News Starting February 27, 2012
Fiberglass Seals Highway to Uman
Mile by mile, the nine mile highway from Merida to Uman is being cleaned and getting a brand new coat of fiberglass sealant. Reports say that this new technology will last longer and be easier to maintain than previous attempts to seal the roads.At the present time, the new fiberglass coating is planned only for Federal highways but, if it is truly the miracle sealant it is claimed to be, this may be the answer to many problem highway areas throughout the nation. In the meantime, the cleaning machines are stirring up quite a dust storm on the road to Uman, but it should all be worth the inconvenience when the new ribbon of highway is ready for travelers.
Fish Sales are Down
As we move farther into the 21st century, it is easy to talk about new malls and big box stores, or discuss the relative merits of one cell phone over another, and even one internet or cable provider versus another. For expats, its nothing unusual to see Santa Claus on every child’s mind at Christmas, or pumpkins with carved faces on Halloween. What we often forget is that much of this new lifestyle is coming at the expense of older cultural customs in Yucatan. Such is the case with Lent. Less than a decade ago, it would have been unthinkable for the sale of fish to be down during Lent, but that has all changed. This was a time of year when fish markets could count on making a significant percent of their annual profit, but not anymore. We don’t know if this trend can be turned around. That is certainly up to the people of Yucatan. What we can do is try to include more local seafood in our diets so that this downturn in sales will not develop into a crisis for the local fishing community. After all, adding more fish to our diet not only helps our local economy, but our own health as well.
Beef Sales are Down Too
In a perfect example of one industry’s health feeding off of the health of another, sales of beef are down at the same time that the sale of fish is down. In this case, only part of the down-swing in beef sales can be blamed on Lent. Meat market owners say they are used to that and are always ready for it. This time, there is a month-long ban on fishing for grouper, which sidelines fishermen. The fishermen consume quite a bit of red meat because of the rough work they do. This means that if the fishermen aren’t at sea, they are not buying red meat, nor do they have the money to patronize local restaurants, so those business owners suffer as well. This year, quite a few meat market owners report that they are all but forced to simply take a vacation and will return on March 15, when the fishing for grouper ban is lifted. So far, prices are still good, and even dropping. We suspect that consumer bonus will end as the grouper ban wears on.
Merida’s Regional Center for Prosthetics
Not a week goes by that we don’t get a surprising new fact about Merida and Yucatan. This time, the update is about DIF Yucatan’s Regional Center for Orthotics, Prosthetics and Functional Aids (Cropafy). Just five years ago, this institution produced just 60 apparatus per month. Today, they produce 200 prostheses per month. They also serve 400 clients per month who need corrective shoes and children who suffer from flat feet. This doesn’t mean there are more people in the region who need mobility assistance. What it means is that more people throughout the region are being helped than ever before. News such as this is a testament to the will of every Yucateco to be as productive as possible, no matter their circumstances.
Progreso’s Huge Tourist Numbers
This past Saturday saw a tremendous influx of visitors to Progreso. The regular groups of visitors include quite a large number of Japanese, American and Canadian Snowbirds, as well as many Meridanos who own beach homes. There is also quite a large number of Yucatecos who come to the beach just as a day trip. Added to these numbers were groups of British and Dutch students of foreign languages, and tour busses from Mexico City, Puebla and Morelos. Needless to say, Progreso, Chicxulub, Chuburna and Chelem were busier than ever this past weekend. We are always happy to hear when visitors have an opportunity to experience both good weather and the tranquility of Yucatan!
Here Come the Tourists
It won’t be long until its Semana Santa and Spring Break. According to all current reports, Cancun is expecting 85% hotel occupancy and Merida will start with 65% and head up from there. This is quite a jump in traffic when you consider that both Merida and Cancun have had 8.5% increases in sheer numbers of available rooms. The Federal Ministry of Tourism has given Merida an added boost in visibility by announcing that the twelve destinations that make up the Mundo Maya include: the Riviera Maya, Cozumel, Cancun, Isla Mujeres, Tonala, Merida, Tuxtla Gutierrez, Villahermosa, San Cristobal de las Casas, Palenque, Campeche and Comitan. That’s enough to cause a tremendous increase in tourism in all of those areas. As with this past weekend’s influx of tourists in Progreso, we are very happy to see new tourists come to Yucatan and experience the tranquility we have all found here.
Valladolid: Mexican National Anthem in Maya
Yucatan has an astonishing number of statewide contests in the performing arts, including a Contest of Interpretation of the Mexican National Anthem, which is now in its seventeenth year. The contest will be ongoing from February 10 through March 27. This past weekend saw the contest in Valladolid, where a choir from twelve preschools and four kindergartens sang their version of the Mexican National Anthem in Maya. Judges were so impressed that, win or lose, these little ones from Valladolid will be here in Merida to sing when the winners of the state contest are presented to the world on April 16. We have no specifics for this event, as of yet, but do keep an eye on our Events page so you will be sure and make it to that performance.
Happy Birthday UADY
The Autonomous University of Yucatan has just celebrated its 90th birthday in its present incarnation! However, UADY is actually much older than that. Prior to 1922, the university was known as the National University of the Southeast. The university first came into being as the Colegio of San Francisco Javier in Merida in 1611 by royal decree of the Spanish Empire. Throughout its long, rich history, UADY has shown itself to be the premiere university throughout the region. Today, with more than 20,000 enrolled students and campuses throughout the state, UADY still embodies the vision of Felipe Carrillo Puerto and the original group of Yucatecos who believed that education is the key to promoting social justice and development. UADY has reciprocal exchange student programs with several top universities around the world too. If you know anyone who wants to study abroad, do tell them to look into attending UADY in Merida.
2012 Honey Exports
Yucatan Honey Bee is the company that actually collects and exports the honey produced throughout Yucatan, Quintana Roo and Campeche. For the past two years, the honey they were able to export was barely over half of what they will export this year, all because of the drought. This time, however, winter rains made all of that just a bad memory. It is expected that 3,000 tons of honey will be collected and exported from the entire Yucatan Peninsula, with 1,000 tons from the state of Yucatan alone. We wee really happy to hear that because the hives were healthy throughout the winter, there was no need for any type of medication to be used on them. Unfortunately, genetically-modified crops are now threatening the purity of Yucatan’s honey and farmers are as worried about that as they were about last year’s drought. So far, most of the honey crop has weathered every storm, but what the future holds is directly related to the determination of the beekeepers of Yucatan to keep their honey chemical free.
Bimbo is Expanding in Merida
Bimbo will be adding 400 new jobs in their new expansion effort in Merida. These will be added to the already 1,229 people that they already employ here. Their new building is designed for sustainability and with an eye to being environmentally friendly. They will be doing everything from installing energy saving lights to using natural light whenever they can. They will also be recycling water and using rainwater as well. The plant will make over 80 different products, from bread to biscuits, cakes, chips, snacks, candy and tortillas. All of these products will then be sent to every city on the Yucatan Peninsula. Bimbo’s National Union will also be working with the state government on issues related to programs of health, safety, education, social policy and the generation of additional employment. Bimbo has a long history of working in Merida and it looks as if they are here to stay.