Yucatan News: Nortes and a CNN Hero
News starting November 24, 2008
Donations of Sweaters and Blankets Needed
If you have any new or gently used sweaters, jackets, blankets, or bedspreads that you are not using, please consider donating them to those in need. Our note: Caps for children are needed as well.
Dates: November 20 through 26
Location: Municipal DIF, Calle 64 # 541 x 65 y 67
Time: 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM
For more information: 928-0456 ext. 81900
Norte #10 to Hit This Week… They’re Coming Fast!
Last week saw Norte #9 hit the State of Yucatan. Temperatures fell to 10.3 °C (50.54 °F) in Merida to 7 °C (44.6 °F) in the southern parts of the state. There was a time when nortes were few and far between, and respiratory infections were virtually unheard of in Yucatan. Now, there seems to be a trend in which there are over 40 of these events every winter. We ask again that anyone who can please make a donation of sweaters, jackets, blankets, or bedspreads to the DIF drive above. It is expected that over 5,000 children and almost 12,000 adults will suffer from respiratory infections this year. If you can help, please do so. Yucatan is a tropical country and the people, in many locations, are simply not prepared for what is surely one of the symptoms of global climate change. Working Gringa Note: If you are newly arrived in the Yucatan, it may not seem cold to you. We used to laugh at people bundled up in sweaters and jackets on days like this. After seven years here, we’re doing it too! You may not think it's cold, but the people who have lived here all their lives most certainly do!
Telchac Puerto: Steps That Make Tracks (Pasos que dejan huella)
This past week, the program Pasos que Dejan Huella gave new shoes to 200 primary school children in Telchac Puerto. This program has made all the difference, in families across the state, in children’s willingness to attend school and to study hard once they are there. We cannot help but put in a plug here for another program that is making a huge difference in the lives of children and families in Progreso – the Apoyo Program for Students in Progreso. If you have not yet sponsored a child in this program, we encourage you to do so. It takes so little to make a huge difference for the children and their families. The children of Yucatan want to go to school and work hard when they get there. The least we can do is support their first steps toward education and a better life.
Yucatan's Community Leadership School
We recently received a press release from 4th Source, a company that helps American businesses outsource highly skilled Information Technology jobs to Mexico. We were pleased to learn that 4th Source provides scholarships,for two college students through Impulso Universitario. Many may not have heard of Impulso Universitario, a non-profit organization in Valladolid that provides scholarships and community leadership training to worthy students, mostly from the interior of the state. In addition to its own Integral Education Program, Impulso Universitario has one degree program, Computer Engineering, that has been certified by the Secretary of Public Education and the Qualification for Industrial Work. In this sense, the organizations school is a cross between a junior college and a technical trade school. However, Impulso Universitario's main mission is to provide their students with one of the finest personal and community responsibility and accountability programs we have ever seen. We hope you take the time to visit their website. Pay special attention to their Scholarship Requirements and to their Integral Education Program. Remember too that the students who are on this amazing journey are also either taking, or preparing to take, junior college courses in their chosen major, either at Impulso Universitario or at another junior college or university. We are constantly amazed by the next generation of Yucatecos. Every day, they prove to us that Yucatan will be in good hands for many generations into the future.
Valladolid: VIII Expo Feria Joyera (Jewelry Fair)
This was a commercial event in Valladolid that showcased the works of Grupo Joyero San Román, whose Director General is José Manuel Aguilar Méndez. They had a total of 2,500 visitors on the very first day. Offerings were not inexpensive, with the cost of some pieces exceeding $5,000 MXP. Clients came from as far away as D.F. and even Belize, with many making purchases of more than $100,000 MXP. This is another group of artisans who have made the leap to being referred to as “industrialists” and we just love to hear stories like this.
Growing Old in Mexico: The New Assisted Living Industry
It won’t be long before we can use Medicare in Mexico. If the economy in the U.S. does not right itself soon, we can expect many more than last year’s prediction of 12 million retired Americans moving south of the border. …and time marches on. All of us are going to reach a point at which we need assistance. The Merida Men’s Club has already held some discussions on this very issue. Now, the Dallas Morning News has printed an excellent article on the topic of assisted living facilities as a growing industry throughout Mexico. This is one of those things that – if we don’t get a handle on it, it will certainly handle us – and in ways that we might not have chosen. As you can see at the end of this article, some local expats are taking matters into their own hands. Yucatan is the perfect place for assisted living communities and facilities, but planning is the key to their success. (Be sure to read Mario Arredondo's article about his experience with local nursing homes here.)
Progreso: Sol y Mar (Sun and Sea) Reconstructs 15 Palapas
Wind, salt water, and storms all work together to eventually render the palapas on the Malecon in Progreso pretty ragged looking, especially to tourists. More than 50 palapas are leased to the restaurants along the Malecon and it is their responsibility to maintain them.
The restaurant Sol y Mar has just completed complete reconstruction of their 15 beach palapas, the palapa of the restaurant itself, as well as their steps down to the beach. The cost of complete replacement was between $1,500 MXP and $2,000 MXP per palapa. Last Spring, the restaurant Shark also reconstructed their palapas.
We often get questions concerning who builds palapas. One of the best groups in the state is the Palaperos of Tzucacab, headed by Silverio Mukul Pinto. Not only are they experts in the construction of palapas, but they also know where, in Quintana Roo, to legally purchase the wood used in their construction. This is an important issue because it is illegal to cut the sapodilla trees in Yucatan. It was not too long ago that our former Governor, now Attorney General of Environmental Protection, shut down several workshops in Yucatan until the origin of their wood could be established. With luck, soon every palapa on the Malecon will be replaced and tourists will be able to enjoy the treasure that this stretch of beach really is.
Drug Trade: Reality Knocks on the Door of the U.S.
When the President of Mexico begged the U.S. to control its consumption of illegal drugs and to stop the flow of illegal arms from the U.S. to the drug cartels, there was an immediate negative reaction from north of the border. Now, the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Tony Garza, has finally said: "Mexico would not be the center of the cartel's activities, nor would it be experiencing these levels of violence, if it wasn't for the United States -- the major consumer of illegal drugs and the principal supplier of arms to the cartels." We thank him for that and for his assurances that the U.S. will work together now with Mexico to end this problem once and for all.
Mexico Looks for Legal Means to Revise NAFTA
No matter how many Americans incorrectly believe the propaganda implying that the purpose of NAFTA was to export U.S. jobs to Mexico, the sad truth is that either all players in the agricultural sector must be subsidized or all must not have subsidies. Otherwise, NAFTA will continue to harm, and even destroy, Mexican farmers, who have the least ability to fight back. It does look as if there may be a ray of hope for legally revising this treaty. It seems that Mexico has complied with NAFTA environmental standards, the U.S. has not. This is not to say that Mexico wants to throw out NAFTA, or even to remove the agricultural sector from it. It is to say that there is no reason that the lives, health and welfare of millions of Mexican farmers and their families should be sacrificed for profit. The report on this issue from Mexico is HERE. Observations from our friends at Xico are HERE.
Mexico Media Tycoon Buys 10% of Circuit City
This past week, Circuit City filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. This move prompted Ricardo Salinas Pliego to purchase 10% (5.3 million shares) of the company’s stock. Salinas controls TV Azteca, the second largest broadcaster in Mexico. Circuit City now expects to emerge from Chapter 11 in the first half of 2009.
Pepsi Closings and Investments in Mexico
We have a news alert saying that Pepsi is planning to close 3 plants, 30 distribution centers, and 700 delivery routes in Mexico. Approximately 2,200 jobs will be lost. The last annual operations report we could find for them is in 2004 (as of 2008 and no longer online), where they claimed they were being undercut by large distribution centers (probably Wal-Mart and SAM’S Club) with lower cost store-brands.
This is an important topic to us here in Yucatan because we have a Pepsi-GEMEX bottling plant in Merida that employs approximately 2,000 people. On the other hand, we also received a news alert saying that Pepsi is planning on investing $3 billion dollars in building its food (Sabritas and Gamesa) and beverage brands in Mexico over the next 5 years. Pepsi bottles several less expensive soft drink brands and is the owner of Electropura, the largest bottled water company in the country. We will be watching to see if jobs are lost or gained in Yucatan because of either of these moves.
Merida’s Art Scene in Boston Globe
Ann Wilson Lloyd has written an excellent article about the art galleries in Merida. Not only does she take the reader on a tour with words, but also provides a great list of galleries, with links, in the left column of the page. We are very proud of the artistic environment in Merida and in all of Yucatan, and it is thrilling to know that others appreciate it too.
Chinese and Mandarin Food in Cenotillo!
My what a difference 20 years can make! Cenotillo is a municipality in Yucatan that is bounded on the north by Buctzotz, on the south by Quintana Roo (the municipality, not the state) and Dzitas, on the east by Espita, and on the west by Tunkas, Tekal de Venegas, and Dzoncauich. We are talking about a rural area in the State of Yucatan that has a population of fewer than 3,500 people. Almost half of the population is Mayan and that is the language they speak. So, how in the world did little Cenotillo get itself excellent Chinese and Mandarin restaurants? That’s easy. Migrants from Cenotillo to the U.S. spent their entire careers working their way to success in the restaurant business and have now returned to their homes in Cenotillo. Domingo Ciau Tun is the chef at El Dragón Rojo. The restaurant is open on Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday. The other days of the week he tends to his thriving catering business, serving celebrations and meetings in Tizimín, Valladolid, Espita, Cancún and Mérida. Marcelino Tuyub Hau became a Mandarin chef in Denver, Colorado. His customers come from nearby towns, as well as from Merida, and he too operates a catering business. We are so pleased to see Yucatan’s migrants not only returning to the state, but bringing a richness of cultural diversity that many Yucatecos would never have been able to experience if it had not been for their efforts. We hope everyone will remember Domingo Ciau Tun and Marcelino Tuyub Hau when it is time to cater their next event.
Chichen Itza Jade: Its The Right Thing To Do
If a fellow by the name of Bill Mellish ever decides to come to Yucatan, we think he should be given red carpet treatment. As we all know, Edward Herbert Thompson looted many of the artifacts from the cenote at Chichen Itza and many ended up either in Harvard’s Peabody Museum, or given away to individuals by Thompson himself. In spite of several court cases, Yucatan has never been able to retrieve those artifacts because Thompson bought the land around Chichen Itza before he started dredging the cenote. Now, the Director of the Peabody Museum wants to return approximately 50 carved jade pieces from Chichen Itza. This is wonderful news – but there is more. Thompson gave Bill Mellish’s grandmother 2 Chichen Itza artifacts and he says “Its the right thing to do” to return them as well. Yucatan Living’s “Great Guy!” award for this week has got to go to Bill Mellish. Thank you, Sir.
David Puckett: One of CNN’s Top 10 Heroes
Since November 2000, the certified, licensed prosthetist/orthotist from Savannah, Georgia, has been providing artificial limbs, orthopedic braces and ongoing care to hundreds in need in the communities of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and Chiapas -- free of charge. Puckett first connected with the Yucatan people while volunteering on a mission there as a teenager. His nonprofit, PIPO Missions: Limbs and Braces to Mexico, collects donated, used orthopedic braces and artificial limbs in the United States and crafts new ones from their recycled components. On average, Puckett makes a six-day trip every two months to distribute the custom prosthetics and braces, while also providing ongoing care. "To deliver an artificial limb or brace without follow-up doesn't help that person in the long run," says Puckett. "We need to make sure that they have what they need to continue living successfully for years to come." Over the course of his 41 trips to the region, Puckett has helped more than 420 individuals.
The passage above is a synopsis of David Puckett’s work, taken directly from the CNN Heroes site. To read the entire article, click here. At this time, the Top 10 CNN Heroes have been chosen and David Puckett is one of them. View the Top Ten and their stories HERE. Anderson Cooper will host the final award show naming the Top CNN Hero of 2008 on Thanksgiving night at 9:00 Eastern and Pacific time.
Alzheimer Patient Takes Unintended Trip to Mexico
It seems that aging is in the news a lot this week. A Victoria, Texas, man who suffers from Alzheimer’s, wandered 400 miles into Mexico before he was found in a rural town in Zacatecas, where he was virtually adopted and well cared for by the community. When he was found, Department of Homeland Security helped clear him for takeoff to come home, but the airline and customs officials were reluctant to allow him to board the plane without a passport. The problems were finally overcome and the man was returned to his home and family. We wish him well and would like to recognize the citizens of Mexico and Zacatecas for their kindness.