News Starting July 25, 2011
Its Official: Its Summer Vacation!
It has officially been Summer Vacation since Sunday, July 17. Summer Vacation will not officially end until the end of August. These are the weeks when most folks who live in Merida head somewhere cool to escape the heat generated by living in a large city. For anyone who expects to get any work involving a government office during the month of August, you should know that many government offices, as well as many professional service providers, close their offices and go on vacation as well. However, these are not unproductive times. The historical buildings that house so many of our government offices, as well as the buildings that are visited by millions of tourists every year, need a little tender loving care and this is the perfect time to get that done. So – go to the beach often, visit a few rural towns, or just lounge away the vacation in your own backyard. If you travel in small towns, please take care. All of the children will be out of school and, when you least expect it, they could decide that a street will make a great playground.
Its Hot! YouTube for Hot Weather
Its hot outside and you need something cool to drink. The only requirement is that you don’t have to do too much work to get it done. Its time to head for YouTube and start searching for whatever fruit you’ve got on hand. Living in Yucatan when fruit begins to ripen is an adventure in and of itself. But – we’re back to YouTube and something – anything – cold! If you search for mango drinks, sooner or later, you’re going to stumble on Tahira’s Mango Lassi. Now, search YouTube for “no cook deserts” and you’ll find Ice Cream Made in a Blender!Variations on those two themes ought to help polish off the summer quite nicely. Enjoy!
New Sporting Event in Progreso: Kiteboard Races
The Tournament of Kiteboard Races & Freestyle 2011 was held this past weekend in Progreso. This year, participants were just from Yucatan but it was such a success that we expect it to be a huge event next year, maybe even with international participants. Congratulations to everyone who participated in this event and in all of the upcoming events in our port cities.
Mexico’s Economy Declared Structurally Sound
Mexico does not struggle with the immense debt loads and budget woes that regularly seem to plague Europe and the U.S. Even while some Spanish banks are in trouble, Mexico can relax because they made certain the Spanish bank subsidiaries in Mexico are well capitalized. The only worry that the Mexico’s economy has right now is the success of the budget negotiations in the U.S. Since Mexico relies heavily on the economy north of the border, it is always in Mexico’s best interest for the U.S. economy to be in good health. In the meantime, in a world where the global economy still has not fully rebounded, Mexico is doing better than many.
Wal-Mart de Mexico: Perspective
This week, Wal-Mart de Mexico reported a 3.4% drop in profits for the past quarter. The rest of that story is that profits dropped during just that one quarter, because spending on building and opening new stores was massive throughout the country. In April, May and June, they opened 132 new stores, compared with only 56 for the same period the year before. These numbers are giving them enough clout with suppliers to get lower prices, which they pass on to consumers. Wal-Mart de Mexico has been operating in Mexico since the 1970s but continues to have stiff competition from a variety of Mexican companies. Competition includes: Organizacion Soriana SAB, Controladora Comercial Mexicana SAB and Grupo Comercial Chedraui SA. It looks as if they are all here to stay.
Yucatan’s Remittances Continue to Grow
The numbers are amazing! There are approximately 150,000 migrants, from Yucatan, living in the United States today. Together during this past year, they sent home $112 million USD to their families in the Yucatan. While this looks like a lot of money, it is actually less than $750 USD per year per migrant. This represents an 85% increase in remittances from Yucatecos in the past seven years. These remittances, placed in a community fund and coupled with government matching grants, power up and pay for community needs, such as water wells and baseball diamonds, and even for park restoration and fixing streets in the migrants’ home towns. Most Yucateco migrants are from Oxkutzcab, Peto, Ticul, Buctzotz, Tixkokob, Tekax and other small towns in the southern and eastern parts of the state. Most of them have made their homes in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.
Puerto Morelos: Upscale Tourism Education Center
In a partnership between the government of Quintana Roo, the Secretariat of Education (SEP), the local Secretary of Tourism (SEDETUR) and the French government, a new tourism education center is to be built in the town of Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo. The focus of the school will be on all levels of upscale French cuisine and hospitality, with students schooled in the knowledge of fine dining and other tourist services. Teachers will be from France. There will be short courses, as well as continuing education in such areas as the business of hospitality, food and beverages. The final level will be for those who want to earn a master’s degree with a specialization in tourism. The school will begin with 1,800 students and that number will soon grow to 3,100. It is expected that this school will help to bring the Mexican Caribbean to the forefront of training and upgrading to the tourism industry of the region.
The Chronicler of Ticul
With the appointment of Santiago Gómez y Cámara to a lifetime position as the official chronicler of Ticul last year, Ticul took one more step toward becoming one of the premier destinations in Yucatan. Now, we get to hear the rest of the story from someone who really knows how it all happened. When we think about Ticul, we think shoes and pottery, then sit down and wait for the annual festivals so we can go shopping. But – did you know that Ticul has the only clay mines in the South and, in prehispanic times, Ticul’s potters were responsible for making all ceremonial pottery? Did you know that their shoemakers produce more shoes than anyone else in the region? They’ve been making shoes commercially in Ticul since 1904!
Did you know that Ticul’s commercial revolution began in the 1940s and continues to improve until this day? The city and the beach are not the only choices of places to consider when thinking about Snowbirding or moving to Yucatan. There are many rural areas in our adopted state that are perfect for those who always dreamed of life away from the maddening crowd (but close enough to get to a mall when necessary).
China: Yucateca on Mexican Synchronized Swim Team
Karen Achach Ramírez, of Merida, Yucatan, is a member of the Mexican Synchronized Swim Team. At this writing, Karen and her teammates have advanced to the final round of the World Swimming Championships, which are to be held at the Oriental Sports Center pool in Shanghai, China. It has been eleven years since Mexico made it to the top twelve finalists in this competition and we are on pins and needles, along with Karen’s family here in Merida, as we wait for that final event and for the final tally of points.
UPDATE: Mexico’s female team of synchronized swimmers came from behind and beat out their closest rival, Brazil, for 11th place in the world during the finals of the FINA World Championships in Shanghai, China. This was the first time Mexico placed in the top 12 in more than a decade and Yucatan’s own Karen Achach is a member of the team! Congratulations to Karen and to all of her family here at home in Merida, as well as to her coaches!
Weather: Hurricane Dora
We have been watching as slow moving Hurricane Dora crawled her way north along the west coast of Mexico. As of now, Dora has reached Category 4 status and is passing by southern Baja California. Those who don’t have much experience with hurricanes might take this news with a sigh of relief. Many of us know better. There is no more dangerous place to be, in a hurricane, than within its reach on its eastern side. The winds are much stronger on the eastern side of a hurricane than on the west. In addition, storm surges originate on the eastern side of hurricanes because the wind is blowing toward land, rather than away from land – as it is on the western side. What this means is a high degree of danger and longer exposure to danger, especially along the southern coast of Baja California. Experts say that Dora is moving northwest, so the northern coast of Baja California might be ok. Keep an eye on them. By the time you read this, the hurricane should be over and there may be ways to help the people.
Butterfly Alert: Need More Water
Congratulations must absolutely go to Mexico for their conservation efforts on behalf of the monarch butterfly. Although we do get a few monarchs in Yucatan, their major wintering ground is in Central Mexico. For a long time, illegal logging was taking over 1,000 acres of forest per year. Now, illegal logging is virtually nonexistent, a testament to strongly enforced laws. In addition, the weather, in the butterfly refuge, has cooperated for the several years so loss of habitat from hurricanes and storms has been almost nil. In just the past year, the number of butterflies that flew north from Mexico was double the number from the year before. If we can keep this up for just a few years, the monarch butterfly’s comeback will be phenomenal. The only worry now lies north of the border, where a terrible drought is raging across the U.S. If you have a butterfly garden, please make certain that you also have water available for them. If you don’t have a butterfly garden, please consider planting one. Visit Monarch Butterfly USA for more information – and don’t forget to make sure to provide extra water for your butterfly friends.
Triplets Born at O’Horan
Mom is fine. Two of the babies’ health is termed as being tricky and the third is in serious condition, but everyone is working hard to ensure that they get well soon. Best wishes to Mom, beekeeper Dad, and all three babies.
Conditions Right for Red Tide
So far, the coast of Yucatan has not had any incidences of red tide this year but that doesn’t mean we’re in the clear. This is the time of year that algae is blooming all along the coast. All it takes is for rains to send nutrient laden runoff from inland to feed it. The algae will grow rapidly and, when the bloom collapses, we’ll be left with a mini-dead zone. One of the reasons for cultivating the regeneration of mangroves is so that they will keep nutrients from land from washing into the sea, thereby averting red tide incidents. In the meantime, all of the fishermen and scientists are monitoring the conditions along the coast.
Vacation Highway Traffic
As Summer Vacation goes into full swing, the highways to beaches fill with cars and the incidents of motor vehicle accidents begins to rise. Laws against impaired driving will be strictly enforced, but most accidents tend to involve speed, with or without alcohol. If you are on the highways this next month, please drive defensively and take it slow. It is very rare to find an expat involved in a traffic accident and we would surely love to see this summer holiday season come and go without anyone being hurt or even inconvenienced. A word to the wise: There is a ticket waiting for anyone not wearing their seatbelt.
Raising Vegetables for Food and Profit
It looks as if the ladies of the Municipality of Progreso are well on their way to success in the truck farming business. This program began in San Ignacio where 15 women were given 12 types of seeds, tools, wire mesh and a drip hose for irrigation. Their crops are up and doing splendidly. The program is soon to expand throughout the municipality nd will contribute to a significant increase in the quality of nutrition available for families. They’re growing more than they need, so look for trading and business to improve as well. We’re sure there are plenty of beach expats who will be happy to become these ladies’ first customers.