The Akumalian

Akumal's Newsletter for its Extended Global Community
Quintana Roo, Mexico

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 December 2006 Issue 48

INTRODUCTION

The Akumalian has finally gotten onto the Internet with its own web site for this issue, but it has not been easy, as the Writer, Editor, Publisher, and Distributor has also taken on the role of Web Master, using the term "Master" very, very lightly. This should alleviate some of the problems with the distribution of The Akumalian as a large Word document as an attachment to an e-mail Group.
As it turns out, this is a fairly extensive issue with many stories related to the holidays. Then there's the usual local stuff, as well as numerous last minute "stuff".

AKUMAL COUNCIL REPORTS

This is one of those last minute reports, and this one was just issued by the Akumal Council regarding CAPA's work on the water line for North Akumal.

For those of you who have not seen or heard about the chaos that has been caused by CAPA's excavation for our new water main between the pump and the curve by the police station, it's made a disturbing mess and presented some rather dangerous situations for pedestrians and cars.  Due to the excessive rain and other complications, the work was not completed on the original schedule, and now we are down to the wire, if it's going to be ready by the end of the week and the onslaught of holiday visitors.

 We met with CAPA officials and others today, and starting on Tuesday morning, CAPA has promised to put all their energy into cleanup, including filling in several large holes that have been left open awaiting pieces to complete the various connections.  They have promised they will go ahead and fill them in, even though they haven't been able to complete the work, and they will finish the connections after the holiday.  They also promised to remove all the debris left behind (including the large rocks, old tires and piles of dirt) and to fill and smooth, where necessary, the remaining surfaces.  They are scheduled to work until Friday and then not resume the project until the 8th of January.  In the meantime, we will continue to receive water as we have been, through the old lines, when the pressure is high enough.  When the new main is completed, CAPA says we will only be without water for about a half day while they switch over to the new pipe.  

 In addition, we have hired Jaime Medina to begin work on a temporary walkway beside the section of road adjacent to the Las Casitas fence to provide safer passage to pedestrians in that congested and dangerous area.  The road will not be perfect, or even close to it, but it will be passable by two lanes of traffic, and there will be a safer area for people to walk.  Jaime's crew will also do additional clean-up and smoothing of the road, as necessary, after CAPA has finished their part.

 We still have about $3,500 USD left from the Emergency Fund started after Wilma that we will be able to put toward the work, but it will not be nearly enough.  Depending on how much the CAPA crew accomplishes, and how well it meets our expectations, we expect to pay as much as three times that amount to get a suitable result.  What we are proposing is that you contribute to this Emergency Fund.  Whatever is not used will roll over to our next emergency, and certainly there will be one.  Thank goodness, we had some left over this time, so that we can get started on this as soon as possible.  We need all of your help if we're going to try to have our beautiful Akumal looking presentable by the end of the week.  We hope we have clarified the situation we are in and thank you for your cooperation.

You can contribute by:
1. Designating funds through the agency that rents your house
2. Dropping off cash or check at the money exchange window of TSA
3. Send a check to the Akumal Council PO Box

Akumal Council
827 Union Pacific PMB 8-522
Laredo , TX 78045-9452

IMPORTANT: Please make all checks payable to the Akumal Council and note, on the check, that it is for the EMERGENCY FUND.

 

HANUKKAH, DECEMBER 14th

Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, or Festival of Rededication, is an eight day Jewish holiday that starts on December 14th.  The festival is observed in Jewish homes by the kindling of lights on each of the festival's eight nights, one on the first night, two on the second night and so on.

Around 200 BC, Jews lived as an autonomous people in the land of Israel, also referred to as Judea, which at that time was controlled by the Seleucid king of Syria.  The Jewish people paid taxes to Syria and accepted its legal authority, and by and large were free to follow their own faith, maintain their own jobs, and engage in trade.

By 175 BC Antiochus IV Epiphanes ascended to the Seleucid throne.  At first little changed, but under his reign Jews were gradually forced to violate the precepts of their faith.  Jews rebelled at having to do this.  Under the reign of Antiochus IV, the Temple in Jerusalem was looted, Jews were massacred, and Judaism was effectively outlawed.

In 167 BC Antiochus ordered an altar to Zeus erected in the Temple.  Mattathias, a Jewish priest, and his five sons John, Simon, Eleazar, Jonathan, and Judah led a rebellion against Antiochus.  Judah became known as Judah MacCabee ("Judah the Hammer").  By 166 BC Mattathias had died, and Judah took his place as leader.  By 165 BC the Jewish revolt against the Seleucid monarchy was successful.  The Temple was liberated and rededicated. 

The festival of Hanukkah was instituted by Judah MacCabee and his brothers to celebrate this event.  After recovering Jerusalem and the Temple, Judah ordered the Temple to be cleansed, a new altar to be built in place of the polluted one and new holy vessels to be made.  According to the Talmud, oil was needed for the menorah in the Temple, which was supposed to burn throughout the night every night.  But there was only enough oil to burn for one day, yet miraculously, it burned for eight days, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of oil for the menorah.  An eight-day festival was declared to commemorate this miracle.

Historically, Hanukkah commemorates two events:

The triumph of Judaism's spiritual values as embodied in its Torah (symbolized by the Menorah, since the Torah is compared to light) over Hellenistic civilization (considered darkness) which under Antiochus IV, had attempted to culturally assimilate the Jews away from practicing Judaism's commandments, by forcefully installing Greek religious symbols in the Second Temple.

The victory of the Jews over the armies of Antiochus IV. The rebellion was begun by Mattathias Maccabee and continued by Judah Maccabee and his other sons. They defeated overwhelming forces, and re-dedicated the Second Temple.

 

CHRISTMAS IN MEXICO

The first thing to know about celebrating Christmas in Mexico is that most everybody takes off the last two weeks in December - to party, spend more time with the family, visit with old friends, even make new friends. One of the biggest fiestas of the year - in small towns, big cities, the beach resorts, everywhere - Christmas in Mexico is celebrated in a variety of ways. A common denominator is the posada, a recreation of Mary (on donkey) and Joseph searching for a "room at the inn." Accompanying them is a choir of small children who knock on doors asking for lodging for the weary couple. By previous arrangement, there are no takers.

CHILDREN SINGING AT THE BEACH BAR

Ever wonder what it is all about when the Mexican children come around the Beach Bar with a box and sing for money?  Here's the "rest of the story".

Each night during Advent, the 24 days leading up to Christmas, children of the neighborhood travel from bar to restaurant singing a song and collecting money.  With them they carry a picture of the Virgin of Guadalupe, somehow set up with a candle.  It's typically a little box, with flowers and candles in front of the Virgin.  

In this tradition, the children go door to door in their neighborhood, singing this song.  They sing or shout it very quickly so that it’s almost impossible to tell what they are saying, so here it is:

Me paro en la puerta (I stand in the door)
Me quito el sombrero (I take off my hat)

Porque en esta casa (Because in this house…)
Vive un caballero (lives a gentleman.)

Vive un caballero, (Here lives a gentleman)
Vive un general (Here lives a general)
Si nos da permiso (If you give us permission)
Para comenzar. (We will begin)

(change of cadence)
Naranjas y limas (oranges and limes)
Limas y limones (limes and lemons)
Aqui esta la Virgen (here is the Virgin)
De todos las flores (of all the flowers)
En un jacalito (in a little shack)
De cal y de arena (of "cal" (the type of paint) and sand)
Nacio Jesucristo (Jesus was born)
Para Noche Buena (For Christmas Eve)
A la media noche (at midnight)
Un gallo canto (a rooster crowed)
Y ese gallo dijo: (and that rooster said)
"Cristo ya nacio!" (Christ is born!)

(another change of cadence)
La calaca tiene un diente (The skeleton has a tooth)
Tiene un diente.
Topogigio tiene dos (Topo Gigio…yes, the little mouse on Ed Sullivan….has two)
Si me da un aguinaldo (If you give me a bit of money or a Christmas bonus)
un aguinaldo,
Se lo pagara el Senor (You will pay it to the Lord)
Se lo pagara el Senor.

If you give them a little money (which of course you should), they sing:
Ya se va la rama (The rama is going now…)
Muy agradecida (very grateful)
Porque en esta casa (because in this house)
Fue bien recibida (it was well received.)
Pases buenas noches (Have a good night)
Esta le deseamos (this we hope for)
Pase buenas noches
Nosotros nos vamos (we're going)

If you don't give them money, it is said they yell at you:
Ya se va la rama (The rama is going now…)
Muy desconsolada (very disconsolate)
Porque en esta casa (because in this house)
No la dieron nada (they didn't give anything).

 

POSADA, DECEMBER 16th to 24th

Las Posadas are a series of nine charming children’s processions which are uniquely, genuinely and exclusively Mexican, seemingly invented by the early Spanish missionaries solely to comfort and convert the former Aztecs.

The tradition of the nine days of processions (Posadas) began soon after the arrival of the Spaniards in Mexico.  Clever San Ignacio de Loyola created the custom to teach the story of the birth of Jesus and more importantly, to coincide with the nine day Fiestas of the Sun, which celebrated the virgin birth of the Aztec Sun god, Huitzilopchtli, from the 16th through the 24th of December.  Special permission was received from Rome to celebrate nine "Christmas Masses" to represent the nine months of Mary's pregnancy.

Children in the villages will set out each evening from the church for a pilgrimage to a different neighborhood.  This procession symbolizes the journey made by Joseph and Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem and Joseph's search for shelter (Posada) at an Inn (also Posada).  The peregrinos (pilgrims) include Joseph leading Mary on a burro, an Angel, shepherds, kings, and a large flock of excited, giggling, jostling, bumping, wiggling, shiny-eyed others, most with bright ribbon and flower decked shepherds' staffs which they tap in time to the music.

The verses of the traditional Posada song are exchanged back and forth between Joseph and the group outside each house and the Innkeeper and the group inside.  At each location, Joseph asks for entry, until finally at a prearranged location, the Innkeeper and friends sing from inside the shelter (house): "Enter holy pilgrims, receive this humble corner, that while we know it is a poor lodging, it is given as the gift of heart.

And the party begins, with joyous music, pinatas, with candy, fruit, and treats for everyone.  Like the fiestas held by the ancients to honor Huitzilopochtli, the Mexican Posadas are full of the deepest of feeling; laughter mixed with deep spirituality, combined with the Mexican's thirst for diversion from the daily sameness of survival.  This is truly a merrily religious celebration, and for most of the children, far more anticipated than Christmas itself.
 

POINSETTIAS

La Flor de la Nochebuena.  Few realize when they give and receive Poinsettias each holiday season that Mexico gave the world this special holiday floral tribute.

Of the many names for this flower, the most beautiful is La Flor de la Nochebuena, (The Flower of the Holy Night).  The ancients knew this plant as Cuetlaxochitl, which means "the flower of leather petals".  The ancients considered all flowers to be divine gifts of the Gods, not only because of their wonderful beauty, scent and color, but they were also believed to be metaphors of the most beautiful feelings.  This star-shaped, red, winter-flowering plant was a special favorite long before the arrival of Columbus.

The Nochebuena was considered by the Aztecs to be a symbol of the new life earned by the warriors who died in battle.  As hummingbirds and butterflies, these warriors would return to earth to sip the nectar of the Poinsettia.
 

ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY FOR MexicArte, DEC 22nd

Pablo Diaz and Nayeli Aparacio are hosting a first anniversary celebration at the MexicArte shop (beside the Hotel Akumal Caribe front lobby at the arch) on Friday, December 22nd, starting at 7:00pm.  It's right after Happy Hour, so just continue Happy Hour with Pablo and Nayeli at MexicArte, who are serving an assorted selection of bread, cheese and wine.  See you there.

 

AKUMAL'S CHRISTMAS PAGEANT, DECEMBER 23rd

Akumal's annual Christmas Program is being presented on the Akumal/CEA stage on Saturday, December 23, starting at 6:00pm. This year’s program, once again, features the very popular "live" Nativity, live music with the Akumal Choir, the Christmas story, candle lighting, and candy canes.
 

CHRISTMAS, DECEMBER 25th

Christmas, or Christmas Day, is an annual holiday on December 25th that marks the traditional birth date of Jesus of Nazareth. Christmas combines the celebration of Jesus' birth with various other traditions and customs, many of which were influenced by ancient winter festivals such as Yule and Saturnalia. Christmas traditions include the display of Nativity scenes and Christmas trees, the exchange of gifts and cards, and the arrival of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. Popular Christmas themes include the promotion of goodwill, giving, compassion, and quality family time.
In Western culture, where the holiday is characterized by the exchange of gifts among friends and family members, some of the gifts are attributed to a character called Santa Claus (also known as Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas or St. Nikolaus, Sinterklaas, Joulupukki, Weihnachtsmann, Saint Basil and Father Frost).

        Santa Claus is a variation of a Dutch folk tale based on the historical figure Saint Nicholas, or Sinterklaas, who gave gifts on the eve of his feast day of December 6. He became associated with Christmas in 19th century America, and was gradually renamed Santa Claus or Saint Nick. In 1812, Washington Irving wrote of Saint Nicholas "riding over the tops of the trees, in that selfsame wagon, wherein he brings his yearly presents to children." The connection between Santa Claus and Christmas was popularized by the 1822 poem, "A Visit from Saint Nicholas" attributed to Clement Clarke Moore, which depicted Santa driving a sleigh pulled by reindeer and distributing gifts to children. The popular image of Santa Claus was created by the German-American cartoonist Thomas Nast (1840-1902), who drew a new image annually, beginning in 1863. By the 1880s, Nast's Santa had evolved into the form we now recognize. The image was standardized by advertisers in the 1920s.

         Father Christmas, who predates the Santa Claus character, was first recorded in the 15th century, but was associated with holiday merrymaking and drunkenness. In Victorian Britain, his image was remade to match that of Santa. The French Pere Noel evolved along similar lines, eventually adopting the Santa image. In Italy, Babbo Natale acts as Santa Claus, while La Befana, is the bringer of gifts and arrives on the eve of the Epiphany. It is said that La Befana set out to bring the baby Jesus gifts, but got lost along the way. Now, she brings gifts to all children.

        The current tradition in several Latin American countries (such as Venezuela) holds that while Santa makes the toys, he then gives them to the Baby Jesus, who is the one who actually delivers them to the children's homes. This story is meant to be a reconciliation between traditional religious beliefs and modern day globalization, most notably the iconography of Santa Claus imported from the United States.

      In Southern Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Sudtirol and Liechtenstein, the Christkind brings the presents. The German St. Nikolaus is not identical with the Weihnachtsman (who is the German version of Santa Claus). St. Nikolaus wears a bishop's dress and still brings small gifts (usually candies, nuts and fruits) on December 6 and is accompanied by Knecht Ruprecht.
 

SCIENTIFIC FACTS ON SANTA TO PONDER

In case you do not get those presents from Santa you were hoping for, here's something to consider.

            There are approximately two billion children (persons under 18) in the world.  However, since Santa does not visit children of Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, or Buddhist religions, this reduces the workload for Christmas night to 15 percentage of the total, or 378 million (according to the Population Reference Bureau).  At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per household, and that comes to 108 million homes, presuming that there is at least one good child in each.

Santa has about 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west (which seems logical).  This works out to 967.7 visits per second.  This is to say that for each Christian household with a good child, Santa has around 1/1000th of a second to park the sleigh, hop out, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left for him, get back up the chimney, jump into the sleigh and get on to the next house.

Assuming that each of these 108 million stops is evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false, but will accept for the purposes of our calculations), we are now talking about 0.78 miles per household; a total trip of 75.5 million miles, not counting bathroom stops or breaks.  This means Santa's sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second or 3,000 times the speed of sound.  For purposes of comparison, the fastest man-made vehicle, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky 27.4 miles per second, and a conventional reindeer can run (at best) 15 miles per hour.

The payload of the sleigh adds another interesting element.  Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium sized Lego set (two pounds), the sleigh is carrying over 500 thousand tons, not counting Santa himself.  On land, a conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds.  Even granting that the "flying" reindeer could pull ten times the normal amount, the job can't be done with eight or even nine of them.  Santa would need 360,000 of them.  This increases the payload, not counting the weight of the sleigh, another 54,000 tons, or roughly seven times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth (the ship, not the monarch).

600,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance; this would heat up the reindeer in the same fashion as a spacecraft re-entering the earth's atmosphere.  The lead pair of reindeer would absorb 14.3 quintillion joules of energy per second each.  In short, they would burst into flames almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them and creating deafening sonic booms in their wake.  The entire reindeer team would be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second, or right about the time Santa reached the fifth house on his trip.

Not that it matters, however, since Santa, as a result of accelerating from a dead stop to 650 MPS in .001 seconds, would be subjected to centrifugal forces of 17,500 g's.  A 250 pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of the sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force, instantly crushing his bones and organs and reducing him to a quivering blob of pink goo.

Therefore, if Santa did exist, he's dead now; Bummer.

Merry Christmas anyway.

 

KWANZAA, DECEMBER 26th

This celebration is not a festival originating in any of the 55 African countries, nor is it an "African" Christmas celebration.  Kwanzaa is an African-Americans celebration of life from 26 December to 1 January.

Dr. Maulana Karenga introduced the festival in 1966 to the UnitedCourtesy of US Software States as a ritual to welcome the first harvests to the home.  Dr. Karenga created this festival for Afro-Americans as a response to the commercialism of Christmas.  In fact, one might say that Kwanzaa has similarities with Thanksgiving in the United States, or the Yam Festival in Ghana and Nigeria.  The word "kwanza" is a KiSwahili (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania) word meaning "first."

Five common sets of values are central to the activities of the week: ingathering, reverence, commemoration, recommitment, and celebration.

The seven principles (nguzo saba) of Kwanzaa utilize Kiswahili words: unity (umoja), self-determination (kujichagulia), collective work and responsibility (ujima), cooperative economics (ujamaa), purpose (nia), creativity (kuumba), and faith (imani).  Each of the seven candles signify the principles.  Like the Jewish Hannakah, candles are used to represent concepts of the holiday.

The symbols of Kwanzaa includes crops (mzao) which represents the historical roots of African-Americans in agriculture and also the reward for collective labor.  The mat (mkeka) lays the foundation for self- actualization.  The candle holder (kinara) reminds believers in the ancestral origins in one of 55 African countries.  Corn/maize (muhindi) signifies children and the hope associated in the younger generation.  Gifts (Zawadi) represent commitments of the parents for the children.  The unity cup (Kkimbe cha Umoja) is used to pour libations to the ancestors.  Finally, the seven candles (mishumaa saba) remind participants of the several principles and the colors in flags of African liberation movements; 3 red, 1 black, and 3 green.

Gifts are exchanged.  On December 31, participants celebrate with a banquet of food, often cuisine from various African countries.  Participants greet one another with "Habari gani", which is Kiswahili for, "How are you/ how's the news with you?"
 

DAY OF THE INNOCENTS, DECEMBER 28th

El Dia De los Inocentes (Day of the Innocents) is on December 28th, and it might be more accurate to refer to it as December Fool’s Day, as on this day, it is said that you can borrow something and never return it, and the day abounds with jokes and requests and fantastic stories, to convince the naive of lending almost everything.

It is believed the custom originally recalls King Herod's instructions to kill all the newborn children in order to destroy the infant child god.  It is typical of Mexico and Mexicans to laugh in the face of tragedy, to challenge the fears that intimidate.

In Victorian times, friends would send one another elaborate notes detailing some great tragedy or horrible problem requiring them to borrow sums of money, tools, or household items, much like an April Fool's prank.  When the friend, forgetting the day, would respond, the prank player sent a gift of sweets or miniature toys in memory of the Innocents lost to Herod, with a note saying "Innocent little dove who allowed yourself to be deceived, knowing that on this day, nothing should be lent."
 

NEW YEAR'S EVE

El Ano Viejo y Ano Nuevo (New Year's Eve)

What would a celebration be without music, dancing, skyrockets, and fireworks? Not a celebration in Mexico!  The New Year is ushered in with an abundance of noise, of wonderful fireworks and hundreds of skyrockets.

         One may encounter a bit of a problem driving on MX307.  PartiesNew Years Eve may well last till dawn.  One charming tradition is that one should eat twelve grapes, one with each stroke of the chiming bell, for luck in the coming 12 months.  New Year's Day is just a quiet and empty, and unearthly on the streets of the villages as Christmas Day, as the Mexicans recover from the parties of the night before.

 

THREE KINGS DAY,  JANUARY 6th

The Three Kings Day (Epiphany),  falls on January 6th.  This was the traditional time to celebrate the gift-giving aspect of Christmas throughout Mexico.  But, in most parts of the country, the holiday now coincides with the day of celebration north-of-th--border: December 25.  Many children now expect gifts on both days.

The ritual often begins in the afternoon or at dinner time when the family shares a rosca or two (a rosca is a sweet, ring-shaped loaf with a ceramic muneca (doll) representing the Christ child baked inside).  Unlike a cracker-jack box where the winner takes all, whoever is unlucky enough to get the doll has to throw a party on February 2 (Dia de Candelaria) for all the others present.  In this case, the "winner", who has to foot the time and expense, is often the loser.

 

COMINGS AND GOINGS

It is the middle of December, and the traffic has picked up considerably as owners and visitors flock to Akumal for the pre-Christmas festivities.  Lots of Comings, but no Goings.

Comings:

  • Tony, Joan, Crissi and Alex Gonzalez were in Akumal for Thanksgiving
  • Bill, Cheryl, Laura & Nick McClendon were at Luna Azul for Thanksgiving.
  • Phill & Lisa Combs were back with their kids, Shaun & Leslie, for Thanksgiving.
  • Larry & Karen Kantor, along with Johnathan & Chritine and their kids, were also in Akumal for their Thanksgiving feast.
  • John & Susan, Larry & Karen’s friends, showed up at the Beach Bar.
  • Doug, Don Papa’s associate, was also seen at the Beach Bar.
  • Michele Connor was back in South Akumal for a short visit from San Miguel.
  • Susan & Macon Gravlee were also back in South Akumal for a brief visit.
  • Nancy & Creighton Walker were also in South Akumal.
  • There were reports that Terry & Lisa Turner were back once again.
  • Oveta Vardell reportedly made a quick IN & OUT to pay taxes.
  • David Richards made a truly short trip to Akumal Sur to conclude some business.
  • Bruce & Ellen Eanet were also seen around the Beach Bar.
  • Susan Meade was also spotted at the Beach Bar one Friday.
  • Michelle, Dave, Jonathan and Kurt Bliss were in town for a very short visit.
  • Bruce was here also.
  • Don Eischen took up a short residence in his Penthouse at The Reef.
  • Susan & Randy Lanier were seen around the Beach Bar.
  • Leslie Brewer was around town for a brief spell.
  • Sharne Hampton just arrived on December 14th.
  • Pat & Cheryl Ragan are back in town for a short visit.
  • Lynn Chase and Rick Thompson have taken up residence in Aventuras for the holidays.

 

WINTER BEGINS, DECEMBER 21st

If all that isn't enough to make you anxious, winter is upon us.

Winter begins!  The name "winter" comes from a Germanic term meaning "time of water" and refers to the seasonal precipitation.  The winter solstice, the moment when the sun's apparent path is farthest south from the Equator, is used to officially mark winter's beginning.  In the Northern Hemisphere, winter begins on the "shortest day" of the year and lasts until March 20 or 22, the beginning of spring, marked by the vernal equinox, when day and night are equal in length.  In Akumal, this winter's solstice occurs on December 21 at 2:21 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, 7:21 P.M. Greenwich Mean Time.  Those in the Southern Hemisphere, today celebrate the beginning of the summer season.

The reason for the different seasons at opposite times of the yearDiagram shows the winter solstice in the two hemispheres is that while the earth rotates about the sun, it also spins on its axis, which is tilted some 23.5 degrees towards the plane of its rotation.  Because of this tilt, the Northern Hemisphere receives less direct sunlight (creating winter) while the Southern Hemisphere receives more direct sunlight (creating summer).  As the Earth continues its orbit the hemisphere that is angled closest to the sun changes and the seasons are reversed.

The winter solstice marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year.  The sun appears at its lowest point in the sky, and its noontime elevation appears to be the same for several days before and after the solstice.  Hence, the origin of the word solstice, which comes from Latin solstitium, from sol, "sun" and -stitium, "a stoppage."  Following the winter solstice, the days begin to grow longer and the nights shorter.

"Now commences the long winter evening around the farmer's hearth, when the thoughts of the indwellers travel far abroad, and men are by nature and necessity charitable and liberal to all creatures.  Now is the happy resistance to cold, when the farmer reaps his reward, and thinks of his preparedness for winter."

Henry David Thoreau, "A Winter Walk, "Excursions, p.134.

FULL MOON, JANUARY 3rd

The Full Wolf Moon will be on Wednesday, January 3rd at 8:57am.

Amid the cold and deep snows of midwinter, the jaguar packs howled hungrily outside Mayan villages.  Thus, the name for January's full Moon.  Sometimes, it was also referred to as the Old Moon, or the Moon After Yule.  Some called it the Full Snow Moon, but most tribes applied that name to the next Moon.
 

QUADRANTID METEOR SHOWER, JANUARY 3rd

The Quadrantid meteor shower is one of the year's best, regularly producing 50 to 120 meteors per hour.  Yet it is seldom observed. Why?

One reason is weather.  The shower peaks in early January, the 3rd, when northern skies are cold and cloudy.  The shower's radiant is located high in the northern sky, so observers in the southern hemisphere, where the weather might be more favorable, see almost nothing.

Another reason is brevity.  The shower doesn't last long, only a few hours.  Even dedicated meteor watchers are likely to miss such a sharp maximum.  And, there's the full moon.

The Quarantids are best observed from about 11 p.m. until the beginning of morning twilight for observers in the Northern Hemisphere, with the radiant rising higher throughout the morning.

The source of the Quadrantid meteor shower was unknown until December 2003, when Peter Jenniskens of the NASA Ames Research Center found evidence that Quadrantid meteoroids come from 2003 EH1, an "asteroid" that is probably a piece of a comet that broke apart some 500 years ago.  Earth intersects the orbit of 2003 EH1 at a perpendicular angle, which means we quickly move through any debris.  That's why the shower is so brief.

Quadrantid meteors take their name from an obsolete constellation, Quadrans Muralis, found in early 19th-century star atlases between Draco, Hercules, and Bootes.  It was removed, along with a few other constellations, from crowded sky maps in 1922 when the International Astronomical Union adopted the modern list of 88 officially-recognized constellations.  The Quadrantids, which were "re-zoned" to Bootes after Quadrans Muralis disappeared, kept their name, possibly because another January shower was already widely known to meteor watchers as the "Bootids."

 

FOOD SECTION

 

HECHIZO RE-OPENS

Hechizo, down south on the Tulum Hotel Zone, re-opened on December 13th, and Stefan and Hui are geared up for a busy 2006/2007 season.  They have prepared fixed menus for Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.

 Christmas Eve 2006
amuse bouche

 butternut squash soup with pumpkin seed oil and mushroom-parsley ravioli

 pan-fried snapper filet on watercress-arugula salad with asparagus tips and balsamic-extra virgin olive oil vinaigrette

sorbet

magret of maple leaf duck on sweet potato puree, marinated vegetables and mild chile chipotle sauce

banana, rum-raisin bread & butter pudding with caramel sauce and pecan nut ice cream

coffee or selection of teas

$580 per person (price in pesos; gratuities not included)

  

NEW  YEAR'S  EVE  2006-2007

amuse bouche

 green asparagus and radicchio salad with lemon vinaigrette and parmesan shavings

seared salmon and scallop medallion on sauteed spinach with caper ver blanc

sorbet

angus beef filet on lobster mashed potatoes with black truffle-red wine vinaigrette

dark chocolate mousse with passion fruit creme centers

coffee or selection of teas

$650 per person (price in pesos, gratuities not included)

 

NATURAMA JUICE BAR

Laura Bush Wolfe reports, "Naturama will operate independently from our Lol Ha Snack bar, but you can enjoy fresh, healthy juices, smoothies and mixed fruit blends while having your meal with us, or just come by and purchase one to go from them directly."

            Naturam, located at the entrance to the circular bar, is open from 7:00am to 7:00pm.

 


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