By Jane Bauer
“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”
I am grateful to the generation of women that came before me and told me that I could be anything. Yet, for me, this also translated into the idea that I had to do everything. While I wanted a career I also wanted to be the kind of mother who drives the kids to tennis lessons and picks them up from school. The world I was raised in didn’t make it seem very possible to have both, and career was definitely considered better and more respect-worthy than becoming a housewife.
The world today is different. Being able to work remotely and have flexible hours has made it easier than ever for women to have a work/life balance. Reproductive choice – access to birth control and pregnancy termination – has also made it easier for women to choose what their future will look like.
Every International Women’s Day we celebrate the women who are making strides ahead. We raise them up on pedestals as examples of what is possible. We applaud our gender and marvel at how far we have come. Those who have peeked over the glass ceiling give speeches on how they hope to inspire girls to strive to the top of whichever field they choose.
But if the standard we hold for success is that every woman become a doctor, CEO or climate change activist we will always fall short of our goal.
Rather than look at the millions of women who spend their days caring for their family as failed potential, we could elevate our value of the tasks that occupy them. What if we elevated the value we put on what is termed ‘women’s work’?
What if we shifted our expectations of what it means to be a feminist to be more inclusive to those who haven’t had access to academic schooling on gender theory or the chance to get an MBA?
This IWD let us celebrate the women who are doing laundry in rivers, carpooling their kids to hockey, cooking dinner while staying on budget, helping with science class volcanos and mediating tantrums from toddlers.
Because while it is encouraging to be taught you can do anything, being taught that you are enough is true empowerment.
See you next month,
By Dan Thompson
Un Nuevo Amanecer (A New Dawn) is a Huatulco organization that focuses on the detection, prevention, and treatment of disabilities, including educational needs and delayed development needs, in children. This civil association (associación civile, a certified Mexican nonprofit) has been meeting the needs of these children for almost 25 years. It is the only center of its type on the Oaxacan coast; last year, UNA offered over 7,000 individual sessions to about 150 children from Huatulco and surrounding municipalities.
Unfortunately, UNA and its work still remains unknown to the great majority of both locals and foreigners. You can learn more about them on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Un-Nuevo-Amanecer-en-pro-del-discapacitado-AC-185242528169754.
Supporting the Work of Un Nuevo Amanecer
The organization Amigos de Un Nuevo Amanecer was founded to educate residents and visitors about the incredible work done by Un Nuevo Amanecer, and to encourage donations and support for this organization. Their Facebook page is at http://www.facebook.com/groups/219989236981319.
Amigos de Un Nuevo Amanecer started the annual Blues on the Beach concert 10 years ago as a fundraiser for UNA; the event has grown to the point that it provides 60% of UNA’s operating budget. Alas, COVID canceled the 2021 concert, and put a crimp in UNA’s funding, and yet despite this, the center continued therapy sessions, actually treating more children with the assistance of hard-won grants, donations and small-scale raffles. COVID being still with us, there will not be a Blues on the Beach concert of the same scope as past years, but the need for funding remains the same – your donation of $300 pesos (about $15 USD) provides one individual therapy session.
A New Home for A New Dawn
Since its beginning, UNA has operated from the second floor of the founder’s family hardware store. There is an urgent need for a safer and expanded center to enable UNA to better serve existing families, and to assist more families. Now, after many years of effort to build a new home for Un Nuevo Amanecer, it is finally becoming a reality. A building lot has been titled, engineering and architectural plans are being developed, and groundbreaking is scheduled for early June.
The project is split into three phases, each of which will cost approximately $1,000,000 pesos. UNA has secured enough commitments to start the project, but funding for the subsequent stages must be raised. UNA needs your support both to fund its ongoing activities and to complete this critical building project.
Donations can be made via Paypal by going to http://www.paypal.me/unnuevoamanecerhux.
If you require a Canadian Tax receipt, you can donate through AMISTAD at http://www.amistadcanada.org/donate/. Instructions for donating from your bank and by check are on the left; the online donation column is on the right. Please make sure to click on Un Nuevo Amanecer as your desired charity.
By Julie Etra
Local Expressions (colloquialisms) and Polite Exchanges
Money: Dinero is broadly used. Lana is synonymous and more common here. Billete refers to the actual bill. Biyuyo is also used here. Moneda is coinage, but slang includes morraya and chincastle.
Bottled water: A big 5-gallon jugs of water is called a garrafón as opposed to a small bottle of water, una botella
Beer: Cerveza is universal, but also known here as a chela. A caguama is the 40 oz version, and a species of sea turtle. A michelada is beer with lime juice, assorted sauces, spices, clamato juice, and chili peppers. It is served in a chilled, salt-rimmed glass. Kind of like a Caesar.
Work: Trabajo is universal but here you will hear chamba (noun), chambear (verb), chambeando (adverb)
Polite expressions for excuse me:
Con permiso: Useful when shopping and you need to get around someone
Discúlpame: forgive me
¡Provecho! Enjoy your meal, said to the adjacent diners upon leaving a restaurant
Boats: Here the smaller fishing boats are lanchas or pangas. Yachts, power or sail, are yates. Big boats are barcos. Sailboats are veleras.
We are even, as in ‘keep the change’ (said when paying a bill): Estamos a mano.
And for fun, here is a pun:
¿Que le dijo un pez al otro pez?
By Deborah Van Hoewyk
Over the years, the March issue of the The Eye has observed International Women’s Day (March 8) with articles on the famous, the fierce, the creative, the entrepreneurial – and the murdered – women of Mexico.
Mexican women have been world-class artists, actors, writers and photographers; they fought in their two national revolutions and have played key roles in the Zapatista movement. They are businesswomen and entrepreneurs; they occasionally give men a run for their money in corruption.
Politically speaking, Mexico has just become a leader in gender equity: by law, half the Congress must be women (The U.S. Senate is 24% women, and the House of Representatives is about 28%; in Canada, the Senate recently reached 50% women, but only briefly, while the House of Commons is 34% women.)
International Women’s Day is a worldwide celebration of what has been achieved in terms of women’s social, economic, cultural, and political equity; IWD works to raise awareness of what remains to be done. It emerged early in the 20th century – from labor struggles in the U.S. and Europe, from suffrage struggles in Russia, and in Mexico, from the Revolution of 1910-20. Although the U.S. labor movement celebrated National Women’s Day in 1909, the first International Women’s Day was observed in Europe in 1911. With the second-wave women’s movement of the 1960s, recognition by the U.N. in 1975, and official U.N. designation of March 8 as the date in 1977, IWD became a mainstream, but largely unofficial, holiday throughout the world.
International Women’s Day in Mexico
In Mexico, IWD was first celebrated in the 1930s in Mexico City. Mexican feminism began to emerge in the late 19th century, aimed mostly at achieving education for women; these efforts bore fruit before, during, and after the Revolution, as schoolteachers started entering the workforce. (The right to divorce came during the Revolution, in 1914.) Feminist magazines began appearing in the decades surrounding the Revolution as well, but they did not focus on broad social, economic, and political rights of full citizenship; rather, they promoted the emancipación of women within traditional social structures – they should broaden their intellectual and cultural horizons, and the importance their roles as wife and mother should be recognized.
With the support of progressive forces, including the Communist Party of Mexico, the Frente Único pro Derechos de la Mujer (The United Front for the Rights of Women – Frida Kahlo was one of the leaders), focused directly on national suffrage (there had been local progress on voting rights in the Yucatán and San Luis Potosí). Although the United Front was very active in the late 1930s, women did not win the national right to vote until 1953.
Until recently, there has been little research on mid-century Mexican feminism, but if we look carefully at a 1960 Mexican poster commemorating International Women’s Day and the 50th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution, we can get a picture of just what the emancipation of women meant Mexico.
First, the poster shows the involvement of women in larger revolutionary struggles. The central figure, bearing a torch, is backed by the Cuban flag and has the number 26 emblazoned on her shirt – “26” was the symbol of Castro’s campaign to overthrow the Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista (the effort began July 26, 1953). On the right of the poster appear Asian women – the Chinese Revolution that brought that Communist Party and Mao Zedong to power concluded on October 1, 1949. To the left appear three Mexican women, who arguably represent, from front to back, women of direct Spanish descent, mestizos (Spanish and indigenous descent), and indigenous. A Mexican girl releases a dove, symbol of peace, to the flock in the sky. Nonetheless, the idea that women have participated in national revolutions is not the same as promoting a major revolution for the rights of women.
Second, and what is perhaps most interesting – and complicated – is the slogan across the bottom of the poster: LA EMANCIPACION DE LA MUJER ES LA OBRA DE LA MUJER MISMA (The emancipation of women is the work of the woman herself). “Emancipation” is a fraught word, saying more about the condition women want to escape – it reeks of restraint and control, if not slavery. And to say it is women themselves who must do the work of emancipation passes the buck on the long history of Church-influenced social structures and laws, much less the culture of machismo (literally, maleness) that have led to the need for emancipation.
International Women’s Day 2020
The Mexican feminist movement grew, as it did all around the world, during the 1960s through the 1980s. In the 1990s, however, the phenomenon of femicide in Mexico surfaced in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, where hundreds of women went missing, only to be found dead. Evaluations of interventions to quell the violence have shown they have had little effect, due to lackluster implementation or the country’s culture of impunity that favors men.
Thirty years later, with femicide and violence against women only growing, the slogans of the International Women’s Day marches of 2020 and 2021 said nothing about “emancipation.” Nor were the marches merely demonstrations, but serious, and violent, protests about femicide and gender-based violence.
On Saturday, February 8, 2020, Érick Francisco murdered his partner Ingrid Escamilla by stabbing her to death with a kitchen knife, then proceeding to skin and dismember her. This is femicide, which is far more prevalent in Mexico than the official statistics allow. For the murder of a woman to be considered a femicide, the woman must have experienced ongoing domestic, particularly sexual, abuse, and she must have been tortured or mutilated as part of the murder.
In 2018, Mexico registered 3,752 femicides, over 10 a day; in 2019, it was 3,825. Femicides surged 7.7% in the opening months of the pandemic. Feminists have called Mexico the “Femicide State” (Mexico Feminicidio) and cite a “culture of impunity” coming straight from the top.
In March 2020, there were over 26,000 calls to domestic violence hotlines. Mexico’s president, Andrés Manual López Obrador (AMLO) said 90% of them were fake. AMLO has also expressed impatience with feminist protests – they were just a distraction to make sure his airplane raffle failed; the March 8 demonstrations were the work of neoliberal opponents from the last regime “who want to see this government fail,” and “suddenly conservatives are dressing up as feminists” to attack him (reporting from The New York Times, May 31, 2020).
On International Women’s Day, Sunday, March 8, 2020, about 80,000 women took to the streets in Mexico City alone. Femicide and gender-based violence were the major themes: “Fight today so we don’t die tomorrow,” was accompanied by hundreds of posters of murdered women.
On Monday, March 9, the movement sponsored “A Day without Women,” a universal strike by women who stayed home from work (4o%, or 21 million, of Mexico’s women are in the formal workforce, countless more comprise the informal workforce) or did not leave their houses, in particular, they spent nothing to contribute to the economy. Major corporations (Walmart employs 108,000 women) gave women a paid day off to demonstrate.
International Women’s Day 2021
The National Palace – the seat of Mexico’s government and the home of the president – prepared for last year’s march with a barricade running all around the building. AMLO said it was to prevent “damage to historic buildings” (another barrier was erected around the national art museum, the Palacio de Bellas Artes), and to eliminate “provocations” that might be “infiltrated” by people seeking to use the women’s movement. AMLO himself, he said, is not a “male chauvinist” (reporting from BBC News, March 8, 2021).
On Monday, March 8, International Women’s Day saw a smaller number of protestors than in 2020, perhaps due to the pandemic, perhaps because there had been no ghastly femicides recently. Women, however, remained equally outraged. They were outraged by the barricade, which on Saturday night they had painted with a seemingly endless list – actually, 939 – of the names of murdered women.
They were also outraged by AMLO’s insensitivity to women’s issues, expressed this year in his steadfast support for Félix Salgado Macedonia, a candidate for governor of the state of Guerrero accused of rape by multiple women. According to AMLO, the accusations are “politically motivated,” and news-conference questions about Salgado brought a sharp “That’s enough!” (¡Ya Chole!). (Salgado’s daughter, Evelyn Salgado Pineda, is now governor of Guerrero.)
Protestors attacked the barricade with hammers, blowtorches, and their hands. Police threw flash-bang grenades and sprayed protestors with fire retardant; protestors sprayed well-shielded police with fire extinguishers. Injuries were reported by 62 police and 19 protestors.
While not all women in these protests agree that violence should be the tactic of choice, they also recognize that it seems to be the only way to focus attention on the issue of violence against themselves. Violence against women is the most basic way to keep women from achieving equality, and Mexico’s police have been “heavily implicated” in the crisis of violence against women. It should not be surprising that the “new” feminists of Mexico are younger women dedicated to supporting each other in the face of violence, using violent protest themselves when they consider it necessary.
By Marcia Chaiken and Jan Chaiken
Inspired by International Women’s Day, which falls on March 8th, which in turn inspires much of the content of the March issue of The Eye, Marcia Chaiken and Jan Chaiken have profiled the women writers of The Eye. We’ll be reprinting those profiles month by month, in alphabetical order, starting with founder and Editor-in-Chief Jane Bauer. As the months go by, we’ll sneak in the men, too!
Jane is the Editor-in-Chief, Art Director, Publisher, Marketing Director, and originator of The Eye magazine. She began the publication in January 2011 as a means of building a bridge between visitors and English-speaking residents in Mexico and the many small businesses available to provide them with goods and services. She realized that some tourists and foreign residents held distorted perspectives based on misinformation about Mexico and its people, the “nationals” with whom they were interacting. Jane brought together a small group of writers who previously had extensive literary experience and a deep interest in Mexico, and encouraged us to research and write articles about diverse topics to address these misconceptions. She also saw The Eye as a vehicle for small businesses to reach out to visitors and foreign residents with the goal of promoting and growing many “mom and pop” business enterprises. Many local businesses were receptive to this concept and provided support; for example Johnny Gonzales, of Lorama Grafi, did the layouts for the first six issues of the magazine, and he trained Jane to take over the activity.
Jane’s establishment of The Eye might possibly have been predicted from her early years. She was born and raised in Montreal, attending French-speaking schools, including a high school semester in Brittany, France, and went on to earn a BA at McGill University in Cultural Studies with a minor in Women’s Studies. Before graduation, she traveled to Mexico and once she saw Mazunte in Oaxaca she vowed to return, and she did. She worked at small family-run inn in Puerto Ángel and it was there she met her husband. Once their baby daughter Frances was born, Jane became a stay-at-home mom until, in 2005, Frances was ready for first grade. Jane moved to Huatulco where there was a better offering of schools for her daughter and began teaching yoga.
In 2008, she started Café Juanita, which recently moved to Tangolunda. Beginning in 2009, Jane and her boyfriend opened Hemingway’s Cantina, and many of us fondly remember the events she organized there, such as Oscar Night, until 2013. In addition to yoga and Café Juanita, Jane coordinated weddings starting in 2010, established the Huatulco Salt Company in 2016, and started giving cooking lessons. Later she designed and built the Chiles&Chocolate Cooking School in Zimatán, a rural village 25 minutes outside Huatulco, where she also hosts weekly farm-to-table dinners. In the hours when she is not teaching, managing her numerous projects and bringing out the latest issue of The Eye, Jane is a voracious reader, totaling 53 books last year, mostly fiction.
In her role as Editor-in-Chief, Jane publishes an editorial each month. Although she is hard-pressed to select a favorite, she really likes her editorial from the September/October 2013 issue on “What I Learned in Mexico.” Jane is justifiably proud of the way the English-speaking community continues to clamor for hard copies of The Eye and equally proud of the ability of the online Eye to keep people living in other countries interested in Mexico and wanting to return. As Jane hoped, The Eye has become a bridge among foreign visitors and residents and many small businesses. Businesses that advertise in or are written about in The Eye report significant increases in patronage.
For more about Jane: Instagram @livingfoodmexico
By Christina Meyer-Perez
(GUITAR QUARTET “LIDIUM”)
Ten years after its formation, the guitar quartet ¨LIDIUM ¨ is a solid ensemble committed to traditional and concert music. For this quartet, the guitar is more than an instrument of expression; it is, above all, a vital means of communication in our present.
The quartet was created with the intention of promoting art and culture through traditional Oaxacan and concert music by offering a new concept of musical style and character based on the timbre and sonority of four guitars. This idea is conceived by young Oaxacan guitarists, graduates of the School of Fine Arts of the Autonomous University “Benito Juarez” of Oaxaca (UABJO).
The quartet realized with the secretary of arts and cultures of the government of Oaxaca across the program (PACMYC) the recording of his first disc titled ” GUELAGUETZA IN GUITAR PART 1 ” for which it has offered numerous recitals and concerts in different forums, educational spaces and cultural enclosures, also in some regions of the state of Oaxaca; (the Coast, Isthmus, Mixtec, Central Valleys) with the purpose of promoting the essence, importance and transcendence of each piece and musical works that identify them as Oaxacans.
Within these wonderful musical works are integrated into the program of the concert; The Tonaltecas, Flor de piña, sones , syrups mixes, sones de poclutla and the Sones Jarabes zapotecos de Betaza, very outstanding works with own arrangements of the guitarist assembly.
Juan Carlos Bautista Vásquez.
Emmanuel Alejandro Camacho Zárate
Isaías Cruz Bautista
Juan Antonio López Osorio
By Julie Etra
In this part of southern Mexico, paper money – all issued by the central Banco de México – is colloquially known as lana, billete(s) or biyuyo. Change in coins is called moneda throughout Mexico, and locally you might hear chincastle and morraya.
I had often wondered about the historical figures portrayed on Mexican paper currency and their significance, as well as the landscapes and images on the opposite side of various denominations. Typically, one side commemorates an aspect of Mexican culture and prominent historical figures, with landscapes and flora and fauna featured on the reverse side. Mexican paper money is indeed artistic, colorful, beautiful, and instructive, so I’ve written about this in The Eye before (March 2019). But it’s been changed again, so here’s an update!
The $1,000 Peso Bill
This past November (2021) a new 1,000-peso bill was issued, although it is not widely circulated. Unlike its predecessors, it is printed on a plastic polymer. Honoring the Mexican Revolution on one side in multi -hues of teal and yellow are portraits of Francisco I. Madero, Carmen Serdán and Hermila Galindo in the foreground, while a steam locomotive, the modern transportation of the day, provides the background.
Madero was Mexico’s 37th president (1911-13) and a prominent leader in the history of the Mexican Revolution (1910-20). He pushed for the ouster of Porfirio Díaz, the self-declared President for Life who had ruled off and on from 1876 to 1911. Although well-educated and from a wealthy family, Madero advocated for the social reforms that fomented the Revolution. He was assassinated during a right-wing military coup.
María del Carmen Serdán Alatriste took on organizing the logistics of Madero’s anti-reelection movement in the state of Puebla. She maintained and protected the family household in the city of Puebla, where the first armed battle of the revolution took place. Carmen and her sister had smuggled guns in their clothing into their house to support the anti-reelection battle, set for November 20; supporters of Porfirio Díaz discovered the conspiracy on November 18 and attacked the house. You can visit the ensuing bullet holes in what is now Museo Regional de la Revolución Mexicana, Casa de los Hermanos Serdán. at 6 Oriente 6 in the historical center of Puebla.
Hermila Galindo Acosta was a well-educated and outspoken feminist and advocate for women’s rights. She was a supporter of Venustiano Carranza and became his personal Secretary, among other titles and responsibilities. Carranza, after a complicated series of power plays and internal dissent, became President for three years after the assassination of Madero. He supported Galina and helped her efforts, including the 1915-16 publication of the review La Mujer Moderna (The Modern Woman).
The reverse side features the tropical wetland ecosystem of the Calakmul Reserve in the State of Campeche, Mayan ruins, and the endemic jaguar.
The $20 Peso Bill
The new pink and green 20-peso bill (which was supposed to be replaced by coins) was released on September 24, 2021, and on the horizontal side depicts the “Solemn and peaceful entry of the Army of the Three Guarantees to Mexico City on September 27 of the memorable year of 1821 and Consummation of the Independence of Mexico’ (the original artist is unknown). Also called the Ejérciito Trigarante, this newly formed unified (albeit briefly) army comprised Spanish troops led by Agustín de Iturbide and Mexican insurgent troops led by Vicente Guerrero. (Guerrero later became Mexico’s second president – for less than a year; he was betrayed and brought to Bahía de Entrega, one of the beautiful bays of Huatulco, then transported to Oaxaca City where he was executed.)
The opposite, vertical side celebrates Mexican coastal mangrove ecosystems, the Mexican crocodile, and the roseate spoonbill, portrayed at the Sian Ka’an Biosphere wetland preserve in the Yucatán state of Quintana Roo (mangroves, crocodiles and roseate spoonbills also inhabit the Pacific coast).
The $50 Peso Bill
Issued on October 28. 2021, the beautiful new 50-peso bill was printed on a polymer instead of paper and is predominantly mauve-purple in color. It is very complex, in part to eliminate counterfeiting. The images are vertically oriented on both sides of the bill; security features include areas on the bill that feel different to the touch, and areas that change color when you tilt the bill.
The bill was designed to honor both Mexico’s pre-Hispanic history and its diverse natural history.
On the mainly historical side, the primary motif in the foreground shows an eagle perched on a prickly-pear cactus holding the atl-tlachinolli (the Aztec symbol for “water-fire,” representing war as sacred; this motif is a bas-relief carving on the back of the monolith called El Teocalli de la Guerra Sagrada (the Temple – teocalli is Nahuatl for “temple” – of the Sacred War). The monolith was discovered in 1831 in the foundations of what is now the National Palace of Mexico in Mexico City, which was originally built with the remains of preceding Aztec architecture. The temple/throne has been moved to the National Museum of Anthropology in Chapultepec Park.
The monolith is a scale model of an Aztec temple, and could have been created as early as 1200; however, it is also thought to have been commissioned as a throne by Moctezuma II, the Aztec ruler defeated in the conquest, which would put its origins in the early 1500s. Archeologist Alfonso Corso, in a journal article from 1927, gave the piece its name, and hypothesized that the depiction of the eagle “justified human sacrifice and warranted warfare” as a way to collect prisoners for sacrifice.
In the background of the eagle depiction, a representation of the city of Tenochtitlán appears. The eagle depiction bears a striking resemblance to the national coat of arms that appears on the Mexican flag, except the “water-fire-war” object has been replaced by a snake. While no one quite knows why, some historians suggest that Spanish efforts to remove indigenous symbols led to the eagle capturing the snake. the city of Tenochtitlán appears; it is based on a portion of the 1945 mural by Diego Rivera, The Great City of Tenochtitlán, in the National Palace. The top of the bill shows the symbol for ollin (Nahuatl for “movement” – this ollin may represent the four movements of the annual course of the sun); there is a small “50” atop the symbol, as well as in each corner of the bill.
Although the Rivera mural shows some natural heritage – Mexico’s famous twin volcanoes, Popocatépetl and Iztaccihuatl, the central image on the reverse of the bill is the Mexican axolotl, an endemic salamander endangered due to loss of habitat, urban encroachment, pollution, and predation. The remaining axolotls are now confined to Lago Xochimilco, the remnant “lake” of the former basin of México and the name given to the southern Mexico City neighborhood where Aztec canals connected the neighborhoods of Tenochtitlán and provided access to chinampas, artificial agricultural plots for growing produce and flowers.
Not to be confused with other salamander species in this genus, often dubbed “axolotls” as well, the scientific name of this particular axolotl is Ambystoma mexicanum. Named after the Aztec god of fire and lightning, Xolotl, the axolotl, aka ajolote in Spanish, has been important in Mexican culture for centuries. It was important in the diet of pre-Hispanic residents of the city of Tenochtitlan and especially the Xochimiltecos (No thanks! But they still turn up in real tamales, check the February 2022 issue of The Eye).
Although native to the system of lakes that comprised the basin, axolotls were particularly prevalent in the Chalco-Xochimilco sub-basin, because it was less brackish than the other three basins. This huge, up-to-a-foot-long salamander is unusual in that its final metamorphic stage is not completed, and its gills remain outside its body. It is sexually mature in the larval stage. Even more unusual is its ability to regenerate limbs, hearts, spinal cords, and even part of their brains, so this odd-looking animal holds huge medical and scientific significance.
On the 50-peso bill, the ajolote is surrounded by chinampas, where corn – perhaps Mexico’s most resonant cultural symbol – is shown being cultivated. The trees shown growing on the edges of the chinampas are ahuejote trees (Salix bonplandiana), an erect willow resembling a poplar. (Ahuejote comes from the Nahuatl words atl, or “water” and huexotl, or “willow.”)
The $100 Peso Bill
A new 100-peso bill was issued on November 12, 2020. The bill is slightly larger than the new 20-peso bill. What a concept! Different sizes for different denominations. The images are vertically oriented on both sides, with hues dominated by pink and turquoise. Doña Inés de Asbaje y Ramírez de Santillana, better known as Sor Juana, a scholar, philosopher, and poet, is represented on one side. Born in 1648 on what is now the outskirts of Mexico City, she was raised by her wealthy criolla (Spanish, but born in Mexico) mother. Her intelligence and insatiable curiosity were recognized at a very young age, and she self-educated herself in the family library. Even girls of her economic stature and recognized capabilities were denied any formal education, typical for the era. Sor translates as “nun”, which she became in order to escape the confines and expectations of marriage, and to continue her studies and writings. She was considered a “proto feminist,” arguing for women’s education, and she risked being censured by the church for her outspokenness. For a more thorough description of this incredibly progressive woman, please see The Eye, “The Tenth Muse,” September 2013.
The temperate forests of the states of México and Michoacán de Ocampo, home to the Monarch Butterfly reserve, are featured on the other side. The butterfly is shown feeding on the nectar of a milkweed plant (Asclepias sp.), a symbiotic relationship essential for both the pollination of the plant and the reproduction of the Monarch. Loss of habitat and associated milkweed plants is the dominant reason for decline of this butterfly. In the background are oak-pine woodlands.
The $200 Peso Bill
In 2019 the Bank of Mexico issued the new 200-peso bill depicting Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, the parish priest known as the Father of the Homeland, and José María Morelos y Pavón, known as “Servant of the Nation,” in commemoration of Mexico’s Independence. Pavón was also a Catholic priest and a revolutionary leader in the war of independence, who assumed leadership after Miguel Hidalgo y Castilla was executed.
To their left is La Campana de Dolores (the Bell of Dolores). The bell was rung at dawn on September 16, 1810, in the town of Dolores, Guanajuato, Mexico (known as the “Cradle of National Independence”), calling the population to rebel against the authorities of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. The grito (shout) made by the parish priest, along with Ignacio Allende, a captain in the Spanish army who sympathized with independence, is known as the Grito de Dolores. Every year on September 15, the Mexican president rings the bell, which has been relocated to the central balcony of the National Palace in Mexico City, to commemorate the grito.
On the upper right side, the denomination 200 is multi-colored as it changes between blue and green depending on inclination and lighting. The bill is also friendly to the blind, containing tactile, three-dimensional lines. The opposite side of the bill celebrates desert ecosystems, represented by a golden eagle soaring over the El Pinacate Biosphere Reserve in the state of Sonora.
The $500 Peso Bill
In August 2018, a new blue 500-peso billete was issued, supposedly to fight counterfeit bills (one often sees checkout clerks inspecting 500-peso notes). Both front and back images are horizontally oriented. One side portrays Benito Juárez, the 26th president of Mexico, accompanied by an image of his triumphal arrival at Mexico City on July 15, 1867, symbolizing the victory of the Reformation, the separation of Church and State and the basic principle of equality before the law. Benito Juárez came from Oaxaca, and is Mexico’s only completely indigenous president (Vicente Guerrero’s father was of mixed Afro-Mexican and indigenous descent).
The opposite side of the bill features a ballena gris (gray whale) and her calf, representing the coasts, seas, and islands of Mexico’s varied marine worlds, and specifically the El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve in Baja California Sur, a World Heritage Site.
By Carole Reedy
“Some things work far better in imagination than in reality.”
Lauren Willig, author of historical fiction
The word “intrepid” is often used to describe explorers and travelers, but anyone who breaks out and moves beyond the norm to discover the mystery of humanity also deserves this classification. The women in this article do just that. They have committed to dedicating their lives to the written word and our amorphous world.
These books are big and bold and unsettling. When I finished reading the masterpieces written by the women below, I sat and stared into space for a moment, absorbing the beauty and fierceness of their creative abilities, of how they weave a narrative with flair and conviction about who we are and who we may become.
I first saw an interview with this Nobel Prize winner in 2020 at the prestigious Hay Festival (streamed rather than live due to the pandemic). I had read several of her novels, including the philosophic Flights (2007), and thus was expecting a staid, serious woman. Instead I saw, seated with her translator Jennifer Croft, a woman who looked 40 rather than her actual 60, bouncing in her chair, animated, often smiling and joking, and with a funky hairstyle.
Here’s a woman who writes historically about life, literature, and philosophy, books like Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead (2009) and Flights. Her novels, written in a distinct narrative style, tackle the most onerous of philosophical subjects with determination and hope.
From the Booker Prize-winning Flights, a taste of this philosophy:
Standing there on the embankment, staring into the current, I realized that—in spite of all the risks involved—a thing in motion will always be better than a thing at rest; that change will always be a nobler thing than permanence; that that which is static will degenerate and decay, turn to ash, while that which is in motion is able to last for all eternity.
Fresh off the press is her thousand-page The Books of Jacob (first published in 2014 in her native Polish, in English in 2021). It begins in 1752 in what is now western Ukraine and ends in the middle of the 20th century in eastern Poland, where a family of Jews is hiding during the Holocaust. The story is that of historical figure Jacob Frank, leader of an heretical Jewish sect and whose unusual practices were controversial.
The translation of Tokarczuk’s text to English is a daunting task. Consider that in Slavic the word order varies significantly, and is more complicated than English. Tokarczuk’s translator, Jennifer Croft, won the 2018 Man Booker International Prize for her translation of Flights. Croft says that “The words of the text are the embodiment of its past, and its sentences, on the other hand, lead the way to the future.”
In its review of this much-awaited novel, the Wall Street Journal recognized the diversity and command of Tokarczuk’s writing: “Ms. Tokarczuk is as comfortable rendering the world of Jewish peasantry as that of the Polish royal court.”
After turning the final page of Yanagihara’s newest, 600-page-plus novel, On Paradise (2022), I felt as I did 40 years ago as I closed the cover of the final installation of Marcel Proust’s million-word tour de force Remembrance of Things Past (7 volumes, 1913-27), wondering “What could I possibly read now that I have read the final, definitive word on humanity?” This too is Hanya Yanagihara.
Her unusual structure, deeply creative approach to history and society, and the emotional prices paid by her finely wrought characters contribute to this literary success.
The novel takes place over three centuries (1893, 1993, and 2093) in a North America unrecognizable to us. We’re surprised and fascinated by the enormous shifts in society’s norms, the principal players developing in the most unexpected situations as we follow the families and individuals across the centuries.
Perhaps most important, though, is Yanagihara’s descriptive flowing style, which allows the reader to traverse a seamless constellation of emotions.
Multitudes have thrilled to the travails of Thomas Lynley and Barbara Havers over the past 20 years. George’s sharply drawn characters and her ability to create an atmosphere of order and resolution among the chaos of murder cases in London’s criminal justice system is why we yearn for more. Her skill in depicting the shifting mores of the various populations that make up Great Britain keeps faithful readers awaiting each new book in the series.
George’s latest novel, Something To Hide, just published in January 2022, involves investigation into a shocking and extremely sensitive issue: FGM, or female genital mutilation. The contrast of the painfully serious practice of FGM and the effect on some women in predominantly Nigerian and Somalian communities of London is a fresh approach for George, although she’s always been a keen analyzer of Britain’s class system.
Fans of Lynley and Havers will be reassured to know they skillfully navigate the horrors of this disfiguring practice and those whose lives are forever destroyed by it.
Although George is an American, she has been lauded for her insight and accuracy in setting her novels in the British Isles.
We who live in Mexico have great respect and affection for fellow Mexican-American Jennifer Clement, president of PEN Mexico from 2009 to 2012, followed in 2015 by a term as the first woman president of PEN International. During her tenure she brought attention to the safety of journalists in Mexico and spearheaded a change in the law, making the killing of a journalist a federal crime.
Clement, along with her sister Barbara Sibley, is founder of Poetry Week in San Miguel de Allende.
Prayers for the Stolen (2014) was praised by prestigious publications and readers on both sides of the border. Recently, it was made into a film, Noche de Fuego, which has been nominated for best foreign language film for this year’s Academy Awards.
The movie itself depicts only the first third of the book, which takes place in a mountain village in the state of Guerrero where narcos dominate the lives of the inhabitants. The book goes on to examine life in Acapulco, ending up in Mexico City.
Don’t look for happy endings in Clement’s books, but rather the reality that surrounds the disenfranchised. One of my favorite books of hers is Widow Basquiat: A Memoir (2000), a portrayal of Clement’s friend Suzanne Mallouk, MD, the painter and psychoanalyst who was muse and lover of Jean-Michel Basquiat, the brilliant artist who died at 27 from a heroin overdose. Basquiat was part of the graffiti movement in New York and well known by his alter ego, SAMO. Today his paintings sell for millions of dollars.
She is a dynamo. There’s simply no other way to describe her. Although only recently in the limelight for her Booker-prize-winning Girl, Woman, Other in 2019, Evaristo has been on the scene for years, fighting sexism and racism going back 40 years to when she and her drama school friends heckled London theater performances.
Evaristo is the first Black woman to win the Booker Prize, and her Girl, Woman, Other was named by Barack Obama as one of his favorite books of the year. Of note: when the novel was nominated for the Booker prize, it had not yet found a US publisher. The book itself is a remarkable tour de force, following the lives of 11 Black British women, as well as a non-binary woman, centering around a theatrical production and the playwright who reflects on her relationships with these women.
Evaristo’s latest book Manifesto, published in February 2022, is a memoir about her years of struggle to be recognized in the sacred halls of literature. Her story is one we can all applaud.
By Randy Jackson
Like so many regular winter visitors to Huatulco, I’ve strolled countless times along the sidewalks and the tree-lined pedestrian walkway of Boulevard Chahue. Shopping and errands so often have my sandaled feet swishing me along while taxis toot, traffic zips, and grackles whistle and “eak.” Sometimes though, a shadow crosses this lighthearted perambulation when I pass the IMSS hospital (Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social). At such times I am reminded of the phrase, “whistling past the graveyard.”
No doubt this phrase can be interpreted in different ways. For me the meaning is a humorous depiction of a particular human condition – that of nervously ignoring the inevitable. The thing I have been nervously ignoring for too long is the inevitable need of having to use medical services here. But finally, I have resisted the gravitational pull of procrastination, and set out to obtain the information I would need to access medical services in Huatulco.
More specifically, I am interested in private medical services in Huatulco. Mexico has public health services, like the IMSS social insurance system and its hospitals, but for foreigners (like me), it is the private medical services you would need to access. I am happy to share the results of my investigation, which, to be clear, is not a comprehensive review of the private medical services in Huatulco, but rather one person’s findings when seeking to answer three questions:
(1) What are some of the private medical facilities available?
(2) How does one access private medical services?
(3) What do you do in a medical emergency?
Private Medical Facilities and Services – Clinics:
There are numerous private medical clinics in Huatulco. At the most basic level, some pharmacies have a doctor available for consultation. A consultation by a physician at one of these pharmacies costs 50 pesos. There are other charges if needed, like to have your blood pressure taken (20 pesos), or to have your ears cleaned (55 pesos). As inexpensive as these consultations are, I think it is safe to say they do not represent the best of what Mexican medical schools can produce. There is a high turnover of doctors at these locations, and I understand that part of their remuneration is a commission on prescriptions, which typically includes vitamins. Do not expect that English will be spoken at these facilities.
Another private clinic I noticed in my investigation was Medico en Casa. These are clinics where you call a central number (call center), or use their website (contact details below) and set up an appointment to meet a doctor at one of the clinic locations, or have the doctor come to your home (as any doctor at any clinic will). These clinics are part of the Hospital San Miguel enterprise, discussed below.
There are numerous stand-alone private medical clinics around Huatulco. As private medicine is a competitive business, however, clinics come and go. One example is the very modern looking Clínica Médica Integral (across from Casa Pepe), which has closed, after having only been open for business for six months.
I interviewed doctors at two private clinics that have been in Huatulco for some years, Dr. Ricardo Antonio Carrillo at Medico Quirúrgica Huatulco, and Dr. Angel Juárez at Clínica del Ángel (contact details below). One question I posed to each of them: if they would recommend tourists/snowbirds establish themselves as clients with their clinics for easier future access. In both cases the response was, “No es necesario.” Keep in mind the vast majority of foreigners will have, and want to have, primary medical care in their home countries. So most doctor visits here are for more urgent medical needs, rather than longer term health management.
Private Medical Facilities and Services – Hospitals:
In Huatulco, all private hospitals are also clinics, and some private clinics are also hospitals. By this I mean, at the two private hospitals I investigated, they are also set up for general clinical consultation. They advertise this, and have access to a full range of specialists that can be seen there. In the case of Dr. Carrillo at Medico Quirúrgica, he has an operating room and a two-room hospital with 24/7 care when required.
There are two more traditional hospitals, which from my perspective are fully equipped medical facilities, open 24/7, with a doctor on the premises and the ability to handle medical emergencies or medical procedures at any time. These are Centro Médico Oromed Huatulco and Clínica Hospitalaria San Miguel (contact details below). It should be noted that although there is emergency care at both of these hospitals, as of this date, there is no intensive care unit (ICU) at any facility in Huatulco (private or public). However this will apparently be addressed. Oromed will have their ICU completed in 2022, and San Miguel is planning to build one.
Huatulco is well served by a wide range of medical specialists operating privately. Of note; although many specialists have full time practices here, others visit Huatulco to see patients on a regular basis. Although no referral is necessary, an appointment with a specialist is most easily set up through a clinic or hospital. To get a sense of the breadth of the specializations available in Huatulco, here is a partial list of the specialists I have seen listed at Clínica del Ángel and Oromed:
Physiotherapy, radiology, plastic surgery, pediatrics, neurology, gastroenterology, cardiology, urology, orthopedic surgery, gynecology
How to Access Private Medical Services
Excluding the walk-in pharmacy consultations, you need to phone first for an appointment to access a private medical clinic. Normally you can make an appointment for the same day, or the doctor will come to your home for a higher fee. At the two private hospitals, you can just show up and wait to see a doctor.
There are, of course, a number of other clinics throughout La Crucecita and Santa Cruz. There are online directories of medical facilities in Huatulco, although they are not necessarily complete or up to date; in general, these sites will let you click through to the web page of the facilities they list.
Here is the contact information for the clinics and hospitals I visited.
Dr. Ricardo Carrillo, Medico Quirúrgica Huatulco: This is a clinic with an operating room and hospital rooms available as needed.
Phone: 958-587-6055 (Ph/Whatsapp); receptionist: 958-587-0600
Location: Sabali 403, La Crucecita
Language: English and Spanish
Fees: Consultation fee: $100 USD at clinic, $150 USD home visit, $250 USD home night visit. Credit cards accepted.
Dr. Angel Juárez, Clínica del Ángel: This clinic has a number of doctors and consultations are available with numerous specialists.
Phone: 958-587-1630 (landline); emergencies: 229-109-8375 (Ph/Whatsapp); receptionist: 958-109-6721
Location: on Blvd Chahue across from Cruz Roja).
Website: http://www.medicadelangel.com (The website lists all medical specialties.)
Language: Dr. Juárez speaks English; doctors or specialists with the clinic may or may not speak English.
Fees: A standard consultation fee is 500 pesos at the clinic, 1,000 pesos for a home visit. Credit cards accepted.
Medico en Casa: This is a call center for medical referrals operated by the San Miguel clinic. Once you have made contact, you ask to see a doctor at one of the clinic locations (Santa Cruz, San Miguel Hospital [Sector I], , or Sectors U2 or H3), or have the doctor come to your home.
Phone: 958-117-4029, 958-186-4825
Facebook Page: medicoencasaintegral
Language: The call center has English speakers available, although you will probably have to wait on hold for English service (my experience).
Fees: A standard consultation fee is 400 pesos, although it will vary depending on location. Credit cards accepted.
Centro Médico Oromed Huatulco: A full-service clinic and hospital with emergency service and a doctor and nurse on staff 24/7. X-Ray, Laboratory, Pharmacy, Operating Room, full list of consulting specialists. All doctors and a paramedic I interviewed recommended Oromed as their preferred private hospital for Huatulco because it has the highest standards of professional medical services.
Phone: 958-121-4104 (Ph/Whatsapp)
Location: Behind Marina Park Plaza in Chahue near the Municipal building
Languages: Some English is spoken, depending on the person you are dealing with.
Fees: A standard clinical consultation is 500 pesos. There are fees for all additional services. Credit cards are accepted.
Clínica Hospitalaria San Miguel: A full-service clinic and hospital with emergency service and a doctor and nurse on staff 24/7. X-Ray, Laboratory, Pharmacy, Operating Room, full list of consulting specialists.
Phone: 958-112-1473 (Ph/Whatsapp)
Location: Blvd Chahue, turn at Goodyear Tire, go two blocks
Languages: Some English is spoken, depending on the person you are dealing with.
Fees: A standard clinical consultation is 500 Pesos. There are fees for all additional services. Credit cards are accepted.
What to Do in a Medical Emergency
Huatulco has a 911 emergency call service. There is a call center for the coastal area of Oaxaca, including Huatulco. Do not expect that any English will be spoken by the call center operator. In my interviews with doctors, I was told that a 911 response is slow (although ‘slow’ was not quantified).
As a result, I personally would prioritize my response in this order:
FIRST: If at all possible, drive the patient or get a cab to Centro Médico Oromed Huatulco.
SECOND: Call a physician for an emergency home visit. The physician will assess the situation and arrange an ambulance if required.
THIRD: Call 911, when the ambulance arrives tell the paramedic to go to Oromed Hospital.
Note: Cruz Roja is a private, or at least it is not part of the public, medical service in Huatulco (and in Mexico overall). They can be accessed by phoning 911 or directly at 958-587-1188. Do not expect any English will be spoken. Cruz Roja responds to about 25 – 30 calls a month in Huatulco. They have 4 ambulances, a private, fee-for-services clinic, and a doctor on call. Cruz Roja is staffed 24/7 by volunteer, fully qualified paramedics. There is no cost for ambulance emergency response with a paramedic. You will be taken to the hospital of your choice.
Other Notes on Private Medical Services in Huatulco
Travel Insurance: As of March 2022, there doesn’t seem to be any private medical service in Huatulco that would be paid directly by foreign travel insurance companies. In my case, with travel medical insurance purchased in Canada, I could be reimbursed for my out-of-pocket medical costs IF I had first phoned the 1-800 number to clear the expense with the insurance company. I would then have to submit a receipt to the insurance company for reimbursement.
Medical Evacuation Insurance: Available for Huatulco through commercial providers. You would need to make these arrangements in advance of any emergency; policies are complicated, some do not offer much, and there can be age restrictions. Research required.
Air Ambulance Service: Available in Huatulco. It is arranged by a doctor. Both Dr. Carrillo and Dr. Juárez have arranged air ambulance transfers. The cost for an air ambulance to Mexico City – where there are world class private hospitals – is currently about $10,000 USD. It is my understanding that the cost for an air ambulance, i.e., medical evacuation, to the USA or Canada would be substantially higher, in the $50-60,000 USD range. The ambulance transfer cost to the Huatulco airport is currently 5,000 pesos. There will also be a cost for the doctor to arrange the transfer.
Thinking Ahead: Before visiting a doctor, I would recommend that you write down the Spanish words for the symptoms experienced. Also (you might want to practice this), using Google translate on your phone, you can touch the microphone symbol and speak in English – this will be translated to Spanish text.
In summary, I have found that Huatulco has private medical services for substantially all medical needs. Also, there is no shortage of capacity, so the services can be accessed with little or no waiting (remember to always call first). We have all heard stories from the United States of outrageous hospital charges, but that is not the case in Huatulco or in Mexico overall. Costs for virtually any private medical service are most likely easily affordable for most foreigners visiting Huatulco.