News Starting October 11, 2010
Artisans Cutting Out the Middleman and Two Contests
The most common perception of local artisans is a group of poor people who toil away in cottage industries and are never paid a fair price by any of the layers upon layers of middlemen who hawk their wares worldwide. That sort of thing has just come to a screeching halt in Merida! The artisans of Merida are getting their own Distribution Center of Crafts right in the heart of Centro. In fact, the City is getting a brand new tourism video that features Merida’s artisans and their work. It looks as if the Distribution Center may be a place where crafts might be purchased on a wholesale basis because the City of Merida is also going to be taking specially built exhibition modules to display and sell the crafts all over Merida, including shopping malls, tourist information centers, hotels, restaurants and other places where large numbers of people gather. This brings up the topic of the first contest. University students are entering a contest to design the exhibition modules that will be used to display the artisans’ wares throughout Merida. With all of the talented architecture and art students we have in Merida, the outcome of this contest is guaranteed to be spectacular!
…and The Second Contest Is….. A Timer?
How exciting! The artisans of Merida are entering a contest to design a timer that will accurately count down to the end of the fifth cycle of the Mayan calendar and usher in the beginning of a new era. D-Date, of course, is December 21, 2012. We can hardly wait to see what they come up with!
Student Transportation in Merida
There is currently a trial run going on with a new student transportation system in Merida. When the program is complete, students who live and study in the city will receive a smart card that will pay $60 pesos per month toward their transportation to and from school. The trial program includes 50 students who are using special debit cards but, by the first of the year, it is expected that smart card readers will be installed everywhere they are needed and hundreds of students will benefit from this program. If you know of a student who lives in Merida, tell them to look for the Department of Transportation stations at their schools. If they don’t already have an ISIC card from the Yucatan Dept. of Transportation, they will have to get one but applications for this program are free and they will be able to choose the type of transportation that is most appropriate for them, i.e. bus, combi van, etc. Every little bit helps and this is the kind of practical help that all students everywhere need. The future of Yucatan will certainly be the better for it.
Lots Going On in South and West Merida
Wonderful things are happening on the south and west sides of Merida. These areas have long been in need of attention and their time has come. They’re getting streets and drainage constructed and/or repaired but, best of all, they are getting expanded health care services, including medical, dental and psychological services. The City of Merida has sent a Mobile Medical Unit, a Mobile Rehabilitation Unit, and assistance with family law, accounting, and disability services. The most interesting new service the communities in the south and west sections of Merida have is the Programa Cibermovil, in which children are, some for the very first time, exposed to laptop computers and the Internet. We hope this is just the beginning and that, soon, the quality of life for all citizens of Merida and Yucatan will always be better today than yesterday.
Merida: An Island of Heat
For several years, there has been talk of reforestation efforts in the City of Merida as a means of bringing cooler temperatures to the area, but only now do we have the data necessary to really understand what square miles upon square miles of concrete can do to the heat factor of a city this size. Over the course of the past 10 years, the heat in Merida has risen 2.5 degrees Celcius (4.5 degrees Fahrenheit). Most of this can be attributed to urban sprawl and deforestation. Just imagine what another decade of uncontrolled growth and concrete will do! Experts have identified the northwest part of the city as being particularly in need of reforestation efforts. With this new information, it is hoped that both administrations and individual residents will move swiftly to determine the best types of trees to be planted and get them in the ground as quickly as possible.
Restaurants’ Produce Price Increases
We are in for an interesting phenomenon over the next few weeks, if not months. Yucatan’s agricultural diversity projects for the past several years have done a reasonably good job of ensuring that we have fruits and vegetables here at home. However, there are a couple of winter months when we have to import tomatoes and pineapples, especially for restaurants. That means trucking them in from other parts of the country. The only problem with that is the fact that all roads between the peninsula and the rest of Mexico have been damaged by severe weather. Restaurants that were paying $10 pesos per kilo are now paying $30 pesos per kilo and the increases have only just begun. So far, the restaurants have been absorbing the increase themselves, without raising prices to customers; but they can’t keep that up for long. Please try to put eating an extra meal in your favorite restaurant in your budget as a way of showing support for the people who have always served us all so well. Also, please keep the people of Belize in mind, because much of their produce is trucked through Yucatan and they too are going to face higher prices and, perhaps, shortages as well.
Sisal: Ladies in High Places
We just read about the ladies in Sisal who are climbing scaffolds to take jobs as painters in high places and we think this is a great story. First, of course, we are very happy for the lady painters because they have taken their futures into their own hands just by going to work for a regular paycheck in an industry that has no end of jobs in Yucatan. But what really struck our eye was the amazement of everyone that these ladies are quite successful doing a job that is trationally reserved for men. The world is changing, little by little, and the ladies in high places in Sisal are currently the stars of the show. Congratulations, ladies – and best wishes from Yucatan Living for the very bright future ahead.
Yucatan’s Real Estate Associations Join Forces
As tens of millions of Americans, Canadians, and Europeans begin to retire and look to Mexico as their dream destination, real estate professionals are recognizing the need for a system of checks and balances. After experiences with a few less-than-ethical real estate people became known, a group of them decided this is not something that the ethical real estate professionals in Yucatan will allow to continue, as it harms their individual business interests and it is not in the best interest of the State of Yucatan. This Friday, AMPI (the Association of Mexican Real Estate Professionals) and AABRY (the Association of Accredited Real Estate Agents in Yucatan) will meet for the purpose of forging a link between the two, and paving the way for a system of accountability for every real estate agent and company in Yucatan. From now on, the real estate buying and selling public will be able to feel secure in their ability to choose real estate agents and companies that are honest and ethical.
Pulpo, Seaweed and Winter
The nortes have finally come and have not only cooled the water, but cleared the bottom of seaweed. This means that Yucatan’s pulpo fishermen actually have a shot at bringing in enough of a normal pulpo catch to float (no pun intended) the economy of the beach all winter. Pulpo is the catch that makes or breaks not only the fishermen’s payday, but the payday of everyone who does business with them. While we hate to see cool weather returning, we are so glad that Yucatan’s pulpo fishermen are having a great year at last.
Progreso: Young Boy Begins New Nursing Home Support Project
His name is Franklin Noe Cruz Rodriguez. He has been a volunteer at the local nursing home in Progreso for the past two years and has noticed a decline in not only donations, but also in the quality of food available for residents. Franklin decided to begin his own Nursing Home Support Project and he is asking for donations. Money is tight these days and, although the residents of the nursing home have not been abandoned, their lot in life could use a bit of improvement. Franklin has a storage area in Progreso, at Calle 58 #483 x 37 y 39. He is particularly concerned about protecting the nursing home residents from eating food that is at or near its expiration date. If you can help this young man with his project, please bring whatever you can to the address included above. Young people like Franklin are Yucatan’s prize possessions and we should all do everything we can to support them and their projects.
Progreso Municipality: Drunk Drivers On Notice
As the number of cars on the roads of Yucatan continue to increase, so do the numbers of impaired drivers. Nowhere is this more of a problem than with drivers headed to or from the beach. In fact, the police say that it is almost a guarantee that one in ten drivers is seriously impaired by alcohol on any given day. A new breathalyzer program is beginning in Progreso this week and, by the end of the month, some serious jail time and fines are expected to be handed out. Please be careful not to drink and drive.
Progreso: Call for Equine Therapy Volunteers
Colombian psychologist and equine therapist Marta Ines Mejia is a member of the Association of Equine Therapy of the Southeast Equestrian Club. There are currently 5 children in Progreso who would benefit from equine therapy, and only 7 volunteers (apparently they need more than one volunteer per child). If you can volunteer, please contact the Municipal DIF at Calle 31 x 76 y 74. The therapy sessions will take place at Rancho San Pedro in Chicxulub.
Merida’s 469th Birthday News
On top of all the other holidays and festivals that take place in Merida in January, the Festival of the City is to celebrate the birthday of Merida. This is a celebration that gets bigger and better every year. Now, we hear that Colombia will be the guest nation during that time – which will mean a huge cultural exchange, so look for everything from Colombian music, dance and theater to art and sculpture. Two stars’ names are already being rumored to be coming as well. Colombia’s Shakira and Juanes are two of the biggest names in music and song worldwide. Mum’s the word so far, but we even read that there might be a free Shakira concert in the Plaza Grande! Can you imagine how huge that would be? For now, we’re still on the hunt for more information about this month-long celebration and we’ll let you know as soon as we find something out for certain. In the meantime, visit the websites of Shakira and Juanes to learn more about these remarkable young people.