News starting July 27, 2009
New Non-Profit: One Town At A Time
David Simmonds has started a new non-profit designed to help Mexican villages become self-supporting. The name of the program is One Town At A Time. Its mission statement is to address the living conditions of poor villages in Mexico by providing families in these areas with tools for achieving sustainability. This is the ideal way to ameliorate the immigration pattern in the United States which currently encourages villagers to cross the border to earn money to send back to their families. By providing villagers with tools for addressing their poverty, they can remain in their villages, sustain a sense of family and community structure, and cultivate pride in their way of life. One Town At A Time shares and provides the technology that enhances the ability of villagers in Mexico to improve and expand their current farming, trade, and communication practices in a way that honors their rich cultural heritage and brings them closer to the global socioeconomic realm. To learn more about this charity, please visit the website of One Town At A Time.
Welcome Panama City, FL and Dothan, AL
Progreso and Panama City, Florida, have made it official. They are now sister shipping ports and look who is dancing a jig… none other than little Dothan, Alabama! Dothan is located less than 100 miles from Panama City but it is a growing business hub, including exports. According to the Dothan Eagle "A group of local [Dothan] businessmen met with Yucatan officials, last Wednesday, in Panama City to discuss possible import and export opportunities." It seems that this has been in the works since last Fall. Products going south include paper, lumber, chemicals, fabrics, raw materials and now a variety of food. Products coming north include furniture, clothing, and fruits and vegetables. We would like to welcome both the business community and the private citizens of both Panama City, FL, and Dothan, Alabama, to Yucatan. Ya’ll come on down! You’re going to love it here!
Chocolate Is The Universal Language!
We had to laugh at another Alabama article we read about the meeting between Coffee County, Alabama, businessmen and our official Yucatan trade delegation in Panama City, FL. It seems that the Coffee County Baking Company took a few "samples" along for our Yucateco officials to try. These included such standard home baked cakes as orange, pineapple, pumpkin, and strawberry, as well as coffee cakes and biscuits. While those were certainly well received, the star of the show was good old Mississippi Mud. What do you want to bet that Mississippi Mud (cakes and pies) will be on restaurant menus and in bakeries all over Yucatan in the very near future? This entire article shows us that the distance from one side of the Gulf of Mexico to the other is growing shorter with each passing year, as well it should. For those who do not know what Mississippi Mud is, take a look and enjoy! For those who care anything at all about the condition of your arteries, do not click on that link, do not look at that picture, do not read that recipe, and – whatever you do – do not eat that cake!
Yucatan Buys U.S. Corn & Sorghum
The U.S. produces more corn & sorghum than it can use or store. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that U.S. grain farmers find a place for their products in the global marketplace. Last year, Yucatan imported 335,000 metric tons of U.S. corn and sorghum. By the end of this year, it is expected that Yucatan will have imported another 447,900 metric tons of U.S. corn and sorghum. This year, special funding from members of the U.S. Grains Council brought buyers from all over Mexico to the U.S. One was not a stranger to them. Arturo Basulto, purchasing manager for feed grains and oilseeds at Inter Industrias del Sureste, S.A., in Merida, has personally been responsible for the purchase of 80,000 tons of U.S. sorghum alone. We would like to congratulate everyone who is getting back to the business of doing business so that life can be improved for everyone. This information came to us from our friends at Wisconsin AgConnection.
PROFECO Has Been Busy
The Federal Attorney’s Office of Consumer Protection (PROFECO) has been busy during this summer vacation season. They handle everything from complaints that a restaurant didn’t give a customer a ticket when they bought coffee to major infractions associated with such things as stove hookups in homes and sanitary conditions in hotels. Many of their most common complaints come from issues related to repair work, guarantees, and gasolineras. You have rights as a consumer in Mexico. To read more about the process of making and resolving a complaint, visit the PROFECO website (in English).
Pulpo Fishermen Complain of Illegal Early Hunters
Mayan pink squid could have been over-fished into oblivion had it not been for the willingness of Yucatan’s pulpo fishermen to step up to the plate and learn to work with the environment instead of against it. They learned the best ways of fishing, so as to damage as few animals as possible. They learned to live with temporary bans on fishing during different life cycles of the pulpo. Then, as they are set to enter what appears to be an excellent pulpo fishing season, they see illegal pulpo fishermen out in the sea with everything from hooks and nets to harpoons. They are even pumping acid and/or chlorine into caves to flush out the pulpo and make them easy to catch. Needless to say, our pulpo fishermen are furious and are looking to SAGARPA to give the official word to SEMAR (the police of the sea) to round up these criminal pulpo fishermen. For the sake of our Yucateco fishermen and the Mayan pink squid, we wish SEMAR good hunting.
Watching Our Economy Rebound
When things slow almost to a stop in Merida in July and August, this is not a huge economic disaster. It is part of the normal ebb and flow of life here. The more fragile beach communities have come to depend on tourism for much of their income, which includes cruise ship tourists and summer vacation tourists. This summer, Yucatan’s beach communities have been blessed with a number of national and international sporting events, as well as a multi-state handicraft fair. As we read the notices, we are struck by the fact that, as long as no one was making any money, that’s all we read about. Now, not one mention of the economy or how much (or little) anyone is spending. All the news is about what a wonderful time was had by all. It even rained for part of the day of the multi-state handicraft fair and everyone still had a wonderful time! We hope this is the beginning of an economic upturn in Yucatan. Our congratulations to all who are doing so well in our beach communities and throughout our state!
Tourists Answer: The Secret of Yucatan’s Beaches
Well – we finally have the answer to "why would anyone want to live in one of Yucatan’s beach villages or visit the beaches of the State of Yucatan?" It was so simple. How could we have missed it? The answer came from questioning cruise ship passengers who say that "it feels like home." Other states can sell huge, expensive, ritzy tourist destinations all they want. What we’ve got is something very few places on Earth still have – and that is the priceless quality of feeling like home. We don’t think that is something a beach resort could build. It is either there all along or it isn’t. Today, that way of life is created by the diverse population that lives here, which includes Mayans, Yucatecos, Americans and Canadians, as well as a number of residents from Europe, the Middle East and even Asia. They are all to be congratulated for having not only preserved the "feels like home" environment that has become so important to our beach tourists, but they are improving its quality of life every day. We also noticed this same characteristic in the city and throughout the State of Yucatan. We cannot think of a single place in this state that hasn’t felt like home from the day of our first visit there! We invite tourists to come to the State of Yucatan and enjoy the "feels like home" environment in one of the best places in the world to live, work, and play.
Marathon French and English Classes Continue
As more and more cruise ships arrive from both the U.S. and Europe, it is becoming a necessity that workers in the tourism industry are able to communicate effectively with these tourists. In addition, there will be an international sailing event that will end in Progreso in the Fall and approximately 600 French visitors are expected to be here for that occasion. To accomplish this goal, both French and English are being taught in Progreso in 4 week marathons that work around the people’s work schedules. Could you imagine working all day and then having to learn 2 foreign languages in your "spare" time? These folks are up to the challenge and these language skills will bring them excellent rewards in the future. Khaki’s Note: "The French are coming" is a tad off the mark. The French began coming to Louisiana in 1682. My family came in 1722, with part immigrating to Louisiana and others to Yucatan and points south. Our last name can still be found in the Merida phone book today. We also have a very active French speaking community in Yucatan and many of these folks are new expats. Visit the Quoi de Neuf website to learn about the French speaking community in Yucatan.
Yucatan’s Portable Kitchens
We have heard a good deal about the portable kitchens that Yucatan now has available for service during the aftermath of hurricanes but, until now, had not seen anything like one of them. Then, extra SSP (police) were assigned to the beach area during summer vacation and needed a place to eat. They were having to stand in line at local cocinas or leave their assigned areas for long periods while they looked for a place to eat. In some cases, they were having to park their trucks in front of restaurants that might have advertisements for alcohol and that didn’t look good in the eyes of the public. So – the SSP hauled in one of their 4 completely self-contained kitchens. They call it a camper, but its got to be well over 20 feet long and approximately 8 feet wide. I only saw it at an angle and wouldn’t be surprised if it is closer to 30 feet long. It has freezers, 2 industrial stoves, and a rack for roasting meat; as well as work tables, sinks, storage cabinets, a 500 liter water tank and an 80 liter butane tank. It has its own generator but is also fitted with an adapter to hook to local electricity. One of its sister kitchens in Peto also has computers so it can serve as a command post in times of emergency. This kitchen can cook and serve up to 200 meals per day. Now, the police can stop by, pick up their meals at the sliding glass windows, and get right back to work. We certainly feel better knowing that not only are the jobs of the police being made easier during this summer vacation, but that the people along the beach need not worry about going hungry during the initial recovery phase following a hurricane.
Red Tide Observations
So far, Yucatan has been lucky and has not had to deal with red tide this year. Such is not the case on the other side of the Gulf of Mexico. For the northern Gulf Coast, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that this year’s red tide is about half the size it was predicted to be, which gives us hope that we won’t have one at all. The bad news is that the red tide that has appeared is denser and more deadly than ever. Scientists think that high winds may have mixed more oxygen in the water, causing the algae and bacteria to move closer together and become a smaller, denser mass. What to do with this information is something scientists will be discussing in the coming weeks as they continue to investigate possible ways of disrupting red tides completely. We will be waiting for their findings and hope that, at last, a remedy for this phenomenon can be found. Read about this smaller, denser red tide HERE.
Vote for Copper Canyon
There is a new opportunity to vote for the New 7 Wonders of the World and for the New 7 Natural Wonders of the World. Mexico does not have an entry in the New 7 Wonders of the World this year, but we do have one in the New 7 Natural Wonders of the World. That entry is Copper Canyon. Please visit the website and Vote for Copper Canyon. Just click on the New 7 Wonders of Nature to cast your vote.
Today’s Best Blog Laugh: Play Money in Mexico
For those of our readers who have not yet lived in Mexico, we apologize if this is not as hilarious to you as it is to us. For our expat readers, you’ll just love this post. We had the giggles by the end of the second paragraph! For your best laugh of the day, read "Play Money in Mexico." You might also like Julie’s other posts. We loved "What really constitutes a "car accident" in Mexico City anyway?" The comments are as funny as the blog entry!
Haliburton To Drill for Pemex
Haliburton has won a $169 million USD contract to drill 170 wells in the Chicontepec region. This area is northeast of Mexico City, in the western margin of the Tampico-Misantla Basin, west of the Tuxpan platform, and covers an area of approximately 3,800 sq. km. This is an area that is going to require new technology in order to recover the oil because of low permeability and low pressure.
Obituary: John Dawson
From the San Francisco Chronicle: "John Dawson, co-founder of the psychedelic country rock band New Riders of the Purple Sage and a longtime Grateful Dead collaborator, died Tuesday at his home San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, after a lengthy battle with stomach cancer. He was 64." Our sympathy to his mother and siblings. John Dawson was an expat who had chosen Mexico as his home. He will be missed. Read the entire article HERE.