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Yucatan News: Is Not All About the Flu


News starting May 11, 2009

"Siempre algo" – Its always something!

The Amazing Race! Vote for Mexico!
Discovery Channel International is getting ready to film another "The Amazing Race" and we think Mexico deserves that honor. Right now, we are trailing behind Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Chile – but we can pull ahead easily if everybody votes right now! We want the world to see the beauty and natural wonders that exist in Mexico but, more than that, we want them to see how much Mexico has changed. The winner of the race will receive a grand prize of $250,000 USD, but the winnings of the nation will be in the hearts and mind’s of each person who sees the movie. CLICK HERE  to vote early and vote often for Mexico! Please pass that link along to others. 

CFE to Cut Power to BEL for 4 Months CFE Power in Belize
On Friday, May 8, CFE cut Belize’s supply of electrical power due to severe damage to their main generating equipment in Campeche. Major outages were felt in all of the southern states of Mexico and Belize. More than half of Belize’s electrical power comes from CFE during the dry season, but they have recently begun purchasing power from Belize Aquiculture Ltd. and feel that they will be able to make it through the 4 months that it will take CFE to repair the damage to their Campeche equipment. Residents of the southern states of Mexico are also encouraged to conserve power as much as possible during this time.

Chichen Itza and Uxmal: Now Open
We are pleased to report that both Chichen Ita and Uxmal reopened at noon on Wednesday, May 6.

Mexico City Reopens in Stages
Mexico City’s restaurants have been allowed to open at 50% capacity, including on Mother’s Day. All other businesses were allowed to reopen on Thursday. In some places, such as the Mexico City Airport and at the entrances to the Supreme Court, infrared thermometers are still being used to check for individuals who may be running a fever.

Cruise Ships? After May 11…. May 15 or 16….. June 15, June 20?Cruise Ships in Mexico until June 20th
The people were first led to believe that cruise ships would return "after May 11." Now, there are reports that they may not return until as late as June 20. Restaurants and other tourist-related businesses are using this time to remodel and refurbish their businesses, but workers, who depend on tourism for their income, are in shock because they know they cannot hold out that long without a paycheck. According to a spokesperson for Carnival Cruises, it is the "autoridades sanitarias de Estados Unidos" (the CDC) who must give them permission to land in Mexico. While we were in hopes that this issue would be resolved quickly, it looks more and more as if June 20 may actually be the date the cruise ships return. 

The Cost of H1N1 to Estado de Yucatan
As of now, the cost of this "pandemic" stands at $650 million pesos. By the end of the year, that sum will rise to $850 million pesos. This includes not only losses in tourism, but also in the import/export sectors of Yucatan, as well as the retail markets. Mexico took extra precautions, and all business were shut down, not just tourism. However, the greatest blow to Yucatan’s economy is being dealt by the loss of approximately $300,000 USD per day while the cruise ships await permission to dock here. All of this for 1 case of H1N1 in the state of Yucatan. This is one of the most tragic and unnecessary "global panics" we have ever witnessed.

A Sad Reminder of the Price of Ignorance
In a move that is almost beyond belief, Haiti has turned back a ship carrying food and medicine to its starving citizens because it came from Mexico. There is a human cost to the price of ignorance that is always paid by a society’s weakest members. While the swine flu turned out to be not even as deadly as the common garden varieties of flu that hit every year, the people of Haiti are starving because of media hype and the inappropriate hammering of the word "pandemic" by international organizations enamored with their own image and power. Can you tell we’re upset about this? We are proud of Mexico for it’s measured and swift response to the situation, and for going back to normal so quickly. We can only hope that the rest of the world soon recovers its senses along with its ability to resist such panics in the future. 

Sanitary Measure to Remain in Place in Schools for 3 Months Sanitary Measures at Schools in Yucatan
All schools in Yucatan have been thoroughly cleaned over the 6 days that school was closed. However, no one is letting their guard down and the cleaning will continue for the next three months. It is expected that teachers will be able to alter their curricula to make up for lost time. Some have suggested that the children go to school on Saturdays, but many of the teenagers have jobs and many in the student population go home to visit relatives in other towns and villages on weekends. Students who feel ill will receive immediate treatment and testing for H1N1. It has also come to the attention of the authorities that some students are too frightened to come back to school. To their credit, the schools in Yucatan will keep these children current via telephone and the Internet until their fears have been overcome.

Classes Resumed Thursday at UADY
During the time that schools were closed, all of UADY was disinfected. Now, the Campus of Health Sciences is monitoring the health of all 18,000 students who are enrolled at the university. The student body consists of 5,500 students at the Superior level, 10,000 students working on their Bachelor degree, and 2,500 post-graduate students. The university has the capacity and resources to monitor, test and care for all 18,000 students, 1,350 administrative personnel, and 800 faculty members.

Boom Times for The Blue Plate Special in Yucatan! Cocina Economica in Merida, Yucatan
As more women than ever go to work full time, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of cocinas economicas, not only in the city, but throughout the beach towns as well. As we understand it, competition is tough and the customer is the clear winner. Not only is local fare available, but many "foreign" foods that are dear to the hearts of gringos, such as pizza, hamburgers, desserts and salads have been added as well. The prices, per person, are still running between $30 and $35 pesos; and home delivery is sometimes available. We had to laugh when we heard that, in many of these marvelous home-based businesses, you can now order a "hamburger paquete," which consists of a hamburger, french fries and a coke. It looks as if franchises aren’t going to take over in Yucatan after all, and we are thrilled beyond words at the success of all of the new cocinas economicas! You can find out more about cocinas economicas and one of our favorites just down the street from our office in our article Dining at Two Extremes.

Dia de la Marina Festivities Begin Early this Year
May 29, 2009: Reina del Día de la Marina: Lucy Paola Marín Méndez
Cap. Gaspar Cimé Escobedo has presented the lovely Lucy Paola Marín Méndez, age 16, to the media and to the public as the new 2009 Reina del Día de la Marina. Lucy Paola is the daughter of señores José Luis Marín García, regidor de Cultura y Deportes, and Lucía Méndez González.The new queen is one of the best and brightest of Yucatan’s young people. She is studying high school, while retaining her love of aerobics and enjoying the social life of a teenager. She also belongs to a dance group and, on the night she is crowned (May 29), she and her fellow dancers will perform in a musical fantasy entitled "History of a Shipwreck," with choreography by Maestro Martin Martinez. The coronation of Lucy Paola Marín Méndez as the 2009 Reina del Día de la Marina is not a new experience for this young Yucateca. In 2000, she and her brother, Isaías, were crowned as the King and Queen of Carnaval Infantil in Progreso.
June 1: Three Dia de la Marina Events:
(1) 6K Marathon Run from km 36 to 42, ending at el Monumento a la Patria. Run begins at 6:00 AM and 400 runners are expected to participate.
(2) Association of Vólibol’s Beach Match. Begins at 9:00 AM
(3) Competition for “Mr. Marino de Fisicoconstructivismo 2009”  (no time yet announced) body builders have a national association with health and nutrition as major components of their discipline. Visit the Federacion Mexicana de Fisicoconstructivismo y Fitness Website                                                   

A New Museum: In Honor of Victor Alayola Rosas
The public is cordially invited to visit the newest museum in Merida. It is dedicated to the late Victor Alayola Rosas, who was the trainer for weight lifter and Olympic Gold Medalist Zoraya Jimenes, who won the first Gold Medal by a Mexican woman in history. Nineteen years later, Señor Alayola repeated this accomplishment while coaching his own nephew, Raul Alayola. We often get caught up in the cultural side of life in Yucatan because there is so much of it and because it is so well publicized. We would do well to remember that there are almost 50 sports associations, including a minor league baseball team, headquartered right here in Merida. One of the most important goals of every citizen of Yucatan is to ensure that everyone in the state is healthy and that includes participation in all forms of physical and mental sporting events. Victor Alayola Rosas was not only a trainer for weight lifters. He was also the President of the Mexican Federation of Weightlifting, as well as Director of the Institute of Youth and Sport in the State of Yucatan. It was under his watch that the current IDEY was organized into one of the premier state sports departments in the nation, and perhaps in the world. This museum is dedicated to all of the sports Victor Alayola Rosas loved so well, and his family encourages you to come and share his memory with them.
Location:  Calle 26 x 15 Col. Itzimna, inside the kindergarden Principitos
Hours: Monday through Friday, 7:00 AM to 1:00 PM

This Week’s Local Blog of Note: Set Free in Mexico
We have read a lot of commentary concerning the H1N1 influenza incident, but none as good as what we found on Set Free in Mexico.   …and then we began to look around the site and found that it is a wonderful slice of life in Merida. We don’t know how we missed Set Free in Mexico thus far, but we are signed up for regular updates now and won’t be missing it anymore. Congratulations to Bruce Kelley on a blog well done!

Artist & Muralist in Telchac: Rigel SauriTelchac Murals by Rigel Sauri
Have you been to Telchac lately? You can’t miss this! Unfortunately, both of these sites are VERY slow loading, but a link to the photographer’s flikr site is provided farther down in this commentary. Visit Rigel Sauri’s Website and Patricia Boler’s Telchac Project Gallery  to see what’s been developing right under our noses. Rigel Sauri is originally from Merida, but has lived and worked in the U.S. since 1989. Last year, he brought his talent home to Yucatan and the result is spectacular! They’ve been working on those murals for a whole year and this is the first we’ve heard about it… and wouldn’t have known about it now if a friend from Mississippi hadn’t e-mailed us the link. Thanks, Kip. We’re sure that there will be plenty of visitors to Telchac in the very near future. Note: if either of their websites cause your browser to hang, the photos are also on flikr here View them as a slide show for maximum enjoyment. The project isn’t finished yet, and they are painting new walls as often as they become available, so do go out and visit.

Video: Giant Crystal Cave in Chihuahua
Discovered in 2000, the crystal cave in Chihuahua has become world famous as the NAICA Project. It has been featured on the Discovery Channel and on National Geographic. There is little wonder that it has now made its way to YouTube. Click Here to see the YouTube video and to keep up with the latest news about Mexico on Geology.com. You may also visit the absolutely spectacular NAICA Project Home Page (in English).

Mysterious Shark Turns Out To Be A "Snowbird" Sharks in Mexico
Basking sharks are the second largest of all the fishes. The basking sharks off the coast of Great Britain head for deep water and hibernate throughout the winter. The basking sharks off the coase of New England slipped away without anyone ever finding out where they go, where they breed, or where they have their babies – until modern tracking technology caught up with them. English basking sharks can hibernate all they want, but American basking sharks have turned out to be party animals. At the first sign of cool weather approaching, they grab their beach umbrellas and and pass us by completely as they head for the coast of Brazil. We wonder if they stay for Carnival or if they are already on their way back toward New England by then? We already know that they never have told the good folks of New England what they’ve been up to all winter or where they got those babies! Be sure and watch Discovery Channel’s shows about sharks and read about them on the web.    

Mexico’s New Drug Laws
For those who have heard that Mexico has recently decriminalized the possession of some drugs, we strongly advise you to read Kristin Bricker’s report  on this topic. Then, we suggest that you probably would not want to come to Mexico and run the risk of getting involved with drugs in any form or fashion because the tag-line for those laws is, to say the least, misleading. Some will think these are great new laws because of the extreme crackdown and long prison terms associated with them. Others will think that these are terrible laws because they are hard on everyday users and street-level dealers. No matter which camp you are in, ignorance of the law, in Mexico, is no excuse; so be sure to read the entire report and alter your behavior if necessary.

Mother’s Day: Sale of Flowers Collapses in Progreso
Growers and artisans in Progreso are reporting that the loss of income from the sale of hand-crafted items generally sold to tourists on cruise ships has resulted in a collapse in the sale of Mother’s Day flowers. This is one of the biggest sales seasons of the year for the growers of flowers and the ripples of this non-starting event will shudder throughout the entire ecomony.

4 Turtles Well and Free in Chuburna
This past week, 4 sea turtles were released to an artificial reef off the coast near Chuburna. One was a Caguama (loggerhead) that is 30 years old and weighs 50 kg. Two were 7 and 8 year old white turtles weighing around 20 kg. the fourth was an 8 year old hawksbillturtle. The turtles had all been found along the coast of our state and all had been ill. They were nursed back to health by a program sponsored by PROFEPA and were set free when they regained their health. Congratulations to the director of the program, Prof. Hernan Humberto Murillo Tores and to the hands on folks, led by Jorge E. Amenica Calderon, who made this event possible.

The Sacred Mayan Journey 2009Sacred Mayan Journey
The annual Sacred Mayan Journey will take place this year on May 21, 22, and 23. The voyage will be carried out in traditional Mayan canoes starting in Polé, today Xcaret, to the island of Cozumel, and then on to Playa del Carmen (former Xamanhá part). 25 handmade canoes have been made according to the traditional Mayan model, and 300 rowers from the communities of Xcaret, Cozumel and Playa del Carmen are trained for their navigation. The journey is to give thanks to the godess Ixchel. This will be a "Trade Days" -type event that showcases the history of the Mayans, as well as offers a look into their lives today. Follow this link  to the complete 3 day schedule of events and to find out more about what has come to be a very successful anual event.

And the Best News Is… Pet Airways!New airplane for pets
Pet Airways takes its opening flight on July 14 from New York to Washington, Chicago, Denver, and Los Angeles. Tickets are $149 each way and the planes will carry up to 50 pawsengers. The idea was born when the owners of the airline had trouble shipping their own dog. Everything possible will be done for the comfort of the pets. No more cargo travel for Fideaux and Meaux! Now – if we can just convince them to fly to and from Mexico as well! Read all about it on the Pet Airways Website! We have already e-mailed them requesting that they consider international flights. We hope you will too.


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6 Responses to “Yucatan News: Is Not All About the Flu”

  1. Check out the Libros y Suenos hotel in Telchac, another mural going up, same artist, turning our town into an art gallery…well worth the drive if you haven’t seen the Municipal Building, spectacular!

  2. wondering if anyone has suggestions for good mexican, rather than yucatecan, food in merida? i need a pinto bean fix now and then!

  3. Your link for ‘set free in mexico’ – leads to the petairways site – thanks :)

  4. Thank you (everyone) for alerting us to the broken link. Working Gringa (the usual fixer) is in California, but hopefully the amazing Beatriz is on it sometime today. She has been notified. Check back soon for the right link!

  5. Hi Ellen, keep the good and accurate news coming. We all need to make sure to give the realistic picture of what’s happening here to our fellow citizens back home and around the world. My parents were coming to visit us here in Mexico City in a couple of weeks and the airline called to tell them that their flights had been changed, and at the end of the day they were not able to piece together another itinerary that worked with their travel dates. Super annoying and absolutely unnecessary, and I’m sure this is playing havoc with the plans of all the other people who are trying to travel to and from Mexico. Hopefully countries, companies and individuals will start making their decisions based on facts, and not panic.

  6. This “influenza situation” is such a tragedy for everyone. For the families of the people who have died, for those who are currently ill, and for the millions of people going through the economic disruption everywhere.

    But stop and think: This was a new disease, against which humans have no immunity or resistence. Indeed, current reports are that it does spread quite easily among humans. And, as usual with the flu, it is spreading fastest among young healthy adults. However, different from most normal flu cases, those who are dying are young adults as well. Normally, those who die from the flu (usually flu-induced pnuemonia), are young children and elderly adults. So far, the mortality rate is far lower than first feared which is a good thing.

    The key to remember is that this “event” is not yet over and won’t be for a year or two. It takes that long to see if it will turn out to be an awful event (like 1918) or a false alarm (like 1976). Flu comes in waves, generally in the Spring and Fall.

    In the meantime, there are 41 confirmed, tested cases of H1N1 in the Yucatan. (Diario, May 17, 09) New York City has 186 confirmed, tested cases and New York State has 259. (AP, May 18, 09) In a normal winter, 1000 people may die of “normal” flu in NYC. (NYT, May 18, 09) The USA has 4,700 confirmed, tested cases and estimates are as high as 100,000 infected yesterday.

    The World Health Organization says (Sat May 16, 09) there are 8,451 confirmed, tested cases in 36 countries. Only 72 people have died, world-wide so far. The actual circulation of the virus is likely to be thousands of times higher and has been very mild, so far, in most people. The UK has 101 confirmed cases.

    So, this strain of influenza spreads fast everywhere and IS everywhere. Mexico was first to detect and report the influenza and deserves credit for their openness and honesty in disclosing to the world what they had found. But there is little reason to avoid travel, vacations, etc. There are more cases in Texas or California or New York or the UK than in the Yucatan.

    Practice common precautions like washing your hands and keeping your fingers out of your eyes, nose and mouth.

    Go about your business. Enjoy life.

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