Yucatan News: Oranges and Greased Pigs
Señor Amor Nominated to Latin American Composers' Hall of Fame
If you have ever been to Merida, you have either seen the great Armando Manzanero sing, or you have attended an event in the theater that bears his name. What we'll bet you didn't know is that Armando Manzanero is one of the greatest of all Latin composers. His songs have been performed by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Tony Bennet and from Elvis Presley to Christina Aguilera. Armando Manzanero was even featured in a duet with Placido Domingo when he came to sing at Chichen Itza. You can check the video here. There is a list of 24 candidates for the first five Latin composers to ever be inducted into this new Hall of Fame and we are quite certain that Yucatan's own Armando Manzanero will be one of the five!
Weird But True: Biofuel from Seaweed
It has been confirmed, by the Mayor of Valladolid, that an Asian company, based in England, will soon begin to produce jet fuel and biodiesel from seaweed in pools located on 30 hectares between two power plants approximately 7 km outside of Valladolid. The land is located near the town of Pixoy and, currently, can only be reached by bicycle. CFE experts have already conducted a feasibility study and the investors are already working with the State Government. This helps answer the question of what to do with the carbon dioxide released from the Felipe Carrillo Puerto thermoelectric plant (apparently they will be using it somehow...) and is one more step on the way to a cleaner, safer planet.
The Dragon Mart: New Difficulties in Quintana Roo
For some time now, the Chinese mega-mall known as the Dragon Mart has been in and out of the news. With each new revelation, local attitudes seem to be turning more negative. In cases like this, the usual business scenario is that international mega-business is traded lower tax rates on the purchase of land, as well as lower fees on setup costs and lower operating taxes in exchange for coming in and providing hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs. In the case of the Dragon Mart, the people have learned that all of the tax and fee breaks are slated to be given to the company, while the company is importing 3,000 Chinese workers instead of hiring local workers.
This revelation has pulled politicians, environmentalists, villagers and entrepreneurs together and they are prepared to do everything they can to block any further construction on the Dragon Mart. They are now calling the Dragon Mart a threat to commercial industry because the management of the Dragon Mart has openly said they will not only compete with local business, in all sectors, but that they will bring in workers from around the world, rather than train the local people for jobs. We researched the failure of ChinaMex, in Atlanta, Georgia, where we found what the problem here in Mexico might be. According to Global Atlanta , the problems that arose, and the ultimate failure of that venture, was rooted in the Chinese lack of understanding of the business models of other nations. With new cultural business education programs, it is hoped that China will be able to alter its business trajectory and create business models that will be less damaging to local economies as they expand their international economic reach.
Yard by Yard: Gardens and Chickens
One of the major obstacles to overcoming poverty is the lack of cash to purchase healthy foods in today's modern grocery stores. Many of our expats are involved in food self-sufficiency projects, in rural parts of the state, that are now resulting in excess production sufficient to support any number of local farmers' markets. In a number of outlying towns and villages, school children have been given young chickens and taught to raise them for meat and eggs. Soon, Merida will be following in their footsteps. The Merida City Council just gave over 1,100 chicks to 93 women and, by the end of 2013, it is expected that the southern section of Merida will boast over 300 new backyard gardens. The best part is that classes will be taught in how to bring the chicks from the egg to the table, and gardening classes on all topics of interest will also be ongoing. Maybe this is a good time for all of us to get busy and finally put in that garden that most of us have been promising ourselves we would do for decades. Whether you do or continue to procrastinate, please don't forget to buy local whenever you can!
How To Keep Them Down On the Farm
There was a time, in many nations, when being born an indigenous child meant a lifetime of lost opportunities for education, employment and overall quality of life. Certainly this was the case for quite a few generations of Maya, but the world is changing right before our eyes! This past week, students at the Universidad Tecnologica del Mayab attended a conference, in Telchac Puerto, designed to improve their ability to be successfully self-employed. They discussed how to create productive projects based on the needs of local, regional, national and international markets. During this conference, students, especially those interested in water quality and farming, met with students and teachers from institutions of higher learning at Tabasco, Chiapas, Campeche and Yucatan. Today, any young Maya can choose their own career path but for those who love farming and who want to stay in agriculture and be a part of the worldwide movement toward sustainable farming, the path in Yucatan is open to them all the way through every level of university learning.
Maya Games: Greased Poles and Greased Pigs
With the approach of the end and beginning of the new Maya calendar, INDEMAYA has begun a program to travel around Yucatan state, reintroducing games that have long been forgotten. You might think these would be games none of us have ever played or even knew existed, but that turns out not to be the case. The traditional games include contests with spinning tops, yoyos, kimbomba (pictured here...), sack races, jump ropes, and tug of war. It seems that all things old are becoming new again and we are glad to hear it! But what about those greased poles and greased pigs? Well, it seems that one of the enduring Maya games is called palo y cochino encebado . The game begins with "First you climb a greasy pole" (the winners get a lot of money!), and then you chase a greased pig (winner gets the pig!). The Maya everywhere are asking that all adults support and encourage all of these games, especially when multiple generations are able to share the experience. This is one of the greatest keys to the survival of culture and we all must be mindful of that as we face the beginning of this new era for the world.
Fireworks and Kids
As the New Year celebrations approach, municipalities throughout Yucatan State are working with Civil Protection to keep dangerous fireworks out of the hands of children and to ensure that all fireworks purchased have been bought from licensed dealers. Municipalities, such as Uman, prohibit the sale of explosives to minors and limit the amount of gunpowder (in the form of fireworks) that a vendor can have on hand to a total of 10 kilos . Years ago, we almost hated to see the holidays come because of the injuries and deaths from fireworks. Little by little, such tragedies are no longer happening. No one wants to rain on anyone else's holiday fun, but fireworks in the hands of a child have the potential to ruin everyone's holiday for many years to come. If you are going to mix fireworks with children, please do be carefu. And if you see a vendor selling to minors, please report them to the authorities, for the children's sake. Civil Protection is also teaching fireworks safety programs across Yucatan, so do keep those in mind if you know someone who would benefit from them.
Oxkutzcab: 2012 Orange Festival
When potential expats look at Yucatan, many see only the beach or Merida. A growing number look toward archaeology sites, but only toward the ones that are best known internationally. Those of us who live here look at Yucatan and we see those things and more... including the spring and fall shoe fairs in Ticul, and the Orange Festival in Oxkutzcab. This year, from December 7 through 17, you can see a replica of the Castillo de Chichén Itzá , covered in over 3,000 oranges!! How cool is that? This year, they will also have The World of Ballet dancers performing Beauty and the Beast, and there will be drag racing and fancy motorcycle and modified car exhibitions on Sundays. There will also be exhibitions by Zona Skate , the fabulous skateboarders from Merida. We do hope everyone will take the time to attend the marvelous festivals that take place throughout the State of Yucatan, but especially this one. We would love to see more expats looking toward these areas as potential relocation destinations. Even if you ultimately choose life in the big city or at the beach, Yucatan's Orange Festival, with input from over 80 fruit producers, is well worth a visit - especially on Sundays!
Honey and Transgenic Pollution
This is a bit of a dilemma that may take some time to figure out. First, European markets were guaranteed Yucatecan honey that is free from transgenic pollution. Unfortunately, hundreds of liters of honey were just found to have traces of transgenic pollution. Also unfortunately, Europe has never considered creating a table of acceptable standards for honey so Yucatan's honey industry is trying to determine if a tiny trace renders the entire crop unusable. The second dilemma is to determine where that trace of transgenics came from and whether there is mischief afoot. Transgenics are not supposed to be planted in Yucatan and all crops are guaranteed transgenic free. This time, both instances were found near borders with areas that do allow transgenic crops, which of course brings up an old worry about the impossibility of stopping transgenic crops from circling the globe on their own. Time will tell... but one thing is certain: Yucatan's 11,000 beekeepers are not going to stop until they develop a standard for certification and are able to continue telling the world that their honey is the best in the world.