Newsletter for its Extended Global Community
November 2008 Issue 71
October was a fairly quiet month in Akumal, with Robin’s “Best Shirt Award” being the big highlight, but it looks like the November holidays will perk things up a bit. There’s quite a lot of “Comings and Goings”
It was a bit wet here, and as one resident reported, “The rain continues!! The potholes are bigger! The mosquitoes are fiercer! More tourists are showing up, but still it is slow!”
were no Tropical Storms or Hurricanes to report, and that is good.
IMPORTANT NOVEMBER FACTS
Libra - September 23 - October 22
Birthstone: Yellow Topaz
Birthday Flower: Chrysanthemum
Birthdays and Anniversaries
There must be more than this. Let’s hear about YOUR birthday before it happens.
October Birthdays / Anniversary
CONSEJO DE DESARROLLO DE AKUMAL S.A.
Please post the following in all rental units and in all public places:
U.S. DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME (DST), NOVEMBER 2nd
U.S., and only the U.S., DST ends on November 2. Remember, on August 8,
2005, President George W. Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005. This
Act changed the time change dates for Daylight Saving Time in the U.S.
Beginning in 2007, DST begins on the second Sunday in March and ends the
first Sunday in November. The
of Energy will report the impact of this change to Congress. Congress
retains the right to resume the 2005 Daylight Saving Time schedule once the
Department of Energy study is complete.
DAY OF THE DEAD, NOVEMBER 1st & 2nd
This is an ancient festivity that has been much transformed through the years, but which was intended in prehispanic Mexico to celebrate children and the dead. Hence, the best way to describe this Mexican holiday is to say that it is a time when Mexican families remember their dead, and the continuity of life.
Two important things to know about the Mexican Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) are:
The original celebration can be traced to many Mesoamerican native traditions, such as the festivities held during the Aztec month of Miccailhuitontli, ritually presided by the "Lady of the Dead" (Mictecacihuatl), and dedicated to children and the dead. In the Aztec calendar, this ritual fell roughly at the end of the Gregorian month of July and the beginning of August, but in the postconquest era it was moved by Spanish priests, so that it coincided with the Christian holiday of All Hallows Eve (in Spanish: "Día de Todos Santos"). This was a vain effort to transform the observance from a profane to a Christian celebration. The result is that Mexicans now celebrate the day of the dead during the first two days of November, rather than at the beginning of summer. But remember the dead they still do, and the modern festivity is characterized by the traditional Mexican blend of ancient aboriginal and introduced Christian features.
Generalizing broadly, the holiday's activities consist of families (1) welcoming their dead back into their homes, and (2) visiting the graves of their close kin. At the cemetery, family members engage in sprucing up the gravesite, decorating it with flowers, setting out and enjoying a picnic, and interacting socially with other family and community members who gather there. In both cases, celebrants believe that the souls of the dead return and are all around them. Families remember the departed by telling stories about them. The meals prepared for these picnics are sumptuous, usually featuring meat dishes in spicy sauces, chocolate beverages, cookies, sugary confections in a variety of animal or skull shapes, and a special egg-batter bread ("pan de muerto," or bread of the dead). Gravesites and family altars are profusely decorated with flowers (primarily large, bright flowers such as marigolds and chrysanthemums), and adorned with religious amulets and with offerings of food, cigarettes and alcoholic beverages. Because of this warm social environment, the colorful setting, and the abundance of food, drink and good company, this commemoration of the dead has pleasant overtones for the observers, in spite of the open fatalism exhibited by all participants, whose festive interaction with both the living and the dead in an important social ritual is a way of recognizing the cycle of life and death that is human existence.
In homes, observant families create an altar and decorate it with items that they believe are beautiful and attractive to the souls of their departed ones. Such items include offerings of flowers and food, but also things that will remind the living of the departed (such as their photographs, a diploma, or an article of clothing), and the things that the dead prized and enjoyed while they lived. This is done to entice the dead and assure that their souls actually return to take part in the remembrance. In very traditional settings, typically found only in native communities, the path from the street to the altar is actually strewn with petals to guide the returning soul to its altar and the bosom of the family.
traditional observance calls for departed children to be remembered during
the first day of the festivity (the Day of the Little Angels, "Día de los
Angelitos"), and for adults to be remembered on the second day.
Traditionally, this is accompanied by a feast during the early morning hours
of November the 2nd, the Day of the Dead proper, though modern urban Mexican
families usually observe the Day of the Dead with only a special family
supper featuring the bread of the dead. In southern Mexico, for example in
the city of Puebla, it is good luck to be the one who bites into the plastic
toy skeleton hidden by the baker in each rounded loaf. Friends and family
members give one another gifts consisting of sugar skeletons or other items
with a death motif, and the gift is more prized if the skull or skeleton is
embossed with one's own name. Another variation found in the state of
Oaxaca is for bread to be molded into the shape of a body or burial wrap,
and for a face to be embedded on one end of the loaf. During the days
leading up to and following the festivity, some bakeries in heavily
aboriginal communities cease producing the wide range of breads that they
typically sell so that they can focus on satisfying the demand for bread of
UNITES STATES PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION, NOV. 4th
Day, the Tuesday after the first Monday of November, voters cast ballots for
a slate of electors of the U.S. Electoral College, who in turn directly
elect the President and Vice President. The election is scheduled for
November 4, 2008. Be sure to vote!!!
THE MELBOURNE CUP, NOVEMBER 4th
The Melbourne Cup is Australia's major annual thoroughbred horse race. Billed as “The race that stops a nation”, it is for three-year-olds and over, and covers a distance of 3,200 meters. It is generally regarded as the most prestigious "two-mile" handicap in the world. The event is held on the first Tuesday in November by the Victoria Racing Club, on the Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne. This day was traditionally only a public holiday within metropolitan Melbourne, but is now also observed as a holiday in the entire state of Victoria, and even the ACT.
The race was originally held over two miles (about 3,218 meters) but following preparation for Australia's adoption of the metric system in the 1970s, the current race distance of 3,200 meters was established in 1972. This reduced the distance by 61ft 6in, and Rain Lover's 1968 race record of 3min.19.1sec was accordingly adjusted to 3min.17.9sec. The present record holder is the 1990 winner Kingston Rule with a time of 3min 16.3sec.
winner was Efficient, ridden by Michael Rodd, trained by Graeme Rogerson and
owned by Lloyd Williams. Efficient became the first horse since Phar Lap to
win the Victoria Derby, then the Melbourne Cup the following year.
COMINGS AND GOINGS
The Akumalian is working from a remote site in Chatham, Cape Cod, Massachusetts and is dependent on on-site reports from the Lol Ha Beach Bar for this month’s “Comings and Goings” section, so the verbiage may be a little dated once this issue is published. Anyway, it’s a best effort, and BIG thanks go to Mary Henderson for her reports.
ROBIN’S BEST SHIRT AWARD, NOVEMBER 7th
Come one, come all, to the Beach Bar, where we’ll have a ball.
It’s time for another “Best Shirt Award”, which is held on the first Friday of each month during Happy Hour at the Lol Ha Beach Bar. This competition on November 7th could be REAL INTENSE as there seems to be a whole slew of viable contenders in town right now.
This award is based on Robin’s penchant for good, classy Beach Bar shirts, and his sister, Mary, is ready to once again be the judge and jury as she selects the “Best Shirt” for November. And, as we go to print the criteria are still somewhat nebulous, and they seem to be changing as we move into the Fall.
The October competition drew a huge number of contestants from all over the world. As it turned out, David Wolfe took top honors over an aggressive crowd that included a serious female contender.
The photos are located at October Best Shirt Award.
FULL MOON, NOVEMBER 13th
The Full Beaver Moon occurs on November 13th at 12:17AM AST.
This is the time to set beaver traps before the mangroves freeze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. Another interpretation suggests that the name Full Beaver Moon comes from the fact that the beavers are now actively preparing for winter; it could also refer to the raccoons in North Akumal. It is sometimes also referred to as the Frosty Moon.
WHAT’S NEW AROUND TOWN?
Not much new around town.
PLAYA DEL CARMEN
LEONID METEOR SHOWER, NOVEMBER 17th
This month brings us the return of the famous Leonid Meteor Shower, a meteor display that over the past several years has brought great anticipation and excitement to sky watchers around the world. The Leonid meteors are debris shed into space by the Tempel-Tuttle comet, which swings through the inner solar system at intervals of 33 years. With each visit the comet leaves behind a trail of dust in its wake.
In the Observers Handbook of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, meteor experts indicate that this year's peak activity should occur on the morning of November 17. But while Leonid rates are unpredictable, it is unlikely that more than a dozen meteors per hour will be seen this year during peak activity, at least for viewers with dark skies away from cities. Other meteor researchers, however, have examined Leonid prospects for this year and also suggest watching for some meteor activity on November 18.
The meteors will appear to emanate from out of the so-called "Sickle" of Leo, but prospective viewers should not concentrate on that area of the sky around Leo, but rather keep their eyes moving around to different parts of the sky. Leo does not start coming fully into view until the hours after midnight, so that would be the best time to concentrate on looking for the Leonid meteors.
recommend the Leonids for casual observers this year. Activity will
probably be low, and if there are spurts or mini-outbursts the bright Moon
will interfere. The radiant is best placed from about 2am until the
beginning of morning twilight; the radiant is below the horizon and the
shower unobservable during the evening hours. The Leonids are expected to
be most active on the mornings of Monday, November 17 and Tuesday, November
MEXICAN REVOLUTION DAY, NOVEMBER 20th
This official Mexican holiday celebrates the Mexican Revolution of 1910.
The Mexican Revolution was brought on by, among other factors, tremendous disagreement among the Mexican people over the dictatorship of President Porfirio Diaz, who, all told, stayed in office for thirty one years. During that span, power was concentrated in the hands of a select few; the people had no power to express their opinions or select their public officials. Wealth was likewise concentrated in the hands of the few, and injustice was everywhere, in the cities and the countryside alike.
Early in the 20th Century, a new generation of young leaders arose who wanted to participate in the political life of their country, but they were denied the opportunity by the officials who were already entrenched in power and who were not about to give it up. This group of young leaders believed that they could assume their proper role in Mexican politics once President Diaz announced publicly that Mexico was ready for democracy. Although the Mexican Constitution called for public election and other institutions of democracy, Diaz and his supporters used their political and economic resources to stay in power indefinitely.
Francisco I. Madero was one of the strongest believers that President Diaz should renounce his power and not seek re-election. Together with other young reformers, Madero created the ''Anti-reeleccionista'' Party, which he represented in subsequent presidential elections. Between elections, Madero traveled throughout the country, campaigning for his ideas.
Francisco I. Madero was a firm supporter of democracy and of making government subject to the strict limits of the law, and the success of Madero's movement made him a threat in the eyes of President Diaz. Shortly before the elections of 1910, Madero was apprehended in Monterrey and imprisoned in San Luis Potosi. Learning of Diaz's re-election, Madero fled to the United States in October of 1910. In exile, he issued the ''Plan of San Luis,'' a manifesto which declared that the elections had been a fraud and that he would not recognize Porfirio Diaz as the legitimate President of the Republic.
Instead, Madero made the daring move of declaring himself President Pro-Temp until new elections could be held. Madero promised to return all land which had been confiscated from the peasants, and he called for universal voting rights and for a limit of one term for the president. Madero's call for an uprising on November 20th, 1910, marked the beginning of the Mexican Revolution.
On November 14th, in Cuchillo Parado in the state of Chihuahua, Toribio Ortega and a small group of followers took up arms. On the 18th in Puebla, Diaz's authorities uncovered preparations for an uprising in the home of the brothers Maximo and Aquiles Serdan, who where made to pay with their lives. Back in Chihuahua, Madero was able to persuade Pascual Orozco and Francisco Villa to join the revolution. Though they had no military experience, Orozco and Villa proved to be excellent strategists, and they earned the allegiance of the people of northern Mexico, who were particularly unhappy about the abusive ranchers and landlords who ran the North.
In March of 1911, Emiliano Zapata led the uprising of the peasants of Morelos to claim their rights over local land and water. At the same time, armed revolt began in many other parts of the country. The "Maderista" troops, and the national anger which inspired them, defeated the army of Diaz within six months. The decisive victory of the Mexican Revolution was the capture of Ciudad Juarez, just across the river from El Paso, by Orozco and Villa. Porfirio Diaz then resigned as President and fled to exile in France, where he died in 1915.
With the collapse of the Diaz regime, the Mexican Congress elected Francisco Leon De La Barra as President Pro-Temp and called for national popular elections, which resulted in the victory of Francisco I. Madero as President and Jose Maria Pino Suarez as Vice-President.
THANKSGIVING DAY, NOVEMBER 27th
They first landed on the tip of Cape Cod, what now is Provincetown.
They reached Plymouth in 1620. There, they had to face a terrible winter. Around 46 of the original 102 had died by the next fall. But fortune turned in their favor and the harvest of the next year was bumper. And the remaining colonists decided to celebrate with a feast -- including 91 Indians who had helped the Pilgrims survive their first year. It is believed that the Pilgrims would not have made it through the year without the help of the natives. The feast was more of a traditional English harvest festival than a true "thanksgiving" observance. It lasted three days. Governor William Bradford sent "four men fowling" after wild ducks and geese. It is not certain that wild turkey was part of their feast. However, it is certain that they had venison. The term "turkey" was used by the Pilgrims to mean any sort of wild fowl.
Another modern staple at almost every Thanksgiving table is pumpkin pie. But it is unlikely that the first feast included that treat. The supply of flour had been long diminished, so there was no bread or pastries of any kind. However, they did eat boiled pumpkin, and they produced a type of fried bread from their corn crop. There was also no milk, cider, potatoes, or butter. There was no domestic cattle for dairy products, and the newly-discovered potato was still considered by many Europeans to be poisonous. But the feast did include fish, berries, watercress, lobster, dried fruit, clams, venison, and plums. This "thanksgiving" feast was not repeated the following year. But in 1623, during a severe drought, the pilgrims gathered in a prayer service, praying for rain. When a long, steady rain followed the very next day, Governor Bradford proclaimed another day of Thanksgiving, again inviting their Indian friends. It wasn't until June of 1676 that another Day of Thanksgiving was proclaimed.
On June 20, 1676, the governing council of Charlestown, Massachusetts, held a meeting to determine how best to express thanks for the good fortune that had seen their community securely established. By unanimous vote they instructed Edward Rawson, the clerk, to proclaim June 29 as a day of thanksgiving. It is notable that this thanksgiving celebration probably did not include the Indians, as the celebration was meant partly to be in recognition of the colonists' recent victory over the "heathen natives". October of 1777 marked the first time that all 13 colonies joined in a thanksgiving celebration. It also commemorated the patriotic victory over the British at Saratoga. But it was a one-time affair.
George Washington proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving in 1789, although some were opposed to it. There was discord among the colonies, many feeling the hardships of a few Pilgrims did not warrant a national holiday. And later, President Thomas Jefferson scoffed at the idea of having a day of thanksgiving. It was Sarah Josepha Hale, a magazine editor, whose efforts eventually led to what we recognize as Thanksgiving. Hale wrote many editorials championing her cause in her Boston Ladies' Magazine, and later, in Godey's Lady's Book. Finally, after a 40-year campaign of writing editorials and letters to governors and presidents, Hale's obsession became a reality when, in 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving.
was proclaimed by every president after Lincoln. The date was changed a
couple of times, most recently by Franklin Roosevelt, who set it up one week
to the next-to-last Thursday in order to create a longer Christmas shopping
season. Public uproar against this decision caused the president to move
Thanksgiving back to its original date two years later. And in 1941,
Thanksgiving was finally sanctioned by Congress as a legal holiday, as the
fourth Thursday in November.
We just experienced the usual Robin’s “Best Shirt Award” in October. Of course there was the fantabulous Halloween Party at La Buena Vida, but that was happening as The Akumalian was being type-set.