Influencers in Uxmal

Every day I ask myself what I can do to lessen the rigors of “voluntary isolation.” I am still extremely careful but not as much so as I was at the start of the pandemic. However, I can see that taking a few liberties will land me on a slippery slope.

The scientists and governments all over the world tell us – Wear a mask, wear a mask – Please wear a mask. I do, and so do most other people. Yes, masks look dorky and in Yucatan’s hot, humid climate, they are not at all comfortable. But if masks are going to keep us safe, we need to wear them.

Then, over the weekend, I found out that a group of super-hot “influencers” were in Uxmal, running all over the site, mask-less, shirt-less, and clue-less. For their shenanigans and disrespect while visiting Uxmal, and their refusal to adhere to the established health code, INAH-Yucatán (National Institute of Anthropology and History in Yucatan) gave these influencers the heave-ho.

According to Michelle Fridman, the State of Yucatan’s tourism marketing maven, these paragons of social media have a combined following of more the 15,000,000. She says they are not receiving any “money” for their efforts on our behalf, but I wonder about the air tickets, hotel rooms, food, and other perks. Somehow I don’t think they are covering their own “incidentals”.

What is going on here?

In Yucatan, the authentic Maya are not shown as the spokespeople for the “promotion” of the ancient cities, built by their ancestors. No, for those purposes, we have the influencers.

How the tourism marketing and targeting strategies are contrived, differs very little from the tactics of ancient Roman rulers´ to control their citizen’s mindset. Flash & fluff, smoke & mirrors, bread & circus. There’s not much new. But the pursuit of tourism income should not sacrifice decorum or health protocols. Neither Yucatan’s tourism work force nor its other residents should be forced to accept crass behavior and disrespect as the price we pay for the influencers’ stamp-of-approval. Or anyone else’s either.

Those of us who live in Yucatan need to remember that this parched peninsula is one of the most highly respected and culturally revered areas in the whole world. There is no need to cheapen ourselves or our heritage by trying to present our archaeological sites as sexy and oh-so-cool. Give me a break! Visitors should feel honored to be here, and behave accordingly.

I support the INAH’s decision to oust the influencers from Uxmal.

The 1,001 Arabian Nights Melange

My husband enjoys watching cooking shows on TV, and also likes the short recipe videos on Facebook. The problem is that once the content has appeared, it is nearly impossible to find it again. If Jorge doesn’t have paper and a pencil handy, he relies on his memory if he wants to tell me about the dish and how to make it.

We both like to try new cuisines, so when he told me he’d watched the preparation of a Saudi Arabian recipe, I was game to try it. The list of ingredients sounded like KETO adherent’s worst nightmare. The preparation of this off-the-charts carb-fest became an even bigger challenge because Jorge could not tell me what quantity of each ingredient wold be required. Nonetheless, I was intrigued, and we winged it when it came to measurements. The result was starchier than we’re used to, but tasty.
And so with no additional fanfare (or apologies), I give you:

The 1,001 Arabian Nights Melange

(Serves 6-8)

• Ingredients:

3 cups cooked spaghetti
1 cup cooked lentils
1 cup steamed white rice
1 cup cooked garbanzos
5 medium-sized white onions (cut in rounds and fried in olive oil until golden brown)
8 angel-hair pasta “nests” (fried uncooked in olive oil until golden brown)
Olive oil (as needed for frying)
6 cups of tomato sauce (seasoned with I T. cumin, Salt and Pepper, to taste)
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
20 whole Kalamata olives
½ cup toasted pine nuts
1 ½ cups plain yoghurt

• Preparation:

You need to have first 7 ingredients kept warm, and all ingredients should be placed in separate containers (mise en place) ready to be combined quickly and served at once.

Spread the spaghetti over the bottom of a large bowl. Sprinkle the lentils over top, then add the layer of rice, then the garbanzos and the onions
Using a large spoon, add dollops of the tomato sauce over the onions until one half of the sauce has been used.
Place the angel hair nests on top of the onions. Dollop on half of the remaining tomato sauce over the nests.
Sprinkle the olives, pine nuts and cilantro over the top. and then dollop the rest of the tomato sauce and all of the yoghurt on the very top.

* To Serve

Take the bowl to the table and lightly toss all the ingredients together. Each guest will then serve him or herself from the bowl. This dish is interesting because each bite is a different mixture of texture and taste

Serve with a cucumber and mint salad (slice cucumbers and squeeze the juice of one lemon over them – sprinkle with mint leaves – salt and pepper to taste)

Pair the meal with a chilled crisp white wine

Is the thrill is gone… or does it live on?

For quite a few years, I enjoyed seeing what would be delivered to me each day, courtesy of FACEBOOK. I got to read updates from long lost friends. I saw photographs of their grandchildren, home re-dos, celebrations and holiday trips. I loved the clever posts (like the one featured above) I truly appreciate the option of chatting online by text, audio or video… whenever I want to.

Now though, it seems when I first open FACEBOOK I receive just a few posts from family and friends who I’m glad to hear from. But it doesn’t take much time for the disruptive pop-up ads to start flashing in my face. And not long after that, control of what I see on my screen seems to get wrenched from my grip. I am unwillingly to watch a string of videos compiled for “enquiring minds”.  But no matter how long I click, tap and scroll down I can’t exit the site. I don’t know how social media’s information gathering has become convinced that I need a steady stream of stories that feature alien encounters, celebrity gossip, footage of disasters or investment-opportunities that will have me rolling in cash within a month – or sometimes as little as a week – Sign up now!

And meanwhile, topics I care about deeply, are not mentioned at all. So rather than daily posting on FACEBOOK, I think I will be better off writing less frequent entries on this blogsite. I had my first blog, WRITING FROM MERIDA for 10 years. Then I inadvertently deleted it. The content was preserved but I could no longer navigate the site. So sad, and yes, a period of mourning ensued. But CHANGES IN OUR LIVES came along, and while I’ve been a bit fickle with the poor thing, I am going to try to do better. It’s good for me.

Having a blog is like keeping a diary. It records random thoughts and it gives me a voice when I need one. It is both a warm-up session for my other writing and when I am blocked or just don’t want to work on my novel, I can use the blogsite as an escape.

A few of my site’s followers have asked me if I plan to stay in Merida for the duration of the pandemic. The answer is yes, yes I do. I travelled to Canada this summer for taxes, banking etc. and I realised that here or there or wherever… we are all facing the same issues. Do I mind the voluntary isolation? I don’t mind a bit … until I want to go out.” Some days I spend hours writing or painting. I also have a sewing project and of course, the un-ending photograph sorting. This lock-down period has given me time to finally face all the jobs I’ve been putting off. Whether I get to them or not is another story.

And so, I’ll leave you for now. I need to check my FACEBOOK messages and notifications before turning off the light.

Some habits die hard, don’t they?