Yucatan News: Sisal Hammock Scam
News starting May 10th.
Call for Applicants: Fulbright-Garcia Robles Scholarship
If you know of a Mexican National who teaches English, he or she may be eligible for a Fulbright-Garcia Robles scholarship. Applicants must be under the age of 29 and willing to go to the U.S. to improve their teaching skills and learn about the American culture. While there, they will function as teaching assistants to two Spanish classes and take two graduate level classes of their choice. This is a great opportunity for anyone. School is paid for, as are housing and travel costs, and the graduate student will get a small stipend as well. This call closes on June 21, 2010, and classes begin in August, so pass the word! For more information, e-mail Lic. Fabiola Meza (firstname.lastname@example.org), call (55) 5592-2861 Ext. 113 or visit the C-mexus website.
Swim With Whale Sharks
Has another year gone by this fast? Seems as if the season just ended and here it is, open again! May 15 through September 15, will find whale sharks off the coast of Isla Holbox. This is the only place in Mexico where the government allows tours and, even then, there are very strict regulations. Don't miss a chance to see these sometimes 50 ft. long gentle giants of the deep as they spend their summer at Isla Holbox.
ATM Fee Changes
Gone are the days of no and low charges for using your ATM card in Mexico, depending on where the card is from, where the ATM is located, and what kind of transaction you are trying to make. Each bank has its own schedule for what it will charge for everything from accepting a card from another bank to checking your balance and withdrawing cash. Fees can range from fifty cents to two dollars and up per transaction. If you live in Yucatan, you might want to shop around for the lowest charge on the most common transactions you make. If you do not live here, just understand that using your debit card is no longer “cheap,” but it’s often more convenient than trying to find a money exchange booth.
Last week, the vehicles of more than 100 individuals were damaged by gasoline contaminated with diesel. Luckily, the error was found quickly and the contaminated gasoline had been sold only from one station in Progreso. Also, as luck would have it, that station had not only documentation of which two pumps had the bad gasoline, but it also has security cameras that caught the entire line of drivers on camera. The first thing PEMEX said was that it would fix the vehicles, but the owners had to have a receipt. As soon as cameras were noticed (and PROFECO was called), the stations were authorized to begin fixing the vehicles. As far as we know, all 120 damaged cars have now been fixed by the station, which will be reimbursed by PEMEX.
Yucatan Online More Each Day
We have been watching Yucatan.WS with some interest for several months now and thought we would share a link to their site with our readers. Yucatan.WS covers news in Baca, Buctxotz, Chicxulub Pueblo, Merida, Mococha, Progreso, Samahil, Sinache, Tixkokob and Tixpeual. Those who are interested in life outside of Merida, but not necessarily at the beach, will want to check out the pages of Yucatan.WS. We believe there is something for everyone somewhere in Yucatan and hope you enjoy your search for your perfect new home as much as we did.
Is It All a Show for the Tourists?
Every year, we learn so much more about our adopted state and about life as it is here for just ordinary folks. But we still hear the question that asks “but what's it really like in Yucatan?” Well – like where you live, we have our problems. We've got rich folks and poor folks, some needing more help than others. Like where you live, our school districts can be best described as “getting better.” Our food might be a little healthier than yours, but you probably have better organized plans for what to do about the needs of the very old. Like where you live, we have animal shelters and rodeos, handicraft clubs, artists, and musicians. Our music is probably a little more romantic than yours, but we like it that way. That having been said, Yucatan loves a show and loves a competition of any kind! If you want to draw a crowd of 1,000 people, have an Idol show! American Idol, village idol, school idol – it doesn't matter – everybody goes! ...and nary a tourist to be found in any of the audiences. So, it actually is different here when the tourists go home. Yucatan loves to share its history and culture with tourists but, when they go home, we get to live in the culture, and that makes all the difference.
Interesting Beat the Heat Statistics
In Yucatan, as the heat climbs closer to 100 ºF, the sale of air conditioners is up 50% and the sale of pedestal fans is up between 30% and 40%. There are those of us who remember when there was no air conditioning in our own culture. It was hot, but we managed. Now, we cannot seem to do without it. One has to wonder if 50 years from now the Yucatecan children of today will be reminding their grandchildren that there really was a time when there was no air conditioning in Yucatan. This huge leap forward into the 21st century is certainly something to ponder.
No Red Tide So Far This Year!
In a world filled with erupting volcanoes and exploding oil wells, the fact that there is no red tide in Yucatan this year went almost unnoticed. This is wonderful news for our fishermen because so much of our state's economy depends on the health and welfare of this one group of long-suffering, hard working heroes. They haven't had a break in a long time. It’s their turn now and the absence of a red tide so far this year is the best news we've heard in a long time!
Don't Be Cheated! Be Aware of the Differences Between Sisal and Cotton
This is a notice we have been asked to bring to our readers on behalf of our friend Silvia Terán, of
Maya Chuy – Maya Embroidery. We thank Silvia for this valuable information, and her husband, anthropologist Christian Rasmussen, for getting it to us. Silvia writes:
Recently, at an international congress here in Merida, a lady from Chile approached our stand of
embroidery and handicrafts, and insisted on buying a hammock of sisal/henequen for her
grandchild. She had been told that they were the best.
It was practically impossible to convince her that hammocks today are not made of sisal, since
this fiber is very crude and scratches your body. True enough, some years ago, self-sufficient
milpa-farmers would make their hammocks of that fiber, but no longer... and today, never for
All good, accommodating hammocks today are made from different threads of cotton. More
Weather-resistant hammocks are made from artificial threads, such as nylon, but they are not so
comfortable, especially when the weather is hot.
In the village of Euan, there is a small production of hammocks made from the fibers of the
plant lengua de vaca or sansiviera. This fiber looks like sisal, but is much softer, and you really
have to search for them to find one.
I am not sure that I convinced the lady and, at the same time, I was wondering where she had
gotten her ideas about sisal hammocks. It was then that I found a wandering salesman in
Merida, promoting the sale of his cotton hammocks as “Real Yucatecan: Made of Sisal”,
attempting, in this way, to make money from the history of Yucatan's green gold: henequen/sisal.
To my even greater amazement, in Calle 59, I was approached by a sales-boy offering shirts of
henequen. With wondering eyes, I asked, “Shirts made of sisal?!” “Yes!”, he answered and
insisted. “Please show me!”, I replied. He then took me to his shop and what he showed me were
shirts made of crude cotton (!), certainly not sisal! However, in the lining of each shirt was a
label that read: 100% agave. Made in Mexico.
The sales people said the shirts were made in Tixkokob. So, in the village of Tixkokob, famous
for making hammocks – of cotton and nylon – there is a company that knowingly is making
fools of buyers by selling cotton advertised as sisal!
I wonder if this practice is legal. At the very least, it is certainly not correct or fair to the many
tourists who come to Yucatan and want to go home with a real souvenir from Yucatan. So, be
aware and let your friends know about buying shirts or hammocks made of sisal, because they do not
Sometimes (rarely – but sometimes) we have absolutely nothing to do and go in search of other folks who may be loafing at work as well – or who might also share our point of view... and we found Boloco's Inspired Burritos in Boston, Massachusetts! Since they are featuring the Yucatan Habanero for the next two weeks, we have sent them our article on Habanero High Noon! We hope they stop by to visit when they visit Yucatan. Do visit their website. We just love their actitud.