Yucatan News: Marea Roja means Red Tide
Red Tide Descends on Yucatan
Sadly, most of the news in our state this week concerns the appearance of Red Tide along our shores and its potential for damage to our fishing industry and tourism. There have been several fish kills, with kills observed in all species that inhabit our coastal waters. In addition, for the first time in our memory of Yucatan, people have been asked to stay out of the water to avoid possible allergic or dermatological reactions. We are reminded that it is still okay to eat fish caught during this time because the Red Tide is not toxic. It kills the fish by clogging their gills and asphyxiating them. However, we are being warned that it is not ok to pick up dead fish from the beach and eat them, since decomposition will have already set in.
Nature has a way of forcing human beings to understand that some behaviors are simply unacceptable - especially uncontrolled development. Red Tide and dead fish are a sad, but effective, wakeup call. Yucatan's agricultural production is greater than ever, with fertilizer being handed out at a dizzying rate. Along with increasing incomes have come beautiful lawns and gardens - and heavily fertilized golf courses. But, in the State of Yucatan, the ankle-bone is still connected to the shin-bone with every drop of liquid and every ounce of fertilizer percolating through our limestone shelf into the underground rivers and flowing directly out to feed the Red Tide now growing on our coast. All of this development has the potential to, very quickly, destroy the very environment hat brought it here in the first place. If we want to have our cake and save our coastal areas too, we have no other option but to learn to work with nature to kill this thing before it destroys our coast. Building and maintaining ecologically smart gardens that use native plants and don’t need fertilizer is a first step. If anyone has any tips about what we, as individuals, can do to prevent Red Tide, please let us know and we will be happy to pass them along.
Want to know more about Marea Roja? Here are some websites suggested by our reader Jane Johnson that can tell you more...
- CDC Site on Red Tide
- Texas Dept. of Parks and Wildlife on Red Tide
- Solutions to Avoid Red Tide (START)
- The use of clay to combat Red Tide
- Discussion on the clay solution at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute
- New Scientist article on airborne problems of Red Tide
Bigger than Chichen Itza?
Archaeologists have discovered a 2,000 year old Mayan city at San Diego Buenavista, Tekax, in the southern part of Yucatan, that is said to be large enough to rival Chichen Itza in size and glory. This is wonderful news, especially in light of the building of the southern highway, which will allow both scientists and tourists to visit this site. As of now, very little is being said about the discovery, but we can look for exciting years ahead as this "new" old city is unearthed.
New Guided Tour of the Centro: Por Los Caminos de Merida (On the Streets of Merida)
The city of Merida has installed a handful of state-of-the-art audio guides that allow anyone to take a pleasant and informative walking tour of the Centro Historico. The digital audio guides are in English, French, German, Spanish and Maya and will be available at the three information booths on Paseo Montejo (by the Fiesta Americana), at the City Museum and at the Palacio Municipal (the Governor's Palace). The information for the tour includes history and description of various monuments, important buildings and old neighborhoods. The tour lasts for four hours and covers over 70 places in the downtown area. The audio tour costs $80 pesos for tourists or extranjeros, $60 pesos for national and local citizens, $40 pesos for students and an additional $20 pesos for each additional hour over four. In order to use the system, you will need to leave a passport or your credencial de lector (voting card), sign the contract and pay the fee in advance. And the guide must be returned to the same station at which you obtained it. There are a limited number of guides in each location (the most at the Governor's Palace), so you might want to get there early in the morning.
Plans for the future include adding more places and more languages... and we imagine, more devices too if the program looks successful.
Summer School in Yucatan
During 15 days in July, summer school will be held from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM in 75 primary and secondary schools throughout the state. A free lunch will be served. This sounds like many summer schools throughout the world, with one exception... the teachers are all volunteers. If this program is successful, it will be implemented on Saturdays and Sundays during the regular school year. Much of our news tends to be about the accomplishments of Yucateco children and the resources poured into their education by the State. That is because Yucateco children and their educations are taken so seriously by the citizens of this state. This is one more example of why this is one of the best places in the world to live.
A Hint for Younger Investors
The recent integration of banking services between Mexican and U.S. banks is but one of the signs that the economy of Mexico is on the rise - rapidly on the rise! According to the parent group of Bancomer, Mexico's economy will be one of the top 5 in the world in about 25 years. Now is the time for younger investors to begin learning about Mexico and the vast array of opportunities here. Choose the best place for your own investment and begin building relationships now. 25 years is not a very long time and investing in Mexico now could mean all the difference to the financial future of younger investors.
Valladolid March: Patios Limpios (Clean Patios)
Last summer, during dengue fever season, the children of Progreso marched and demanded clean streets. This summer, it is the citizens of Valladolid who are no longer willing to allow vacant and abandoned properties to become overgrown and trashy mosquito breeding grounds. Although everyone, including the municipalities, is in agreement with the marchers and their Clean Patios program, no mention is made of the penalty for allowing property to fall into such a state of disrepair that it becomes a community health hazard. Until there is a price to be paid for such inattentiveness, neighborhood groups are continuing to try to clean up such properties themselves. This is an heroic effort on their part, since most Yucatecos work a six-day workweek and have little time left over for such activities. In the meantime, municipalities are spraying regularly to kill the mosquitoes that cause dengue fever. As expats and guests in this country, hopefully all of us are working hard to keep our properties in good repair and free of mosquito breeding grounds.
Motul Gets Community Development Center
Ground has been broken for the construction of a new Community Development Center in Motul, where citizens can get training in office occupations. This comes after neighbors of two parks and an old, abandoned bank building noticed that young people were loitering in the area with nothing to do. The new facility will have a sports field and will help the young people of Motul by giving them an opportunity to learn skills that will land them good jobs in a relatively short period of time. Everyone is excited about the new Community Development Center and high hopes for the futures of the young people of Motul.
Progreso: Dancing Multicolor Lights
The new mercado (market) in Progreso is almost ready for its final permission to open. We have just learned that the entire mercado - inside and out - will be decorated with computer controlled "dancing lights" of white, blue, red, green, and yellow. These dancing lights are intended to provide a visual spectacle to enhance the attractiveness of the port itself. What these lights really do is remind us of the wonderful spirit of the Yucateco people and that no amount of modernization can turn Yucatan into something it is not. We can't wait to see the lights of the new mercado in Progreso!
Several young people have recently drowned while swimming in cenotes. While these cenotes look like nothing more than pools, it must be remembered that they are fed by underwater rivers that flow on to the sea. Wherever the opening into the cenote from the river is, there is likely to be a strong current that has the potential to drown unsuspecting swimmers. Summer is upon us. More people than ever are swimming in the cenotes. Please remember that these currents are there and be very careful when swimming in them. Tourists need also to be very careful when visiting cenotes that are in caves. When the weather is humid, the stairs and walls become slippery. Many outlying communities have neither the personnel nor the equipment to effect a rescue. Some believe that these sweating cenote caverns are accidents waiting to happen, so do be careful. If you notice wet stairs or wet walls, as you enter one of these caverns, perhaps it would be best to come back when the humidity is not so high.
Camera Phones in the Countryside
Reading about camera phones in Yucatan's countryside is a surreal experience. Quite a few of the outlying areas of our state are not wealthy. Many basic services, such as water and even baths, are shared community services. How can it be that the current news from these areas is about cell phones, their purchase price, their monthly rates, their potential for ruining credit, their access to the Internet, and the negative impact of video-sharing sites on the young people of the area? To suggest that it would perhaps be better to spend precious cash on the infrastructure of one's own home, rather than the newest camera phone on the market, seems the logical thing to do, but the actual forming of the thought in one's head results in a very strange sensation that feels much like some kind of time or space-warp. While we do not begrudge anyone the best the 21st century has to offer, we do hope that the worst of this century is not able to gain a permanent foothold in the sections of our state with the fewest resources.
Uman: Buy Fruit from ChiChi
There is a 91 year old lady who sells fruit in the market of Uman. She has worked the morning hours for many years and says she has loved selling since she was very young. As all of us with grandsons know, they tend to have very strong opinions about how we should live our lives and are not one little bit shy about giving us those opinions. This lady's grandsons are no different and cannot understand why she is still working at the age of 91. She says she just escapes from them and goes on to work at the job she loves. Her nickname is ChiChi (which is the Mayan word for Grandmother), so - if anyone is shopping in the market in Uman, please do buy a bag of fruit from the most popular vendor in that entire mercado.
Bunk & Nonsense from NOB (North of the Border)
American motorists are being warned (by an official sounding voice at a major U.S.-based automobile club) that crossing the border to fill up with Mexican gasoline will save money at the pump, but will likely cost much more (in the form of repairs) when the Mexican gasoline damages their engines. Consider the fact that millions of American and Canadian Snowbirds drive all over Mexico every year - as do over a million expats who actually live in Mexico full time. If Mexican gasoline damaged their American and Canadian cars, you can be certain that it would be one of the hottest topics online. The fact that this has never been an issue among Snowbirds and expats speaks to the age of that old "bad Mexican gas" story.
In addition, we would like to point out that many American cars and trucks are made in Mexico and sold in both countries with the same engine. And... guess where that Mexican gasoline was actually refined? In 1993, PEMEX invested $1 billion dollars in Shell Oil's Deer Park, Texas, refinery to help process its oil. Folks, they're refining it in Texas and trucking it back to Mexico. (Houston Chronicle) "Bad" Mexican gasoline has gone the way of the highway bandido, so blanket warnings such as the ones now being touted are not helpful…and are just plain wrong!