Yucatan News: Water in Gardens & Tabasco
Aquamar Convention in Campeche This Week:
August 1 (Wednesday) through August 4 (Saturday)
The topic of backyard organic gardening is one that interests almost everyone, especially the expats who live on the limestone shelf we call the Yucatan Peninsula. Until now, pretty much our only option, if we wanted a backyard garden, was to purchase and haul in dirt – only to watch it filter away down through the limestone. Everyone has, at one time or another, thought about aquaculture, but never quite like it will be presented in Campeche this week. This will be an international event that will bring together both scientific and practical experience from aquaponics and aquaculture in Mexico, Australia, the U.K. and the U.S. For more information and great DIY videos, take a look at Backyard Aquaponics Magazine. For even more “how to” aquaponics, including building greenhouses and How to Make a Bell Siphon, go to the page that holds videos from several U.S. projects. What's so exciting for us is that these are the very people who will be attending the Aquamar Convention in Campeche. It isn't that far to Campeche, so everyone who is interested in gardening should try to make it over there for this very special convention.
Location: The Convention Center of San Francisco Campeche, Campeche, Mexico
Contact: Zoila Lopez Lara or Adriana Lopez by email.
Star Medica Merida: First Implant Prosthesis Surgery in North America
Although the surgery has not yet been approved in the U.S., 70 patients have benefited from this new implant prosthesis surgery in Europe and now one American has come to Merida and is thriving with her newly implanted "above the knee" prosthesis, which she has named Super Heidi. The patient is 69 year old Uta Burrelli. The medical team consisted of Merida surgeons Dr. Carlos Reyes de Caceres and Dr. Ricardo Guillermo Yanez, along with German innovator, Dr. Horst Aschoff. The event was coordinated by Medical Traveler Yucatan, a Merida medical travel company. You can read more about the procedure and the doctors who participated here in this article about Medical Traveler Yucatan. Yucatan Living would like to congratulate everyone who took part in this groundbreaking event!
Baby Jaguar To Soon Be Named
A zoo in Chihuahua sent Merida's Centenario a baby jaguar. She is now 5 months old and doing well, but the mayor decided to let children between the ages of 6 and 12 suggest a name for the youngster. What a hit that has been! Merida now has 200 letters from children as far away as Cancun and Campeche. The top 10 will be chosen and those children will get to spend time with the mayor and she will take them to lunch. Then, the winner will be announced on September 18th, which will be the 100th birthday of the Centenario Zoo. First place winner gets a notebook computer. Second place is an iPod, and third place wins a collection of children's films. With 20 days left to go, and a drop-box in most of the parks around the city, we suspect there will be at least 400 contestants before this event comes to a close. We read the list of names and Pigtail sounded awfully cute to us. We can't wait to see the final result of this contest!
Lion's Club To Host a Quinceañera in Itzimna
This is both News and an Event, but we are publishing it here in hopes that more readers will see it and – just maybe – it will inspire others to do look for even more ways they too can contribute to their adopted culture here in Yucatan. These are difficult times and we are constantly amazed by the good works of both the Lions' Club and Rotary International, as well as other expat groups. In this case, the Lion's Club Itzimna is providing a Quinceañera for young ladies who might not otherwise be able to afford such an event. We can hardly wait to see how it turns out. We are certain that all of the young ladies will be simply beautiful as they enter this next phase of their lives.
Date of Quinceañera: September 24, 2010
In Honor of: up to 50 young ladies who will turn 15 years of age between July 1 and Dec. 31.
Register: Sept. 11, 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM at Calle 15 # 534 x 20 y 22, Colonia Maya
Location of Quinceañera: Calle 15 # 534 x 20 y 22, Colonia Maya
Time: 8:00 PM
Tabasco is Flooded Again
This makes the third year in a row that Tabasco has had to endure huge floods. This time, on the first day the rivers came out of their banks, 122,000 people in 14 municipalities are already affected. This is what happens when six rivers all flood at the same time. Throughout August, Tabasco had double the normal levels of rainfall and its still raining there. Officials hope they will be able to keep Villahermosa from flooding again, but are cautious about making any promises. We will have Snowbirds on their way down within the month, so we will be watching this situation closely. If you want to monitor this situation for yourselves, you can do so by watching Tabasco's Civil Protection site, but we've found the best resource to be the articles and videos on Tabasco Hoy.
Mexicana Stopped Flying – AeroMexico Steps In
This past Saturday, in the middle of the day and with no warning, Mexicana simply stopped flying. In press conferences, they said they had been flying at a loss for some time and simply could no longer afford to keep their planes in operation. Calls to the company go unanswered, but press releases say that applications for refunds can be made via the Mexicana website. In another press release, AeroMexico stated that they will service Mexicana passengers. That information is now on the AeroMexico website with complete instructions. Our thanks to AeroMexico for stepping up to the plate and helping so many people whose travel plans and financial arrangements would have been damaged without their intervention.
Saturday Bike Path in Valladolid
Merida has the Bici-Ruta every Sunday. Tizimin has the JAOO Bike Route. Now, Valladolid has a Saturday-only bike path, but with a bit of a twist. Instead of building a new bike path, they are simply closing off one lane of a wide avenue in one of their fraccionamientos. That's a great idea, especially since students in the Nutrition Department at Valladolid University Center are working with a free medical program in Valladolid, whose purpose is to combat malnutrition and obesity. This is a great opportunity for the people of Valladolid, as well as for young health care professionals, to take the future of their state in their own hands and really make a positive difference in the lives of everyone in the area. Congratulations to everyone who rides a bike in Merida on Sunday and in Valladolid on Saturday!
Blah blah blah: Flavor Flashback...
He stands in front of me and, with a straight face, pushes a small, dark pharmaceutical vial into the palm of my hand. The young, clean-cut gentleman who has just handed me the vial is standing in my crowded bakery on a Saturday afternoon. His face is the face of a twenty-something but the graying at his temples is giving his age away. He must be in his mid-thirties. Nothing about his expression reads ironic or conspiratorial.
I look at him. He looks back at me. Probably I look puzzled. Probably he has no idea that as I stare at the vial in the palm of my hand that it has turned into a time capsule: I´ve just been transported to a disco-tech. Its 1982 and Madonna´s "Like A Virgin" is now playing in my head.
"It´s something I concocted" he says.
"You can sprinkle it on fruit or use it as a marinade for meat," he says.
Then he says, "Taste it!"
And then I did. As soon as I licked it off the palm of my hand, an immense, deep flavor filled my senses. It was earthy and heavenly at once. I felt pyrotechnical reaction-explosions in my mouth, my jaw tingled. I had a poetic verbal-vision flash through my head: "Autochtonous soup with a smattering of corpuscular sea pods." That was my indigenous thought and those were the very words that popped into my head. Promise.
As I became saturated with the top and bass notes of this strange concoction, he, a chef, told me what it was: "Its the scrapings of organic root vegetables (beets, carrots, yams...) that I roasted in a slow oven for hours until they were dehydrated. Then I ground them up in a mortal and pestle. I´ve been using it as a marinade, I rub it on chicken breasts, fish fillets before grilling...Its a shame to waste the best, most flavorful part of the vegetable."
Vegetable skin. I have just been shaken to the core by vegetable skin. I listen to the chef as he described his concoction and at once, I understood the intoxicating flavor. It is the essence of simplicity. It is simplicity reduced. It is slow food encapsulated. It is the replacement of recklessness with essentiality.
I put the vial away in my pocket. I give him a hug and tell him to go away now, I´m busy. But I´ll see you very, very soon, I say. As soon as I can figure out what exactly to do with all this overload of information...
The replacement of recklessness with essentiality. That´s what it means to be a mom. It was by far the most difficult transition of my life. The transition from single woman to wife was easy. My husband knew all about my cooking tendencies. He understood that I had a passion for cooking gourmet food occasionally and with scandalous mess. But he also knew about my loathing of daily cooking. I hated housework. I made art, I didn´t clean house. And, lucky for him, he mainly wore tee-shirts so the news that I could not iron a shirt didn´t cause any great panic. He seemed to think that it was a good idea of mine, my idea about telling people that we had just returned from the beach to explain all the other un-ironed shirts. None of this news deterred that silly Dutch boy from proposing marriage. He didn´t have the misguided idea that I would suddenly become a domestic goddess and start folding towels uniformly with all the seams tucked inside a la Martha Stewart. My role as woman was unchanged except for marital status. I was an artist, a writer, loyal to him and to the pursuit of my individual dream together with my husband, a research scientist, pursuing his individual dream while we co-habitate for life wearing wrinkled shirts in a messy house. It was a seamless melding, he and I. We were blissfully happy. We ate out a lot.
Then we decided to become parents and I wish someone had told me that I would need a doctorate in home economics, just to get three meals on the table. Motherhood converted me into a servant. My baby the master. I was brought to my knees in defeat. I had to learn how to cook. I had to learn to serve. I had to change my art form. I had to re-learn joy, what defines joy, what is it, exactly? It´s hidden at the bottom of the autochtonous soup, my joy. The making of a family became my new art, my new sculptural project. Emulating the patience of microorganisms and feeling myself rise like dough. Rituals became part of life. Bread making was a natural transition.
So, who is this mystery chef, our flavor connection? Chef Raúl Antonio Gómez de la Parra the owner of Galeria de Bagels, the only person in town selling kosher bagels. Why don´t you give him a call and find out where his little, tiny, itsy bitsy restaurant is located in colonia Santana? 0449992174772. If you say "Autochtonous soup with a smattering of corpusclular sea pods," then he´ll know its you and you´re ok. Sign up for his afternoon classes. They begin in October at my bakery. Schedule to be announced.
This week's Blah Blah Blah by Monique Duval has been edited to make it just a little bit shorter so you'll have time to cook your own dinner tonite. If you want the full Monique experience, go see her at her bakery on Saturday mornings at the SLOW Food Market (information on our Ongoing Events page).
New Research into Old Mayan Issues
Dr. George Bey, of Millsaps College of Jackson, Mississippi, is studying Kiuic, an archaeological site about 20 miles from Uxmal. His purpose is to uncover new information about the collapse of the classical Maya civilization. While Dr. Bey uses the term "collapse" more often than we are comfortable with, he does admit that the Maya did not simply disappear. Instead, they moved toward the coasts of Yucatan, where we find them today. They did, however, stop writing and this leads to a hole in the knowledge we have about the causes for the decline of the classical Maya that can now only be filled by ongoing research. Whether the Maya moved because of drought, war, crop failure, or for other reasons, we know that the Maya are still with us in numbers great enough to make them the virtual backbone of Yucateco society in the 21st century. We wish the archaeologists well when they return on their next visit, and congratulate the Maya of Yucatan as they proudly move into every cultural, social, and professional arena in the State of Yucatan.
Blog of the Week: Trans-Americas Journey
We found this blog when the authors posted an article about Yucatan's flamingos at Ria Lagartos.The pictures are excellent and there is even a video. At the bottom of the page, we clicked on the title of their article describing their visit to Valladolid.That page also has beautiful pictures but the blog authors must not be well versed in the history of Yucatan because they seemed surprised to find a city with a European flavor to it. The most priceless part of the Valladolid page is their discussion of shower water. According to them, one needs to shower before 8:00 AM or after 7:00 PM in order to avoid the hot water coming from the tap. We read, laugh, and wonder if they really think we are going to light our hot water heaters when there is no need to do so. We also wonder how high their utility bills must be in the U.S. In the end, we're glad we found Trans-Americas Journey, but we are even happier that we live in Yucatan.
Commentary: President of Human Rights Commission in Mexico City Gets It Right
During his speech at the Sixth National “Faces of Discrimination” Award evening, Luis Gonzalez Placencia asked that the media not only be respectful of differences – but he also stressed the responsibility of media professionals in creating a culture of respect. To those individuals who claim freedom of the press and freedom of expression as a basis for spreading all forms of hate, we respectfully remind them that just because you can does not mean that you should. Today, the citizens of entire nations are being driven to opposite ends of political, religious, and cultural issues. Neighboring nations that should be working together are developing active prejudices against each other. Much of this negative energy is flowing in a direct path from the poison pens and poison tongues of journalists and other media professionals who are so lacking in personal and professional ethics that they find it easier to tear down than to build up. We would like to congratulate Luis Gonzalez Placencia for saying what should have been said years ago and for calling journalists and other media professionals to task for having had a direct hand in creating the current difficulties found around the world.