Yucatan News: Birds, Pemex, NAFTA
Welcome to Lydia and Sac-Be
This week, Yucatan Living made a new friend. Her name is Lydia and she owns and operates a site called Sac-Be. It is one of the best coastal resources online for the Rivera Maya. You know how we at Yucatan Living love dogs... Well, Lydia has long been a supporter of animal welfare on the Rivera Maya and has adopted two beach dogs herself. How does Yucatan continue to collect such lovely people? We don't know, but we sure are glad to meet Lydia. We recommend Sac-Be and welcome her readers to Yucatan Living as well.
10.5284: OUCH !!!
It seems that the conversion rate for pesos to dollars has fallen and become stable (they say) at 10.5 to 1. That is not good news for those of us old folks who still look (wistfully) back over our shoulders at a 12 to 1 conversion rate a few years ago, but it is sure better than our memory of the peso when it fell to below 10.0 for a while. If you don't think the exchange rate matters much to you, take a look at a $3,000 MXP a month rent at 10.9 ($275.23 USD), at 10.5 ($285.71 USD) and at 10.0 ($300.00 USD). If this new rate is as stable as predicted, that will at least make it easier for folks to try to work up a budget for either visiting or living in Mexico.
Mayan Rituals Filmed by Univision
As part of the new interest in Mayan culture and tourism, Univision has begun to film Mayan rituals. The first was The Purification of the Four Cardinal Points at Rancho San Miguel de Dzitnup. These films will be shown on television on Monday nights as part of a show called El Poder y la Energia (The Power and the Energy). We are pleased to see that these rituals are now being supported and that the Mayan culture is receiving the respect it so richly deserves. If you want to know more about Mayan rituals and the cosmology behind them, check out the offerings at the Maya Cosmic University.
Korean Social Services in Progreso
Sometimes, we have to laugh just a little when tourists come to Yucatan expecting to see "Mexicans." That's a bit like landing in New York City and expecting to see "Americans." The State of Yucatan and, in truth, all of Mexico, is just as diverse in ethnicity as is the United States. In Yucatan, there is a quite substantial Korean population scattered throughout the state. There are Korean Methodist missionaries in Merida, supported by a church in Youngstown, Ohio. They, along with 11 of their church members, came to Progreso last week and brought with them free hair cuts, free eyeglasses, and free medical consultations. They cooked Korean food and everyone had a wonderful time. These wonderful folks are making the rounds of towns with Korean communities and are deeply appreciated for their altruistic efforts. Now, we hope *someone* will open up a Korean restaurant!
When driving in Yucatan, please be certain to have your vehicle documentation up to date and with you. This past week, in Tizimin, there were checkpoints for the purpose of making certain that all vehicle documentation is current. We do not know that this will become a widespread practice, but better safe than sorry. Since there is a fine and your vehicle will be subject to impound, it is just a whole lot easier to keep it legal.
IMS World Review Country Profile - Mexico is a document provided mainly for use by marketing departments in the pharmaceutical industry. The newest version shows that Pfizer, Aventis, Roche, Bayer, Glaxosmithkline, Janssen-Cilag, Astrazeneca, Novartis, Merck, Merck Sharp Dohme, Abbot, Wyeth, Boehringer Ing, Lilly, Senosiain, Altana, Sanofi-Synthelabo, Liomont, Boehringer Ing Otc, Sp Chc, Armstrong, Nestle, Lab Grossman, Schering Mexicana, Sanfer, Bms Antiinfeccioso, Pfizer Chc, Silanes, Rimsa, Sandoz, Mead Johnson Nutri., White S., Bms. Sm., Pisa, and Siegfried Rhein are all active pharmaceutical companies in Mexico and that customers are now able to obtain most, if not all, of the medications found throughout the rest of the world.
Things we know:
(1) There is going to be energy reform in Mexico.
(2) The Government is still running proposals up the flagpole to see who salutes.
(3) Mexico holds the # 5 place for crude oil production in the world.
And that's all that anyone knows for certain at this point. We have considered reporting several of the news stories surrounding this issue, only to find that by the time we go to print, they are totally obsolete and have been replaced by new proposals at the rate of two to three a week. When there is something solid to report, we promise that we will get it to you.
Many Thanks to NAFTA
We were reminded, this week, of a sort of back-handed benefit that NAFTA has unintentionally bestowed on Mexico. And we were also reminded of the old Italian proverb that says "He who laughs last, laughs best." We never really thought about where all of the environmental concern in Mexico actually began until we read an article by Froma Harrop. It seems that, as environmental restrictions got tighter north of the border, many companies moved to Mexico so they could dump whatever-whenever-wherever. With the advent of NAFTA, the pace picked up and Mexico realized what was happening. We would venture to suggest that nutrition and health care, along with the environment are the topics that are most dear to Mexican hearts today and any business that might be thinking of attempting to operate in Mexico without making protection of the environment a top priority is making a really big, and probably very costly, error. So Thank You NAFTA for unintentionally (we know you didn't mean to) kick-starting the Green Mexico we all love more every day! (Special thanks to Suzan Haskins for the link to this incredibly clear satellite photo of the Yucatan on a recent day in March. Look at the gorgeous water surrounding our beautiful peninsula! Click on the photo to learn more details).
Isla Mujeres Airport to Reopen
Pack up that swim suit and grab a pair of sandals. The Isla Mujeres Airport is soon to reopen to commercial traffic. Soon, the little island that is loved by so many will be just moments away. We know this is wonderful news for everyone who counts themselves among the Isla Mujeres faithful.
Summer Heat in Yucatan
With global warming comes colder winters and hotter summers. Yucatan is no exception. This year, we lost count of the nortes at 40 (in fact, one just blew through yesterday...). What we do know is that the day the nortes stopped last year, it instantly turned to mid-summer in Yucatan. It is expected that April, May, and June will be the hottest months of the past 100 years in Yucatan. It was 105.8 degrees Farenheit in the interior of the state this past week and 99.7 degrees in the City of Merida. We are all tired of cool weather and may be tempted to enjoy the heat without realizing just how hot it really is. Don't forget that our almost constant breeze can fool you into thinking that the sun is not as dangerous as it really is. Please be careful out there. If you make an error, do let it be on the side of caution.
Yucatan Express: Tailwinds over the Gulf
All of this heat is good news for birds migrating northward from Yucatan. Last Thursday night, while tornados raged over much of the central portions of the U.S., our birds got a fast ride north. According to the Feathered Pixel (what a great name for a website, huh?) a very large group of travelers hopped aboard the winds early in the evening and were as far north as Jackson, MS, within 12 hours! Two nights later, the "Yucatan Express" winds took that night's feathered travelers to Alabama and Florida. We tend to think of weather patterns in terms of how they affect people. It was interesting to read the Feathered Pixel and consider who might have needed a fast, free ride on what to many north of the border humans was a dark and stormy night.
Birding in Yucatan: Guides
Speaking of birds and feathers, are you an avid birdwatcher? Would you like to come to Yucatan for some of the best birdwatching in the world? Pack your suitcase and make your reservations for this coming winter (mid-Nov, Dec., and early Jan.). The Yucatan Bird Festival gets better every year. 2008 is the sixth year in a row that this festival has grown and matured. We will remind you again as the time grows closer, but this site should give you plenty to dream about between now and then. We'll see you birdwatchers in the Fall! ... unless you come in May to see the breeding birds - or in the summer for the flamingo banding... or unless you come early to help with the turtles ... and then there's always the dolphins... and the whale sharks... and the deer... Oh fooey!... why not just pack up and hop on the plane today???
Summer's Here! Camps and the Environment
That's right - it's almost Summertime! ...and almost time for organized efforts to help our flamingos, baby turtles, and forests. We are currently compiling a list of volunteer projects and camps you and/or your children can attend, as well as day programs in which you can participate. Opportunities begin as early as May, so be sure and check back weekly for new information about fun and productive ways to spend a week or so in Yucatan this summer.
Discussions Begin: "Special Beaches"
Over the past year, Progreso has been supporting the efforts of disabled children to attend catechism classes. Last week, we reported on the first ever special mass in which disabled children were able to take their first communion. Now, discussions have begun in Progreso about the potential for developing a "special beach." These discussions are still in the brain-storming stage, but everyone is in agreement that it is a wonderful idea to have beaches with lifeguards and special equipment available so that handicapped individuals can enjoy the beach as much as the rest of us do. Keep watching our own progressive Progreso for bigger and better things to come!
New Parks for Some
Our towns and villages are well aware that it is far healthier for children to play in a park or participate in sports than to sit at home or in an internet cafe with video games. As a result, there is a push on to both build new parks, throughout the state, or refurbish older parks. We've noticed that the enhancements to the park at L'Ermita include a children's playground. Let's hope there are more in the works.
Graffiti is a Still a Crime
Unfortunately, all of the graffiti artists of Yucatan have not been reached and invited to participate in the Red Infantil Ecologica de Yucatan A.C. (RIE). The director of RIE is Maria del Carmen Kam, and she reminds us that these young people truly are undeveloped artists and that the themes found in their work reflects the hopes and fears of their generation. By giving them a place in RIE, as well as a well respected, annual contest as true artists, it is hoped that their energy and depth of feeling can be harnessed for positive, productive use. Still, the undisciplined, rampant painting of walls throughout our cities, towns, and villages is a crime and the young offenders are being made to clean the walls. Hopefully, they will join RIE and take the opportunity to develop their talent.
Jobs in Yucatan
Valladolid held its 19th Annual Job Fair this week. Thirty-two companies participated in the fair and offered Yucatecos a total of 548 jobs. Many of these jobs are quite prestigious, including jobs for attorneys and accountants and hotel employees. Even Pepsi was there! The future looks bright for these potential employees and we wish them well in their new jobs right here at home.
Environmental Technician Degree
Sometimes, there is a story within a story and such was the case this week. We are always interested in stories about groups of students planting trees in Yucatan, and found just such a story this week. As we read about the students of Colegio de Estudios Cientificos y Technologicos del Estado de Yucatan (The College of Scientific and Technologic Studies of the State of Yucatan) and their tree planting efforts, we noticed that, at this school, students can actually earn a degree as an Environmental Technician and that they are finding jobs with the Municipality of Merida. We were thrilled to learn that the entire student body of this particular college is "preoccupied with preventing ecological damage." What a wonderful testimony to the character of the young people in the next generation of Yucatecos!
What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?
That is a question that is going to be asked of 2,000 students who have finished their first two years of college in Valladolid. Between now and June, they will take a number of aptitude tests and will even attend workshops to get a taste of different disciplines. While we wish these students well, we know that time changes all things - including the answer to the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?" How many of us are still living with degree and career choices made for us by the 18 year old children we once were? It is a different world today and (we think) it would be much better to teach college students to look at all of life as a continuum. They will make far fewer bad (?) wrong (?) decisions if they know they are going to be free to decide again at any point along the way.
Yucatan is one of the few places in the world that not only plans ahead for the possibility and/or probability of natural disaster but then actually does something about it before tragedy strikes. Researchers at UADY are beginning to produce concrete plans and instructions for saving our state from the worst of the effects of global warming. We see these activities beginning already in the replanting of the mangroves on the coast and forests throughout the rest of the state. We need to grow some beaches (already working on it!) and maybe put in a few seawalls - and listen to our researchers as they bring us news of what to do next. We have a feeling that, as long as there are Yucatecos, there will be a strong emphasis on supporting post-secondary education and graduate research; and, as long as UADY exists, ..... when everything else is gone, there will still be Yucatan.
Seminario International de Arquitectura y Vivienda 2008
The Architecture Department at UADY is currently hosting the International Seminar of Architecture and Living, with guest teachers from the University of Madrid and the University of Barcelona. This seminar addresses the totality of the concept of homebuilding at the beginning of the 21st century. First, homes must be safe and comfortable, especially with respect to climate control. Second, homes must fit within the culture in which they are being built. Finally, homes must consider the sustainability factor, in that homes must not be built of materials that cannot be replaced in the environment. This is yet another instance of research in Yucatan being far and away ahead of other places and more comfort for us, knowing that our state is likely not to feel many of the tragedies of global warming as intensely as other places.
International Congresos de Quimica Sustentable y Quimica en Microscala at UADY
Last year, this chemistry convention was a pretty big deal, and was so successful that UADY and Merida have now become home to an International Congress of Sustainable Chemistry and Microscopic Chemistry. In all, there are currently 300 professionals, teachers, and students, from a total of 16 nations, in Merida for the activities associated with these conventions. For those interested in chemistry, this is a wonderful turn of events and puts the outstanding Chemistry Department at UADY in an international spotlight it certainly has earned. However, for those who do not think this has anything to do with you, take a look at the names of just a few of the 16 nations who will be attending these meetings: Mexico (as the host country), the U.S., Colombia, El Salvador, Israel, Spain, and Austria. It is amazing that the academic and research communities in all of these nations can work so well together when none of our politicians (worldwide) seem to be able to play well with others.
A Short Honey Report
Lack of rain has affected our honey crop. The expected 1,500 tons has been reduced to 1,300 tons. The Yucatan continues to be a major player in the exportation of honey to the United States, Germany, Italy, and Japan.