News Starting February 14, 2011
Happy Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day is in full swing in Yucatan! This day is named after St. Valentine, an early Christian martyr and was established by Pope Gelasius I in 406 AD. St. Valentine’s Day was first associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. That is rather a fun fact to know, especially if someone has read The Wife of Bath in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Thankfully, today in Yucatan, Valentine’s Day is celebrated – as it should be – with love and (hopefully) with lots of chocolate.
Over the past several months, there has been an increase in the number of thefts from homes at the beach in Yucatan. So far, no one has been hurt, but incidents like this always have the potential to escalate. This has been a source of great concern for both residents and for the police because the entire situation came as such a surprise to everyone. Following a series of meetings that included homeowners and the administration, surveillance has now been increased and will remain in place through at least Holy Week. With homeowners and the police working together, we are certain that the thefts from homes along the beach will now be a thing of the past.
Campeche Pipe Organ
Unfortunately, the Cathedral in Merida seems to have decided not to continue allowing tours of its magnificent pipe organ. Though this organ is the largest in southern Mexico, it is not the only pipe organ around. Our friend Jim Smiley discovered a small 6-rank, 300+ organ tucked away in the cathedral in Campeche. After talking with the priest there, he has been given permission to work on renewing and restoring it to its former glory. It is a Mexican-made organ, created in Guadalajara 126 years ago… before the Mexican Revolution! It is intact, with its original handpumps and an electric blower that will have to be replaced. Jim has already sent some pipes to Boston to be restored there, and hopes to have the organ working by fall of 2011. If you are interested in seeing the organ next time you are in Campeche, just ask someone in the church. Or email Jim Smiley at MondoChuck [at] aol [dot] com. Pipe organs and organs of any kind are his passion and he will be happy to talk to you about them if you are interested. He’ll be teaching the choirmaster in Campeche how to play the organ when it is finished being restored, and then the Cathedral in Campeche will be full of beautiful music. Thank you, Jim!
Integrated Waste Management Soon To Be Law
State lawmakers are set to pass Yucatan’s first state law related to Integrated Waste Management. This law will have provisions for public education on the subject, as well as funding for collection, transportation, treatment and disposal of solid waste in such a manner as to not cause harm to the environment. This law has been a long time coming and brings hope for a brighter and healthier future for everyone who lives in Yucatan or visits here.
Merida Supports 55 Community Service Institutions
The administration in Merida has just contributed $250,000 pesos to fifty-five civil partnerships that provide services to people with disabilities, to those who live in extreme poverty, and to other vulnerable populations. Finally, someone understands that a society is only as strong as its most vulnerable citizen. The Municipality is also calling on everyone to volunteer as much and as often as they can because this will multiply the efforts of DIF. This is an important concept and we hope that everyone will donate just a little extra time to the service organization of your choice.
Born in the Mayab – New Address: Melbourne, Australia
Young Alberto Cáceres Castro is 29 years old and holds the degree of Strategic Information Systems Engineer with expertise in Strategic Marketing from the Universidad Anáhuac Mayab. For graduate and post-graduate studies, he could have gone to Canada (too cold and he likes the beach), to the U.K. (too expensive), or to the U.S. which, he felt, doesn’t currently welcome Mexicans. …and then he was offered a place at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. He would be able to use the English he studied at Merida’s Centro de Idiomas del Sureste, he could work part-time for extra money, and he could work on his Master of Engineering (Quality Management). Last week, we saw a young Environmental Engineer head off for Manchester, England. This week, we find one happily living, working and studying in Melbourne, Australia. Each of these young people bring Yucatan to the world and, when they come home, bring a little piece of the world with them. The future of the world belongs to these young people and they are more than ready to shoulder their responsibilities.
Is What You Said What You Meant To Say?
¿Cómo Dijo? is the website of Ricardo Espinosa, whose columns appear in about 40 newspapers. This man is a true wordsmith and teaches classes aimed at helping people say what they really mean. We all know of phrases that, when translated, make absolutely no sense at all – but speak volumes when spoken in the language in which they were created. Ricardo Espinosa uses the term “Go Green!” as an example. To those of us who are from somewhere NOB, “Go Green!” is the slogan used to entice people into a lifestyle that is more respectful of the environment. To those who speak a different language or who live in a different culture, “Go Green!” means that someone named Green needs to leave immediately! The ¿Cómo Dijo? website is currently being upgraded, but there are plenty of good tips and tricks that have already been added – enough to warrant a visit. We hope you enjoy ¿Cómo Dijo? as much as we did.
New Hotel Rooms in Yucatan
It seems that Yucatan added approximately 500 new hotel rooms to its tourism infrastructure last year in 2010 and will do the same again this year, 2011. At this point, without this year’s additions, the state has 10,025 hotel rooms. The new Marriott will be delayed because of the global economic downturn, but it should be finished by the end of the year. There is at least one proposed hotel that we hear will have a golf course. Four new hotels are planned for Paseo Montejo. With all of this activity going on, the state is working hard to improve air service to Merida, as well as travel by land and by sea. We look forward to seeing more and cheaper flights to Merida!
Public Servants Learn Maya Language
Tourists and foreign residents in Yucatan often think nothing of asking if anyone in a place of business or government office speaks English and, in most cases, there is always someone there to help those of us who do not speak Spanish. We are not Mexican citizens. If we don’t feel comfortable, we can always go home, where everyone speaks our language. But what if we didn’t speak Spanish and we were already “home?” What if we had been born right here in the land of the Maya and had to live our lives in a country where Spanish is the official language? To its credit, the State of Yucatan has taken steps to remedy this situation so that all of its people can be served, especially in the area of obtaining employment. Toward meeting this goal, twenty employees of the National Employment Service of Yucatan have just complete a four month Maya language workshop taught by members of the staff at INDEMAYA. We think congratulations go to both the state, for supporting this program, and the students, for being brave enough to take on a brand new language.
Hacienda Tabi Ticul to be Rescued
This week, we saw Oxkutzcab spoken of as the “economic center” of Yucatan. Now, we see that Ticul is going to completely remodel the Hacienda at Tabi and turn it into a tourism center. Every day that goes by, we are more convinced than ever that the southern part of Yucatan, what many call the Southern Cone, is going to rise from being the best kept secret of Yucatan and become a happening destination. We are so happy for the people of that area. They have much to look forward to and we wish them all the best that their bright future has to offer. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that Hacienda Tabi is, hands down, one of Yucatan’s most magnificent haciendas.
Mexico Condemns U.S. Takeover Statement (and so do we)
Sometimes, people open their mouths and the rest of us find out just how dimwitted they really are. Such was certainly the case this week with the Undersecretary of the U.S. Army, Joseph Westphal, who actually suggested that the U.S. might need to send troops to Mexico and that Mexico is in a condition of insurgency, and that the country is in danger of being taken over by organized crime. Needless to say, he has retracted his statement but the damage has been done. From the time he made that statement, our inbox has been filled with far-right-wing e-mails supposedly detailing how near to failure Mexico is. Yucatan Living would like all of our readers, especially those who live north of the border, to know that Mexico is not a failed state (and never was) and it is not in danger of being taken over by drug cartels (or anybody else). We don’t often get involved in politics but, this time, on behalf of one of the most welcoming nations on Earth, we would like to send out a very strong “Shame on You” to Undersecretary of the U.S. Army, Joseph Westphal, as well as to the people who believe such foolishness without ever having been to Mexico.
Yucatan: A Quick Comparison
We were just tickled pink this week to read a website from a real estate company at one of the hottest destinations on the East Coast of the U.S. – and this is why. Sometimes we see home prices in Yucatan that seem (to us) to be rising rapidly. We were here before so many homes were remodeled and before so many new homes were built. Then we saw the East Coast website and discovered that their comparable homes cost roughly ten times what a comparable beach home in Yucatan would cost (yes – TEN times!). The best take-away from that site was the crime rate. In one popular destination on the East Coast of the U.S., residents have a violent crime incidence of 13.43 per 1,000 people. Yucatan’s violent crime incidence is 14.41 per 100,000 people! We think that both price and security are reasons enough to warrant a “Well Done!” to Estado de Yucatan. For the latest in Mexico’s crime statistics, visit Mexico Evaluation for this past year and for the year before.