Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Special Note for Owners of US-made Vehicles - El Pipis

Yours truly drives an Impala. This car is no longer imported into Mexico and so the models around are mostly 2000-2003, with a few 2004 versions kicking around. Why this is I can't say, since Chevrolet is still offering the giant Suburban gas guzzlers and has just put the re-tooled Camaro on the Mexican market, complete with 8 cylinder options and the Impala is a nice roomy car perfect for families.

I digress.

The car in question is great, until the other night when the wheels started shimmying and evidently there was some sort of suspension/steering problem. This is not good. Took it to my trusty suspension people, Radial Llantas, across from Costco on 60 Norte, who were fortunately open on a Sunday. They had a look and pronounced the problem as being the drive axle. OK, says I, go ahead and fix it. Well, it's Sunday and there are no parts places open today. Crap.

Monday rolls around and guess what? All the parts places they try do not have this part in stock. There IS a supplier in Monterrey who has the part; it's 3500 pesos and they will send it in two weeks. TWO WEEKS. Meanwhile the car is to just sit there, limping on 3 wheels? After personally scouring the city myself, including a visit to the Chevrolet/GM dealership, where the same part costs $9500 pesos (!) I decide to put down a down payment and have Radial Llantas order the part from Monterrey. Graciela calls Monterrey, where they inform her that the part, which was in the inventory just the day before, is no longer there. It will take two weeks to a month to get it because they have to import it, it's inventory time, end of year holidays etc etc. Unbelievable.

Cursing the unknown fellow in Monterrey and his family under my breath, I remember to call a friend who is in the car business. He makes a call and tells me he has located the part at Torres in Santiago. Drive there, with the broken part in the trunk to show them, and park. Walk in, and ask about the part in question; no, we don't have it is the amused reply. You have got to be kidding says I. A friend just called... Call back my friend, who tells me the name of the person he spoke to and lo and behold he owns up to having talked to this friend on the phone; but as it turns out it is not the part he thought. The one I need is non-existent. He in turn makes a phone call, but this elusive part is not showing up anywhere.

I decide - ni modo - to head back to the Chevrolet dealership, resigned to paying almost $1000 USD for this part which will be here in 10 days at best. To my daughter, who accompanies me faithfully through this odyssey and rubs my shoulders when I get too tense, I say 'wait and see, when we get there, he will have gone for lunch'.

Arriving at the Chevrolet dealership, we see the parts man is still working. I whip out my credit card.

'Chispas' he remarks.

'Chispas' is a bad thing. When you hear that you are going to get some bad news. Sure enough, it turns out that the cashier HAS GONE FOR LUNCH and won't be back for a couple of hours.

I dejectedly accept a lunch invitation from my dear wife, who puts up with my neuroses. I can hardly taste the shrimp, I'm so pissed.

Later that afternoon, as I glumly peruse online catalogs in the USA looking for a part whose name I only know in Spanish and can find nothing that looks like it anywhere, I get an idea. I call a friend in Pennsylvania who knows all about cars and had a lucrative business importing minivans and pickups back when Hacienda (Mexicos' version of the IRS) let vehicles over the age of 10 years into the country with a minimum of hassle. He tells me the name of the part in English and also gives me what is assuredly the TIP OF THE YEAR which will be of great interest to those who own a foreign or imported from the USA car.

'Have you tried El Pipis?' he asks.

'El Pipis?' I retort, laughing in that quiet hysterical way Inspector Clouseau's superior officer does before going completely bonkers. 'What the hell is El Pipis?!?!'

Turns out that El Pipis is a small parts shop, located directly behind the bleachers of the baseball park in the colonia Jesus Carranza, run by Carlos Mendoza and his Dad. They specialize in partes dificiles (it's painted on their entrance) for gringo cars. In a first for this all-day adventure, Carlos takes one look at the part and says, yes, he can get it. It might take some time however. I grit my teeth and say, no hay problema. Yeah, he continues, usually we can get it the next day, but with year end and all, it might take 3 days. THREE DAYS??? I almost hug him, but since we've just met, I restrain myself.

He tells me to call him in the morning at 10 AM, when he has had a chance to make some phone calls. I leave full of hope and happy to have found El Pipis.

At 10 AM, I give him a call. He says they have not only found the part (used) but if I drop by and leave a deposit he will have it at 1:30 PM. In a stupor, I rush over and hand him 800 pesos. At 2 PM, I receive a text message that the part is in his store and I can come by and pick it up. I pay him another 700 pesos and I have the part in my hot little hands. Two hours later, back at Radial Llantas, I drive the Impala out of the garage and onto the street for a test drive.

Smooth as silk.

Words cannot describe the feeling of relief that washes over me as I thank destiny for leading me to El Pipis.


El Pipis
Calle 31 No 456-C
Frente al Parque Jesus Carranza
999-926-6392 (regular phone)
999-239-8060 (cellular)
Carlos Mendoza

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Mobs of People in the Malls

My least favorite activity is trying to negotiate - ie walk through - the mall during the December rush just prior to Christmas. Although there are several malls now available for Meridanos to escape their homes and 'pasear', it seems that each of them is as crowded as the next. Parking is nearly impossible and it takes 10-15 minutes of sitting in your car waiting for that family in the minivan with Campeche plates, waiting for that perfect spot at the entrance to the parking garage, thereby causing a huge lineup of honking, motor-revving motorists to accumulate behind them. They are of course, completely oblivious to the traffic behind them, as their main concern is getting that perfect parking spot and everyone else can wait.

Then, the actual walking through the mall, where entire 7-member families, licking whipped vegetable oil ice 'cream', amble slowly along, one beside the other, as one giant human line. Impossible to pass since they occupy the entire available floor space with their , they too are oblivious to people around them and are having a great time.

The Neurotic Foreigner loves the Christmas activity in the mall!

TelMex Still Sucks

Just a had an adrenaline moment with my online TelMex account. Since the sucky Servicio Postal Mexicano can not deliver your telephone bills (or IMSS statements for that matter if you are a business) on time, you ceck your calendar and see that it's time to pay but of course you have no idea what you owe. Also, in case you don't use the calendar option, TelMex calls its' customers with a recorded message saying that you are important to them and you need to pay now.

So you go to TelMexs' drive through window and pay there. Just give them your number and get the receipt. But say you have a business, and you need to have the actual bill. Or you are curious and want to see what charges, surcharges and extras they charged you this month. You consult your online account, where you can print out your telephone statements. Unless of course, your log in doesn't work. Then you are screwed.
1. You try all your login password username combinations.
2. It sends you to the business page. You try there.
3. It sends you to the Mi TelMex page. You are then sent back to the business page. Return to 3

And so on. So you register again. With the new info, you try to log in again. It sends you back to 2

There is a button for online help. You click that and a human called Oswaldo answers you. What is your problem? Can't log in. Call 1-800 bla bla bla. BIG help there, Oswaldo.

I hate monopolies.

Have a great day, all.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

iPhone Updates and iTunes Crashes (in Merida)

Did you like how I made the title into something related to the formerly white city?

I get SO frustrated (those who know me know my penchant for slamming things that don't work against the nearest concrete wall) with my retarded iPhone and iTunes. Whenever I try to update my podcasts, music, photos or whatever, it will take me at least 3 or 4 attempts to get the damn thing to update. iTunes continually crashes or 'hangs' during the update, the iPhone gets disconnected magically without me laying a finger on it, that sort of thing.

Why, as I type this I have plugged in again my freakin' iPhone, it gets recognized by the 'puter but no iTunes starts up.

Do any of my 'avid' readers have a solution before I whip this thing into the cienega at Progreso on my next trip out?

All this is happening on a PC by the way, running Windows XP.

Ahh, life in Merida. ;)

Monday, November 30, 2009

All Day Tour w the Richards

Lawsons' Personal Driving Service is touring today with the Richards family! First stop: Chicxulub Puerto.

Visiting at the Benito Juarez elementary school through the Chicxulub Food Bank program, run by Sharon, an organization that sponsors needy children and their families. Donations needed and welcome!

Contact me for details if you can help.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, November 29, 2009

New .mx Domains

Saw an interesting article on

It seems that there is a new way to register internet businesses in Mexico, up from the old ending to a more modern .mx ending. Ie: instead of

So get your domain registered today!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Mendes Envy

I got a call from my oldest offspring last night, cell to cell, just as I was leaving the warmth of my bed to brave Meridas' 'heladez' and midnight traffic to pick up my youngest, who had called just 10 minutes before to say that her ride home had not worked out due to an incident between two vehicles and a rearview mirror where the latter was not used prior to backing up one of said vehicles, resulting in a minor dent which however was enough to put a crimp into everyones' plans, and when I picked up the phone I could clearly make out Sergio Mendes 'Mas que Nada' as he played live, on the beach in Playa del Carmen.
Riviera Maya Jazz Festival: last day 2day!!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, November 27, 2009

Yucatan: Safest State in Mexico

Maybe it's the heavy police presence. Perhaps it's the states' geography. Or, there might be some truth to the persistent rumour that the 'narcos' have their families here and an understanding not to go after one another here.

Whatever the reason, Yucatan is the safest state in violence-riddled Mexico, according to the Consejo Nacional de Seguridad Publica (National Council on Public Safety).

The CNSP goes on to say that the level of insecurity is so low that it is on the same level as cities in Holland, Switzerland or Chile.

Behind Yucatan are Campeche, Veracruz, Zacatecas and Tlaxcala.

If true, I can put up with those bothersome 'retenes' on Yucatans' highways and Meridas' streets.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Juan Luis Guerra in Merida

In a word, fantastic!!!

In spite of the blurriness you see in the iPhone photo (hopefully Steve will include a decent camera at some point in his newest iPhone) the concert was very sharp indeed.

He started almost on time, around 9:30, under a clear, cool, moonlit sky and performed for almost 2 hours to a very enthusiastic Merida audience in the crappy Kukulkan baseball stadium. I kept thinking, it sure is nice of him to come here; I mean he is truly world class and here he is playing this dinky place. I also felt bad for the people up in the bleachers, who must have seen just a speck.

The music was absolutely perfect, as was the sound and simple lighting. The musicians had their moment in the middle of the concert, performing an extended demo of their percussion talents and doing a bit of Michael Jacksons' Thriller dance, complete with white gloves.

Juan Luis himself was friendly and his voice is just as good as 20 years ago, when he was first noticed by yours truly.

All in all, a great night out!

Friday, November 20, 2009

The "Formerly-White" City

This is in answer to Malcolms' question on the previous post and since it is something I always write, perhaps I should elaborate on it a little.

All (OK 95% of) the tourist information out there always (94%) refers to Merida as the 'white city'. Does anyone ever question this; wonder why? There are several versions or theories as to why Merida got its' reputation as 'la ciudad blanca'.

The first; that Merida was so devoid of garbage that its' inhabitants dubbed it white, as in clean. If you have lived here for any length of time, this is clearly a joke, as a large majority of Meridas' present inhabitants could care less about the cleanliness of their city. In any city in Mexico you will see people sweeping garbage, leaves etc from their sidewalks... onto the streets and Merida is no exception. One of the most infuriating sights you can witness in Merida is seeing the electric window on a brand new Lincoln smoothly sliding down and from which a hand emerges that carelessly tosses a plastic bag or bottle into the street. Believe me, these are the same people that would never do this when traveling in Houston or Miami.

So, that is one theory behind the 'white city' moniker. Meridanos may have been careful about keeping their city clean, but this is no longer true, unfortunately. So "formerly-white" would be more appropriate.

Another theory: the inhabitants of the city wore white. White guayaberas, white pants, white shoes for the caballeros and white dresses and hipiles for the ladies. This theory I can actually believe in to a degree; there are one or two dapper gentlemen with carefully gelled hair that frequent the historic centro and they wear all white. However, this is a bygone tradition and, as in the case of the 'clean city' no longer justified; therefore, "formerly-white".

I took a Yucatan history course over a few months (once a week) with historian and teacher Jorge Vargas at the Rogers' Hall school and would highly recommend it to anyone who has any interest in history at all. Jorge makes history come alive and his specialty is debunking a lot of common myths and beliefs about Yucatecan history that are taken for granted by most folks. Somehow through my interest in politics and the past, and I think it was during these classes, I learned that the walls around the old Merida (you can see pieces of them here and there) were there not only for defense, but also to keep out the 'Indian' riff raff. Among the Indians (Mayans) the city of Merida became known as the 'white city' because Indians were not allowed into the city alone; if they had to be there, they were to be accompanied by a white person. Again, another theory and no longer the case, as you can see in the first 5 minutes after entering the city. Formerly white again.

Does this help to explain my continuing use of the term?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Getting Your Driving Permit

One of the joys of adolescence is looking forward to the day you can drive the family car and be free of your dependence on parents and friends to get you from A to B. In the formerly white city, this phenomenon means a visit to the Modulo de Licencias which is run by the police people. There is the main branch at the ex-penitentiary where you can also do more complicated paperwork such as changing vehicle ownership and license plate renewal, and the branch in north Merida, located in the parking lot of the Siglo XXI convention center.

The process involves presenting a series of papers, including, but no limited to, proof of address, a notarized letter that specifies parental consent and responsibility in the case of a minor, and official ID. Copies of everything are required. Once the reception guy has seen your papers, you are assigned a turno, which is a number and then you wait for that number to get called.

Once your number is called, you proceed inside where your papers are checked again and then you move on to an eye exam, which is just looking through the little machine and reading out loud the letters that are shown to you.

Next step, blood type. This info appears on your permit or license and is handy in the case of an accident, providing you have your license on you when you smash up the car. If you don't know it, a little prick in the finger and your blood is identified right there and then.

Then, fingerprinting. As you can see in the photo above, it is necessary to post a sign advising people NOT to wipe their fingers on the walls; but rather on a tissue given to you for that purpose. It is a great demonstration of the civic values of the fomerly white citys' citizens that such a sign is even necessary.

After that, a test, which used to be written but is now administered in a separate room by way of a computer program. Here, several policemen mill about and joke with the test-taker in an ambiance of frivolity not to be found in similar situations in places like say, Vancouver.

The fun part after that, providing you pass, is the barralell parking test, which involves another officer watching the future Yucatecan road menace attempt over and over to parallel park between two large plastic drums. This is interesting because a) the barrels are not that far apart, b) you can't necessarily see the barrels depending on your vehicle and c) the parallel parking is done on the LEFT SIDE, a highly unusual situation in most countries that feature vehicular traffic. You can bang into those barrels several times and if you finally get it right, you proceed to pay your fee and you are now licensed to kill on the highways and byways of the Yucatan.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

On the Other Hand

This is how a real email scam letter should look! Look at all the trouble they went through to make it look nice and real:

Google Incorporation®.
Belgrave House,
76 Buckingham Palace Road,
London SW1W 9TQ,
United Kingdom
Notification Date: 11th/11/2009

We wish to congratulate you once again on this note, for being part of our lucky winners selected this year. This promotion was set-up to encourage the active use of the Google search engine and the Google ancillary services. Hence we do believe with your winning prize, you will continue to be active and patronage to this company. Google is now the world leading search engine worldwide, and in an effort to ensure that it remains the most widely used search engine, an online e-mail balloting was carried out on the 6th November 2009 without your knowledge, it was officially released today been the 11th Of November 2009.We wish to formally announce to you that your email address was attached to a lump sum of ?450,000.00{Four Hundred And Fifty Thousand Great British Pounds Sterling's}.

We also wish to inform you that you have successfully passed the requirements, statutory obligations, verifications and our satisfactory report test conducted for all our online winners. A winning Cheque will be issued in your name by Google Promotion Award Team, and also a certificate of prize claims will be sent along side your winning Cheque.
These are your award details.
Security Code Number: GUK/4532345G.
Ticket No: GUK/699/33/2009
Winning Number: GUK/877/798/2009
Information's required from you are part of our precautionary measure to avoid double claiming and unwarranted abuse of this program. To claim your won prize, please contact our Foreign Transfer Manager DR WILLIAMS GIBSON neatly filling the verification and fund release form below.

(1) Your contact address.
(2) Your Tel/Fax numbers.
(3) Your Nationality/Country.
(4) Your Full Name.
(5) Sex.
(6) Occupation
(7) Age.
(8) Ever won an online lottery?

Mode of Prize Remittance.
(1)Courier Delivery Of your Certified Winning Cheque Name and other Winning Documents safely to you.
You are advised to contact your Foreign Transfer Manager DR. ANDERSON GREY with his private email details below to avoid unnecessary delay and complications:

Telephone: +44 7045712963
The Google Promotion Award Team has discovered a huge number of double claims due to winners informing close friends relatives and third parties about their winnings and also sharing their identification numbers. As a result of this, these friends try to claim the lottery on behalf of the real winners. The Google promotion award committee has reached a decision from the headquarters at the United Kingdom that any double claim discovered by the Lottery Board will result to the disqualification of the winners lottery. So you are hereby strongly advised once more to keep your winnings strictly confidential until you claim your prize.
Congratulations from the Staffs & Members of the Google interactive Lottery Board Commission.
Yours Sincerely,


Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Lamest Scam Email Ever

As you dear readers know, living in Merida means you don't have to put up with a lot of crap that you do back home (you put up with different crap) but junk mail is unavoidable anywhere.

And that's how todays' post ties into the blogs' theme. Cool, huh?

Usually those emails announcing opportunity to become someones' investment partner are pretty elaborate. From the widow or orphan asking for help in getting her 950 billion euros out of Ghana or the bank executive in Cote D'Ivoire with a tale of an airplane crash and a millionaires dormant account of which you will get 30%, these stories from our scamming friends in Nigeria are elaborate, riddled with spelling and grammatical gaffes and are fun to read when, say, you are having a 'nothing to do' day.

That's why, when I found this email in my junk mail today, I was struck by its' casual, 'whatever' feel. There's no attempt to create a compelling story or cleverly disguise the sender; jerry.smith signs his request for your information: Mercedes Office. The mail makes me wonder if they'll give up the elaborate creative writing class approach for this more direct 'yeah I'm lying so what send me your information' attempt to lure stupid people to their fate.

This is the email from this morning:
From: Mercedes Benz Xmas promo Hide
Date: 11/14/2009 2:09:56 PM
Subj: Re: End Of Year Promo Winner‏

Send your details. 1:Names..... 2:Address.....3.Phone.No.....4.Present
Country, For the claims of £950,000.00 GBP which was awarded to your E-Mail
ID in our Mercedes Benz Xmas Cash Splash

Best Regards
Mercedes Office

Reply | Reply all | Forward
Prev message | Next message
Back to folder | Move | Delete | Windows Live Home

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, November 09, 2009

Roadblocks in Merida

I don't know why I don't pick up the local paper more often; there's so much to catch the eye of the neurotic foreigner!

Besides the happy ending article, there's another on page 9 of the Local section (where all the good stuff is) which proclaims that police roadblocks in Merida, particularly the ones where motorists are stopped and checked for alcoholic breath, are being modernized.

There'll be more lights, no roadblocks after overpasses or curves, that sort of thing. All because an officer was run over by a truck because the driver 'didn't see' the roadblock.

Which is fine.

The thing they didn't get around to 'modernizing' is their method by which they obtain their breath sample, as shown in the photo accompanying the article. The officer, and I know this from personal experience as well, is holding a piece of cardboard by the drivers face and is sniffing the drivers breath as it is blown towards his highly trained nostrils.

Surely this is modernization! And what a thrill it must be for any aspiring police officer to have to perform this degrading duty. What if urine samples had to be taken? It's a disturbing thought...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

More on the "happy finish" story

It seems the Diario de Yucatan is determined to get the word out about those massages on Progreso's beach.

In an article on page 14 of todays' Local section, the headline reads: "Critica la Iglesia un 'final feliz' (Church criticizes a 'happy ending'). Apparently Progresos' head church person heard about the story and called it a 'vulgarity' and stated that the citizens of Progreso have much more to offer than these types of 'sexual attentions'.

Personally, I don't know what he means; there's precious little in Progreso to offer the cruise ship tourists besides beer, fried fish and tired handicrafts mass-produced elsewhere.

His closing remarks exhort people to 'avoid' these services (not abstain, avoid) to preserve their health and good morals.

I think it might actually be good for the Progreso economy and may result in some more money in the municipal coffers that could be used for say picking up the trash the good citizens of the port happily leave strewn about without a care.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Discreet Massages on the Beach

In yet another scene from the Yucatan that makes this neurotic foreigner smile, there was a small article in the Diario de Yucatan newspaper, page 11 of the Local section, that had the following headline:

Piden discrecion a las masajistas (Masseuses asked to exercise discretion)

Apparently, authorities, handcrafts salespeople and service providers in Progreso claim that it is possible that there are some masseuses or their clients who have asked or offered a 'happy ending' to their massages on the beach at Progreso; perhaps you have seen the tables set up under the coconut palm trees by the malecon for the cruise ship tourists when they venture into what they are sure is the 'real' Mexico.

The article goes on to say that the 'authorities' do not know anything about a 'happy finish' and the Director of Tourism, Felipe Manzano Frias, denies that Progreso is a sexual tourism destination (good Lord, one would hope not, ugh) and if there were any such cases, they are isolated incidents because, as he put it, "we are not aware of such practices"

Personally, I cannot imagine anyone getting a 'happy ending' on a massage table on the beach in Progreso - can you? This is not a particularly private area, as anyone familiar with the concept is aware and so one would have people - locals, other cruise ship passengers - milling about while you are getting happy? I mean, look at the photo above: I see nothing there that could be described as 'happy' (or even particularly relaxing for that matter).

In any case, the main message seems to be that the masseuses be discreet about these 'practices', which are, after all, just a possibility.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Watch your departure time!!

My wise words of advice if you are flying to Houston from Merida: check your departure time!!

While the time change in Mexico is not synched with the USA, Continentals' flight to Houston leaves at 6 not 7 AM.

Learned this the hard way on Monday!

Hats off to the Continental staff at the Merida and Cancun airport counters who were so helpful and patient!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Yucatan Dictionary is Here!!!!

Would you like one? Perfect for Christmas gifting (early but what the heck). Let me know and I will contact you about how to go about getting yours.

No pressure, but there is a limited number available. This is because there is only so much weight you can bring in your luggage on the plane!

Contact me today!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Merida Scenes III

Another happy scene from the Comercial Mexicana parking lot, where those responsible for law and order and setting a good example for the rest of us mortal citizens are doing a fine job. I guess they were just in a hurry so that's OK. This seems to be the justification for all sorts of inconsiderate behavior by many residents of the formerly white city...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Merida Scenes II

Here's an example of 'optimistic' advertising (I'd call it blatantly misleading but you all know me). Read the sign carefully, especially the part about how long it will take you to get there.

The Martí gym franchise Sport City was all set to come to the Yucatan and compete with Exersite (Altabrisa mall). You can still see where that was going to happen across from the Hacienda Xcanatun at the entrance to a residential area of the same name.

Turns out that the local owners couldn't come to agree with the folks at Sport City and so that was the end of Sports City. Now, they've replaced the City part on all their signage with the word Center.

On this poster, plastered repeatedly on telephone posts in the charming hamlet of Chicxulub, Sport Center assures you that their gym is only 5 minutes away.

This is either a deliberate fat lie or they are so hurting for money that they recycled the signs that were originally going to be put somewhere near the Gran Plaza, which would have really been five minutes away!

All my best to Sport, um, Center.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Merida Scenes

Here is a classic you will encounter when driving ahead. For local drivers, it is very important to not leave a space between you and the car in front of you, and if someone needs to get in, close that gap even further so as make it impossible.

Note the black BMW is trying to turn into the car lot. The white car in front of me has pulled ahead, effectively blocking the BMW's path.


(sorry for the low quality photo, it's all Steve Jobs fault)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Crime on Isla Mujeres

From this morning.

I hope this is not Canadian VISA rage; if so all of us Canadians are in trouble.


Canadian woman killed in Mexico

CBC News

A Montreal woman has been found stabbed to death in her Mexican apartment on an island off the Cancun coast.

Authorities found the 60-year-old woman on Thursday with multiple stab wounds and her throat cut.

The woman was in her apartment on the Isla Mujeres, about 13 kilometres northeast of Cancun, a popular resort town.

Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed a Canadian woman was killed there, but is giving no other details, citing privacy concerns.

A 24-year-old man has been arrested, according to local media reports.


Thursday, September 03, 2009

Sara Brightman's Screw Global Warming Tour

Yes, that's Sara, no 'h', as the newspaper put it this morning.

Our hallowed Instituto of Cultura, captained merrily once again by Jorge Esma, a local politician we just can't seem to get enough of, is presenting Sarah Brightman in concert, at the Chichen Itzá archeological site. Our friend Jorge was of course the guy who brought us Pavarotti and Domingo as well, thereby consolidating his position as artistic überpromoter and cultural go-to guy in the state. He has had some reasonably good ideas in the past but continuing to milk Chichen Itzá for profit seems to me a lousy one.

Call me a cynic but isn't this promoting concerts and charging exorbitant amounts for tickets (up to $8000 pesos or $600 USD in the so-called VIP area) the job of private capitalism? Should we really be paying taxes (the few of us that actually pay them) to organize and pay for this kind of event under the thin guise of 'promotion' for the state's touristic wonders? I don't know about you, but I don't want my tax pesos used to destroy more threatened Yucatecan fauna to make way for FOUR ADDITIONAL parking lots near Chichen Itzá. Or to DOUBLE the size of the 'abandoned' airport, which will mean paving over more jungle. See his interview in today's Por Esto newspaper.

Why not call this the Sarah Brightman Screw Global Warming Tour?

Promotion? Give me a break.

Let's face it: this event (and the upcoming concert with Elton John) will benefit Jorge and anyone on his good side involved in the planning and organization only. Promotion? Everyone in the world already knows where Chichen Itzá is!! And those that don't, also don't know or care about this Sarah Brightman person.

What are they promoting besides the lining of their own pockets? Nothing.

And how is it that neighboring Campeche state can bring in Il Divo, which must be charging an arm and a leg these days for a show, to celebrate their anniversary or whatever, and have the concert be completely FREE? Everyone makes fun of Campeche and their funny ways; boy are they ever stupid to offer a concert to everyone FREE when there is so much money to be made!

This sucks. I hope she gets laryngitis and has to cancel.

Before they cement over more jungle.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Cell Phones on Airplanes

"Following" people on Twitter can provide you with nuggets of information it seems. Jorgito, an occasional reader of this blog and the one written by the neurotic Casual Restaurant Critic, noted on Twitter that the use of cell phones was now permitted on airplanes.

It was published today in the Diario de Yucatan newspaper, the bible for many Yucatecans and so the story MUST be true.

A quick check on the FAA (Federal Aviation Authority) website in the united states doesn't seem to have anything new on the subject - the last post is dated May 30, 2006. You'd think the subject would be on the front page if they had approved this.

So does this mean that you can only use cellular phones in Mexican airspace? I'm confused.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Rainbow & Sunset Photos

Not everything is doom and gloom in Merida! :)

Here are some photos taken yesterday in the City Center area of a spectacular double rainbow and sunset!

Reader Contribution: Car Huach

Thank you Rodney, for this hilarious photo which takes the best of Yucatecan Spanish (huach/wach = Yucatecan Spanish for a person who comes from Mexico City) and English (Car Wash) and mixes it up.

One could reasonably assume that the owner of this establishment is a Wach.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Twitter down this Morning?

Getting all ready to Twitter away this morning which I like to do in lieu of exercise and what do you know? Twitter won't load.

A quick Google search takes me to the Twitter status page and it informs me that they are under 'attack' and are 'defending themselves. A Denial of Service Attack. I had to look that up and Wikipedia says the following:

A denial-of-service attack (DoS attack) or distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS attack) is an attempt to make a computer resource unavailable to its intended users. Although the means to carry out, motives for, and targets of a DoS attack may vary, it generally consists of the concerted efforts of a person or persons to prevent an Internet site or service from functioning efficiently or at all, temporarily or indefinitely. Perpetrators of DoS attacks typically target sites or services hosted on high-profile web servers such as banks, credit card payment gateways, and even root nameservers.

So much activity - I'm exhausted.

Have a great day everyone!

Monday, August 03, 2009

One of My Least Favorite Sights in Merida (or anywhere else)

I wonder if this is as predominant in other parts of the so-called civilized world, but here in the formerly-white city called Merida you see a lot of this: the used diaper, rolled up into a neat little crap-filled ball and left behind for someone else to throw away.

How hard is it for these inconsiderate adults to dispose of their offsprings' DNA samples in a trash can? What can you expect from these brain-dead individuals when it comes to raising normal, considerate children? What are they thinking as they roll up the disposable diaper, applying the tape to seal it into a tidy bundle?

In an ideal world, where justice and common sense prevails, these people should be made to work in a garbage sorting facility, where they would be in charge of classifying used disposable diapers according to their contents.

Photo taken in the Gran Plaza parkade, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Friday, July 17, 2009

More on the Canadian Visa

In my previous post I stated why I thought the Canadians finally clamped down on the Mexicans. I blamed all the Mexicans who took advantage of Canada's relaxed immigration policies and ruined it for everyone.

Now it's the Canadian governments turn.

Who is the Canadian Brain Surgeon/Rocket Scientist who came up with this idiotic, one-day-to-the-next policy that will affect not only hundred if not thousands of perfectly legit people who are planning to visit Canada and have already purchased flights, prepaid hotels and cruises? Not only that side of the coin, but all the cruise ships, hotels and restaurants as well as tourist attractions in Canada? This isn't September, it's the middle of the tourist season! What was this bureaucrat thinking? Was he thinking?

Even the US Government, when they issued their new proclamation regarding passport requirements for US citizens, had a timetable.

Canada has really dropped the ball on this one; another fabulous accomplishment for the cheesehead government of Steven Harper.


For the conspiracy theorists...

Here's a thought: CIA/FBI discovers an imminent attack on Canadian soil originating in Mexico; the CIA advised Canadas' CSIS, who take it to Canada Immigration.

Immigration responded by immediately issuing a blanket visa requirement for all Mexicans, thereby thwarting the plot.

Everything is hush hush for now.

Just a thought...

Yucatan Dictionary Sales - Thank you!

Just a quick "THANK YOU" to the person that bought some of my dictionaries last week!

Canada Requires Mexicans to Acquire Visa

There has been a lot of talk around town on the subject of the recent announcement by the government of Canada to require Mexicans entering Canada to have a visa. Some people understand this measure; others express indignation that those nasty Canadians would be so hostile towards Mexicans.

As a Canadian, my only observation is that Canada has finally woken up to the fact that there are a lot of Mexicans with a colmillo* the size of brontosaurus' molar, that have been taking advantage of Canadian immigration policy for years and years.

To give you an example of the Canadians' "innocence" and lack of real-world experience, take the Canadian passport application. I criticized this a while back. There is a section where you are required to get a personal reference from a professional person; the options are doctor, lawyer and policeman.


In Mexico.

I'm not trashing policemen but come on. This reflects the Canadians complete lack of colmillo.

There must be a zillion Mexicans who have taken advantage of Canada's refugee and asylum policies to enter the country with a minimum of effort and at great expense to the Canadian taxpayer, who foots the bill for each and every investigation of these supposed 'refugees'.

If Mexicans are to feel any animosity it should be towards their fellow Mexican huevones* who have screwed this up for them. Another nail in the coffin of the Mexican reputation abroad.

Surprisingly, since I expected a more PRD-ish outlash against the policy, a lot of Mexicans are actually in the same boat on this topic as I am. Have a look at the Universal newspaper website. Their article is very interesting in that it points out:
  • Mexican refugee applications from 2005-present, represent 25% of ALL international refugee applications
  • In 2008, there were 9400 applications, of which only 11% were proved to be valid
The reactions are in the comments, following the article. Interesting the amount of support shown there.

And to those who insist that the Mexican government should retaliate by applying visa requirements to Canadians, I just laugh. Are the Canadians and Americans coming to Mexico as 'refugees' and getting a check from Calderon each month? Are they lining up to take advantage of the fabulous social infrastructure (like the IMSS) ?

Didn't think so.

It was about time Canada woke up, in my humble opinion.


* Colmillo - the knack certain people have for determining where and how to make a situation work in their benefit, extracting the maximum advantage for them usually at the expense of the other party

* Huevones - derogative term for lazy people

Friday, July 03, 2009

Amazon Store Link

You may notice, dear reader(s), that there is a link to 'my' Amazon store at the top right of the main page.

The idea behind this is to be able to pitch some pesos to my overweight partner, the Casual Restaurant Critic, so he can continue with his valuable research into Merida's restaurant scene.

If you feel Amazon-ish, go through the link and buy tons of stuff on Amazon, a tiny portion of which will then be credited towards El Maloso who will in turn pass it on to the Critic.

Thank you!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

This is Not Me - Do Not Worry!

William Lawson Henson Obituaries The State
GREAT FALLS — Mr. William Lawson Henson of 601 St. Peters Church Road, Chapin, SC, and formerly of Great Falls died Friday, June 26, 2009, at Lexington ...

Ley Seca means no Alcohol at Election Time

The Mexican government(s), in its'/their infinite wisdom, prohibits the sale of alcohol during elections and July 5th, when there will be elections for diputados (a political sub-species of popular representative that makes a huge salary and does precious little for those he or she is supposed to represent) is no exception.

The all-caring government doesn't want the nasty populace having the opportunity to buy a beer on election day, in case it gets drunk and votes incorrectly. Or gets drunk and disorderly if the election results turn out not quite the aforementioned populace wants.

IMHO, a ridiculous and useless law since those who will want to be drinking during the voting process will have bought their alcohol prior to the cutoff date, July 4th.

It's all part of the great simulation that we live in a "democracy". Call me a cynic. My wife does. :)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Can I Run for Public Office? No.

If I could run for office, here are some of the 'propuestas' I would run on.


As part of a plan to make Yucatan the most ecology-friendly state in the country:
  • An immediate 'hold' on all ongoing construction permits to review and if necessary, include, greater 'green' areas in all housing developments. A swing set and a palm tree on a minuscule corner lot do not a 'park' make, nor do they provide the beneficial temperature controlling effects of a larger, more generous 'green' area. All future construction permits subject to increased allocation of space to 'green' areas.

  • A real 'reforestation' campaign, emphasizing replanting of vegetation indigenous to the area. No more palm trees and grass. This is not Miami.

  • No more golf courses.

  • Increase the budget for inspection and control of all well and water drilling activity in the state. The water is being contaminated at an alarming rate and soon it will be useless.

  • Immediate implementation of a tax credit for all purchasers of hybrid vehicles.

  • Promote installation of plastic and glass recycling plants to reduce soda and beer bottle garbage, which is part of the landscape now. All soda and beer bottlers in the state must either offer a refund for their bottles, or pay a tax in lieu of. No exceptions. Out of state bottlers must pay tax which will be used to pay refund to the general public on bottles collected.

  • Invest in solar technology in order to have most state government buildings run by solar power by 2020.

  • Tax credits for homeowners who install solar or alternative energy in their homes.

  • Tax credits for homeowners who plant indigenous vegetation on their properties.


  • Any and all Yucatan state taxes to be rolled into one flat tax.

  • Push for the federal IVA tax to be applied to everything, as well as pushing for a flat federal income tax.

  • Eliminate tenencia tax on autombile purchases for all hybrid and 4 cylinder models.

  • Increase vehicle tax on 6 cylinder models and a maximum tax on 8 cylinder models.

  • Tax credit (percentage based on vehicle purchase price, used or new) for purchases of hybrid vehicles.

How am I doing so far?

Elections in Yucatan!

Hooray for democracy!

Yucatecos and Yucatecas have, once again, the wonderful opportunity to exercise their hallowed democratic rights and obligations, and elect a diputado!

What the heck is a diputado, you might ask? It is said that the diputado is some kind of legislative political creature, that is supposed to represent the interests of the people in the district that voted for him or her. However, voting always along party lines, the diputado is about as representative of the people as a panucho would be representative of Swiss culture.

This time around, we have a few candidates to choose from according to the distrito to be 'represented'. Today we will look at two: the PRI offers up Angelica and the PAN suggests former police chief Javier Medina.

A quick look at their websites (linked above) shows this casual observer that while the PAN continues its use of the traditional blue colors, the PRI has abandoned its green white and red colors to distance itself from its rather unpopular track record, while at the same time banking on that record and emphasizing it's experience. OK. If you say so.

The PAN Javier website home page features a serious Javier making a speech, with carefully furrowed brows and much animated finger pointing and waving, indicating his experience and seriousness, while the PRI/PV home page loads up a video of a crowd of happy singing red-tshirt clad jovenes singing, clapping and dancing around Angelica in a kind of rapturous, can't wait for the tortas and refrescos/I'm on TV!!/Michael Jackson We Are the World kind of way.

Oh and if you are wondering what this PV is about, it's the Partido Verde Ecologista de Mexico (Green Party) who have allied themselves with the PRI. This is the most hypocritical of all political parties; if they have done one thing to protect the ecology or a blade of grass, I would be enormously surprised. I suspect the 'green' part refers to their political acumen, as in lack thereof.

As for their novel ideas, of which practically all sound very populistas, Javier's sound a little more coherent, while Angelica stresses her 'sensitivity to the needs of the family' which begs the question "Whose family?" Yours? Mine? Hers, maybe? Neither of these candidates is saying "Yucatecos and Yucatecas, get off your butts and work" Probably not a real popular message.

Which brings me to the subject of how much the diputado makes in a year! According to El Semanario, in an article from 2008 (it's probably increased by now) a diputado earned 77,888 pesos a month, along with another 45,786 to attend legislative sessions and 28,772 pesos to cover other activities. This makes a tidy little sum of $152446 pesos. A month. There is, on top of that, a savings program equal to 12% of their regular salary, medical coverage (you can bet they are not standing in line at the local IMSS (Importa Madres Su Salud) and an aguinaldo or Christmas bonus, equivalent to 40 days of salary.

No wonder they are so excited to 'serve' selflessly the needs of the population. And no wonder we have to pay more taxes!

Have a look at the candidates, their proposals and make up your mind. Imagine who you would vote for if you could vote. If you can, but don't want to, you could try the Voto Blanco option, proposed by former elected officials now out of the running, who are now saying that the voting system is flawed and people should abstain from participating (in the system that elected them in the past) Sour grapes? Gee, ya think?

Have a great election season, enjoy the visual and audio pollution!

Viva la democracia!

Another Unfair Comparison - Vancouver Life

Everyone has seen the dilapidated motorcycles here in Merida that carry one driver, one wife, one child (some or all helmet-less) and a carton of 24 eggs; or perhaps a worker wearing a construction site hard hat (counts as a helmet right?) his assistant on the back and a 12 foot aluminum ladder. Somehow, while it scares the bejeezuz out of a first time visitor, they all seem to make it home or to work safely, for the most part.

In the land of plenty aka the 'First World' ie. Canada, things are so controlled that the government is involved in regulating and protecting to the point of smothering.

Take bicycles on Vancouver streets. Starting this July, the laws governing biking on streets, which fall under the jurisdiction of the Motor Vehicle Act, will be strictly enforced. What are some of those laws you ask, dear reader(s)? Here are a few, along with their fines, handily converted to pesos for your enjoyment:
  • No helmet - $348.00 pesos
  • Riding on a sidewalk - $1308.00
  • Two bikes side by side on a road - $1308.00
  • Not riding seated - $1308.00
  • (this includes hills; your butt cannot leave that seat - imagine the fun police officers will have, being able to justify watching people's butts!)
  • Carrying a passenger - $1308.00
  • Hitching a ride from a passing vehicle - $1308.00
  • Look Mom, no hands - $1308.00
  • Not paying attention - $1308.00
  • Not having reasonable consideration (sounds uniquely Canadian doesn't it?) - $1308.00
  • No bell on your bike? - $1308.00
If you bump into a pedestrian and cycle away, that's considered hit and run and a criminal offense under the aforementioned MV Act.

No wonder Canadians stare in wonder at the transportation possibilities here in Merida when they see their first 100cc Kazuki loaded with entire families off to the beach at Progreso!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Perfect Time to Visit Uxmal and Chichen!


A reliable source has informed me that the average number of daily visitors to Chichen Itzá is down from 6,000 to 300. That's right. Three hundred.

Meanwhile, at Uxmal, the average is 60 people a day.

This makes for a unique experience in Mayan ruin visiting!

More on the Mobile Phone Registry

Well I slept on it (yesterday's post was written at midnight and in a rush of indignation) but this morning I find myself still a tad worked up over this 'new' mobile phone registry news item.

I found a better link on the subject on the news site for Milenio. You can read it (in Spanish, of course) here.

The federal government, through the Secretaria de Gobernacion (SEGOB) and its' Registro Nacional de Población or RENAPO (don't you love all the initials!) will be charged with the safekeeping of your personal information. Fear not, Big Brother conspiracy theorists, it's all in good hands.

Meanwhile the cell phone companies, such as TelCel, IUSACel and MoviStar will be responsable for 'control and storage' of your calls and text messages. I am sure you are relieved to know that this information is being stored on your behalf. I know I am.

You have until April 10th next year to register your phone; if you don't, your phone line will be de-activated.

I am not so much concerned with my personal information being in a databse; that's already a given, whether I live here, in Saskatoon or in Phoenix. It's just that this measure, which is supposed to combat crime, and the way they are implementing it, is so onerous and full of loopholes so as to make it useless. And more intrusion by government into our private lives.

Of course we are in Mexico, dear reader(s) and so there is a very substantial possibility that this law will be struck down once the deadline looms near. Remember that mega-million dollar airport project near Mexico City that was cancelled by machete-waving campesinos. Think of all those tenencia, agua potable, predial and other deadlines (deadlines!) that were extended and then extended some more. The discounts given to those who pay their government bills late. If enough people don't register and/or protest, this new law may also just be 'postponed' indefinitely.

So I wouldn't rush out just yet to register anything.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Register your Cellular Phone or Lose it

It seems that when it comes to Draconian laws that infringe on your privacy, the United States (Patriot Act) is not the only country to come up with new ways to create more bureaucracy and poke around in your life.

The newly decreed Mobile Telephone Registry program, now officially a part of the Mexican governments' Telecommunications Law, states that everyone who owns a cellular phone, both on a plan basis or pay as you go, will have to register the number with the 'authorities' who promise to keep your personal information private. Yes. Well. Give me a moment to have myself a chuckle.

The purpose of this new Big Brother law is to have everyone's phone in a database so that if there is a crime involving a cell phone, the all-knowing, competent and completely efficient and honest authorities can trace the telephone used, back to its registered owner, thereby solving the crime! Hooray!

Anyone familiar with laws and police work in this country will probably just shake their head.

Now originally, they said they would like your name, current address, photo ID and even a fingerprint. You had to go and present your documentation to some sallow faced burocrat or some executive at your local TelCel office. Fine and dandy. That might actually have worked.

Now, however, they have made it easier for everyone and have completely defeated the purpose of the new law (matching phones with users) by stupidly introducing the text message option of registering your phone. You type in your name, date of birth and voila! Alternatively you can type in your CURP (another government ID comprised of birthday, initials and some other number or letter) Your phone is registered! Wonderful!

My question is this: HOW DIFFICULT WOULD IT BE (assuming you are one of the bad guys) TO TYPE IN SOMEONES NAME AND DATE BIRTH or another CURP (I bet there is a programmer out there that can generate fake CURPS in the hundreds) and thereby create a false registry and/or cause someone completely innocent to find themselves involved in a crime?

Does anyone else see the stupidity and the futility in this? THIS MAKES NO SENSE!


These are my first impressions. Chances are good that there will be more later!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

More Unfair Comparisons...

Can you spot the Caffeinated Kid?

In the previous post, I mentioned the camp and the rules imposed upon its' operation by the fact that it was a School District run event and therefore had to comply with several sanitation requirements.

This camp, which was run by counsellors and Grade 12 students for Grade 7 age students, featured tents and campfires and all those things that make camp fun. Such as marshmallow roasts at night.

Or not.

My strict kitchen boss had included in her list of camp food a case of marshmallows for evening around-the-fire roasting and on the first night, issued 2 bags to the camps' organizers for the evenings' activities.

The next morning, one of the counselors came to the kitchen trailer where we were hard at work with hash browns, off-the-grill toast, oven sausages and scrambled eggs for 40, to return the two bags of marshmallows from the previous night. With an apologetic shrug, he announced that one of his senior counselors had decided that there were 'safety issues' with the idea of people sticking marshmallow mounted on sticks into a fire and perhaps 'waving them around' (his words).


My boss and I looked at each other incredulously and tried really really hard not to burst out laughing in this poor students' face.

What kind of lame-ass camp doesn't allow marshmallow roasting at night? The powers-that-be have already gone overboard with mandatory helmet regulations for bikers (bicycles, not Harleys) and their anal sanitation issues; now this? It was just too much! How did we ever get through our childhood, before Mother Government was around to dictate how we were to 'play'?

Geez Louise!

Also on that morning, a couple (as in 3) kids asked for coffee with their breakfasts. The pot was right there at the beginning of the assembly line breakfast service.

The first kid asked for some and I replied, joking "No, this is just for adults".

As he started to walk away, disappointed, I said in my best attempt at morning cheer, "KIDDING! We LOVE to have our kids caffeinated!" and served him a mug, adding that the addition of plenty of sugar would give him a nice early morning buzz and keep him wide awake through the mornings' moss and lichens lecture.

A few moments later, a counselor who shall remain nameless except for his unofficial nickname of Lampshade, informed me that some of the kids were drinking coffee. He said this with the seriousness of an airport immigration officer who tells you "Come with me"

"Yes" I answered, "some kids asked for coffee and I served them a cup"

"Well" he turned to me seriously "actually they are not supposed to have coffee and it should be only for the adults"

I thought of babies drinking Coke from baby bottles in Merida, the complete opposite extreme to be sure, and quietly finished serving breakfast.

Oh, Canada, indeed.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Notes on Life in Canada vs Life in Mexico

Just back from a trip to Canada where I reluctantly was recruited to drive the fat and always cantankerous (spelling?) Casual Restaurant Critic around, I was struck by some of the rather quaint differences between life in Canada and life in Mexico observed. Here are some:

Safety First in the Kitchen - having had the opportunity to participate - albeit only on the sidelines, chopping red onions as cooks' helper to a very strict kitchen manager - in a day camp for junior high school age children, I was able to notice the abundance of positively anal rules regarding the handling of food.

When you come from Mexico, where succulent mystery meat tacos are made and sold and eaten streetside, and delicious tamales can be discovered at the bottom of a battered (not breaded; beat up) cloth covered aluminum pot at a gas station, you are bound to be blown away by the rather hysterical regulations regarding food handling and preparation in Canada.

For one thing, the washing of dishes must be done in a commercial-grade dishwashing machine. If that is not available, there must be a three compartment sink available, one for soaking and washing in soapy, xix-filled water; another with 'clean' water for rinsing and finally a disinfecting sink with a chlorine solution. There are specific instructions as to water temperature, soap content, and chlorine content as well. These are located on a chart which must be posted at the sink location.

One can't forget to leave room at the sink for the handwashing poster, which also must be posted there. It instructs one on how to properly wash hands - in a rotary motion and above the wrist and paying particular attention to fingernails - and for how long.

Refrigerator temperatures are controlled as well and must be in a certain range to ensure there is no spoilage. This brings to mind the Comercial Mexicana's practice of laying out their raw bistek meat on tables in the supermarket, presumably beacuse it is 'cool' in the store, thanks to that chilly air conditioning. Of course they are concerned with your health; just look at the ham n cheese ladies: they are wearing facemasks and hairnets. While the raw meat slowly rots nearby.

My hunch is that this is less about food poisoning than it is about legal concerns. In a society where all the basic needs have been met, such as is the case in first-world Canada, people are on the lookout for a problem - any problem, real or perceived - and are willing to sue at the first sign of what they think might be something questionable.


More fun comparisons later!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Swine Flu Update - Who To Believe?

praying for some information

This morning's Diario de Yucatan website states that there is one unconfirmed case of swine flu in the Yucatan. Great news, right? According to the story, they are awaiting the results of the tests from Mexico City. There's no way to confirm this locally? Hmmm.

This same website has another article that reports on the efforts being made on Yucatan's state borders, where people driving in from other states are checked with state of the art equipment that measure body temperature with a laser device. If anyone shows a high body temperature, they are pulled aside to have more samples taken right there and the testing will show right there if the person is infected with the swine flu virus. The test takes... TWO MINUTES.

This begs the obvious question: why, if the health authorities are able to detect the virus at a mobile lab set up on the highway in Coba, are they saying they need to wait for confirmation from Mexico City to determine whether or not the Merida case is positive? I would humbly suggest they send the sample to the Coba mobile highway lab and test it there - seems it would be a lot faster and more efficient, no?

Meanwhile, the federal government, in an update on the news, shows a list of states that have the infection - Yucatan is among them.

Meanwhile the malls are officially closed until May 6. But they are open, for the most part. So they are closed and open at the same time.

And those people who organized a party on Facebook which was broken up by the Health Police are, according to some sources 6 years in prison and/or fines. Talk about your overreactions.

Who to believe? Is there any wonder people are praying?

Monday, May 04, 2009

Swine Flu Update - Gran Plaza Mall Open

In that occasionally infuriating way Mexico operates that brings out the neurotic foreigner in me, it turns out that the Gran Plaza mall is open this morning. A call to their administrative office reveals that the order from the manager/administrator is that 'the mall opens'. This in spite of the 'official' statement yesterday saying that Merida malls would be close until May 6th. And you wonder why Mexicans are so cynical about anything 'official'.

Stores/businesses open this morning in the Gran Plaza are:
  • Burger King,
  • Doña Gorda,
  • Libreria Dante,
  • CFE,
  • TelCel and
  • Mayan Xic.
  • Kukis by Maru will open shortly, I expect.
How long will this last? Who knows! In the land of the unexpected and the Kafka-esque, ANYthing can happen! Maybe someone will sneeze and the mall will close.


Have a great Monday!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Swine Flu Update - Malls Closed

Just a quick note to let anyone not aware of the latest local developments regarding the swine flu hysteria that the authorities have decided in their infinite wisdom to close the malls as of this afternoon and apparently until May 6 or such time as it is determined 'safe' to do so.

Wouldn't want anyone to get a runny nose now, would we?

This is another nail in the coffin of the local, state and national economy. WHo stands to gain, I wonder, by propagating all this ridiculous hysteria?

It's not Ebola for chrissake. IT's A FLU people!!!


Soon they will close the beaches as a lot of people are going there since it is the only thing left to do in this scorching, dead city.

Here is the latest update as of this moment on the World Health Organizations website.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Definitive Test - Swine Flu

Try it and see for yourself!

Click here.

Enough posting for today?


Yucatan Governor Speaks on Swine Flu

Special address by the state of Yucatans' governor here.

Scientists see this flu strain as relatively mild - LA Times Today

Here is the link to the LA Times story this morning!

You Look Stupid With Your Cheap Face Mask

I'm not one to criticize (who, me?) but I have to admit that all the people wearing those cheap disposable light blue face masks look pretty darn ridiculous to me. Plus, they don't work (doctors words, not mine)

For one thing, they don't fit properly around your nose area 'cuz they're not anatomically designed so anything in the air will get in your nasal passages from the openings around your nose. If you were really concerned you'd go out and find a real face mask that seals your nose and mouth area. Oh, there aren't any of those.

Add to that the fact that the swine flu is not airborne, it's a contact thing where you have to get sneezed on or grab a handful of germs from a telephone or something and then rub your hand in your mouth, the whole exercise seems rather futile.

I suspect most people either a) already know this; or b) could care less in true Mexican laissez faire fashion, but are obligated to wear the face mask because their employer insists on it. So most people are putting it on, but choose to use it as an interesting fashion accessory in the form of a headband or neck scarf. Often, however, the blue clashes with the clothing you have decided on wearing that day and it just clashes grotesquely. Not good.

So they don't really work and you look ridiculous.

Happy now?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Official Information - Finally!

Here is a link to the Yucatan State government's website page where you can find information on the state of the influenza in the state. How many times can you put 'state' in the same post?

It seems everything is OK in the Yucatan. No cases reported; even that French guy in Valladolid was given a clean bill of health. Or so they report.

Still nothing on the Governor's Facebook page, though. It still says "Hola Muchachos" and asks what those muchachos think of the informe. Maybe the people writing on her Facebook page think only the muchachos use Facebook? I haven't been a muchacho in quite a while.

Let's Get a Grippe

I'm no doctor, so don't look to me for medical advice.

Did you, dear reader, know that last year, in the US alone, and according to the CDC, 36,000 people died of flu-like symptoms? I read that this morning on CNN.

We don't know how many in Mexico or even if anyone's counting of course, but there's probably a number out there and its more than 1000.

Let's lighten up, shall we?


Mobile Blogging from here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

School's Out!

Yes, although there is nothing on the official Yucatan government website ( all schools from kindergarten through university - in Merida at least - are suspending classes until May 6th.

I even checked our governors' Facebook page ( where I can respond to her question: what did I think about the 'informe'. Nothing on the flu or school closures or anything else related to the current situation. I don't think anyone could care less about her informe at the moment.

With absolutely everyone talking about the swine flu and many people resorting to wearing masks, the state government doesn't feel it warrants any update or further information. The fact that there is nothing on the government website is nothing new, really. During the 3 hurricanes I personally have lived through here, the government run radio station will happily play music as if nothing was going on.

Perhaps they might consider updating the site every 12 hours or so to calm the populace...

HSBC Fees - Outrageous or Just My Imagination

HSBC, my favourite worst bank to deal with (and they all suck so there's no where to go) just charged me the fees detailed below. I had given my daughter my debit card and she didn't get the PIN right and so made several attempts at accessing the account.

HSBC, the bank that will give you a Mickey Mouse Made-In-China cheapo plastic digital photo display frame 'as a gift' if you open an account with them so they may fleece you indefinitely, decided that each of these attempts constitutes some sort of 'service' and charge for it. And of course the 'service' incurs a 15% IVA tax.


The following is from the online bank statement this morning. They don't charge for checking this online - yet.

04/20 I V A $ 0.45


04/20 I V A $ 0.45


04/20 I V A $ 0.45


04/20 I V A $ 0.45

Sunday, April 26, 2009

My Favourite Things - Funny Sign

This little gem was photographed surreptitiously with the crappy camera that comes with Apple's iPhone at one of Cancun Airports Terminal 3 gift shops.

The employee was busily accommodating merchandise on the shelves so I was able to snap this wonderful sign that made my afternoon a little more pleasant.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Influenza in Mexico

Apparently, there is some sort of influenza bug in the air and there is an alarming amount of cases out there; enough to - according to the press - warrant the IMSS apparently issuing an 'alert' and proceeding to apply vaccines to people already in the hospital system. There are reports that there are no more vaccines in the Mexico City area.

This information was corroborated the other night by a local doctor I happened to have coffee with who said that here in the Yucatan the IMSS did not want to issue a general alert as this would cause a rush on the available vaccines, which, according to this source, were scarce. There is, he said, indeed a shortage of vaccines in spite of a report in the local press citing the contrary for the state of Yucatan. He suggested that if you can, to get a shot.

Influenza is a health problem that affects everyone, but those most susceptible are the very young and older people.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The First Rain of the Season

Last night, I woke up to the sound of something I haven't heard in months, it seems! Rain!

The arrival of a 'cold' front to the Yucatan peninsula has brought some respite from the ungodly temperatures and the rain is a blessing to the parched landscape, wracked by drought, brush fires and the hand of the government and private construction companies intent on removing everything green and native and replacing it with more gray concrete and imported palms, water-intensive lawns and parking lots.

In a day or two, the dry sticks that currently comprise the native Yucatecan vegetation will probably show a sprout or three, turning the brittle underbrush into a bright green.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Things I love about here - Mangos

My therapist thinks that my neurotic posts are working, but is suggesting that I also accentuate the positive, as I see it.

There's nothing better than coming home from work on a scorching 40 degree day, with a throat parched from the 40 plus degree Yucatan heat and finding a stash of cold, ripe bright orange with a hint of green mangos in the fridge! I like to eat 5 or 6 at a time, leaning over the kitchen sink with sticky mango juice running down my chin and forearms, taking in that sweet pungent nectar and savouring rapturously their soft exotic flesh...

And no amount of flossing seems to want to remove those tiny little fibers from between my front teeth!

Another CFE Note

Whenever there is a problem between you and the CFE (you say you consume a certain amount, they allege differently) they will offer to 'check out' your home or business to determine what your consumption 'should' be. They call this a 'censo de los aparatos' where they will go from room to room counting lightbulbs, television sets, fans, air conditioning units; anything and everything electric. They will then determine, based on average usage tables that they have made up, what your consumption really should be. They will then propose that as what you should be paying.

The word they is bold for a reason. They decide how you are using your aparatos electricos. If you tell them 'but I only use my blender once a month for the MEL margarita nite' they will just nod and smile; 'Sure you do.' There is not much of a recourse for you once you have gone that route. It will be up to you to somehow prove that you are really not using that air conditioning unit: it's your word against theirs and they are holding all the cards. If you lodge a complaint with the CFE you lodge it with them. What possible motivation could they have to fix your problem? There is of course, the PROFECO, but be warned that a fight with the CFE will be costly, time consuming and they will probably cut off your service for the duration.

As a foreigner, it's easy to be taken in by the politeness of the fellow asking you for permission to come into your home. My advice, from the cynical Mexican Yucatecan POV, and from years of experience living here and talking to other Mexican Yucatecans is to politely but firmly deny them this access. Once you do, it's like the Miranda statement thing police in the U.S. tell their arrest victims "anything you say or do can be held against you..." And it will be.