A Few Tourists on the Malecon
This past weekend, as tens of thousands of visitors descended on the Malecon in Progreso all at the same time, the street itself was closed to traffic to ensure their safety. For our readers whose "safety" was protected, think of the cruisers on Sunset Strip and you’ll have a hint of what you were being protected from. Actually, all of this tourist activity in Progreso is still rather amazing to us because we continue to find old online descriptions of Progreso as a "sleepy little fishing village." We do hope that all of our visitors had a wonderful time. We apologize for the "little bit" of construction going on in the area and hope you’ll come back to visit us soon and often.
Vainilla Needs a Forever Home
There is a dog who has been at the AFAD Shelter for more than 3 years. His name is Vainilla and he is muy tranquilo (very calm). In fact, Vainillo is so laid back that he was actually adopted and brought back because he didn’t bark enough! Vainillo is such a sweet dog and so deserving of a home. Won’t you please consider giving Vainilla a forever home with you? If you are interested, contact us at Yucatan Living or go directly to AFAD’s website at www.afad.com.mx. We have met Vainilla personally and he’s an incredible dog. We would take him home ourselves if we didn’t already have two! If you are interested, contact AFAD or email us at info [at] yucatanliving [dot] com and we’ll get you in touch with the right person. Dogs like Vainillo are wonderful dogs… they don’t shed, they don’t smell and in his case, he doesn’t bark… and they are loyal, kind and fun. You won’t be sorry!
Casa Yucatan-USA & Federation of Clubs Yucateco-USA
One of the most heart-warming stories we read this week was about the opening of Casa Yucatan-USA in Los Angeles, California. The cultural center will help Yucatecos who live in California with migratory issues, such as documentation for either immigration or repatriation. However, we were most pleased to see that the center plans to hold classes in Mayan and have story-time for the children so that they never forget that they are the Mayans of Yucatan. This is a vital service that must be supported. We have a new friend in Texas who has exactly the same name as a Yucateco-Mayan friend. When asked where his ancestors were originally from, our new Texas friend gave us a blank stare, shrugged his shoulders, and said:"Who knows? Somewhere in Mexico, I guess." …and that’s where the Federation of Clubs Yucateco-USA comes in. They are dedicated to the preservation of the culture of the Mayan Yucateco wherever it is found and especially throughout the United States. Visit their site to see all of the wonderful things this organization is developing in order to accomplish their mission.
Ecotourism and Coastal Development: Research Online
Whether you are in the tourism business, planning on getting into the tourism business, or just want to live in the tranquility you have found in Yucatan, it is important that everyone understands the issues presented in Global Trends in Ecotourism. This book is online as a pdf file that you can save to read at your leisure (download the PDF here). It was published just three months ago, in December 2007. It was written by Martha Honey, Ph.D., and David Krantz, M.A., at the Center on Ecotourism and Sustainable Development, which is located at Stanford University and in Washington, D.C., and commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund in Washington, D.C. We all know much of what is in this report already. However, it is important to look at this issue in a logical manner and to understand the worldwide implications of ecotourism and coastal development. In other places, we have seen tourism disasters in which entire pristine areas have been destroyed. Many of us may not know what it is that we "should" do in Yucatan… all we know is what we don’t want and that isn’t enough to protect us from irresponsible development. This study helps us understand and approach this topic in a "can do" manner so that we can help preserve our state for generations to come. It will take all of us to accomplish this task so, even if you think you will never be involved in the tourism industry yourself, please take the time to read the book and consider the issues.
Home Construction Stats
Yucatan Living often gets general questions about real estate in Yucatan, but seldom have the hard statistics to back up our observations. This week, some of those statistics were reported in local newspapers. The following is a list of facts that might be of interest to our readers. These statistics are NOT "absolutes." Instead, they apply to areas in which most of the residents are middle to lower income Yucatecos and are meant to be a minimum standard in our state. However, it is important that gringos who think they might like to retire here are aware not only of the housing situation for Yucatecos, but also of the huge range of homes that are available.
- It is the express goal of the State of Yucatan to ensure that all Yucatecos own their own home.
- The current 20% rise in the cost of building materials is translating into a 6% increase in the cost of building homes.
- Average lot size for middle to lower income Yucateco homeowners is 8 x 20 meters (26.25 ft x 65.62 ft).
- Average home price for middle to lower income Yucateco homeowners is $150,000 MXP ($13,889 USD) and still there are many for whom even this small amount is more than they can afford.
- Average annual housing deficit in the State of Yucatan is 100,000 homes per year.
- Average building capacity in the State of Yucatan is only in the tens of thousands per year due to a scarcity of appropriate lots.
Education in Mexico & Yucatan
As at least one American newspaper blazes headlines about the failing education system in Mexico, President Calderon vows to institute a new system of evaluation so that the educational system of the nation can be brought up to equal or surpass the educational systems of other nations. How does that "play" in Yucatan? Well – as a matter of fact, the nation is a little late on getting busy about education. The State of Yucatan has already begun to evaluate everything from teaching to administration and has brought in external consultants to guide the process. You see – we’ve got a little something that other states might not have. While others claim that the teacher’s unions are uncontrollable and unstoppable, Yucatan has the Asociación de Padres de Familia del Estado de Yucatán. That’s the equivalent of the P.T.A. but with the parents "large and in charge." Members of the Padres de Familia may be asked to paint the school between semesters – but you can be certain that they are also in evidence when school is in session. Yucatan is the first state in the nation to move forward with totally revamping its education system and we congratulate not only our education professionals, but also the parents who are making this all possible.
Apoyo Program in Progreso
Before we leave the topic of education, its time to turn our attention to the children who have earned a place in the Apoyo Program in Progreso. We hope each of our readers is able to "adopt" a school child in Progreso. However, if you cannot make a long-term committment to a particular child, just send money! We hate to put it that way but Kitty, the resourceful gringa who runs the program, has identified any number of very bright children in Progreso who really deserve our support. This is especially important for those of us who intend to spend the rest of our lives in Yucatan because these children will shape the future of our adopted home. Please take the time to read our story on the Apoyo Program in Progreso and help support the education of these deserving children. We know there are other apoyo programs in the state and, if you will send us contact information, we would be more than happy to pass your information along to our readers as well.
Follow the Money: $1 Billion Dollars Per Day
Did you know that there is over $1 Billion Dollars Per Day in trade between Mexico and the United States? That’s right… and Mexico is getting ready to improve its infrastructure so that it will be competitive on a global scale… and… Mexico is giving U.S. firms an opportunity to make bids on selling them the materials they need to bring their infrastructure up to speed. Sounds like win-win situation for both countries. The following are a few more business highlights from this week’s news in Mexico.
- Effective March 28, 2008: Canada, the U.S., and Mexico have reached an agreement that will allow farmers access to livestock from any of the three nations – as long as the animals were born after 1999. This restriction will ensure that there is no spread of mad cow disease.
- Apple’s IPhone will be launched in Mexico in June 2008.
- Mexico’s Banco Aztec to begin making low-income loans in Brazil, which has the world’s 5th largest economy.
- France’s Evialis is purchasing 70% of Malta Cleyton, one of Mexico’s leading animal feed and pet food manufacturers, and fourth largest company of its kind in the world.
Tzucacab Corn Beetles Early
For some reason, the corn beetles that usually arrive in June and July have arrived early in Tzucacab – and in huge numbers. There is great speculation among the older folks as to why this has happened since the arrival of so many beetles (at the proper time) is the promise of a good crop. Does this mean that the crop will fail? or that the crop will be better than ever? No one knows. So – for the next few weeks, there will be lights out at night in Tzucacab so that the little bugs don’t end up flocking into people’s homes.
Only in Yucatan: Apologetic Price War
As our readers know, Yucatan has a significant watermelon crop and is a strong player in the export business of this crop to the United States. Most of the best of the crop is exported but what is done with the fruit of lesser quality that is left? Logic determines that it is (and should be) sold at a discount and the money used to help defray some of the expenses of the grower. Such is the case in Yucatan at the present time. The problem is that the lower priced Yucateco watermelons are now in competition with watermelons in another state and are causing prices to drop. Yucateco growers are apologizing to the other state over and over again, but really do need to sell the remainder of their crop to help pay for electricity and irrigation. In our experience, price wars have always been ugly and usually born of greed. This is the first deeply apologetic "price war" we have ever witnessed and is yet another "Only in Yucatan" moment.
New RV Park in Valladolid
For those of our readers who enjoy their "rolling houses," there is now a place just for you in Valladolid, near Chichen Itza. Suytún de Mendoza has space for 40 hookups and they have really gone all out to make your stay there memorable. Not only do they have a wonderful restaurant, but they also have a mini-superette, shower and bathroom facilities, and a swimming pool with just the coolest bar ever – constructed inside a cave! If you don’t have an RV, they have cabins available and the entire site is eco-friendly. The great plus about this location, aside from the natural wonders of cenotes, caves, and Chichen Itza, is that it really is in the center of everything. Anything you want to see or do on the entire peninsula is just a day trip from here. We can’t find a price on the RV hookups (or a website, for that matter… but we’ll keep looking!), but since the cabins are only $250 MXP per night, this should really be an affordable place to stay.
Don’t Do Crime or Behave Badly – Or Else!!!
This has long been a favorite topic of mine. Sometimes it is very sad but, sometimes, it leaves you with a little chuckle. One of the reasons that Yucatan seems to be so much more "civilized" than "some other countries" is fear of public embarrassment. Those of us who are a bit older (and from the South) can probably remember when absolutely everything that happened in anybody’s life was commented on in local newspapers. Even if we got sick, the details of our illness would be there for all the world to read – as were our trips to visit our Aunt Suzie-Belle in another city or state. Such is the case in Yucatan even in the 21st century. Everything is celebrated and put in the newspaper. Now that we have an online edition of El Diario, even the photo albums of birthday parties and dance recitals of 3-year olds are there – and its wonderful to see because things like that come under the heading of community-building. But that sword cuts the other way too. Those who are accused of a crime find that not only is their address printed in the paper, but often the names of their relatives. Simply behaving badly will get someone denounced in print as well. A word to the wise… spoiling the view in Centro will certainly result in one’s name and address in print and with "comments." After all, decorum is everything! (at least in Yucatan is still is).