A Year at Life Long Learning
Do you want to learn Spanish, learn how to cook Yucatecan cuisine, learn more about digital photography, write your memoirs, or – for that matter – learn how to be retired and love every minute of it? You can do all of that and more in a well planned year of classes at Life Long Learning. Now’s the time to sign up for Fall classes. For more information, visit the Life Long Learning website, e-mail lifelonglearning [at] prodigy [dot] net [dot] mx or phone (52-999) 924-0384.
Top Travel Destinations for Americans
VISA has just come out with a new study of the vacation spending habits of its cardholders. Canada and Mexico are the clear winners. Worries over the economy and increased cost of travel has almost half (49%) of Americans deciding to take their vacations in the States this year. However, of those who still want to travel outside of
the U.S., 2 out of 3 predict they will likely do so within the next 12 months. Of those planning to travel outside the country, 46% are headed for Canada and 45% are coming to Mexico. In 2007, Americans spent $1.8 billion dollars vacationing in Mexico, with 60% of that amount spent on accommodations, 12% on food, and 12% on entertainment. 73% of international traveling Americans prefer to pay for their trips with their credit and debit cards, while 18% use cash and 7% use travelers checks. To those who have not traveled to Yucatan yet, we invite you to come on down and enjoy what we think is the best place on Earth to live, work, and play!
2007 Yucatan Internet Use Stats
The Internet figures for last year have finally been published. There are "officially" 237,000 Yucatecos connected to the Internet. 79% of those users are under 34 years of age, playing games and downloading music. These stats also mean that there are now almost 50,000 Yucatecos over the age of 34 who are taking full advantage of all the net has to offer. We cannot help but think about the photo gallery on the website of the Virtual Library at the Municipality of Merida hub. There are several pictures there of elderly Mayan ladies in their computer class, with all of them happily surfing the net. These are exciting times in Yucatan and we are simply thrilled to hear of the diverse groups of Yucatecos who are embracing the net and expanding their interest in the world.
Tizimin Gets New Tourism Route
If you haven’t been to Tizimin, you really need to go. First, most of the municipality is traditionally thought of as "horse country" and this is where you will find all sorts of wonderful events and activities related to horses, and to other livestock and agricultural topics. In the past, San Felipe, Rio Lagartos, and El Cuyo have largely been overlooked due, in large part, to lack of infrastructure. They were hard to get to and had few places for tourists to stay or to eat. That is all soon to change. It won’t be long now before there will be a new tourism route to the coast, as well as new products to buy along the way. We just hope that great care is taken to preserve this natural wonder so that it will still exist for future generations to enjoy.
Quintana Roo Resorts Advertise in Southern Yucatan
Over the course of the past few weeks, we have reported on a drop in tourism due to economic problems in the U.S. We also predicted that there could be price wars, especially in Quintana Roo, over the next few months. But here’s one angle we never even considered: very low cost tourism package prices advertised in the southern part of the State of Yucatan. What a way to court the business of folks whose incomes are steadily on the rise and who will be invaluable as repeat customers in the future! Prices range from $1,150 MXP per person (Cancun), $1,400 MXP per person (Cozumel), and $1,800 MXP per person (Mayan Riviera) – but… prices are "adjusted" depending on the income of the family, and – they may not all be staying in the same hotel. This looks like a way for hotels to quickly fill vacancies. They even have a 5 day/4 night package to Cuba for $400 USD! Looks like everybody is going on vacation this year, whether the Americans can make it or not.
Passports: "Next Year"
The State Department says it is ready to handle passports for Americans who drive down to Mexico. The Government Accountability Office says that the State Department hasn’t done a thing to modernize the process to avoid the problem created when 18 million Americans applied for passports all at one time last year. Congress wants an investigation. Itzza mess, folks! So – Snowbirds will just keep on driving and maybe someday somebody will figure out how to get them a passport – or why they should need one. Don’t look for anything new to happen during an election year. Snowbirds (and their friends and families) account for more than a few million votes, which could make for a mighty interesting pebble in the pond of American politics. And meanwhile, if you are an expat living in the Yucatan, you can get your passport renewed in under two weeks at our local consulate.
Tomatoes Safe – Must Be the Jalapeños
The longer this debate goes on, the more we have come to believe in the concept of mass hysteria. South Korea won’t eat U.S. beef. Vietnam suspects anthrax in their food… and Americans are afraid of tomatoes and jalapeños. Now "they say" that bad tomatoes are being caused by global warming…and somebody’s even got a spinach scare going on. The American Council on Science and Health thinks that consumer advocacy groups are deliberately starting these rumors and says they have traced at least one of the tomato rumors to a major distributor. The CDC is frustrated with the whole mess, while incomes are being destroyed around the world. With luck, reason will return soon and this sort of thing will be no more.
European Union Seeks Mexico As Strategic Partner
Gathering a weekly summary of news has the added benefit of increasing the strength of one’s mental radar. This week, there was a short announcement from Forbes.com that contained the following, with respect to Mexico’s becoming a Strategic Partner with the E.U.: "The plan… was also seen to improve European access to Mexico’s oil reserves and bolster its influence in the region dominated by the United States." We could write volumes here, but will leave the reader to consider the implications of an end run around the power of the U.S. over the Gulf of Mexico, as well as in the oil industry itself. The status of Strategic Partner is usually reserved for such nations as Russia, China, and the U.S.
Cinepolis and RealD News
The announcements of locations for the 500 new 3D screens in Mexico, Central America and South America, have not yet been made. However, given the strong movie-going market in Merida, we fully expect at least one of our 3 Cinepolis locations to have one of the new screens. Cinepolis is the 5th largest cinema exhibitor in the world. We have also read that RealD is teaming up with MicroSoft to introduce 1,500 3D movies into the marketplace. These numbers are huge and will surely make an evening in an air conditioned theater in Merida well worth the price of admission.
Mexico has always had a number of ways for its citizens to purchase housing, but none of the programs have quite met the needs of those who cannot verify their incomes. That is all changing in Yucatan with the advent of the new Casa Universal program. Thousands of homes are planned, each with a total cost to the new homeowner, after state and federal subsidies, of only $75,500 MXP. All that potential homeowners have to do is save $8,000 MXP in a six month period of time and their new home will be theirs for a monthly payment of $982 MXP (for 10 years), $832 MXP (for 15 years), or $777 MXP (for 20 years). New neighborhoods are to be built that include streets, lighting, and public parks. If any of our readers knows someone who might benefit from this program, please let them know about it and do what you can to help them get through the application process. This is a wonderful program that offers homeownership to so many deserving families and cannot help but be a huge plus for our community as a whole.
UADY’s Adopt a Friend Program Successful
Little children idolize college students and, if they can have their very own college student (mentor, tutor, coach, driver, open gate to the world), life is complete. That is a concept that has not been overlooked by the Social Services Department at UADY. Six months ago, 50 UADY students each adopted a primary school child for the purpose of mentoring them through their schoolwork and introducing them to the wider world of the university. This program has been a rousing success! The children have done well in school and have had the benefit of their college friend accompanying them to sporting and cultural events. Their trips to the university have opened their eyes to the fact that there is nothing they cannot achieve in life, if only they stay in school and study hard. Next year, the program is expanding throughout the interior of the state. This is a simple program, but one whose value to individuals, to families, and to Yucatan may never be able to accurately be measured. We are very proud of all of the children and their Adopt an Amigo mentors.
Summer Day Camp in Ticul
Teachers found a way to slip in a little math with all the fun the children of Ticul were having in their 2-week day camp. They also danced, sang, and participated in plastic arts (in this case, handicrafts). Even the Chief of Police came to talk to them about being safe on and about streets and roads. School is out, so do be careful when traveling in Yucatan, especially in smaller towns and villages where the road (day and night) is the best playground in the neighborhood.
Consumer Protection in Mexico
In 1985, the U.N. General Assembly approved a list of seven basic rights for consumers. These have been adopted in Mexico, just as they were in the U.S. PROFECO (Procuraduria Federal del Consumidor) is the name of the consumer protection agency in Mexico. They have a section for foreigners, in English, with instructions as to how to go about making a complaint and strongly suggest that you use their services to investigate anyone with whom you are going to sign a contract (WG Note: Especially contractors and architects!!). PROFECO has an office right here in Merida and will be more than happy to help you. Their address is Calle 49 # 479-A x 54 y 56 (Centro). They can be reached by phone at 01-800-468-8722 during office hours (8:30 AM to 3:30 PM). Please visit the PROFECO website and guard your rights as a consumer in Mexico just as you would in your home country.