Friday, December 2, 2011

The Black Poisonwood Tree

You might stumble across this tree while visiting the happened to a couple of my friends recently.

Closely related to poison oak, poison ivy, and poison sumac, poisonwood (Metopium toxiferum) contains the same toxic substance that can result in oozing, itchy welts if the sap is touched. All of these plant species are members of the cashew or sumac family.
This tree produces beautiful decorative wood used for carving, wood turning, furniture etc. But it has a very powerful defense mechanism against people!

This form of defense is a highly irritating sap, and when human skin comes in contact with it, the result can be quite an ordeal. It starts with a redness, (like a bad rash similar to poison ivy, poison sumac, poison oak and the rest of them…) but often will develop into itchy and burning blisters, and is extremely painful. Depending on the amount of sap and how quickly you treat it, it can remain a rash and be gone in just a few days, or it can develop into a 1st to 2nd degree burn(s).

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Murder by Bus

A recent article in Diaro de Yucatan the local paper stated there are an average of 10 bus accidents a week in Merida. The traffic in Merida is one of the worst things about the city. It's the law of the jungle really with pedestrians and cyclist at the bottom of the food chain. Drive with caution and take all the insurance options you can. Use caution when crossing the street even at the cross walks. And stay out of the path of oncoming buses.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Hammock Hawkers

They are the bane of my existance those hammock hawkers and snake oil salesmen who hang downtown around the main square. So my advice is take a page from Nancy Reagan and JUST SAY NO! Well if you cannot just say no then, say "Yo Tango uno" which means I have one and keep walking. Walk or Drive over to Hamacas El Aguacate a family workshop with a large selection of very good hammocks of various qualities and colors. The prices are posted and they are fair and correct. There are alot of tricky dealers around in the historic center and recently they talked our guests, Mo and Katinka, into buying a $20 usd hammock for $160 usd with some story about hennequen and vestal virgins or some such. There are hammocks made of hennequen and some made of the plant "lengua de vaca" (sanseviera). If you want one of these go see Louisa Vogel on Sunday's in the Santa Lucia Park (she speaks english, spanish, french) or go to Casa de las Artesanias on calle 63 between 64 and 66. But if you want a cotton or nylon hammock go to Aguacate Calle 58 at 73. you don't need to spend more than 20 to 50 dollars for a hammock unless you know what you are doing. Hammocks come in 4 sizes sencilla (single), doble (double), matrimonial (queen size), matrimonial especial (king size). How to buy a hammock... First of all, never buy a packed hammock without checking it. They are handmade and the craftsmanship can vary in quality. Besides, you want to make sure you are getting what you are paying for. To judge the quality, hold the hammock out by its loops and run your hand over the weave, pushing down slightly. The weave should then close under your hand in a firm fashion. If it's flimsy and your fingers slip between the threads too easily, the work isn't up to standard. The end strings can also be counted to judge the quality; a good size hammock should have at least 200 pairs of end strings. The end hanging-loop should be thick and firm, not thin and be thick and firm, not thin and bendy.

Update: From Yucatan Living

Don’t Be Cheated! Be Aware of the Differences Between Sisal and Cotton. This is a notice we have been asked to bring to our readers on behalf of our friend Silvia TerĂ¡n, of Maya Chuy – Maya Embroidery. We thank Silvia for this valuable information, and her husband, anthropologist Christian Rasmussen, for getting it to us. Silvia writes: Recently, at an international congress here in Merida, a lady from Chile approached our stand of embroidery and handicrafts, and insisted on buying a hammock of sisal/henequen for her grandchild. She had been told that they were the best. It was practically impossible to convince her that hammocks today are not made of sisal, since this fiber is very crude and scratches your body. True enough, some years ago, self-sufficient milpa-farmers would make their hammocks of that fiber, but no longer… and today, never for
commercial sale. All good, accommodating hammocks today are made from different threads of cotton. More
Weather-resistant hammocks are made from artificial threads, such as nylon, but they are not so
comfortable, especially when the weather is hot. In the village of Euan, there is a small production of hammocks made from the fibers of the plant lengua de vaca or sansiviera. This fiber looks like sisal, but is much softer, and you really
have to search for them to find one. I am not sure that I convinced the lady and, at the same time, I was wondering where she had gotten her ideas about sisal hammocks. It was then that I found a wandering salesman in
Merida, promoting the sale of his cotton hammocks as “Real Yucatecan: Made of Sisal”, attempting, in this way, to make money from the history of Yucatan’s green gold: henequen/sisal. To my even greater amazement, in Calle 59, I was approached by a sales-boy offering shirts of henequen. With wondering eyes, I asked, “Shirts made of sisal?!” “Yes!”, he answered and
insisted. “Please show me!”, I replied. He then took me to his shop and what he showed me were shirts made of crude cotton (!), certainly not sisal! However, in the lining of each shirt was a label that read: 100% agave. Made in Mexico.
The sales people said the shirts were made in Tixkokob. So, in the village of Tixkokob, famous for making hammocks – of cotton and nylon – there is a company that knowingly is making fools of buyers by selling cotton advertised as sisal! I wonder if this practice is legal. At the very least, it is certainly not correct or fair to the many tourists who come to Yucatan and want to go home with a real souvenir from Yucatan. So, be aware and let your friends know about buying shirts or hammocks made of sisal, because they do not exist!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

OFF, OFF Damned Beast

There's a local product with neem and citronella that smells nice. There's off and deet and then there is a better solution. I have a lover that mosquitos love. I never get to far from him when the sun goes down and the beast start to swarm. Even if we have a knock down drag out cat fight I wait till he falls asleep in then I crawl into bed. If he's been really mean then I'll pull off the covers. The mosquitoes much prefer him to me.

It helps not to sweat or emit carbon dioxide as that's the first thing they zoom in on. It also helps if you don't were a Pucci or Versace swimsuit as they have good eyesight. Try camouflage in the jungle and dress in the same color as the bedsheets at night. If you find that this does not work and you still attract more mosquitoes than your friends and lover(s) then try this trick. When they are not looking spray thier bodies or clothing with lactic acid. Mosquitoes loves them some lactic acid.

check it out

It's the Mildew Mildred

Hurricanes are one thing. They come, they go. They hit you they miss you. But the mold is something that no one tells you about. It's sort of like nose and ear hair. Even if you're parents sit you down and tell you about the 'birds and bees' chances are pretty slim that they are going to tell you about the unwanted hair that arrives like 20 years after puberty.

Well let me tell you about the house I went to see that had been closed up all during the 3 or 4 months of the rainy season....some other time.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Stinky Smelly Shopping

For tourists there is much to do in the Yucatan and Merida. For us locals there's not much to do except gossip, bitch and shop. Fortunately one can do all three simultaniously but there are hazards. On Saturday afternoons at the mall where one often finds oneself it often seems as if the entire population under 80 has congregated to smoke, eat junk food and use the facilities. Contractors often like to skimp on the plumbing and electricity and then disappear to Cancun for a couple of years and hide out with their ill gotten spoils. This certainly seems to be the case at the Gran Plaza Mall. I find it especially pungent around the northwest corner upstairs where the Marbol furniture store seems to be floating above a natural gas tank that will surely explode any day now. It's a wonder that the ferrets and canaries at the pet store next door don't faint and die from the noxious fumes.

Over at Yucatan Living they have an article why shouldn't flush paper or dead cats down your home toilets.the poop