Yucatan News: Highway Through Hell
News starting November 17, 2008
Not Just In Airports Anymore
Cinnabon (those deliciously sinful cinnamon rolls) is opening up two new stores in Merida. One just opened in the Altabrisa Shopping Mall and there will be one in the Gran Plaza in December. Just thought you’d like to know!
Found: Highway Through Hell
Mexican archaeologist Guillermo de Anda is the head of a project that used testimony from the Spanish Inquisition (1478 - 1834) to find the network of underground chambers, roads and temples beneath our peninsula that were used by the Mayans to mimic the journey to the afterlife. We often think of the Mayans as having been persecuted by one priest. It is a sobering thought to realize that the Mayans were actually victims of the Spanish Inquisition, which was a profoundly horrific reign of terror and torture at the hands of the Church. But the Mayans guarded their secrets well and kept their religion alive – some say even until today. For more information on this spectacular find, as well as the details of the story behind the search, read the Associated Press article.
Fast Train Not Funded
The proposed Fast Train through Yucatan to Cancun, with a spur to Progreso, has not been funded by the Federal Government for 2009. Private funding is being sought. This is a topic about which everyone has an opinion and it is probably going to be in the news, off and on, until 2012.
Jim Conrad’s wonderful Naturalist Newsletter just turned us on to this great resource: a website all about the butterflies of Mexico! If you are interested in naming that lovely creature that just floated into your backyard, check out this website: Mariposas Mexicanas. The information is in both English and Spanish, and of course, includes photos. And if you aren’t on Jim Conrad’s email list for his periodical newsletter about nature in the Yucatan, you can sign up for that here: http://www.backyardnature.net/news/natnat.php
Anti-Violence is Strong Topic in Progreso
There is going to be another march in Progreso this week and we would be willing to bet that the majority of marchers are going to be children. Throughout the week, there will be talks in the schools about fairness and respect for others, as well information disseminated through the community health clinic concerning anti-violence against women and the elderly. Screenings for chronic diseases among the elderly, as well as prenatal care will also be part of this week’s activity. We are very proud of Progreso’s accomplishments in recent years – and certainly proud of the children who seem to be driving much of these forward-looking activities.
Temporary Public Works Jobs Created in Xocchel
The rural parts of the State of Yucatan are agricultural areas that have been hard hit by both flooding and drought over the past few years. Currently, they are suffering from a crop destroying drought. The Programa Empleo Temporal (Temporary Employment Program), run by the State Secretary of Communitarian and Social Policy is providing 326 farmers and their wives 2 weeks of wages for maintenance work on the roadways in their area. The people are deeply appreciative of this opportunity to inject even a little cash into the financial infrastructure of their families and homes. We will cross our fingers that this drought breaks soon and all will, once again, be well in rural Yucatan.
Mexico City to Dispense Viagra to Men Over 70
Read the CNN report here. Now – here’s the really interesting part of that story… Viagra is manufactured by Pfizer and is one of the drugs that can be found at the intersection of Pipeline and Profit. In 2007/2008, Pfizer cut 10,000 jobs worldwide and decided to limit their production to only drugs that fit in that high profit area. Needless to say, with the Mexican middle class growing at the speed it has been for the last decade, Mexico is a perfect target for this company. This is not to say that making a profit is a bad thing. Now, Pfizer is donating free AIDS medication worldwide and helping out with preventive medicines in the Alliance for a Healthy Border. These are worthy projects, but there is something unsettling about such a large pharmaceutical company altering its policies to the point that dispensing Viagra is more important than, say, finding a cure for liver disease. We can’t “fault” them – but no roses here, either.
Merida Visited by “Partially Gimp Geezer” (Ray Cryer)
Take a look at what Ray Cryer, of the Cherokeean Herald, in Rusk, Texas, had to say about his trip to our fair city.We don’t know Mr. Cryer, but, after reading his article, we think he should consider retiring to Yucatan because he sounds as if he would fit right in with all the rest of our partially gimp geezer and geezette expats. We quite enjoyed his article and hope he comes back soon!
Celestún: English Taught at School
The people of Celestún understand the importance of being able to communicate effectively with tourists and as they themselves venture into the world. The City Council of Celestún has agreed to pay an English teacher for 5th and 6th graders at Bertha Maria González Primary School, but the kids are not waiting for a teacher to be found. They are currently taking English lessons from an older student for one hour a day, three days a week. For many years, Celestún has been too far away from the most populated expat locations, so they tended to be forgotten about. With the current attention paid to eco-tourism, little towns like Celestún now have an opportunity to become favored destinations. Once again, the children of Yucatan are not only planning for their future but providing their own jump-start when public services are slow in coming. Everyone should be proud of the children of Celestún as they leap into the multilingual world of eco tourism.
Telchac Puerto: 5th Magna Vaqueria
How many remember when the beach road to Telchac Puerto passed through Chicxulub and ended with a line of orange 55-gallon drums on the other side? To get to Telchac with your car in one piece, you had to go back and way around, coming down through Telchac Pueblo. …and even get to Telchac Puerto, there was nothing there! My what a difference a decade makes. Telchac Puerto just held its 5th consecutive Vaqueria to end its Fiesta in honor of San Diego de Alcalá. This Grand Vaqueria featured dancers from Telmax, Motul, Ucí, Dzemul, Telchac Puerto, Tixkokob and more. Music was provided by the Orchestra of Juan Torres and his Trombón de Oro. Telchac Puerto is coming into its own and is now a destination of note in the State of Yucatan. Theirs is truly a success story worth of a visit
Umán: 464 Kids and Their Parents in One Park
Yucatan is a big state, so how is it that the people here are so unified, considering that – until recently – their towns and villages were so far apart? It’s through their very young children! We have reported on this phenomenon before, and are revisiting it as yet another huge group of young children and their parents meet for a day of games and fun. What happens is, municipalities that often have little to no opportunity for interaction send their small children to one park – in this case, 464 children and their parents met in a park in Umán. The whole day was filled with father/child activities, such as races. This brings fathers and children together, as well as giving both parents of different municipalities an opportunity to meet and become friends.
Tizimin: The Artisan of Paper Flowers and Streamers
Many people are not familiar with banderillas and ramilletes. Traditionally, banderillas are the darts with colorful paper streamers that are used to spear the neck of bulls in bull fights. Ramilletes are the beautiful displays of paper flowers that are carried in at the head of the procession into a bull fight. Delfina Esther Ayala Díaz, also known as La tigresa is a famous artisan who makes the banderillas and ramilletes for the bull fight at La Feria de Reyes in Tizimin. Today, these beautiful creations are just as likely to be bought as souvenirs, or as decorations for homes – or even as decorations for food. We found a video of what must surely be a display of this talented artist’s work here.
Valladolid: 4th Annual Computer Systems Engineering Day of Recreation
Little children aren’t the only ones in Yucatan who take a day off to play. For the past 4 years, the Computer Systems Engineering students at Valladolid have celebrated a recreational day of their own. Of course, now they have to pay for it with a week of workshops related to things that have names like Open Source, Python, Django, Apache, and Linux. The rest of the year, they are busy building their own servers and mastering the technology necessary to conquer the web. Congratulations to them all and we hope they enjoyed their one day of play before the workshops began.
Valladolid: 5th National Week of Health for Older Adults
Throughout this week, in the headquarters of Jurisdicción Sanitaria No. 2, citizens over the age of 60 are being screened for hypertension, arthritis, diabetes, respiratory tract infections, osteoporosis, obesity, loss of cognitive function, depression, and vaccinations. In addition, 35 junior and senior level nutrition students are consulting with the older adults concerning their diet and quality of life. These types of screenings are part of the overall preventive services provided by Mexico’s national health program. We salute them for their efforts and congratulate them on their successes.
Peto: Vendors Asked Not to Sell Fireworks to Children
Every once in a while, we see a town or village try to stop the sale of fireworks to children. They are usually successful for a while and then it is back to the same old stand (so to speak). Parents are complaining that they do not give their children money for fireworks, but find that they are using money given to them for other reasons. Following an incident in which a 7 year old lost an eye in a fireworks accident, Peto is asking vendors, once more, not to sell fireworks to minors and is asking the City Council to outlaw the use of “rockets” by individuals under the influence of alcohol. While we cannot imagine a Yucatan without fireworks (although our dogs certainly wouldn’t mind…), we do hope that communities all over the state will enact and enforce laws to protect children from this disaster waiting to happen.
Monday Nov. 10: Rev. Shelby is still in need of baby supplies in Tabasco. He calculates that it is costing approximately $5 USD per day to feed each flood victim. This cost is high, as you can well imagine, due to the cost of getting food to them by air and boat. This is yet another reason for donating cash, rather than heavy or bulky items that must be transported at great expense.
Tuesday Nov. 11: Rev. Shelby reports that the days are long and very difficult. They have opened another shelter in Pan Duro because it is easier to feed and take care of the people that way. Most of the houses are above water at Pan Duro, but they do not have electricity or water and the only way to get to this village of 130 people now is by boat. They are asking for another generator, as well as filters for water plants. They say the mosquitoes are horrible.
Thursday Nov. 13: Rev. Shelby reports that they came to Merida to buy food in bulk. They load it on a truck in Tenosique, then transfer it to boats in La Palma. In one village, they converted a water plant to solar power and connected it directly to the well. They still need replacement filters.
Friday Nov. 14: Rev. Shelby reports that they will spend the last of the money in their bank account on Friday – with an estimated 3 weeks left to go until the water recedes and people can get back to their homes. The volunteers are tired and “riddled with mosquito bites” but still working.
For more information about how you can help not only flood victims in Tabasco, but also children in their orphanage in Yucatan, please contact Dr. Gene Murphy. His e-mail address is genembayoucom Contact Rev. Shelby at yeamissionsyahoocom; donations can be sent by check, credit or through Paypal on their website here.