Monthly Archives: October 2006

NotTheNews Candidate for Governor

NotTheNews, as a foreigner-published website with a limited readership, has absolutely no right – and makes no attempt to – interfere in the local election process, so I won’t even pretend that I am influencing anyone here, beyond stating a personal opinion.

Sin embargo, and in response to a reader’s question (previous post) I think that Ana Rosa Payan (PAN) is the best choice for governor of the fine state of affairs that is Yucatan.

She is not even the ‘official’ candidate yet, but one of three candidates vying for the position from the PAN political party. PAN, for those of you reading from some other place than the tuch of the world, means Partido de Accion Nacional, or National Action Party. The current president, Vicente Fox, as well as his successor Felipe Calderon and the present governor of Yucatan are all from the PAN party which was Mexico’s second strongest political force, behind the PRI (Partido de la Revolucion Institucional or Institutional Revolutionary Party). After Fox was elected, the PAN became Mexico’s prominent political force.

Back to Yucatan: of the three PAN candidates (lackluster and overtly conciliatory to business Xavier Abreu and over-the-top silly Luis Correa, still riding on his father’s many accomplishments) this neurotic non-interfering foreigner believes that Ana Rosa is the only one that has any huevos (and the other two are MEN who should have some, but don’t) and will be able to do whatever is necessary to move Yucatan forward, in spite of whatever interests and old-school impediments that might present themselves.

As mayor of Merida, her attempt to modernize the stinking cesspool that is Merida’s market was met with much criticism but she actually did something rather than just talk about it. She faced down angry, spoiled locatarios who would have to move their hovels to a different location (they pay next top nothing for the right to occupy these spaces; they should be glad they have a place to sell their crap at all and not have to act like a real business anywhere else).

After seeing her dodge insults and thrown objects as well as a lot of pushing and shoving she had me convinced. Add to that the fact that she has taken her stilted, squawky speaking style and become a lucid and fluent orator (which means she is capable of taking a look at herself and making improvements) has made her a definite forerunner in this race for the governor’s postion… IMHO.

Manual for Anarchy (by Jorge Alvarez Rendon)

This is an editorial written by Jorge Alvarez Rendon for the Diario de Yucatan newspaper, which came out on Monday, October 23, 2006 that comments on the state of affairs in this fine country which seems to be rapidly falling into anarchy.

I thought it most pertinent and, as usual for anything written by this observer/writer, extremely well written and to the point. For Mexico is not just palm trees and cheap servants. There are things that anyone contemplating a move here should know; they just might take for granted that these little details, the solution of which would seem obvious and a done deal, were already taken care of. They are not.

I have tried to translate it as closely as possible to the original including the tone as well as the message.

For a little background, read up on recent events in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, the state of juvenile law in Yucatan and student protests in Mexico. The idea is not to alarm anyone, but to really alarm everyone, so that maybe a little pressure will make the authorities actually DO something.

W

———

Anarchy Manual

It’s wonderful and very healthy to be able to do whatever one wants, whatever one feels like doing. Here are some tips on how to go about doing just that:

The first tip is only for those who have their voter registration card, who have a penchant for social revindication and who are sick and tired of historical slights and inequalities.

Go shopping for a straw hat, a red bandana and a can of white spray paint. Get yourself a decent machete (you can buy a quality model just off the Calle Ancha del Bazar here in the formerly-white city of Merida) and head – together with another 200 like-minded persons – towards the city’s center. Make sure your that the timing of your procession coincides with that time of the day when downtown Merida’s traffic is at it’s horn-blaring, exhaust-spewing worst.

Once you are there, do whatever it is you have always wanted to do; don’t hold back or hesitate; let your thirst for justice run wild, unleash all your fury.

Overturning cars is good, setting busses on fire better; go ahead and spray paint graffitti on storefront windows and historical buildings, block access to public buildings, kidnap anyone who happens by and destroy anything belonging to the community you can get your judiciary hands on.

You need not fear punishment or the application of any law for that matter. The National Commission for Human Rights is there for you 24 hours a day. No government authority will even attempt to get in the way of your fun. We have spent far too many centuries in achieving this level of freedom of expression to have someone come and reprimand us ‘just because’.

Important Note: The mob is indispensable. Do not attempt this alone since this will result in you facing a judge and perhaps being sentenced to 15 years in jail.

The second tip is for those under the age of 17; adventurous, red-blooded youths suffering from misunderstandings great and small.

First, you must acquire a knife in the market known as Bazar Garcia Rejón, where rules regarding the sale of such artifacts are completely and happily ignored. After about a week, the idea is to stand on a street corner in your neighborhood with other under-age and resentful teens where you can show off your new weapon.

One night – any night will do – feeling a little offended, misunderstood or just in a bad mood, you insert blade of the afore-mentioned weapon into the lower abdomen of some person who happens to be nearby and that you don’t particularly care for very much, keeping the blade lodged there until the victim is most assuredly dead. When the Ministerio Publico (read police) arrive – if they do at all – it is important not to offer up any resistance and shed copious tears for all the injustices suffered in the past: abuse by parents and teachers, police brutality, globalization, a drug problem etc.

In no time at all, the victim will not be the stiff cadaver, in whose defense no one will speak, but you! We can bet that a psychologist will be dispatched to look into your case, a file will be started on you and a tutor assigned as well. All this will happen in the 48 hours after your detainment, after which you will be set loose so you can get on with your life, no worries. Isn’t it great this doing whatever we want?

The third tip is for disgruntled students unwilling to accept internal rules, statutes, federal laws and other minutae that tend to make one’s existence such ‘a drag’.

Get about 50 students together – either sex is fine – get an attitude happening and start making protesting gestures. The group isn’t complete without the six or seven students who have Shakira lyrics wallpapered on their brains and for whom ‘soneto’ is a Nestlé ice cream product.

Yell as loudly as possible about your rights as pubescents and the future of the country and remember as many old, communist-era protest chants as possible. “Si la leche es poca, al niño le toca” (if there’s only a little milk, give it to the children) “El hijo del obrero va primero” (the workers child comes first) etc.

Demand to be able to wear ear and nose rings, tattoos, pendants; color your hair and use any cosmetic you feel like. Insist on the use of cellular phones in class, sale of condoms in the school store. Your opinions must be absolutely respected, even if you demand this in language that otherwise might have been known as foul. Demand also more comprehension from school principals and counsellors. Praise the attitude of those teachers who are indeed, understanding, and do not hesitate to physically remove those teachers bold enough to attempt to restore some semblance of order. In the case of these, there is a formulaic approach that cannot fail: accuse them of sexual harrassment, of groping, of leering and lusting disgustingly. Go ahead and dare to do whatever you feel like. What could possibly happen to them that wouldn’t be for their own good? The crime of slander doesn’t even exit anymore in the penal code. You can defame someone, walk all over their reputation with big muddy boots, do whatever you want! The SEP (the federal Ministry of Education) will support you and the DIF (federal organism that oversees social programs for the young) will be most understanding.

Be happy

ExPat Quiz Notes

Thanks to JW for an expat quiz found at http://www.ezinearticles.com/?Mexico:-Expat-Quiz&id=66612 which is, actually a little lame, in the Neurotic Foreigners opinion. For one thing, Mexicans don’t ‘eat styrofoam plates’ and ‘large mountainous piles of dog poop on the sidewalks’ would imply that sidewalks are commonplace. The aforementioned canine excrement can be found much more readily on the many sidewalks of Paris or Cologne.

The expat quiz – IMHO – could be a little more sublime; something along the lines of the questions outlined in the following

Are You Ready to Become an ExPat in Yucatan? Questionnaire.

For Regular Folks

  1. Do you like the idea of giving up the newspaper as a source of objective news?
  2. Do you enjoy the bumper car attraction at your local fair enough to engage in this activity on a daily basis with your own personal commuting device?
  3. While on the subject of driving, do you find painted lanes, traffic signs and other such nonsense to be simply a restriction on your personal freedoms in a libertarian sort of way?
  4. Does the idea of spending a week or more renewing your FM3 permit (lo siento, pero le faltó la copia de su _____) on an annual basis make you feel good about governments in general?
  5. Do you enjoy receiving bi-monthly electricity bills for peso amounts completely at odds with your actual consumption?
  6. When you complain to the omnipotent CFE about the previously mentioned point and realize that it is they themselves who determine – and no one else – what to charge, do you think “Wow, these folks are really efficient!”
  7. How about power outages on a weekly or ‘whenever it rains’ basis? Do those make you think how lucky you are to be able to enjoy conversations with neighbors or dust off that scrabble board and think of interesting words (mayan ones don’t count) by candlelight?
  8. Do you feel superior and get an ego boost when Mexicans jack up the price of anything they’re selling (car, house, rent, whatever) when they see the color of your freckles and hear your terrible accent?
  9. Do you enjoy, and find challenging, remodeling your home on a continuous basis, thereby providing employment for many and varied tradespeople, each of whom will undermine the work done by the previous one?
  10. Does the adoption of stray street dogs and treating them like pampered family members make you feel that somehow you have changed and become a better person?

If you answer “Why, YES” to any number of these questions, you may indeed be ripe for expatriation. Come on down!

Of course there are many more items and perhaps one day I will put them up, especially those related to work and business ownership.

Halloween in Merida aka Hanal Pixan

The neurotic foreigner writing this always delights in the confusion surrounding what, in fact, Yucatecans are ‘supposed’ to celebrate at the end of the month of October. The great majority of gringos and slightly misplaced Canadians continue to have some sort of instinctive Pavlovian reaction to the idea of what to do on October 31st, while at the same time being appreciative and respectful of local traditions, which in the case of Mexico and Yucatan in particular, means the Day of the Dead.

Locally, it is called Hanal Pix’an, or Feast of the Souls and the celebration consists of making special foods, mainly the xec, a mixed salad of chopped jicama, citrus fruit, cilantro and chile and the wonderful mucbipollo aka pib, a large tamal preferably baked under ground, where the smoky heat imbues this classic fall dish with a distinctive flavor.

But you could learn more about these traditions from all kinds of websites and pages out here in internet-land. Do a search on Hanal Pixan and you are there. It is not the intention of the neurotic foreigner to pretend to give readers a class on local customs.

One web page you will not learn anything from is: http://thematrix.sureste.com/cityview/merida2/articulos/hanal.htm where the translation has been done so literally and stiltingly as to make it completely and utterly incomprehensible. Done up by some extremely low-payed employee of the local Enlaces y Comunicaciones (or just typed into some online translation web page), it is really quite hilariously embarassing. Some personal highlights, lifted directly from the page above, include:
  • The “Hanal pixán “, or eaten of the bores, is a tradition of the Mayan town that takes to the end to remember of a special way the friends and relatives who went ahead in the eternal trip.

Now the dearly departed may be dead, but surely not all of them were bores so as to warrant calling the whole event Eaten of the Bores! In fact, it sounds more like a horror flick by Wes Craven, where poor folks in small villages were consumed and digested by out of work movie critics whose critiques were so boring they were relegated to eating villagers…

  • salt but: tortilla to which meat is put to him underneath ollejo and soon is fried to eat. The name is formed by Salt: light, and But: to insert, that is to say, slightly inserted.

I have lived in Merida for close to 20 years, and have never seen this local dish called by this name. I thought it was a salbut. Maybe there is new saltier version out there. And to have meat put underneath your ollejo sounds positively pornographic, even without that last phrase ‘slightly inserted’. In fact the definition doesn’t make any sense: If Salt in Mayan means Light and But to Insert Slightly what you have is a flashlight up your butt. Really, now.

Definitely have a look at the page! It’s a riot.

Oh, and before you get your knickers in a twist and start composing your email to me saying that I am such a culturally insensitive boor and how dare I criticize this poor third world attempt at explaining what is obviously a charming pagan ceremony, let me clarify three things: a) I LOVE the Hanal Pixan and have made altars myself and am an avid consumer of copious quantities of mucbipollos (with or without espelon, limpios or with bones) thereby stimulating the local underground economy; b) the page is maintained by probably the largest and most important media company in the Yucatan with newspapers and more and enough of a budget to warrant a proper translation and c) I have personally offered at one point to translate for these folks, especially in the embarassing tourism translations department, and had no takers.