Monthly Archives: December 2010

Merry Christmas to All and to All a Prosperous 2011

Posting as the Neurotic Foreigner, I have been blessed with a small but loyal readership and many of you seem to enjoy my often ascerbic comments on life here in the Yucatan. While it would seem that my writings are often less than flattering, I would remind readers that mostly these are written with the intent to be somewhat humorous (Canadian spelling) and that the viewpoints are those of an admittedly neurotic foreigner and that I really do love it here. I would also like to take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you a happy Christmas and wish you all peace and decent health in the coming year. And thank you to those of you who care enough to comment now and then!

Recent developments in the Riviera Maya/Cancun area what with the gangs and news of Tony Soprano-style extortions do not bode well for the future of the area and it is my sincere wish and hope that this desintegration of the fabric of Mexican society does not spread to this last bastion of relative calm and tranquility that is the state of Yucatan. Of course there are the political battles but these are unfortunately par for the course in this country and albeit unsettling, are not nearly as threatening as the violence and fear that are so commonplace now in many parts of the country. Yucatan is still a fantastic place to live and work.

Merry Christmas to all! Feliz Navidad a todos!!

Puuc in Boots – Merida Winter Fashion

I apologize for the cheesy title but it was as creative as I could get for the subject on my mind this morning: Boots.

Now that winter, such as it is, has come to the Yucatan, I have noticed (have you?) the predominance of boots as a footwear option in the fomerly white city. Everywhere you look, the girls and young women are moving from their traditional chanclas for casual wear and obviously foot-torturing stilletto heels to boots. Flat-soled boots, high heel stilletto boots, long boots, short boots, leather, suede and synthetic material boots, boots with tassles, multicolor boots and long black shiny ones that would serve a dominatrix well.

My Better Half, who stopped by Nine West the other day and observed that ‘everyone’ was trying on boots, says it is all about being fashionable in response to my comment that the boots seemed a little over the top considering that it is not particularly wet outside nor is there any snow on the ground that I have seen anyway.

Along with the boots come the sweaters, shawls and even fur (fake or real who can tell) tipped abrigos (coats) that make me sweat just looking at them. Sweat not because they are so sexy, but because they look too darn hot to be worn in Merida, let alone inside the mall.

I do enjoy the look of the boots though, even if it does seem superfluous. A form fitting pair of jeans and calf-high leather boots with heels will cause many to turn for a second glance and I admit I am not immune. My favorite combination seen this frigid winter season, has been a 20-something woman in a tshirt, sweater, knee-high boots and a pair of cutoff jeans. I don’t see this combo warding off cold temperatures any time soon, so I surmise that my Better Half’s observation is correct. It’s all about being in fashion.

I draw the line however, (and these I have seen as well this winter) at earmuffs.

Aeromexicos New Airline Security Brochure – Endless Fun!

When you find a brochure lying invitingly on an Aeromexico check-in counter at the Merida airport with the title “Security in Airport’s Program” and you have a penchant, as I do, to examine carefully the English texts in this country, you know you are in for a fabulous unintentional comedic treat and will pick it up for a closer look. Sure enough, the second title on the page, in larger letters was “Items and materials restricted for Carrying in Airport’s Sterile Areas and on board any Aircrafts”. Note the random capital letters, as if the writer thought ‘hmm there really should be some capital letters here, but where to put them?!’

Reading through the various prohibitions and restrictions, my interest was rewarded with several gems, some of which I will attempt to describe to you, dear reader(s) in the hopes that you will share my sense of awe and wonderment (and perhaps some indignation also?) at this callously sloppy yet very entertaining literary effort put out by the country’s only remaining major airline.

For starters, the cover indicates that the contents – in spite of being quite lengthy and extremely descriptive – are really not that complete and the list could be expanded to include other things at any time. This, in the business writing world, is known as CYA or Cover Your Ass. They express the concept through the help of their third grade teachers English thusly:

Items listed on this document are just some examples, the restrictions are not limited at this

Good to know that the information inside has already been discredited!

Inside the brochure things get very interesting indeed. All texts in italics are taken verbatim from the original – I have not made any of this up. To differentiate the things you can bring on the plane either in your carry-on or checked luggage, there is a handy graphic at the beginning of the list showing:

  1. a drawing of a piece of luggage and the text:  permitted only as checked in baggage
  2. a drawing of a little airplane and the text: permitted as checked in hand baggage
  3. a drawing of a red circle with a diagonal red line through it with the text: permitted as checked in hand baggage

First of all what is hand baggage? My guess is that it is carry-on luggage. Secondly, don’t those last two symbols have the same text?

Taking those symbols or drawings and their explicatory texts, you learn that ON AEROMEXICO FLIGHTS YOU CAN bring the following items on the plane as long as they are in your checked luggage aka ‘checked in baggage’:

Guns, wheel guns (what the hell is a wheel gun – is for shooting wheels?), rifles, shotguns, Bbguns…. and compressed air, cartridges

Axes, Knives, sport knives, stilotto Knives, cork blade knives, daggers….fencing weapons, machetes, axes, etc. Of special interest is the repetition of the axes concept; particularly useful if you are a Viking and have several of them to stow in your checked in baggage.

Other things you can put in your luggage on Aeromexico flights are:

Martial arts weapons (throwing ones or not) Or not.

Straight Razors

Crokscrews That’s right, Crokscrews. For when your Croks need screwing.

Harpoons Great if you’ve come down for a little golf, tequila and WHALING. You know there’s a lot of that going on.

Subcutaneous syringes and needles for people on board with the appropriate medicine People on board without the appropriate medicine please desist

Nail Removers (Maximum 100 ml per person or 3.4 oz) That’s some pretty strong liquid if it removes the entire nail and not just the nail polish! Also, is 100 ml per person or 100 ml per 3.4 oz? Confusing, somewhat.

There are more, but these are just some of the highlights of what you CAN take on the plane, in your luggage that goes in the cargo area.

If you are a terrorist, this should already be good news! But it gets better!! No more discomfort from hiding pesky explosives in your shoes! No more C4 rash in your crotch area from strapping explosives in  your underwear! In addition to the above items that, according to the brochure in my hand, you can stow in your luggage, Aeromexico allows you to bring on the plane with you (according to those previously mentioned symbols) the following, which should make your work easy for you:

Wet Batteries Just make sure you dry your batteries thoroughly before packing them. They make SUCH a mess.

Acids and Corrosive substances

Butane and Propane Gas

Gasoline and all other flammable liquids All of them. Bring them all.

Radioactive materials Got a Reactor at Home and want to bring it to Cancun? With Aeromexico it’s all good!

Matches

Traffic sparklers These sound so San Francisco but could be handy when trying to get the flight attendants attention.

Fireworks, all types of black powder, and any fire-making article OK Tarzan, that is pretty clear. Black powder. Fire-making article. Ugga.

Primers and detonators

and my personal favorite from this list:

Explosives and Hand Grenades

Now there are many more items on this comprehensive list, which is of course – as you recall – not complete and most assuredly has omissions and/or errors and therefore should not be taken in any way seriously.

Analysis

How can AeroMexico, as Mexicos only remaing major airline, come up with this sort of poorly redacted and translated drivel?  The spelling mistakes that any word processing programs spellchecker would catch; the completely indiscriminate use of capital letters which are sprinkled haphazardly throughout the text and catch your eye like the pink bits in a bowl of Alphabits cereal, and of course the horrendously awful translation, inexcusable in this day and age and more inexcusable for a company of this calibre.

Is it budget? Can it possibly be that the airline is cutting costs in its communications efforts? That this brochure, available in every Mexican airport at Aeromexico counters and read by I dare say thousands of English speaking people every single day (who are laughing) was seen as not so very important and so no effort was made to hire someone to professionally prepare this piece of information?

Is it an excess of confianza? Does Aeromexico feel so safe with Mexicana now out of the picture and with low friends in high places, that they could care less about doing this one right and from their view, at the top of a pile of rapidly decomposing laurels, they feel they couldn’t be bothered? And so they probably created a little company run by the cousin or some other relative of the guy in charge of getting this done and gave him the contract to produce the brochure because he studied English in Iowa in grade 10 and so he knows English and and and.

Or do they just not know any better? This one I can’t believe, sorry.

Results

A brochure like this one, will not change anyone’s life for the better or worse, except perhaps a cerebrally-challenged Taliban suicide bomber who happens to be in Mexico, happens to read English and was counting on taking his detonators, acids, and hand grenades aboard his next flight. Or perhaps Lars the Viking who finds his axes(s) not welcome in his suitcase despite what the brochure says after a great vacation of looting and pillaging in some Mexican village.

What it does do, yet again, is paint Mexicans in general (because an English speaking person reading this brochure will not think this is an Aeromexico problem; it’s all Mexicans) as either sloppy or illiterate. Maybe it’s the Mexican part of me that takes offense at such sloppiness, cohabiting with my Canadian part that finds it all amusing.

I think it is inexcusable to put out this kind of garbage in this day and age. With so many resources available in a globalized economy (internet, anyone?) you would think a company the size of Aeromexico would be able to come up with something professional that was attractive, informative and easy to read in addition to being well written and translated, for something as important as airport security.

Fun Merida Activities – The 9 PM Houston Flight Arrival Event

For those of you constantly whining about how this or that is not the ‘real’ Merida as if all Yucatecans had to wear starched white clothing, clunky sandals and balance a tray with bottle and glasses on their heads for your amusement, here is another unreal Yucatecan activity that you too can participate in!

There are tried and true Merida traditions, like frijol con puerco on Mondays, visiting the family home en masse on Sundays, and spending the summer months at the beach, that you are probably quite aware of. But there are also newer, more modern traditions that you may not be aware of or that are being crafted in our lifetime, right now! One of these is the cultural event that occurs almost nightly at Merida’s airport.

Each night at the Manuel Cresencio Rejon airport (who the hell was that guy anyway) here in the formerly white city, around 9 PM, a crowd gathers at the arrivals gate to welcome the passengers arriving on the almost-daily Continental Airlines flight from Houston, USA.

It’s always a fine cross-section of Merida’s population with all the socioeconomic groups represented.Look carefully!

There are the well-off Meridanos from the clase acomodada, awaiting the arrival of a tia or tio or perhaps a student – mi primo – returning from a semester in the US where they went to study English with all the chicanos and instead learned to appreciate the value of their muchacha as well as the recreational qualities of marijuana. These folks gather in small groups, often based on age groups, because they know each other and ask ‘a quien vienes a buscar‘ which is then followed by a lengthy conversation on the life of the person they are waiting for. This is also a good time to catch up on local gossip once the initial conversation has reached a saturation point and/or flight 1842 is late landing on the tarmac.

Also present is some sort of gringo element in the form of a single man or perhaps a couple, who have come to pick up one of their kind who is coming to visit or stay for an extended period of time in their newly renovated house. These people, wearing garb that ranges from monied and downright elegant to scraggly shorts and a wrinkled guayabera topped off with Felix the Cat facial hair and a bedhead do, are often standing alone and will keep to themselves, even in the presence of other gringos unless of course they are on speaking terms in which case they will make light superficial conversation about life in “Centro”.

There is almost always a family or two of people who fit into neither category, gringo or clase acomodada, and who probably live in one of Merida’s “popular” neighborhoods, “popular” being the local term for the poor and low income people that make up the vast majority of the Yucatans population. These people do not mingle with the aforementioned clusters and arrive in large familial units complete with a gaggle of children accustomed to unusual bedtimes and often with an hipil-clad abuelita in tow.

A fun activity is to try matching the passengers escaping the baggage claim and semaforo area with the people waiting. One can get the occasional surprise when, for example, the low income family with the hipil-clad grandmother is the group that welcomes open-armedly the solitary gringo with one carry-on piece of luggage. Hugs and backslaps from the males, polite handshakes from the women and shy smiles from the many children accompany the lucky gringo (you should consider yourself lucky to get such an enthusiastic reception) to whatever form of transporation is waiting outside.

While enjoying this entertainment, I recommend getting a pretty awful cup of coffee which costs about half a minimum daily wage 😉 at the place next to Burger King, or perhaps ordering some hot french fries at BK itself so you can munch or sip while watching the goings-on.

Look around folks, and welcome to the real Merida.