will also make models to predict what will happen to that area in the future. That project is expected to continue until 2013. Congratulations to everyone who attended this conference and especially to the physics students of Mexico and the State of Yucatan!
American "Security Firms" Coming to Mexico
As money from the long-promised U.S. "drug war" aid package gets ready to begin flowing into Mexico, it comes as no surprise that 30 to 40 American security firms are vying for most of the $1.4 billion dollars of those contracts. This means that armed American private security commandos will be in Mexico. These groups are bragging that their Mid-East experience puts them in the best position to carry out this "drug war." Unfortunately, to our knowledge, these companies have always followed the money and there has never been a nation that did not end up with dead unarmed, innocent civilians after allowing them in. To its credit, the Mexican government is checking these firms' reputations carefully but there is no way to escape the fact that they will soon be in Mexico for the purpose of "training" the Mexican police. Our hearts go out to those Mexican cities that will be affected by this development.
The Truth About Mexico: Hype and Nonsense
If you lived in another country ....and had never been to the U.S. .... and someone fed you a steady diet of the news from the worst neighborhoods of Detroit and Los Angeles, would you go anywhere in the U.S. on vacation? We had to laugh as one Merida resident exclaimed that there is more crime in Topeka, Kansas, than there is in Merida, Yucatan! This helps to make up for some of the unfounded Mexico bashing that seems to be back "on" now that H1N1 is no longer an issue. The upside of bad press is that we expats get to visit our favorite resorts without a lot of tourists around, but that isn't a situation we would want for the owners and workers in these establishments. The Truth About Mexico is emerging as a great place to find the real facts about this wonderful nation and we hope everyone visits their website, and then visits Mexico!
Bad News for Fishermen
This week, it became clear that shrimp sales have semi-collapsed, with 40% to 50% of the catch ending up in the freezers of wholesalers. It seems that the slump in the global economy has left even the usual international buyers without the resources to purchase our shrimp and other seafood. The wholesalers say that many of the resorts are actually going to the supermarkets to purchase their daily needs for seafood because they do not have the money to buy in wholesale bulk this year. Yucatan's wholesalers say they do not see an end to this situation during pulpo season, which begins in about two weeks. This is not good news for our fishermen, who continue to go about the business of readying their nets for the pulpo harvest.
Water Bills in Beach Communities
Can you imagine 2,000 to 3,000 beach town households simply not paying their water bill and the water not being turned off by the water company? Water bills, in Yucatan, are amazingly low - yet, up to 3,000 beach "estates" have run up as much as $500 pesos in back bills. Even some hotels have huge back water bills! This situation is currently being addressed and the money collected is being used to upgrade public areas. Twenty plumbers and two bricklayers have been hired for two months to replace sidewalks and steps, and to do maintenance on the concrete water lines that pass through public places.
Look for a Big Push in Sports
Oh dear! More Healthy Living is coming to Yucatan. It seems that the State of Yucatan has decided that the answer to keeping young people from getting involved with tobacco is by keeping them busy with sports. ...and when they decide something like that, they make it so with amazing speed. So look for more sporting events than ever coming to Yucatan soon! Did you read our News last week? Yucatan is soon to suggest cutting calories by 1/3 and increasing physical activity! We are rapidly reaching the point where it will be necessary to post a Yucatan warning to potential expat couch potatoes. For the rest of our readers, come on down - its healthy living all the way in the Yucatan of the 21st century!
Value of Lower Remittances Still High
Much has been made of the fact that the money sent home by Mexicans in the U.S. has been down this past year. Yet, there is one bright spot in this situation and that is the exchange rate. Although remittances were down 4.5%, the exchange rate more than made up the difference, in some months as much as 13%. This is important news to many of the rural towns in Mexico. American companies travel to these small towns for the purpose of recruiting workers who are all from one area. They believe that this makes for a more stable workforce. The result is that these small towns are then left without wage-earners and must depend on remittances, even for public services. It is good to know that local towns still receive the benefits of work performed by their wage-earners, even if they are in another country.
Real Coke: Another Benefit of Living in Mexico
For years, we have known that you can not get "real" Coca-Cola in the U.S. like you can here in Mexico. As it turns out, lots of countries, like the United Kingdom and Mexico, sell coke made with real cane sugar. The U.S., on the other hand, has so-called ‘classic’ coke that is made with High Fructose Syrup, because it is cheaper and sweeter. It also is much less satisfying. This gives producers an opportunity to make a few bucks off of the real thing, such as their production of Kosher Coke during Passover. We found a great article on this subject this week and thought we would share it with you. If you want real coke, convert to the Jewish faith, or move to Mexico! And if you are curious about High Fructose Corn Syrup (and you should be!), check out the FREE documentary, King Corn. We should all know where our food comes from… and this movie is a story of two young men who set out to find out more about corn. What they discovered was disturbing, to say the least.
Celestun: Centro Turistico Eco Paraiso
Only 5% of the world's beaches can still be termed "virgin" and Yucatan has one of them in Celestun. After a $5 million dollar investment, the Governor has just laid the cornerstone on what will be a total makeover for Centro Turistico Eco Paraiso, in the port of Celestun. A virgin beach is not the only attraction in the area. They also have mangroves, crocodiles, dolphins, pink flamingos, and too many birds to count. They are going to more than double the size of the hotel, add a restaurant that will seat 120 people, a library, an internet network, a center for activities of well-being (yoga and meditation), a gymnasium, and a pool with a bar. This center, in the middle of a biosphere, will meet and exceed all the requirements of ecotourism and is expected to rival any ecotourism site in the hemisphere. Construction has begun and expected to be finished sometime in November. For a brief preview of this resort, visit the Eco Paraiso website. Look for Language on the top bar to view the site in English, French, or Dutch.
Pulpo Season: August 1 through Dec. 15
Last year, Red Tide resulted in a pulpo (octopus) season that saw the fishermen come home with only 46% of the expected catch. If the weather and water conditions hold, this should be a good season; and one that is badly needed by the 15,000 members of our fishing community. This is a dangerous job and 3 have already been lost to the sea in just the past month. On land, there are a total of 16 processing plants available to handle the expected almost 9,000 tons of pulpo that will be caught. 80% of the catch will go to Spain, Italy and Japan; while 20% will be reserved for local and national consumption. For the expats in the area who have no clue how to cook pulpo, not to worry. There is always a wonderful little old lady down the street or around the corner, who makes a little extra money by cooking pulpo for the entire neighborhood at least one day a week. Their prices are great and so is their food!
Yucatan Takes 19th Place in Human Development Issues
The United Nations has just completed a study in which Yucatan was named #19 in the world concerning issues related to human development. These issues include not only responses to health and poverty, but also conservation of natural resources, quality of education, and the quality of life for women and children. Yucatan was particularly singled out for its programs that assist the poor in creating and operating their own businesses, especially in rural and coastal communities. Yucatan is careful to point out that much of its success could not have taken place had it not been for the United Nations, which now donates approximately $40 million USD per year toward financing many of our state's wonderful programs. It is always good to see such a huge undertaking actually succeed and we are doubly proud that these activities are taking place in our adopted state.
5 Yucatecos Study Engineering in France
5 Yucateco students have graduated from UTM, here in Merida, and will be studying for their Professional License as engineers in five different universities in France. Between semesters, they will work in industry there to obtain the necessary experience to sit for their finals. They are 5 out of a total of 45 in the nation who left for Paris last Tuesday. We wish them well and are certain that France will be impressed by the skill and ability of all five of our soon-to-be Professionally Licenced Yucateco engineers.
Did You Know? Yucatan Had an Irish Governor!
The founder of Tuscon, Arizona, was Hugo Oconór (O'Conor), born in Ireland and in service to Spain. What it looks like is that this red-headed Irishman was used by Spain as a troubleshooter. Wherever there were problems, he was sent to fix them. He had traveled some 10,000 miles on horseback in the four years from 1772-76. He asked to be relieved of these duties, was promoted to Brigadier General and appointed Governor of Yucatan. He never married, never saw the completion of the presidio in Tuscon and his health was failing. He died at Quinta de Miraflores, east of Merida, on March 8, 1779, at the age of only 44.
2 Jaguars Released in Mexico - 1 Died
CasiYucateco, here is a story about cats in Yucatan for you. It has both good news and bad. Both cats had been captured by farmers because they had been killing livestock. One was between 5 and 7 years old and had spent a little more than a year in a zoo. The other was only 2 years old, had been captured at 6 months of age, and had been living in a rehab center for a year and a half. The older one, obviously, remembered more about how to survive in the wild than the younger one and, when they were released in the Calakmul Biosphere Preserve, the younger one was found dead 9 days later. The older one is, however, living the good life "fat and sassy." From now on, there will be more releases, but they will be what is called "soft releases," where the animals are taken to the sites and kept in enclosed spaces until vets and researchers can be certain they will survive. The Calakmul Biosphere Preserve is in a huge municipality in Campeche that borders the State of Yucatan. The forests are so dense there that Mayan ruins to rival Chichen Itza are still being discovered today. It was reported that, on this project, it took workers 8 hours to move only 1.3 miles into the forest.
The Next Generation: Attitude 21
There are Attitude 21 chapters all over the State of Yucatan, but we are particularly interested in the chapter in Progreso. It is a relatively new group and has already accomplished great things. On one occasion, the group went door to door in the beach towns for an entire weekend, asking for old medicine. They had it evaluated by a pharmacist and gave thousands of doses of much needed medication to the elderly and needy. They also had a used clothing bazaar, and used the profits to give cash to nursing homes and to buy equipment for those who are disabled. When they approached the fishing industralists, Jose Carlos Herrera Valladares and Hugo Pech Chacón, there was no way they could refuse them. This is how Attitude 21 was able to give 80 kilos of fresh mero to be distributed between San Joaquin Nursing Home and the parochial dining room "Genaro Cervera Ceballos." Watch this group carefully. We would be willing to bet that tomorrow's leaders of our state, and perhaps the nation, are among the members of today's Attitude 21 chapter in Progreso!
Its a Dog's Life
An American couple came to Yucatan on vacation and saw a little dog on the beach at Celestun... skinny, big belly, covered in scabies. They fed him for a few days, and then brought him to AFAD before they left for home. Three months later, they still couldn't get him out of their minds. They contacted AFAD and begged Lydia to go and get him and try to find him a flight to Orlando. Lydia ended up taking him home with her and half of Yucatan was on the hunt for a ride for little Chicharo. She even had to put him on a diet for a few days so he would weight under 200 grams so he could ride on the airplane with his human. Eventually, his new Papa came back to get him and he's made it to his new home in Orlando. Now, features him on her own FACEBOOK page where people can see the entire journey, from his capture on the beach to his new home in Orlando. Thanks to everyone who helped Chicharo and all of the dogs and cats of Yucatan!
And while we're on the subject, we thought we'd mention that it is easy to take a dog from Mexico back to the United States. Rescue the dog, take it to a local vet (some English-speaking ones listed on Yucatan Living), get its shots and a document attesting to that fact, and take it home. Easy as 1-2-3!