Yucatan News: Day of the Dead & Pink Taxis
News starting October 26, 2009
The Purpose of Day of the Dead Activities
A recent article in the Diario talked about the activities leading up to Day of the Dead this year, or Días de Los Muertos (because really, it is multiple days). There has been a lot of tomb cleaning, altar building, and this week, there will be the holding of masses and ceremonies related to the Day of the Dead. The article mentioned that the good will that is present during these activities keep us united, make us kind, and contributes to the security of our culture. We think they couldn't be more right. It is time consuming and inconvenient to scrub and paint tombstones. It is time consuming and inconvenient to build altars, only to tear them down in one or two days.
Yet, these days constitute a joyous occasion that brings all of Latin America and most of the Catholic world together for just a few days. The value of family ties and ties to community are examined and no one finds them unworthy of this effort. ...and so the tombstones get cleaned and painted, and the altars get built and taken down - and there is no reason to believe that this will ever change. There is certainly something comforting about that. Be sure to check out the Events section to find out where to see Day of the Dead altars in Merida this year. Traditionally a private affair in the Yucatan, Day of the Dead is becoming more and more public. The altars that are set up in the Plaza Grande are a real center of attention. And this year, look for activities on Calle 66, from Parque L'Ermita all the way down to and into the cemeteries. Certainly worth checking out!
Arthur Frommer’s Take on Visiting Mexico Now
According to Arthur Frommer, one is missing the opportunity of a lifetime by giving in to irrational fear and staying away from Mexico. In fact, he notes that visitors from around the world are still coming to Mexico. It is only the Americans who are staying away. Read his blog post, written as the father of an adult child whovacationed in Central Mexico. If Arthur Frommer can’t clarify the situation, no one can!
Merida #2 Retirement Destination in the World
MSN’s Money Central reports that International Living’s assessment of retirement locations for this year have been posted and Merida came in at #2, behind Cuenca, Ecuador. The rest of the top 5 include: Coronado, Panama, #3, Punta del Este, Uruguay, #4, and Calitri, Italy, #5. The U.S. weighed in at #22. Merida wins her spot on Comfort, Convenience, Cost and Culture. Our friends Dan Prescher and Suzan Haskins, publisher and writer for International Living, like Merida so much that they moved here themselves!
Pulpo Fishing To Be Stopped 30 Days Early
It isn’t often that we see something like this! Pulpo season is being stopped 30 days early “Due to Extreme Success!” Isn’t it wonderful? Pulpo season usually runs until December 15, with everyone worried if the limit can be caught all the way to the end. This year, SAGARPA initially announced that it would be a great year if Yucatan’s fishermen could catch as much as 11.5 tons of pulpo. By mid-October, they had the 11.5 tons in sight and should surpass that this week. SAGARPA’s first instinct was to lift the limit and just let them fish, but fear of overfishing loomed in the back of everyone’s mind. A bumper catch is one thing. More than double what would have been deemed a bumper catch is something else entirely.
he fishermen should not be hurt by closing the season early, as they have more than made their money for the year already. Therefore, SAGARPA has now announced that pulpo season, for this year, will end on November 15. Read more about this situation on Fish Information & Services. Note: This early season closure will also be in effect for Campeche.
FREE Book: Gender and the Mexican Revolution: Yucatan Women and the Realities of Patriarchy
This book covers one of the most interesting periods of Yucatan’s modern history, the years during which Salvador Alvarado and Felipe Carrillo Puerto were the Governors of Yucatan. Many, if not most, of the freedoms women in Yucatan enjoy today can be traced back to these two men and the lady who had their ear, Elva Carrillo Puerto (Felipe’s sister). Read about this book and download the book itself from Freebooks. You can also order it from eBay and other internet locations.
Saving the Monarch Butterfly
Illegal logging has long been an issue in the mountains of Mexico, and especially in areas where monarch butterflies stop along their migratory route. The stationing of the military throughout the forests of Mexico has resulted in a 44% decline in illegal logging. However, now there is a new danger: bark beetles. The infestation is virtually from pole to pole now, with bark beetles as far north as the Yukon. Mexico’s monarch forest covers over 13,550 hectares in just its core area and, although this infestation moves fast, Mexico has found, cut down, and disposed of the trees in the 100 hectares in which bark beetles have taken hold.
This has to take place quickly, because the monarch butterflies are due any time now. They will completely cover the limbs and branches of the fir trees and cannot afford to lose any more of their protected canopy. The infestation is caused by declining overall rainfall, which is expected to continue to decline by up to 15% by 2080. So far, Mexico is doing a great job and the tens of thousands of tourists who come to see the butterflies will not be disappointed. Nor will the millions of school children – across North America and the world – who track the butterflies from their classrooms.
Pink Taxis in Puebla
Did you know that the City of Puebla has a new fleet of 35 pink taxis that transport only women and are driven only by women? They tried to get another project like it started in Mexico City, but it didn’t get off the ground. Instead, Mexico City does provide “women only” busses and subways during rush hours. Considering the amazing human crush on Mexico City subways at certain times, even for a feminist, those ‘women only’ subways are a relief.
Despite the obvious advantages, women’s rights organizations are having a fit! But the women who use these services, while agreeing with the women’s rights organizations, also are praising the Pink Taxis of Puebla. The availability of these taxis makes it so much easier for women to get around the city without fear... and it's a growing trend, around the world. In researching this article, we found mentions of pink taxis in Bangkok, Malaysia and Lebanon too! We have never heard a complaint about our taxi drivers here in Yucatan and, now that they have all been to tourism classes, we doubt we ever will. Congratulations to the ladies of the Pink Taxis of Puebla and our appreciation to the taxi drivers of Yucatan. (Source: Everyday Citizen)
Isla Mujeres’ Economic Woes
Since our port and beach towns do not depend totally on tourism and, since our pulpo season has been so phenomenal, our economy in Yucatan is beginning to recover from both the global recession and the H1N1 flu scare. It never dawned on us that other places along the coast of Mexico may not have fared so well.
We were sorry to read of the current situation on Isla Mujeres in an article in the Washington Post. It also struck us odd that major concerns for tourists there include petty crime, with a warning to watch your valuables or lock them in the hotel safe. We never even think about those things in Yucatan. This may be a good time for our expats in Yucatan to take a little drive and enjoy Isla Mujeres before the holiday travelers begin to arrive.
Catalicu: Her Name is Catalina
This week, we invite you to read the experience, in Yucatan, of a young biologist and microbiologist from Colombia. After being robbed by a gunman on a bus (not in Yucatan), she thought back to another, much different incident the previous year in Yucatan’s own San Crisanto. She posted the story on PulseWire, a division of WorldPulse, which looks at global issues through the eyes of women.
Her experience is so moving and so typical of those many of us have had in Yucatan that it might not be a bad idea to just give a link to her post whenever people ask us “Why Yucatan?” We suspect that, as long as the world continues to produce Catalina’s, somehow, everything is going to work out fine in the end. Read what Catalina has to say about what – and who – she found in San Crisanto, Yucatan.
Roberto Solis Featured in Lamb Before Thyme
It seems that Roberto Solis (owner of Merida’s Nectar Restaurant) is always busy, and now he is traveling as a food ambassador for the Mexican Government. This week, he is featured in Lamb Before Thyme, a blog written by Andy Floyd, Director of Curriculum at Cook Street School of Fine Cooking in Denver, Colorado. The blog entry is great and even includes a video…. But the highlight of the day was the “truly fine” deconstruction of a taco. You have just got to see it to believe it!
Save Your Stuff
We have several things going on with those of us who choose to live in Yucatan. First, most of us love art and sculpture and many of us are collectors. Second, we have to face the reality of humidity and the occasional hurricane. Put those two together and you have a recipe for disaster – an expensive recipe for disaster!
This week, in Merida, there is an International Conference for Responding to Natural Disasters in Yucatan and a fellow by the name of Scott Haskins, author and conservator, will be speaking on how to protect and save personal items in the office. Scott has a blog called http://www.savemystuff.com , which is soon to have its Spanish equivalent (salvesuscosas.com) up and running.
For information on how to save your stuff, as well as art conservation, visit Save My Stuff where Scott talks about going off to Merida.
The Dutzi Rescue Bag
Dutzi Designs, Inc. has created a special bag that is being made by Maya women in the Valladolid area. Read about the Mayan women who make the Dutzi bag here. Every peso we spend here at home in Yucatan goes that much farther in helping our economy to rebound and continue to remain strong.
Green Blogger “Discovers” D.F.’s Plastic Bag Ban
A U.S. “green” blogger (GreenHomeLady) has just discovered that Mexico City banned non-biodegradable plastic shopping bags and is absolutely amazed. She could have easily believed that of Canada – but Mexico? “It was so unexpected!” and “Who would have thought?” She still has absolutely no clue that smoking in public buildings and restaurants has been banned in all of Mexico – or that the penalty is several days in jail for the smoker and tens of thousands of pesos in fines for the owner of the building or restaurant.
She speaks of Canada as “environmentally savvy,” but says “Really?” about Mexico! Every day, we are more amazed by just how little Americans actually know about their neighbor to the south.