Jan 31, 2009

Catemaco Home Delivery

Doña Maria has a delivery route in Catemaco. She arrives daily via 2 communal taxis from a village 10 miles away to peddle her fresh vegetables to preffered customers in beautiful downtown Catemaco.
She carries around 20 pounds on her head, walks miles, and has been gaining weight. Note that! all you exercise freaks.
No, she says, she never gets headaches. I didn't have the heart to ask her how much money she makes. Instead our houskeeper bought an extra papaya for 10 pesos.

Jan 27, 2009

Interesting Catemaco

While the US federal bank rate is virtually running at 0 (.25%), rich Mexico can still afford to peg its rate at 7.75%. While a mortgage in the US will cost you around 5.5%, the poor in Mexico are lucky to get something around 12% with a 25% down payment.

Here in beautiful downtown Catemaco, Veracruz, nobody worrries about mortgages, because there virtually are none. Almost all  homes are owner financed. Other credits are what's killing the local and national entrepreneurial spirit. Credit card rates are routinely near 40 %,  car loans, if you are lucky, around 20% and if you are unfortunate to use one of the zillions of unregulated pawnshops, which provide most of the credit needs of the lower classes, you can expect to be raped  above 100%.

The 10 families who basically control Mexico, could care less. And neither could Mexico's Walmart which has a nifty 69.9% credit card.

Nope I am not making this up, read more here:: In Mexico, credit is available - at a 70% interest rate

Jan 26, 2009

Catemaco Weeds

Driving along the roads surrounding Catemaco, tiny colorful plants will catch your eye. If you stop to take a closer look, (which is next to impossible because most roads have no swales) you'll get to take a snapshot of one of the local miracles.

Jan 22, 2009

Mexico Blogs in English

Here is a blogger who has made a serious effort to list many of the better English blogs in Mexico
Very nice effort! Of course I am mentioning him here because he mentioned this blog!

And course there is always Rolly's somewhat dated blog list:

Jan 21, 2009

Catemaco Vocabulary

Beautiful downtown Catemaco is really a wonderful place to learn the kind of Spanish you never find in phrase books.

Had any Huichies lately (fried potatoes, eggs, "with cheese")? Naranjas (oranges)? Actually that means "No".
A maybe they were served by a tortillera (tortilla maker), a slang term for lebian. Meanwhile when you need to transact official business, you will be hampered by paracaidistas (parachutists) who only drop in to pick up their paycheck but don't actually do any work.  Or maybe you want to give someone a raite (ride) in your pikap (pickup) to see some narcomantas (drug lord's banners hanging over too many mexican highways).

Maybe I'm being too much of a tijera (scissors), "critic ". ¡Sepa la bola!: (I don´t know) instead of "No sé".

Jan 15, 2009

Catemaco, Latin America

Of course everybody knows that Mexico is in North America, along with the USA and Canada.

More and more though, lately, I am noticing that Mexico has moved to Latin America and even the Caribbean or Central America, specifically in those dropdown menus that ask you to pick an area. Geographers must be having a fit!

I think Latin America has a nice ring to it. Only, of course when you forget about British Belize and Guyana, French Suriname and Portuguese Portugal. Oops, those Portuguese are Latins, too!

So I have now changed my return address to Catemaco, Mexico, L.A.
I hope the post office delivers.

Jan 14, 2009

Headsup in Tabasco

Mexico is up in arms over a misconceived religious ceremony practiced on the magnificent statuary within the Olmec museum in Villahermosa, Tabasco. I'm not sure whether they are extra peeved because of the use of grape juice or the participation of a gringa.

Anyway, the museum is about 4 hours south of Catemaco and a totally enjoyable place to visit. Here are some photos from a recent trip, including a stop at La Venta, the source for most of the museum's pieces. You'll notice some duplicate monumental monuments. The fakes are sometimes hard to tell because they are unmarked and look the same. Anyone want to buy a genuine Rolex Olmec head?

Link: US woman charged with defacing Mexican sculpture

Jan 11, 2009

The Bruja of Catemaco

Supposedly this middle aged sexually repressed and lonely witch likes to fly around Los Tuxtlas at 2 am in the morning looking for fresh blood.

Ay que bonito es volar
A las dos de la mañana.
A las dos de la mañana
Ay que bonito es volar, ay mama
Here is a youtube video which incorporates 14 different versions by different artists of the "son jarocha" La Bruja. Listen to them all  and you'll never fly the same.
14 versions of La Bruja (click on the small photo inserts to change songs) 

Jan 10, 2009

Catemaco Visa

In November I tried to renew my FM3 visa to remain in beautiful downtown Catemaco. NO LUCK . Apparently my last visa had already stayed here for 5 years, and I needed an entirely new visa.  So, what the hell I said , sign me up for an FM2 visa.

The only major difference between the two visas  is that the FM2 costs twice as much, but counts towards the 5 years you need to become eligible to become an "imigrado" which has no yearly fees or need to yearly visit the Mexican immigration office and really no other civil rights.

I applied for that visa middle November. Middle of December I called to find out my status and was informed to call back after Jan 6. Then it took me only three hard days to get through on the phone to be advised that I AM APPROVED. HuRRAH!

Since I am not planning to go anywhere out of state,  next week or next month I will be rushing to pick up my new visa.

Meanwhile the monolingual Nazi bigot of Catemaco who paid to buy a Mexican passport is probably gloating about my two annual trips to Veracruz City to renew my visa. (One day to apply, one day to pick it up, 16 hours  roundtrip, unless I am driving to buy life support bagels, then it is 24 hours).

I was a resident green card (immigration visa) holder in the US for many years, and I loved the absolute necessity to mail in my address once a year, and never pay a dime, except the postage stamp. I guess Mexico needs my yearly 2500 pesos,  my support of its bus system, and the wages for its turtle bureaucrats. 

I am considering to be an illegal immigrant, because, frankly, in my 6 years in Catemaco and throughout Mexico, the only person who ever asked me for my visa was a bank officer when successfully trying to open a checking  account. Or, perhaps, I might become a multilingual local Bigot and buy myself a Mexican passport.

Jan 8, 2009

Catemaco Art

Hector Brauer, long time resident artist of Catemaco and Montepio will be exhibiting his works in the Itzpapalotl Gallery in Sihuapan, 10 minutes north of Catemaco, beginning the evening of Saturday Dec 10.

Brauer's unique style of linoleum prints has been presented throughout Mexico, including Oaxaca, Mexico City and Xalapa. Especially well known was his traveling exhibition of a 600 square foot mural focusing on the conquest of Mexico, entitled Sol de Destruccion.
Born in Xalapa in 1951, and trained as a biologist, the artist has focused much of his later work on Los Tuxtlas.
More reviews of his work in Spanish: Diario Xalapa

Jan 7, 2009

Right on, General

Here follows a tiny excerpt of a report from Barry R McCaffrey, General USA (Retired), former commander of the US Army Southern command, and drug tzar under Clinton:

The Mexican State is engaged in an increasingly violent, internal struggle against heavily armed narco-criminal cartels that have intimidated the public, corrupted much of law enforcement, and created an environment of impunity to the law.

Mexico is not confronting dangerous criminality--- it is fighting for survival against narco-terrorism.

• A terrible tragedy is going to take place in the coming decade if we don’t closely ally ourselves with the courageous Mexican leadership of the Calderon Administration---- and develop a resourced strategy appropriate for the dangers we face.

Mexico is arguably the most important foreign partner of the United States. The United States is unarguably the most important foreign partner for Mexico. Mexico supplies a third of our imported oil. We account for 47% of all foreign direct investment in Mexico. 18,000 Mexican companies have US investment. 50% of their imports come from the US. 82% of their exports go to the US.

However, based on my years of watching Mexico--- the bottom line is this: the population is extremely hard working, humble, gracious, spiritually devout, patriotic, and family oriented. The culture and art are rich and fiercely admired by the people.
Read the whole report here

Jan 5, 2009

Beaches of Catemaco

Join me, my dog and the yellow  buggy on the sands of the Catemaco beaches.

Jan 4, 2009

Catemaco Bucks

Los Tuxtlas, famous for its magnificent environment, is also the hunting territory for 100´s of predators making a living off well meaning research institutions and governments.

While researching Catemaco and Los Tuxtlas I am constantly amazed by the number of organizations and dollars / pesos expended on activities in Los Tuxtlas.
By now, I would expect Los Tuxtlas to be paved in gold, with every inhabitant driving a large sport utilty vehicle, and buying frozen enchiladas..
Although that is apparent in a few instances, the rest of Los Tuxtlas is as usual, totally impoverished, with tens of thousands stretching for politically scheduled hand outs.

A known Catemaco biologist reams international fund for dinero, buys late model SUV and plants 24 trees.
The last mayor borrowed 16 million pesos, made them disappear and nobody cares.
There are at least 100 basketball courts in Los Tuxtlas, but only very few communities actually own a basket ball.
Lately all the "right" people and communities are getting greenhouses, which usually last a season until the seeds are used up, or the housing blows away.
Next month it will be mini pig farms or maybe tractors, boat engines or 18 speed hair dryers to promote self employment.

Considering the monies being spent on "do good"  projects in  Los Tuxtlas and the rest of  Mexico, I do keep wondering where it goes. Maybe that is why so many former government employees from the US are retiring her.

Jan 3, 2009

Dead in Catemaco

My popoluca's father recently died.
12 hours later he was buried and gone.

If you are sick in Catemaco, Veracruz or any other provincial burg in Mexico, and you can afford it, you usually will not die in your town but somewhere else where supposedly the medical service is better. The hifaluting Mexican medical system and service has yet to filter down to cosmopolitan areas of less than a million.

Catemaco's neighbor has what is called a second level hospital. I don't really know what that means, but I do know that any local worth his money avoids it and seeks refuge in neighboring major towns or even Mexico City, all much more than 3 hours away. There,supposedly,  are first level hospitals which  have all the facilities you would expect from a mickeymouse community hospital in gringolandia.

My popoluca's father recently died in a Coatzacoalcos first rank hospital during the middle of the night. He  left 15 known offspring, a reputation for being a brujo, a hunter and a damn good boat builder.

4 hours later he arrived in Catemaco. 8 hours later he was under ground . There are no facilities, need or desire to embalm. Local burial is always speeded up to prevent dead body odor.

Athough that speed seems callous, Catemaco compensates mourning by extending it a minimum of nine days when the family and friends sit around, pray, eat funeral food and block city streets. 40 days later the whole process is repeated.

Very basic cost  for a funeral is a very rock bottom minimum of 5000 pesos, but usually costs are a lot more astronomical for low income earners intent on impressing their fellow greavers. (Caskets are still not being sold by Walmart, though they should).

Cremation is available many miles away, but the length of time of bureaucratic licensing of moving a corpse raises a lot of stink without embalming.

SO - please don't die in beautiful downtown Catemaco!

Jan 1, 2009

!Viva el Quetzal!

OOPS  that was supposed to go to Catemaco Noticias!
Basically what it says it that the quetzal, one of the world's most beautiful birds, treasured by ancient Mexican cultures as worth more than gold, has now been bred in captivity.

Una buena noticias para iniciar el año nuevo con esperanza..
(Good news to start the new year with hope)
"Tuxtla Gutiérrez.- El Zoológico ... localizado al sur de la capital de Chiapas, consiguió que dos polluelos de quetzal nacidos en sus instalaciones rebasaran el primer año de vida, un logro que no ha alcanzado ningún otro zoológico del mundo.
Aunque desde el año 2002 el Zoomat ha registrado el nacimiento de ocho polluelos de quetzal (Pharomachrus Mocinno), las crías difícilmente habían sobrevivido más de una semana, pues se trata de un ave sumamente delicada a los cambios de alimento y ambiente.
El ave sagrada de los mayas, toltecas y mexicas, cuyo plumaje verde metálico valía más que el oro, está en peligro de extinción por la cacería furtiva y la destrucción de su hábitat, que es el bosque de niebla, donde llueve 200 días al año. "
Fuente: Milenio, Foto: Sigmatec