Monthly Archives: November 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!

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!!

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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.

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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!

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?

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.

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,


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

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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…

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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.

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