News starting April 27, 2009
Health Alert: Swine Flu in U.S. and Mexico
There are quite a few cases of swine flu in the southwest U.S., all in states that border Mexico. There are also a number of flu-like cases in northwest Mexico, all in states that border the U.S. This is serious enough for Canada to put out a travel advisory. The cases in the U.S. are under investigation and it has been determined that the victims of "swine flu" have not had contact with pigs, which is troubling, to say the least. The cases in Mexico are under investigation, with suspected cases and deaths climbing. At this writing, schools throughout Mexico have been shut down, and people are being encouraged to stay home if they develop any symptoms. With the sheer volume of visitors back and forth between Mexico and the U.S., it is always a good idea for all of us to pay attention to any strange symptoms we might develop and see a doctor early if we do not feel well. We often feel as if we are very far away from the U.S. and from "Mexico," but that isn’t necessarily true. Common sense should keep us safe, but having a good doctor and knowing what might be out there couldn’t hurt. If you want to track the flu, besides reading the news, here’s a useful map sent by one of our readers, that shows where swine flu cases are suspected, confirmed and the cause of a death. It is being updated by Biomedical Research in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Pay As You Go: Protección de Perros y Gatos
This organization is the animal welfare organization in Progreso. Since meetings are held in Spanish, it has been difficult for gringos to participate as they might have liked, but those days are over. Jim Lindsay is now bringing us their news in English. The property has been purchased and the walls and gates are in place. Sewage disposal and hazardous wastes are next on the list. This is a "pay as you go" project, but it is moving along quite nicely. Look for great things in the future from this organization and from this shelter/clinic. For more information – in English – feel free to contact Jim Lindsay at jiminprogreso [at] hotmail [dot] com
More News on the Animal Front
This week, the World Society for the Protection of Animals will be visiting Merida in a fact-finding mission to understand the situation with stray companion animals and to meet with AFAD and others who are working to improve this situation. We’ll keep you updated as we find out more. In the meantime, you might want to visit their webpage and learn more about them here.
In Yucatan, It Starts With the Children
There is nothing in the State of Yucatan, including politics, that doesn’t start with the children or for the benefit of the children. They are always the first to hold a march or protest an inequality. To Yucatan’s credit, the State always listens to the concerns of the children because those will soon be the concerns of the State itself. With the worldwide spector of crime looming all around our borders, Yucatan has decided to build a citizenship that is immune to it. The way to do that is through the children. A new program has begun and is being taken to 1,300 schools, including private schools, throughout the state. This program is designed to forge a bond against crime between the police and the children, as well as to teach responsible citizenship. Topics addressed will be child abuse, as well as a close, personal relationship with the police. The statement of one of the officers in charge says it all: "We are not going to defraud yucateca children who trust us. … Our work is to protect them and their futures." Well said! We wish a happy and successful future for all of the children of Yucatan!
Clean Cenote Program In Full Swing
There is a statewide project underway to cleanup, fixup, etc. a total of 50 known cenotes throughout the state. At the present time, work is underway at six of them. These cenotes are located in Tecoh, Sacalum, Tizimin, Cenotillo, Kaua, and Merida. Another is to be completed in the municipality of Progreso by Earth Day. This is an ongoing project that is being completed in coordination with resources from the federal, state, and municipality governments, research centers, universities, and the general populations. Several years ago, the remark was made by someone near and dear to us, that it would not be long before all of Yucatan is landscaped and we get started on the Gulf of Mexico. That was a joke then, but it is a wonderful truth now. So much of our state is now being cared for in an environmentally sound way and there are programs in place to keep our waters safe and productive as well. Congratulations to everyone involved.
International Women’s Club of Merida
The International Women’s Club of Merida will be 25 years old this Fall and currently boasts over 175 members from 24 different countries. Their common language is English, with a beautiful array of accents. General meetings are held on the last Saturday of the month (except in July and August) at 9:30 AM at Calle 57 # 592 x 56 y 58, in Centro. New members are welcome to join this active group. They hold informal monthly coffees, teas, and breakfasts for the entire membership. Within the IWC, there are any number of interest groups that explore interesting topics that range from Mayan history to gardening and even teaching English. In addition, the IWC supports several charities and has a number of community service projects, one of which is providing scholarships to higher education for women. For more information, contact Dulce Firth, President, dulcefirth[at]hotmail[dot]com, or call her cell at 044 (999) 955-1557 Stay tuned to Yucatan Living for information about their upcoming 25th Anniversary! We know it will be one of the most talked about events of the year!
Tourism Is Up, Even As Spending is Down
In an odd twist of the economy, it has just been released that tourism in Mexico, for January and February, increased more than 13%. In all, almost 4 million tourists visited Mexico in those two months alone. While it is true that tourism *revenue* was down by 7.5% during those months, the lion’s share of that was probably caused by the wildly fluctuating exchange rate, along with some toursts feeling as though they are unable to spend as freely as they have in the past. The increase in numbers of visitors to Mexico is thought to be a function of the fact that Mexico is close to the U.S. American tourists can have an exotic or beach vacation without spending money to go overseas, and crossing the border is easier than ever before. This puts Mexico’s rate of tourism 26% greater than that of nations such as Spain because, while Mexico enjoyed a 13% increase in tourisn numbers, Spain’s tourism numbers for the same period fell by 13%. No matter what the world economy is doing, it seems as if Mexico is still coming out on the winning edge of tourism.
World Digital Library: Now Online and Open
The World Digital Library is the brain child of James Billington, of the Library of Congress of the U.S., and it is a production of the Organization of United Nations for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO) and 32 nations around the world. These nations include the United States, Mexico, and other nations such as Iraq, Egypt, Russia, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and Uganda. The online library allows people from around the world to read the most important documents in the history of man. The first phases of the website are in English, French, Portuguese, Arabic, Chinese, Russian, and Spanish. Visit the World Digital Library yourself and tell us what you think.
Germany’s Hess Group Invests in Yucatan
The Hess group is investing 8 million euros in a plant to produce innovative concrete construction pieces in different forms and sizes. They say that what helped to make up their mind to come to Yucatan was its strategic location and the quality of Yucatan’s manpower. It is expected that this factory will do well because the construction industry is looking for better, less expensive ways to conduct business in every field.
The Mayan Experience: A Documentary Mini-Series
The History Channel is spending a week in Yucatan before going on to Campeche, Chiapas, Quintana Roo and Guatamala, as it films its 4-part series to be named The Mayan Experience. On the list to be filmed are Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Kabah, and Labna, as well as Tulum, Coba, Palenque, Bonampak and Tikal. The documentary is expected to be shown on the History Channel in September. Topics covered by the documentary will include astronomy, medicine, architecture and gastronomy. The crew will remain in Yucatan for 2 weeks before moving on to its other locations. The main goal of the project is to show that the Mayan culture still lives and is still viable and relevant in the 21st century. We think it’s about time to put to rest the myth of the disappearing Mayan Civilization.
Mexico: A Big Country With Different Social Realities
Now this is an interesting "take" on Mexico, from someone who sees the country in an entirely different way. There was a Bishop’s Conference in Campeche last week and one of the speakers talked about Mexico in the context of being different diocese, rather than in the context of the country being different states, and those diocese are often significantly different from each other, even when right next door. He was talking about the drug trade and how one diocese can have difficulties, while others are totally at peace. It would also explain why, when people from other places ask about the troubles in a particular state, the gringos look at them in shock and swear up and down that there is zero problem where they live. Perhaps, since the people of Mexico think of themselves at least as much in the context of their diocese as in the context of their state and nation, the Bishop who made that statement may be right and it might help to look again at the areas in which the troubles are located for different identification characteristics than simply "on the border" or some other vague description. If he is right, and these things are taking place in specific diocese, then that would give us one more tool for helping to fight the problem and for helping us to better understand where to live, work and play.
Elayne Angel: The Piercing Bible — The Definitive Guide to Safe Body Piercing
Our friend Elayne Angel, who lives in Cholul, has finally finished her book on body piercing. The book is a one-of-a-kind resource that covers everything piercers and piercees need to know about the subject, from the woman who brought tongue-piercing into the mainstream. Elayne Angel has been a professional piercer for more than 20 years and has performed over 40,000 piercings. She received the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Professional Piercers in 2006 and is a contributing writer for PAIN magazine. She is serving as Medical Liaison for the Association of Professional Piercers. The Piercing Bible: The Definitive Guide to Safe Body Piercing, by Elayne Angel, is 6 x 9 inches, and 308 pages, including photos and illustrations. The cost is $20.00 and you can buy it here through Amazon. The Piercing Bible: The Definitive Guide to Safe Body Piercing. There will be a book signing on May 16th, from 7:00 PM until 9:00 PM at the Antebellum Gallery, 1643 N. Las Palmas Ave., Hollywood, CA 90028. For more information, e-mail Elayne at angel [at] piercingbible [dot] com or visit their website