Yucatan News: New Progreso Pier
Hot Off the Presses…. Yucatan is Official Home of the Habanero
This new designation will serve to make Yucatan’s chile habanero a “branded” product throughout the world. It is expected that with the export of our habanero farmers will add to the increasing importance of many of our Yucateco products in foreign markets. We are so glad to see our farmers, crop by crop, area by area, finally able to reap the rewards they so richly deserve. Congratulations to all of the farmers and workers throughout the Sistema Producto Chile Habanero!
Pier in Progreso to be Replaced
It appears that several cracks have been discovered in the pier at Progreso. While they are currently being repaired as part of the pier’s ongoing maintenance program, research shows that the pier has a life span of only 5 to 10 years. With that in mind, a new pier will be built parallel to this one. Construction will begin in 2009 and the new pier will be 7 km in length, which will take it into deeper water and increase the capacity of the port for both tourism and industry. We assume that the new pier will have easy access to the new overhead
highway, making it possible for big trucks to avoid passing through the center of town. We wonder what they are going to do with the current pier when the new one is built? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it could be repaired to handle light traffic and the space used, perhaps, as a park? We have seen other cities with such parks and they make wonderful additions to the cultural life and economy of their communities. We will be watching to see if someone comes up with a new life for the old pier that has become such an integral part of the landscape on the Malecon.
Yucatan’s Children Continue Releasing Baby Turtles
Last month, we reported on a group of small children who were allowed to release several hundred baby turtles from Cetmar de Yucalpetén, the center that cares for unhatched nests and injured turtles. This month, more children will release another 400 baby turtles. We saw pictures of last month’s release and realized that many of the children are preschoolers. This is in keeping with an overriding theme throughout this state, in which children are educated and trained in every aspect of the creating a quality of life that will ensure the success of the entire population well into the future. If there is a tree to be planted, a Yucateco toddler will plant it. If there is a baby turtle to be released, a very young child and his or her parents release it together. If there is an environmental demonstration taking place, the marchers will be school children and their beaming parents and teachers will line their path to glory. When these 400 turtles are released, that will bring this year’s total number released to 2,200. That’s a pretty nifty accomplishment for a group of little kids.
Airport Near Chichen Itza Going Slowly
With the increase in the cost of fuel and economic troubles throughout the world, work has slowed at the new international airport near Chichen Itza. Part of this is because investors are reluctant to rapidly pour hundreds of millions of pesos into building up the number of hotels and restaurants that would be necessary to support an airport that could handle 600,000 tourists a year. Plans now are to begin slowly, with small planes from Cancun, Cozumel, and Merida; then to add planes from Fort Lauderdale, Cuba, and other places in the Caribbean. It could be as much as five more years before the dream of a real international airport near Chichen Itza can be realized, but no one has given up and work is still underway.
Pulpo Season has Failed, Shrimp Fishing is Weak
This year’s red tide drove the octopus into deeper water and too far away for our fishermen to reach them. This left the fishermen with little more than snapper, grouper, and grunt but, since they all are coming in with the same fish, the market is flooded and, even though the price is down, there are fewer buyers. The shrimp season is not what it should be as well. It will not be long before our fishermen cannot afford the gasoline necessary to run their boats and the situation will only worsen. Red tides are cyclical and do not appear in all years, nor to the same degree in the years they do appear. With luck, our fishermen will survive this economic downturn and next year will be better. Please remember our fishermen as they enter the winter season, during which they will also face danger from storms for those who do make it to sea.
Lobster Season is a Rousing Success
Pulpo season may have failed – and shrimp fishing may be weak – but our lobster fishermen are averaging $500 MXP per day and loving it! They are able to stay out from between 18 and 20 days and are even being given advances so that their families will not have to do without while they are gone. This is such good news for men who work so hard and risk so much just to be able to take care of their families. It is also good news for the merchants with whom they spend this money. Big smiles and congratulations all around for the langosteros (lobster fishermen) of Yucatan!
Worldwide Space Race Coming to Our Neighborhood?
It looks as if we now live right in the center of the New Race for Space on Planet Earth. When we reported that it is fairly certain there will be a new Mexican Space Agency in our area, we assumed that this would be a global scientific effort, since many nations will be involved. We never stopped to think that there are other places in the neighborhood that are also geographically ideal for such a project – like Cuba. New news is that Russia is reforming its old ties with Cuba and that Cuba, Russia, and Venezuela will build their own space center in Cuba. Gone are the days of “sleepy little fishing villages” and “quaint interior towns.” We are amazed to find ourselves living at what actually has the potential to become the Center of the Universe. The next few years will certainly be interesting – as they always are in Yucatan.
Post Office Woes
As many have now experienced, the grand new plans for a hot pink and lime green, dependable postal service have not materialized. It seems that the Mexican Postal Service is not living up to its financial commitment to mail carriers and they, in turn, are spending their time protesting, rather than delivering the mail. It is uncertain when this situation will be resolved, but certainly is an inconvenience for those who are not getting their mail. Learning to live with poor (or no) mail service is part of just another day in Paradise and an opportunity to practice the virtue of patience (and online banking!).
Yucateco Elected President of Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior
Jorge Hipólito Chablé Herrera, of Dzitás, has been elected President of the Institute of Mexicans in the Exterior. This is important to our expat community as well because this is one more Yucateco who has risen to a position of leadership not only in Mexico, but across borders as well. Yucatan produces some of the world’s finest human beings in the arts and music, in medicine and science, and in social and philosophical arenas. Leaders such as Jorge Hipólito Chablé Herrera bring honor to our state and stability to the world. Now, of course, his job is to represent migrants before all 32 state governments and the Federal government in Mexico, as well as before all state governments in the U.S. and their Federal government. Our congratulations on Jorge Hipólito Chablé Herrera’s winning this important post and for a job we know will be well done.
Biking in Yucatan
There is a lovely website, Yucatan by Bicycle, that is absolutely the best in bicycle blogging. However, what if you wanted to just take off down a beach road - on your bike – just you and a friend or two? This week, we found a site that maps out a 112 mile round-trip along the coast and through the inland towns nearby. The site is called Bikely and the zoomable map is just the ticket for following every inch of the trip that begins and ends in Progreso.
Hector was Here! Perhaps He Will Visit Again.
Hector F. Pascual Alvarez was awarded a Watson Fellowship in March of 2008. With it, from July 2008 to July 2009, he will travel the world - namely Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, and the UK - to look at the role of the theater director in empowering communities through performance to help them overcome a situation of crisis or heal a trauma. “Sanzbritz’s Wanderjahr: One Year, Two Suitcases and the World as a Stage” is the blog that Hector is using to chronicle his plans, thoughts, theater reviews, and adventures. We are so glad that he chose to come to Merida in his travels. Pictures taken in our fair city, along with comments, are posted in his blog.
Rumors of Widespread Famine in Cuba Untrue
A recent news bulletin came to us, claiming widespread famine in Cuba and that the reason no one is hearing about it is that the Cuban government is actively keeping it quiet. The bulletin cited El Diario (which is what caught our eye) as saying that Yucatan is fearful of widespread illegal Cuban migration because of this so-called famine because such a situation would put catastrophic stress on our humanitarian resources. We knew that we had not seen such an article, so we searched the archives and found just the opposite to be true. Cuba does have enough reserves of staples, such as rice and beans, to ensure that no Cuban will die of starvation. They also have a food rationing program in place that is working well. They do need help through the winter to ensure that proper nutrition can be maintained until they can bring in next season’s harvest. Since Cuba always imports about 85% of its food, they only expect approximately 6 months of discomfort due to food rationing. This experience serves to underscore the need to always consider the source and check the facts before blindly believing some horrendous story that arrives in all of our e-mail. Read the real story of Cuba’s food crisis here.
So Near and Yet So Far Away…
There was a time when all of the people of the Yucatan Peninsula were one nation, united by bonds of history, religion and blood. Then the divisions came. National and state lines were drawn and the people rarely visited across those artificial borders. In most cases, unfortunately, this was because they were simply too poor to make such a trip. Over time, the elders died off and the young people were left with no memory of who they once had been, or how advanced their culture once was, or how much power their people once held.
That is all changing today. It is the 21st century all over the Yucatan Peninsula and school children are eager to develop and experience their own historical identity. This week, 70 school children from Cancun began a trip through Yucatan to Valladolid and Chichen Itza. They were amazed at what they saw and vowed to return to learn more. Maybe everyone on the peninsula will learn that teaching the children who they are and encouraging them to go out and actually stand in their own history is the key to immortality for their culture. We often meet locals here in Merida who have never seen some of the popular tourist destinations like Chichen Itza or Uxmal. If you want to do something good for those around you, consider bringing them along on your next trip to one of those important destinations.