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Yucatan News: Alligators & Hearing Aids

News Starting July 18, 2011

Shakira: Boundless EnergyShakira in Merida

Between 8:00 PM Thursday night and 3:00 AM Sunday morning (55 hours!), the internationally acclaimed barefoot young singer traveled from Miami to Cancun, performed a major concert, traveled to Merida, performed another major concert – and then traveled on to Villahermosa, Tabasco. The first post after her arrival in Villahermosa came at 3:03 AM. That is a grueling pace for anyone, even for someone so young. Thankfully, Shakira can rest until her Villahermosa concert on Tuesday night. While we appreciate that reportedly between 150,000 and 175,000 people saw Shakira’s Merida performance, we were particularly pleased to see that over 300 disabled Yucatecos, including disabled senior citizens were able to attend this concert, along with 60 children who live at the shelter for homeless children (Centro de Asistencia Integral al Menor en Desamparo (CAIMEDE)). The inclusion of Yucatecos from all stations of life in all major events has always been one of the stars in the crown of the state we love so much. We are happy to report that the concert went off without incident and now Merida is getting back to its normal summertime life.

Weather Report

Ok – so it rains a little bit every day – but that’s a good thing. No more fires and the environment is beginning to recover. In the meantime, we just love this headline: “Caribbean Tropical Waves Continue to Fizzle.” If we can just hold that line, its going to be a great summer in Yucatan! To stay updated check this website.

Yucatan’s Amazing KoreansYucatecan Girls Learning Korean Dances

Hardly a day goes by in which we don’t encounter at least one Yucateco whose last name is part Korean. Yucatan’s Korean population is descended from the 1,014 people who were tricked into what they thought would be four years of employment but turned into slavery in the henequen fields. At the end of their four year contract, the original Koreans were stuck in Mexico because their country had been taken over by Japan. The world moves on from these tragedies and so did Yucatan’s Koreans. They formed the Korean National Association to help their country of origin and set about to make a way for themselves in Mexico. Today, they can be found in all sectors of Yucatan’s government, art, and business.

These days, there is a new sense of excitement in Yucatan’s Korean community. Genny Chang Song has made the Memorial Museum of Korean Immigration a project to which she is lovingly devoting her retirement years, but there is also a new generation coming along that wants to learn more about their cultural roots. To meet this need, Merida now has a private Korean language school. Mana Eugenia Olsen Aguilar is a young teacher at a local primary school and teaches young ladies Korean dances that she learned by watching YouTube. Zeydo Olsen-Lee Aguilar is an administrator at the Corea-Mexico Hospital, which was a gift from the Korean government on the 100th anniversary of the Koreans’ arrival in Yucatan. Zeydo was able to live in Seoul for a year on a government scholarship, bringing her experience of Korea back with her. We can’t end this story without mentioning K-pop as a factor in the revival of Korean culture in young Korean populations worldwide. How wonderful it must be to be able to emerge from wanting to hide your Korean roots and language into a state where its hip to be Korean in Yucatan. We can’t wait to see the next production by the young Korean fan dancers. To read more about today’s Korean Yucatecos, visit the newest article at YONHAP News. The article has more details about the history of Koreans in Merida, and ends with Zeydo Aguilar saying she loves Korean food and wants to open a Korean restaurant in Merida. To this we can only add… YES! Build it and we will certainly come!

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Valladolid Lions Club Project: Hearing Aids for Needy Children

The local Valladolid Lions Club, as part of a world wide Lions’ Club effort, is helping needy children improve their quality of life by providing them with hearing aids. This will enable the children to do better both in school and throughout their lives. The Valladolid Lions Club is trying to raise $30,000 pesos to purchase hearing aids for 30 children. At this writing, they are only $4,000 pesos short of their goal. Emma Montes de Oca is the member of the Valladolid Lions Club who is coordinating the fundraising efforts for this project. If you would like to help these thirty hearing-impaired children in their quest for a better life, please contact Emma to find out how you can make a donation. Call: (985) 856-2430 or E-mail: viva [at] valladolidtravel [dot] com. Thanks to our friends John and Dorianne Venator for bringing this worthy cause to our attention!

Guatamala’s Mayans: So Near and Yet So Far AwayGuatemala's Mayans in a Program

In the State of Yucatan, we are used to seeing news stories about Mayans who have graduated from college and are going on to fine graduate schools around the world. We are used to seeing Mayans who come home to Yucatan, with impressive degrees, ready to aid in the forward movement of the indigenous people of this state. It doesn’t surprise us to learn that our Mayan foresters, far out in the interior of the state, took college-level forestry classes online or that they have landed huge export contracts in far away countries. Health care and education have dramatically improved for Yucatan’s Mayans and it seems as if the world has been just waiting for their success all along. …and then we hear about the Mayans in Guatemala and our heart just sinks.

There are approximately 20 Maya villages just over our own border with Guatemala. Most of the children never finish primary school. Girls are married between 12 and 14, and mothers by 15. The 18 year old midwife delivered her first baby at the age of 12! Violence toward girls cannot even be described here. Try something like that in Yucatan and, if the police and parents don’t get you, the children will stage a march the likes of which will make your head spin. We have human rights classes taught in every school in Yucatan – and nothing of the kind in Guatemala. The Population Council, a 59 year old research organization, now has programs that support over 3,000 Mayan women and girls in Guatemala. Please take a few minutes to visit their website.They have more information on their projects, as well as a job board and ways to donate to their efforts. Our deepest appreciation to the Population Council for all they are doing to help the Mayan women and girls in Guatemala and throughout the Americas. We stand in awe of the Mayan women and girls of Guatemala for never giving up.

Bamboo Bicycles in Colorado

In just three years, Jacob Castillo, John McKinney and Mark Schlink have earned their master’s degrees in Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise, then joined forces with Yucatan Bamboo BicyclesBamboo Company, plus engineer and inventor William Lord Reeves, and talented welder and craftsman Zach Yendra to develop the first ever steel-lugged bamboo-framed bicycle that can hold its own against any modern performance bike. Each of these bicycles is custom built, so please visit the Panda Bicycles Website to see just how beautiful all of their styles really are. While you are there, be sure and read the History section for more on these young men and their success. Look for new and even more interesting projects between this group and Yucatan Bamboo after their next visit to Merida. Yucatan Living would like to offer our special thanks to  Jacob Castillo for being so kind as to take time out of his busy day to speak with us.

Alligators Are Not Just LizardsAlligators in Yucatan

For generations, the people in the Rio Lagartos area have kept baby alligators as yard pets and have fed them scraps from their tables, as well as fish brought in from fishing trips. They call them lizards and do not see any harm in this habit because, once the lizards are big enough to be dangerous, they are released into the Rio Lagartos Reserve. This means that many of the large alligators in the reserve have no fear of human beings and see people as a source of free and easy food. If you take a trip into the Rio Lagartos Reserve, please keep this in mind and give a wide berth to any alligator you see. And please, whatever you do, resist the urge to feed an alligator at any time, no matter its size. While there have been no attacks on human beings by alligators in Yucatan, you certainly don’t want to be the object of the first time. We don’t know that we could – or even would – stop this practice, but we can ask readers to please be careful when they are in any alligators’ environment.

The Creation of Tomorrow’s Trova StarsTrova Students in Yucatan

This year, like every other summer, trova workshops begin around the state. These workshops prepare secondary school students for several rounds of competition as trova soloists or groups. The first round is in July, with the second round on August 31 and the final competition held on September 29 at Teatro Armando Manzanero. This is no small contest, as the top three winners in each category will receive $30,000, 20,000, and 10,000 pesos respectively. Keep an eye on Yucatan Living’s weekly Events columns as, throughout the Summer and Fall, the winners of these trova competitions will be guest performers at Café Pena K’aay T’aan and at the State Fair at Xmatkuil.

Invitation To Join Yahoo Group: CFS/ME/CFIDS: Feel Great Destinations

This group’s membership consists of individuals who suffer from several chronic and debilitating syndromes and their friends and loved ones. Most have discovered that their symptoms seem to improve as they move closer to the equator. Some remain symptom free but, for some, symptoms return, often to a lesser degree. To further muddy the waters, one friend reports that her symptoms disappeared when she went north to the much cooler mountains of Colorado for two weeks. This group needs to grow and this topic needs research. Anyone who is interested in the effect of location on CFS/ME/CFIDS, is invited to join the group.

A Traditional Medicine ConferenceTraditional Medicine Conference in Merida

This conference will take place on July 16, September 24, October 29 and November 26. It is sponsored by the Arte Esencial Mesoamericano, AC, for the purpose of rescuing the entire chain of production and delivery in the domestic herbal industry. This includes everyone from growers to practitioners. The conference is specifically aimed at the men and women who are indigenous citizens of the Yucatan Peninsula and who are either practitioners of traditional medicine or producers in the field. If you know of someone who could benefit from this conference, please refer them to the Traditional Medicine Conference website or have them call: (999) 232-9369, 1812 or (999) 923-0572.

Progreso Marines Head North

Two-hundred marines from the Ninth Naval Zone will travel first to Puerto Jarocho, Veracruz, and then on to conflict zones in Guadalajara, Monterrey, Michoacan and Tamaulipas for a period of 45 days. They will travel with marines from the Fifth Naval Region and infantry from the Eleventh Naval Zone in Chetumal, Quintana Roo. This is the third time Yucalpeten has provided marines for what is being called the ‘zone of danger’. Thus far, everyone has returned safely home. Yucatan Living sends our best wishes with these brave marines and we will be awaiting their safe return with all of Yucatan.

A Bit of History for Perspective

While working on a family genealogy project, we found a copy of a letter from Captain William J. Hardee (who would later become Confederate General William J. Hardee) to then Major (soon to be President) Zachary Taylor. The date was April 26, 1846. It seems that a Captain Thornton had just led 52 Dragoons over the border into Mexico and underestimated the skills of his opponents. Captain Thornton was killed in the ensuing battle. Captain Hardee surrendered himself, a Lt. Kane, and 45 Dragoons to General Torrejon. Captain Hardee’s letter to Major Taylor explained how the battle happened and how it ended. Then, he ended the letter with a description of how the prisoners of war were being treated. We hope, when people think of Mexico, they will remember General Ampudia and General Arista, rather than dwell on current yellow journalism. In the words of Captain William J. Hardee:

“I was brought to Matamoros today about 4 o’clock, and I take pleasure in stating that since our surrender I and my brave companions in misfortune have been treated with uniform kindness and attention. It may soften the rigors of war for you to be informed fully of this fact. Lieutenant Kane and myself are living with General Ampudia. We lodge in his hotel, eat at his table, and his frank, agreeable manner and generous hospitality almost make us forget our captivity. General Arista received us in the most gracious manner and said that his nation had been regarded as barbarous, and that he wished to prove to us the contrary. He told Lieutenant Kane and myself that we should receive half pay, and our men should receive ample rations, and in lieu of it for today 25 cents a piece. On declining the boon on the part of Lieutenant Kane and myself, and a request that we might be permitted to send to camp for money, he said no; that he could not permit it; that he intended to supply all our wants himself. These promises have already been fulfilled in part.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W.J. Hardee,
Captain 2d Dragoons”

That the kind of open and welcoming culture that we are so familiar with! And they carried even into the battlefield.

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5 Responses to “Yucatan News: Alligators & Hearing Aids”

  1. Just wanted to share that the photo is a crocodile and unless alligators have come into the Yucatan from the pet trade or some other means, I think your article refers to crocodiles, not alligators.

  2. Thanks, Cherie! Keepin’ us on our toes :-)

  3. “We don’t know that we could – or even would – stop this practice, but we can ask readers to please be careful when they are in any alligators’ environment.”

    As an expat, I suppose you could be deported for trying to stop the practice. BTW, they’re crocodiles, not alligators.

  4. “That the kind of open and welcoming culture that we are so familiar with! And they carried even into the battlefield.”

    Like at The Alamo and Goliad.

  5. Yes – they are crocodiles… and the mixup is all the fault of the Spanish in the 1500s. They are the ones who first called these animals alligators (lagartos), named the river Alligator River (Rio Lagartos) and it stuck. The people accepted the term lagartos, but many continue to simply call them lizards. After living in alligator country in the States, we were so shocked to learn that feeding table scraps to lizards in their backyards is a common practice in Rio Lagartos that we didn’t search out the animals’ true identity. Ask anyone from Florida or Louisiana and you’ll find that feeding gators of any stripe or size is against the law. In fact, if someone feeds an alligator in Florida, the animal is euthanized because it will be a danger to humans for the rest of its life. Please forgive our error – and please don’t let your guard down around any animal that is alternately called a lizard, lagartos, alligator, or crocodile in any tropical bioreserve.


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