Yucatan News: Of Bread & Manatees
News starting June 01, 2009
Baby Manatee Doing Well
This past week, a newborn manatee was found at Chabihau. He was transported to the Acuacultura del Centro de Estudios Tecnológicos del Mar de Yucalpetén (Cetmar), where he was examined by specialists from Quintana Roo. They declared him to be a male and in excellent health. It is suspected that his mother may have fallen asleep after he was born and the waves took him into shallow water where she could not then get to him. He is now safe and thriving on a special milk recipe that he takes from a baby bottle and will soon be transferred to either Xcaret or Yumka (in Tabasco), or to the Aquarium of Veracruz. There is also some talk of keeping him at Parque del Centenario, but he would be by himself there, so we are hoping he gets to go to either Xcaret or Yumka. There he would have plenty of friends to play with and he would be able to belong to a family of manatees.
Now Generation Name: Bubble Boomers
Everytime they come out with one of these new headlines, we have visions of millions of aging gringos invading Mexico. Now, they're calling our generation the Bubble Boomers because there is, evidently a huge bubble of us getting ready to retire. Most in this age group are victims of the declining housing market and disappearing retirement accounts; and more will be living on Social Security and depending on Medicare than in any other generation. All of this, taken together, means that more Bubble Boomers than we expected will be headed south of the border just to preserve the quality of life they thought they were going to have at home. Needless to say, the next decade is going to be quite interesting as this little scenario plays itself out. In the coming weeks, we are going to go on the hunt to find out where the bill is that will allow us to use Medicare in Mexico.
Working Gringa can’t help herself… sometimes she has to get her fix of stuff from days gone by. Not expensive antiques or museum-quality pieces… she prefers the small things. Recently she spent an afternoon combing through old publications, books, magazines, photos, postcards and other dusty memorabilia in the back room of one of her antique-dealer friends, Jorge. She came away with a few lovely things… but she can’t keep them all. So if you are interested, check out the Photo Gallery (link to gallery at the top right of every Yucatan Living page) called Yucatan Ephemera (it’s on the third page of photo galleries). Any image/photo you see there is for sale for $10 USD or less (plus postage, which is about $1.00 USD). If you are interested, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you aren’t interested, then just enjoy the images from days gone by!
Let There Be Light: Campeche Transmission Station
It has been announced, in Zurich, Switzerland, that ABB, a leading power and automation technology group, has won a $140 million dollar contract to expand power capacity, upgrade transmission lines, extend the transmission and distribution network, and improve grid reliability for the CFE installation in Campeche. The project is expected to take approximately 18 months, but will provide for the increased power needs for people as far north as Tabasco and as far south as Belize. Stable electricity will be an interesting experience here in Yucatan. We can hardly wait for the project to be completed.
Placido Domingo to Lead Mexico's Tourism Campaign
Placido Domingo is not a Yucateco, but he began his singing career here at Chichen Itza at the age of 16, singing on stage with his mother, and has had a lifelong relationship with our state. Now, he has agreed to lead Mexico's $90 million dollar push to revive tourism across the nation. While many other celebrities will participate in the massive advertising campaign, it will be the ads featuring Placido Domingo that will mean the most to Yucatecos. This emphasis on tourism will not only be aimed at inviting foreign tourists back into Mexico. It will also be aimed at the people of Mexico. Mexico's middle class is as large now as that of any other developed nation and they are ready to enjoy vacations just like everyone else. Even those who are not usually able to afford resort vacations will be given special discounts and package deals so that all Mexicans can now have an opportunity to discover the wonders of their own country. No matter where one lives, now is the time to visit Mexico to get the best travel deals ever!
Expat Blog: Free Pursuits & Lifestyle Design
It really is true that one might have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince, and never more so than in the world of blogging. Every once in a while we find an expat blog that is well worth the read and try to pass those along to our own readers. Such is the case with Corbett Barr's Free Pursuits, a blog about Lifestyle Design that is aimed at living the life of our dreams (and paying for it), even if we are not ready to retire yet.
Corbett and his wife are writing while on an extended road trip through Mexico and many of his posts include the lifestyles of expats they have met along the way.
So-Called "Alternative" Clinics in Mexico
The story of the young boy who fled, with his mother, from court-ordered chemo treatments has been in the news for several weeks. The boy and his mother are now back at home after a reported attempt to seek alternative cancer treatment in Mexico. It is now estimated that nearly one million Californians seek medical care in Mexico every year, most in search of cheaper medications. Multiply that number throughout the other states in just the U.S. and it is easy to see the potential for abuse.
In many cases, medical tourists are simply looking to traditional medicine for wellness and lifestyle information. However, in other cases, they are seeking care for serious and life-threatening diseases in "alternative" clinics, some of which have crossed the border one step ahead of the law.
To its credit, Mexico does catch up with the operators of these clinics, and they pay a far higher price for their unethical behavior here than they would have in the States, but that does not help those who fall victim to them before they are caught.
We strongly suggest that, if you wouldn't go to a physician without proper certifications, association and board memberships in your own country, you shouldn’t do so in Mexico either. Yucatan Living will soon be publishing an article on Medical Tourism in which we will provide links to all of the organizations whose memberships you need to check before choosing a physician throughout Mexico. In the meantime, we hope that everyone will double and triple check the credentials and background of any physician or clinic in whose hands they place their life and health.
Armada's Hurricane Recovery Resources Ready and Waiting
Yucatan has one of the best hurricane preparedness and recovery programs in the world. Hurricane season begins this week and the Armada (the Navy) is already prepared with two new rescue and recovery boats, and a mobile kitchen that will feed 2,000 people per day. The Armada has 839 personnel ready to swing into action no matter what the emergency. This includes firefighting, mobile communication units and portable generators to provide electricity to small towns and villages along the coast. In addition, they also have all-terrain vehicles for going into flooded areas, and 2 ambulances loaded with medical personnel and equipment.
The Armada at Yucalpeten is one of the best assets in the entire State of Yucatan and they are deeply appreciated. In addition, the State of Yucatan is establishing a 1,500 head cattle ranch for the purpose of replacing any cows lost during hurricanes or other emergency situations by small ranchers. This too is excellent foresight on the part of state officials and will significantly reduce the need for long-term financial assistance for small ranchers who are hard hit by any emergency, including hurricanes.
Fear As a Disease
As the completely unnecessary and deliberately inflammatory H1N1 vocabulary used by health monitoring agencies spread across the world, it generated another pandemic in the form of a disease of fear. While H1N1 is now a thing of the past, the spirit of fear it left behind is still alive and, in some cases, growing stronger. As this unnecessary panic spread, a few lonely voices attempted to point out how unreasonable it was. One of those was tongue-in-cheek, quick-witted Morning Call writer and friend of Yucatan, Paul Carpenter.
Unfortunately, cooler heads were unable to prevail against the almost gleeful fear mongering by agencies that neither thought through the effects of their headline-grabbing fifteen minutes of fame, nor cared about the global pandemic of fear they were spreading.
Much has been written about the damage that the fear of H1N1 has done to the economy of Mexico, but it isn't over yet. At the mere suggestion that a red tide might be on its way, the locals psychologically fast-forwarded to the beginning of pulpo (octopus) season in August, and began to suffer from the mere thought of a failed season. We are concerned that some market vendors along the coast say that the people are purchasing only about 25% of the fruits and vegetables they usually buy. Some of this is lack of money, caused by the damage done to the economy by fears of H1N1, and some of it is fear of spending what little money they have.
The long-term effect of this disease of fear on the health of the people is a ticking time bomb, irresponsibly set by health monitoring agencies. The other side of that coin is the potential devastation that could be caused the next time these agencies declare an emergency. Many would not believe them now if their warnings came notarized in pure gold. Both the offending agencies and their victims need time to digest the devastating effects of a global pandemic of fear and make certain that it never happens again.
Red Tide Update
This past week there was a fish kill on the beach near Telchac. Samples were taken and are back now. It has been confirmed that it was "dispersed seaweed" that caused these particular fish to die. However, there is a small patch of red tide, currently approximately 3 km in diameter, located 11 km north of the mouth of Ria Lagartos.
Honduras/ Guatemala / Belize: 7.3 Earthquake
On Thursday, May 28, 2009, at 3:24 AM, an earthquake struck off the coast of Honduras. It registered 7.3 on the Richter Scale at the epicenter, which was located at 16.730°N, 86.209°W. An after-shock measuring 4.8 was reported 3 hours after the initial quake. In Southern Belize, Monkey River Village reports that 90% of the homes were damaged, many belonging to expats. Water towers toppled and the ground opened up, leaving gaping holes up to 4 feet deep. Six were killed in Honduras, but no reports of death have come in from Guatemala or Belize, in spite of serious damage to property and infrastructure.
Within hours of the quake, we heard from our dear friend, Martha Scott, who manages Monkey River Retreat and Seal Caye resorts. Floors have separated, homes have sunk, and plumbing is damaged or destroyed, but they are otherwise ok. In true trouper fashing, Martha reports that she is "rather busy" - and that she lost a full bottle of coconut rum, only had one dish broken, the kitchen floor split open about 1/4", the southeast side of the house sank 3 inches and pulled away from the main portion of the house - can see daylight - the dining room leans a bit to the west and her plumbing split - but the generator and inverter are still working and everything is "easily fixable." This from a woman who spent months camping on the beach, alone, after her own resort was destroyed by a hurricane! Everything is "fixable" as long as there is no loss of life. Please keep Honduras, Guatemala, and Belize in your thoughts as they begin their earthquake recovery efforts. We will report more as we hear more news from Monkey River.
Our new friends, Sue and Chris Harris, happened to be in Merida when the earthquake struck. Their resort, Steppingstones, was damaged but the insurance adjustors appeared promptly on the afternoon of their arrival back home. Although their home "looked like a giant had picked it up and tossed it around," and their dock was partially sunk, everyone was ok. The thing that concerns us is the open cracks in the earth that are "gushing mud." Everyone in Belize is reporting that houses have sunk as much as 5 feet. Even some bridges and piers are either severed or intact but underwater now.
UADY Participates in International Education Conference
UADY was an active participant in the activities related to the International Education Conference held last week in Los Angeles, California. It is the goal of educators throughout the Americas to bring all of their educational systems onto equal footing. This will support improved levels of commerce and bring cooperation between nations to new heights. Mexico's education system is not only on track, but well ahead of all goals that have been set for it. It is not well known, nor remembered, that it was Marta Sahagún de Fox, wife of Vicente Fox, former President of Mexico, who first waded in and fought against old and entrenched institutions to bring Mexico's educational system into the 21st century and beyond. Whatever one's personal political views, the fact remains that the lady was spectacular in her efforts to rescue education in Mexico and should be given a great deal of respect for her part in the development of Mexico's future as a dynamic nation that is ready to successfully compete in the global economy.
Update: Brazos Abiertos
We have three interesting updates from Brazos Abiertos' newsletter this month.
(1) There will be an art auction on October 30, so mark your calendars. If you would like to help with the event, donate art for auction, or become an underwriter for the event, please contact John Truax at johnhivyucatan.org
(2) If you speak Spanish, Dr. Carlos is looking for people who would be interested in helping him do HIV testing in and around Merida and surrounding villages, as well as help with pre and post HIV counseling. A medical background is helpful, but not required. If you are interested, please contact Dr. Carlos at Carloshivyucatan.org
(3) Oasis de San Juan de Dios, A.C. is the HIV shelter in Conkal. The shelter is always in need of food and financial support. If you are interested in helping the shelter directly, please contact Carlos Mendez at osanjuanyuchotmailcom or Raul Lugo at raulugoindignacionorg
You are always welcome, of course, to visit the home page of Brazos Abiertos to find other ways to either volunteer or donate to this worthy cause.
Evolution: Animal Shelter in Uman
We recently read a wonderful post on Yolisto about an animal shelter in Uman that we had no idea was even there! The name of the shelter is Evolution and it is working toward including a number of programs designed to educate children about pet ownership and the value of life for not only human beings, but for animals as well. The website is in Spanish, but it has six slideshows of dogs, cats, the facility, dogs in recovery, and one just about puppies. What we like is the fact that the animals are not kept in cages. You really have to look at the slideshows to see what a marvelous place this is. We plan on visiting Evolution soon and will bring you an update on what we find there.
How To Develop a Recycling Program at the Beach
We are still searching for recycling programs that are already underway in Yucatan. There are quite a few in Merida, but none at the beaches where most expats live. If anyone is interested in starting such a project, we found just about the best instructions ever on Michele and Rob Kinnon's Life's a Beach, which is their blog from Playa del Carmen. The recycling project there is supported by the hotels and by the people, to the point that the program is now included in the schools.
It has been our experience in Yucatan that whatever the children get behind will be a rousing success, so working with schools should guarantee success from the start. For now, follow the instructions that Rob gave in his blog post and learn all you can about recycling resources in Yucatan.
Niños y Crias has a solid waste management program going on in four beach communities in the Ria Lagartos area. The reports on those projects can be found on their website under Solid Waste Management and Women's Cooperative. Again, these programs exist only in the four beach communities in the Ria Lagartos area, but we are certain that if you e-mail the Executive Director of Niños y Crias, Dr. Rodrigo Migoya von Bertrab (rmigoyaninosycrias.org.mx), he will be happy to give you information about how to start projects in your own beach community. Dr. Migoya von Bertrab both speaks and writes English.
Downs Syndrome Conference To Be Held in Merida
On July 2nd and 3rd, there will be a Down Syndrome conference held at the Convention Center in Merida. The topic is the value of inclusive education for students who were born with Down Syndrome. This is an extremely important conference for anyone who has a child with Downs Syndrome or who may be associated with a child with Down Syndrome. This is a syndrome, not a disease. These children are bright, happy and deserving of everything that life has to offer, including an education. This conference is open to students, teachers, other professionals, and interested persons. The cost is $150, $200, and $500 pesos respectively. You may register to attend or ask for additional information HERE. They ask that you please register by June 22, as space is limited.
News from Merida English Language Library
Be sure and check out the M.E.L.L. Store for tee-shirts, aprons and book bags. They also have fabric shopping bags for $50 pesos. Remember, the banning of plastic bags has already begun in Mexico City and is expected here within the year, so now is the time to start using a fabric shopping bag from M.E.L.L.
Also, the Women's Book Club selections for June is "Portrait in Sepia;" for July, "What the Psychic Tole the Pilgrim" by Jane Christmas, or "Truth and Beauty" by Ann Patchett; and for August, "History of Love" by Nicole Krauss.
Don't forget the regular services you'll find at M.E.L.L., such as access to the internet (10 pesos per hour) and the world famous free community bulletin board, plus much much more! Go to M.E.L.L.'s website to download the latest copy of ‘You've Got M.E.L.L.’ this and every month!
If you are a member of M.E.L.L., please access the website and take the survey so that the library can continue to meet the needs of its members and the community.
A New Blog From Tekax
Believe it or not, everybody who is looking at Mexico, as a potential place to visit or live, is not in search of a beach. We recently stumbled upon what appears to be a locally-created blog and website about the historic city of Tekax. Load up Babelfish and take a look.
Some of the pages are just for fun, like this page of great photoshopped photos but some of the pages have some good information about Tekax. What we love are the locally produced videos (in Spanish) that show the surrounding area. The interior of the state has been quietly coming into its own in recent years and has much to offer the tourist and the potential expat. We hope you enjoy their blog and take a little time to visit there.
Blah Blah Blah
If you haven’t been privileged to be on Monique DuVal’s mailing list in the past, now is your chance. This creative and inspiring woman lives here in Merida, is mother to two beautiful nonstop boys, runs a bakery (more on that in a minute) and still manages to write emails that make you stop and go hmmmm….! The reason, of course, for the emails is to deliver her menu of scrumptious and custom-baked breads and other delicious things… things that make you go YUM!
IF you don’t get inspired by her poetic rantings, then surely reading about Conical Cornbread Muffins, Joyful Falafel, Gorgonzola and Walnut Bread or Thai Vegetarian Pizza will make your day. The creative names are good but the food, from bread to pizza to sauces, granola, pasta and more, is even better. Monique has even perfected the baking of sourdough bread (our favorite). We’re also fans of her Manna bread, made only with germinated wheat berries, carrots and raisins… it’s SO healthy!
If you’re looking for good healthy food, especially fresh-baked bread, go to Monique’s bakery in Chuburná and stock up. For the summer, she only bakes on Fridays… sign up for Monique's e-menu + "blah blah" and put your orders in by emailing her at email@example.com.
The second source for bread is a bakery we haven't checked out yet, but is one that comes highly recommended by other expats. El Aleman is located in a new shopping plaza just two blocks north of Office Depot, and is operated by an extranjero named Bernhardt. He bakes 100% organic German-style breads. We encourage you to check it out… we plan to!
Are you on Facebook? Yucatan Living has a page and invites you to become a fan. Yucatan Living events and news related to the website will be announced there. Also, there are discussions on services and service providers that are relevant to the extranjero community in the Yucatan. Come join us!! Find the Yucatan Living Facebook page here. Do you Twitter? You can follow us on Twitter too. Just search for and follow “Yucatanliving”.