News: Merida, City of Peace
News Starting January 03, 2011
The Raising of the Banner of Peace
We are putting this on both the News and Events pages because this is a one-of-a-kind event no one should miss. Merida was the Culture Capital of the North American Continent in the year 2000. With that kind of honor, what does one do for an encore? Problem solved! At the end of 2010, Merida, Yucatan was chosen to join the ranks of the 100 Cities of Peace for Peace. This program is carried out by an international institution recognized by the International Committee of the Flag of Peace of the UN-NGO. The cities that have earned this honor (100 Cities in the period 2010 to 2015) must develop a program that shows they are committed to making communication their priority, having an active and engaged citizenry disseminating a culture of peace and human rights, beginning with the right to life, social justice, and environmental balance. You are cordially invited to be present for the raising of the Banner of Peace in Parque de las Americas, at 8:00 PM. Admission is Free.
Remittances Up in Yucatan
At the deepest point of the U.S. economic slowdown, all sorts of outlandish rumors could be found in print. Many of those rumors claimed that the Mexican government would fall without the remittances sent home by migrants. Since remittances account for only approximately 2.3% of Mexico's GDP, we suspect that the Mexican government is not going to fall any time soon. However, concerns about remittances, especially as a barometer for the health of the U.S. economy, is still an issue of importance in Mexico and we have good news! At the close of 2010, Mexico shows a total decline in remittances of only 1.3%, while the State of Yucatan shows an increase of 1.7%. Remittances amount to a huge sum of money when we consider the community improvement programs in which the State and Federal governments match designated remittances two and three times over, depending on the type of community project. What we like hearing best in all of this is that migrants are working. This means that our migrant friends from here in Yucatan have jobs, and it means that our home country is on the mend. What wonderful news to start a new year!
Study Abroad in Merida: Lost on the First Day…
Dear Mom and Dad… You have finally overcome your fears of bloody drug wars and have allowed your young adult child to head for a big city in Mexico for a semester (or more) of studying abroad. You agreed to Merida because so many expats promised you faithfully that nothing would happen to your little darling while they are in Yucatan. You have even insisted that your child live in a home-stay, with people who at least are known to the university. What could possibly happen? After all, isn’t Merida the newest City of Peace? Yet, to your horror, your child gets lost on the very first day and doesn’t show up until well after dark. To top it all off, when she is found, she happily blogs that it was a wonderful experience and that she is just exhausted! If you are a parent and your child is pressuring you to allow him or her study abroad, we hope you will read some of the student blogs (especially this one ) and that they will help to calm your fears so that your college student can benefit from what is one of the best experiences life has to offer... the exploration of a new culture.
Seafood Packing Plant to Open in Motul
Global Trade, an American company, has signed a contract with the State of Yucatan and will reopen an abandoned vegetable packing plant in Motul. The plant has been closed for 16 years. It will now provide 40 direct jobs and 60 indirect jobs for workers in Motul. If this packing plant is a success, and we know it will be, it is expected to open doors to additional growth in the packing and export of fish, agricultural products, and livestock. The future is looking brighter than ever for Motul.
Uman Grows Them Stronger and Faster
What are the odds of one tiny town, on the west side of Merida, Yucatan, consistently producing national powerlifting champions and runners? We have no clue, but that is exactly what is happening. First, Uman produced 4 national powerlifting champions with 3 gold medals each. Then, Uman produced 3 champion runners. Now, at the Torneo Nacional del Pavo, in San Luis Potosi, and at the National Youth Championships, Uman's male and female weightlifting teams have won the national championship. What a coup for Uman and for Yucatan! Congratulations to all and best of luck on the road to the Olympics. By the way, we also hear that there are plenty of younger children and teens training hard to follow in the footsteps of Uman's champions. We are certain that we will be watching their careers for many years to come!
Stars Shine in the East
When most people think about Valladolid, they think of a tourist destination – gateway to Chichen Itza and cenotes, home of great industrial, export and craft fairs, and a colonial gem sitting at the crossroads of history on the Yucatan Peninsula. But what of the people who live there? Nothing can define a people better than the manifestation of the spirit of giving at Christmas. For the past eleven years, the Youth Ministry of St. Servatius Parish has provided Christmas toys for children with fewer resources. This year, they were able to bring Christmas to 2,700 children. In addition to the work of the Youth Ministry of St. Servatius Parish, the Faisanes de Valladolid (Pheasants of Valladolid), a local motorcycle club, brought Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in outlying villages in the Municipality of Valladolid. This is a relatively new tradition but the members of the club love it as much as the children do. If you live here, you know the depth of the spirit of the people of Yucatan. If you are a visitor or if you only think you might want to live here, why not spend some time in an outlying town or two? You might just be surprised at how brightly the stars really do shine.
The Lady Mototaxistas of Celestun
We have already read about the lady painters in high places in Sisal and now we hear news of six ladies who have joined the ranks of the mototaxistas in Celestun. Some do this job to support themselves, and some do it to add to their family income. The hours are long (7:00 am to 11:00 pm) but the approximately $200 pesos per day they earn helps smooth the way for families whose incomes often depend on the whims of the sea. We are very proud of the lady motorcycle taxi drivers of Celestun, and congratulate their mayor, Guadalupe Villanueva Pinto, a woman pioneer in her own right.
Permanent Rules for Sale of Fireworks
Perhaps because fireworks are so much a part of so many celebrations in Mexico, Merida took its time in implementing the final rules for the sale of fireworks in the city so that it could be done correctly and as painlessly as possible. These are the high points. From now on, fireworks can be sold in only 12 approved locations in the city. All fireworks vendors must have a permit to sell those items and must take classes in fireworks safety and emergency fire response. The SSP has already made one big sweep of the city and confiscated 1.3 tons of fireworks, but they are not going to continue spending great amounts of time haunting the streets looking for street vendors selling fireworks. When they do find them, the fireworks will be confiscated. In the meantime, residents are asked to purchase fireworks only at the 12 approved sites so that street vending will slowly die on its own.
Yucatan's Honey Industry Running Late
Between cold weather and lack of rain, this year's honey producers are running behind on all fronts. They are committed to producing 400 tons of honey for exportation and 200 tons for the domestic market. As of now, they have only produced 400 tons, but the season officially runs all the way to August, so they still have time to catch up and surpass their own records. The processing plant, Yucatan Honey Bees, has the money to purchase all the honey the beekeepers can bring them. Keep your fingers crossed for the beekeepers to have plenty of rain and reasonably warm weather in January because they also now have the opportunity to significantly increase their exportation of honey to China. We think this is great news for an industry that was formally organized only a few years ago.
Residents Fight Bitter Cold in the Interior
Some scientists now say that global warming is a misleading name for what is happening to our planet because it leads people to believe that only excessively warm temperatures are associated with this phenomenon. Such is not the case. As the core temperature of the Earth heats up, Artic ice is melting, which is resulting in colder winters and hotter summers. At first, the colder winters seemed limited to the upper Northern Hemisphere, but they have gradually reached Mexico. While most of us complain about a cooler than average breeze on some days in Yucatan, there are outlying areas, especially in the interior and eastern parts of the state, where geography is a factor in making the cold temperatures life-threatening. This is all the more true when desperately cold individuals begin to burn fires inside their homes, resulting in multiple deaths. This week, the State of Yucatan responded with an all out effort, much as it does after a hurricane. In the first phase of the program called “Shelter,” 47,000 jackets and 13,000 blankets were distributed to the poor in 19 municipalities, with thousands more being distributed daily. The program is geared especially toward the elderly and children throughout the state and in Merida. This situation caused us to wonder if some among our readers might consider tinkering with the possibility of a low cost DIY passive solar heating project. We know the talent is out there and that this would be a worthy project for any individual or group. If you have any ideas along this line, please let us know.
Jose A Herrera 12 years ago
For those of you who are looking forward to either visit or live in Merida. The weather from April to July you go to bed with very light or no pajamas. July through November you take your pick. December through March you cover yourself with a light "cobija" or hold tight and lovingly to your sleeping partner...and enjoy it for the entire twelve months of the year...try it you like it !!
Khaki 12 years ago
Sorry to post twice but wanted to answer Naydean's temperature question.
For several days in a row, the temperatures in the interior of the state (especially in the Southern Cone area and the southeastern part of the state) occasionally hover between 5 and 8 degrees Celsius. That's between 41 and 46.4 degrees Fahrenheit. It is warmer in Merida and at the beach - and it never lasts long, so people don't really realize that it can get "cold" in Yucatan.
Khaki 12 years ago
Casi - that's GREAT information! Instead of looking for ways to turn Yucateco houses into potentially unhealthy sealed boxes in winter, I should have been looking for emergency protection projects... protection from wind for walls - something that can be rolled up and put away for next winter - or something inexpensive enough to throw away at the end of the season and reproduce (for free?) next year... and t-shirts, long pants and socks for people.
CasiYucateco 12 years ago
The simplest and easiest to maintain sort of solar heating would be what is called a "Trombe Wall." This is simply an external wall with a sheet of black painted steel attached to it vertically, like one panel of siding. Over that, with side boards for spacing, is placed a sheet of glass or plastic glazing. Openings through the wall at top and bottom of the steel panel permit cool air to enter, be warmed by the sun and flow back into the room at the top. Flaps control the air and are closed at night to keep the heat inside. An external flap at the top on the outside releases hot air to the atmosphere in the summer time. (Or the glass panel is shaded.) The materials are cheap, readily available and simple to assemble.
But the real issue isn't the folks with block homes, even though they can be quite chilly. In a hot, humid tropical climate, many rural and interior folks live in traditional homes that purposely do not have solid walls in order to allow air circulation in the steamy summers. These houses cannot be adequately closed up for quick cold snaps.
And the cold snaps do not have to be that cold to be harmful. Can anyone imagine spending 24 or 48 or 72 hours in 50 degree weather? All 24 hours every day? That is what the thatched house-living families are exposed to. A few hours in 50 degree weather may feel chilly. But day after day at that temperature without protection from air circulation can lead to hypothermia.
Emergency protection from such temperatures can come from stuffing old newspapers or rags into the wall cracks between wooden poles and from lining hammocks with newspapers to block the wind. Poor people in tropical climates don't have a lot of clothing. So even extra t-shirts, long pants and socks can be very important. Blankets and coats help, but basic clothing and protection from the elements is essential.
Naydean 12 years ago
I am reading this article from Utah where it is currently between 10-20 degrees F. I spent last summer in Merida with my 3 children and loved it! What have the temperatures been? I am having a hard time imagining the Yucatan "cold".
Naomi 12 years ago
Great article, especially for our US friends that have concerns about safety when we spend our 2 to 3 months yearly vacation in Merida.
Allen and Annie 12 years ago
the article on solar heat got my attention, it's fairly simple in this type of climate to heat water, the problem is contamination and material breakdown. I've used a simple garden hose running through a black plastic pipe snaked across a roof to heat water, but the hose (which is not built to withstand heat), starts to break down quite quickly. There are suitable materials out there to use in this application, but like everything else, the cost goes up. We have also used thermal pumping technics to heat a small house, that worked like a charm, but again it used a small pump to circulate the water (which was the medium we used) through the radiators in the home. It might be possible to store enough juice to run a small pump for a few hours a night, that would possible keep the home more comfotable through the chilly hours though.
Bill Milligan M.D. 12 years ago
Enjoyed your article and especially since we are presently in Merida. We just returned from an interesting excursion to a Hacienda near Cuzuma, recently renovated by a 28 year old British woman. Great place to stay and she grows and cooks organically, completely run by solar panels and has 3 lovely street dogs. If your interested:
More info: firstname.lastname@example.org
Toni Lindsay/TwoTexans 12 years ago
Great article, Khaki. Thank you for posting this information.
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