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Yucatan News: Day of the Dead and Turkeys


News Starting November 01, 2010

CEMEX Wins Social Media Award
Not Facebook. Not Twitter. CEMEX set up its own inter-office system and won this year’s Forrester Growndswell Awards in the Management: Collaboration System category. They named their system “Shift” and allow collaboration across and beyond traditional roles and titles. If this sort of thing is interesting to you, you can read more about Shift here. Congratulations to CEMEX, a multinational corporation that seems to recognize that everyone can play a part in creating success.

Christmas and Chili in Chelem
You are cordially invited to participate in the Chelem Christmas Dreams Toy Drive Raffle that is taking place right Chelem Toy Drivenow! There are plenty of wonderful prizes, including restaurant gift certificates, hotel stays and artwork from Merida and the surrounding area. Prizes also include a one-week stay at Casa Rosa, on the beach in Chelem and a 3-night stay at the LeMeridien Resort in Cancun. The drawing will be held on December 4, 2010, following the 2nd Annual Chili Cook-Off Fundraiser, which begins at 6:00 PM at Playa de Chelem Restaurant. Donations of toys and money are also welcome. If you are a business and would like to donate a prize for the raffle, please contact the organizers through the Chelem Christmas Dreams website, where everyone can view prizes and get more information.

Let the Holidays Begin!
We know that today, November 1, is El Dia de Todos los Santos (Day of the Death 2010All Saints’ Day) and tomorrow, November 2, is El Dia de los Muertos (All Souls’ Day). The altar competition on Friday night for Corridor of the Souls at La Ermita and south on Calle 66 was the most well-attended yet… it was downright crowded, as a matter of fact. If you were not able to be in Merida for this very important holiday this year, we hope you enjoy the photos in our latest Day of the Dead article (all the photos were taken this year). You might also want to visit Set Free in Mexico, or Deb and Ed: Full Steam Ahead to get a taste of what’s been happening in Merida this past weekend… then mark your calendars so you can be here with us for El Dia de los Muertos next year!

Cleaning Up Holiday Trash
Everybody wants to come to Merida during the holidays, but few think about the level of trash that creates. Even fewer see the trash as a breeding ground for such diseases as dengue fever. It is a happy event when 50,000 people come to see the altars in the Plaza Grande, or when 25,000 people a day show up to the events held in Kukulcan Stadium. It is good to know that Merida has a workforce of 200 extra workers just to deal with trash left over during holiday celebrations. Within hours after any event, all traces of it are taken away and the city is ready for the next event. Our thanks to all of those who make our lives easier in Yucatan, even if very few ever sing their praises.

Paseo Montejo: An Internationally Famous AvenueYucatan Lots - beach lots at reasonable prices in the Yucatan Mexico
Chichen Itza may be a World Heritage site and one of the New Wonders of the World, but Paseo Montejo is about to take its place among such avenues as Las Ramblas de Barcelona, Piccadilly Circus in London, Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City, and Paseo de Prado in Madrid. That means a whole lot of money and a whole lot of work. Well, there’s good news on that front as well. The money is already allocated and the preliminary studies have been completed. There are a few more architectural renovation designs to complete and a few urban impact studies but all of that should be finished in the next 6 months or so. Then, they will pull the proper licenses and permits, and by this time next year, work will be well under way. This project is slated for completion at the beginning of Summer 2012, when Paseo Montejo should be completely revitalized and take its place as a state, national and international treasure! What a year 2012 is going to be! We can hardly wait!

Jonna Breaks the Ice
As our readers can see in our weekly Events column, Merida and the State of Yucatan offer a staggering number of performances designed to please the culture-consuming public, but there is far more to quality of life in any city than just being able to see great shows and eat great food in wonderful restaurants. After that – then what? Its having a sense of belonging that makes a place “home.” Its actually knowing people who are like-minded and with whom one can share bits of oneself. Several months ago, Yucatan Living noted the formation of a cactus and succulent club at CICY, but no expats attended their initial monthly meetings. Then, Jonna braved the language barrier (that turned out not to be such a barrier after all) wrote about it in her blog, and the rest is – as they say – history. Theresa and Debi are now on board for the next Cactus and Succulents Club meeting and the overall quality of life for expats in Yucatan has a brand new facet to its jewel. Visit Jonna’s Blog to learn more.

Another Young Traveler Has Passed Our WayDriving to Yucatan
We do wish there could be a way to let transcontinental travelers know that Merida is here and that our expat community would love to meet them as they pass through on their travels. We do our best on social networking sites and travel sites but sometimes are unable to reach everyone. This particular young man is on his motorcycle. He traveled from Florida, north to Tennessee, then down through Louisiana, crossed Texas by the southern route, and has made it – we think – as far as Yucatan. His text has him in Campeche, but his GPS says he’s already on the way to Valladolid. We e-mailed him and will let you know when he replies. Please visit En Moto al Sur to see our little corner of the world through fresh eyes.

Young Yucateco Wins Short Film Award
The story of how this happened is one that will be told and retold. Miguel Angel Ventura Herrera is 30 years old, lives in Caucel, is very poor, and never graduated from high school – but he wanted to produce and direct movies. His mother believes in Miguel and financed his dream. She sold her washing machine, pawned her few valuables, and borrowed money from friends. Miguel Angel Ventura Herrera made his short film, The Dear and the Fog, based in part on a local legend, and just won the national aware for “Best Short Film” at the VIII Festival Internacional de Cine de Morelia. He will be attending the next Cannes Film Festival on the southern coast of France. Miguel believes that it is important to bring the concepts found in Mayan legends to the next generation and to the world – and he certainly has made a great start on doing just that. Congratulations to Miguel Angel Ventura Herrera, to his mother, and to all of his friends who played their own parts in creating the success of his dream. Click here to see a trailer of El Venado y La Niebla.

Mexico Welcomes New Chrysler Engine Plant
This past Friday, Chrysler opened a $570 million dollar plant in Saltillo, Cohauila. The plant has created 700 jobs and will produce 440,000 fuel efficient Chrysler Pentastar V-6 engines per year. While we are all deeply appreciative of Chrysler’s faith in Mexico and its workers, we would also like to congratulate the technical schools, across Mexico, that educated these young auto workers and the workers themselves for forging ahead through school so that they could realize their dreams. Well done by all concerned.

Business in Mexico: Telmex Narrowly Misses Profit Goal
We got emails this week from friends who couldn’t wait to tell us all about how Carlos Slim was going broke over at Telmex, which is – according to some reports – bleeding lines and profits right and left. The source of this supposed disaster is that Telmex is losing fixed-line customers. Of course, every fixed line phone company is losing customers… losing them to cel phones, of course. Carlos Slim is no dummy… he also owns America Movil, a leading cellular phone company. In effect, Telmex profits hit a little stretch when they are moving from Mr. Slim’s right hand to his left. Once Telmex gets over this quarter in which its profits were hit by a significant depreciation of equipment, Carlos Slim and all of his companies will be doing just fine again – as is the entire communication industry in Mexico. What we want to know is: If one makes only $298 million dollars in profit in one quarter, does that qualify as a business tragedy?

Best Quote This Week
“To govern is an art and to listen to the citizens is not a concession but an obligation.”
-Padre Lorenzo Mex Jimenez, Progreso, Yucatan

The Blah Blah: The Tex-Mex Turkey Transformation Monique Duval

Here’s another missive from the fabulous Monique. This week, we get a small but intense glimpse into her mother, a traditional Mexican Catholic woman, who has something to teach us all…

If you happened to be at the Mega grocery store the night before Christmas you might have witnessed two women in a tug-of-war match over a frozen turkey. If you had edged in close enough to the scuffle you might have been able to hear the woman with the wild curls hissing words between clenched teeth: "I´m…keeping…this…turkey!" You would have seen the white knuckles of her hands as she gripped the neck of the turkey, as she pulled and tugged it away from the older woman with the flaming red hair who in turn was hissing back "No…you… are…not!"

This slow motion, arm-pumping, turkey-wrestling match went on long after you got bored and shuffled away. You see, my mother had come for a visit. And it was me and my mom wrestling over  that turkey.

My mother was born in Texas to a traditional Mexican Catholic woman and a non-believing Texan Man. This special combination of man, woman, time, place, and my grandmother´s transformational motivation turned my mother into a true Tex-Mex Catholic. Reflecting the spirit of Texas, Tex-Mex Catholics have a special brand of belief, a maxim to guide them: Bigger is Better. This maxim holds true for pick-up trucks, hair, chicken-fried steaks, did I mention hair, breasts, oil wells, slabs of apple pie, pink slushy drinks, beer and God. And, of course, the devil too. Can´t forget about the devil. He holds a special place in this little yarn. And I cannot forget to mention that Texas is the place where the Virgin de Guadalupe gets the most write-in votes for Governor. She rules. Also very important to Tex-Mex Catholics are numerical signs which will guide them in their choice of husbands, wedding dates, and, of course, choosing winning lottery tickets. My two-steppin´ (that´s a dance), two-timing (that´s a sin) papa, Jean Pierre Duval, was chosen in 1962 by my way-too-young mother who used just such an effective method of mate selection. And just as the pendulum swings, their little genetic Tex-Mex-quasi-French offspring (that would be me) resists such methods of divination with great and wholesome and, might I add, Buddhist enthusiasm. To my mother, Buddhist means communist. And, as everyone knows, communists – albeit innocently – lure devils out of their secret hiding places. Err, just a second, the valium I was just about to pop just rolled on the floor…ok, got it. Much better now.

Now back to the frozen food isle at the Mega where you were standing and gawking at me and my mama. Maybe in other parts of the country you would seem rude, but by Texas standards, this is just normal spectator sport behavior and we´re quite used to that. So we ignore you. And meanwhile, our frozen turkey is swooping and diving, swooping and diving, swooping and…whooopsy… it just crashed right back into my shopping cart (I win!) and this is where I take the opportunity to wheel away as fast as my rubber crocs and the little squeaky wheels of the grocery cart can take me.

Just minutes before, mama had carefully chosen a turkey which she deemed to be perfecto and placed it in the cart with an affirmative thud. We wheeled away with it. Then, suddenly, just a few meters away in another isle, she abruptly decided that, no, that turkey wasn´t perfecto after all. We rolled our way back to Turkey Island. I was still in a reasonably good mood. Sometimes I fall prey to indecisiveness too. She hauled the imperfect bird out of the basket. She plunked it back into its icy bed. But this same scenario repeated itself three times. Each time, I would drive the cart a few meters away and then she would say, stop, go back, sorry, its the wrong turkey. Now, we were again in front of Turkey Island for the fourth time. We were looking at maybe 50 turkeys all lined up in a perfect grid formation.

My mother was still hunting for the right turkey, using some mysterious method of divination, and I was getting what I believe to have been my first hot flash. Turkey number 4 made it into the cart and then snatched out again when she finally decided to read the weight of this turkey and make a decision based on logic, not divination. So, she pulled at the tag that contained all the pertinent weight and price information and peered closely at the numbers. "Oh, oh, oh, oh" she was saying, wagging her head from side to side. "No, no, no. We most certainly will NOT be getting this turkey."

Ok, bueno, let’s fast-rewind once again this bad telenovela right back to the beginning, to the very day of arrival of my mother into Merida, from the big bosom of Texas straight into my lost house and into the lives of my heathen husband and children. The first thing she did when she arrived was to close the door of her guest bedroom to "freshen up". I was sitting at the table in the kitchen, the room adjacent to the guest room, imbibing the first of many, many glasses of red wine. I began to smell the essence of rose petals waft out from under her door. I recognized it immediately as her Texas-Style holy water. (TexMex Catholics love to have their holy water scented and if I were really smart, I would start to market a whole line of gourmet holy water: Holy chipotle, Holy mole, holy smoke…but I digress) Have you ever experienced rose petal essence? It´s powerful stuff. One drop is enough to provoke visions of the Juan Diego dropping the thorny contents of his whole serape right onto your agnostic head.

Back to Turkey Island and the land of Mystery. My mother grabbed the otherwise perfectly good turkey, with a bit of disgust I noticed, and was poised to violently fling it back into the pile with the rest of the sub-par turkeys. That´s when I grabbed the bird by the neck and said, as calmly as I could muster but without opening my jaws not even a crack, "Explain to me why this one is not right." It’s just NOT, she said and gave it a tug. I tugged back. "No mom, explain it to me." I was feeling the slow flash of blood-heat. "I don´t NEED to explain it. Just trust your mother." Finally, after an exchange of scary faces, she said, "Mija, just LOOK at the numbers." The weight of the bird was six kilos and sixty six grams. Yes, that´s right: 666. It was the devils´ gobble gobble. "Mother, I said, now my face is contorted into sort of weird amalgamation of a stifled laugh and sheer agony. "Mom, that´s pure nonsense! We are going to eat this turkey!"

Now, let’s rewind the story again and I´ll tell you what happened on Day Two of her visit and then back to the turkey story. (Is anybody really reading this???)

Gerko and I had some secret shopping to do at the North Pole so we opted to leave the kids with grandma. I had some brief pangs of concern but, really, what could go wrong? Two hours later, I burst into the door expecting to see…well, I don´t know what exactly. There they were, grandma and her two doting grandchildren all innocently watching a holiday episode of Dora La Exploradora. I couldn´t help but smile at this scene so I took a picture. As I got closer to my children I began to smell the familiarly strong scent of rose petals. I followed the olfactory trail. It was emanating from my two children. I glared at my mother. She was in intense concentration as Dora and Boots climbed Magic Mountain to give Shooting Star back to the moon. And when I swooped down to kiss my angel boys on top of their heads my lips sank into a soggy swamp of sweet roses. She had apparently conducted her own secret holy ritual, floating their heads on the banks of the Euphrates river, or that being unavailable, a good dosing from a squirt bottle standing up in the shower, a celestial ablution, a veritable quick-fix, bad-boy stain remover, TexMex style.

Now fast forward back to Turkey Island. I am now running with the cart with the devil turkey to the checkout lane. I hear her little dainty heels clicking behind me. I take a glance and see that she’s embracing another turkey. It must be heavy because she’s leaning precariously forward. Any moment now she might collapse, sliding into home-base, turkey first. I stop because, frankly, I’m out of breath. Tears streaming down my face. Am I laughing? Am I flashing? Am I a grown up woman with children of my own? I slow down. I turn around. I meet her half way. She plunks the new turkey in the basket and says, breathlessly, "Perfecto. This one´s got good numbers."

I buy the two turkeys. I forgive her. She forgives me. On the way home she asks me to stop at a pharmacy. She needs to buy syringes, she says. I don´t even ask. I just don’t want to know.

Next day, we bake them both. Two turkeys on the dinner table. The forces of good and evil in a holiday truce, breaking bread together. We carve them both and, I am happy to announce, bats do not fly out of mine when we carve it open. We are laughing about the turkey story. We are happy. I take a bite out of the demon turkey and instantly, my mouth, my nose, my whole being is filled with rose petal vapor. She had injected turkey 666 with her TexMex holy water!

I imagine my mother and I exploding like bottle rockets in the sky. We are twirling like pyrotechnical maniacs, our matching glittery pointy-toed cowboy boots — hers white, mine red — reflecting back the light of all that exists. Beautiful flashes of white and red, white and red, pinwheels of light twirling in the sky. Our hoop skirts making the sound of wild birds flapping their wings, taking flight.

Happy Holidays. Please drive slowly. Turkeys crossing.

You can find Monique and her fabulous food, along with the fabulous food of quite a few other local providers, at the SLOW Food Market every Saturday morning from 9 to about 1 PM.

 


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One Response to “Yucatan News: Day of the Dead and Turkeys”

  1. I have to admit that the story about the turkeys is hysterical, and the holy water, as well.

    My mother is not into big hair, holy water, and some of the other things, but she isn’t Texan or Tex-Mex Catholic, either. She is, however, obsessive compulsive and she has to have everything planned and God help anyone who actually touches her hair, which has every hair in place, or anyone who messes with her schedule.

    We were driving 1,100 miles home to her house for the holiday and she called and wanted to know what time we would be arriving, as she really wanted dinner at 5:30. I said, well, we’ll try our best but we have been behind a major accident where we didn’t move for an hour and fifteen minutes and there is supposed to be heavy rain ahead, but we’ll try our best. In the next four hours, we received eight calls from her saying 5:30. I said go ahead and eat and we’ll eat leftovers when we get there. We managed to arrive there at 5:40 and mother was beside herself. She had everything planned, and we had ruined everything. She whisked our plates out from underneath us to load the dishwasher and I had to eat some dessert from a napkin, with my fingers, because she had already scooped up the work.

    After all that, the kitchen was finished six minutes after she had it planned to be completed, I kid you not, and then she went in the living room, put her recliner up and I thought she must be planning on watching something on TV, but no, she just had her schedule and she wanted it to be done on time. I love her, but she drives me nuts.

    If we move to Merida, she is definitely going to have to have her own casita, with a kitchen, bathroom, sitting room, bedroom and a very, very patient Merida housekeeper to take care of her.

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