News Starting November 19, 2012
Sam Woodruff: Dead at 63
It is with a heavy heart that we find ourselves typing the strange words that our friend Sam has been murdered in his home in Merida. Sam, an expat from North Carolina, had lived in Yucatan for almost a decade. He was a fine artist, helped to start the Art Walk we see on Sunday mornings, and an art school in Chelem. If you would like to do something in Sam’s memory, please get in touch with Artistas de la Playa on Facebook. We are sure any donation to Artistas De La Playa, or to any expat organization, in Sam’s memory would be deeply appreciated by Sam and by the receivers.
Abandoned Pet Numbers Increase 50% During Holidays
According to Merida’s Center for the Control of Dogs and Cats, it isn’t the animals that are a problem… it’s the people. They say that the numbers of pets brought in, every single day during the holidays, doubles the daily rate for the rest of the year. They say that some people actually leave on vacation and don’t leave food or water for their pets. In some cases, owners are at home, but fail to secure their pets before a night of fireworks cranks up. Frightened pets then run until they are lost and end up at a shelter. The problem here is one of cultural values. According to Merida’s Center for the Control of Dogs and Cats, the value that should be taught is a reverence for life – all life – and this problem will never be solved until that battle is won. We know that most expats do their part (and more) to support all of the animal shelters and programs in Yucatan. We are very proud of the expat community and the work you do. Please go to our Events page and look toward the bottom of the page, in Coming Soon, for information on the next Spay-Neuter Program. Participation in this event alone will prevent the tragic and needless suffering of generations of surplus pets in Yucatan.
Sisal: DIY or They Will Come
It seems that Yucatan has not been producing sisal at the level it could have been grown and Chinese growers have their eyes on filling that gap on Yucatan soil. The current state administration is on the job and gearing up to not only support the expansion of henequen farming in the state, but to build manufacturing facilities as well. It isn’t that Yucatan doesn’t want Asians to move to the state, it’s just that this is an industry that can provide jobs for Yucatecos in the near term and there is no reason to simply count the export fees in the state’s economy when these new, local jobs will provide local incomes and turn over many times in local communities right here in Yucatan. This is welcome news for everyone in the henequen zone! Our best wishes to them all.
A Boa in the Landfill and a Crocodile in the River
We do live in the tropics, but this is the first time we have heard of two incidents in one town in just a week or two. The first was the sighting of a crocodile in the swamp near a fraccionamiento in Progreso. His name is now Rony and, when sighted again, he will be taken to a safe haven for crocodiles by the authorities. This last incident is about a boa constrictor that weighs around 25 kilos and is more than 2 meters long. He is not a small snake. He was found under the hood of an abandoned truck, again in Progreso, and will be released in the area of the former landfill. Somehow, we think we would feel better about this big fella if he was taken to someplace like Centenario Zoo. How about you?
Hollywood Came to Town
This past week, Ryan Gosling (2012 Sexiest Man Alive) and Rooney Mara came to Merida and toured Progreso. They were filming parts of a film that as yet has no name. However, the cast is quite impressive and includes Natalie Portman, Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Christian Bale and Cate Blanchett. After spending Wednesday night in Progreso, the actors went back to Merida where they filmed more scenes in Centro. We think all of Yucatan is a wonderful setting for any number of movie projects. We hope Mr. Gosling and Ms. Mara enjoyed their stay, and that their new film will be a wonderful eye into the world of Yucatan for many new tourists and residents.
Four University Graduates and a Successful Farmer’s Market
It looks as if Proyecto Itzaes is having quite a year. The best news we have heard is that four of their students graduated from university this year! They also began the Farmer’s Market in Ixil and that project has been a huge success. The Farmer’s Market will now take place on the Third Sunday of every month in Ixil. All of these local Farmers’ and Artisans’ Markets mean a great deal to local economies because vendors no longer have to pay for transporting their goods to Merida, and no longer have to share their profits with third parties. We hope everyone patronizes these local events. Many thanks for the success of this particular event also goes to Palo Alto Rotary Club, Club Rotario Nuevas Generaciones, and Rotary International for grants supporting the development of this project.
New Numbers for Diabetes in Yucatan
Diabetes is the third leading cause of death in Yucatan. New figures say that 14.4% of all Yucatecos have diabetes. The bad news is that it is estimated that this figure is the result of at least a 30% under-reporting of the actual cases in the state. It is especially troubling that Type A diabetes is rapidly growing among children. For the past few years, Yucatecos have been educating themselves about nutrition and wellness. Now, there is a new push on to stem the growing tide of diabetes once and for all. This is an absolute necessity, given that there are 6.4 million diabetics in Mexico today and, at this rate of growth, the disease will affect 11 million Mexicans by 2025.
Unemployment in Yucatan
Yucatan’s unemployment rate has risen from 3.1% to 3.7%, which translates to 48,000 workers over the age of 14. Six in ten Yucatecos are of working age. The seriousness of this issue, in the minds of expats, might be affected by the economic situation in their own country. Needless to say, unemployment rates in many expats’ home nations far exceed the unemployment rate in Yucatan. The seriousness of the issue might also be discounted by many Yucatecos because, after all, Yucatan still has the fifth lowest rate of unemployment in the nation. It must be noted, however, that many families in Yucatan are not wealthy and the loss of even one paycheck can spell financial disaster. In addition, Yucatan’s excellent university system is producing a growing number of young graduates, many of whom have sought-after power degrees and invitations to enter the global job market. Jobs, at both ends of the spectrum, are coming to Yucatan. We hope they arrive in time to employ the poor and relieve the pressure on Yucatan’s best and brightest from feeling as if they must leave home in order to properly care for their families.
Yucatan’s New Science Network
Few expats are aware of CICY, what the letters stand for, or what they even do over there. CICY stands for the Center of Scientific Investigation of Yucatan. This past week, CICY celebrated it’s 33rd anniversary with an announcement that they have developed a scientific network between their agency and all of the other scientific entities in the state. This network includes universities, as well as agribusiness and even tourism. At the present time, CICY has a total of twelve amazing projects underway in Biotechnology, Materials, Natural Resources, Renewable Energy, Water Science, and Plant Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. The goal is to meet and exceed not only the needs of bringing environmentally sensitive jobs to Yucatan, but to use the Science Park and it’s new scientific network to ensure that Yucatan survives and thrives with a safe environment in what appears to be an uncertain environmental future for the planet. We fully expect this new scientific network to link to others like it, around the world, and show us just how bright and resilient our young scientists actually are.
Sea Turtle Warning
This past week, a dead Tortuga Blanca washed up on the beach in Progreso and was diagnosed with human papilloma virus. This is the sixth such incident in two years. The Tortuga Blanca is a white sea turtle that is native to the Caribbean. CETMAR is asking that the public not touch these animals, living or dead, and that, if found dead, they not be buried in the sand. Instead, any time a Tortuga Blanca is found, please call the authorities and see to it that the animal reaches Acuacultura Marina del Cetmar. Again, the Tortuga Blanca is the only marine species known to carry human papilloma virus, at this time, so please do not touch them and please do call and make sure they reach the proper authorities.
Maya Cultural Festival Expanded
Many people think of the 2012 Maya Cultural Festival as an opportunity to visit all of the archaeological sites, attend wonderful art shows, and be moved by spectacular light and sound shows. Yucatan will be expanding the range of this once-in-many-lifetimes event to include conferences and workshops led by internationally acclaimed authors and researchers. Between December 14 and 22, these conferences will have such speakers as astrophysicist Brian P. Schmidt, who won the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, and Dorion Sagan, son of astronomer Carl Sagan and a science writer, essayist and theorist, author and co-author of books on culture, history and evolution. The amazing list of speakers includes the world’s top researchers in a list of topics that spans everything from mathematics to Maya history. Having the results of these conferences and workshops based in Merida will provide us with information that can be found nowhere else in the world. Thus, these conferences and workshops will add to Merida’s stature in the international academic community, as well as to the historical significance of the Maya.