Sunday, June 27, 2010

Beach Erosion: Chelem

 Here is a shot of the beach at Progreso.  It is a wide stretch of white soft and silky sand.  This is a good example of a beach that is NOT showing erosion rapidly.

There is plenty of beach erosion along the Yucatán Coast, especially along the northern Gulf Coast...including Cancún.  Some areas are eroding much faster than others.  From what I have seen, Progreso still has nice wide beaches along its malecón and beyond.  East of Progreso, around Chixculub there may be sections of eroding beach, but it too is a beautiful wide white sand beach.  Farther east toward Telchac Puerto the erosion is more evident, and maybe I can find some of the photos I took there in 2007 showing how close to the water the houses and restaurants are now located.  

East of Progreso there is an area with wide sandy beaches thanks to the protection of the 7 km. long pier in Progreso.  It acts as a protector for the area to its west, I guess that would be Yucalpetén and Chuburná.

But once you go west of Progreso to Chelem and Sisal, the beach erosion is just plain scary.  When I came down here in early 2007 and gave consideration to living at the beach, I cruised through these communities.  When I saw the water lines noticeable on the houses at about a meter's height, houses three or more blocks back from the beach, this thought ran through my head:  Sure I would love to live at the beach. And I know I'm crazy but I am not insane. To buy a house here, in my opinion, would be insane. 

The area was hard hit by a few hurricanes that rolled through the Yucatán this millenium. Much of the erosion was not gradual, but the effects of strong winds and currents.  I do believe the sea level is rising, and I also believe that we are going to have a wild hurricane season this year.  I think one of the things that makes me unfairly critical here is my experience working with the Federal Disaster Cadre after floods and hurricanes. Most people who had lost everything had built their homes in a flood plain.  In the Yucatán the damages will be greatest along the beaches where the water is already splashing up over their porches in times of high tide.  
I am NOT a believer in dredging sand and replenishing eroding beaches. It is part of how the earth is constantly changing.  Bring in more sand and Mother Nature will eventually take it back to where she wanted it to be in the first place.  Man can't solve all problems. We cannot plug up active volcanos, and we cannot stop beach erosion or Ma Nature from making her natural changes.  Whether we can send a nuclear bomb down into the Gulf to stop the oil spill, well, that is beyond my comprehension and I hope that was just a horrible rumor I heard. I live near the Gulf!

Unfortunately this attitude of mine immediately alienated me from the beach population, because I see them as bargain hunters that didn't do their homework.  The expat population of these communities comprise quite a variety of folks, mostly looking for an inexpensive way to live out their dream of having a house on the beach in the tropics.  There is a nickname for the residents of Chelém, but it is really not very nice and I am going to admit to knowing it, possibly agreeing with it, but I won't print it here. Who knows, I may end up around there one of these days too, looking for a cheaper way to survive. None of us on this side of the Yucatán either have the money to own a piece of the land on the Caribbean side, or are of that special mindset of the Riviera Maya inhabitants.  I will say that for me the difference in the Gulf folks and the Caribbean folks is this:  The Gulf people, looking for a cheaper and simpler life are more REAL and the Caribbean people with the big dough are the DIG ME crowd.  I'd rather suck up some beers and tell tales with some real people than to dress up and try to impress the dig me crowd over appletinis.

Believe it or not, I have nothing against the folks who live on these beaches.  I tend to live a LIVE FOR TODAY life and in retrospect, so what if living on the beach causes constant challenges? My house in Mérida is like having bought a boat.....it always needs something.  And if on the beach, if it means you have to move back...well? 

Of course I ramble, but that is today's post.  I was really shocked at some of these beach home sights.  It made me think about how strong nature is, and how we really need to respect what we have left of our planet.

Chelem beach, the gulf is creeping up to the steps of the houses. 

 Or it has already passedthat and has entered the house.
 
 Maybe the house has to be moved back, and built up.
 

 So is it the earth just falling off in chunks or what?
 

These are the seashells we collected walking along the Chelem beach.  Note the remnants of floor tiles. (The batfruit seed fell into my display later while my collection sat in the patio.)  All the beaches on the northwest and west Yucatán shores are loaded with seashells.  Chelem is the first place that most of them were portions of house tiles.
 

 A rant is not a rant without the kicker.  Cancún beach erosion.  For those who don't know, Cancún was a small pueblo on the northern end of the peninsula.  There were mangroves along the Caribbean side, just mush and marsh land.  Dry jungle we call it.  Back in the 80's they brought in what was then millions of dollars of sand to fill in the mangrove and make attractive beaches for tourists.  Then they built huge hotels on the spits that are the land bits among the mangrove surroundings.  I am not sure how many times the government has had to replenish the sand to maintain Cancún as one of the best beaches anywhere!  This year it was 2billion USDollars worth of sand.  Tourism must go on. (Even if the majority of the country's population lives in dire poverty)  And so will the hurricane season, predicted to be the worst one in recent history. Let's see who ends up with 2billion dollars worth of super sand.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Futbol Soccer Update

I started this blog series with a lot of enthusiasm, and of course some of that has waned due to Mexico's loss to Uruguay Tuesday.  Mexico is not OUT of the Mundial yet, they have won a place in the KNOCKOUT ROUND, but spirits are not as high as they were last week. 

Mexico played a good game against Uruguay.  They were in control of the ball most of the game. Uruguay spent its energy defending the opponents' goal.  They let Mexico run around the field doing fancy footwork while they stayed in place waiting for any type of goal attempt.  And they stopped it.  It's too bad Mexico couldn't take the win, as a country they need an uplifting experience for their spirits.  With all the bad press about the heads rolling all over Mexico, and the trendy new anti-Mexicanism sprouting up all over the USA, we need something positive to happen down here.

After the 1-0 loss, Mexico took 2nd place to Uruguay in their group(A).  This means both teams go into the next round. Tomorrow Uruguay plays against South Korea(B), and Sunday Mexico takes on Argentina.  I want to be optimistic about Mexico's game, but Argentina has been one of the strongest, if not THE strongest team in the Mundial to date.  While the rest of the teams are haggling for spots in the 'playoffs' with 5 points accumulated....Argentina zipped on through with 9 points.  If you aren't following this sport, 9 points is a shitload.

The USA beat Argelia.  England played Slovakia Slovenia and lost.  USA and England each had 5 pts, but based on the rule structure mentioned two blogs ago, USA gets to keep playing and England gets to go home. 

Theresa in Mérida posted a reference to Jon Stewart on her June 16th blog, and I found his take on the World Cup hilarious.  He and one of his reporters, John Oliver, a Brit, did a skit AS IF the USA had beaten England in their match, when in fact they tied. Here is the clip:

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-june-14-2010/exclusive---alternate-world-cup-outcome---us-beats-england

What I thought was so funny about that was "the country that doesn't give two shits about soccer beat the country that invented it".....remember, tho, USA tied England, but we move on to the finals and they don't.

When I was looking for the video I saw in Theresa's blog, I found new coverage where John Oliver welcomes the USA to the Third World.  Gaining skill and interest in soccer is only one of the signs that we have joined the third world.  If the USA wins the Cup, Stewart says the rest of the world will officially have to call the sport SOCCER..........and no longer FUTBOL.  If I copied correctly, the following link will take you there. It's worth the click.
thttp://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-june-23-2010/mcchrystal-s-balls---honorable-discharge

At some point during Mex-Uru game, I noticed that the SuperBowl quality commercials were being aired. They weren't the usual cable company vs. the telephone company commercials....they were all about the Cup.  I caught the end of one commercial, didn't notice what it was about, but the catch phrase was: "The CRACK of chocolate!"  I can't wait to watch the next games, and I plan to tune in more closely on the commercials. I may have been missing the best part. 
      

Friday, June 18, 2010

Soccer 101: Mexico 2 - France 0

The first round of games was okay, I worked on the computer with the TV buzzing behind me.  But the second matches in the series are taking place now, and things are definitely heating up.  Yesterday I sat down and actually watched Mexico play France.. the first time I watched an entire soccer game. 

Being an American Football fan, and liking sports in general, I learned a lot watching futbol soccer.  The first thing I noticed was that there are no time outs, no long commercial breaks, just game play.  The first half is 45 minutes and the game clock never stops.  There are fouls(that may not be what they call them) and incidents that stop the game momentarily, like real injuries or fake injuries, but a fan really has to be prepared, as there is no commercial time for beer or piss breaks. I expected to be bombarded with ads during half time, but no, it was a short break. 

The game began at 1:30 pm, but they had us fooled into thinking it begain at 11:30am.  That's where the blahblahblahing of the announcers is mixed with most of the commercials.  What's funny is that we knew what time the games air - the third match always begins at 1:30pm, but everyone at my house was so excited about the game that they glued themselves to their TVs at 11:30am. I guess it pumps up the fans in Mexico to see their countrymen's adrenaline, costumes, songs and shouts fill the stadium in South Africa.  I used the tease time to do a little gardening.

The game began promptly at 1:30pm.  By 2:30pm it was half time.  The teams had been running back and forth on the field nonstop for an hour; I was tired just watching them run.  The Mexicans had the momentum.  The French played dirty.  Whenever the Mexican team controlled the ball moving down the field, a Frog French player would come over and deliberately trip him.  If you can't play well, play dirty I guess.  That's what we do in American Football!  Seriously, though, the stadium was roaring with Mexican fans and the French just sat there as if they were watching opera. They were dressed in revolutionary costumes and sat emotionless throughout the game, perhaps following the lead of the coach, whose facial expression never changed. He looked bored to be there.

An American Football game is 60 minutes of play, and takes 3 hours to air on TV.  A soccer game is 90 minutes of play and is finished in two hours.  Do you think American TV is more COMMERCIAL?  

For me soccer is like a combination of Am.football, basketball, and hockey without all the gear.  The sponsors may not get lots of commercial time, but they have their logos plastered all over the players and the stadium, so I think they successfully push their products.  And evidently they DID hand out BUZZHORNS at the gate.  I didn't see any Mexicans blowing horns, they were jumping and yelling and screaming.  It was great.  Mexico won the game 2-0.  That leaves them tied for first place in their group with Uruguay, the team they will play on Tuesday.

After the game, Pablo said, "Let's go!"  He grabbed his tambor, wearing his green World Cup shirt, and off to the Monument of the Flags we went.  He had told me that whenever Mexico wins a sporting event everyone meets there to celebrate but I'd never seen it.  When we got there the police already had the area closed off to traffic, the Sol band complete with skimpily clad girls playing Cielito Lindo, the riot squad in place, and the fans going nuts.  We flew a giant Mexican flag from the car window and heard lots of  "A HUEVO", a phrase that means something like, "Of course we won, and we will win again." Ok, I think it really translates into "fuckin-A, we won!"  (Just keeping it real.)

Below are some photos of the mayhem that took place at the monument after the game. People were still arriving as we left, and for all I know the party went on for hours.  I can warn you that Mexico plays again Tuesday, June 22, at 9am.  If they win that game, they will qualify for the Knockout Round, and the people here will be very happy. If you aren't interested in soccer, at least check the final score before driving around Paseo de Montejo next Tuesday afternoon, or you'll be forced to park and join the party. 

Below are photos from the impromptu party in the street. 






Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The World Cup Buzz

The World Cup Trophy.
 
The winning team will retain this 13.6 lb sold gold trophy on its malachite base until the winners of the next cup take over in 2014.

As expected, Friday's FIFA Copa Mundial opening match created quite a stir at the house.  Four TVs buzzing loudly, beers moved in and out of the freezer and the guests were glued to the game.  I felt like I was in a beehive or having a terrible attack of tinnitus, the BUZZ from the stadium was so overwhelming.  They must hand out BUZZhorns at the gate, because the spectators embrace them with gusto.

After a fast-moving but low-scoring game, México tied the South African team 1-1.  That left me wondering:  How does this work?  What's next? Since we will be inundated with three games a day on 6 cable channels, plus hours of announcers' analyzations, bullshit and banter every day for the next month, I decided to find out.

In the USA, interest in futbol soccer is constantly growing.  Kids learn to play, and professional teams have gained popuarity.  The USA made a respectable showing and tied their first game against England Saturday.  Though it's not US America's most popular sport, it is the favorite of the rest of the world.  World Cup TV viewing far exceeds the Olympic Games, which is no surprise to me after a disappointing smattering of the event aired here.

In 2006, according to Wikipedia, an estimated 715 million people watched the final match in Germany.  All in all, the cumulative estimate of the viewing audience of all of the 2006 Copa Mundial matches exceeded 26 billion people.  If the inaugural game was an international holiday, the final match must be sheer insanity.

Here's how this World Cup Tournament works. The global governing body is FIFA - La Fédération Internationale de Football Association.  The name sounds like Frenglish to me.  The games are played every four years.  Between the World Cups are three years of tournaments to determine which teams will qualify to play in the next Cup in the elected host nation.  To me it's complicated - but I imagine to a South African our American Football conferences, divisions, playoffs, wildcards, etc., would also be foreign.

The Copa Mundial finals consist of two stages - THE GROUP STAGE, where we are now, and THE KNOCKOUT STAGE, when the eliminations begin June 26th. 

THE GROUP STAGE

There are 32 teams participating, broken down into 8 groups of 4 teams each.  The groups are carefully set up geographically to assure that no more than two European teams are allowed per group.  Once the groups are set, they play a Round Robin.  Each team plays three matches in its group.

Points during the Round Robin are accumulated as follows:
          Each win = 3 pts
          Each draw = 1 pt
          Each loss = 0 pts

In case of a tie, the tiebreakers are (get this!)
          1.  Goal difference
          2.  Total goals scored
          3.  Head to head results
          4.  Drawing of lots

After all the calculations, the top two teams from each group advance to:

THE KNOCKOUT STAGE

"Single elimination tournaments with extra time and penalty shootouts..."(Wikipedia again)  In American Engish, the Knockout Stage begins with a "Round of 16" games in which the winner of each group plays the runner up of another group, probably set up in geographical symmetry.  There are quarter finals, semi-finals, The 3rd Place Match, and the Grand Finale.

Deciding who will host the next Cup has often been a source of controversy.  The makeup of world soccer participants is constantly evolving and increasing, and complicated changes to the system ensue.  At the beginning of the Cup in the 1930's, only European countries and the Americas participated.  In 2002, the first Asian Cup was held in Korea and Japan.  And this is the first year an African country is hosting the event.  The Copa Mundial for 2014 will be held in Brazil. 

I found helpful links if you are at all interested in the progress of the games.  Mexico plays France on Thursday morning, the USA plays Slovenia on Friday, and tomorrow Spain makes its debut.  This yahoo link is an easy to read calendar of the games.  The official FIFA site is a great resource, starting with the breakdown of the groups.

You may notice I didn't bother to learn the actual rules of the game.  I didn't take American Football classes either, but I figured it out eventually as I watched more frequently.  The websites above name the players and positions and I get the general idea.  Get the ball past the goalie into the net without using your arms.  Act like a little boy if someone touches you so the attacker gets a flag....something like that.  

This information makes the games more interesting for me to watch.  If I get the big picture of what the anticipated outcome is and how it is reached, it is more enjoyable.  Even if you have no interest in soccer, and plan to watch zero games, I hope this was of interest.  If you like sports but are not exposed to soccer, this world event is a great opportunity to expand your horizons.  Check out one of the games, get that adrenaline going.  Root for your home team.  I'm still waiting for the  first Mexican GOOAAAAALLLLLL

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Friday's International Holiday

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the COPA MUNDIAL, The World Cup Soccer Championship in South Africa....and I think it's an unwritten international holiday.  The opening ceremonies begin at 7:00am Mérida time (CST), and Mexico plays in the first game against South Africa team Bahana Bahana at 9:00am.

The South Africans and Mexico have a rivalry from Mundiales past, and from the news I read on the home site of the CUP, Bahana Bahana doesn't look as strong as Mexico. The word on the blogs is, Mexico is coming in with a powerful young team this year.  In my house there are four Mexican guys, three of which I doubt will be "feeling well enough" to work tomorrow.  Pablo was advised in advance that he'd better show up on Friday. I picture the scene around here with two or three TVs blasting the games and lots of screaming, and consuming of cerveza for the next month. It is sure an emotional game for its fans. 

I have never watched a World Cup Soccer meet, I don't know the rules of futbol soccer, I don't know the star players, or the rivalries; I am totally soccer illerate - until tomorrow.  When we have watched an occasional soccer game on TV, I've usually pick up a book to read instead.  Up until now I have been soccer stupid.  I plan to learn about the game during this coming month of soccer innundation on TV.  After all, I have introduced Pablo to American Football, and he has endured three seasons of up to 5 games a week of games televised  locally with me, so it's only fair that I learn the rules of Mexico's favorite game.

Opening ceremonies are always fantastic, and I plan to watch them early tomorrow morning.  I was very disappointed to miss so much of the Winter Olympics.  They showed the opening ceremonies on an obscure channel at a strange time of night.  Maybe since Mexico doesn't participate (much or at all?) in the winter sports they are not too keen to televise many of the games.  I am hoping to make up for lost opening ceremonies with tomorrow's celebration. 

Let the games begin!  Oh, that is the opening of the Olympics, I guess I don't know what they scream to start the soccer matches.  I can't wait to hear the sound of the announcement of Mexico's first "GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLnonononononononoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Mokito

Mokito posed for these photos two weeks ago. He set himself up for a photo shoot.  He is so photogenic. Personally I think the photos are calendar-worthy. Again, my small small world, the gods must have beencrazy when they created me....and Mokito!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

It's Weather and Cat Time...the other news sucks.

I read the news today, oh boy.......things are looking rather bleak all over the world. All of a sudden there are serious disputes between several countries, the economical outlook was miserable, the list goes on. I had trouble finding any good news online.

Weekend headlines were "Temible Temporada de Cyclones", or Scary Hurrican Season approaching...and "El Turismo, En Picada", or Tourism down to 52%", a 20% drop in three years. I won't go into opinions and details. There are so many reasons tourism is down, and I know it is not just in Mérida!

About the hurricanes, I have been tuned in to Accuweather, keeping up with Joe Bastardi's latest words of wisdom, have my NOAA and NWS hurricane sites bookmarked. The first rainstorm was an eye opener, and I have a few house repairs to tend to before the waters heat up any more and the REAL rains begin. June is here, and though hurricanes usually don't develop in our area early in the season, anything is possible. I have seen enough disaster sites, and lived long enough in the tropics that I am prepared for days without conveniences. It is known I am a weather freak and always watching everyone's weather, not just ours.

Weatherwise, the past week was odd. The first Eastern Pacific storm formed, named Agatha.  It was stationary over the coasts of Southern Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras for days.  It never moved westward as is the norm for these storms.  It spewed torrential downpours and caused serious floods, and then barreled its way northeast.  FYI, we have driven the route that is flooded out, and it seems to be an annual thing....those mountains are ferocious and when it rains it pours.  This particular storm tho' was a tropical storm and it did not dissipate over the mountains as usually does such a storm. Instead it slammed everyone from the Pacific Coast to the Caribbean Coast.  As of yesterday this big blob of thunderstorms had a slight chance of reforming into the first Atlantic storm of the season, Alex, as it sat offshore from Belize and southern Quintana Roo, Mexico.  Today  the storm has seemed to dissipate some, but we are having strange cloudiness here in Mérida.

The weather maps show nothing of interest, some cloudiness, but something is up.  The cats were all acting strange all morning.  Mokito gets upset when it rains on his parade. He was whining today with the look of someone who just lost his job.  All the cats sat and conversed some before taking off to the other side for a morning adventure. 

Mike and I were in the pool between 8-9am.  Iggie, we have named the iguana from previous post, came out and inspected the situation.  He has never come out at 8am before.  He decided to take what little sun he could get sitting on the western wall of the patio. 

Mike told me his dog was barking like crazy this morning, and Mike couldn't figure out what was up with him.  The animals are saying something is up, the weather experts not even predicting any rain.  I am interested to see if noticing the change in local animal behavior had value or if my world has become too small, where I am studying the daily habits of feral animals who I THINK ARE MY FRIENDS....what I am getting at is I might just be crazy.

Here are some updating photos.  Nothing spectacular.  Just a WE ARE HERE AND ALIVE AND WELL kind of post.  I have been lax at blogging and emailing friends or family.  I lost so many email addresses when I got hacked I cannot even communicate with friends when I want to, so if by chance you read this and still think I have an email kona967...and love me and want to write to me...I am NOT lost and begging money in England....write to me here in Merida and update me on your email addresses and local news...  I am looking for WALTER ENGLE in particular. He is due some of my rants......good rants...and am afraid I may have to resort to SNAIL MAIL.  Heaven forbid.

Pablo chillin' at the beach in Chelem on Sunday.

Lin at Progreso after some delicious coco shrimp and a shot of tequila.

The coco shrimp plate. Delicious! Not sure what the sweet dipping sauce was, I am not a big dipper.
.
"You cover my eyes, I'll cover yours." Mokito and Busmo 

Haven't had many hibiscus flowers . Here is evidence that the plant is happier.


First gardenia(?) this season. Buddha and Busmo wanted to be in the photo.


The kitties are going to celebrate their birthdays next week, on June 9th.  They will turn two years old.  There are photos of the newborns, and here is Sak Boox curled up in the very basket(?) she was born.


I have been having a lot of trouble witht this post, as if the internet connection is coming and going. So that is it. No clever ending. Just some recent photos of us. And not all of us. I lost several photos I posted and I am frustrated.  Time to tend the farm. I will be back.