Yucatan News: Lobsters & Entrepreneurs
Mini-Golden Gate Bridge is On Schedule
At the present time, driving at 70 km/hr, it takes about 20 minutes to get from Progreso to Chelem. When the Mini-Golden Gate Bridge at Yucalpeten opens at the end of the year, drivers can slow down to 50 km/hr and get from Progreso to Chelem in 5 minutes. This is going to be a great bridge that will be well lit at night because of all of the commercial and marine activity in the area. Its been a long time coming and we know it will make life ever so much more convenient for all of the residents of Chelem and Chuburna. Now - cross your fingers and hope we don't have any hurricanes to slow down work on the bridge this summer.
Second Home Real Estate Market in Yucatan
It had to come sometime, but it sure feels strange to see it in public meetings and in the media. Within the next decade, over 70 million Baby Boomers are going to retire and analysts now say that approximately 10 million Americans will be moving to Mexico. Real estate firms, in conjunction with state agencies, in Yucatan, Campeche, and Quintana Roo are getting together to formulate plans for how best to serve the "second home in Mexico" real estate customers... and there is much talk about building developments like gated communities... something that neither Yucatecos nor expats have ever encouraged in our state. If that 10 million estimate is correct, and if each Mexican state got an equal share of newcomers (which they won't), that means that almost 325,000 new Baby Boomers (and probably more) are on their way to Yucatan. This is something that Yucatan has to deal with, but it is also something that our expat community is going to have to come to terms with as well. What kind of footprint do we want to leave on our adopted home? We don't know that it is time yet to "do" anything about it, but it is certainly time to think long and hard about this issue.
Red Tide and Yucatan's Squid
Red tide, as many already know, is an algal bloom that pretty much kills off - or runs away - most of the aquatic life in its path. No one knows what causes red tides. Some are cyclical and some seem to be caused by increased nutrient runoff from human activity. Every few years, we hear about the beginnings of red tide coming to Yucatan and the effect this has on our squid season. Since we are entering a phase of increased pressure on the environment, caused directly by rapidly increasing population numbers, we suggest that everyone think long and hard about where all of the land area of Yucatan drains before fertilizing that perfect lawn, that lavish garden, or that new golf course. None of that is worth having if we kill off our fish to do it.
Lobster Season Begins July 1
Yucatan's main lobster ports are San Felipe, Rio Lagartos, Dzilam Bravo and El Cuyo. However, there are lobster fishermen all along our coast. Overall, we have about 1,200 fishermen who participate in lobster fishing and it is one of the biggest income generators in those areas. Much of the lobster catch is destined for the U.S., Japan and Spain, as well as to tourist destinations, such as the Mayan Riviera, Puerto Vallarta, Colima and Veracruz. We wish our lobster fishermen a successful and safe season.
Service to Tourists - for a Grade!
How lucky can tourists get? They can come to Merida where there is going to now be a very good chance that the people providing them travel and tourism services will be doing so for a grade. It seems that the Mexican Association of Hotels and Motels has signed a collaborative agreement with a number of universities to allow students who are working toward a degree in Tourism to gain hands-on experience right here in Merida. We can't wait to see how this all turns out, but we'd be willing to wager that all of the student workers will be doing their best to get an A+ on their evaluations.
New Weather Station Measures UV Rays
UADY is now home to a new weather station that is going to be providing citizens with information regarding UV rays and risk levels throughout the area. Officials continue to request that people try to stay in the shade between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM, as these are the hours of greatest risk. Please be careful out there. Sunburn is not a good thing, and an excess of exposure to high levels of UV rays is linked to skin cancer. Wear hats and sunglasses, and sunscreen too. However, please be mindful of our environment and do not swim in cenotes or the Caribbean while wearing sunscreen, as regular sunscreens (as opposed to the ecologically safe type) can damage fragile water ecologies.
Ecological Park Coming to Progreso
Three million pesos are now flowing into efforts to renew the mangroves in the 7 km stretch between Progreso and Chicxulub, as well as areas south of the city. There will be a new, 19 hectare (about 47 acres) ecological park that has 8 natural springs in it, currently filled with mud, that will be rehabilitated. The project is expected to take three years to complete, but authorities say that a great deal of work can be completed in the next three months, including the planting of 20,000 matas de mangle and pasto mulato. This project will be especially beneficial for some of Progreso's poorest residents because they will be relocated to new homes in another area of the city.
Quail and Rabbit
Did you know that Yucatan has a thriving quail and rabbit industry now? The farms are between Akil and Oxkutzcab and they are selling quail eggs, quail, and rabbits. The quail eggs are an important source of Omega-3 fatty acids, and quail has more protein than either chicken or turkey. Rabbits are all "white meat" which is great for those on a low fat diet. If you would like to try it before you buy it, they have a restaurant where the Federal highway meets the road between Akil and Oxkutzcab. The restaurant, called Codornejos, is open Monday through Friday from 11 AM to 4 PM. The quail dinner is $40 pesos and includes two quail, rice, kidney beans, two hard boiled eggs, and a juice drink of either maracuya, pitahaya or mamey (all locally grown fruits). The rabbit dinner is $45 pesos and consists of a rabbit stew with approximately 200 grams of meat, accompanied by kidney beans, rice and one of the drinks listed above. In true Yucateco style, that's a whole lot of groceries for that little bit of money. To purchase live animals, quail are $12 pesos and rabbits are $35 pesos.
New Restaurant Concept in Hunucma
Please make a note to watch this news column and the local papers in September for the opening of a new coffee shop in Hunucma. The new restaurant will be staffed completely by individuals with disabilities. They have been going to school for a long time to learn to do this kind of work and have been quite successful on a recent trial run. It has not been lost on us that our own quality of life in Yucatan continues to improve in direct relation to increased activity directed at giving the poor and disabled a means of full participation in Yucateco society. Congratulations to these students, to their parents, their school, and to the state agencies that support their project. We hope all expats and Snowbirds will be regular customers when they open in September!
CRIT to Open in Merida in January 2009
For the past 11 years, CRIT (Centros de Rehabilitacion Infantil Teleton) has been the Mexican organization that has sought to serve the disabled population of the nation. For some years, Yucatan has been building a fund for the purpose of building and operating a full service CRIT location in Merida. Funds from the Telethon Foundation have made that possible and the opening date is set for January 2009. According to the 2000 census, Yucatan then had a total of 5,423 children and young people with at least some degree of disability. At the present time, there are 27 organizations that are the core providers of services (spanning everything from special education to sophisticated medical diagnoses) for these individuals, with each organization struggling to meet their budgets. CRIT will not only help to supply their financial needs, but will also help to centralize services. The future looks brighter than ever for Yucatan's disabled population. To see the website of one of these organizations (and possibly send a donation), click here for the Patronato Peninsular ProNiños (PPPN).
Equine-Assisted Therapy in Yucatan
While reading Universo Medico, we ran across an article about "Riding With a Smile," which is an equine-assisted therapy program for disabled children that is held out at the X'matkuil fairgrounds. There are between 80 and 100 participants working with just 6 horses. There are two online videos of equine-assisted therapy in Yucatan that might interest you. They are 9 minutes and 7 minutes long, and really just a joy to watch. Here is the first and here is the second.
Tizimin is Growing - and Exporting!
If you look at a map of our peninsula, you will see that Tizimin is in just about the perfect location. Its only a couple of hours to anywhere from there and the land is excellent for the development of the cattle business. In fact, it is so good that the new slaughter house they are building will be exporting beef to other Mexican states, to Europe, and to the United States. The state is building 300 new homes for workers there and has given supports to more than 200 producers who own small businesses. This includes everything necessary for making hammocks and even sewing machines for seamstresses. There seems to be no corner of Yucatan that is not thriving today.
Yucatan's Pork Producers in Financial Trouble
We all know that our Mexican farmers and ranchers cannot compete with subsidized food imported from the U.S. No matter how low U.S. prices go in Mexico, the American taxpayer will pick up the tab in the form of farm subsidies. Our Mexican farmers have to live with success or failure at the whim of weather and the full cost of raising their products. The problem of increased costs of feed and fuel has now grown to the point that our pork farmers are asking for support from the Mexican government, but even that is not enough to keep them afloat. While we are not isolationists (or try not to be), we are suggesting that expats in Yucatan support Yucatan first. There is something unsettling about the concept of coming to Yucatan to take advantage of the wonderful lifestyle that is so graciously extended to us and then not contributing to our own Yucateco economy. Please buy Yucateco whenever possible so that we all can continue to live the good life in Yucatan.
Pan American Congress on Plants & BioEnergy to Meet in Merida
It is the purpose of this congress, sponsored by the American Society of Plant Biologists, to bring together plant biologists, government policy makers, agronomists, microbiologists, economists and ecologists to forge a path toward Western Hemisphere bioenergy security that is sustainable and environmentally and economically sound. Venture capitalists and bioenergy industry leaders will inform attendees of what it takes to ensure economic success and sustainability in this growing business arena, while biologists will introduce venture capitalists and bioenergy industry leaders to the agricultural landscape; the underlying biology of bioenergy plants; new ideas to enhance biomass yield and quality for the energy crops of the future; and approaches to lowering net greenhouse gas emissions.
Dates: June 22 through 25, 2008
Location: Fiesta Americana Hotel, Merida, Yucatan Preliminary Agenda here.
Registration here: http://www.aspb.org/meetings/bioenergy08/
Press Registration: Contact: Brian Hyps, ASPB Public Affairs Director at (301)-251-0560 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Meat Prices in Southern Yucatan
As food prices continue to rise, these are now common prices in the southern part of our state:
- Pork (meat): between $44 and $48 pesos per kilo ($1.92 to $2.09 USD per pound)
- Chicharron (cracklings): $60 pesos per kilo ($2.61 USD per pound)
- Pork ribs: $40 pesos per kilo ($1.74 USD per pound)
- Butter: $30 pesos per kilo ($1.31 per pound)
While these may sound like good prices to us, we must remember that Yucatecos are paid in pesos. Minimum wage, in Mexico, is less than $5.00 USD per day. A skilled worker often brings home no more than the equivalent of $15 to $20 USD per day. Those pesos do not go far when people are trying to feed and educate children, as well as maintain a home and vehicle, and help to support older members of their families. The budget only goes so far and ever higher food prices are simply not something that the average worker in Mexico can stand for long.
Mexico's Inflation Rate at 4.95%
It isn't just the fact that Mexico's inflation rate is now 4.95% that is the problem. The problem is that the inflation rate for the basic food basket is now 5.68%. The government, as we reported last week, is taking immediate steps to address this issue because this level of inflation is seen as totally unacceptable in Mexico. But there is an elephant in the corner of the room and no one seems willing to do anything about it. That elephant is easy credit - the cornerstone of financial disaster for working people. The President of Mexico "has stated that he wants interest rates lowered so that domestic businesses and consumers can keep making purchases to keep the economy rolling." (LA Times) Where have we seen that train wreck on he way to happening before? We don't know the answer to this dilemma, but we do know that it is time for everyone, including expats, to keep themselves informed about changes in both the U.S. and Mexican economic situations.
Fair of Student Entrepreneurs
UADY's School of Accounting and Administration recently held its 13th Annual Fair of Entrepreneurs at Gran Plaza. The purpose of the program is to help students understand all phases of business, including the surprise complications that come up along the way. The companies they build can either be dissolved when they leave school or the students can continue to maintain and grow them after their school years are completed. This fair has become so popular with students that it is now going to be held twice a year. We are in contact with the program coordinator and will be listing this fair as one of our events when it comes around again. Congratulations and best wishes to all of the participants in this 13th Annual Fair of Entrepreneurs! For anyone who is interested, there is also a Global Student Entrepreneur Awards contest that anyone can enter. The prize is up to $100,000. If you know of a worthy undergraduate entrepreneur, visit this site and nominate them.
Damaging Untrue Rumor in Celestun
Someone gave the newspaper a false report that there was cholera in Celestun and the tiny tourist town was abandoned by potential visitors. This was a terrible blow to the economy of Celestun, which is so dependent on tourist money for the incomes of its citizens. Now that the State Health Department has held meetings debunking the rumor, the people are furious and calling for the arrest of the person who started the rumor. The case has been sent to Merida for a final legal opinion. Yucatan Living encourages everyone to visit Celestun. This area is one of the most ecologically rich areas in our state and should be a must see on everyone's vacation schedule. The State Department of Health, assures everyone that this port is very clean and there is no risk of contracting cholera there.
Maquinitas in the Countryside - Again
Games of chance (gambling) are illegal in Yucatan but, every once in a while, slot machines and other gambling machines turn up in out of the way towns and villages. The locations begin life with video games in an arcade-like environment, with entertainment cited as their only purpose. Unfortunately, as their popularity grows, they tend to evolve into having the kind of machines that are totally outside the law. This happened in the southern part of the state last year and is now turning up again in the eastern part of the state. The police are asking that citizens call 066 to report the location of these machines, or 089 if they would rather remain anonymous. One only needs to go back to the States and look at the classifieds near casinos at the end of the year to know why it is important to keep this sort of activity out of Yucatan. In these U.S. classified ads, one can find all of the homes and vehicles people have gambled away, leaving their families with nothing as the casinos sell off the remnants of their lives.
Are You Bringing Children to Yucatan?
This week, we happened upon a blog written by Kelly Godzwa. Kelly and husband Dave are Assembly of God missionaries who live in Merida, in Colonia San Esteban. Kelly's blog is about their lifestyle in Yucatan with three children and is an excellent resource for parents who are considering a move - or even just a vacation - to Yucatan with children. We were especially pleased to see that the Godzwa children attend Story Hour at the Merida English Library on Saturday morning. Be sure to click here for great insight into life in Yucatan with children.