Yucatan News: Earth Day & Yucatan Books
Progreso Mercado - Finally?
From what we hear, the new mercado in Progreso is 80% complete and will be finished by May 30. It will be open for business in June or July. This market has had a few difficulties along the way and people tend to sigh when they hear such news of a soon-to-be completion date. However, maybe this time it is correct and this two-year construction project will finally come to an end. When others ask what is the problem and why this project has taken so long, it must be remembered that the area in which the mercado is located is directly behind the Malecon and literally in the path of what has turned out to be millions of cruise ship visitors during the entire building process. There is virtually no way off that pier except to go through at least part of the construction zone. Building this mercado is much like trying to construct a building on the head of a pin. It is amazing that it could be done at all, much less in two years.
Great New Yucatan Books
Karen Witynski and Joe Carr have done it again. Karen and Joe are the authors of some of our favorite design books about this area, including Casa Yucatan (the fountain from our old house, Panadero, is just inside the front cover), Mexican Details, The New Hacienda and Hacienda Courtyards (the cover photo is of the fountain from our ex-neighbor's house, Casa Pocito). They have just recently announced a new book called Hacienda Style (and yes, it's available on Amazon, and if you click here and buy it, that will help support Yucatan Living, which we would really appreciate).
Like their other books, Hacienda Style is rich in photographs (taken by Karen) that show interiors and finishes and furnishings from beautiful Yucatan homes and haciendas. If you are building a home here, these books are an amazingly rich resource of ideas, with lots of photos you can point to and say, "Do it like this!". Since the hacienda book that the Working Gringos contributed to still cannot be found anywhere for love or money, either our 2008 calendar (you can see and buy the calendar here) or this book might be a good temporary substitute.
There's also a new cookbook out that we thought might interest our readers. Daniel Hoyer's book on Yucatan recipes is called Mayan Cuisine: Recipes from the Yucatan Region. The author, Daniel Hoyer, is an international, gastronomic tour agency owner who regularly visits Tabasco, Chiapas, and Oaxaca. We're pretty sure we heard a rumour that he is coming to the Yucatan again soon, in partnership with Iluminado Tours. If it's not on the website yet, just drop Trudy a line and let her know you are interested.
U.S. Travel Alert for Mexico
We guess it won't do any good for us to weep and wail, yet again, about how safe the State of Yucatan is (read our last tirade here...) - so we thought we would bring our readers a few hard facts. Estados Unidos Mexicanos (United Mexican States - and yes, that is the country's real name) is a large country with a total of 31 states. Suppose tourists were warned not to visit all of the United States of America because there is gang violence in "some" neighborhoods of Los Angeles? So that our readers can make better, more informed decisions about where in Mexico to visit and/or retire, take a look at the public information on crime provided by Estados Unidos Mexicanos. Feel free to visit the website of the FBI to learn how crime rates in different states in the U.S. compare with what you see on the pages provided by Mexico. With respect to total violent crimes, my home state has a rate of 12.4 violent crimes per 100,000 people in the population. Yucatan has an overall violent crime rate of 2.795 per 100,000. Travel alert? Not in Estado de Yucatan!
Chupacabras Attack in Tekax
Well - we may not have "crime" in Yucatan, but (some claim) we do have chupacabras... not often enough to disuade one from living in the countryside, but often enough to scare people and get into the newspapers. Three dead chickens have been found in Tekax with holes in their throats, legs, and thighs. All had been bled out. The sanitation inspector says the holes were not caused by a dog, a bat, or a zorro (possum). While most wildlife management officials and biologists say that the chupacabra is an urban legend... there is still the matter of 3 dead, bled out chickens in Tekax... Sounds a lot like the opening for a story... Once upon a time, on a dark and stormy night.... But not to worry, no one has actually ever seen a chupacabras in Yucatan... have they?
New Zoo Update
We are learning more about what we will eventually have in our new Zoological Park in Caucel. There will be a cable car "trolly-type" ride through the park, a trenecito (train), canoe rides on a man-made river, a safari-style tour, and an aviary. Everything will be huge because the area allotted for the park is 27 hectares (almost 67 acres). Work on reforestation and the green areas is expected to be completed soon and we should be able to enjoy those by the end of the year. All buildings are to be built in a Mayan design, including a structure that will allow visitors a look-out point over the zoo. The major focus of the new zoo is education so that future generations will understand the importance of caring for all animals on the planet, as well as for the environment itself. This is going to be a zoo in which the animals are free and the people are confined. The official opening is not to be until the Bicentennial Anniversary of the Independence of Mexico from Spain, which will be September 16, 2010. We don't mind, because they are saying we will be allowed to enjoy the green spaces and other parts of the zoological park as each is completed. We know the finished product will be spectacular!
Another Free Fisherman Missing at Sea
Sometimes, expats know how to help in a heartbreaking situation. Other times, there seems to be nothing we can do. The high cost of a fishing license and the bureaucracy associated with obtaining one, as well as the outrageously expensive life-vest requirement, is resulting in the deaths at sea of the men known as the 'free' fishermen of Yucatan. Now, another 'free' fisherman is missing and we can't help but wonder what, if anything, can be done to help this brave group of local fishermen as they attempt to survive in a world that seems no longer their own.
Community Museum Project
We have just learned that there is a national program developing community museums throughout all of Mexico. In November, our own Teabo will host the official entrance of Yucatan's community museums into this national network. Those who are familiar with our state know that Yucatan has long celebrated the history of her people through the support of community museums, but funds have often been unavailable for the kind of upkeep most museums must have. Hopefully, with national support, this will change and our community museums can have the resources they need to preserve the artifacts of a culture that has survived throughout almost all of recorded history. Teabo's community museum will host officials from 16 states and El Salvador for the official celebration in November. Why not find out what you can do for the community museum in your town or village?
What Is It About Those Rotarians?
Rotarians are an amazing network of "can do," "will do" and "did do" folks! If you can name a worthy project in Yucatan, you have a very good chance of finding a Rotary Club involved in it somewhere along the way. This week, Yucatan has Rotary leaders from Argentina visiting in Izamal and Motul. They are developing a stronger relationship between the Rotary clubs of Argentina and Mexico - which will give Yucatan's Rotarians friends from the northern tip of North America to the southern tip of South America. The motto for Rotary International is "Service Above Self" and Yucatan's Rotarians certainly live up to it.
Before we leave the topic of cooking, it has come to our attention that we talk an awful lot about Yucatan's honey and recommend the Honey Feast recipe newsletter from the National Honey Board... but we never seem to mention the coconuts on our coast. How fortunate we are to have vendors, in Merida and at the beach, who provide us with instant access to whole coconuts - or just the milk and/or meat. We have some pretty good local coconut ice cream vendors too! If anyone has local coconut recipes - do let us know. Coconut is a local resource that we, all too often, take for granted.
Earth Day is April 22
Tuesday, April 22, 2008, is Earth Day. We cannot remember a time when more of the population of the planet was so united about one issue as they are this year. Unfortunately, many governments and businesses do not share the concern of individuals. However, all is not lost. With the growth and development of the Internet, concerned citizens, worldwide, are banding together to ensure the survival of this little green ball on which we whirl through the galaxy. Never think that one vote doesn't matter and never think that the little things you do, as an individual, don't matter. If we all practice just a few green living activities, the world will be a safer place for us, for our children, and for our grandchildren. The Clinton Global Initiative encourages you to personally make a commitment for Earth Day. Here are a few ideas...
Green Things You Can Do:
Leave your car at home and reduce your automobile mileage by biking, sharing a ride, or taking public transportation regularly. This is easy to do if you live in the Centro Historico of Merida. We've recently been getting acquainted with the bus system and it's fun and so easy!
Spring into green cleaning by using non-toxic household cleaning products with more natural ingredients and fewer toxic chemicals. Non-toxic household cleaning products have begun to show up at Superama and WalMart. Let us know if you find them anywhere else.
Bring your own bags to the grocery store. It can take more than 1,000 years for a disposable bag to break down in a landfill, and the Yucatan has far too many of them. We've done this at Superama recently and it's no problem! Our canvas bags carry a lot more than those flimsy plastic bags, too. Want to have a stylish Yucatan Living canvas bag to tote around? Buy one here.
Support local farmers by buying locally grown food at your local mercado.
Exchange your light bulbs for Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulbs in your home and work.
Attend an Earth Day event in your local community. We haven't heard of one in Merida yet, but if we do, we'll let you know!