Yucatan News: Merida and Valladolid
News Starting April 26
Merida in the News Lately!
It seems that the world outside of Mexico is starting to hear more and more about Merida. OregonLive.com had a recent article about expat Frank Stovall's experiences moving to and living in nearby Izamal. Kathleen Kirkwood wrote an article about retirees moving to Merida for the McClatchy News Service that ended up in the Contra Costa Times in California and the Times Colonist in Canada, among others. In the Chattanoogan (Chattanooga's Source for Breaking News!), Roger Curtis wrote about eating in Merida. Various schools have written about pulling out of their programs or choosing to stay in their programs in Merida, such as the University of California (staying) and Northwestern University (canceling). The Mens Journal even had a short piece about Merida. And this week, the Working Gringos and others will be hosting a reporter from a major news outlet in the United States for yet another story (stay tuned...). Seems Merida is getting noticed by the rest of the world!
ATM Changes Set to Begin in May
Beginning today, April 25, 2010, banks will no longer be allowed to charge their own customers for using their debit cards at their own bank's ATM machines. If ATM customers are using the card of another bank, then the owner of the ATM machine can charge a fee, but must put the amount on the screen so the customer has an option to stop the transaction if they think that fee is too much. This is a long awaited restructuring of bank fees and we are thrilled to see it happen. Look for many more gringos to open personal bank accounts in Mexico as a result.
Mexico Leads U.N.'s Blue Heart Campaign
The United Nations has a new campaign against human trafficking. Its called the Blue Heart Campaign and it was launched in Mexico, with Mexico vowing to lead the way. There are several issues that are of particular interest to this cause. Those include the seeming continued growth in human trafficking, the smuggling of illegal migrants, and the manufacture and smuggling of illegal firearms. These issues end up having a negative impact on the lives of up to 80% of the women and girls in some parts of the world. The U.N. and Mexico both stress that governments cannot do it all. The people must become involved and report any situation they believe might involve human trafficking. For more information, see the Blue Heart Campaign website here. Well done, Mexico!
Museum at Dzibilchaltun Temporarily Closed
Over the weekend, we received a notice that the Museum at Dzibilchaltun is being temporarily closed by the National Institute of Anthropology and History while they carry out a restructuring program for the development of the museum's programs. The focus of this museum, Pueblo Maya de Dzibilchaltun is to be a demonstration of the development of Mayan cultural aspects (social, cultural, etc.) from prehispanic times until today. As yet, there is no date mentioned for reopening the museum, but we will keep you posted as more information comes in. Please visit the Pueblo Maya de Dzibilchaltun website for more information. This is one of our favorite museums in these parts, so we hope it opens soon.
Amate Books Now Has D.F. Newspaper in English
“The News,” an English newspaper printed in Mexico City, covers world news with particular emphasis on Mexico and Latin America. This newspaper has been published for over 40 years and is now available at Amate Books on Calle 60 x Calle 51, Monday through Friday. It arrives from Mexico City sometime between 10:30 to 11:00 AM. This paper was formerly available at the newsstand at the Plaza Grande but they stopped carrying it during the H1N1 scare. If anyone would like to have the paper, but cannot go by the bookstore every day, you are welcome to give them a call and they will hold a copy for you. If there are not enough customers for this great newspaper, it will be discontinued – so do go by Amate Books and support this service.
Mexico's Space Station Moving Ahead in Yucatan
Back in December 2008, we sat on pins and needles until the Mexican Congress approved plans to build the new International Space Center not only in Mexico, but right here in Yucatan. At the time, we didn't have any idea where it was going to be, but now – U.S. astronaut Jose Hernandez and engineer Fernando de la Pena are headed to an area near Chetumal to inspect the area so that concrete building plans can be developed. Yucatan is to get the new space center for several reasons. First, because U.S. facilities are in advanced age and need to be replaced with more modern structures. Second, there is a need for an underwater research facility that would be better served off of the coast of Yucatan; and finally, because changes in weather patterns have moved the strategic location necessary to locate a fully functional space center so that it will be of service well into the future. For those who may be interested, we hear that there will also be a commercial component to this site. That means that tickets to ride might be available in our lifetime!
Don't Mess With Mother Maya
Well – isn't this “special?” In Valladolid, the ladies who make up several artisan groups and used to sell their wares on the zocalo were moved (banished?) to the inside of a nearby building and told that this would be better for them. What actually happened was something quite different and the ladies soon saw a restaurant in the front of their building, blocking access to them and to their products. No one really expected them to let that continue, did they?
Today, the lady artisans of Valladolid are in open revolt, are back on the zocalo and, in true Yucateca form, have posted signs detailing what happened. They have also developed a pretty impressive time-line describing the who, what, and when of everything that has gone on thus far (dating back a few years!). Now – we don't know much about politics in Yucatan, but we do know lots of Mayan ladies who are also artisans. We suspect that these ladies will be conducting their businesses anywhere they want to conduct business for the foreseeable future.
Medicare in Mexico Stalled but Not Dead
National City, a California based International Community Foundation (a charity), is getting ready to release a recent study finding that Mexico is a great place for the active retirement years but still does not have the necessary facilities for Americans to remain into advanced age if they need additional care. The implications of this situation clearly place stress on the economy of the U.S. because retirees spend their money in Mexico, some for multiple decades, before coming back to the States, where they then take advantage of Medicare/Medicaid and nursing homes. The big complaint of some Americans is that Mexican health care facilities lack the certifications showing their care to be equal to that of the U.S. Those who know Mexico well are aware that this is an easily rectifiable situation. In the meantime, a complicated global economy and the drug war on the border seem to have stopped forward movement of this issue. President Calderon is expected to begin bringing it up again in the near future. We, along with millions of others who love Mexico and our lives here, hope that we will soon be able to use Medicare in Mexico.
Special Visitors in Progreso
This past Saturday, ambassadors and commercial advisors from eight nations visited Progreso. They came from Angola, Belize, Canada, Chyile, Cote d'Ivoire, Slovakia, Ireland and Pakistan. They were treated to lunch and dinner on the Malecon and given a tour of the major government and cultural buildings in the city. The evening ended with music and dancing in the park. Whether one is in the city, at the beach, or in the smallest village, there are always things that make you know you are in Yucatan. A warm welcome, along with live music and dancing in the parks tops the list.
15th Anniversary of Cultural Center in Progreso
Did you ever see something interesting online and then find it impossible to relocate the page? We did. Someone put a travel album online that has one old, black and white photo in the mix. At the bottom of the photo it says “ruined colonial building 1985” (at least that's how we remember the caption.) The picture is of a building that is in terrible shape, but no one would recognize it from that picture now. The picture we saw (and cannot find again) is of the Casa de la Cultura in Progreso, a building that is completely remodeled and just perfect for community events. This past week marked the 15th anniversary of the remodeling of Progreso's Casa de la Cultura. Happy Birthday to this dear old building and congratulations to all of the people who have such a lovely center for cultural events.
Akumal Animal Rescue Fund
This week, we received a notice that Lucy from Akumal has opened a website in support of the Akumal Animal Rescue Fund. On her website, you can see adoptable dogs and cats, as well as get information about how to fly them to the U.S. or Canada (No Quarantine!). Lucy has been rescuing and caring for up to 24 dogs at a time, plus cats, horses, and other critters for over 14 years. Please visit the Akumal Animal Rescue Fund Website and help Lucy with all of the medical care these animals need, as well as with meeting their daily expenses. ...and take a close look at those pictures. You just might find your own new Best Friend Forever there.
Taco Bell? Its a Strange Strange World
It had to happen someday, but we just couldn't help but giggle a little when it did. Taco Bell is now open for business in India. Burritos are 18 rupees. If everyone in India tries just one, then somebody is going to make an awful lot of money. We hope the Indian people love even Taco Bell's style of Mexican food and invite them to come on over and try the vast variety to be found in the real thing soon.
Editorial: U.S. Embargo Against Mexican Wild Shrimp
This past week, Progreso Hoy picked up on our story about the U.S. instituting an embargo against all Mexican wild shrimp because a few shrimpers (who are not even from Yucatan or Campeche) have been caught not using turtle-excluder devices. Then, the U.S. proceeded to purchase 120 tons of Mexican wild shrimp right before the embargo took place. They then turned their attention to pushing U.S. farmed shrimp, a practice known to be the cause of one of the worst U.S. Gulf Coast disasters of our century. Yucatan's shrimpers need not worry because they have access to other international markets. The fishermen we are most concerned about, at this point, are the American shrimpers along the Gulf Coast. They have not had an increase in pay since the early 1970s and are, one by one, being forced out of business. When they are gone, there will no longer be a “canary in a cage” along the Gulf Coast. Fish and shrimp farms will create an environmental disaster that is beyond belief. We cannot do much to stop this, but we can ask that everyone – please – buy only wild shrimp and fish. It may not sound as if one person can do very much but, together, we may be able to turn this tide of destruction. We thank you in advance on behalf of ethical wild shrimp fishermen everywhere, and on behalf of the planet we would like to leave for our grandchildren.