National Geographic : 1996 Aug
eventually uprooted the market, wiping out jobs and fortunes. To help the area switch to an alternative crop, local entrepre neurs are planting citrus trees on former henequen planta tions. Limes are popular, sold to soft drink firms for the oils in the skin. "I am grateful for this new business," says Jose Antonio Contreras, manager of a citrus nursery outside the town of Yotholin. "There is no middleman between me and my customers. I can make my own company." Still, the countryside in all three peninsular states-Yuca tan, Campeche, and Quintana Roo-is slowly emptying of people. In villages where most of the region's 900,000 indige nous Maya live, young people hear the siren call of the new Caribbean resorts. Since the 1970s more than 150,000 Yucatecans have flooded into Cancun to find work. "Most newcomers don't even speak Spanish, only Maya," says Cancun tourist official Maria Elba Carranza. "The resorts are the biggest pull on the peninsula, and since I've been here I've seen villages turn into cities."