This week, we heard from Caroline Van Santfoord, one of the owners of Maya Luna Hotel & Restaurant in Mahahual. Caroline has sent us an update on all that has taken place in Mahahual in the past 8 months (since Hurricane Dean). According to Caroline, Mahahual has changed completely. Nearly all businesses are up and running, and they have a brand new Malecon (boardwalk) with extended large beaches. We can only imagine the frustration of hotel and business owners as potential tourists Google the name Mahahual and all they get are pictures of last year’s disaster.
The hotel and business owners and citizens of Mahahual want everyone to know that all is well now and everyone is invited to come on over and visit. To dispel the lingering impression that they are still a disaster area, the hotel and business owners have put up a new (non-commercial) website called Mahahual After Dean. Oh Wow! Look at that reef! Now is the time to head for Mahahual and enjoy it before everyone else discovers it all over again!
Red Alert: Drought & Possibility of Forest Fires
Sadly, one tragedy often treads on the heels of another. Hurricane Dean left a lot of water behind – which contributed to an overgrowth of wild grass. Almost all of Mexico is now experiencing a drought; Yucatan seems to be getting only half the rain we should. This is resulting in reservoir capacity for the nation at only 54%, instead of the customary 63% for this time of year. Our overgrowth of dry grass now has the State of Yucatan on Red Alert for the possibility of forest fires. Please be careful. 20 hectares of pasture near Chemax has already burned, in only two hours, because children were playing while burning trash. The Cattlemen’s Association is reporting that many pastures are dead and the cattle that graze on them are already having to be fed.
Injured Horse Rescued by AFAD!
Recently, three little boys, all under the age of 14, were riding the family horse when it was struck by a bus. The bus driver claims the boys did not make the horse stop for the red light. The boys were not hurt, but the horse was injured and taken away by the police. AFAD monitored the horse until it eventually ended up in a clandestine slaughterhouse. Before the horse could be killed, AFAD rescued him and reunited him with his family. Thanks to AFAD for the determination to stick with this story long enough to write a happy ending!
Ready for Hurricanes
It is now April. Hurricane season does not begin until June 1. What is your community doing today to prepare for being hit by a hurricane? We’ve lived through a hurricane in Merida (Isidore), and it wasn’t as bad as we had been expecting, for various reasons (read our thoughts about hurricanes in Merida here). There is an good information (in Spanish) on the extensive Civil Defense website for the State of Yucatan. These days, we’ve noticed, towns and villages in Yucatan, especially on the coast, are not stopping with giving out great instructions. This week, both Progreso and Chuburna Puertos took delivery on portable water treatment plants and electrical generators. Now, should a hurricane strike here, Progreso can generate 140,000 liters of chlorinated water per day. We are expecting 15 storms this season, with 4 of them predicted to become hurricanes. With food pantries in place, along with a concrete roof on at least one room of every home, nothing is left to do but enjoy the summer.
Valladolid: Toddlers and Pre-Schoolers Plant Trees
This is one of the best stories this week. Toddlers and pre-schoolers, in Valladolid, are being taught not only why it is important to plant trees, but how to plant and care for their own trees. These children will truly inherit the Earth and, unlike generations before them, will actually know how to care for it. Yucatan Living congratulates not only the little tree-planters, but also their parents and teachers for understanding that these children really are the future of the world.
A Child in Immediate Need
Lizar Isidro Ucan Gonzalez is five years old and needs open heart surgery to repair a total of four heart defects. His parents are only 26 and 28 years old and live in Temozon. The immigrants in San Francisco, CA, have given a benefit for Lizar – as has the Cultural Department of Valladolid. However, open heart surgery is very expensive and Lizar is getting sicker rapidly. If you can help, please call Lizar’s parents: Jose Ucan and Lizbeth Gonzalez. Cell numbers in Mexico are (985) 102-2293 or (985) 109-0640 (from the US, dial 011-52 first).
Merida Supports Disabled Children
In the Municipality of Merida, a total of 533 disabled children are currently receiving physical therapy – paid for by the DIF of Merida. The parents of these children have low incomes and the children would otherwise not be able to continue with their therapy. We were pleased to see that physical therapy for disabled children is comprehensive and even includes equine-therapy. We were also surprised to discover that physical therapy for these children costs only $350 to $400 MXP per month per child. This has got to sound like a service opportunity to someone… is that someone you or a group to which you may belong?
Progreso to Get New Sewage Treatment Plant
Progreso got a new sewage treatment plant and, for a variety of reasons, it never opened. Now, a new analysis is being done to see if that sewage treatment plant can be fixed – or if they need a completely new one. Whichever decision is made, Progreso will have its new sewage treatment plant under construction by 2009 and completed, at the latest, by 2010. This will significantly improve quality of life in the port city and property values should also reflect the inclusion of a modern sewage treatment plant in the long list of positive characteristics concerning life in Progreso.
Yucalpeten Monument to the Anguish of the Fishermen
Sunday, June 1, is known here as the Navy Day and there is a wonderful festival, complete with a Queen, to celebrate the Armada that is stationed in Yucalpeten. In preparation for that festival, the monument to La Angustia del Pescador (the Anguish of the Fishermen) is currently underway. After the remodeling project is complete, there will be a garden area and a lighted esplanade to be dedicated to the memory of all the Yucateco fishermen who have died at sea.
New Mexican Consulate in New Orleans
This past week, the new Mexican Consulate office opened in New Orleans. The underlying reason for the placement of a consulate office in New Orleans is probably due to the need for services for the more than 30,000 Mexicans who have gone there to help with the rebuilding of the city. However, a Mexican Consulate office in New Orleans negates the need of Americans to get to and around in Houston when they need visas or other documents. For those who need their services, their address is World Trade Center Building, 2 Canal St., Suite 840, New Orleans, LA 70115. Their telephone number is (504) 522-3596 and their fax number is (504) 525-2332.
No Child Labor in Yucatan
This week’s international headlines exposed that many of our favorite chain stores are selling shrimp processed by forced child labor that often includes torture. The two countries noted for this practice, Thailand and Bangladesh, are repeat offenders who seem not to care what the rest of the world thinks of them. As a result, we have been asked if Yucatan uses child labor – and the answer is a resounding "No!" In fact, Yucatan’s labor laws predate the final acceptance of the Fair Labor Standards Act in the U.S. by about 30 years. Not to worry – when the children of Yucatan are not marching for the environment or world wide children’s rights, they are enjoying life in Yucatan to the absolute fullest.
Hunucma: Shoe and Craft Fairs Amazingly Successful
For the past several years, there have been craft and product fairs throughout the State of Yucatan and they have been gaining in popularity. This past week’s fair in Hunucma was so successful that they are having another one from the 23rd to the 25th of May. This fair will conform to the dates of the Festival of Corpus Christi. If you need new sandals – this is the fair to attend. Prices are running between $40 and $50 pesos for a pair. Who can resist that bargain?! The fair is expected to grow yet again, since the municipality is advertising to the artisans and craftsmen who have not yet brought in their wares. We’ll bet there are more than a few trucks with "full volume" announcing the upcoming event as well.
Clean Up, Fix Up, Paint Up is Contageous
As new roads fan out over our state, many of us have been concerned about the homes that seem to come almost to the edge of these new, wider, highways. Children, the elderly, and pets seem to be particularly at risk. But – village by village – that is all changing as old walls are remodeled or replaced. The concept of having "pretty streets" has taken hold in the countryside and, we believe, all of the State of Yucatan has the potential to become a wonderland of pretty streets. This week, this phenomenon came to the tiny town of Cenotillo, in Tizimin. Tomorrow, pretty streets may just appear in your village too.
Honey: Proving The Case for Zoning
As we all know, there are precious few, if any, zoning laws in Mexico. Now, success in one industry has brought danger to a neighborhood. The honey business is booming. Storage facilities are overflowing – and attracting bees. This is dangerous for individuals who are allergic to bee stings. With no zoning laws to protect the people of the area around Calle 44 x 43 y 45, Civil Defense and the police have had to be called. Sometimes, it is nice to have a pizza place down the block and a video rental store around the corner – but sometimes we remember that zoning has its place. Perhaps this will all be settled soon and to the satisfaction and safety of all concerned.