News starting March 30, 2009
Calle 59: Improvements Begin
For the next 50 days, the Ayuntamiento will be remodeling the stretch of Calle 59 between Parque de la Paz and Santiago. All work will be done at night, to minimize the impact on residents, businesses and tourism. All wiring will be put underground. Signs and banners will be either removed completely or regulated to improve the view of those who live in the area, work there, or visit there. La Ermita is complete and Parque de la San Juan is almost complete. Everything that has been done so far is just beautiful! There will be a celebration of the completion of these public works projects in April. Our congratulations to the Ayuntamiento de Merida for a job well done! Now we hope they continue in other parts of the city…
Summer Charges on Electricity Set to Begin
For many expats, their electrical bill remains somewhat of a mystery. We received information saying that our area uses the National CFE’s chart 1-C, so we looked online and found their site. You can actually get month-by-month rates and see how much the rate changes at the basic rate (up to 150) kwh, intermediate rates (151 to 300 kwh), and greater rates (over 350 kwh). Try it out. One thing you will notice is that summer rates are higher – all the way to October, when they go back down to winter rates. The change isn’t much, but please do play with that site a bit to see what leaving lights and other electricity-gobbling appliances on can do to your bill. While we were on the CFE website, we found another page that might help when you are considering what to leave on – and what to turn off – around the house. Click here to see approximately how many kwh each of your electrical necessities and entertainment toys actually uses and the potential add-on to your electric bill. For more information on how your CFE bill works, check out our article on CFE.
Daylight Savings Time Comes to Yucatan
Don’t forget to change your clocks! Yes – Daylight Savings Time comes to Yucatan too. We all complain about the adjustment we have to make in our perception of time when a time change takes place, but the energy savings, in a time of dwindling global energy resources, is something we can all understand. This Saturday night, April 4, you do the same thing here that you do back in the States. Spring forward or Fall back. So be sure and set your clocks forward 1 hour before you go to bed on Saturday night.
Yucatan: Land of Angels
On his way to work one morning, a reporter for El Diario saw a municipal policeman stop his car to help an elderly person across the street – and an idea was born. In his column that day, without mentioning his own name, the writer put out a call for others to respond to the column with instances of angels they have seen here. The person defined as an angel could be someone who does great charitable works, or someone who simply gives up their seat on a bus. The person who sends in their list of angels can either sign their name or do so anonymously. The point here is, even as you read this, you can think of both expats and Yucatecos who are truly angels who walk among us. That’s what the term quality of life is all about and that’s what keeps bringing us all back to Yucatan. How lucky we are to live in a place that recognizes and values angels in the 21st century. After reading that article,we suspect that its writer just may have the heart of an angel himself.
Yucatan’s Version of the Make a Wish Foundation
This week, the students of Universidad Interamericana, through their program Cuéntame tu sueño, which is part of the programs falling under the umbrella of Fundación Soñar Despierto de la UNID, surprised a young girl who has cancer with a circus at Rancho Tierra Bonita. While these types of activities are wonderful for the individual beneficiaries, they also have a profound effect on the participating students and ensure that theirs will be a generation that grows up experiencing the joy of making dreams come true for those who often have difficulty dreaming at all. Congratulations to everyone involved in this event and especially to Rancho Tierra Bonita. They are increasingly involved in any number of charitable events and deserve a resounding "well done" for providing the space and personnel necessary to make them happen.
Norte # 40
There are two kinds of gringos in Yucatan – expats and tourists. During these little periods of cool weather, called nortes, it is easy to tell the difference between a tourist an an expat. The tourist is the one in the bathing suit, having a wonderful time on the beach – in and out of the water. The expat is the one who is bundled up against the cold and couldn’t be paid to get in the water with love or money! For those who are planning a move to Yucatan, this will be you in a year or so, and you too will have tales to tell of how cold you swear it can get in a concrete house, with a concrete floor and a concrete roof in the middle of a norte (ok – so its only for a couple of days – but it feels like forever!). Necessities of life in Yucatan: food – water – electric blanket… Norte number 40 for 2009 came through with winds blowing at quite a nice little clip and lasted less than a day… and frankly, it wasn’t even that cold, even for expats. While we laugh at ourselves for being such whiners, we need to remember that these little episodes are becoming more frequent and affecting the health of children in the state. Please watch for and contribute to any drive for the donation of blankets, coats and hats put on my your town or city. It is no laughing matter when it is a little one who is cold.
July Whale Shark Festival Partners with Project Domino
This year, July 1-5, the Whale Shark Festival will take place on Isla Mujeres. This is going to be a 5-day extravaganza that showcases the achievements, traditions and environmental splendor of Isla Mujeres. Activities will be centered on family-friendly events that include live music, traditional dancing, booths and displays by local artisans, tours of the Turtle Farm, private excursions to Boca Iglesia (the first church built in North America (1517)), snorkeling and diving to surrounding reefs and wrecks, trips to Contoy Island National Park to see the Bird Sanctuary, swimming with whale sharks, and sport fishing charters, both in-shore and off-shore. Their partner this year is Project Domino, an initiative sponsored by the Mexican government, that is dedicated to the study, preservation and tracking of whale sharks in the waters surrounding the Yucatan Peninsula. Their local Photo Identification library is shared with the Global Tracking Library. Project Domino joins Festival sponsors Ceviche Tours, an ecotourism company, and the Department of Tourism for Isla Mujeres. Nonprofit partners include environmental leaders ECOCEAN, a renowned marine conservation organization; and Amigos de Isla Contoy A.C., which promotes the conservation of Isla Contoy, nature areas and regional projects of the Yucatan peninsula.
For more information, visit the Whale Shark Festival Website or contact Ceviche Tours.
Rural IMSS Clinics Connected by New Computer System
All 2,000 new IMSS Family Practice clinics, throughout the nation, will soon be connected by a computer system that allows for improved resource management, and the speed required for medical and administrative personnel to access information. Using this new system, they will be able to find critical documents, such as medical records, patient files, diagnosis materials and images faster and more efficiently. The system was purchased from 3Com Corporation in Marlborough, Mass. We watch in amazement as the IMSS system gets better with each passing year. Congratulations to all of the medical and administrative staff members who have dedicated their careers to making this happen.
Mexico: Noise Pollution
Those of us who live in Mexico understand the problem of noise pollution all too well. Those who do not, would have difficulty believing us even if we tried to explain it. However, the winds of change are blowing in D.F. We remember when the evils of smoking showed up on the monthly newsletter from the President of Mexico. Now, laws about smoking in public buildings are some of the strongest we have ever seen. Next came the problem of plastic bags. Now, Mexico City has one year to make the change to biodegradable plastic bags, with encouragement to the people to begin using their own eco-friendly reusable shopping bags. That will, in all likelihood, be enacted throughout the nation soon thereafter. This month, the evils of noise pollution is the issue presented in the President’s newsletter. If the recent past repeats itself, look for a much quieter Mexico in the very near future. We know this is a valid issue and needs to be addressed – and we are guilty of complaining about the noise occasionally ourselves – but we also find that even the suggestion of a quieter Mexico makes us a bit lonesome for our old noisy Mexico already. Ummm…. Just for a minute.
Mexico to Allow Genetically Modified Corn
After fighting genetically modified corn for more than a decade, Mexico has given up and will now allow farmers to apply for permits to plant up to 10% of their fields in genetically modified corn, mostly in the states of Sonora, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas and Chihuahua. There are some who are convinced that genetically modified crops will ultimately lead to long-term health problems for humans. There is no proof of that, but there is no proof that they won’t either. If health problems do prove to be associated with these products, Mexico is at serious risk because of the tremendous volume of corn consumed by its citizens each year. But – suppose there are no negative health implications for humans from genetically modified corn? There is still a problem with it. Mexico is home to approximately 200 varieties of corn. Science has long since proven that diversity is the only means of survival in every area of our environment. Even before this new ruling, accidental contamination from north of the border has resulted in the appearance of genetically modified corn in out-of-the-way rural places all over Mexico. Planting 10% of Mexico’s corn crop will ensure that genetically modified corn quickly spreads throughout the nation and, since it is a stronger crop than native varieties, it is not out of the realm of possibility that native varieties will soon become extinct. If we end up with one variety of corn and if it develops one deadly crop disease, then mass starvation would quickly be sitting not on Mexico’s door-step, but at her dining table. Genetically modified corn produces bumper crops and improves the standard of living for corn farmers. Pushed forward by huge international corn producers, these windfall profits may lie at the beginning of a road that none of us want to go down. Sadly, this is one genie that is now out of its bottle and rapidly covering the entire planet with the same potentially deadly risk.
Progreso Graffiti to Be Removed
A group of industrialists have gotten together and are supplying the paint and personnel necessary to paint over the graffiti that has become a growing problem in Progreso. This comes, of course, right before Easter, when Meridanos will be arriving to spend the holidays at their homes on the beaches of Yucatan. The mayoress has asked everyone who lives in Progreso to come out and help repaint the walls. Some are upset that the graffiti is being removed because they feel that it is "art." The mayoress is quite right when she explains that graffiti is only art when it is confined to spaces that have been designated for it and when it does not affect the rights or property of others, which also includes public buildings and walls. We try to remember that these so-called artists are young and impulsive, but they are old enough to know better and it really is time to stop calling the indiscriminant defacing of public property "art." Thanks to the industrialists for all of their help and support, and we hope that soon there will be a program for the young “artists” that will give them specific walls to decorate with their art.
Agricultural Burning Chart for 2009
Sometimes, websites are revamped and it takes forever to find all of one’s resources again. Such has been the case with many of our state and local sources of information. However, we have finally found the Agricultural Burning Chart for 2009 and want to provide you with a link so you will know when and where to expect smoke and fire. Please remember, if you are driving in smoke, keep your lights on so that others can see you. If at all possible, opt to turn around and make your trip another time. This chart also lists the locations of fire departments in Yucatan and gives the emergency numbers for calling to report fires. Please note that all agricultural burning is prohibited during the month of April, and burning within the city limits is also contra la ley (against the law), though you may find it difficult if not impossible to get anyone to enforce that law. For more information, visit the Agricultural Burning Chart for 2009.
Jon Tevlin Visited Merida
Jon Tevlin is a columnist for the Star Tribune in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota. He recently visited our fair city and has now posted his view of the safety of American vacationers in Mexico. The article is HERE. We hope Mr. Tevlin becomes a regular visitor to Yucatan and extend him a heartfelt invitation to let us know anytime he is in the area.
Note: If anyone would like to contact Anderson Cooper and express your view about his latest CNN Special Report, you can do so HERE.
Los Angeles: La Flor de Yucatan Bakery
This week, La Flor de Yucatan, a small bakery in Los Angles, California, got a rave review from a reader of Chowhound.com for, of all things to find in a bakery, their cochinita pibil. We had to laugh a bit when she assessed the baked goods and cakes as not looking as appealing. What she isn’t taking into account is that, in Yucatan, the baked goods are not loaded with sugar and slathered in American Crisco-laden icing. Now, don’t get us wrong. Yucatecos do love their sugar – but they only use it as a liberal dusting (on an amazing array of foods!). Congratulations to the Yucateca owner of La Flor de Yucatan Bakery for bringing a taste of Yucatan to Los Angeles. The bakery is located on Hoover Avenue and closes at 8:00 PM.
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