Jun 30, 2009

Catemaco License

I'm becoming more Mexican every day. A friendly officer at a recent police stop away from beautiful downtown Catemaco reminded me that my license was about to expire. So one day I set off to battle the fiercesome Mexican bureaucrcy.

Surprise! 30 minutes later, not including 90 minutes of playing musical chairs at Hacienda (the Federal cash register), I walked out  with a 3 year permit for 746 pesos. That's a lot of pesos!
Other requirements were originals plus copies of passport, FM2 visa, proof of residency. The doctor was not around, so no eye test was administered, which I would have flunked.
The written exam was 12 or so computerized questions  about traffic signs and general driving, which I often guessed at, especially the one about which side should you drive on in a narrow street with cars parked on both sides? The driving test was administered by a traffic police officer in his  half ton pickup truck and involved driving around the block once.

Jun 28, 2009

Mexico 1934

.. Mexican worker doesn't live like a tourist and he wouldn't want to. In Mexican products, which provide him with all he needs, a peso has the buying power of a pre-inflation dollar. Oranges cost three centavos (less than one penny). Avocado pears cost the same. The staples, black beans and pink rice, cost usually 20 centavos a kilo, which is more than two pounds. That's 2½¢ a pound. And if you've eaten black bean paste with chili sauce and Mexican pink rice, you know you don't have to feel sorry for anyone who makes it his daily fare...
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.
Bob Dylan should have sung that in Spanish 75 years ago

Historic Time magazine articles mentioning Veracruz

Jun 24, 2009

Catemaco Call Home

Today beautiful  downtown Catemaco received new phone books. Actually it is the phone book for 83 cities in Veracruz, including Veracruz City.

It is a shame that no entrepreneur in Los Tuxtlas has the desire to produce a Los Tuxtlas directory with both white and yellow pages. Considering the junky advertising sheets and magazines that are constantly published here, this could be a profitable business for someone.

The phone book delivery man said they would distribute about 1600 books in Catemaco. My page count of numbers shows about 1700 (I counted one row and mulitplied it by 16).

I did  the same count last year, and it looks like there is a little growth in Catemaco. (La Victoria and Sontecomapan were split off the Catemaco phone book this year, about 100 combined)

Of  those 1800 I would guess no more than 15% (270) have internet access at home, plus a 100 or more machines in internet cafes primarily devoted to hotmail and pornography.

Catemaco Noticias (not Catemaco News) averages a measly 600 returning readers per month,  plus another 20,000 fly bys and I would guess most everyone in Catemaco reads the Noticias at least twice before upchucking.

The local monopoly of TELMEX which delivered the book against a 10 peso propina, considers its white pages a military secret. Idiotically, only Telmex subscribers have access to the pages.

The yellow pages, also of course, have no listing for Catemaco, until you figure out that the section listings are ordered by by cities.

And also "off" course the current and previous mayor have no listing, and the roll of last names sounds like any small town in southern Spain, with a focus on Dominguez, Hernandez and Perez, the equivalents of Smith and Brown.

TELMEX (owned by the second richest man in the world, depending on the dollar exchange) has some of the highest rates in the world, but I have no complaints about either its quality or service.

Catemaco info made a very small effort to list some of the basic phone numbers in the soon to be finished (2015):
Los Tuxtlas Directory

Dive Catemaco

Next time you drop in to beautiful downtown Catemaco, bring your snorkel! It will come in handy during the rainy season which is just about to start and you can also use it on the surprising number of dive sites along the Los Tuxtlas coast.

The state of Veracruz recently published a dive guide for Veracruz in English and Spanish,  which is curiously titled Submarine Tourism.

It was designed for myopic internet users. To read it download the whole guide to your computer.

Jun 19, 2009

Catemaco Homos

In beautiful downtown Catemaco the news is primarily spread by word of mouth, followed by dilapidated vehicles announcing whatever a publisher thinks will get people to pay 5 pesos for a copy of their drivel.

The most reliable news seems to be an FM radio station that knows which of its sides is politically buttered.

Today's 120 decibel news announcement was of a homosexual killed on the passing federal highway, allegedly after enjoying himself on the Malecon.

Mexico, aside from having  the propensity of killing reporters, also has has some of the most perverse laws on the books for defamation and libel and regularly jails reporters for investigatory comments.

The most recent local perversion is jailing a legless reporter, Victor Luna,  for alleging improprieties in the lottery system of the nearby city of San Andrés Tuxtla. The most recent national notoriety is an ongoing battle of a reporter alleging a governor to be a child pornographer and drug dealer.

The really annoying aspect is that newspapers are afraid of mentioning anything or anyone with political pull, when describing an accident or crime scene. Usually those occured in a "lugar conocido"  by an "empresario conocido" ( known place and known businessman).

That does not stop them from publishing gruesome photos of crime victims, including their names and data, but, curiously, when I published one, Google yanked it off my blog.

Lesbian ran over while reading Catemao News
Tomorrow I am awaiting full photo coverage and personal details of a bisexual, transsexual, or oh shucks, a lesbian, who got run over by a heterosexual while reading Catemaco News on a, whatever sex,  lap top.

Jun 15, 2009

Catemaco Noah

Anyone driving up to beautiful downtown Catemaco must have noticed the giant wooden ship being constructed in Alvarado. I once tried to enter the boat yard to take some photos but had the gate closed in my face. Finally there is news on what it is about.
Apparently a millionaire is building a trimaran hulled sailing ship to sail the seas and spread the word of peace in the Mayan language. He previously built a replica of  the Columbus vessel, Santa Maria, which is now used as a tourist cruiser in Puerto Vallarta.

Jun 14, 2009

Catemaco Politics

I thought the long bliss with my Popoluca, ongoing 7 years, had opened her mind to my political commentary.

But, no, she refuses to participate in a mickey mouse poll that I placed on my Spanish web site. She worries that she may be discovered in who she voted for and would thus affect some of her daughters who are employed by the government.

If she could be traced through this mickey mouse Google Poll widget, (now deleted because you know what) she would probably be correct. Of course she cannot be traced but fear is what drives Mexican politics.

Fear to lose your government job, fear to lose your government allotments, fear, fear, fear.

For people on a subsistence level of survival that fear is predominant in their political decisions.  The difference between a few hundred pesos of allotment and none can create drastic life style changes. And usually the candidate who delivers a plastic bag called "despensa" filled with a week's survival food for a family of four, just before the election  will be guaranteed a vote.

My Popoluca gives out her own despensas and fears noone on a local level, but she also knows that anything on a state level is subject to influence peddling and corruption.  And she does have 2 daughters on that level.

And what really pisses me off is her attidude of  "asi es", and her acceptance of  the going concern concept of corruption and intimidation..

Mexico will not change in the foreseeable future, and will remain one of the best places in the world with the best polical and judicial system to buy cheap, in relation to what it would cost to corrupt the same institutions in the US.

Jun 9, 2009

Once upon a time in the Wild West of Catemaco

Most of Catemaco's northeast is inaccessible except by cattle trails and a haphazard one car ferry. All of the area is part of the vaunted Biosphere Reserve of Los Tuxtlas. In actuality this is gorgeous cattle country with infrastructure for settlers from the 19th century, and environmental disregard of the 21st.
If it is slow - switch to Google Chrome

Jun 2, 2009

OT Yahoo Sitebuilder

I unfortunately use Yahoo Sitebuilder to publish catemaco.info and tuxtlas.com. I say unfortunately because Sitebuilder is not transferrable to much better web page designer programs, and I have too much time invested in more than 1000 pages.

Yahoo Sitebuilder Help sucks. In 5 years of going through the growing pains with them I have never received a concise answer to a problem.

I am writing these notes because I know Google will index them and hopefully help another frustrated user.

Sitebuilder uses Java to generate its page design program. But Java upgrades do not necessarily support Sitebuilder.  Over the last few months I have been going nuts over losing snippets of text, headlines and links in many of my reedited pages.

The solution?
Delete any Java file on your computer and then reinstall Sitebuilder, including its OLD version of Java, and do NOT allow Java to upgrade itself!

Memory allocation is not controllable in Sitebuilder and almost impossible to adust.
Here is a way.
Change the original ysitebuilder.bat file in the Yahoo SiteBuilder folder:
"C:\Program Files\Java\jre6\bin\javaw.exe" -cp "C:\Yahoo SiteBuilder\install.jar" RunSiteBuilder ""
"C:\Program Files\Java\jre1.6.0_07\bin\javaw.exe" -cp "C:\Users\dz\Desktop\Yahoo SiteBuilder\install.jar" RunSiteBuilder " -Xmx768m"
where the Xmx768m number reflects the memory you want to allocate to speed up the slowpoke. Do that exactly as written, including the empty spaces.

There is a help group on Yahoo which is worse than Yahoo help answers.
If you have a major problem and need some help, email me and maybe I'll have a solution with 5 years of trial and error experiences. catemaco@gmail.com

Yahoo Sitebuilder problem problems problemas error errores uploading

Jun 1, 2009

The News

Mexico's only English language is doing it again! Rattling on bankrupcy doors!. First incepted in the 1950´s,  The News folded in 2002, and resurfaced in 2008.

That venerable paper simply cannot attract enough English readers to be economically efficient, and was sold to Grupo MAC , a mickey mouse 5 newspaper Mexican chain. Apparently the paper, which really had some impressive editorial content, is shrinking from 41 to 14 employees, knocking off its weekend editions, shrinking to 24 pages, and intends to do translations of English news items. What a waste!