News Starting October 08, 2012
Chetumal: There’s a New Fish in the Sea
His name is Hypoplectrus ecosur and he was first discovered on a routine fish collection dive in February, 2011. It has taken this long (October 2012) for all of the DNA reports to come back and for this fish to be declared, literally, a new fish in the sea. According to researchers, this is the first new species to be found in a while, but we can look for others now that we have increasingly sophisticated DNA identification technology. This fish was found in Parque Nacional Isla Contoy, just north of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, so scientists are studying this individual in order to learn how to care for the environment of others of the species that might be in the area. These young scientists monitor our oceans and they are deeply appreciated, as is little Hypoplectrus ecosur.
Yucatan’s Breast Cancer Death Rate Plummets
New breast cancer death rates have been released by Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography ( INEGI). The seven states with the lowest breast cancer rates are Oaxaca, Quintana Roo, Guerrero, Chiapas, Yucatan, Campeche, Morelos and Hidalgo. Yucatan is currently enjoying a drop in its breast cancer mortality rate from 12.7 to 7.8 per 100,000 in women over the age of 25, and actually lower than the most recent rates we could find for the U.S. and Canada. This news has pushed an already active volunteer group to even greater levels of activity, so don’t be surprised when you run into them as they hand out their new flyers. The INEGI statistics also note that Merida, Progreso, Hunucma, Izamal, Motul, Valladolid, Ticul and Tizimin are the municipalities that have the highest incidence of breast cancer in Yucatan.
Valladolid on Sunday
Many remember the eastern part of Yucatan as dusty cattle country, with not a whole lot going on. On the whole, it was an area you passed through on your way between Merida and Cancun. Well, no more! Valladolid is now the center of the home of a thriving cattle industry, fine quarter horses, an international export trade fair, and one of Latin America’s prime locations for finding fine jewelry for the export market. Valladolid is also now one of the Pueblos Magicos (Magical Towns) of Mexico. Since 2010, Valladolid has had its own Bici-Ruta on Sundays and now, this past weekend, Valladolid en Domingo is up and running. The goal of this weekly event is to give a market to the talabarteros (saddlers and leather workers) and other artisans and craftsmen in the area, as well as providing a day of family fun for the people. Merida en Domingo has been a great success and we know that the same format will work beautifully for Valladolid.
Day of the Dead Activities Begin
Día de los Muertos doesn’t just happen in Yucatan. For weeks before the actual day, cemeteries receive a major cleaning and overhaul. Brickwork is restored, graves are washed, weeding is pristine, and so is painting. In many cases, young people and the unemployed get a financial lift during this time by hiring themselves out to do the cemetery work of other families. As time goes on, sweet candy, honey, flowers and candles will begin to appear in the cemeteries. While the men and some of the ladies work on the cemeteries and altars, the rest of the ladies are busy preparing their novena booklets so they will be ready to begin these important prayers on October 24. In addition, families all over the city are preparing their homes for the holiday by cleaning them out and preparing their own personal altars. By the time this reaches our readers, all of Yucatan will be involved, in some way, shape, fashion or form, in preparing for Día de los Muertos 2012.
Oxkutzcab To Grow Chia
The introduction of new agricultural crops in Yucatan always have at least two goals in mind. The first, of course, is to contribute to the ability of the local community to improve its economy. The second often seems to be in line with building greater access to better nutrition for Yucatan and beyond. Such is the case with chia. The soil in Yaxhom is perfect for chia and the town actively seeks and participates in agricultural research trials. Chia seeds are an important source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which not only help with healthy brain functioning, but also with the removal of fat, sugar and other toxins. The seeds have no taste or smell, and can be ground and added to almost any other food, and the sprouts are an important source of fiber. Yes. This is the same chia you find on Chia Pets, but its nutritional value was recognized by the Aztecs long before the Spanish came to Mexico and long before we all had at least one as a “pet.” The Omega-3 fatty acids, the protein, the minerals and the fiber, taken together, make this an important new agricultural product for the state, as well as for those who live here. Preview Chia’s Nutrition Facts
Progreso Municipality: 50% Discount Student Transportation
One of the obstacles facing students throughout the State of Yucatan is the expense of taking public transportation to and from school. The problem becomes insurmountable when there are multiple children in one family. This is such a serious issue that it alone has the power to stop many young people from even attempting to continue their educations. The new administration in the Municipality of Progreso, just days after taking office, has announced that all students in the municipality will now receive a 50% discount on public transportation (buses and combis) to and from school. To apply for their student transportation ID card, all they have to do is apply at the Municipal Palace (City Hall) Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM or Saturday from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM. For those who are disabled or elderly, transportation is free.
XV Anniversary of Aprendamos Juntos
“Learning Together” is an altruistic organization that promotes the inclusion of people with special needs. Here in Yucatan, they take the word ‘inclusion’ very seriously. This past week, the group celebrated their 15th anniversary with a fashion show entitled Moda & Café (Fashion & Café) in the salon at the Beirut Lebanese Club. Sponsors included SIPSE Group, Estelari and Hyatt. The black and red designs were by Andrew Gasque. The fashions themselves were long, formal, elegant and breathtaking on the models, who were Yucateca society ladies. Prior to the beginning of the fashion show, there was a performance by the vocal ensemble from Aprendamos Juntos. Through the years, we have seen people with special needs included in almost every activity in the state. This event, along with its sponsors, hosts, designer, models and vocal ensemble, just made it onto our list of all time favorite heroes. Please visit the Aprendamos Juntos website and the Fundacion Down 21 website for more information.
UADY: Age is Not a Sin
This past week, Gina Villagomez Valdez presented research at a forum at UADY that detailed the plight of the elderly in Mexico. One of the effects of better health care and better nutrition is longer life. Mexicans now have a life expectancy of 73 for men and 75 for women, with those ages continuing to rise. The biggest problem in this age group is among single and widowed women. Women have traditionally toughed out life’s rough spots so, when they reach advanced age, they tend to become an invisible, suffering population. At this point, with children facing the financial stresses of raising their own families and no formal public policy to address the issue, the one in fifteen Mexicans who are now in advanced age need federal, state and local governments to begin seriously considering how to care for this vulnerable population. This is a topic, of course, that is being discussed worldwide. We do hope that all of our countries are able to find a way to do the right thing for the citizens upon whose backs our nations were built.
Halloween Pumpkins: How Cultures Share
It seems that, at the very same time that Cinco de Mayo and the Cry of Dolores ( Viva Mexico) made their way around the world, Santa Claus and Jack-o-Lanterns made their way to Mexico. We have thought a lot about the impact of foreign cultures on Mexican society and culture, acknowledging the inevitability of progress while also lamenting the loss of the purity of Mexico’s holidays. Then, it dawned on us that we do not have the slightest reservation about lovely Mexican customs coming to our own country. We never worry one little bit about the possibility of somehow losing our own culture. As we were busy growing older, young people from all walks of life and from every culture in the world have been sharing their best with each other. Ticul reports that their Hanal Pixan whistles, bowls, vases, candlesticks, plates and candle holders are selling like hot cakes, and so are their Halloween pumpkins. In the meantime, cultural centers are giving children Saturday morning pumpkin carving classes. Now, we are a little jealous and wish we had been able to share cultures with children in other countries when we were young. We hope all of the children of the world are able to continue sharing the best of their best. We can’t wait to see the world they build for themselves.
Hazing As It Could Be
Hazing has turned ugly, and even deadly, in many places in the world – but not in Hunucma. Here, the children get to choose the activities they want and the object is for everyone involved to have a wonderful day outside of class. At the beginning of the school year in Hunucma, there is a short period of time during which candidates for class offices can campaign. Then, on election day, everyone is far too excited to do school work, so as soon as last minute speeches and voting take place, the big kids (7th graders) haze the little kids as a welcome into the school. This year, there was a little greased pig to chase, paint-filled balloons to throw, a canvas covered in flour, eggs and tomato sauce to slide on, mud was thrown in there somewhere, and there was a kiddie pool to wash off in. This hazing, with its name changed to “extreme games,” took place under the watchful eye of teachers, with parental approval, and refreshments (cold drinks and chicharrones). This annual event is proof positive of “Give a little boy a way to get disgustingly dirty and wet in his clothes, and you will have a happy little boy. Give a whole school of little boys the same opportunity and the world is their oyster.” Pass the chicharrones!
Former Missionary Recognized by Lafitte Society
Dr. Reginald and Mrs. Betty Wilson have been formally recognized for their contribution to the Lafitte Society, based in Galveston, TX. Following his retirement in Dayton, OH, Dr. and Mrs. Wilson traveled throughout the rural sections of the Yucatan Peninsula as medical missionaries to the Maya at Presbyterian clinics. Dr. Wilson is a leading authority and author on the topic of buccaneers of the Gulf Coast and Caribbean, and is a well known historian in Louisiana and Texas. The Wilsons are dedicated to public service and have earned not only the honor given them by the Lafitte Society, but a heart felt thank you from those whose lives they touched in the seven years they were on the Yucatan Peninsula.
Best Updated Websites This Week!
Two of the oldest expat organizations in Merida have updated their websites and the result is two sites that expats (old and new) will find absolutely essential as resources. One is the site of the Merida English Library. When you visit the site, please be sure to download “You’ve Got MEL.” The newsletter is amazing! The other site belongs to the International Women’s Club of Merida. This site now has tons of information available to expat women who may never have thought they were “club joiners,” and the Backyard Fence will give potential expats an idea of what the members of IWC do to serve Merida, the beach communities and the entire state.
Please be sure to spend some time on the sites of the Merida English Library and the International Women’s Club of Merida (IWC) . Both sites are well worth the read and both organizations are more than well worth adding memberships to your budget.
Update: Protección de Perros y Gatos a.c.
The Humane Society of Progreso found themselves in the enviable position of having enough saved to finish all of the doors and windows on the new clinic, as well as complete all of the electric work, and they have even been able to completely finish the exterior cement of the building’s front facade, which will be painted as soon as the cement is cured. All that is left is to take bids on the floor and the clinic will be able to open, at least for basic services, early in 2013. It’s been a long road from the first dreams of a community-based veterinary service, debt free and available to all, but the end is in sight. Meetings are held quarterly at Le St. Bonnet Restaurant on Progreso’s Malecon. They are open to the general public and all are invited to come and share your thoughts and ideas. Donations are deeply appreciated. USD checks or money orders can be made payable to Protección de Perros y Gatos a.c. and mailed to Apartado Postal No. 30, Progreso 97320, Yucatán, México. For more information about meetings or donations, contact swbjorge [at] yahoo [dot] com.
Evolución’s biggest news this month is that they have a new name: Evolución Animal A.C. They still have plenty of opportunities for everyone to volunteer through their Paws on Pavement Program (walking dogs on Wednesday and/or Saturday morning), Wet Paws Program (wash dogs Thursdays 3:30 PM to 5:30 PM), and a Virtual Adoption program with a whole range of options. Please go to the Evolución Animal A.C. website and sign up for their newsletter. The City of Merida has a great new set of laws for the protection of animals that everyone will be interested in reading. Laura Diaz and Pat Holland are including a translation for readers and will explain the laws in further detail in the next issue. We can’t wait to see it!