Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Chichen Itzá

A visit to Chichen Itzá recently was very interesting, since I hadn't been there in probably 10 or more years!

Turns out you can no longer climb the Castillo - with all those tourists visiting (some estimates put the annual figure at 30 million!) there would be just too much erosion. Back in the day, you not only could climb the Castillo and admire the wonderful view that probably was enjoyed only by the Mayan priests but also go inside the Castillo to see the jade eyes of the jaguar found in its interior. Anyone who had the chance to climb those claustrophobic, humid one-person-at-a-time steps will remember the experience fondly, although the wet smell of all that sweaty humanity was a bit of a turn-off.

Also, the sellers of kitschy souvenirs were outside the ruins, not on the actual grounds as they are now. This is a real distraction when trying to appreciate the grandeur of the ruins; having someone in your face waving a carved mask saying "my fren my fren, goo price for jew" or "here fren" as if you were some kind of dumb ass that was going to obey this canine-like command. Now they are all over the site, which might not be a bad thing if it was a lot more discreet, a little more authentic and they actually sold things made in the region by locals. But to see those mass-produced fleece blankets with the aztec warrior waving in the hot sun was a little jarring.

Think of the money that pours into this site with all those visitors! Walking around the ruins and the entrance lobby, stores and nearby "market" you can only think how awful it looks. Not the ruins, all the crap around it. The restaurants and little 'shops' look like they were designed by a ... I can't think of anyone suitably unqualified. They are not designed at all. Ugly, half-painted concrete, dirty, run down and staffed with indifferent sallow faced employees. No money has been invested in the infrastructure for decades, or so it seems.

I sat in the market area, where you leave the site, watching 2 out of 3 red-faced tourists stumble on the uneven paving stones while glancing over their shoulders at the depressing spectacle of 4 or 5 half-naked Mayan men and boys wearing plastic feathers and half-heartedly performing pieces of a ceremony. Under a tree, a guayabera-wearing young man with a microphone was announcing that the show was free, that people could take pictures at no cost, that the show was about to start, that the show was a real Mayan ceremony, it would start in a few minutes. He narrated what they were doing, which seemed to be the same thing over and over again, in preparation for the show that would start 'eena few meenits". It never really started and no one really took any photos. It was a joke, like the Indian shows at some tourist stop in the US or Canada, or the Aztec dancing at the traffic lights in Mexico City. Is this what the Mayan culture has evolved to? Doesn't anyone see how pathetic this all looks and feels?

While the ruins at Chichen Itzá are as imposing and majestic as ever, it is extremely difficult to reconcile the obvious culture and knowledge of the ancient builders of this impressive site with the mediocrity and complete lack of good taste or sensitivity aka culture of the modern chimpanzees charged with the administration of Chichen Itzá today.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Great Service - Gasolinera Maya

Here is a note about some really nice folks - the staff at the Gasolinera Maya Pemex station on the highway to Progreso (the one that has a crappy 7-11 on the premises).

This gas station has always struck me and my better half as being leagues above the norm in customer service. When you arrive at the pump, the greet you with a smile and "welcome to the Gasolinera Maya" and they actually look like they are happy to see you. They are also one of the first gas stations with a remote credit card terminal so you can pay with debit or credit cards from the comfort of your vehicle.

Yesterday, I filled up one car and paid with my debit card. 2 hours later, I stopped by again with a second vehicle and had that one filled up as well. When I tried to pay with the debit card, there was a communication problem with the terminal and, after two attempts, I tried with the credit card. None went through. Not having any cash on me and with no ATM around, I half-jokingly said, "well, you know who I am, I can come back later and pay you". And guess what? That's exactly what happened! These people just asked me to sign a small slip of paper, leave my name and number and to come back later when the terminal was working again!

I have got to say I was blown away by their confianza and goodwill! I would rate their customer service, on a scale of 1 to 10, at a solid 10. Don't subject yourself to indifferent or bad service (Servicio Campestre, across from Sam's is a consistent and depressing -1 on the service scale, for example) by buying your gasoline anywhere else!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Notes on Mall Sanitation Methods

This morning, as I headed to work in my store in the Gran Plaza mall and prior to its opening to the public, I observed a cleaning person standing next to the electric escalator, his grey haired mop horizontally positioned on the hand rail. It took me a minute to realize what he was doing: "cleaning" the black, rubbery handrail that moves along with the electric escalator! As he looked around and watched the comings and goings of the people around him, his probably less-than-sanitary mop was wiping the handrail without any effort on his part whatsoever.

While not a particularly effective way to clean, it is most assuredly another fine example of Mexican ingenuity!

Something to think about next time you are at the mall, going up or down on one of those escalators and reach out to grab the handrail...

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Hewlett Packard Service in Merida, Yucatan

One Christmas, not too many moons ago, my much better half bought me a computer for Christmas; a brand new, top of the line HP computer from Liverpool.

Living as we do in the land of the CFE, the national electricity monopoly that works for the "progress of Mexico" (it says so right there on their logo) while remaining unable to maintain a continuous flow of electricity to its over-paying client/victims, it was inevitable that one day the computer would sputter to a halt, as a result of an afore-alluded-to power problem.

I therefore headed off to Liverpool to ask about service and repair; where to obtain same, and was informed that Liverpool had nothing to do with it since it had been longer than the in-store guarantee and I should visit the 'authorized' HP service center, a company by the name of Genesis located on Avenida Cupules in this formerly white city.

At this once-stately Garcia Gineres area address, Genesis has haphazardly and tastelessly converted a formerly elegant residence and made it into a junky looking office where it is the authorized service center for not only HP but Epson as well. Unsmiling, unhelpful employees abound and eagerly await your departure so they can get back to whatever important tasks they are undertaking.

The receptionist, also unsmiling and rather sad looking, kind of like a mistreated pet, listens with a face totally devoid of either interest or empathy as you explain the problem. She then proceeds to make out a service order in her computer which you then take and off you go.

About a week or two later, I was informed that no problem had been detected with the CPU (a cooling fan problem that caused the machine to shut down at start-up) and that the problem probably lay with my electrical source (ie wall plug). OK. It was running fine here in the shop, they tell me. Fine. I pay my service charge (about $20 USD) pick up my computer and take it home, eager to get it up and running.

You know what happens next. I connected everything and voila, same problem. "Falla en el tubo de ventilacion, se apagara el CPU para evitar daños a la computadora" or something to that effect.

I call them, just a little miffed.

"Well it was working fine here" they answer.

"But it's not working now, here. Can't you come and get it and check it again - here where the computer is actually plugged in - to make up for what was obviously a complete waste of my time and money for the first reparation?" I insist on thinking like a foreigner.

"No, we don't do that."

After asking for and speaking with a supervisor, Genesis agreed that they would come out to pick up the CPU and take it back to the shop, as a customer service gesture, which was evidently not something normally within the scope of their operations.

"When can you come?" I ventured, still on the phone.

"En el transcurso del dia de mañana" - sometime during the day.

"Could you be a little more precise since there is no one in the house and I would have to come back from work to get you access to the PC so you can check it out."

"No, we would call you before coming to let you know. Can you give us your home number?"

"If I give you my home number, no one will answer it because there is no one there. I can give you my cell phone number and you can call me and we can meet at the house." I am starting to think that not only are these people not particularly service-oriented, they are also a little cerebrally challenged. And here comes the best line of this whole exchange:

"No, a cell phone won't work."

"Why?" This is wierd.

"We just need a regular phone number, not a cell phone."

"Are you telling me that you can't or don't have permission to call cell phones to communicate with your clients?!" I am suspecting this and can not believe what I am hearing.

"Asi es" is the response I get.

To keep this story from going on forever: I finally wrangled a three hour time frame from them and we were set. The technicians came and checked the computer, which did not respond to their repeated attempts at starting it up; the technician doing the rebooting was even spinning the ventilation fan by hand and saw that it was indeed, stuck. So they took the CPU back to the shop. That was mid-July.

A few days later I was informed that the CPU was working fine and it was indeed a problem with my electrical outlets. Knowing the CFE and how electricity comes and goes, I did not consider this outrageous and resigned myself to hiring an electrician to come and break apart my walls and re-cable everything. Viva Mexico. At the shop, a different technician, one I hadn't seen before, escorted me into the back area where my CPU was, to demonstrate to me that it was working just fine, there in the shop. The technician I had previously talked to was on the phone with me at the same time making sure that the gringo (me) could see that it worked and would he please leave us the hell alone. The technician in front of me flicked the switch and lo and behold, "Falla en el tubo de ventilacion, se apagara el CPU para evitar daños a la computadora". There is a god and he is just, I am thinking.

The guy on the phone wants to talk to the technician "no puede ser" he says to the guy in front me.

"I'm looking right at it." he replies. "Yes, it's the right computer" he insists.

OK. Now they will have another look at it. I should come back later. They will let me know.

In the last week of August, having heard nothing about my computer and having received no phone calls (at home) to update me on what was happening, I visited the sad receptionist again and she informed me that the problem was now the motherboard and they had not gotten a price for its replacement and that is why they hadn't called. Oh. And would it not have been nice to let me know that they had made this discovery and perhaps given me a call to inform me about the ongoing saga and perhaps get an opinion from me as to whether or not to proceed? This unreasonable remark provoked only a shrug from the sad receptionist and I again left with the idea that I would be called as soon as they had a price for the new motherboard.

On September 30, I drove for the fourth and last time to Merida's Hewlett Packard 'service' center. No, I hadn't received a call (at home). I just figured it was time to rescue that CPU before the technology became completely obsolete and my family photos were lost forever. A sallow faced individual who was obviously there against his will on a prison work experience program judging from his attitude, looked at my worn piece of paper, got my CPU and asked me to sign. He also asked me to pay. For what? I asked. Nothing has been done and the original 'revision' had already been paid for. Oh yeah. OK. Es todo. And I was free to go.

Hewlett Packard - you should be ashamed at having these people represent your company! All that advertising money spent so that people take this memory with them when they have a problem with your equipment! Why should anyone buy a HP product and not a 'patito' brand instead? The service will be the same, so why pay more?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Yucatan Dictionary Finally Available for Purchase

Admittedly it has taken a while and it's not exactly Pulitzer Prize material, but once has to start somewhere, right?

Well the handy and always fun to read NotTheNews Yucatan Dictionary is finally available for purchase. This way, all those of you who have written me to ask how they can help keep NotTheNews and that Casual Restaurant Critic going, have a way to contribute to the cause!

The link to preview and then of course purchase the book is: http://www.lulu.com/content/1242362#

Thanks to all!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hurricane Dean - Merida, Yucatan

In case anyone turns to this blog as a source of up to date information on Merida, let me start by saying that as far as Merida goes, we are all safe and well.

There is, at the time of this writing (9:50 AM on Tuesday, August 21st) some light wind with occasional gustiness if that is a word, a little rain and there are clouds overhead. No fallen or uprooted trees, no flipped cars. Nada.

Hurricane Dean has decided to explore the area around Majahual, where it came ashore and is now travelling across the peninsula through Chetumal and will pop out somewhere on the Campeche side and then revisit Mexico around Veracruz.

Now I just have to find a place for my trunkful of bottled water...

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Day Trip to Ek Balam and Ria Lagartos - Part III

A short 10 minute drive along a narrow secondary road from Rio Lagartos takes you to the small seaside town of San Felipe. One is immediately struck by the enormous difference between the chaotic, undeveloped ugliness of Rio Lagartos and the ordered, colorful main street of San Felipe! While San Felipe is not the french riviera, you can see that there is someone, somewhere, concerned with keeping the town's aesthetic intact.

Multi-colored wooden houses with fences, wide and clean sidewalks and actual planters with ornamental plants in them are what greet you as you make your way down the main street towards the beachfront.

Since the purpose of our visit to San Felipe was to find a restaurant, we looked for and found our destination, the El Payaso seafood restaurant. The Casual Restaurant Critic, who was along for the ride, can tell you all about it on his blog.

After a delicious seafood lunch, a short drive around town and then we were off to Mérida, this time via Buctzotz and the secondary roads that eventually lead you through Motul and finally Mérida, where we arrived 4 hours later. With the rain and the dark, it made for some hairy driving experiences what with unmarked road improvements and the occasional unannounced speed bump or tope, but we made it in one piece.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Day Trip to Ek Balam and Ria Lagartos - Part II

With the rain getting worse, making visibility difficult, we arrived at the town of Tizimin. Nothing tremendously exciting there, basically we just drove through, stopping to confirm directions to Rio Lagartos at a Pemex station. There is a turn-off onto the highway to Rio Lagartos that is supposedly marked, but it is not, so keep your eyes peeled. The highway signs indicate Valladolid to your left and Merida via Buctzotz straight ahead and nothing to the right. This is where you need to turn right.

After a fairly uneventful drive along a narrow road with heavy rain and trucks coming from the opposite direction, we arrived at the frankly aesthetically challenged village of Rio Lagartos, where we were immediately spotted by a bicycle-riding tourist-snatcher. This advance person took us (follow me!) to the dock where the arrangements were made to take the bird-watching tour; we paid 700 pesos for the 2 hour tour.

The rain had since mostly disappeared except for a light occasional drizzle and when we expressed some trepidation about riding in the boat with the rain, the guide informed us that he had already equipped the tour with some 'nailoms'. From the english word 'nylon' these turned out to be garbage bags... he informed us that we would be comfortable because it was not raining that hard and besides, the nailom we would be using was large enough to adequately protect us from the moisture. When our dubious expressions convinced him that he would have to be a little more convincing, he mentioned that he could get some 'impermeables' which are, in fact, raincoats. "Should I get them?" he asked. "Well, yes." I answered. And dressed in bright yellow rain coats (mine said CFE) we were off.

The drizzle was a little too persistent and one of the people in the party insisted on having the top put on the boat. It turns out the top is a canvas material, not particularly waterproof but it did make a little difference.

The first stop was a few minutes into the trip, when we were shown a crocodile. Quite a sight! Then the rest of the trip was quite entertaining, if you are into birds; all kinds were spotted along the way. To get to the highlight of the two-hour trip, the flamingoes, you have to go through a very shallow part which seems to take forever and will lull you to sleep if you can get comfortable enough. The motor is turned off, and the guide will pole the boat around trying to get close enough to observe the bright pink birds up close, without disturbing them into taking flight.

On the way back, a stop to see where the Salinera de Yucatan makes salt. You can float in the salty water, a rust-red color, filled with extremely salty water treated with some chemicals, and it has amazing buoyancy qualities, if you don't mind the mystery chemicals that the water contains. This is followed by a beauty treatment, where the guide makes a hole in the mucky sand to extract the fine white clay mud which he proceeds to smear on your face and body, if you so desire.

And so, covered in your exfoliating scrub, you head back to the dock, stopping along the way to jump in the water to rinse off. If you are lucky, as we were, the guide will at that point show you a crocodile swimming close by.
Back at the dock, we looked for a spot to have lunch but there isn't much in the way of tourism infrastructure to speak of; in fact, the town is quite ugly and there is garbage everywhere, so we decided to head over to San Felipe, a 10 minute drive away.

- to be continued -

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Day Trip to Ek Balam and Ria Lagartos - Part I

A recent outing with visitors to the coastal pueblo of Ria Lagartos via Ek Balam has prompted me to write a comment or three, and will perhaps be of interest to those thinking about venturing out there while vacationing in the Yucatan.

First of all, an early start is required, since you are looking at a few hours of driving. We left Merida at 7 AM and arrived, via the toll highway to Cancun and got off at the Valladolid exit, paying the 120 pesos or so for the privelege of avoiding all the small towns - and their topes - along the way. From there, since Valladolid itself was not on this itinerary, we immediately headed towards Tizimin, the capital of Yucatecan cattle country.

But first, a stop at the town of Temozón. Brief note to the observant: there are several Temozones in the Yucatan, including Roberto Hernandez' hacienda called Temozon Sur, on the road to the Puuc region and Temozon Norte, which is a newly or soon to be municipalized (is that even a word?) residential 'suburb' of the city of Merida.

This Temozon, is the Municipio de Temozon, just outside Valladolid on the Tizimin highway - you can't miss it. A good friend had recommended stopping there since the town is famous for it's smoked meat (pork) and one could have tacos there for breakfast. While we found several 'puestos' or storefronts advertising the local delicacy, most were closed. The one that was open did sell the smoked meat and even gave us a sample, but did not offer taco service until later. As it turns out, he had neglected to mention that you needed to buy the meat and then find a tortilleria and make your own...

Since we were a little peckish, we stopped at the taco vendor in front of Temozon's modest church and had tacos de lomitos de Valladolid, complete with the obligatory pieces of hard boiled egg on top as well as tortas de carnitas. Delicious and cheap. $50 pesos with a tip included.
Then, on to the Mayan ruins of Ek Balam, which is well marked on the same Tizimin highway. We were there in about 10 -15 minutes and were able to take advantage of the fact that it was not that hot yet. Still, the sauna-like combination of the rainy season and sunshine was enough to leave everyone sweating profusely.

After paying the $27 peso entry fee, which does not particulary have anything to do with the 'official' rates posted, you are in. The ruins are partially excavated and there is plenty of vegetation to provide shade. Many facades and details have been restored and the INAH (Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia) have installed plaques with descriptions in English, Spanish and Mayan, of the particular building you are looking at.

The climb to the top of the pyramid, one of the largest in the Yucatan in terms of the actual square meters its base occupies, is a long, steep climb but the view from the top is breathtaking, if you have any breath in you after the climb. It is said that on a clear day you can see the Mayan ruins of Chichen and Coba from this vantage point. Halfway up, is a restored entrance which is roped off, in the shape of a jaguar's mouth complete with giant teeth. This is a detail that is unique to this archealogical site, according to my guide.

Besides checking out the cleared and partially restored buildings, it is possible to walk a path around the un-restored ruins, covered with giant trees. This is what I did and was able to find a midden, or what appeared to be one. As you may or may not know, a midden is a site where the ancients dumped their trash and which is a virtual gold mine for archeologists. This particular midden was in remarkably well-preserved condition, so I took a photo which I share with you here.

After visiting the site, which took us about an hour, we were once again on the road, heading towards Tizimin and our final destination, Rio Lagartos.

Everything was going swimmingly when the sky began to acquire a metallic dark grey color and a few very large raindrops began to spatter on the windshield.

- continued -

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Pirate Cigarrettes in the Yucatan!

In case any of my readers are still smoking, I have this curious bit of info for you.

On the way back to Merida from my recent excursion to the Hacienda Sotuta de Peon, I stopped in the charming hamlet of Molas to buy some smokes at a roadside store.

When I lit the first one, I noticed that it was awfully harsh. Harsher than usual, anyway. So I had another look at the label and it was not in Spanish as usual, but in English. Intrigued, I looked at the side of the box and saw that they were made in... the Philippines!

How in the world did these nasty - and I don't mean nasty 'cuz they're from there, but because they were truly nasty, throat scratching, cigarrettes that I ended up throwing away - Filipino cigarrettes get to Molas?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Second Visit to the Hacienda Sotuta de Peon

In case any of my readers didn't get to read it the first time, I commented back in '06 on the privately run tourist attraction, the Hacienda Sotuta de Peon. The link is http://www.elmaloso.com/haciendasotutadepeon/index.html in case you want to have a look.

I mention this because I went again yesterday with friends visiting from Wisconsin. The family absolutely loved the tour and swimming in the cenote at the end blew their minds. For both adults and kids, the bi-lingual tour was entertaining, informative and fun. It is a true glimpse into Yucatan's past.

Since you all want to know some chisme, the hacienda is owned by the Lübcke family who bought the building basically in ruins about 25 years ago. The first thing Mr. Lübcke did was to replant the henequen plants on about 300 acres to get the plants growing. Then, he proceeded to restore both the hacienda buildings and rebuild the turn-of-the-century henequen processing machinery, gathering bits and pieces and parts from anywhere possible to get it operational.

This is the kind of initiative that Yucatan needs (not more people waiting for government handouts or suckling the official teat); everyone should make the effort to visit the hacienda and support Mr. Lübcke's project. You will be pleasantly surprised!

Friday, June 15, 2007

HBO Sopranos Finale

Since the internet is abuzz with all kinds of whining and moaning about David Chase's choice of ending for the much-lauded Sopranos HBO series, I thought I would get my two centavos worth in too.

I was shocked - as was my better half - when at the climactic moment in the final episode the screen went to black! Scrambling off the sofa to check if I had sat on the remote and checking the 'on' light of the satelite receiver, the amp and everything else, I then assumed it was the satellite dish readjusting itself (it does that around midnite every 24 hours) and thought what terrible timing!!!

And then the credits came on. No music. Interesting, since all the shows have ended with some sort of different and original musical background.

There was really no better way to end this since any ending would have had its detractors and there was no way to satisfy every or anyone. This way, everyone will be talking about the show for some time to come.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Mexico Home to Pac Man Champ of the World

For those international readers who think that all news about Mexicans regards illegal immigration or refried beans here is a news flash:

Carlos Romero, a 27 year old from Pachuca, Hidalgo attended the Pac Man Championship held recently in New York City, where the 10 best players in the world played Pac Man on the new Xbox 360.

The first Xbox 360 Pac-Man World Champion, Carlos Romero, has been playing Pac-Man since 1986, and achieved a final score of 222,160.

This is the champion OF THE WORLD! And he's a Mexican! See what can be done if you try hard enough? This should be an example to follow for Mexico's troubled youth. Truly inspirational.

This is not the photo taken when he won, apparently. It is probably his school photo; they're always deadly serious photos, those official ID shots, no smiles allowed.

Congratulations to Carlos Romero - a modern day Mexican hero!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Casual Restaurant Critic goes Blogging

The Casual Restaurant has joined the overcrowded realm of the blog. You can read his latest entry, on the new Sirloin Stockade restaurant here in sunny Merida, at:



Thursday, May 24, 2007

We have a winner!

Just in case you are completely uninformed, Yucatan will soon sport a new governor, a woman, whose name is Ivonne Ortega and she is from the formerly (70 years) ruling party of Mexico, the PRI. Everyone that knows her and is on her side insists she is very charismatic and just a wonderful person.

The PANistas are quite upset, especially the ultra-right catholic chest beaters in Merida; how this could have happened is beyond them. But, as someone pointed out as a possible exclamation: The PRI governments stole everything they could, but also helped a lot of people especially in the poor, rural areas of Yucatan, while the PAN government just helped itself to everything without giving anything back.

My candidate, Cholo, didn't fare very well, but I suppose he served his purpose, which was to distract voters and votes from some of the other candidates. Ana Rosa, who would have won had she been the candidate for the PAN party, also fared poorly. The logic among the Ana Rosistas was that while they supported her, she had no chance so they voted for someone else, mainly Ivonne Ortega. If everyone who preferred Ana Rosa had actually voted for her, and not copped out, she would have probably won.

Conspiracy theories abound: The PRI was 'given' the Yucatan in exchange for less antagonism at the federal level where the PRI controls the Congress and generally opposed the president; Ana Rosa was forced out of the PAN party by the PRI who knew they could not beat the PAN with Ana Rosa and offered her a deal - in exchange for her dimission from the PAN governor race, a hueso, or political appointment within the PRI government.

As I hear more of these charming theories, I will be sure to post them for your amusement.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Godfather al estilo Yucateco

Not to be a gossip (ha ha) but the other day I heard some chisme (gossip) from a fairly reliable source.

Turns out he had attended a breakfast meeting for local businessmen put on by Xavier (PAN) to garner support for his campaign. At some point during the breakfast, donations were asked for and received, in the form of envelopes with money inside them handed to someone there.

Kinda reminds me of the Sopranos.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Not-The-News UpDate!

For those of you still reading, my Not-The-News has once again been updated. You can read it by clicking on the Apr/May 2007 button at www.not-the-news.com . There you will see that it's not all negative and critical. Most is, but not all. If you are one of the lucky millions that hasn't read the back issues, those are located at www.geocities.com/elmaloso.geo.


(Espanish Version) Si eres de esas curiosas personas de muy buen gusto que todavia leen lo que se me va ocurriendo, puedes disfrutar la ultima actualizacion haciendo clic en el botón que dice Abr/Mayo en www.not-the-news.com Verás que no todo es critica. Mucho, pero no todo. Para articulos de gran interés para los que disfrutan el vivir en Yucatán, los archivos anteriores a este 2007 están en www.geocities.com/elmaloso.geo

Thanks and lets all vote for Cholo on Sunday!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Yucatan Election Relief

Yucatecans both local and imported are suffering from election campaign overload, and we can all be thankful that it will come to an end very soon.

You can´t see the trees or the walls of the city - or anything else for that matter - thanks to the virtual wallpapering of Merida with visual election propaganda. The TV and radio are also crammed with ads for the two main candidates from the PAN and PRI party.

Luckily for me, I don´t watch local TV (definitely pena ajena material) so I am not subjected to the assault as are some of Yucatan's less fortunate citizens who, without the dish providing them with Sky, can only tune in those channels. And the radio, well I cannot thank Steve Jobs enough for coming up with the iPod, which in turn led to iTunes which led to Podcasts.

I think everyone misses the sight of trees without a purple and orange 'X' on them and listening to Fernando Ayora mangling English band names on 97.7. I can't wait to see the trees again but I won't be tuning in Merida's worst radio station any time soon...

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Oh yeah, Cholo

In a previous post on the Yucatan gubernatorial (is that even a word?) candidates, I don't think I mentioned Cholo aka Hector Herrera, a regional comic/comedian who has been doing regional theater (read extremely local humor) for years now.

He is in the running (although he is way behind and seen as not having a hope in hell of getting any substantial amounts of votes) for the pathetic PRD party. The party that is full of ex-PRI politicians and spend their time raising hell and complaining about everything. The party that gave Mexico Mr. Lopez Obrador as a presidential candidate who lost his mind during and after the last presidential elections.

If I could vote - alas my foreign status prohibits it - I would vote for Cholo! He sounds like a fun option to all the boring and/or corrupt politicians out there, sweating in the pueblos, posing for photos with the Mayan villagers whom they could care less about. At least with Cholo, we could have a laugh as he bumbles his way through the pitfalls of Mexican politics...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The National Security Letter - Are These Gringos Nuts?

Some US ranting for those of you still under the misconception that I only go on about silly things in the formerly white city of Merida.

I just heard, perhaps somewhat belatedly, that the FBI (USA) has admitted to sending out tens of thousands of National Security Letters to individuals who own businesses or organizations in which they request information on clients of those businesses or ogranizations. The letter, which was approved as an integral tool to be used under the slightly fascist Patriot Act, also comes with a gag order which means that the person receiving it cannot reveal to anyone (gilfriend, wife, parent, best friend) under the threat of an undisclosed punishment.

Does this sound a little scary or is it just me? How can those of you living in the US live with this kind of police state? And how in the world can you call the US the land of the free?

Monday, March 26, 2007

New Content at www.not-the-news.com

Just to let y'all know, that the website has been updated and there is a February and a March issue to peruse.

Gracias and I always appreciate your comments!


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Ana Rosa!

How could I forget Ana Rosa Payan? I apologize to her and all the avid readers of this blog who wrote to remind me that she was also contending in the upcoming gubernatorial race. Is that a word, I wonder?

Personally, I still think that Ana Rosa is, among all the mediocre contenders scrabbling to get their flacid buttocks into the Governor's chair, the only one who actually has any cojones.

On the other hand, were I able to actually cast a vote, it would be for Cholo, whose campaign slogan is "Mas vale Cholo, que mal acompañado". Loosely translated, this means that it's better to go it alone, than accompanied by questionable character. And the 'alone' part (solo, in spanish) is changed to Cholo. Clever.

Much more so than the asinine, vapid promises and slogans of the PAN and PRI parties. These are (Xavier, PAN) "Te Va a ir Mejor". In english: "You'll be Better Off". Is this original or what? No candidate anywhere has ever said that before! And is it saying that we are not doing so well now? According to who? A little presumptuous, I think. He promises 'more jobs', 'more investment in rural areas' and 'better wages' too. Will Yucatecans really fall for such empty, unreasonable and unfeasible blatherings? Is he really that boring and unoriginal?

The PRI is of course in the same boat, making the same promises, just phrased a little differently. While the PAN is admitting that things are not as good as they could be (and they themselves have been in power for the last few terms, hello) the PRI's claim to fame is that they have a fresh face on the cover of their recycled pulp fiction paper back and that this is all it will take because she (Yvonne) has 'passion for the Yucatan'.

So back to Cholo, who was recently photographed, broom in hand, sweeping the sidewalk in front of his campaign office. If you really want someone different, someone who really loves the Yucatan and will shake things up a bit, this would be your candidate.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Xavier / Yvonne / Cholo

For Governor of Yucatan, these are the candidates.

The names are in order of money being wasted on their "campaigns" complete with stupid, cliché'd, completely untrue and vague slogans and promises.

Actually this applies to the first two, since I actually haven't seen anything from the PRD candidate, Cholo.

Another reason to vote for him!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

NotTheNews is back in it's original format

And when I say original format, I am being facetious since my 'formatting' abilities are extremely limited.

As you may know, this blog was started as I looked around for a way to continue my neurotic ramblings on life in Merida after Geocities/Yahoo informed me that the 'free' space I had was rapidly filling up.

Doing a quick check on the internet last week, I found that the name "not-the-news.com" had been dropped by someone and was now available. I snatched the name and committed myself to a longer relationship with the folks at Yahoo, hosting the site there and actually paying them.

In other words, NotTheNews will continue there, as opposed to all those other options I was trying to juggle (elmaloso.com, this blog, the old Geocities site). All the archives are still at www.geocities.com/elmaloso.geo and all the new stuff will be located at www.not-the-news.com from this moment on (as Shania Twain would say).

If you have any questions don't hesitate to email me.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Ahhh, the joys of Life in the Holy City of Mérida

One of the joys of living in Mérida, is the abundance of religious activity and hypocrisy one can observe in everyday life. From the local newspaper's "Religion" section, which mentions, for the most part, only one religion (catholicism, of course) to the charming rituals that make the country as a whole so much more backward.

This month features the post-carnaval period of repentance. Isn't it fun how you can completely misbehave during carnaval and then, by repenting and following the little rules the church has set out for you, can feel completely absolved of any wrongdoing! If only life was so simple.

The little anecdote you are about to read happened to a person close to me who shall remain nameless. Hopefully you will enjoy it.

Wednesday is class day at the Marista. The Marista, for those of you not in the know, is a college/university here in sunny Mérida run by some religious folks known as the Marista Brothers. This is not a local tropical music group, but yet another permutation of a catholic group with special beliefs that make them, well, special. Now this particular Wednesday is extra-special, because it is the Wednesday after Carnaval, which means "ash" Wednesday! Ash Wednesday is when someone from the religious hierarchy smears ashes on the foreheads of the believers, in an act that supposedly shows how repentant you are and all that nonsense.

The class is in full swing, when suddenly the door opens abrubtly and in walks a little man - un hermano (not a priest but a brother, and no he's not black) who unceremoniously announces that the time has come to get your forehead smeared with ashes he has brought in what looks like an unlabelled plastic yoghurt container. Note that he hasn't uttered any of the normal pleasantries associated with human interaction such as Good Morning, Excuse the Interruption, Hello, or Catholic Unite Against the Muslim Infidel. No, he just threw open the door and waltzed right in.

No one seems to mind however, and everyone listens patiently as he drones on in a quiet mumbling voice. When asked who would like to have their foreheads annointed with the ashes of dubious origin in his little container, the great majority of the sheep baa approvingly and stand in line.

But it doesn't end just yet. There is an evangelio to be read and Little Hermano asks who would like to read it. Of course, the one person in the class whom everyone can't stand because she interrupts the class by shouting into her cellphone which she 'forgets' to turn off and is generally obnoxious is the one whose hand shoots up and she proceeds to read the evangelio in question.

The evangelio chosen is particularly interesting for those of us who believe that the most vociferous of the religous are such hypocrites, as it dealt with the concept of celebrating your faith in private, not making a spectacle of your beliefs, not showing off your devotion in public, etc. which is what the whole morning's spectacle has been about!

Again, no one seemed to notice, nor did they offer up any resistance when the LB (little brother, remember?) went on at some length about the sacrifices of the cuaresma and how he couldn't get over the Yucatecan´s (he is Spanish) love for cochinita and that eating chicken was not a sacrifice and that you could eat all the seafood you wanted but not meat and that included chicken by golly and that there was so much sex and eroticism in the world today and and and.

While he was doing his little number about the chicken and the sacrifices, the afore-mentioned evangelio-reading lady had positioned herself next to the refreshments table and was happily - and completely oblivious to what the hermanito was droning on about sacrificing things you love during the holy cuaresma - enjoying a tamal.

She was hungry, after all.