Congratulations Papa Francisco (Pope Francis)
Whether one is Catholic or not, expat or Yucateco, you must feel a little pride that Jorge Bergoglio, of Argentina, was elected as Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. What does one say about a fellow who is elected to one of the highest offices in the world, wakes up the next morning, takes the VW back to his hotel, carries his own bags out, and asks the clerk if he owes him anything else on the bill? This is a guy who, until a week or so ago, lived in a small apartment when he could have been living in a mansion, made his own trips to the local mercado, and did his own cooking. As a Cardinal, he could have preached from only the most beautiful churches. Instead, he preached in the streets of Buenos Aries, where his personal mode of transportation was riding the city bus. It is completely understandable that all of Catholic Latin America is thrilled with the election of the first Latin American Pope. To those who are not believers, or who are not Catholic, you may be interested to know that the newspapers back in Argentina say that Jorge Bergoglio is also a soccer fan and a lover of the tango. Add all of that to being a Jesuit, a Spanish speaker and an advocate for the poor and we suspect the next few years are going to be anything but boring.
Spring and Summer Shoe Fair in Ticul
The 27th Footwear and Crafts Commercial Trade Fair will continue from March 14 through Palm Sunday, March 24. Forty exhibitors of shoes and handbags will all be offering some pretty good discounts that remind one of the old saying “drive a little, save a lot.” This year, it looks as if the handbag makers have a corner on the market of discounts. Shoes will run between $90 and $160 pesos, and handbags between $100 and $120 pesos. Everyone is invited. Look for exhibitors in Ticul on the esplanade of the Plaza de la Cultura, in the hall opposite the church of San Antonio de Padua, and on Calle 25 x 26 y 26-A in Ticul, Yucatan.
Documentary Shows Mayan Is a Living Language
Eli Casanova Morales is a young researcher from Tinum, Yucatan. This year, his documentary, Guardians of the Mayab (Los Guardianes del Mayab), was shown at Mexico’s 8th Annual Traveling Documentaries Tour in Veracruz, and was the most popular documentary on the tour. The entire documentary was filmed in Mayan, with Spanish and English subtitles. This notoriety will go a long way toward ensuring that others recognize that the Maya are alive and well, and that the Mayan language is fully functional, especially in the rural communities throughout Yucatan and beyond. Congratulations to Eli Casanova Morales for having done an excellent job of presenting the Mayan language to the world. We will certainly be watching for the documentary to come back to Merida.
Beacon of Hope Cataract Surgeries
This group of foreign ophthalmologists are in their second year of providing cataract surgeries in 18 municipalities in the southern cone of Yucatan. This team is breaking records across Mexico on their sheer numbers of cataract surgeries. All we know is that, in a world where most people work with their hands and need their eyesight to survive, these foreign doctors and their work are deeply appreciated.
Progreso: Free Rabies Vaccinations for Pets March 19 – 29
Dates and locations for these free vaccinations have been published in Progreso Hoy. This is an important public health program that serves not only the pets in the beach towns, but helps to protect tourists and visitors who come to the beach in enormous numbers during Spring Break and Semana Santa. When you arrive at the vaccination locations, they will ask your name and address, as well as the pet’s name and approximate age. That’s all that is necessary to obtain the free vaccination. In addition, if you can bring in a street animal, they will be happy to vaccinate them as well. Each pet owner is given a record of the vaccination and asked to bring the record back the next time the pet is vaccinated. From what we understand, this free program is now statewide in Yucatan. Please note that, although these vaccinations are free, donations are much appreciated.
Hospital Regional de Alta Especialidad to Host Brain Bank
Merida’s own Hospital Regional de Alta Especialidad, in coordination with Centro de Investigación and Estudios Avanzados del Instituto Politécnico Nacional, have signed an agreement to study, diagnose and treat degenerative diseases, especially in the elderly. They will not only study the brains of individuals with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, but will also study healthy brains for comparison. This is the first step to what researchers hope to develop into a national system of brain banks. By its very nature, this type of study will follow patients over a period of some 30 years or more and lead to the development of age-appropriate treatments. This is just one more example of the quality of health education and research that is going on in Merida in the 21st century.
Fighting Malnutrition in Peto
Yucatan is determined to improve the health of all Yucatecos. This week, a new feeding station opened in Peto. It is the first of two such dining halls in Peto, with the goal of providing one hot meal per day to 200 people each, plus giving food pantries to 40 families with malnourished children. Workers in the dining halls get to feed their families there, and every participant is included in a home gardening program. By the end of the year, this will also include an opportunity to breed pigs, chickens, turkeys, sheep, or any other food animal of their choice. Overall, this program is expected to change the lives and health of over 1,500 people. This comes at the same time that more than 800 families are receiving food pantries in Tizimin.
Hurricane Education: Getting Ahead of the Game
To ease the minds of those who may be afraid of hurricanes in Yucatan, it will be of interest to know that there is currently a conference and workshop going on in Merida that focuses on making certain that any airport in the path of hurricanes in the Caribbean and Latin America are prepared and on the same page, and that they are properly coordinating their efforts with alternate terminals in the Atlantic. These workshops are endorsed by the United Nations, and recipients will receive U.N. certification for having completed the course. The conference is led by a specialist from the Miami airport, who is an expert on the reactivation of airports following catastrophic events such as hurricanes. We have two and a half months to go before hurricane season begins again, but it is comforting to know that we are safer in Merida than in almost any other area of the Yucatan Peninsula.
For those who fear sharks and wonder if the beaches of Yucatan are safe, not to worry. Yes, a shark, a hammerhead, was brought into port at Progreso last week. However, the shark was part of a school of passing sharks and was caught in a commercial fishing net, in deep water, approximately 6 km from shore. Authorities were quick to remind us that the water along Yucatan’s beaches is too shallow to support the breathing requirements of sharks, which is why we seldom see these animals other than occasionally around the piers where larger ships are docked in deeper water. Worldwide shark statistics show that the only shark attack ever reported in the waters off of Yucatan was in the 1940s, on the coastal border with Campeche, and it was not a fatal bite.
Fireworks Tragedy in Tlaxcala: Hell Broke Loose
Although this incident did not happen in Yucatan, it is very important that people keep it in mind as we enter what is often the free-wheeling days and nights of Semana Santa. Fireworks are a part of life in Mexico and they are part of the Mexico we love. However, what goes up must come down, and that is just exactly what happened in a religious procession in Tlaxcala. Someone shot off a rocket. When it came down, it hit a van that was loaded with fireworks. Thirteen people were killed and 154 others were injured, eight of them seriously. We cannot help but remember the little boys in an outlying village in Yucatan, slipping out at night to run and play with their fireworks. Then they started dropping cherry bombs down each other’s shirts. It only takes a second of poor judgment for tragedy to strike. With Semana Santa on our doorstep, please remember to be responsible with fireworks and, in addition to not drinking and driving, please remember that drinking alcohol and shooting off fireworks should never be combined.
Second Grand Rubber Duck Race
Have you adopted your Rubber Duck yet? If not, now is the time! Fifty percent of the proceeds of this race will go to benefit the Red Cross, with the other 50% divided equally between Hogar de Loreto, Casa Crisal, Albergue para personas de la tercera edad, La Divina Providencia and Panadería Manos Especiales A. C. The adoption fee is $120 pesos per duck. This event is organized by the Montejo Rotary Club of Merida, corporate sponsors, club members and the institutions that will benefit from the proceeds. The race will be held at the Acuaparque on May 5, so be sure to adopt your own little yellow rubber duck as early as possible.
Flamboyanes Crisis Fundraising Status Update
Dan Powell reports that they have received a pledge from an Anonymous US-based Non Profit Foundation to match dollar for dollar the donations received to a maximum of $2,000 USD “to be used for spay/neuter clinic(s) in an under served community.” For simplicity, they are calling $2,000 USD to be the equivalent to $25,000 pesos. The Bus Trip to the Football Game was cancelled, but the YAPA community has stepped up to help so far and Dan’s biggest challenge has been driving to locations to pick up donations. As of this writing, Dan currently has raised $17,620 pesos and is well on his way to the goal of the full match of approximately $25,000 pesos. You can still drop off donations at Planned Pethood Merida (please specify to them that this is for the Flamboyanes Foundation Match campaign). The date for the campaign has been set for April 21, 2013. In addition, there are other things needed for this campaign. Every peso is going towards buying material for the surgeries. Other items such as drinks/snacks for the Vets and volunteers throughout the day are also needed. In addition, donations of paper towels, garbage bags and even photo copying the registration forms and other paperwork would be much appreciated.