Learn Spanish Today for Free!

Have more fun by learning a little Spanish

Mayan Beach Garden Inn Stay for as little as $59 per night with breakfast for two!
Find out more









Rent a Beach Front Home!

Casa Que Canta
(House that sings)
New Plunge Pool for Summer!

Las Brisas del Caribe
New Pictures of Las Brisas

Taj Majahual
Spectacular Taj Majahual - (includes Plunge Pool)

Casa Azucar -4 persons or less special through 2010

Casita Dragonfly
Couple's special on Casita Dragonfly!

Costa Maya Newsletter> Archived Costa Maya Newsletters > May, 2010 -  
Costa Maya Newsletters: of primary interest to property owners and those interested in Mahahual / Majahual - Rio Indio - Placer - Uvero - Punta Herrera - Xcalak and other points along Quintana Roo South

You can now read up to the minute Mahahual happenings at and Facebook

*******************Costa Maya Newsletter*******************
May / Mayo 2010

Hi Costa Maya Neighbors-The killing wind

Because I didn't "knock on wood" after the last editorial where I praised the weather, I'm getting accused of setting the Costa Maya up for a really bad May wind. May - of all months, my favorite because it is usually hot and calm yet not humid. Not this month. The first weekend of the month arrived and with it a shift in the wind. Coming from the SE, the wind blew hard and constant, piling up garbage and sea grass. I don't have a wind gauge, but some reports say it blew as hard as 60 miles an hour. It created dunes across the roads, and left a salty fine dust all over everything in its path and filling the mosquito screens with a fine powder. Trees that stuck above the normally shorter jungle were fried by the hot wind, even as far back as the jungle road. It literally looked like someone had taken a blow torch to the SE side of plants. Most things are coming back, but most of my larger vinca were so unsightly that I pulled them up and I also lost a couple more coco palms. I saw a few more completely fried along the beach road. ARGH!!!! Chit palms seemed to only get their tips burnt.

Then came the rain. And not just a little. Between the 17th and 19th, we received 8 inches in Placer according to my unofficial bucket. I'm taking responsibility for this too, because we ordered a truckload of water on the 16th. You wouldn't know there was the killing wind now - Mother Nature has already recovered in a spectacular fashion. Because of the rain, we are seeing a lot more of the small animals that had previously retreated back into the woods - things like coatimundis, foxes and multitudes of blue crab swarming across the road. I expect to see more as Agatha, the First Tropical storm of the year draws near. Coming from the Pacific it has already dumped a meter of rain in one day on Guatemala, and looks to bring us a little more rain this week. Stay tuned and do a little prayer that the Costa Maya ( and the spill in the Gulf) fairs well this year when it comes to Hurricane Season.

Marcia with Baracuda

Past newsletters can be found at NEWSLETTER ARCHIVES

Sign up for up-to-date info at Costa Maya-Mahahual Live Blog with updates and current events


Message board - changing dollars to pesos

If you are like many, you bring dollars with you into Mexico and stop into a bank in order to change dollars into Pesos. It has been the most cost effective way to get pesos, especially if you can't use your home bank's ATM. Changing dollars into pesos at the bank is no longer possible unless you have a bank account that is in US dollars. As it stands right now, the only way you can change dollars into pesos is to withdraw money from an ATM, change money at a Casa de Cambio (usually a bad exchange rate), spend them at a store that will accept dollars, or if you have a dollar account, deposit the money into the dollar account, transfer it to your peso account and withdraw the pesos. I'm still looking for other options to solve this problem. The Costco in Cancun will accept dollars at a good exchange rate, but Sam's in Chetumal gives you a poor exchange rate. This subject is getting quite a bit of responses on the Costa Maya Live forum. If you have any interest in this matter - read what others have added and please add your own "two bits" or other ways that might help people.

This Months' message board: Changing dollars to Pesos

mahahual and Costa maya news

Peso to dollar exchange

I mentioned the Peso to Dollar exchange above in the Message board, but a few tidbits more about changing money in Mahahual. Right now none of the Casa de Cambios give a great exchange. Mahahual is even worse with an exchange rate of 10.5 on a day that was 12.6. The HSBC at the gas station is probably your best bet to get pesos. I was able to withdraw $6000 pesos at once with a local machine fee of only $29 pesos (plus the out of country fee my bank will tack on to that). The gas station attendants told me that they are open 24 hours as part of the contract with HSBC. The good news is that there are a lot of ATMs in Mahahual if this one happens to be out of order.

Watch out for new tope at Tequila beach
It appears that speed bumps appear in front of businesses that can afford to put them there, not where they are really needed. The 4 topes in Mahahual are in front of the taxi guard station - way before you get to the Xcalak intersection, as you approach Matahual, just past Don Kike's hardware store and now in front of Tequila Beach. Meanwhile, there are no topes in front of the approaches to any of the schools.

XX Governor's cup Fishing Tournament photos


For those of you who would have liked to attend the Governor's cup fishing tournament our of Mahahual, I've posted pictures below.

The tournament took place at Tequila Beach starting with a banquet on Friday night. Saturday morning, the Governor arrived to shoot the starting gun and begin the tournament.




The rules changed this year. In the past, you could include all the fish you caught. This year they limited it to species, with each species earning different levels of points. This made it more competitive for the little guy.

Points were awarded per pound or libra, so a Blue Marlin (Marlin Azul) earned 30 points per pound while a Barracuda only earned 5 points per pound. We saw some very big Barracuda and some nice Marlin Azul!

Prizes included a Dodge pickup and motor cycles.

This happy family poses with their Dorado (Mahi Mahi) - although not one of the biggest they seem to be pretty pleased. Some fish required two people to carry them in to be weighed.


Oasis largest cruise ship in the world visits Mahahual

Oasis of the sea Visits Mahahual

May 15, 2010 the Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the seas arrived at Mahahual's Costa Maya Port. This photo was taken from the roof of Costa Maya Villas.

To give you an idea of the size of the Oasis, here is information from Royal Caribbean's web site:

  • First ever ship to have a "Central Park" with over 12,000 plants and recycle gray water into the plants
  • Total Occupancy of 6,296
  • The bi-weekly visit to Mahahual will be paired with stops at Cozumel and Haiti.
  • At first the ship didn't seem any bigger than any normal ship until a second ship arrived . It was dwarfed by the monster.

    This photo is courtesy of Dave Gerbetz and was taken from Chac Chi - North of the Costa Maya Pier.

    Another view from the top of Costa Maya Villas showing the approach of the second ship

    Photo and Art contest (part of Jat'sa-a')

    The last two years the festival of Jat'sa-a' has featured photos of Mahahual and the Costa Maya. This year, the contest will be expanded to include other artwork as well. Details will be coming, but if you have created any original artwork or have taken some amazing photos of the Costa Maya and the southern part of Quintana Roo, here is your opportunity to show case it. Subject matter can be anything about the Costa Maya, and attractions in the area including Mayan Ruins. Jat'sa-ja' will occur the 2nd weekend in August. Send inquiries to and I can send you more info.
    Tulum International Airport News

    The President of Mexico, Calderon, made a trip to the Tulum ruins to make the announcement that the new Tulum airport will be operational within 5 years (2015?). The master plan shows that a new road will be built from the Akumal pueblo cutting off 20 minutes worth of drive time through Tulum. No mention of the road being funded yet or the date for the road. Still, that is good news for the Costa Maya. Currently bids are being accepted.

    Geiger Tree (Cordia sebestena)- Salt tolerant flowering tree

    One of the many trees that grow well on the beach and are very salt tolerant is the Geiger tree, which is often used along highways and streets for its ability to withstand drought and salt. As a bonus, it has strikingly beautiful red-orange flowers which although in flower most of the year, happen to be their most prolific in June and July.

    Geiger tree

    I noticed a couple of weeks ago that a gallon size version of the Geiger tree (Cordia sebestena) is available at the new Nursery in town.

    You may have noticed this shrub-like tree growing wild along the shores of the beach. It doesn't bloom year round, so the first thing you notice are the leaves. They are very rough - almost like sand paper. A tour guide one told me it was the sand paper tree and Mayans used it for sand paper. I don't think it is that rough, but it made a good story anyway, and it has stuck with me.

    According to the University of Florida, this is a highly desirable seaside tree. It grows in limestone rocks and beaches. It prefers alkaline soils and is highly resistant to salt and salt spray and brackish water. It was one of the first plants flowering after Hurricane Dean in areas where coral had been thrown up upon the shore. It appears to grow easily from seed, because this is a pretty common shrub but I've seen several tall species along the beach road

    It prefers well drained soil and is drought tolerant. I have a tiny specimen in front of the cabanas and it only showed a little salt burn after the severe wind we had a few weeks ago. Each individual flower is about an inch across on my bush.

    Growing plants in a Salt-laden environment

    The following information comes from the Florida State Extension service.

    After the "killing" wind we had a few weeks ago, I spent some time researching why some plants held up well and others lost all of their leaves. Large quantities of salt in the soil, air and/or irrigation water aren’t the correct ingredients for most plants. An excess of salt prevents them from absorbing water properly. A salty spray carried by the winds only exacerbates the problem leaving many plants with leaves that look burned. Salt tolerance of a plant relates to resistance and ability to grow under the following conditions:

    1. high winds
    2. salt spray
    3. alkaline soils
    4. infertile, sandy soils.
    5. The tolerance of plant to salt may be affected if any of the four conditions become extreme. Typically these plants are also drought tolerant. Winds carry salt spray inland, leaving salt deposits on plants. Salt causes water to move out of the plants in a process called exosmosis. Especially on young leaves, this often results in the marginal burning and loss of leaves in non-salt-tolerant plants. Plant damage may also result from driving rains and frequently heavy surf. Coastal soil composition adds to gardening problems. Sand along the coast generally lacks organic matter or any other nutrient- and moisture-holding material, although this lack can be partly overcome by the addition of organic matter. Also, alkaline soils may lock up vital mineral nutrients needed for plant growth. The addition of fertilizer can actually add to the salinity of the soil.

      Plants that will grow here fall into three categories (I've described a couple of varieties under all three categories - a more extensive list can be viewed at

      .Salt-Tolerant plants are highly resistant to salt drift and can be used in exposed environments (you can plant these in front of your house - but growth may be slow due to the reasons above). Salt water such as high surge can damage, but doesn't appear to kill these.

      --Geiger Tree (Cordia sebestena) - review is above in this newsletter
      -- Coconut palms
      -- Sea Lavender - reviewed last month

      Moderately Salt-Tolerant plants tolerate some salt spray but grow best when protected by buildings, fences, or plantings of more salt-tolerant species.

      --Royal palm - you see this along the medium in the Cancun hotel zone.
      --Wandering jew - (although my experience is that it will need dirt and won't grow in sand)
      --Rubber plant - I successfully grew a rubber plant prior to hurricane Dean to a height of 10 ft.

      Slightly Salt-Tolerant plants have poor tolerance and should be always used well back of exposed areas and be protected by buildings, fences, or plantings of more salt-tolerant species.

      --Hibiscus (although some varieties do better than others in the sand here)
      --Croton (I have had great success with this plant in the sand sheltered by other plants)

      You can find more information at this link:

      If anyone has any experience with salt thriving plants - please send me an email, or post it on Costa Maya Live forum - everyone would like to know about it.

    Phone coverage on your phone when in Mexico

    Many of my guests wonder why their phone doesn't work when they sign up for the International plan with their cell phone provider. There are a few things you should know:

    1. Only Telcel works here in the Costa Maya (other services may work in Cancun and Chetumal)
    2. Xcalak still does not have coverage - we can get service here in Placer - always on the roof, most of the time on the beach and in the road.
    3. To use the Telcel network, make sure your provider has signed a roaming agreement with Telcel. Telcel is the only company that has automatic roaming in all of Mexico
    4. TELCEL's network is 1900 Mhz for GSM and 850 Mhz for 3G.
    5. Voltage in Mexico is 110/127 VAC with american electric socket.
    6. Contact your wireless provider to find out restrictions in I.R. Services
    7. Emergency numbers in Mexico: 066, 060, or 080, although many areas will redirect a 911 or 112. Quintana Roo will redirect 112, but I couldn't verify that it will redirect 911. The new smart Sims will automatically redirect the call. Ask for English speaking help if you can't speak Spanish.
    8. Telcel Customer Service From:
      • Mexico (55) 25 81 33 00
      • U.S.A. 1 888 350 40 35
      • Canada 1 877 837 56 18
      • Rest of the World 00 / (+) 52 55 25 81 33 00

    The information above comes from the Telcel web site:


    Costa Maya Villas Condo Hotel

    Free nights stay if you schedule a visit to the show room. Todd Story, owner of Mayan Paradise Properties is offering a free night's stay in a luxury Costa Maya Villa condo to anyone who schedules a visit to view the condos. There are still 5 condos remaining at a great pre-market price.

    You can find the condos by turning left at the light house - driving north on the road that parallels the beach. You can't miss them, they are the only beachfront project near the port. Financing is available. Just thought I would show a picture of the pool's beginnings compared with the vision of the finished product!

    Contact Mayan Paradise Properties directly at

    Interesting tidbits on the Internet

    Information is beautiful - Every Country is good at Something

    It is a little disheartening that Mexico's claim to fame is Televisions and the US is Serial Killers - obviously the author of this graphic is not from either of those countries. Still, this is a great insight into the world. There are other graphics that are every bit as interesting, like the one that compares the billions of dollars spent in the world. Both graphics are included below. Clicking on them will open the Information is Beautiful Web site

    The following graphic - equally interesting compares the billions of dollars spent on certain items. The most startling image to me is the Iraq war compared to the cost of equipping every person in the world with solar power. Stop the war and sign me up!

    Information is beautiful


    Global Dinner party - great excuse for a dinner party

    A customer and friend of mine sent me this announcement for an upcoming book. I think it is a great idea and Mayan Beach Garden will be hosting a dinner party on that date with that in mind.

    The name of the book is Female Nomad and Friends: Tales of Breaking Free and Breaking Bread Around the World. Not only is Female Nomad and Friends a great read with 59 tales of adventure by more than 40 writers and filled with fabulous international recipes, but 100% of the royalties from the book are being donated by the authors to send kids from the slums in New Delhi to vocational schools so they have a chance at a different life. So far, $40,000 has been sent through a Rotary Club in Maryland to a Rotary in New Delhi who will vet and mentor the students.

    To celebrate the book and how food brings people together, Rita Golden Gelman is hosting a 24-hour GLOBAL DINNER PARTY with the theme of CONNECTING THROUGH FOOD, on June 18th. From China to Turkey to Columbia to the U.S. people are hosting dinner parties, cooking recipes from the book, and connecting with others who are doing the same. I am having a party in the Costa Maya and my hope is that you’ll want to host a party as well – wherever you are.

    You can find details on the Female Nomad Fan Page on Facebook and on my Rita’s blog

    Here’s a link to several booksellers:

    Thanks so much in advance for your support of this great idea and project!

    NEWS FROM XCALAK POLLY I love you Xcalak

    Hola everyone - Polly is back!

    Everybody I have spoken to has been delighted by the stopover" of hundreds of Ruby-throated Humming Birds. These beautiful green jewels who buzzed in sounding more like bumble bee's than birds certainly knew about feeders. They made straight for them, I think there must have been about 30 around the one in the corner of my garden, it needed to be refilled two or three times a day. The difference between them and our resident Cinnamon Hummingbirds was that they are half the size and "hung" as they fed from the feeder they also allowed each other to feed instead of chasing off any other bird that came near. They stayed for about a week, less numbers each day until they had all disappeared. All of you N.O.B. get your feeders ready, they are on their way to spend the summer brightening not only your gardens but your lives.


    Spotlight on Xcalakeno's
    I went to have a lemonade at Toby's restaurant the other day, his father was sitting with him, we started chatting about old times in Xcalak.  Toby's father Nestor is 61, he was 5 years old when hurricane Janet hit and wiped out Xcalak. He remembers standing with his parents on the roof of a two story cement building and the surge water was around his legs. His Grandparents and Aunts on his fathers side of the family all perished.

    Thirty five years ago Xcalak was the fun, happening place to come to, the youngsters of San Pedro Belize came for the fiesta's and social life. Toby's mother Luz-Maria is Belizian, she and her sisters came, saw and married men from here. Nestor and Luz-Maria have four children, Mini the eldest and Eric the youngest were born in Chetumal. Candi the second eldest was born in San Pedro, Toby in Xcalak, Nestor says Luz-Maria left it too late to get anywhere so he is a true Xcalakeno!

    Many years ago Luz-Maria used to serve food by reservation only from the front room of her house. Luz-Maria is an excellent cook taught her daughters well, so when Toby used to say his ambition was to open a family restaurant with his Mother and sisters doing the cooking, he worked hard, saved hard and opened the restaurant two seasons ago.
    In high season the restaurant is open every day except Sundays, Friday night is taco night, if you are in downtown Xcalak come and try it.

    The school has a library again thanks to a determined band of ladies, we also look forward to children's day. There is a magician to entertain and of course small presents for all the children.

    Now some sad news.
    In February we laid Cliff, who came here to live out his remaining years, to rest in the little cemetery here in Xcalak. We will miss his fine writing ( South of Town, www.Portillias) and his many kindnesses to the children of the Costa Maya.


    Classified Adds

    If you have something you want included in the classifieds, please send it to Limit text to 100 words and pictures no larger than 216 pixels wide. Include a contact email or phone number. It is a good idea to use an email address that is not your primary address to limit Junk mail coming your way. There is no charge, this is being done as a community service. This month there is only one, but I hope to have more next month. .


    2 Bedroom 2 bathroom Beachfront House by owner. There was some damage from Hurricane Dean (structurally sound). Will sell "As is". Located about one km. north of the Uvero Beach Club

    Casa Roja  was one of the few structures in the area that survived Hurricane Dean, a category 5 storm.  Needless to say, the home is extremely well built.  $9K USD was spent after the storm to reinforced the foundation (soil added and compacted), which was not damaged during the storm.  While the structure is sound, accessories were lost in the storm (doors, windows, generator ruined, solar panels, etc).  To keep the property safe, we pay a grounds keeper to live on the property.  Power is supplied from generator and water is from a cistern.


    Zeman house


    Asking:                     $225,000 USD
    Located North of Uvero - Casa Rojo
    Lot size:                    20m x 42.38m x 20m x 39m Beachfront
    Builder:      Rex Sunderland 

    Looking for Articles

    If anyone would like to submit articles to this newsletter that would be informational to others, please contact me at


    The editor of this newsletter (me) makes no claims that the information here is completely true. I am not a news reporter, Spanish is not my native language, the newspapers are notorious for not verifying information and this is not my primary business, but rather a service to the neighborhood. If you find something untrue PLEASE let me know and I will print a disclaimer. I try to verify the information but even the newspaper prints up rumors, so I can only report what I read and hear.

    Unless otherwise stated, all content is copyrighted by MMB Contractors Inc.

    Until next month,
    Best wishes from your neighbor,


    Mayan Beach Garden B&B Hotel