News / Yucatan News: Lobsters and Chickenpox

Yucatan News: Lobsters and Chickenpox

Yucatan News: Lobsters and Chickenpox

9 March 2011 News 2

News Starting March 07, 2011

Safety in Yucatan

Many thanks to the Institute for Study Abroad for their continued support of study abroad programs in Yucatan. We have thousands of exchange students and study abroad students in Yucatan every year and have never had a negative incident. Please visit Butler University’s Institute for Study Abroad: More Culture, Less Shock – The Facts About Safety in Yucatan.

Chickenpox Update

Just in case anyone has heard about an outbreak of chickenpox in Merida, please be advised that the numbers of cases are well within the normal-for-Spring range. There is, however, special attention being given to this topic because the incidence of chickenpox is greater than usual in neighboring states. Chickenpox is a contagious disease with an incubation period of 14 to 21 days. It then makes its appearance over a period of approximately one week. Symptoms include a feeling of fatigue and unexplained fever. It is recommended that, during this time, healthy individuals avoid contact with sick children.

Spring Burning Schedule

Yucatan’s farmers are burning off their fields, as they do every Spring. If you should encounter smoke on the highway, try not to drive into it. If you must, please make certain that you drive with your lights on so workmen and the Fire Dept. will be able to see you. If you come across a grass fire that is unattended, call Protección Civil at 91-522-57 or the free emergency cell number: 113. During the burning season, the authorities are asking that smokers take special care not to throw out lit cigarettes or matches. To our knowledge, no expat has ever been injured in one of these fires, but better safe than sorry. Burning will be taking place from March 1st through March 14th – and from May 7th through May 21st. There will be no burning in April due to windy weather during that period.

Lobster Season a Great Success!

Yucatan has about 1,100 lobster fishermen on 30 ships and 300 boats. This year, the 8 month lobster season ended with a catch of 390 tons of lobster, which is twice the amount caught last year. The going price, per kilo, is $350 pesos ($13.26 USD per pound), which is up from $280 per kilo last year. 70% of the catch goes to New York and Miami, with the remainder headed mostly for restaurants in Quintana Roo.

Language Matters: Constitution Translated into Mayan

Imagine growing up in a country where the people speak one language, but cannot read it while, at the same time, going to school in a language they don’t use anywhere except on the school grounds. Then imagine your own country having your rights, its constitution, and all of its laws in the language that you are only exposed to in school. This is the situation of many Mayans in Yucatan. At long last, their rights have been translated into the Mayan language. In another 2 weeks, they will have the Mexican Constitution in Mayan. Now, indigenous leaders are calling for a translation of civil and criminal codes. Now that the Mayan language is being taught in Yucatan’s public schools, it will not be long before this significant portion of Yucatan’s population is able to compete on a level playing field.

Salt Exports from Yucatan

We all hear about the salt flats “out by Rio Lagartos,” and that somebody mines and exports salt from Yucatan; but we never hear many particulars on this topic. Now, the numbers are in. The Las Coloradas salt flats extend from just east of Rio Lagartos to just east of El Cuyo. We don’t see much of them because they have their own 500 meter piers and ship from there. This year, Industria Salinera de Yucatan SA, which is part of Grupo Roche, has 650,000 tons of salt in its inventory and expects to have orders for an additional 600,000 tons of salt. This salt is for domestic use and is exported throughout Central and South America, as well as to the U.S. This is a huge increase in production and export activity in this industry and one that looks as if it will continue to grow for years to come.

Free Cataract Surgery in Peto

For a variety of reasons, there are still some Yucatecos who do not have IMSS health insurance. Many of these individuals are poor and, when faced with chronic illness, have the potential to become a burden on the state and, in turn, on taxpayers. The State DIF and the College of Opthalmologists of Yucatan will do the first 120 cataract surgeries in Peto. A simple, 20 minute laser procedure can restore eyesight and allow patients to live a normal and productive life. This is a win-win situation for the patients and for the state. It is also in keeping with Mexico’s prevailing attitude concerning healthcare, which is that it is far better to prevent health problems, or to address them early, than to wait until they are monumentally expensive and have little chance of a successful outcome.

U M´aank´inal maaya T´aan (International Day of the Mother Tongue)

An alternate title for this event would be “Preschool Party Becomes State Event.” This party began in Oxkutzcab on February 21, with songs, riddles in Mayan and an exhibition of traditional food. It will continue throughout the months of February and March. What we love about this event is that it is the creation of school children and actually began in a preschool. It has grown to include 18 pre- and primary schools and, next year, will be a statewide event. Our congratulations to María de Rosario Báez Canché, head of Justo Sierra O’Reilly Preschool in Colonia Esperanza, and to all of the teachers and students from the 18 participating preschools and elementary schools. What a grand success as citizens of their community for children who are still so young. We know this is just the beginning of great things from these young people.

Mango Farmers Spraying for Fruit Flies

If you live near a mango plantation, especially in the area of Hunucma, and see farmers spraying their trees over the next few days and weeks, you need not worry about what it is that might now be in the air you are breathing. The chemicals used are all non-toxic. Fruit fly infestations lead to screwworm infestations and to extreme economic loss. Thankfully, over the past few years, Yucatan has all but eradicated fruit flies within our borders. Unfortunately, there is no way to keep them from invading from other places, so it is necessary to remain on guard by spraying and by placing traps in trees. If you’re not already in Yucatan, pack your bags and come on down. Yucatan’s mangos will be ripe and in local markets in early June.

Free Wireless Internet Moves West

As methods of communication evolve, we often speak of the results in terms of the world getting smaller. If that is true, then the world has gotten a little smaller one more time. Not only is Internet access available almost everywhere in the State of Yucatan (yes – and cable tv too), but wireless Internet access is rapidly moving throughout the state as well. This week, we learn that Celestun and Ucu are joining Hunucma with free wireless Internet access in their parks. One of the first things that came to mind when we heard this news was the many backpacking young people who head for Yucatan every summer. Now, they can take their laptops to the park at Celestun and show their families back home not only real time photos of Celestun’s flamingos, but also just how safe they really are.

Hunucma Gets New Super Mercado

Hunucma used to be a tiny town that was spoken of as being “way” outside of the city. Well – no more! The city is growing and so is the area west of the city, including Ucu and Hunucma. Animaya, the new animal park, is out in that general direction, as is the new world-class soccer stadium. But the real measure of how a town is doing is how many grocery stores it can support. Hunucma has a municipal mercado, Mi Bodega Aurrera, a convenience store (Super del Parque), and now they have Super Mercado. It looks like little Hunucma is on its way up in a big way!

National Math Olympiad for 6th Graders

This past Saturday, 135 sixth graders participated in the state phase of the National Math Olympiad. Of those 135, ten, plus 2 alternates, will be chosen to receive intensive tutoring from teachers on the Faculty of Mathematics at UADY. Those 12 students will then test again on March 30. Two will be chosen from that group and will compete in the national test in Merida on May 5 – 8. Whatever happens, these 135 young people, along with their parents and teachers, have earned well deserved respect for having shown themselves to be the best of the best in Yucatan.

English Teacher Wanted in Quintana Roo

Position: English Teacher (degree + TEFL/CELTA/TESOL certified or 2 years of experience)
Requirements: Native English speaker + Basic Spanish + 2 professional references
School: Na’atik, el Instituto de Lenguas y Culturas
Town: Felipe Carrillo Puerto, Quintana Roo, approximately 3 hours south of Cancun and 2 hours north of Belize
Contact: Send Resume to Catherine Gray, Director:
More Information: Dave’s ESL Café

Little Mexican Cooking School Wins Award

The Little Mexican Cooking School has been awarded the designation of #1 Attraction on the entire Yucatan Peninsula by popular travelwebsite, topping the charts of over 600 attractions offered in this area. The Little Mexican Cooking School offers a one day, in-depth introduction to authentic Mexican cuisine, 5 days a week. You laugh, you learn, you taste, you sip, and you eat. Catriona Brown and Patti Murphy, the founders of the school, are proud of their unique concept.
To book a class go to:

For more info contact: Murphy,  

Part 2 of Yeast in the Wind

Monique Duval is writing a telenovela miniseries… we’re bringing you a few updates now and then to whet your appetite. What you really want to do is find yourself down at the SLOW Food Market on Saturday mornings to stay on top of whatever Monique is doing because it’s sooooo good!
So now, as you might recall, in Part 1 we were introduced to the young Monique at almost ten years old, dressed in pink, getting ready for her birthday party:

“I stood by the table, exploding in pink, trying to have as much effect as possible on the outcome of my pending party. Abuelita was rolling out perfect spheres of tortilla de harina. Perfect rings of love. Perfect clatter of rolling pin. The work absorbed her into it so when she finally looked up at me in my startling glamor – my eyes as startled as a parakeets’ -  her face morphed from the slight frown of concentration into an altogether different, heartbreaking expression. She pressed her lips together and forced back the smile that might have imminently boiled into laughter. Kaleidoscope tears filled my eyes. So she grabbed my hand and connected it with an orb of soft dough and there we stood, me in my pink birthday dress, my abuelita teaching my hands to be busy and my mind to be still.

First, grab a piece of rested dough about the size of a golf ball and roll it between your palms until it feels like summertime skin. Then you press your middle finger right into the center, giving it an ombligo, a belly button. Or maybe you are a dough nurse checking for a pulse. Then both hands begin to move. One hand cupping and spinning, the other pushing and twisting, rotating the dough clockwise. Hands like little cogs, like tortilla telegraph, like sign language into the dough: I am hungry, hungry, hungry, said my hands. My dough balls kept slipping and falling on the floor. Guardalo para tu tio Louie for fish bait,  she would say. Then I saw her whispering something into her hands, into the dough, and I was certain it was an essential ingredient of dough making. So I would murmur into my hands too  "Oh, Robert I love you" and then I would kiss the skin of the cool dough. She frowned at me.

Turns out she was praying, to St. Joseph, saint of lost things. She never told me what she lost but it was something maybe so big she couldn´t carry it away, or maybe something so small that it became inversely heavy as the weight of something invisible is apt to do. Now as a grown woman I know the weight of invisible things. But back then, I could see only her into her green eyes, not the ghosts of others. Whatever the case, she turned everything into a prayer, a calling back.

The phone was ringing and probably it was her sister Romana with more conspiratorial whisperings which I didn´t understand anyway because it was all in the rrrrrr, all in the long windy circular language of Mexico. Lassos of sultry. They even laughed in Spanish. ja ja ja! It was her language, not often shared with me. She would speak to me in her new adopted language,  tight as a girdle or a pair of new shoes. We would laugh when she tried to say the word "sheet" or "shoe" transformed into chit and choo. She loved to speak the English words she learned by reading the editorial pages of the San Antonio Light… consequently, utterly, nonetheless.

Afuera! she screamed when my fish-bait pile grew larger than her patience with me and she pointed me out of the kitchen . I was already halfway to the field in the back yard (I am a streaking pink flamingo… I am spun and floating airborne circus food…) when the screen door finally slammed shut behind me. Grandmother´s punctuation mark.”


  • Birdnose 12 years ago

    Something 's wrong with the lobster marketing here. The product's availability has doubled over last year but the price is UP 25%. Hell folks, you'd think the fishermen would even be playing jai-lai with the damned bugs just to get rid of them.

  • Bill Milligan M.D. 12 years ago

    I enjoyed your article very much, as my partner and I just returned from 3 1/2 months in the Quintanaroo/Yucatan/Campeche/Chiapas areas. We're travel writers, she from Venezuela, me from the U.S., who presently live in Wilmington, N.C. We will be writing in a new magazine, Mexico Travel, both in English and Spanish produced in D.F. and financed by the Secretary of Tourism of Mexico. I will also have a medical column (I'm a retired Family Physician) on medicine in Mexico with articles about Western and alternative medicine.
    We write for one of the largest portals in the Caribbean, and hope to help promote Mexico from a tourism standpoint. I've been coming to Mexico since the 70's and have always loved it, even with their problems and we will do whatever we can to support them.
    I look forward to reading your column...thanks, Bill e Yndi

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