Yucatan News: Watching and Waiting
News Starting June 21, 2010
Latest Word on Yucatan and the Oil Spill
Within the next two weeks, buoys will be put in place on the outside of the Alacranes Reef to monitor the risk to Yucatan's waters from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The buoys will be equipped with satellite transmitters so officials will always know how far away the oil is and how fast it is moving. This is not to say that there is imminent risk, only that officials want to begin monitoring the behavior of currents, on and below the surface, so that they can be better prepared if part of the spill turns in this direction.
For now, it looks as if any oil that comes our way will be below the surface and not in liquid form. It will also not be as toxic as it is near the blowout because of degradation caused by sun and wave action killing the bacteria it carries. That any possible oil coming Yucatan's way will probably be subsurface, solid, and less toxic is good news because, as we know, the first casualties in Louisiana were the next generation of fish eggs and baby fish that covered the top of the water along the Louisiana coast.
Yucatan will have 80 sampling stations around the peninsula, all at different depths and distances from the coast. If this oil spill reaches Yucatan, it is expected in October and November. A bad hurricane could bring it in as early as August. In either case, Yucatan is currently ahead of the game and everyone is working hard to see to it that she stays ahead.
More News on Oil and BP
Yucatan has a new director for our Oceanography Research Station over at the Armada. It is expected that he will have a good working relationship with CINVESTAV and ECOSUR, which is very welcome news for the immediate future of our coastal environment. Plus, we have learned that Mexico is getting ready to sue BP in order to get a $20 million USD contingency fund in place. There is some talk that this will be the initial request for cleanup and restoration in Tamaulipas, with the need spreading down the East Coast with time. The longer the oil is in the water, the less fluid and toxic it will be so, hopefully, Yucatan's location will serve to somewhat protect our shores.
Yucatan Coming to a Theater Near You!
Steve McQueen left behind 1,700 pages of unfinished screenplay and story board by the nifty title of “Yucatan” and it was years before it was discovered, packed away in two trunks. According to reports, the film has no dialogue. All of the action is the result of a highly stylized form of poetry. We'll soon see what that really means.
The next generation's bad boy, Robert Downey, Jr. is going to direct the movie, his wife Susan is going to produce it, and no news yet of who will star in the movie. However, it really doesn't matter who stars in this movie. Steve McQueen wrote it and left it behind – like a note in a bottle, thrown into the sea. We can't wait to see the movie and discover the message.
Brigades! To the Beach!
We would be willing to bet that most of our readers and many of our expats don't know who the Brigades are but, if you have seen all of the rapid construction and growth in and around Progreso, you know that it is going to take an army to get it all cleaned up and ready for the month and a half of summer vacation that is just around the corner!
The Community Brigadistas is a group of somewhat permanent state employees who remain embedded in the community, as part of Civil Protection, as well as to meet other needs in cases of emergency. They will roll up their sleeves during the second week in July and, we would venture to say that, when these young people get finished with Progreso, the entire area, including the streets and even the landfill, will all have a shine that has seldom been seen before.
If you know of a young person who would like to join the Community Brigadistas, please send them to the Brigadista website. Not only does this add to their resume, but it also adds to the army of wonderful young people who provide us with so much assistance during hurricanes and other emergencies.
A New Beach for Summer Vacationers!
The rebuilding of the beach between Yucalpeten and Chuburna will begin on June 28 and is expected to be completed prior to the arrival of summer vacationers! From that point on, there will be an aggressive beach maintenance and recovery program that, ultimately, will extend the full length of Yucatan's coast. Thanks goes to a combination of Federal, State and Municipal agencies that have been designated to carry out this work. This project has long been needed and is deeply appreciated by all who live along the coast of Yucatan.
New Push Toward International Business Conventions
Merida's Civic Center is being remodeled as part of a new tourism reorganization plan. It looks as if Progreso is getting its new Malecon to meet the needs of the cruise passengers, Valladolid's focus is trade and eco-tourism, and Merida will focus more on business and industry, with the ability to serve international business conventions as a major attraction.
Step one is the remodeling of Siglo XXI, a project that has already been funded and is ready to begin. This more organized approach to tourism in Yucatan should provide the state with a secure track on which to build its tourism future.
In Times of Crisis: Build Infrastructure
As the worldwide tides of fortune ebb and flow, we all watched as Mexico, sometimes down on its luck, threw itself into road modernization, along with other infrastructure projects. Would “make work” projects be enough to sustain the people during hard times and pull them ahead during good times? The research is in and Mexico's upgraded infrastructure has been dubbed the locomotive that is pulling the economy. In some cases, actually in some cases in Yucatan itself, the new roads have already resulted in bringing in as much as was initially invested in building them. We know making the decision to make this kind of commitment must have been difficult, but everyone is deeply appreciative of Mexico's faith and vision for the country, in general, and for Yucatan, in particular.
Septic Tank Testing Coming Soon
We have underground rivers, inland aquifers, cenotes, wells on private property and the sea. We also have an astonishing number of septic tanks, some of which are very old, with no one at the helm to check and see if any of them are discharging any level of contamination that has the potential to make its way into our fresh water or into the sea along our shores.
JAPAY (Merida's water utility) and the Municipality of Merida have a new plan that will soon begin testing the discharge coming from septic tanks. This is all part of a 2030 Watershed Council that hopes to see clean, potable water throughout the entire Yucatan Peninsula by 2030. They are having a convention during July and August, so we should get a great deal more information on these plans by summer's end.
8th Annual Gay Parade
We can't call this a Gay Parade anymore! This annual event is now a celebration by and for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Transvestite, Transsexual and Intersex people who live in Yucatan. This year saw over 400 participants in the parade, with plenty of parade-goers on hand to help them celebrate. Some participants walked, while some rode in cars and trucks, and even in horse-drawn buggies. They were escorted, uneventfully, by the Municipal Police of Merida. At the end of the parade, there were speeches in the Plaza Grande and everyone expressed their joy that such a parade can not only be held in Merida, but also that thoughts can now be turned to making next year's parade bigger and better than ever!
Electrical Use Up in Merida
As residents of Merida rush to add either more 110 air conditioning units, or change from 110 to 220, CFE has provided the following information and has made a request. If you want to change to 220, all you have to do is call 071. The change is free and takes approximately one week to complete. They would also like to request that residents who are adding air conditioners and appliances please call and let them know so that they can increase the capacity of the transformers in the area. Not calling can, and often does, result in unnecessary outages for the resident and for their neighbors.
So far this year, there have already been 2,000 residents who have requested new 220 service in Merida and total consumption is up by 22%. Sixty percent of the increase is due to increases in population, but 40% is due to the extreme heat in the city.