News starting December 1st, 2008
They Love Us, They Really Do…
Yucatan Living recently was reviewed by the good people at Mexperience, one of Mexico’s best and most comprehensive travel websites. They seem to like everything about the website, which makes us very proud of our contributors and grateful for our readers. Thank you, everyone, for your support!
Miss Mexico Wins World Title
Anagabriela Espinoza, Miss Mexico, has won the 2008 Miss World title in Durban, South Africa. Kseniya Sukhinova, Miss Russia, took second place and Tansey Coetzee, Miss South Africa took third place. Yucatan Living congratulates Anagabriela Espinoza, Mexico, the runners up, and all of the participants in the contest for Miss World 2008.
Mayan Herbolaria and Botanical Garden To Be In Espita
There was an inaugural ceremony in Espita this past week to dedicate an area in which there will eventually be not only a Mayan herbolaria, but a full botanical garden. The purpose of the project is to keep the Mayan traditions, especially Mayan medicine, alive. From the tone of the report we saw, tourists will be welcome and may even be able to look forward to classes in this area in the near future. Keep your eyes on Espita and its soon to be expanded Mayan Herbolaria and Botanical Garden.
Hammocks of Yucatan
Good “How To” articles are hard to find – but we found one this week that is a “must read” for anyone who is going to visit Yucatan and especially for those who live here. Visit Bicycle Yucatan’s Hammocks of Yucatan and let their new, 6-part article introduce you not only to the art of buying, using, and maintaining hammocks – but to their great site as well.
Good Business: The Best Software Wins.
In the 21st century, it is incumbent upon producers to understand the markets and environments in which they operate – and then to get the best custom-designed software possible. Who, in the State of Yucatan, has the best software? The Honey Producers! Several government entities banded together to support the creation of the software and then gave it to the Yucateco honey producers free of charge. Now, they can know at a glance what the outcome of consumer price changes, equipment cost and depreciation, manpower, and transportation will have on their bottom line. This gives them plenty of time to implement changes, if need be, and to enjoy the life they have chosen – rather than waiting until the end of the season and just accepting whatever chance outcome is there. We would like to brag (just a little) on the level of computer science and technology skills that are available in the State of Yucatan. This program was written in Yucatan, by Yucatecos, and is now being distributed to other states in the nation. The Yucatan happens to have a growing cadre of software engineers, thanks to this Microsoft engineer who was born in Oxkutzcab, Franc Camara, and who has never forgotten his roots.
Say It Isn’t SO! Merida Insider is Down!
All of Mexico Bob’s sites were recently hacked and he is busy restoring service to his customers but contemplating whether to restore, upgrade, or let go of Merida Insider. As a member from Merida Insider’s second month (more than a few years ago), I would hate to see us lose this valuable resource. On many occasions, Yucatan Living recommends that people join Merida Insider and ask questions there that we don’t have the answer to, or that we don’t have the time to research. If anyone knows how grueling running a website can be, we certainly know and understand Mexico Bob’s point of view – but we still cannot imagine Merida without Merida Insider and hope that it is back in its latest incarnation soon.
Gringos on Thanksgiving in Progreso
Another blog we like is Yucatan Rebirth, written by a gringo in Progreso. For those who enjoyed Working Gringa’s articles on the building of her house, you might like to see what building a house is like in Progreso. All of Yucatan Rebirth’s articles are complete now, so you can see the whole thing in living color. But this week, we thought we’d give you a link to Yucatan Rebirth’s Thanksgiving Dinner in Progreso. We hope you enjoy it.
Merida English Library Membership Dues Due Now
Membership in the Merida English Library is one of the best “buys” in Yucatan. This year, rates will go up just a little to reflect the increased cost of books and other materials for the library. The new membership fees are: Families: $350 MXN, Individuals: $250 MXN, and Students: $100 MXN. There are currently 221 Individual members, 151 Family members, and 47 Yucateco student members. The total number of members and visitors who came to the library during October was 674, not including MELL-O Nite, Conversaciones, AA and other events. It might also be noted that a number of school groups also visit the library regularly. This library has served as the center for the expat community since 1994 and continues to serve not only expats, but the Yucateco community as well. If you are not a member of MEL, please consider becoming one now. Visit their website to see the latest on your library in Yucatan.
What is a Fraccionamiento?
We are often asked that question and the best “off the cuff” answer we can give is that it is a “subdivision” that was, in all probability, built for middle-to-lower socio-economic families. The houses are new, generally have 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, a living-dining combination, with the kitchen separated by a bar. Floors are tile and they have a small but nice yard. We call these “patio homes” in the U.S. There is a perfect example of a fraccionamiento on Oxkutzcab’s website. Click on Ver mas photos (to see more photos) to get an idea of what a complete fraccionamiento looks like. Within a few years, all of these homes will be surrounded by concrete block walls – with lovely entrance gates. As the owners stations in life improve, second stories will begin to appear. Those pretty new streets are perfect for soccer games (at all times of the day and night); and walking to the local church, parks and markets will provide plenty of social interaction. The cost? The original price of the house is $187,000 pesos ($13,867 USD). But most of these homes are sold to Yucateco families who qualify for subsidized housing. Subsidies, mostly from a federal housing program, bring the price down to $134,050 pesos ($9,940.68 USD). A down-payment of $8,000 pesos ($593 USD) is required and the homeowner will pay a note of $1,660 pesos ($123 USD) per month for 25 years. We have noticed that the price for these houses increases as the fraccionamientos get closer to Merida, sometimes up to as high as the equivalent of $30,000 USD. A review of classifieds in the Southern U.S. shows that comparable, but admittedly upgraded, homes like these sell for between $80K USD and $160K USD.
Another Reason for Not Driving At Night in Mexico
This past week, a Texas family of 7 was killed when they attempted to drive at night in Mexico. They were on their way to visit family when, at 2:00 AM, their SUV fell off of a bridge that had not yet been completed. One of our own expats once came out of a cut between 2 mountains, only to find herself crossing a new stretch of highway spanning a gorge – without a guard-rail. If you are driving to Yucatan, please be aware that road construction is always ongoing in Mexico and seldom well marked. It isn’t banditos you have to worry about. Its topes, goats, highway construction – and the beloved Mexican potholes (some of which we swear are large enough to swallow a 747 without leaving a trace). Driving in daylight and paying attention to the highway will give you a great ride. Don’t miss a second of it by driving before daylight or after dark. Have a safe trip and we’ll see you when you get here!
Mexico’s Stock Market Up over 8%
It is amazing what can be deduced from looking at the most active stocks in a country when you actually know what is – and has been – happening there. Mexico is no exception. First, the U.S. is bailing out CitiGroup, whose stock immediately went up almost 4%, carrying Banamex with it. Citibank began its life in 1812 as the City Bank of New York. Following this latest round of bail-outs and market uncertainty, the Bank of New York Mellon Corporation also opened its doors in Mexico.(“Go South, Young Man – Go South!”)
Secondly, the Mexican Government has already made a total commitment to improving its infrastructure and to making certain there will be no housing shortage in Mexico. Huge public works projects are driving this effort and the economy it is generating is staggering. As you might expect, the companies whose stocks are now happily in a positive upswing include several large construction companies, Cemex, food, bread and tortilla producers, a couple of companies that make phones, a nationwide retailer (Elektra), a couple of chemical companies, Wal-Mart, and TV Azteca. Almost all of this activity requires trucking, so those folks are getting well fast. So – there you have it. As far as we can see, (1) all Mexicans are not poor; (2) Mexico would not fail without remittances from north of the border; (3) Mexico does not depend solely on U.S. tourism dollars for its income; and (4) all major roads in Mexico are now leading up.
While We’re On the Subject of Elektra… Jobs Jobs Jobs
Did you know that Elektra now has stores, including access to Banco Azteca, in Peto, Tekax, and now in Hunucma? From what we understand, the new store in Hunucma has just opened (in a big building in Hunucma’s Centro) and they are going to be having great sales for the next 2 weeks. The entire area in and around Hunucma is growing by leaps and bounds. It is certainly worth a trip to go shop and look. Yucatan Living congratulates all of the new employees in the three new Elektra stores.
Earthquake In Chiapas
The USGS has reported that there was an earthquake of magnitude 4.8 on Sunday, Nov. 23, 2008, at 12:06:41 PM. The epicenter was at 17.376 °N, 93.671 °W, with a depth of 193.3 km (120.1 miles). The earthquake took place virtually at the intersection of the state boundaries of Veracruz, Chiapas, and Tabasco. It was located 90 km (55 miles) NW of Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas and 105 km (65 miles) SW of Villahermosa, Tabasco. There is a map here. What worries us is the proximity of this earthquake to Cañon del Sumidero (Sumidero Canyon), a magnificent natural formation in the earth a few kilometers east of Tuxtla Gutierrez. The Rio Grijalva flows northward through this canyon and it is the need to open the floodgates of the dam on this river that has caused flooding in both Chiapas and Tabasco to be so devastating during the past two years. We have heard no reports of damage from this quake but will continue to monitor the situation.
Ending the News with a Giggle – Only in Mexico
Click here. Now – if they had some really good legends – like Xtabay – up there in Nuevo Leon, people might not be laughing so hard at that poor man. However, since his description of his “attacker” consists only of “a blonde woman in a black miniskirt” – all he is going to get are gales of laughter from around the world!