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Yucatan News: Fast Trains and Christmas

Announcement: Fast Train Coming

Fast Train from Merida to Riviera MayaIn his first message to the nation, President Enrique Peña Nieto announced that the transpeninsular train connecting Yucatan, Campeche and Quintana Roo, will become a reality. To read more about the specifics of this project, visit this Sipse Report from June 2011. It includes a map of the proposed route.

Yucatan is Growing

Many expats still bask in the glow of Merida being recognized as the Culture Capital of the North American Continent back in 2000. Others gaze only toward the beaches. Meanwhile, real life in Yucatan has not stood still. Universities have expanded across the state, as have hospitals and even chain stores. Valladolid has joined Mexico’s Pueblos Magicos and other towns and cities are working in that direction as well. Every once in a while, we get a press release that shows just how much life is changing in Yucatan. This week, we learned that Motul is getting a new police academy. Motul, a town that used to be described as quaint and colonial is now described as a great little college town. We are all amazed at how the entire state is marching ahead, sometimes slowly, sometimes in the blink of an eye. Our congratulations to Motul. We look forward to watching the city and the state reach their full potential.

Peace and Quiet in Centro

The Deputy Director of Ecology has announced that there is a new program, already in effect, to monitor the noise level in Centro. Those vendors and shop owners who exceed 66 decibels will receive a fine of between 25 and 500 times the minimum wage. If they still do not lower their volume, their shops and businesses will be closed. This is welcome news to those who live near some of the offenders and everyone is looking forward to holidays free from what could very well be noise levels that damage hearing.

Chicxulub: First Muelle Market Bazaar A Grand Success!

Our congratulations to all of the local markets and bazaars in Yucatan. Sustainable home gardening and markets for local artisans are the wave of the future and Yucatan is at the head of the line in developing such markets. Kudos also to the expats and Snowbirds who work so hard with the markets and bazaars in the towns and villages where they live. You are all deeply appreciated. Ordinarily, the Muelle Market-Bazaar will be held on the third Thursday of every month. However, Because of Christmas, There is a date change for December to December 13. Look for the details in our Events listing this week.

YAPA: Early Call for Volunteers & Supplies

As everyone should know by now, the Winter Spay and Neuter Clinic will be held in January and has a goal of 300 animals per day for each of the seven days. Please watch the Yucatan Living Calendar and Weekly Events columns for specific dates, times and places. At this point in time, YAPA is requesting that as many people as possible start setting aside old sheets, towels, tee-shirts, anything cloth, as well as cardboard, newspapers and whatever else can be used to cover floors, keeping little puppy and kitten bodies warm after surgery, and to clean up unfortunate messes. Also, there are still openings and a need for volunteers for the days of the clinic. Even if you have never volunteered before, this is your chance to really make a difference and we encourage you to participate! If you would like to volunteer your time, talents or resources, please get in touch with YAPA Yucatan Ayuda Para Animales at yucatanayudaparaanimales [at] gmail [dot] com.

Litter: How Attitudes Change

As three students in their fifth semester in the Health and Hygiene Specialty at the Cobay Campus in Progreso worked to clean up a park near their home, other local teens asked if they worked for the local trash removal department. They explained that it is not necessary to work for the government in order to care about the safety and health of local residents, and that it is important to have respect for one’s own neighborhood and environment. This is not only important for the health of residents, but it is important for the self-image of residents as well. These students are changing the world, one park and one neighborhood at a time – and that is all that is necessary to change the world. And we have to say, few things make us happier than seeing people pick up garbage!

Christmas Trees and Lights Already!

Christmas Traditions in YucatanWith the lighting of Christmas trees and lights around the State of Yucatan, we are increasingly aware that “tis the season” has come early this year. Rather than bemoan the fact that Christmas lights are up before we even get through the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, we took another look at what’s happening in places other than in the big cities. The lights of Progreso’s Christmas tree were turned on this past weekend by a five year old little boy who will remember the experience for a lifetime. Other children presented a wonderful fantasy of music, costumes and dance that children in the audience will never forget. This is the time of year when all of Mexico remembers who they are and what their family values are really based on. Expats and Snowbirds, of course, get to enjoy Halloween, Day of the Dead, Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Christmas, New Year’s Even, Three King’s Day – and on to Carnival with barely time for a breath in between. Yes. ‘Tis the Season in Yucatan…and, don’t forget, this year we also get to celebrate December 21, 2012, the end of one ear and the beginning of a brand new era for the entire world!

The Peso Cost of Christmas in Yucatan

As Christmas lights go on around the state, CFE is frantically sending out warnings that address a number of issues. First, there is the cost of electricity. Increases in electric costs, due to Christmas trees which could throw a household into a higher rate bracket, can soar to 30% of the average Yucateco’s household budget. Add the cost of Christmas presents and cooking Christmas dinner and the price soars above 40% of the average Yucateco’s household budget. Then, there is the issue of improper use of Christmas lights and their relationship to the number of home fires, or the reusing of lights that are damaged and can shock or electrocute the user. All of this to say, please be careful with Christmas decorations and please consider energy waste (and cost!) when putting up your holiday decorations.

Guadalupanos Are Organizing Already!

Guadalupanos and Christmas Traditions in YucatanAs we watch the local press releases, we see the local guilds of Guadalupanos and their host families already getting ready for their pilgrimages. While many will end up in Merida, Progreso is also becoming a favored destination, as are places in the interior of the state, such as Tekax. More than 1,000 young people from Progreso alone will be Guadalupanos this year. As we get closer to the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, please be on the lookout for groups of Antorchistas Guadalupanoson the roads throughout Yucatan, and drive carefully. The Guadalupanos are at particular risk on two-lane roads, so remaining alert is paramount, for your own safety as well as theirs. To learn more about the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe and the Antorchistas Guadalupanos, visit Yucatan Living’s The Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Informal Employment in Yucatan

All of the news is not good in Yucatan. New employment numbers are out and show that 72.3% of the economically active population in the state are working in informal employment situations. This means they will not be able to receive social security and other legal benefits. Without these benefits, statistics show that as many as 26.5% of all Yucateco workers find themselves at risk for working for below minimum wage and 21.1% are working for employers whose businesses are not registered with the Treasury. This means Yucatan State is losing almost a quarter of it’s potential tax base. Yucatan is ranked as the state with the 4th highest incidence of informal employment, indicating that this is a serious problem across Mexico. Labor reforms are addressing part of the problem, but it is up to employers and workers to ensure the economic and social stability of their regions by relegating informal employment to the past. This is one area where expats can make a difference in the lives of their own workers. Our congratulations to those who do.

2012 Rolex Prize Winner in Yucatan

2012 Young Laureates of the Rolex Awards for Enterprise

Imagine our surprise and excitement to read that one of the five Young Laureates this year is a young lady from the Yucatan! Maritza Morales Casanova is a young environmentalist who is dedicated to raising the consciousness of her fellow young Yucatecans about the environment and what they can do to care for it and preserve it. Not only will Maritza receive a brand new Rolex watch and a check for about $54,000 USD for her project, but she will now be on the radar of leaders around the world as a young person who is a leader in this area. Maritza’s organization is a non-profit one set up here in Merida, and she is working to provide information to her peers on conservation and the challenges for the local environment. Specifically, Maritza has come to understand that freshwater consumption is high, there are no sustainable methods of waste disposal and fragile wetlands are being destroyed. Maritza wants to provide education about this and other environmental issues to the schoolchildren of the Yucatan, and in service to that goal, she and her organization are building a park outside of Merida “where local children and their families can learn about environmental issues in an entertaining way, using games designed for children and teenagers.” The park is called Ceiba Pentandra and is located outside the Periferico. The Rolex funds are being used to build five interactive classrooms, in which visitors will learn about global warming and climate change; for wetland conservation and protection of wildlife (environmental laws, illegal wildlife trade, etc.), for recycling of waste and for development of handicrafts using natural materials. For more information, you can read about Maritza here, and see the website of her organization at www.hunab.org.mx


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