News starting August 24, 2009
El Zamná: Ship of Peace
A year ago, the Island of Cozumel agreed to sponsor a project designed to promote international tourism to this area. It is a new concept, fully supported by the United Nations and fully funded by the industrialist Manuel Diaz Rubio. The ship was built and originally docked at the Port of Alvarado in Veracruz. After a brief stop in Yucalpeten, the ship is making its way to Cozumel and, from there, will leave for a 5 month trip that will include Miami, as its first stop, and then on to ports throughout Europe and as far away as Greece. The program the ship will be carrying is called The Boy, The Sea and The Peace. A young boy will ride with this ship to hand carry a message of peace to 16 ports throughout the 15,000 nautical mile voyage of El Zamná. No one knows yet which of the 4 finalists will be chosen to be the boy who makes this trip, but you can be certain that this will be the trip of a lifetime. Read more about this amazing 3-hulled, wooden trimaran ship, along with even more details of this wonderful adventure on This is Cozumel.
American Legion in Mexico & Central America
The American Legion – Department of Mexico serves American veterans in Mexico and throughout Central America. There is an American Legion post in most of the larger cities and expat areas in Mexico, but there is not one in the southeastern part of the country. If you are a veteran and would be interested in starting an American Legion post in Yucatan, you may learn more about this wonderful organization and get in touch with them by visiting the American Legion – Department of Mexico website.
The Ramon Tree: An Important Short Movie
Everyone knows about Ramon trees in Yucatan. They grow everywhere and will attain heights of up to 120 feet. Sadly, the pressure to abandon traditional methods of farming in favor of deforestation and continuous use of fields has now put the Ramon tree in danger. With new information about the healthy benefits of the Ramon nut (read Stalking the Wild Ramon Nut) it is time to rethink the value of the Ramon tree and take steps to treat this valuable resource as a crop rather than as “just” another tree. Please watch this important short movie to learn more about Yucatan’s Ramon tree. And then tell all your Yucatecan and Mayan friends!
How To Tell When The Crisis is Over
Later this month, General Motors will increase its production of pickup trucks at its plant in Silao from 40 to 45 per hour and hire 140 new workers. In Ramos Arizpe, GM will increase production of Chevrolet Chevys from 12 to 22 per hour, and the production line that produces Chevrolet HHR, Chevrolet Captiva and Cadillac SRX will increase from 34 to 49 per hour. That plant will hire an additional 300 workers. GM is banking on the fact that the U.S. recession is thought to be nearing its end and the Cash for Clunker’s program is providing incentive to purchase new automobiles. It looks as if the darkest days of the recession are over and blue skies are not far ahead for the U.S. The sun is already shining in Mexico!
The Guayabera Dispute
Did you know that Cuba claims to be the origin of the guayabera shirt? Supposedly, in the 18th century, a Spanish tailor embroidered the first of these shirts for a wealthy landowner. Farmers copied it and added pockets so they could carry guava fruit. They claim that Yucatan got the guayabera from Cuban tourists. Merida claims it originated in Yucatan. Whatever the origin, this shirt has given the wearer a look of distinction and a feeling of power for over 200 years. Who could have imagined that the guayabera shirt would still be featured on fashion blogs in the 21st century!
Turtle Lays Eggs at Hotel Coastal Club of Isstey
As hotel guests watched, a turtle came out of the water and spent a full 2 hours laying 136 eggs on the beach in front of the Hotel Coastal Club of the Institute of Social Security of the Workers of the State of Yucatan. Cetmar specialists were immediately called and removed the eggs as soon as the mother turtle re-entered the water. 60 days from now, children will be allowed to release the baby turtles to the sea. This particular hotel is a wonderful place where children who have suffered abuse and other vulnerable populations can enjoy swimming in the pool at the vacation center or just playing on the beach. The director said that the beach is open to the public but special care is taken for those workers and their families who need a rest from the stress of daily life. They will be hosting a fishing tournament on the 5th and 6th of September that might be of interest to some of our beach folks. You can find out more about it on the ISSTEY website.
Mexico City – Gone Green
There was plenty of warning that this was going to happen. As of last Wednesday, stores in Mexico City may not give out plastic bags unless they are biodegradable. There is a world wide movement to ban the manufacture of plastic bags unless they are biodegradable. But that’s not all that Mexico City is doing. They are now getting ready to place over 1,100 bicycles at 114 stations throughout the city for the use of citizens, in an effort to curb air pollution. They will gradually increase that to 6,000 bikes at 400 stations. This is a program that is being taken world wide by Clear Channel Outdoor, a company based in San Antonio, Texas, that recently opened another ShareBike program in Kayseri, Turkey. It is amazing that a city of 19 million people can outlaw smoking in public buildings and restaurants, and non-biodegradable plastic bags, and actually make it stick. China is trying, but not having much luck – even though they are imposing hefty fines. Mexico tends to grab hold of an idea and weave it into the very fabric of society. Such is the case with environmental issues and green living topics. Look for non-biodegradable plastic bags laws to come to Yucatan soon. Why not shop now for nifty, environmentally friendly shopping bags of your own? In fact, why not buy one from Yucatan Living? You can get your environmentally-friendly canvas bag with the Yucatan Living logo here.
New Bus Fares Begin August 23
Beginning August 23, students, the elderly, young people who have graduated from secondary school and are looking for a job, and families in critical economic conditions will pay 3 pesos to ride the bus. Those who are disabled will get a smart card and will ride both busses and taxis for free. These reduced social tariffs will be implemented in a step-wise manner as the different groups register with the city. The rest of us will pay 5 to 6 pesos to ride the bus. This is hardly a bank-account buster and should pose no problem even for those expats who choose not to own a vehicle.
Funny Economic Headlines
Thankfully, the Mexican economy seems to be headed back in the right direction well ahead of her neighbor to the north, but there are still some very interesting headlines that blazed across our desk all in the same day. Take a look:
- Mexico suffers amid U.S. recession.
- Coca-Cola Partners to Invest $5 Billion in Mexico.
- Mexico Posts Biggest Quarterly GDP Contraction in Three Decades.
- Mexico Rated Top Pick for Latin Equities at JP Morgan
She’s down! She’s UP! She’s down! She’s UP! In reality, Mexico did suffer greatly for a short while this year, but her economy is chugging right along and she is doing right well, thank you very much.
Slow Food Movement Comes to Yucatan
What is Slow Food? It´s an international, nonprofit, member-supported organization based in Italy. Its goal? To promote local production of food, to preserve regional culinary traditions, and to bring “healthy eating” back into focus. Please join us and become a part of Slow Food Yucatan. Basic membership is $35 euros per year (around $500 pesos) but there´s an option for a more economical alternative (about $100 pesos) per year. Go to www.slowfood.com and click on JOIN US. Select the country of “Mexico” and then specify your membership type. The next form will give you a choice to select a Convivium. At the moment, you can’t choose “Yucatan”, so just let the system choose for you, and send an email to Monique (at moniqueduval [at] aol [dot] com) with your name, address and email, telling her that you have joined. Your membership will automatically be directed to Slow Food Yucatán. You may also write to Monique with any questions you have. Working Gringa has joined this group and hopes everyone else will join as well.
Monique also has a few new items in her Summer food extra menu of the week:
“Old World” Cheese Pie. Fresh cheese curds, whipped with eggs, vanilla, lemon and sugar. Baked to golden brown. Simple and delicious. Contains no flour! $25 per slice
Whole wheat “pound cake” made with eggs, whole wheat, milk and sugar. $100 per loaf.
We also recommend that you write to Monique and get yourself put on her “blah blah + menu” newsletter list. She is one of the funniest observers of life we have read in a very long time and one of our favorites. We hope that you will support Monique and any others who are bringing fresh, wholesome, handmade food to the Yucatan.
Mexico Decriminalizes Small Amounts of Drugs
In a bold move, the Mexican government passed a law decriminalizing what they are calling “personal amounts” of drugs, and at the same time, gave state and local police the ability to arrest and incarcerate dealers with larger amounts (REALLY big hauls still have to be handled by the federal police). Now, anyone caught with a half-gram of cocaine (the equivalent of about four lines), 5 grams of marijuana (about four cigarettes), 50 milligrams of heroin (we have no idea…), 40 milligrams of methamphetamine (nor this…) or 0.015 milligrams of LSD (we think this might cover the head of a pin…) will not bring any jail time. You can read more about it on DrugPolicy.org.
ONLY Certified Seller of Habanos Cuban Cigars
Last Friday, our friends at Mercer Cigars were awarded with a special certification from Habanos, the Cuban cigar manufacturer that makes Cohiba cigars (among others). You know those nice boxes of cigars with a glass window that people try to sell you in the main square? Those aren’t Cuban cigars, but cheap imitations from Veracruz. Irene Ladrón Guevara from Habanos came to Merida specifically to award this certification and assure us that Mercer Cigars is the ONLY place in the entire state of Yucatan that sells the real thing (There are also certified dealers in Playa del Carmen and Cancun, but after that, the closest certified dealer is in Mexico City). For Cohibas and other great Cuban cigars, visit Mercer Cigars on Prolongacion Paseo de Montejo near La Parilla or visit their website.