News Starting June 07, 2010
A New Oil Spill Model With Implications for Yucatan
On Saturday, June 5, 2010, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, along with the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, both in Colorado, released a new computer model of the ocean currents likely to carry the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill into the Atlantic Ocean IF the Loop Currents break in one of a number of patterns they are modeling. The research is being underwritten by the National Science Foundation. This Computer Model is not a guarantee of what will happen. It shows what could happen, i.e. that Deepwater Horizon oil has the potential to have an affect on the coastline of the U.S. as far north as North Carolina. What concerns us here in the Yucatan is the chance of a break-away loop current, shown in the model, that has the potential to place a significant amount of oil very near, if not actually on, the eastern coast of the State of Yucatan. In the map below, you can see that the southernmost yellow area touches the Yucatan Peninsula at it’s easternmost tip, in the Isla Holbox area.
This is the very area where our lobster fishermen will be desperately trying to recoup some of the money lost last year during the H1N1 scare and the worldwide global economic crisis. The amount of oil that could reach us is very light, but pollution is pollution and this stuff is toxic to animals and humans. So far, the model is only projected for 132 days from the date of the spill. And these are projections, not predictions. Only time and weather will tell if it is correct or if the currents will keep the oil confined within the northern Gulf Coast area, but the waiting is even more heart-wrenching as the children of Progreso march for World Environment Day, dedicating themselves to taking better care of the world in which they live while, at the same time, the equivalent of a deadly environmental bomb could be racing toward the only life they have ever known.
In addition, it has now been announced that the 5 East Coast Mexican states are now monitoring their waters for any sign of oil heading for their beaches, fisheries and/or wildlife habitats.
We just spent some time on the Yucatan Gulf Coast recently, enjoying the vast expanses of white sandy beach, quiet waters and the views of many different kinds of birds flying overhead. We’re crossing our fingers (what else can we do?) that this beautiful coastline can maintain its pristine beauty in the face of this latest disaster.
At least 100 communities in Guatemala have been badly affected by Tropical Storm Agatha. Major problems there include not only damaged and destroyed homes, but worse… bridges, beans and corn have been destroyed, along with the lives of more than 100 storm victims. There is an immediate need for relief in both Guatemala and in El Salvador. Since hurricane season is just beginning, one can only imagine what kind of devastation will take place in these small, defenseless nations by the time winter arrives. If you would like to help in the relief effort following the devastation caused by Tropical Storm Agatha, please choose only 4-star rated charities from search results on Charity Navigator using keyword searches for Guatemala and El Salvador. You can also get in touch with expats living in Guatemala and expats living in El Salvador through their blogs to ask how you can better direct your efforts.
Lobster Season Begins July 1
Millions of pesos and tens of thousands of families depend on the lobster catch in Yucatan each year. The season runs from July 1 through February 28, with the catch first sold to Cancun and the rest sold to local markets. Yucatan’s lobsters are not yet exported because there are not sufficient numbers caught to support a stable export market. Minimum tail size is again 13.5 cm. The major lobster fishing towns in the State of Yucatan are: San Felipe, Rio Lagartos, Dzilam Bravo and El Cuyo. That photo on the right? It’s a TIME/LIFE photo from 1964 of a Mexican fisherman catching lobster in the Yucatan… obviously they have been doing this for awhile. We know we probably don’t have to say this, but we encourage you to go down to the beach and eat some lobster… and support the local fisherman!
Merida In The News: Christian Science Monitor
On June 4, an article entitled Mexico drug war doesn’t stop Americans from moving south of the border. The article features comments by a number of expats, Working Gringos included, who adamantly testify that they feel safe and welcome in Yucatan. All say that the ultimate reason for moving to Yucatan is because of the people themselves. Folks who are thinking of moving should know that they have a variety of lifestyles available to them, from colonial homes to ultra modern apartments; from streets like Calle 53 in “Gringo Gulch”, where on one block all but 2 homes are occupied by expats, to quite ordinary neighborhoods in which a newcomer might be the only gringo for blocks or miles. Residents in Merida can choose from colonial, urban, village, beach, or quite rural sites. There really is something for everyone in Yucatan! When the Christian Science Monitor first called to ask for help in researching this article, we were thrilled that there might be some positive press about Mexico for a change. We’re glad to see they were as good as their word!
2010 Turtle Nest Warning
The nesting season for turtles begins at the end of May and runs until November 30. Everyone is asked to please call the police if you find a turtle nest. They will get in touch with the proper authorities and get the eggs removed to one of two local centers designed to hatch the baby turtles and feed them for two weeks so they will have a better chance of survival in the open sea.
When their time comes to head off to their new life, it has become a tradition to allow the very small children of Yucatan to set them free. In this way, the next generation of environmental protectors is born as well. What officials also want to stress is the fact that no one is to keep one of the baby turtles or capture an adult turtle. The penalty is more than 20 years in prison. Also, do not drive a vehicle or a motorized toy on the beach. That also puts turtle nests at risk and carries a huge fine, as well as confiscation of the vehicle. Signs to that effect may or may not be visible, but the law is in place and it will be enforced.
Just watch out for the turtles and have a great summer!
These Are Yucatan’s Children: A Drawing Contest
This year’s environmental awareness drawing contest is underway. Participants are between the ages of 6 and 12. In a previous contest, the winner drew a stylized tree, with a broken branch that had one large leaf on it. And on that leaf the child had drawn a single wing. The caption says: “Breaking a branch on a tree is like breaking an angel’s wing.”
We can hardly wait to see what the winner comes up with this year.
Battle of the Teenage Bands
The world is changing. Young people are no longer needed to work their parents fields… not in developed countries and, increasingly, not in Mexico either. Yet, the fact remains, boys between the ages of 12 and 18 are walking mountains of energy that has to go somewhere. Merida has a program to direct that energy in a positive way called “Youth Expression,” sponsored by the DIF of the Municipality of Merida.
Last Friday, they held a Battle of the Bands at the beginning of Paseo de Montejo. Congratulations to the winning band, Aphortiori, and to the other participating bands: Delirium, Faiman, Vortigern, Urban Legend Vampires, La Loca Esther and Freedom Chained. If anyone hears of any of these young groups playing in a local venue or neighborhood park, please go out and support them. They work very hard and are sure to be a joy to experience.
Mexico Continues to Fight Diabetes
New statistics show that 74,000 Mexicans die, every year, due to diabetes and its complications. This is not surprising because Mexico is only barely behind the U.S. in its comfortable, middle-class lifestyle. To make matters worse, Mexico is now seeing children as young as 10 years of age developing not the Type I diabetes usually associated with their age group, but the Type II diabetes most often associated with middle-aged and older adults.
No one wants to go back to the days of plowing fields with a mule, hoeing by hand, and harvesting with a machete. No one wants to give up their air-conditioner, their gas grill and their self-propelled lawn mower. Unfortunately, that means that there must be a huge change in lifestyle and eating and exercise habits in both the United States and in Mexico. Mexico has actually decided to rebuild its culture in a way that leaves no room for one of modern man’s most debilitating disorders and is starting many programs to encourage exercise and correct eating habits. This can only be good news for all of us.
Beignets and Buñuelos
Probably one of the traits that has contributed over the years to the bad news in the previous story is the love of all things sweet in Mexico. Imagine our surprise this weekend when, reading recipes from Huevos Kaki, we discovered a recipe for Buñuelos that looks suspiciously like our hometown favorite, the Louisiana French Creole Beignet.
Of course, we have to remember that these cultures (and more) had an opportunity to share their best as they passed through the Caribbean on their way to the New World. According to Wikipedia, buñuelos are known to be Spanish origin, though they most likely originally originated with Sephardic Jews or Arabs. Honestly, just reading about all the different ways people make them will make your mouth water.
So, click on those links above. Make a few beignets and buñuelos – then let us know if you think they are almost the same as well! And now, who’s going to make the cafe au lait?
Best Blog This Week: Jose Ic Xec
Jose Ic Xec works for El Diario. His blog is called How I Say It Without Crying and we don’t see how you can read it without being touched. He is a Catholic, but you need not be Catholic to enjoy his work. He is a parent, but you need not be a parent either. He is an educator and a philosopher worthy of note, and all you have to bring to the table is an open mind and a sense of humor. If you are like us, you’ll have to use Google Translate to get the gist of what he is saying… and even then, you know, it’s not perfect. But we find it interesting to read the thoughts of someone from a culture that is so near, and yet so far, from our own. We hope you enjoy it too.
Illegal Weapons In Mexico
April 30, 2010: Felipe Calderon spoke to the U.S. Congress, told them of 23,000 dead so far from the more than 75,000 (!!) illegal weapons seized in Mexico and asked that they please help to stop the flow of illegal weapons crossing the border. For those of you not familiar with Mexico, we would like to point out that it is illegal to own a gun in Mexico, unless you use it to hunt for food. Even in that case, the ammunition is tightly controlled and each gun owner is only allowed so many bullets per year. So if there are guns in Mexico, they aren’t coming from stores in Mexico… there are none!
One Month and 2 days later: June 2, 2010: The largest weapons cache in years was seized in Laredo. The weapons and ammunition, in a truck, bound for Mexico, included: 147 new, boxed assault rifles, 200 high-capacity magazines, 53 bayonets and 10,000 rounds of ammunition.
Here’s another interesting trend: in Mexico, the level of violence around the drug war and narcotrafficking drugs to the United States is rising. In the United States, a growing number of state legislatures and citizen referendums working to legalize marijuana in various ways. We don’t have any intelligent conclusions to write about here… we’re just watching and wondering where it will all lead.