Yucatan News: Zoo Anniversary!
News Starting September 20, 2010
Hurricane Karl Devastates Veracruz
Its hard to believe but SEVEN rivers overflowed, hundreds of thousands of trees went down, thousands of homes went under water (800 in Veracruz-Boca del Rio), 500,000 hectares of sugar cane are estimated to have been destroyed, 60 municipalities were declared disaster areas, the Army and Navy had to come in with chainsaws, major highways are closed, 40% of the area has no electricity, 40,000 people have been displaced, and the dead include 2 children who were washed away from the arms of their father. According to the local papers in Veracruz, there has also been at least one bridge collapse and there is an interruption of transit on both the free road and the cuota coming to the southeast. If we have any Snowbirds planning on traveling in the next week or two, please keep an eye on the local news in Veracruz for updated information. For a video of Hurricane Karl check this Video.
Travel to Yucatan On the Rise
Summer is over and the Snowbirds have yet to take flight. Add to that the collapse of a major airline and the global slow-down of the economy and you have a recipe for disaster for airlines and anyone associated with tourism in Mexico – except in Yucatan. While tourist travel is down by 50% in the northern states, through a little creative advertising and th lowering of ticket prices, Yucatan is still rocking along at 85% capacity and rising. In fact, the collapse of Mexicana has made it possible for smaller airlines to come in and compete with lower prices, which is a huge boon for the traveling public. This is not bad for a month that is between seasons and traditionally slow. We expect this Fall and Winter will be better than ever in Yucatan because travelers are looking for great value, safety, and excellent service – all things we have in abundance in Yucatan!
Mayan Artisans to Sell Handicrafts in the U.S.
As many of our readers know, there are quite a few clubs in the U.S. Whose members are natives of Yucatan. These groups have come together in an association called Red de Clubes Yucatecos, headed by Jose Loria. Working together with Yucatan's Director General of the International Affairs Office and Casa de la Cultura Maya, along with the Maya Foundation, agreements have been made that will make it possible for Mayan Artisans to sell their handicrafts in the U.S. In addition, through an agreement with the State of California's Department of Health, physician specialists will now be coming on medical missions to Yucatan. This is in addition to the opening of a new Los Angeles Museum of Maya Culture that is scheduled to take place next year. We do not believe there is any state in Mexico that has a more loyal and generous population in the U.S. than the Yucateco immigrants who make their home north of the border. Many will be retiring back here at home and we can hardly wait for them to see the difference their efforts have made and enjoy the fruits of their generosity in the 3 x 1 program.
New Foreign Retirees Will Be Sought for the Interior
We were so excited when we read that the State of Yucatan is actually beginning a new program designed to seek out foreign retirees and encourage them to retire in the interior of the state. The program is called Platform Valladolid, with both Izamal and Valladolid mentioned as a starting point. For those of you who are headed our way, the study they did should result in age appropriate health care services, entertainment and even yoga for you by the time you can get your vehicle packed and get down here. This is really going to happen! We can only imagine the culture of the end result – something along the lines of Country-Mayan. Whatever such a combination turns out to be, we're sure the food will be unique and so will the music. That sounds like a great way to spend winters, a few years, or all of retirement. We'll leave the porch light on for you. Ya'll come on when you can.
Parque del Centenario is 100 Years Old
September 19, 1910, Parque del Centenario opened its gates for the first time. Today, the park is better than ever, in spite of the fact that some thought the opening of Animaya would spell its doom. Instead, the park and zoo are better than ever. Visit El Parque Zoologico del Centenario's website to see all of the great things they offer. Don't forget that they have a dance at the Pergola of the park every Thursday at 4:00 PM. The music is “big band” style and the event was created for older folks to dance and enjoy the late afternoon. That gives us plenty of time to dance to our heart's content and still make it home by dinner. If you want to eat at the park, there are plenty of vendors and loads of great Yucateco food.
National Week of Rabies Vaccination for Dogs and Cats
Sunday, September 19, 2010, began the National Week of Rabies Vaccination for Dogs and Cats. In honor of this event, the Governor of Yucatan traveled to Progreso for a free vaccination program and to conduct a ceremony in which the State donated the land necessary to build an animal shelter in Progreso. There was a parade for the children and their pets and a show that included clowns and folkloric dancers. The interest shown in vaccinating pets is a direct result of animal rights education, as well as an indication of improvements in the economic well-being of Yucateco families. The people of Yucatan love their pets and, given opportunity and resources, they will do anything necessary to improve the quality of life for all of the animals of Yucatan.
Merida for Young Expats
Sometimes we “more mature” (old) expats forget that Merida is not just for retirees. There are loads of young expats here and they come for a variety of reasons. Some married Yucatecos and moved here with spouses. Some have jobs here, or are exchange students. Some are raising children here. Some are artists or musicians; and some are here with their parents. We can certainly understand that attending events that cater to an older crowd would not be real high up on their list of fun things to do. Every once in a while, we run across the website for the Merida 20/30's Expat Girls and are pleased to see that they are still going strong. They meet informally for coffee and meals, go to the movies, check out the best clubs in the city, and take short trips together to see the tourist attractions throughout the state. They are a wealth of information and inspiration for each other and we are very pleased to see that they are having a wonderful live in their adopted home in Merida. If you or someone you know is in their age group, please visit Merida 20/30's Expat Girls website to get acquainted with other expats your own age.
Pulpo: Law of Supply vs Demand
Thank Goodness the season for pulpo is a long one, as the catch is low worldwide. Prices are up because of the shortage but that doesn't do much good if one has little pulpo to sell. However, all is not lost. Fishermen are anxiously awaiting the first norte and say that will be when the “real” pulpo season begins. Last year's bumper catch within the first few days of the opening of pulpo season was a fluke and fishermen are in hopes that a return to normalcy will blow in on the first cool wind. As reported earlier, a norte will cool the water and bring the pulpo up toward shore from deeper, colder depths. Although we hate to see those north winds blow, we'll be happy for the pulpo fishermen of Yucatan and for their families and the local economy.
Low Calorie Sugar to Come from Yucatan
When we think of cutting down or back on our sugar consumption, we often think of the necessity to use artificial sweeteners and many of us hesitate because they are chemical compounds that have the potential to harm our health. What we really need is something organic and there just happens to be a plant that is a native of Paraguay and fits the bill even better than anyone could have hoped. This plant's name is Stevia rebaudiana. Its ground leaves are 25 to 35 times sweeter than cane sugar, and if stevoside is extracted from the leaves, it is 300 times sweeter than cane sugar! Stevia not only grows well in Yucatan, but there are 500 hectares currently being planted in Tizimin on an experimental farm. Yes, we were happy to learn that Yucatan's stevia is destined for the soft drink industry – but we were thrilled to discover that studies have confirmed it effectively helps regulate and normalize blood sugar levels! This is a plant that can help people who suffer from diabetes and hypoglycemia! Asia currently has almost 90% of the market on the production of stevia, but we predict a thriving local market in stevia here because Yucatan's farmers do tend to win at whatever they set their mind to. We will keep you posted on new developments concerning stevia production in Yucatan.
Climate Change and Mexico
Its very easy to say global warming and climate change without really connecting to what those terms actually mean for our not too distant future. This week, we found out what they very well may mean to Mexico if human beings are unable to stop this juggernaut we call global warming and climate change. Scientists from around the world met this week at the Universidad Autonoma Chapingo for the Second International Congress on Sustainable Development and Natural Resource Management. Findings show that Mexico has already lost 25% of her animal species and very well could lose 45% of its natural territory and become a desert. Globally, over the past 200 years, fish reproduction is down already by 70%, and both shrimp and tuna production have declined by 50%. The drop in numbers of fish has had an effect on birds and has even deformed the entire food chain in the oceans, especially for such animals as sharks, which are now found hunting for food in places they were never seen before. This situation is much like the old question of “does one vote really count?” Yes. Elections have been won or lost by one vote – and the planet can be won or lost by whether or not each of us makes a determined effort to live a greener life. This is the planet we will be leaving our for our grandchildren and we can all be more environmentally responsible – for their sake.
Monique's Independence Day Blah Blah Blah
Monique's missive is especially poignant this week...
"My great-grandfather, Juan Francisco Castañeda, left Mexico in a rush. It was 1912 and his pro-Madero writing got him into trouble. He was an editorialist (who wasn´t?) for a newspaper in Monterrey, Mexico. He was a wanted man -- dead or alive (who wasn´t?).
He bid his pregnant wife and 6 children goodbye. Goodbye mountains, goodbye cabritos (a Northern Mexico culinary specialty), goodbye revolution -- and left to San Antonio, Texas.
The little girl -- who would grow up to be my grandmother -- was 6 years old. She waved goodbye to her father. Everybody cried. Romanita, my great grandmother, gave her husband Juan a recipe for flour tortillas which was written in elegant floral script, on perfumed paper. The dripping fountain pen leaving marks like droplets of nectar.
And this is how it began. How my family shifted its history a little to the north, a few degrees hotter, almost one hundred years ago. The proportions of fat to water, the rest time of the dough, the massaging the fat into the white flour...none of that has changed in the original tortilla recipe. But the handful of pork fat morphed into a handful of Crisco and the lucky feeling you get when you´re the one who gets to slowly pull back the metal skin from the top of the can and you feel the satisfying tinny sound of metal ripping. The wood fire obsolete. Gas is piped in through the ground and cleanly connects to a fancy appliance. The tickle was eliminated, the art of making a flour tortilla rise with the spongy tips of your fingers. A gesture lost.
Who am I now? My grandmother learned to walk with shoulders hunched, she learned to hide what was hers. My mother´s tongue lost its rrrr , spanked out of her in a public school. Shame filled her life, eating nata secretly. My genetic blood was smeared through Mexico, pumped into Texas, forever stained by ink that flows through Cuba and chopped, estilo pico-de-gallo, with my father´s French Myth. I´ve been kneaded into a Dutch family and now the Yucatan cradles my children. And this is how it continues.
Viva Viva Viva Mexico who looks at me now with leary welcoming but with bitterness sometimes, with confusion, with love too. I am a lost mountain flower blooming, withering, blooming, living and bleeding blood and ink back again into Mexico, that what was taken from me.
I´ll die in the arms of Mexico. Please let my children find their lost rrr."
Of course, we're all just thankful we've found Monique and the Slow Food Market in Merida. Every Saturday, with an increasing amount of fresh, organic and healthy foods for all of us. Let the healing continue!