Spring Breakers Head for Cancun
We are pleased to report that Funjet Vacations just announced that Spring Break travel to Cancun is up 15% over last year. From our reporters on the Mayan Riviera, we can tell you that the hotels and restaurants seem to be full of happy, partying people. This is great news for everyone who works here in Yucatan or owns a business here. We hope everyone has a wonderful holiday and that we will see you all back again next year. …and you too, Moms, Dads and Grandparents!
There have been at least two earthquakes off the west coast of Mexico this past week, one before the earthquake in Japan and one after. On Wednesday, March 9, 2011, there was a magnitude 3.4 earthquake off the coast of Baja California. On Saturday, March 12, 2011, there was a magnitude 4.4 earthquake off the coast of Jalisco. There have been no reports of damage or injuries in Mexico. Our hearts go out to the survivors of the earthquake in Japan.
Japan’s Earthquake Recorded at Merida Seismology Station
The Merida Seismology Station is the product of a coordinated effort between UADY, UNAM and the Government of the State of Yucatan. It has the ability to detect earthquakes anywhere in the world. This is good news for us. Although the State of Yucatan itself does not seem to be affected by earthquakes, we seem to be surrounded by areas that are. In recent years, there have been earthquakes in other parts of Mexico, in the Gulf of Honduras, and 20 miles into the Gulf from Mobile, Alabama. Some scientists say that earthquakes in the U.S. are moving south, with fault lines now identified all across the U.S. Gulf Coast.In addition, there are two intersecting fault lines that reportedly run through the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. Taken together, those opportunities for earthquakes leaves us, at the very least, in the position of having to send immediate aid to and/or to accept evacuees. To learn more about earthquakes and to see Yucatan’s Seismology Station live, visit the Earthquake Report.
Rotary Club Dance in Izamal: April 2
This event will go in the Coming Soon section of our Events page, but we think it is something all of our readers should hear about because Rotary is often the backbone of projects that benefit many of those who are disadvantaged in our state. This event will be a dance called "Ecos del Carnaval Rotarios 2011." Tickets will be only $20 pesos and both food and refreshments will be available for purchase. Tickets will go on sale on March 25 at Itzalana Pharmacy, Calle 31 x 32 y 34, in Izamal. Entertainment will be by great local bands and the Queens of Carnival for 2012 will be presented. This event is an extension of the dance that was held in Izamal the day before Fat Tuesday, where seven hundred people attended to see the bands and to meet next year’s Queens. There was even a costume contest, won by a group called “Eggs.” Each member of “Eggs” carried a basket filled with Kukis by Maru. If you live near Izamal, please consider attending this event. These carnival dances are the main source of income for the club and your participation can help them provide a number of activities in support of the people who need it most.
Valladolid Resident in New York Times
We love this slideshow of the home of Nicolas Malleville, an Argentine model, and his wife, Francesca Bonato, an Italian fashion designer. They have been bitten by the “restore a colonial” bug in Valladolid and the result is spectacular. Visit the NYT Great Homes and Destinations page to see 8 beautiful pictures of their home. And when you go to Valladolid, treat yourself to a visit of their Coqui Coqui Perfumerie on Calle de Frailes.
U.S. to Finally Open Borders to Mexican Truckers
The Mexico-U.S. Border was supposed to begin opening to trucking in both directions in 1995, and fully open by 2001. Union pressure in the U.S. has successfully managed to keep that from happening. We have heard all manner of excuses, from Mexican drivers can’t read English road signs to Mexican drivers are criminals, and Mexican trucks will break down and cause accidents. Not one word of any of that is true. The two countries have finally, it seems, ironed out their issues and the final phase of NAFTA is set to begin this summer. We are so pleased to see this come about. Mexican truckers are very proud of their profession, of their skills, and of their trucks. We think they will be wonderful ambassadors from the Mexican people to the people of the United States. Please visit our friends at Mexico Trucker Online for straight talk about Mexico and Mexican Trucks.
Valladolid: Child Artists Win Trip to D.F.
Its been a busy couple of weeks for the children of Valladolid. Marcos Kevin Uitzil Novelo (3rd grade) and Mariangel Cauich Uh (age 6) won first and second place in a drawing competition held at the Feria en Valladolid. Their prize is an all expense paid trip, for the children and their parents, to meet members of Congress in Mexico City. But Marcos and Mariangel are not the only child stars in Valladolid this week. The Legislature awarded Euberto Azcorra Diaz and Manuel Jesus Mena Romero each a brand new bicycle for their outstanding math scores on what we NOB folks know better as their LEAP tests. Congratulations to all four children and to all of their parents.
Progreso Gets New Ambulance
In recent years, we have seen Progreso become the proud owner of two new ambulances. In the meantime, the population and highway system have continued to grow, as has the numbers of visitors. The two ambulances already in the port city are equipped only for patient transport. This new area growth has necessitated the purchase of a third new ambulance and this one is completely equipped to handle accidents, from the latest in emergency equipment to the best trained paramedics. The ambulance team consists of 8 paramedics, 4 per shift. If you need an ambulance in Progreso, you can call directly to the Municipal Police (935-0026). The ambulance also serves patients through the Red Cross, which can be contacted at 925-1624.
Many have already seen the new population figures for Merida. The city itself now has a population of 1,000,000 and is still growing. It is now estimated that, within 10 years, there will be more than 60,000 new families in need of housing in the eastern section of the city alone. To address this pressing issue, a new housing development is underway. It is located off of the Periferico and, from the description, seems to be planned for 15,000 homes to be built on the 500 open hectares just south of Comisaria Chichi Suarez. The total project, including construction jobs and retail opportunities, is expected to generate approximately 35,000 new jobs. Work has already begun on parks, streets, and reforestation. We can hardly wait to see Fraccionamiento “Los Héroes” when its finished but, in just 3 months, we should all be able to go out and enjoy the new landscaping, walkways, playgrounds and palapas. Sounds like a great summer picnic idea to us!
Merida Still Has Surprises: A Sascabera Lake
Do you know what a sascabera is? Not to worry if you didn’t. We had to ask too. This must be park week in Yucatan. We don’t believe we have ever seen so many parks built or remodeled. Bepensa Gardens is located on Calle 128, in the western part of Merida. Work is now underway and, when completed, this park will have the usual playgrounds, sandboxes, library, bike paths, etc. It will also have a lake built by flooding an old sascabera. (there’s that word again) A sascabera is the hole and/or cave left by ancient methods of mining limestone. Visit Johan Normark’s blog to read all about The Exciting Lives and Fates of Sascaberas. This park will have a restaurant with a lakeside gazebo and an area for fitness equipment. We can hardly wait to see the finished park!
Coming Soon: Metropolitan Park (El Parque Metropolitano)
Big cities always seem to have one side of town that is left to feel as if it is a stepchild. The one thing that makes Merida (and the State of Yucatan) different is that inequities are remedied as quickly as they are faced. Metropolitan Park, in the southern area of Merida, is set to open in late April or early May. On 10 hectares, the park will have artificial lakes, green areas, palapas, games and playgrounds for children, a library, and plant nurseries. While there won’t be any overnight camping allowed, visitors can bring their tents and BBQ setups and “camp” between the hours of 6:00 AM and 6:00 PM. There will also be a 3.5 mile trail system that has been designed for bike riders and for walkers. The Regional Animal Management Unit will have a small zoo, featuring several animals native to the peninsula, including several species of birds, as well as deer and even a wild boar. The nurseries will be managed by SEDUM and will be a great place to get information about planting and growing plants and trees that do well in the area. The library will be largely dedicated to the flora and fauna of the region and will be dressed out with a totally green roof (10 inches of red dirt for grass). The lighting system for the park is totally solar powered. All they really had to say was that we can come and day-camp and that they have plant nurseries and we’re there! The park is located off of Avendia 86, which is the road from the Periferico to Comisaría de Dzununcán.
Jim Conrad’s Naturalist Newsletter: Squirrels, Bugs & Birds
This month, Jim Conrad tells us all about how why the early squirrel never gets the girl, about how much a tarantula can grow in just a month, and why critters take our bananas before they are ready for us to pick. Did you know that Xtabays can live in any large tree? Oh My! Jim Conrad tells us all about it this month in Naturalist Newsletter.
Africanized Bees in Yucatan
Like it or not, Africanized bees have made their way through Mexico and into the United States. Each year, Yucatan has more and more incidents in which residents are attacked by these very aggressive bees. The two most common reasons for attacks include trying to knock down the hive yourself and/or loud noises (children playing, dogs barking, lawnmowers, etc). We must admit that we know of two people that have been stung in the last week or so. Please patrol your property regularly and, if you find a bees’ nest, call Civil Protection (066) or the nearest Fire Department. They will come and safely remove the bees for you. Good to know!
A Tale of Goats Comes to Life
When María Luisa Juárez López was a little girl, she tended a herd of goats for her family. Not only did they have meat and milk for their family, but plenty left over to sell. Doña Maria passed her love of goats on to her daughter, Aurora Paredes Juárez, who believed that raising goats could help stop malnutrition and resolve unemployment for many rural families in Yucatan. Toward that end, Aurora earned a degree in Business Administration and convinced 25 women and 14 men to go into the goat business with a beginning herd of 20 goats. They soon discovered that Yucatan’s Produce Foundation not only encourages the breeding of goats, but that the Local Livestock Association’s Goat Specialist lives in their municipality and was looking for new stock to breed with his goats.
Then, the Produce Foundation’s Goat Project Coordinator got in touch with them and invited them to become part of that project, along with a young university student who has a herd of dairy goats. Several businessmen even got together and donated two new bucks to ensure genetic quality. The President of the Produce Foundation Pedro Cabrera Quijano, said “Step by step, so quiet, a group of businessmen, farmers and civil associations are added to the design of a project that will have great social impact in the coming months.” No one could have said it better. Our congratulations to everyone involved in this childhood memory that has been reborn. If anyone is interested in goat meat, cheese, sweets or milk, Doña Maria’s group can be found at Rancho “Aurora” de Conkal.
Lamb Association Met in Uman
Since we are on the subject of small four-legged animals, let’s talk about lambs. The demand for lamb in Mexico has grown to the point at which the nation is importing approximately 40,000 tons per year from Australia. Given rising shipping costs, this is a situation that is providing fertile ground for Mexican lamb producers. The Asociación Ganadera Local Especializada de Criadores de Ovinos de Umán, in coordination with SAGARPA, has moved to heavily invest in sheep breeding in the State of Yucatan. Currently, Yucatan sends a little over 152,000 sheep to market per year but, with this new influx of support, will be able to significantly expand the Association’s operations. If you live in Yucatan and are a fan of lamb, please do make sure to support the lamb breeders of our state.
A Mangrove Caution
This week, we read an update on the condition of Yucatan’s mangroves, which are making a wonderful comeback after being virtually destroyed during Hurricane Isidoro. We are particularly proud of the ladies of Chuburna and other villages, who cultivated all of the small trees that have reforested our mangroves, as well as the young people of Yucatan, who have volunteered their time and labor to do the actual heavy lifting. One thing that peaked our interest was the discussion of the fact that animal life has begun to return to the mangroves.
This includes birds and fish, but it also includes alligators. We don’t know that there are alligators in the mangroves in Yucatan – yet. That was something that was mentioned at the end of a sentence in the article we read. However, after reading about two alligators that have taken up residence in a lake in Tampico and are terrorizing the local population, we thought this might be a good time to remind everyone that a mangrove is a very real, living swamp. As it matures, it will become home to more than a few plants and animals that can injure or even kill people. There is nothing in nature that is as beautiful or serene as a mangrove – but only if visitors remain aware of their surroundings. In other words, if you are not a swamp person by birth or experience, take a tour to experience a mangrove and don’t go in the water unless your guide tells you the area is safe.
Living In Merida, 2nd Edition On Sale Now
The 2nd edition of Living in Merida is now complete. It contains new chapters on pets, kids and cultural adaptation, updated information on real estate, restaurants, immigration – and more. It has extensive reader feedback confirmed and incorporated into all chapters, wtih guest chapters by local experts (including several by Yucatan Living) and an editorial team of long-time Merida residents. It can be purchased at the Mérida English Language Library (MELL), Amate Books and Hotel Casa San Ángel. Proceeds from the sale of the book go toward the support of the activities of Merida Verde,a group of concerned residents of Merida, Yucatan, MX who meet to promote environmental awareness, conservation, and environmental improvement.