Greetings from the Yucatan
Our production manager Luke Weaver and his family were called to do a missions trip down in Mexico this summer. This is a glimpse into their world.
Greetings from the Yucatan, where the sun shines bright and the palm leaves sway in the wind. This peninsula on Mexico’s far eastern tip is known for a variety of things. The well-known resort city of Cancun is located on the southeast side of the peninsula, on the other side is the city of Merida, and a bit further south, Campeche. The remains of the great Mayan civilization may still be seen in many places, one of the great empires of the past that has risen and fallen as every earthly kingdom will. The Chixlub asteroid crater is not far away, this may perhaps be the reason that the fields are seemingly equal parts of soil and rock!!
The 3 cities mentioned above are the major population centers, otherwise the villages and towns are widely scattered. In between is farmland, and thick bush prevails anywhere the land is not cleared. My wife and I along with our three children ages 7, 4, and 1, have plans to be here till about the middle of August. What brings us here? We are helping with support and maintenance at a clinic. There are full-time medical staff living at the clinic, but no full-time maintenance and support personnel. So our jobs are many and varied, most small and some bigger items like painting. We are located about 7 kilometers from the village of Dzibalchen, at the edge of a Mennonite colony. The mission headquarters are in Hopelchen, about 45 minutes away. We make a weekly trip to Hopelchen to gather with the rest of the staff for panuchos or tacos, visiting, and shopping for supplies. Merida is 3 hours away, Campeche is about 2 ½ hours, and Cancun about 2 hours. The clinic was built with labor mostly from the colony, but serves everyone in need.
When we arrived the first week of June the rains had not started yet, and daytime highs were at or above 100 degrees Fahrenheit with strong afternoon winds from the east. Interestingly, these conditions are favorable for the method of land clearing that has been in use for centuries: burning. Every afternoon several plumes of smoke could be seen. The fires were lit so they had to burn against the wind, otherwise no precautions seem to be taken. In conversation with the locals, I found that they all said the fires almost never get out of control. The vegetation is very dense, leaving less room for airflow. And even in the dry season, some plants are still green, with a high moisture content. With these two factors, and the frequent burns clearing out combustible materials before there is a high fuel load, no one worries about what the fires will do. Just light and burn!
It was early summer when we left Michigan, with daytime highs in the 80’s. We thought perhaps there wouldn’t be much of an adjustment for us to the climate. It wasn’t too bad, even with the temperatures in triple digits. It felt rather warm, but dry. Then we started actually working outside, instead of just being outside for half an hour at a time. We quickly discovered otherwise!! I cut the grass (with a push mower) at the clinic the first week we were here, and I made the mistake of doing it in the middle of the afternoon……. A rookie mistake no doubt! It is best to schedule outside work within the time of daylight to noon, and from 4pm to dark. I drank 3 liters of water that afternoon, and needed 4 or 5. It was one of the few times in my life when I felt dizzy and lightheaded simply from being outside, and I do not care to repeat the experience.
We have found the culture to be friendly and easy going. I am not fluent in Spanish but know enough to get by, and we are welcomed and accommodated practically everywhere we go. The Mexican people as a whole seem to be family oriented, and it is common to see family groups strolling through the park in town, sitting down to eat at one of the many open-air restaurants, or chatting with friends in the large square, or centro. This area is landscaped with trees and flowerbeds, a covered pavilion, and plenty of benches. A very pleasant spot for visiting! Given the opportunity, I would recommend you go there in the morning, buy a cup of coffee, and start the day off by just taking in the sights and visiting. Tranquilo, which means calm or take it easy.
Living in a foreign country has had its share of adjustments, like the temperatures, difficulty with languages, the pace of life, and adjusting to food and water. But we have found it worthwhile to be here in many different ways, and would without question do it again. Maybe next time, we can meet for coffee in the centro…..!
Que Dios le bendiga,
Luke Weaver, Purchasing Manager 6.28.2021