News Starting March 05, 2012
Eighth AANY Craft Show: March 24-25
Hard to believe, but it is already time for the 8th (yes, 8th!) AANY craft show, ARTE A MANO! The Spring Show, as always, is scheduled before Semana Santa (Easter) and provides Snowbirds returning home and Mexicans visiting from other parts of Mexico to fill their suitcases with goodies to take home. There will be 50-60 artists from all over the Yucatan Peninsula, exhibiting handmade crafts. Some are trained artists, and others are folk artists that have been chosen by the AANY Search Committee for their originality, excellence of execution and use of materials. Buyers will find a wide range of products from different materials (jewelry, fiber, wood, metal, glass, etc.) and in a wide range of prices. Whether you fall in love with a whimsical doll, a turned wooden bowl, a piece of flattering jewelry or a woven floor mat, we guarantee you will find it hard to leave empty-handed. If this show is anything like the ones in the past, we can attest to the fact that you are bound to find something there.
There will also be a number of new exhibitors in this next show, according to the organizers. Elizabeth Pontones from Izamal will be showing jicara-based designs in sculpture, jewelry and handbags. Gonzalo Echazarreta Castillo from Quintana Roo will bring his wood-turned vessels made from native hardwoods. Joaquin Cervera Canton will be selling charming animated dolls depicting typical Yucatan life… dancing, weaving, making tortillas. And Alfredo Medina Cárdenas will exhibit colorful vessels and boxes made of henequen fiber.
AANY, which puts on the show, is a legal Mexican non-profit. Attendance at AANY shows has grown from 500 to over 2,500, including an ever-growing Yucatecan audience. Sales at ARTE A MANO break all records for the artists, many of whom count on this as a large part of their annual income. Additionally, artists make many contacts with individuals and retailers, which also serves to increase the market for their products. Artists are encouraged to refine their marketing techniques and work with volunteers to develop more creative displays. They are also encouraged to sign all work, make sure items are priced, and have business cards to distribute. In other words, by working with AANY, they are learning valuable marketing skills to allow them to continue their craft. The show is staffed by many volunteers, including the Merida Men’s Club which does the setup and teardown for the show.
The next AANY show will be March 24 and 25, with suggested donations as an entrance fee which covers the cost of renting the hall, advertising and housing for some of the artists who come from far away. The show will again be at CANACO, Avenida Itzáes at Calle 31 and will run from 10 AM to 7 PM both days. For more information, check out AANY’s Facebook page.
TAPANCO Cultural Center
After six months of preparation, on March 3 the Tapanco Cultural Center opened its doors to the public. Thanks to the interest of a group of young Yucatecans interested in the artistic and cultural development of their city, Mérida has gained a new cultural event space. Tapanco wants to host the artistic creations of friends and strangers, with the goal of staying committed to providing the highest quality to the public. Tapanco’s facilities include a multipurpose room with a stage that is able to hold 100 people. Very soon they will expand their offering at the Cultural Center and you will be able to enjoy an afternoon of reading in their warm and comfortable tea house. Tapanco seeks to satisfy both local and foreign audiences through various workshops, exhibitions, theater performances, films and bilingual readings. To kick it off, this month the space is hosting a performance of Hair, the Musical each Friday night in March at 8 PM ($100 pesos per ticket). On the 29th and 30th will be a toy-making workshop at 9 PM. And the movie club on Monday nights at 8 PM will be showing Across the Universe (highly recommended!) on the 21st at 8 PM and Dancing in the Dark on the 28th at 8 PM. The young creators of this new establishment are Addy Teyer, Alejo Medina, Bryant Caballero, Ligia Aguilar, Mabel Vazquez, Oswaldo Ferrer and Ulises Vargas. For more information and reservations, call 920-1145 or write tapancocentroculturalac [at] hotmail [dot] com.
Yucatan to Get Auto Harness Factory
Auto harnesses are seat belts that hold the body against the seat in either four or five points. The auto harness export industry in Honduras alone is up almost 30% this year and shows no sign of slowing at any time in the near future. A Korean-American company has struck a deal to take advantage of a program to improve marginalized communities in Yucatan and will open an auto harness manufacturing business in the area of Halacho and Maxcanu. It looks as if this will be happening within the next three months. Phase One will provide 800 new jobs and Phase Two will add 1,500 new jobs. These jobs will be added to the jobs already provided by Seal and Metal Products of Latin America, a leader in the design, research and production of seals and precision components for commercial and military aircraft engines, as well as to the jobs provided by PCC Airfoils, which specializes in processing and finishing metal parts such as blades for air turbine manufacturing. Our congratulations to the Korean-American company that has chosen to move to Yucatan and to the men and women who now have a brighter future because of these new jobs.
Advice to Spring Breakers
This comes from Quintana Roo, but is applicable throughout the entire Yucatan Peninsula.
- Be careful of the amount of alcohol you consume. Many young people come to the Yucatan Peninsula because the drinking age is 18. They are not used to drinking and can easily end up sick, in trouble, in jail, or dead.
- Read and abide by the codes of conduct posted in hotels and given to Spring Breakers upon arrival at the airport.
- Neither the possession nor consumption of drugs of any kind are allowed. Getting caught may result in deportation, but more likely will result in spending a significant amount of time in jail or prison.
- Getting involved in public demonstrations or riots, disruptions on public transportation, driving while under the influence, or causing damage to the property of a hotel or other venue will lead to jail.
- Mooning people, streaking, urinating in public and sexual abuse of any kind all fall within a group of crimes we have seen described as “offending the sensibilities of the people” and you will go to jail.
- In the water, do not touch the coral or collect live shell animals, and please use biodegradable sun-blockers.
- Finally, if you take hotel towels to the beach and lose them, you will be charged for them.
- Be sure to have the phone number of the local consulate handy, but know that they will not get you out of jail.
Welcome University of Georgia’s Occupational Therapy Dept.
This past week, the 130 members of one of Yucatan’s Club de la Tercera Edad was visited by a group of students and professionals from the Terapia Ocupacional de la Universidad de Georgia, de los Estados Unidos. Translated, that says that one of Yucatan’s Senior Citizen Clubs was visited by students and professionals from the University of Georgia’s Occupational Therapy Department. They met some of Yucatan’s active seniors, who meet at least three times a week at their local cultural center for classes in a variety of handicrafts and to actually produce products for sale. The Americans learned that Yucatan’s older senior citizens are far from ready to retire from work and are active in taking a variety of classes. Always looking for a bargain, we noticed a notation that we can purchase a hammock from one of the elderly ladies for a little less than half of what it would cost us to purchase it retail in the city. And they do embroidery too! It looks as if a trip to meet members of a few Clubs de la Tercera Edad may be just the ticket to our next looking-for-treasures adventure in Yucatan. Before we leave this topic, the same University of Georgia group also visited Terapias del CRIT, the rehabilitation center for disabled children, where they made a donation. We hope they enjoyed their visit and that they will come back soon.
Dengue Reduction Efforts
As of now, over 100 tons of junk have been collected throughout the City of Merida in an effort to control mosquito breeding and the spread of dengue fever. The most striking efforts came when 20 tons of old pots, tires, cans, and other junk was collected in one 14-hour day. Dengue rates are still falling, but that doesn’t mean that everyone can relax. Only 42% of the area that needs to be cleaned has been, due to the difficulty of entering property that has been abandoned or has absentee owners. So far this year, the Secretary of Health states that there have been 803 reported cases of dengue, with 377 of those being hemorrhagic.
Internet Use in Yucatan
One of the first questions potential expats have is about whether or not the Internet is available in Yucatan. We just heard that the number of homes connected to the Internet in Yucatan has now reached the 200,000 mark. This is in addition to what seems like an Internet café on every street corner and free wireless Internet access in 51 parks in the City of Merida alone. The larger cities and towns throughout the state are adding free wireless access to many of their parks as well. If you think you would like to give Yucatan a try – for a month, a season or forever – don’t let fear of not being able to connect with friends, family or work stop you. All the Internet you need is available in Yucatan, and in our experience, the speed and reliability is often better than many places in the States.
Gambling Taxes Rolling In
Gambling was outlawed in Yucatan until about eight years ago when the first casino opened in Merida. That did not mean that people didn’t gamble. It just meant that nobody paid taxes on the money earned in clandestine casinos. As more legal casinos opened, the law lagged behind casino development and taxes were not levied. This year, all of that has changed. Casinos are paying their taxes and the money is enough to have a significant impact on the stability of the state’s economy, as well as providing funds to address the issue of those who may have a gambling problem. Approximately 18 million pesos in casino taxes were collected in February alone. This is not to endorse gambling or the building of casinos, but simply to note the impact that can be made on the economy of an entire state when everyone who is making money pays their fair share.
Hunucma: Children Visit Police
When many of us were growing up, we lived for class field trips. We didn’t care where we were going, just so long as we were out of class for the day. The influence of those trips led many of us to become nurses, firemen and even foresters. This week, the third graders of Hunucma visited their local police station, where they each got a short ride on a police motorcycle and got to see, up-close, a demonstration of the work of a paramedic. They loved it! From the excited declarations of the children, it looks as if their conversions may be permanent. Time does pass fast, so look for plenty of tomorrow’s policemen and paramedics to come from Hunucma.
Domestic Migration in Mexico
The levels of violence in some of the areas of the northern states in Mexico have had a measurable effect on the population in terms of migration patterns. Here in Merida, we see a significant increase in the number of people moving in from Mexico City and especially from Monterrey. Others from Monterrey are moving to South Texas. The latest migration observations concern college students. It seems that the more education one has, the less interested one is in living in an insecure area. This has resulted in a flood of college students from the northern states into universities in Mexico City and other secure areas of the country. Some of these schools report increased enrollments of up to 40%. If that were as far as it went, then it would be just an interesting phenomena. Unfortunately, what that also means is that there is a growing brain drain in areas of violence, which leads to lowered numbers of college students, which leads to reduced numbers of citizens able to lead in business and govern in the future. For now, it is what it is. Hopefully, in the very near future, all of these young people will be able to return home and rebuild a brighter future for their currently war-torn areas.
Another Published Expat Author: Grant Spradling
Do you like mystery, adventure, travel or a love story in a good book? Then get a copy of Maya Sacrifice, written by long-time, well known expat Grant Spradling. This book is available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble, both in print and as an e-book. Spradling takes you from the ancient Maya city of Uxcob to an archaeological dig in Guatemala and to modern day Mérida, Mexico; from a house boat in Key West, a mansion in Cambridge, to Chichén Itza and a restored hacienda, as two eccentric gay men travel to Mexico to retrieve a body and find themselves embroiled in gay Merida, with drug dealers, artifact fraud and Mexican bureaucracy. You can buy the book from Amazon here, and follow Grant on Facebook here.
Democrats Abroad in Merida
A group of expatriates would like to start a chapter of Democrats Abroad in Merida. With that in mind, they are inviting Democrats to attend a preliminary meeting on Thursday, March 15, 2012. The meeting will be held at 7:00 PM at Cafe Chocolate, Calle 60 x 49, Centro Merida. For more information, contact, martha [dot] lindley [at] gmail [dot] com