Yucatan News: Happy New Year!
B’ak’tun 14 Opportunity to Reflect
December 21, 2012, was the last day of the 13th B’ak’tun. It’s date was 126.96.36.199.0. December 22, 2012, was the first day of the 14th B’ak’tun. It’s date was 188.8.131.52.1.
The Maya have no apocalyptic prophesies, despite the hysteria and predictions that focused on this part of the world. Newspapers and other news organizations sure have been getting their money's worth out of this event, like in this article from the LA Times, just one of hundreds. But this is a new era and a new opportunity for reflection about our place and influence on Planet Earth. When B’ak’tun 14 ends, we wonder if our descendants will think well of our stewardship of this world that they inherited. We certainly hope so, and we hope that everyone takes this opportunity to step up and take responsibility for the future of our fellow human beings and of the planet itself.
This year it seems that Merida's contemporary art museum, the MACAY, got a new lease on life. We don't know the details, but we do know that they stepped up their marketing campaigns, their activities open to the community and they brought in a lot of new art and artists. As a consequence, their numbers were up for 2012. The average influx of visitors at the MACAY each year is a reported 74,000 people. In 2012, the MACAY reported 80,000 visitors. In addition, the MACAY put almost 30,000 local schoolchildren through various art programs, including A Day at the MACAY (pictured here), as well as bimonthly, quarterly and summer courses, and the Sunday Biciruta program. Let's hope they keep introducing new and wonderful art to the Merida and visiting public. We are very proud of our MACAY museum and look forward to discovering more art there in 2013.
Holiday Air Traffic Up 30%
Officials at the airport in Merida are reporting that this holiday season saw a 30% increase in the numbers of flying tourists. With approximately 108 flights per day, Merida’s Manuel Crescencio Rejon International Airport is expected to end the year with about 1,200,000 passengers. As of now, plans include new routes for Volaris and negotiations with InterJet are underway. Current destinations to and from Merida include other cities on the Yucatan Peninsula, Cuba, Miami and Houston. This is in addition to AeroMexico’s airlift between Cancun and Merida. We know a lot of expats who are wishin' and hopin' that there would be more (and cheaper) flights from different parts of North America... we will let you know as soon as we know anything!
Adventure of a Lifetime for 6 Year Old Boy
The fishing crew, all from Progreso, included Ricardo Gonzalez Cetina, brothers Rivelino and Delfino Vera Chacon, plus little Leandro Vera Sosa, who is barely six years of age. The fish they were hunting, a large grouper, lived in a cave off the coast of Telchac Puerto. He was about 5 ½ ft. long and weighed in at 134 ½ lbs. When it got to market, the fish was sold for $4,000 pesos! We wish we knew more about little Leandro, who is given credit for having participated in the trip. This is the stuff that little boys’ dreams are made of, and we are sure news clippings and photos will be kept, while the story itself will turn into one of those long and glorious tales Leandro ultimately tells his grandchildren. Everything may not be perfect in Yucatan, but there are still opportunities to have the adventures of a lifetime, no matter one’s age.
Hope for Street Dogs in Yucatan
Almost every expat in Yucatan that we have met has in some way participated in the rescue or care of one or more street dogs during their time in the Yucatan. In Merida, many strides were made in improving the conditions at the city-run dog pound (la perrera), as well as in cooperation between private and public organizations trying to help dogs and get dogs off the streets. In a few days, the third annual Spay & Neuter Clinic will start in Merida and Progreso, sterilizing many dogs and cats which will help keep the population of unwanted animals down. We recently also read about an expat on the Maya Riviera, Lisa Edwards, who has started a non-profit 501(3)c in the USA to help fund improvements for the perrera on that coast, to help publicize the needs of the dogs and most importantly, to publicize and facilitate the ability for tourists (and others) to adopt dogs that they meet on the Maya Riviera that they would like to take home. Lisa's Lost Dog Foundation is beginning to help a lot of dogs, some of whom can be seen in this story about her work. Go, Lisa!! And if you want to help, find the Lost Dog Foundation here on their Facebook page.
Putting Progreso Children Through School
For the last four years, the Working Gringos have been sponsoring a young man who lives in Progreso to attend high school. We have done our sponsoring through Apoyo Progreso, run by Kitty Morgan, who must have been an accountant in another life. Every quarter, we get a complete accounting of where every peso went. Our pesos go to things like books, backpacks, uniforms and school registration fees. In addition, Kitty manages to squeeze in Christmas presents, not only for the kids being sponsored but for their younger siblings who are living in the same home and are there when presents are delivered. This year, Kitty and her crew delivered presents to 75 kids and 42 younger siblings. Kids in this program are required to keep their grades up in order to stay in the program, and already there are a few graduates of the program that attending college. In June 2013, the program will have its very first college graduate, a fully-fledged junior high school physics teacher! Kitty is also starting a similar program to help some of the needier kids through their college years, with the same grade requirements.?
Kitty recently sent us a report about the college program, which we found interesting. After reviewing the situation, she has found that private colleges are totally unaffordable for middle class families in Yucatan. UADY is a public university and is also the best college in Merida. It only accepts one of every eight applicants, so those who get in are the best of the best and they get a good education. The actual cost of the classes at UADY comes to less than $2500 pesos a year, but the transportation costs to and from Merida are what put a college education out of reach for most kids in Progreso or along the beach. Even with discounts, the addition of transportation costs and internet cafe costs puts the total cost at $1000 to 1300 USD per year for a student in Progreso. Now, Kitty is working on raising money and sponsors for the most deserving high school graduates who have dreams of going to college.
If you are interested in participating in this or any of the similar programs in Merida and along the coast, read this article and contact one of the groups. We guarantee that the money you put towards a deserving child's college education will be money well spent!