News Starting October 01, 2012
New Administrations Begin This Week
New governor Rolando Zapata Bello will be installed in his new offices by this Monday. New legislators and new department heads will be in place and the business of new policies and new projects will be underway. Yucatan Living would like to congratulate everyone who won their elected office; and we do look forward to the new energy and excitement that comes with fresh eyes and a heart for the work that is ahead. But we are also aware that new governments often means a changing of the guards in many departments, which sometimes leads to delays in paperwork and procedures. We encourage everyone to be patient!
Jonathan Hennessey-Brown Coming to Merida
Do you remember the Genesis Quartet, and Jonathan Hennessey-Brown and Suzanne Evans? That quartet was one of the best chamber music engines we have ever heard and now they have gone on to not only found the Santiago Quartet, but are bringing serious contemporary Latin music to Europe and throughout the United Kingdom. Yes, but even fine performances with the Cuarteto Latinoamericano and playing in the International Chamber Music Festival in Mexico City can’t keep Jonny out of Merida. He will be here for ten whole days in December and will be bringing copies of the Santiago Quartet’s first CD, “Latin Perspective,” which earned a whopping five Grammy nominations! Jonathan wants to collaborate with musicians and educate the European public about the wealth of music from Mexico, Uruguay and other Latin Nations. If anyone has any suggestions as to how they can continue this work, inspired by the Cuarteto Latinoamericano and his passion for the music, you can get in touch with Jonathan at jonnyhb18 [at] gmail [dot] com. You are also invited to visit The Santiago Quartet website.
Yucatan’s First Driving School
Congratulations to Señora Alejandra Narváez Campos, owner of Yucatan Driving School, and to her six instructors, for having completed all of the necessary requirements of the Road Traffic Act and the regulations of the State of Yucatan which now allow her to own and operate a driving school. This is something that Merida has needed for a long time. We can only imagine the time and investment involved to fulfill the requirements, to take the theoretical and practical classes, to obtain and install all of the required simulation equipment, and to equip the vehicles with the necessary safety devices. Not to mention all of the related insurance coverage! That is a daunting task, but everyone who drives in Merida will be the safer for it. The Yucatan Driving School is located on Calle 49-A x 56 in Fraccionamiento Francisco de Montejo. For more information, call (999) 946-8922. From what we understand, there are additional driving schools going through this process now, but the Yucatan Driving School will always enjoy the designation of having been the first.
Marching for Organ Donation in Merida
There was a time, in almost everyone’s memory, when organ donation was a foreign concept. Such was certainly the case in Yucatan just a decade ago. Today, however, Flor Santana Zapata, President of Dona Esperanza, says that it is more common that someone will simply come up to her and ask for an organ donation card. Unfortunately, dietary and economic issues linger in Yucatan and contribute to increasing rates of diabetes, hypertension, and kidney stones. It is currently believed that between 10 and 13 percent of all Yucatecos suffer from some degree of kidney damage, and of course, there are many people who can benefit from donated kidneys. On World Organ and Tissue Donation Day, volunteers marched in Merida in a huge enrollment drive. In addition, healthcare workers, especially nurses, doctors and other hospital staff members are looking toward a day when they will be trained to work with patients’ families with respect to this issue. When all is said and done, Yucateco attitudes are advancing at an amazing rate of speed and this is helping to move the entire state forward well into the 21st century.
Non-Traditional Products: Fairs and Expos in Chiapas
A variety of Yucatan’s products were displayed, by six companies, at the 16th International Expo of Nontraditional Products in Chiapas this past weekend. The goal is to exchange rural Yucatecan relevant knowledge and experience, as well as to expand the commercial potential of the exhibition. The non-traditional products brought to the exhibition by Yucatan included: hammocks, spices used to prepare gourmet food, traditional clothing, craft items made from coconut shell, conch, and seeds, as well as hats woven from hemp fiber. About 50,000 visitors and over 200 exhibitors from 24 states attended the expo. At the same time, Chiapas also held the 6th Chiapas Organic Fair, the 5th Agroindustrial Provider Fair, and the 3rd Forum of Organic Agriculture and Trade Fair. Taken together, these fairs and expos show that domestic trade is gaining in importance right along with foreign trade, as well as that Mexico’s agricultural sector is traveling in the 21st century with an eye to the future well-being of the planet as a whole.
After Xmatkuil, Where Do the Cattle Go?
Everyone waits all year for Yucatan’s State Fair at Xmatkuil. This fair is a chance for most of us to walk the midway and watch the people, while taking in a show or two along the way. However, serious business is going on over in the livestock areas, and much of it has to do with cattle exporting. In 2011, the United States imported cattle from nineteen states in Mexico, including from the State of Yucatan. While the numbers are still relatively low, just under 3,000 from Yucatan, they are expected to grow rapidly, especially since Yucatan also now has agreements to export cattle to Turkey, Jordan, Belize and Costa Rica. This rapidly expanding export market is one reason that both drought and floods can have such a devastating effect on the economy of the cattle raising sections of Yucatan. Fortunately, the new livestock health checks, plus enough rain without flooding, predict that sales will be good through Xmatkuil and beyond. If you want to see some beautiful animals, go to the fair and take a look at the animals brought down by the Asociación Charolais Charbray Herd Book de México to genetically improve the local breeds. There will be a contest and the champion of champions will be announced on November 23.
Maya Prophesy: European Tourists On Their Way!
AirFrance, Paris to Cancun, is reporting that 72% and 73% of its seats are booked for the months of October and November, with ticket sales for December expected to reach 100%. This is no small number of people. In fact, it includes – thus far – over 32,000 tourists from France, Germany, Holland, the Ukraine, Italy, Poland and Sweden. Beginning October 26, AirFrance will have four flights per week, round trip, from Paris to Cancun, on Boeing 777’s, each with 468 seats. The four flights per week are expected to continue until at least May 13, 2013. It looks as if the whole world will be celebrating the New Year, Mayan and otherwise, somewhere on the Yucatan Peninsula. This is wonderful news and we know that every tourist who comes to Yucatan will come again and bring their friends and families. This is an economic shot in the arm that is deeply appreciated across the peninsula.
Merida is Headquarters for CFMI Mundo Maya
The importance of France to world trade, tourism and industry is amazingly under-reported. France is not just another country that wants to do business with Yucatan. France is a major mover and shaker in almost 80 countries around the globe. Now, the Merida branch of the Franco-Mexican Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CFMI) has created a delegation for Mundo Maya that covers Tabasco, Campeche, Chiapas, Quintana Roo and Yucatan. The root of this particular move is based on the interest in investment in cultural characteristics, beaches, geographical location and the global interest in Maya prophecies. What makes Yucatan stand out is first safety and then tourism, textiles, and an emphasis on academics. Wherever they go, the French Chambers of Commerce and Industry bring investments and jobs and a significant improvement in local economies. For that, everyone in Yucatan is deeply appreciative.
Athletes’ Donations Benefit San Joaquin
San Joaquin is the nursing home located between Progreso and Chicxulub. On September 22, the Tradicional Carrera del Mes Patrio was held in Progreso and the contributions from the runners and walkers purchased a food pantry of 283 packages for San Joaquin. These packages included rice, beans, barley, lentils, peas, oatmeal, several sauces, pasta, cooking oil, cream, tuna, milk and cookies. While this is good news, we are also very aware that residents of nursing homes are in need of much more than basic food items. Currently, San Joaquin is in need of adult diapers, laundry detergent, shampoo, single mattresses, Ensure and sugar. They also need a volunteer to help with daily laundry. If you would like to assist in meeting some of these needs, you can call (969) 935-1209, stop by the nursing home (between Progreso and Chicxulub, beside Prepa Mexico), donate via PayPal (donativos [at] alberguesanjoaquin [dot] org) or make a deposit at the La Torre, Merida branch of BANAMEX in the name of Albergue del Anciano en Progreso, A.C., Acct. Number: 7002 3673558, Code: 002910700236735582. Bank deposits must be in pesos. You can also visit the website of Albergue del Anciano en Progreso, A.C. for more information and updates. Since this nursing home is a registered non-profit, all donations are tax deductible.
How One Gym Improves Gymnastic Performance
In the eastern part of Merida, there is a neighborhood gym that is training gymnasts well in advance of events to be held a year from now. To accomplish this goal, they are introducing a novel concept… dance classes! They are already teaching tae kwon do and jazz, but are expanding their dance classes in an effort to fine-tune the quality of the performances of the students of rhythmic gymnastics. To get the job done, coaches and administrators have called on veteran coach and former dancer Socorro Cerón Herrera. Now the team is on their way to success and these young ladies will be the stars of next year’s gymnastic competition throughout the state and nation.
Sixth Annual Children’s Drawing Contest
Do children understand the concept and importance of governmental transparency? How can we know? Yucatan has the answer. Art often transcends language so Yucatan’s Institute for Statewide Access to Public Information offers a drawing contest to fifth and sixth graders across the state. Since there are more children in Merida, the contest is divided into two categories: children in Merida and those in the interior of the state. Prizes this year are an iPad, a mini-laptop computer and a bicycle. If you know a fifth or sixth grader in Yucatan, please visit the Children’s Drawing Website to obtain complete information for submitting drawings to the contest. Please note that children may also submit drawings to their teachers, who can then make sure they get to the right place by the deadline of November 30. The winners will be announced on December 7, 2012.
Espita Set to Apply as Magical Town
The Pueblos Magicos of Mexico are all across the nation now, and each has a unique cultural, historic or social importance. Merida and Valladolid have already received their Pueblos Magicos status and now it is little Espita’s turn. With a twelve by fourteen block city center filled with 300 buildings designated as architecturally significant, it is well on its way. In Espita, you will find St. Joseph’s Temple, built in the 18th century, as well as a former Franciscan convent, built in the early 16th century. When Espita finally receives its Pueblos Magicos designation, it will have access to many state and national grants, such as the one that is now allowing Valladolid to remodel Cenote Zaci. We think Espita is a magical place already because of its rich cultural diversity. According to the census, 62.5% of the people in Espita are indigenous people who speak Mayan or Otomi. This small municipality, just on the west side of Tizimin, is well worth a trip, now and after it becomes a Pueblos Magicos, especially during their celebration of the Christ Child (November 19 – 26).
One Reason to Visit Espita: pasta de camote con coco
Before we leave the topic of Espita, we thought our readers, especially those who are still north of the border, might like to have a recipe for one of the sweets for which Espita is well known: Sweet Potato with Coconut Paste. This recipe makes approximately twelve servings:
½ kilo (1.1 lbs) of sweet potatoes, cooked and peeled
1 ½ fresh coconut, water set aside, meat grated
3 1/3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons of unflavored gelatin
A few drops of red food coloring
Puree the cooked sweet potato in a food processor. Liquefy (again, in a food processor) the grated coconut with the coconut water, adding a little more as needed, and strain. What you get will be what is called coconut milk. Mix the sweet potatoes with coconut milk and sugar. Cook until it thickens (slow boil, stirring constantly).
Dissolve unflavored gelatin in cold water and add to the mixture while still boiling. Add a few drops of food coloring. Pour into mold of your choice and refrigerate until it congeals. Slice and serve on a platter of a contrasting color – with a sprinkle of dried, sweetened, shredded coconut. If you like, add a little crushed pineapple and/or a sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar. And – if you aren’t in Yucatan already, now you can pretend you are!
Merida English Library is starting its house tours
The Merida English Library is starting its house tours on October 2 this year. Unlike in previous years, beginning this year, all proceeds go to the library. As most of you know, the previous tours started at the library and were conducted by local realtors, with the realtors giving 20 percent to the library. This year the library is conducting its own house tour, some of which will be led by realtors donating their time. These new House and Garden tours will tour small, medium and large houses of all kinds. They will also show houses under construction, as well as houses lived in by both expats and Yucatecos. The houses on this years’ tours will usually NOT be houses which are for sale, but instead private homes (which was the original intention of the tours when they were started). If you are interested in attending a tour, call the library for more details at 924-8401. The library is located at Calle 53 X 66 y 68, Centro. The cost for a tour will be 200 pesos, and the tours will be on Tuesdays. During October, tours are half price for MEL members, so come and see one and get acquainted with the new tours. For those who are not familiar with the Merida English Library, it has more than 10,000 volumes, (much larger that the typical suburban branch library collection). The collection is curated and offers a very good selection of Maya and Mexican history from a variety of viewpoints. There are also DVD’s, magazine, computers and internet access and a community of English-speaking residents and visitors.