Oct 31, 2010

Catemaco LBFM

First time I heard "LBFM" was from a past middle aged Gringo, diabetes consumed, former "friend" who wanted to make Catemaco his home about 8 years ago.

Then through the years, I heard the expressions from weird Gringos hauling their junk from the US border through Catemaco on their way to the coasts of Honduras where supposedly "LBFM's" were dirt cheap.

About a week ago I met another gringo in Catemaco who wanted to know if I knew any "LBFM's".

Frankly, I do not know any "Little Brown Fucking Machines". 

But if you frequent the zona roja on the carretera in Catemaco you will probably find "FM's". Just make sure that they are of the gender that you were looking for.

Catemaco Work

Beautiful downtown Catemaco depends on tourism.

But in my heart I question whether some of that tourism deserves to exists.

This weekend, October 29 to November 3 again is one of those famous "puentes" when the entire government shuts down.  Anyone in Mexico worth their political soul, including every politician, occupants of any job above mid range political rungs, judges, notaries, teachers or most municipal employees, will abscond from their duties which by Mexican federal law should only include the 2nd of November.

Meanwhile all the "little people" of Mexico  work their usual 10 to 12 hour days, 6 days a week, without overtime, to make sure the above "pendejos" can return to their work and make sure that the rubber bands that hold Mexico together keep stretching.

Oct 22, 2010

Catemaco Sprinkles

Catemaco News has just about died which will probably thrill the Tepetapan tourism booster bozo and his in-crowd.

I changed this blog's address from catemaconews.com to the original catemaconews.blogspot.com almost 3 months ago, because I listened to my survival instinct. And expectedly I dropped 100 or so average daily readers and feed subscribers. Today 240 of the 400 old posts of the News since 2006 are STILL listed by Google, but they sent you to never-never land.  And of course the change destroyed links from more than a dozen pages.

Now, presumably readers finding a Catemaco News post on Google or on a link, are conditioned to ignore the "News", because readership has dropped to about a dozen. (PS in the publishing "empire" of catemaco.info,  the "News" in the last few years was less than a 3% contributor.)

Things are heating up around Catemaco. Aside from the usual drunk machete wielding killers, there have been some worrisome presumed drug lord encounters in nearby Veracruz City and Coatzacoalcos. The last Zeta I talked to, just before he was killed, had told me, Don´t worry, be happy!, because supposedly they controlled the situation.
BTW: Ironically, The Latin American Tribune is the best English news feed for Mexico and Veracruz.

It would be a shame to start besmirching my opinion of Veracruz's reputation as the home of only peace loving inhabitants, and Catemaco as the home of retired Zetas.

Maybe the weather drove them nuts. Since the last fiasco of the aftermaths of Hurricane Karl and Matthew, two more potential hurricanes wiggled themselves into striking range. Fortunately, none of the 4 caused major damage in Catemaco, irregardless of the "DISASTER" screaming money hungry leader of the county's government.

The first cold waves of autumn have been arriving, and it became time to unpack those Alaskan down comforters for us of thin tropical blood.

The next few weeks should probably be some of the most gorgeous in Los Tuxtlas. - Everything lushly green, relatively cool, clear air, and no tourists. That's probably why I'll be heading north for a few days. I miss the tourists.

Banks in Veracruz are having a field day. The government announced "fondos perdidos" (don't pay me back loans) for people having incurred damage during the last few disasters. Now anyone that got their feet wet is clamoring for a loan, and the processing of normal bank business is almost at a standstill. (I'm the victim of a client's repeatedly postponed closing of a mortgage.)

Hotels in Catemaco and the associated tourism providers are the real victim of this last mess. Business usually is lousy this time of year, but even a louse would feel lonely in the lobbies of most hotels.

The local newspaper business is a vanity affair. A few years ago the major news rag Diario Los Tuxtlas fell out of love with the local mayor and for almost 3 years now has consistenly only published bad news about Catemaco that would make Tepetapan residents cry.  And they still buy that crap in Catemaco.
Not to be outdone, every major newspaper in Los Tuxtlas, plus blogs, are now on the bandwagon.

I mentioned road blocks a few posts ago. More true than ever. During the darkest days of the recent weather disaster, political jerks across Veracruz blocked federal and state highways for hours at a time to protest delays in aid, electoral decisions, etc. As far as I know it is a federal crime to block highways. Just chalk one up for blind justice!

Another stick of chalk should be wacked at INEGI, the Mexican statistical agency. They used to report the crime rates in Mexico, but have now disappeared them, and are now only publishing convictions.
The murder rate was above 10 thousand before the drug wars. I keep wondering whether they should be added to the annual bloodbath reported for drug related killings.

Mexico is just as corrupt as ever, only its rating is getting worse. In the latest corruption rankings of 178 countries released recently by Transparency International, Mexicocame in at number 98, down 10 slots from last year.

Ok - what's new in Catemaco?
Nada - zip - zilch.
Oh yeah, they opened a bring one-take one book exchange at the Casa de Los Tesoros and they keep stocking bagels from who knows where; 
there is a rumor that the Walmart/Aurrera store is considering closing because the local Rodeo store keeps outselling them; (I think the Rodeo does so, but I don´t believe the rumor);
some guy from San Andrés now delivers several courses of  homecooked meals;
a few bars changed hands, reopened, got wasted or whatever and lost their volume controls.,
and trash pickup has become do it yourself service.

I have been on Facebook for a while now and have accumulated more than 500 "friends" mostly from the Catemaco area, many of whom are apparently unable to spell. They use a language call texting based on cell phone communication. That is usually not too difficult to decipher, but many use abbreviations or acrononyms only known to select groups. Aside from that they have a propensity for saying "jajaja" in every sentence. Fortunately Facebook has a function to shut them up. So now I am down to 103 "friends" that never said "jaja" or "jiji"; which is the equivalent of LOL in the good old AOL days.
Sample:  wENooOO PuueEZ MeE GUztA vivIR mi VIda MUi loK Y meE gUZTA paZaR La MAYOr partE De nMI tIEMpoooO koN mIS amiWooS

|Just struggling to survive!  Send or bring dollars!

Oct 20, 2010

Catemaco Loft

Here you may select a book or other reading material and - sipping your coffee, tea, wine or whatever - relax comfortably in a hammock or seat, reading peacefully.

We have a broad range of fiction and non-fiction in English and Spanish.

Our Book Exchange Plan is based on the principle of "bring a book - take a book". You may borrow as many books as you wish, replacing them with an equal number of books that you have brought. If you do not presently have a book to exchange, speak with us and we'll work something out.

(We will also gladly accept donations of used or new books. We are especially in need of Spanish language books at present.)

We plan on showing films every Wednesday evening at 7:30, free of charge to our customers. These films will include both documentaries and commercial films.

WiFi, of course, is available free to our customers in " the loft ".

We sincerely hope that " the loft " will be an added pleasure for our customers, and that it will promote reading, through our free book exchange plan, among the residents, our amigos, of Catemaco and Los Tuxtlas.
La Casa de Los Tesoros
Calle Aldama Altos #4
Catemaco, Veracruz, Mexico

(Third floor, on the lake side of the Church of the Virgen del Carmen)
(294) 943 2910
" the loft " is available for meetings and presentations; including video and sound equipment.

Oct 14, 2010

Get rich quick in Catemaco

How would you like to lend money at 63% simple interest, secured by gold jewelry valued at 50% of its scrap metal value?

And you do not have to worry about government fiduciary laws and regulations. There are none.
If you like the idea, come to beautiful downtown Catemaco, and open a pawnshop that only accepts gold. No guitars, diamonds, TV's or chainsaws accepted.

Until four years ago, Catemaco had no pawnshop, and one itty bitty bank. Today the fourth pawn shop opened its doors.

Pawning is just about the only financial resource for people without access to bank or personal loans. That means poor people. They can obviously afford the interest and risk.

Oct 11, 2010

Catemaco Disaster

The Catemaco mayor, totally diregarding the sensibilities of the Hotel Tepetapan tourism promoters, instigated the declaration of a disaster or emergency zone on 6 or so occasions in the last few months. The federal government so far has complied for 3 dates, but is resting on its laurels about the recent flooding of the Malecon.

Personally, I have yet to see a real disaster striking beautiful downtown Catemaco, but I am eagerly waiting for the "BIG ONE".

Oct 8, 2010

Catemaco Tropical Flora and Wildlife Park

Catemaco what?

There really is such a park. Unfortunately it is closed to the public.

Oct 5, 2010

Catemaco health

it's bigger than it looks

Catemaco health care is something to die for.

My local family, who is not among the rich and famous of Mexico but does include 2 doctors, heads for Veracruz City specialists at the drop of a suspected problem. Need a new eyeglass prescripton? head for Veracruz. The kid is sick? head for Veracruz. Think you need an operation, head for Xalapa.

Apparently so far, I am the only one that has faith in the local doctors that have attended me, although I sympathize with serious trauma victims or those with serious problems who confront a voluntary or inadequate public ambulance trip to hospitals 3 hours away.

Veracruz classifies its public hospitals into 3 classes: 
Class 1 - a community hospital, with a few beds and a few specialists,
Class 2 - a regional "teaching" hospital with a few more beds and a few more specialists, but lacking major diagnostic tools, serious trauma care and a fully stocked pharmacy.  
Class 3 - a  full service hospital, but lacking a full pharmacy of branded drugs.

The closest class 3 hospitals are in Coatzacoalcos and Veracruz City. Nearby San Andrés Tuxtla has a class 2 hospital, Catemaco has a class 1.

In addition there are federal social security hospitals (IMSS), federal government employee hospitals (ISSTE), para governmental hospitals for PEMEX employees, military hospitals and private hospitals ranging from death traps to excellent. San Andrés has the equivalent of a class 2 IMSS hospitals and several small private hospitals. Catemaco has several private clinics with beds for operated patients.

The recent disaster of flooding and road destruction has now produced a beneficial result for the Catemaco population. The class 2 IMSS hospital at Lerdo de Tejada, which sustained major damage during the recent flood, will be abandoned and supposedly converted to a class 1.  Salvageable items were supposedly moved to San Andrés Tuxtla.

Unannounced, but projected, is the conversion of San Andrés into a class 3 hospital, which will probably take a few years, but will be a giant step in the right direction of local healthcare with improved facilites, equipment and specialists for a service area of more than 350 thousand people.

Update: the Veracruz representative for IMSS denies changes in Lerdo and proposes opening a tent hospital.

Oct 2, 2010

Catemaco Food

There are several excellent English blogs about Mexican Food, and all dwell on recipes, flavors, looks, etc.

A current  visitor to beautiful downtown Catemaco has now added a new wrinkle by concentrating on only canned and packaged food available in Mexico. Plus he rates them on taste. Definitely food for thought.

Other good sites: