Yucatan News: Olympic Wrapup & More
Henry Cejudo Wins Gold Medal
As far as we know, Henry Cejudo is not only the first Mexican-American son of undocumented migrants to win a gold medal in the Olympic Games, but is also the youngest gold medal winner in U.S. wrestling history. This 121 lb, 21 year old Olympian has not had an easy time in life. His father was in and out of prison and died before Henry got a chance to visit with him. According to Henry’s sister, Gloria, their mother did not make the trip because (in spite of what the rumor mill says), Henry’s competitions make her so nervous that she spends the entire time suffering with nausea in the ladies’ room. Two days of that when Henry was in competition in Las Vegas taught her a lesson and she understandably opted out of this trip. Bless her heart. His mother, now a legal resident and working toward becoming a U.S. citizen, will be the eventual winner of this gold medal… just as soon as her son can get it home and present it to her. Our congratulations to Henry Cejudo, to his mother and siblings, and to his trainer and team.
Mexico’s Taekwondo Gold
Mexico won some impressive Olympic Gold Medals during the 2008 Summer Olympics. Guillermo Perez, from the State of Michoacan, has won gold in overtime and by a decision, rather than by points. It looks as if this was an even match between Perez and the Dominican Republic’s Gabriel Mercedes, right down to the last second of overtime. And Maria Espinoza also won a gold medal for Taekwondo, making Mexico the de facto Taekwondo Capital of the World. Congratulations to Guillermo Perez and Maria Espinoza and to the people of Michoacan, Sonora and all of Mexico!
A Must Read Article About Dr. Gordon Crofoot
Many of our readers and residents are familiar with Brazos Abiertos, a local program that speaks to the needs of HIV/AIDS patients throughout our state, but we do not often know very much about the individuals who create and manage such wonderful programs year after year. The Houston Chronicle has published an excellent article about one of the creators of Brazos Abiertos. Dr. Gordon Crofoot is one of the most successful physicians in Houston, yet he still takes the time to lecture and teach on the importance of education, with respect to HIV/AIDS, and to consult with the young professionals who operate our own Brazos Abiertos. Thanks to Dr. Gordon Crofoot, and Merida’s own tireless and talented John Truax (former owner of Angeles de Merida B&B), HIV/AIDS patients, in Yucatan, are no longer outcasts and many are able to live full and happy lives. Please take the time to read about the man who brought logic and humanity to the treatment of HIV/AIDS in Yucatan, Dr. Gordon Crofoot.
Water Safety: Death of Bertrand Castelli
Please – during these last few days of vacation – be extra careful when swimming off the coast. As most of you know by now, over the course of the past two weeks, at least two people have died on the beach at Progreso when they were not sober enough to be in the water. Now, Bertrand Castelli, the producer of the Broadway hit Hair was killed in a hit-and-run boating accident near Cancun on August 1. Castelli had lived at a hotel near where he died for the past 15 years and swam in the waters near his home in complete safety every single day. But tourist numbers are increasing, as well as the number of boats in the water. To make matters worse – its the size and speed of all of the water toys that drives the marketplace now… and they are deadly. Again… please be careful when any other boats or water toys are in the areas where you swim; and please – please – never attempt to mix alcohol with a swim on our beaches. Our sympathies are with the Castelli family during this time of their enormous loss.
Found! Part of the Road to Xibalba?
As archaeologists explore the network of caves recently found in the southern part of our state, it is believed that the 330 ft. piece of road they found is not only part of an underground roadway linking 11 Mayan temples together, but is also part of what the Mayans believed to be the road to the underworld of Xibalba. This road was said to be blocked by all manner of perils, including scorpions and deadly rivers. Excavations now show that the culture associated with these caves extends back at least 1,900 years, if not more. With the new southern highway soon to be complete, we expect that the southern area of our state is going to see boom times in eco-tourism and historical research for many years to come.
Reforestation: Making It Personal
Through the office of the Secretaría de Fomento Agropecuario y Pesquero, a new course is going to be taught to citizens of rural Yucatan. In some out-of-the-way places, reforestation is going slowly because the people seem to not clearly understand the value of trees to them and to their community. We certainly understand. When the job is so huge, individuals begin to feel as if their contribution is very small and often of little consequence. Since an appeal to protecting the environment and the health of individuals doesn’t always work as a motivator for change (look at how many of us are still smokers!), the new course places an equal emphasis on the value of reforestation to the new industry of eco-tourism (which provides jobs) and, the value of cedar and mahogany trees as a long-term family investment account (of sorts) for lower income families. It is expected that bringing home the value of reforestation to the individual and his or her own family will go a long way in helping change behaviors related to the preservation of Yucatan’s forests.
La Palma de Coco
Do you have a coconut tree at your house? The State of Yucatan is moving into coconut production in a big way. Today, there are only 280 hectares of coconut palms in Yucatan, but that will soon change. The new goal is 30,000 hectares! This comes on the heels of recognition that this particular tree is one of the 10 best trees in the world because there is a profit to be made from every single part of it. As of now, there are more than 350 known products and byproducts from the coconut tree. Read more about it here, then plant your own and enjoy the fruits from your own palma de coco. A word to the wise: Always be sure, if possible, to plant an equal number of palmas de coco inside your walls for you and outside your walls for your neighbors and passersby.
Pitahaya Now Grown Commercially in Yucatan
If you don’t already have at least one Pitahaya growing on a back wall somewhere, you should really get one. If planted away from a wall, they tend to become very large and reminiscent of something alien that (in the movies) ate a really big city north of the border. However, if you grow yours attached to a concrete wall, it will provide many years of beautiful flowers and fruit, as well as a year-round green adornment for a less than attractive blank wall. Do make sure that your Pitahaya drapes back into your own yard, as the thorns can injure passersby on sidewalks and in neighboring yards. There are currently 6 national organizations that support the commercial growth of Pitahaya. At this time, in all 6 organizations, Yucatan takes first place in flavor, freshness, and presentation. While the fruit contains no fat, it does contain fiber, calcium, phosphorus, protein and carbohydrates. The pulp contains a substance called captina that acts as a tonic for the heart and as a tranquilizer for the nerves. It is also effective in soothing the symptoms of gastritis and the seeds contain an oil that is a natural laxative. Pitahaya is now grown commercially by 391 Yucateco farmers on about 200 hectares, with an approximate annual harvest of up to 1,200 tons. With our First Place standing in the production of Pitahaya, the State is moving to support the ability of the farmers to compete successfully in the national market. Skills necessary to grow your own: None! Yucatan was made for the Pitahaya, so enjoy!
Lobsters in Yucatan
From the Office of the Secretary of Rural and Fishing Promotion: This year’s lobster season, in Yucatan, lasts from July 1, 2008, until February 28, 2009. A total of 24 large fishing boats and 500 smaller boats participate in the harvest, along with 1,268 fishermen on board. The main municipalities where lobster are captured are San Felipe, Ria Lagartos, Dzilam Bravo, and El Cuyo. The majority of our exported lobsters go to the United States, Japan, and Spain. The Mexican areas that import our lobsters include: the Mayan Riviera, Puerto Vallarta, Colima, Veracruz, and Cd. De Mexico. In 2007, Yucatan’s fishermen captured 290.7 tons of lobster at an average price of $400 to $450 MXP per kilo. The lobster catch is the third fishing catch in importance for our state, following closely behind mero (grouper), first, and calamar (squid), second. The minimum length allowed for a captured lobster is 13.5 cm.
Korean-Mexicans Visit Southern California
We are so pleased to see that young people in Mexico are taking an interest in who they are today and where their ethnic roots lie. uch is certainly the case with the Korean-Mexicans in Yucatan. Recently, a group of Korean-Mexicans went to Linwood, CA, to meet with other Korean-Americans and Korean-Mexican-Americans. Most have lost their Korean language skills, but none have lost their ethnic pride and were thrilled to find others who are “just like them.” Read the story of this meeting here and view pictures here. Yucatan currently has an Asociación de Descendientes Coreanos en Yucatán, KORYUC, A.C., as well as the Museo Conmemorativo de la Inmigración Coreana. They have a website here complete with names, addresses, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses here: http://www.mcicy.com/contac.html
A New Eco-Blog from Costa Rica
We recently were made aware of a new blog, written from Costa Rica and supported by Nature Air, which is Costa Rica’s airline and the only carbon neutral airline in the world. There are a number of posts to the Nature Air blog that might be of interest to our readers, so we thought we would give you a link and see what you think.
Mexico: Licensing of Real Estate Professionals
We are coming up on an historical event. On August 27, more than 400 real estate agents, throughout the nation, will sit for the first ever Mexican real estate licensing exam. Real estate was defined as a profession last year by Mexico’s Department of Education and there will soon be a fully accredited college degree program available. At the present time, there is still no official requirement to sit for the new exam, but it has been suggested that doing business with a licensed real estate broker will be one more step in the now very active development of consumer protection in Mexico. The exam is supported by the Mexican Association of Real Estate Professionals.
Tulum: Oldest Woman Found!
Anthropologists and archaeologists have found the remains of a 45 year old woman in the watery caves near Tulum. It is currently believed that she died 13,600 years ago. This makes her 1,000 years older than the lady who was found in the northern part of Mexico. As equipment and technology take huge leaps forward, these “finds” are coming ever more quickly. We can only hope that as many as possible can be discovered before the pressures of tourism and global climate change destroy them forever.
The Tulum Eco-Hotel Closure Debate
As charges against the government (and Patricio Patrón Laviada in particular) continue to abound, we went in search of the actual documentation concerning this event. What we found is that the State initially gave clear title to both the hotel owners and to the National Park Service – and the hotel owners knew that when they bought the property. From documents we found, these hotels, along with quite a few others in other parts of the country, were declared to be incompatible with environmental concerns and ordered to be shut down years ago, some since as early as 1994. When the decree and ownership issues were never enforced, hotel owners developed a false sense of security, believing their operations would never be called into question. Then, the new PROFEPA Attorney General, Patricio Patrón Laviada, inherited the job, along with paperwork on a number of controversial issues. He sent a warning to the hotel owners, who did nothing because they never had to do anything in the past. Patrón Laviada carried out the order to shut them down. It was as simple as that. Both sides thought, and still think, that they are in the right. …and now the controversy over who actually owns the property – and what they will be allowed to do with it - will be settled where it should have been settled all along – in the courts. We are not attempting to champion either our former governor or the hotel owners. What we are attempting to do is recommend that, when controversy arises, it is better to go to the source, i.e. the real legal documents, rather than head off on “gotcha” tangents drawn by either side.
In addition, we also looked at the current seizure of guayacán wood in Dzitya, - a move that is also being touted as a sinister plot by PROFEPA and Patricio Patrón Laviada. In truth, it looks as if the seizure of this particular wood is a function of where the wood was cut. In some areas, including a large area near the border between Yucatan and Quintana Roo, these trees are protected by the Federal Government. Thus far, seizures of guayacán have been carried out in only 7 of 27 workshops. Meetings will be held soon to resolve this issue.
In the coming weeks, we are going to bring you a full story on the activities of a group called Proyecto Itzaes. his is a literacy program going on in 6 towns in Yucatan that we think our readers will be interested in supporting. It seems that this program is so successful that it is creating students who are being accepted into UADY but cannot attend because they don’t have bus fare to get there. We are going to do a little brainstorming on this issue and see what we can come up with. All suggestions are definitely encouraged!
Pope John Paul II: Izamal: August 11, 1993
Has it been 15 years since Pope John Paul II visited Izamal? But, in some ways, it seems as if he is still there. Certainly, he is in the hearts and minds of the people of Izamal, and in the memory of all who see the statue that has been erected in his likeness. Whether one is a Catholic or not… or even if one is “spiritual but not religious,” a trip to Izamal to see the people’s Pope is well worth the time and effort. There are precious few meaningful events in life these days and we congratulate the people of Izamal on this, the 15th Anniversary of the visit of Papa Juan Pablo II, who will live on as long as the memory of those who were there when he gave his blessing to their city.
Not the News We Want to Hear
Last week, twelve headless corpses were discovered just outside of Merida in the town of Chi Chi Suarez, which is located outside the Periferico to the east. Undoubtedly linked to the narcotrafficking that goes on in, around and through Mexico, these murders were the most violent indication of the drug war's presence here in the Yucatan that this state has ever seen. We realize that as law-abiding residents, we are not in any undue danger, but still, it's not the kind of thing we like to see going on around us. Neither do the hundreds of thousands of people who marched in Mexico City, Guadalajara, and other cities around Mexico yesterday. 4500 people marched last night here in Merida. We are all pulling for the Mexican government to crack down on those who are breaking the law.
So far in 2008, the Yucatan has been spared the ravages of a hurricane. We are of course watching HurricaneGustav's progress as it makes it's terrible way up towards our sister city, New Orleans. Our hearts go out to our brothers andsisters across the Gulf, and we hope that Gustav loses steam before he reaches their shores. Of course, September is just beginning, so we'll be watching those satellite maps for at least another month to come.
Welcome IFSA-Butler Students!
This past Monday, a new course of study began at UADY, and all 18 students were Americans from such prestigious universities as Northwestern, Brown, Gettysburg, Barnard and Tufts, among others. Through the years, the Institute for Studies Abroad has worked with UADY to bring more than 300 American students to UADY to study in such disciplines as Anthropological Sciences, Psychology, Education, Accounting and Administration, Architecture, and Mathematics. Now, these courses will continue as part of a formalized program of study under the umbrella of IFSA-Butler. If we are going to have a true global marketplace, we had better have the trained professionals available to move from one place to another – successfully – in such a brave new world. Congratulations to UADY, to IFSA-Butler, and to all the other universities who are giving their students this opportunity of a lifetime.
Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruises, and Progreso
It seems that a bit of dredging needs to be completed at the curve of the dock in Progreso in order for Royal Caribbean’s ships to continue docking there next year. Negotiations are underway to see that the project is complete by the end of the first half of 2009. Carnival needs no additional accommodations and will continue to dock next year as usual. This means continued growth for Progreso and a better financial future for Yucatan as a whole.
UADY Education Majors
At the present time, there are 35 Yucateco communities that are in such rural locations they have never been able to belong to the State Department of Education. As a result, unless they send their children to live with relatives or friends, there simply has been no education available for them. Last year, however, we began to report on young people, mostly education majors, working as teachers’ aides and tutors. Their work has been successful beyond anyone’s dreams. This year, that concept has expanded and 61 education majors are preparing to take over the development of schools in those 35 outlying communities. Job requirements: (1) be willing to work far from home; (2) be willing to teach and tutor long hours; (3) be willing to take a 77 consecutive week crash course in teaching; and (4) continue with their regular curriculum at the university. 61 students have taken on this task and will, in all likelihood, never be sympathetic to anyone who whines about how hard it was to graduate from college. They are also quite likely, in 10 to 20 years, to be large and in charge of Yucatan’s education system… and deservedly so! Best wishes to them all and to their lucky lucky students!
Trickle Down Economics
In the United States, oil and gasoline prices have been going up and many people have stopped buying second vehicles and stopped going anywhere that isn't necessary. People are too busy trying to feed their families and pay their mortgages to take on yet another job to feed yet another car or truck. Automobile dealers have begun to feel the pinch and now Mexico is going to feel it too. France’s Michelin Tire Company was going to locate their newest truck tire plant in Mexico but has scrapped those plans because of low demand for truck tires in North America.
Mexico is Still the Prize!
What is it that the real estate professionals say? The value of property lies in Location Location Location? …and, right now, Mexico has got the perfect location! It seems as if the high price of shipping is having quite an effect on global imports these days, with the U.S. beginning to turn to Mexico as a trading partner, rather than to China. The cost of shipping is not lost on the Chinese either and they too are looking toward Mexico. With new highways and new ports, Mexico is in the perfect position now to reclaim their old American customers, as well as their new Chinese investors. The next five years will be interesting as Mexico once again redefines herself.