News Starting August 20, 2012
Welcome Our New American Consul
Sonya Tsiros is the new American Consul in Merida. She holds a law degree from Columbia University and has been in charge of American embassies in Afghanistan, Romania, Paraguay, England, and Guatemala, where she began her career 15 years ago. The new Consul will continue working on improving consular services to Americans traveling and living on the Yucatan Peninsula, including services related to visas, commercial bonds and academic exchanges. Her first efforts will be directed toward learning more about the culture, the community, and the commercial companies – especially American companies – on the Yucatan Peninsula. She looks forward to playing an active role in promoting relationships between Mexico and the United States. Toward that goal, she has already been meeting with the governor of Yucatan and the mayor of Merida. We know that her youth, positive outlook and perfect Spanish will make this American Consul’s stay in Merida an early and continuing success.
On a personal note, the new American Consul, Sonya Tsiros, is married and has nine year old twin boys. She and her family will be living in Merida, where her sons will be attending school. So far, she has been impressed by Merida, noting that Merida seems to be much quieter and safer than other places she has been stationed. Before this trip, she had never been to Yucatan and only to Mexico in the frontier tourist areas. In the week she has been in Yucatan, the new Consul has only had time to see Merida, but plans to visit Campeche and Quintana Roo soon. Yucatan Living extends a sincere welcome to Sonya Tsiros and her family, as well as our best wishes for the success of her tenure on the Yucatan Peninsula.
Mexican Conductor Debuts in Argentina
On Saturday, August 25th at 6 PM, in the Salón de Actos of the Law School of the Buenos Aires University, the Camerata Cattaruzzi will present a concert as part of the “Cycle of Great Concerts” of that important educational institution. Mexican orchestra conductor Alejandro Pinzón, a native of Merida, Yucatan, will be the guest conductor. This concert serves as Pinzón’s conducting debut in South America. Maestro Alejandro Pinzón is a young and versatile musician who is the Music Director of the Morgantown Community Orchestra in West Virginia and professor at Waynesburg University, also in Pennsylvania. His activities as a conductor include frequent performances both in México and in the United States. He was recently featured in a CD by the Xalapa Chamber Orchestra and received the prestigious Valery Canady Award in West Virginia. Alejandro Pinzón is the first and only Yucateco to earn a Masters degree in Orchestra Conducting and will soon be the first and only Yucateco to earn a Doctorate in Orchestra Conducting. We are pleased to add that Alejandro Pinzón is one of the nicest young men we know, certainly a testament to his having grown up in Merida and in one of the most talented families in the city.
Eighth Annual October Housing Expo Announced
Each year, this housing expo grows larger but this year it is growing with the needs of people who are not necessarily from Merida in mind. Recent population surveys say that up to 20% of the population of Merida is not originally from Yucatan. They are coming predominantly from Monterrey, Tabasco, Veracruz, Mexico City and Guadalajara, and they are coming for access to industrial development and tranquility. At the time of the expo, it is expected that there will be at least 8,000 affordable homes for sale in Merida. Last year, approximately 16,000 homes were sold in Merida. This year, 65% to 70% of new buyers will be asking for affordable housing. Even so, this influx of new residents means double-digit millions to the economy in Merida and is a steady source of employment for those who work in construction.
UADY: Exchange Students and Social Service
The 2012 Fall semester at UADY includes 229 exchange students, 168 from other states in Mexico and 61 from foreign countries, such as the United States, Canada, France, Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom, Brazil and Japan. Most of these students are studying in the Colleges of Anthropology, Architecture, Accounting, Economics, Engineering, Law, Medicine, Psychology and Dentistry. One thing our foreign exchange students might be surprised to find at their new schools in Mexico are requirements to participate in social service projects. Mexico believes that giving back is an integral part of a well-rounded public education and contributes significantly to the quality of the future leaders the world will enjoy. These social service projects provide students with experience in the areas of environment, education, health, food, administration of justice, housing, urban development, technological development, and the preservation and dissemination of culture. These are hands-on projects and we have praised Yucatan’s college students many times for their dedication to mentoring young students, as well as for giving up their Saturdays to provide professional services of all kinds in outlying towns and villages. Like Mexico, we too believe that the world can be changed one helping hand at a time. We hope all of Yucatan’s exchange students enjoy their semester and come back often throughout their lives.
Happy IV Anniversary La Fundación Púrpura Plástika
Expresión Plástica, Sensibilidad Expresiva, Artes Plásticas y Terapia del Arte is a very long name for a wonderful non-profit that provides free art workshops for any number of vulnerable populations. We usually hear about them when they hold a free workshop for children, or in honor of a well-known cultural event. What we don’t often see are the free art therapy workshops for the disabled, the elderly, and even for prisoners. Using art to cope with stress, overcome grief, or create a path through depression or illness all falls into Púrpura Plástika’s vision of the strength that can be gained by using art to face life. You can see the work of some of their artists outside of Liverpool in Plaza Galerías through the 29th of August. They are also offering free workshops there, aimed at children, on the topics of art and recycling, between 5:00 PM and 7:00 PM on Wednesdays through the 29th. Everyone here at Yucatan Living is well aware of the power of art to soothe the soul and we congratulate La Fundación Púrpura Plástika on seven years of the dream and four years of total success in making that dream come true.
Proyecto Itzaes New Farmers’ Markets
With a Rotary Foundation matching grant with the Palo Alto Rotary and Merida Club Rotario Nuevas Generaciones, the concept of the Farmers’ Market in Ixil is now rapidly spreading to neighboring villages. Just like other farmers’ markets, these markets feature local fresh produce and locally-made crafts, but they also include dia de trueque (trade and barter) markets among local families. The children are especially thrilled by the trade and barter system because they get to figure out such nifty bits of information as how many oranges equal a kilo of guaya or a dozen eggs. This is one of the best ways, we think, for any young merchant to grow their marketing maturity level and we look for great things from these children in the future. Of course, it always helps that this also improves their math grades and their opportunities to eat healthy, locally grown food! Please visit the Proyecto Itzaes website to learn more about this wonderful organization.
Q.R.: Layoffs in Tourist Industry Not a Disaster
The whole world, it often seems, heads for Quintana Roo in the winter, when northern climates are often nearly unbearable. However, in August, fewer people come to the Yucatan when it is summer in the northern part of the continent and raining, at least part of every afternoon, in many parts of the Yucatan Peninsula. Of course, August also brings the threat of tropical storms that may turn into the odd hurricane now and again. In 2011, there was the added stressor of global recession, all of which served to put 20% of the tourism workers out of a job in Quintana Roo during 2011. This year, the situation is much better. This year, only 8% of tourism employees have been laid off during the summer, and most of those are taking voluntary vacations of their own, or working shorter days or weeks. We are more than halfway through the lowest tourism month of the Low Season and look forward to the beginning of the return of tourists and Snowbirds beginning in a few short weeks. By the way, this story should give the frugal few among us pause for thought. If you are looking for a less expensive beach vacation, or if you want a less crowded beach vacation, you might want to give Quintana Roo a second look next August.
140 New Women Artisans Graduate in Motul
A three month training program, called Habitat, has benefited the women of three neighborhoods in the City of Motul. During those three months, 80 women took a basic class in hammock-making, 40 took an advanced woven hammock class, and 20 learned the art of textile painting on clothing. There was a crafts show on graduation day and, by all accounts, the quality of the work is such that it is fit for the upscale tourist market. One of the best things about this training program was that all materials and tools were provided to the new artisans free of charge. Now, they have a trade that will support them and they have a brighter future than ever before. The best woven hammocks, in Motul, are now running between $600 and $900 pesos. We suspect it may be time to take a day trip to Motul.
Campeche Adventure Challenge 2012
This past weekend, Campeche held quite an interesting event in which they combined tourism and sports for the purpose of creating environments that encourage tourism activities and sports. What that means is lots and lots of competition. In the Pro Competition Challenge, there was a 2 km kayak race, followed by a 100 meter swim, a 20 meter bike race and a 20 km run. In the Light Challenge, participants only had to complete a 200 meter swim, a 13 km kayak race and a two km run. Ten thousand pesos were given in prize money. With renewed interest among expats interested in sports and fitness, we think this was a great event and would not be surprised to see something much like it in Yucatan next summer. Our congratulations to Campeche for a great idea and excellent follow-through. For those who are interested in running in Yucatan, we suggest the Corre Yuk website’s Local Calendar.
Volaris: New Mexico City – Denver Air Route
It has just been announced that Volaris will open a new, direct route between Mexico City and Denver beginning on December 8, 2012. Denver, it seems, has a large number of Mexican businessmen and this route will help to solidify family, cultural and business ties. Flights are scheduled for Saturdays and Sundays only, and advanced ticket sales have already begun. To learn more and take advantage of pre-flight sales, visit the Volaris website.