News Starting June 13, 2011
Is It Rainy Season Yet?
After months of drought, punishing heat, and non-stop wild fires, it has finally rained in Merida. In fact, the rain was more in the category of a “pour” than a “rain,” (almost 50 mm in 3 hours the other day) and the wind blew at 70 miles per hour for at least two of the three and a half hours that the weather event lasted. The situation was bad enough to knock down huge overhead highway signs that had to be picked up by cranes. Needless to say, streets were flooded for several hours in some places. Hopefully, this is not a harbinger of things to come as we enter the summer vacation months. But it might be! Today as we were writing this article, the heavens opened up again and the rain came down in buckets! Frankly, we love this kind of tropical rain, but it does wreak havoc on rooftops, streets, poorly built homes and unprepared creatures of all kinds. In any case, after all that dry heat, it is good to have some rain.
Time to Watch the Weather
It isn’t just rain events that are looming on the radar around Yucatan. There is a low pressure system in the Caribbean. All experts estimate now that this low pressure system has only a 40% chance of developing into a hurricane – but – it is big, in terms of area, and has the potential to drop a significant amount of rain throughout the entire region. Because of the size of this particular weather generator, as well as significant activity all across the Atlantic, we recommend keeping an eye on an animated weather satellite, as well as preparing for a hurricane. The first hurricane of the season has already developed off of the Pacific coast of Mexico, so don’t forget to look at what may be coming at us from behind. The odds are that all we will get is rain, but one never knows and it is far better to be prepared than caught unaware. The local rule of thumb is that Merida gets hit by a devastating hurricane every 14 years, so since Isidore hit in 2002, we still have a few years to go. Read some of our thoughts on Hurricanes in Merida here.
A Snowbird Resource: Mexico Travel Buddies
We know it is only mid-June, but now is a good time to start planning your Fall trip back to Yucatan. The Mexico RV Forums website has added a sister site: Mexico Travel Buddies. The forums seem to be generally geared toward RV-ing the west coast and Baja, but the Travel Buddies site can be an invaluable tool for expats across the country. We particularly like the interactive calendar and the short video that shows how to use it. You can post your own trip and see the trip dates of other members. The best part is that you do not have to have an RV to join. Vehicle drivers, and even backpackers, are welcome. If you are a little worried about driving across the border into Mexico, why not hook up with one or two other cars and travel together? There is certainly safety in numbers. A travel buddies website is a great idea and we hope everyone has a great time caravaning into and all across Mexico.
Can We Get Cable, Internet and Phone in Yucatan?
We can’t tell you how often we hear that question from potential expats. The answer is: yes, yes, and yes… and oftentimes better than you can get it in the States or Canada! In fact, there is currently a great competition going on between providers that we thought might be of interest to potential expats. To give you an idea of cost, Cablemas has a new Paquete Amigo promotion that includes 20 television channels, an internet connection and telephone with unlimited local calls for $525 pesos a month ($44.23 USD). If someone only wants the television stations and telephone with unlimited local calls, the bill drops to $374 pesos per month ($31.51 USD). These prices are promotional, so keep that in mind when you plan your future budget in Yucatan, but they should give you some idea of what is available and how much it costs. We also have other types of providers, all of which are familiar to most expats. So know that there is no need to worry about not having cable, internet or phone service in Yucatan. We’ve got it all here!
Fishing is Big Business in Yucatan
Last year, Yucatan’s lobster fishermen pulled in 120 tons of lobster, with an average price of $450 pesos per kilo. This year, beginning July 1, 2500 fishermen think they can beat that record and their goal is to pull in 180 tons of lobster. Prices will begin at $300 pesos per kilo and rise throughout the season. Pulpo (octopus) fishermen are negotiating contracts in advance of their season as 3500 river boats and 600 big boats look forward to what they believe will be a pulpo harvest of 12,000 tons of octopus. The mero (grouper) season just closed and saw 11,750 fishermen pull in almost 10,000 tons of fish. We do think those numbers qualify fishing as big business anywhere, and certainly as big business in Yucatan. Note to the wise: although almost all of the lobster catch is spoken for by restaurants and hotels in New York, Miami and Cancun, there are still local anglers who do a little diving on the side. Word of mouth at the beach should lead you right to them. You’ll meet some locals and get to enjoy fresh fish that night!
Is the Yucatan Peninsula getting smaller these days? All kinds of places that used to be “way out there in….” are now in the mainstream of life in the Yucatan and not considered to be so far away at all. Such is certainly the case with the fishing village of Sisal, north of Merida and west of Progreso. We have just learned that Sisal hosts no less than five fishing tournaments each year. One each is sponsored by a soft-drink company, a salt company, a poultry company, Atlántida freezers, and the IMSS Union. As is often the case, there is no information available about these tournaments but somebody must know something because they have no less than 100 boats participating in each tournament. We are on the hunt for more information and will pass it along as soon as we find it.
Cansahcab: Pilgrimage of Our Lady of Peace
If you look at our Events page, you will see that we begin each week’s events with a listing of the festivals and fiestas that take place in the municipalities throughout the state. A festival is much like a county fair, but may also include a tribute to a local patron saint. There will be music and dancing, games for the children, and lots of great food and local art for sale – plus, of course, a Catholic mass. A fiesta, on the other hand, is still a celebration, but usually only of a religious nature. This past week, the statue of Our Lady of Peace traveled across Cansahcab, a town on the Yucatan Peninsula, accompanied by the faithful. There was a mass, and pilgrims either asked for favors or gave thanks for favors they believe they have received throughout the past year. It is said that if someone asks for a miracle with great faith, they will feel a cold chill if it has been granted. They also say it is a good sign if, during the pilgrimage, a rose falls from the feet of the statue. We doubt anyone felt a chill in the heat of the last few weeks, but perhaps some roses fell. Whether you are a Catholic or not, no one can deny that Yucatan has more than its share of reported miracles (hey, just look around!). Seriously, folks, if you are visiting Yucatan, do try to make it to a fiesta if at all possible. They are a slice of local cultural life that are unique, colorful and heart-warming.
How to Recognize a Sea Turtle Nest
Every year, we hear the same warnings. Call the authorities if you find a sea turtle nest. The problem here is that most of us have never seen a sea turtle nest in our lives and wouldn’t know what one looked like if we were standing in the middle of it. Well, Jim Conrad, in his Naturalist Newsletter, has given us a picture of the trail a female turtle makes, with her flippers, as she covers her eggs and heads back into the sea. As you walk the beaches, look for those flipper marks and be sure to have the authorities come and get the eggs so they will have the best chance possible to survive. Certainly, do not even consider taking the eggs yourself or eating the eggs. And don’t think of keeping a sea turtle as a pet. They are an endangered species and keeping one is a crime against the environment and is recognized as a crime in Mexico. This particular crime against nature carries a very long prison sentence.
American Eagle: Dallas to Mazatlan
Everyone appreciates that there is a drug war and that people are dying, but tarnishing the image of a very large country, with 31 states, is rather over the top. Travel associations and airlines are finally getting back in the swing of working with tourists who want to see Mexico, and tourism numbers are continuing to rise dramatically. Mazatlan has at least two million loyal tourists each year and they can now get there quicker than ever. The airline company American Eagle has just opened daily, non-stop flights from Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) to Mazatlan. It is a two-hour flight, leaving DFW at 11:45 AM and arriving at Mazatlan at 1:05 PM. We wish them all the best and look forward to the day when we will have more flights like that coming to Merida. Yucatan would also like to thank Rodolfo Lopez Negrete, chief operating officer of Mexico’s Board of Tourism, as he works tirelessly to repair the image of Mexico.
A Slideshow for Snowbirds
If you are a Snowbird, we figure you are back home now, enjoying your summer. Or maybe you are just sitting at your desk somewhere in the northern 50 states dreaming about a tropical vacation here. We’re willing to bet that it wouldn’t take much to make you homesick for Yucatan. Well, we’ve heard from a lot of you that the photos and articles in this website tend to do that sometimes. We don’t know young Mario Villamil Arguelles, but his flickr photostream came to us in an e-mail and we think his pictures, of Progreso and Merida, are just the ticket to the hearts of our own Snowbirds and anyone else who loves this part of the world. Click on this link and then click on slideshow. We hope you enjoy these pictures as much as we did.