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! Contact me for last minute specials!

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 -Great deal on this house through 2010

Casita Dragonfly
Couple's special on Casita Dragonfly!


Costa Maya Newsletter > Archived Costa Maya Newsletters > Sept, 2010

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

******************* Costa Maya Newsletter *******************
Sept 20th / Septiembre 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

Hi Costa Maya Neighbors-Bits and Pieces on Weather and Traveling

"Some of us are lucky enough to be living the dream! Sometimes a nudge is needed for us to remember it. "

For those of you who make it to the bottom of the Newsletter and read Polly's delightful ramblings about Xcalak and Expat life, you will get to read the statement above twice. Polly nudged me. August was stunning - a far cry from 3 years ago when Hurricane Dean Roared through here. I've snorkeled almost every day - so much so that my hair is turning that brassy surfer blond color. It's slow season and easy to remember why I moved here in the first place. Despite all the cultural differences, all the frustrations of doing business in Mexico - this is the dream.

Marcia with Baracuda

I always travel around a bit in slow season. I go to the US with my family. My daughter made sure to let me know how unfashionable my tropical shirts were and that my comfortable parachute pants should not be worn on the downtown streets of Seattle. Here at the beach, I don't think it matters what you wear - Beach trash is in! I have to admit that even in Bacalar and Merida my beach flip flops look completely out of place.

The downside of the dream is Hurricanes, of course. Just last week Hurricane Karl surprised us all. Although the weather reports of Karl said it came onto the Costa Maya between Mahahual and Xcalak as a tropical storm, the town of Bacalar looked like a hurricane went through it. This was a very small but strong storm. I went to my workers homes and all of their small plants like sugar cane, corn stalks, Banana trees and small plants were all on their sides pointing to the north. Everywhere you looked, the things on the ground were decimated, while only a few tall trees were down. After Dean, you couldn't pass a village block without seeing several downed trees but the smaller things were largely in tact. Also, in the town of Bacalar, there were about 100 roofs torn off. The danger of this storm was there was little warning - fishermen in Mahahual were struggling to get their boats as the storm approached on the morning of the 15th of Sept. Luckily no one died. My first warning came from the US consulate which made me then look at the http://NHC.NOAA.GOV web site for more info . Even though I lived through Dean and though I learned about all I wanted to - I learned another good lesson here. You have to be prepared from the beginning of the season, not just when you hear that one is coming your way. Thank goodness, here in Placer there was little damage. Mahahual fared a little worse and the hotels south of Mahahual had some damage to palapas and some small trees but over all not too much considering what it could have done. If you have a favorite hotel or business that you are curious as to how they fared - please contact them, but have a little patience. Most of us still don't have internet back yet as the worst damage occurred when the internet tower went down and we are waiting daily for it to be operational. Checking email at Aromas and Loco Ricky's is very social every evening, but gets old! Today everyone was discussing invest 95. Keep an eye on it.

Your Costa Maya Neighbor - Marcia Bales, writing this from Placer - 20 km north of Mahahual.

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 (although won't happen until the internet is back up and working)


mahahual and Costa maya news

Emergency phone numbers for Costa Maya

 Tourist Security  01 800 903 9200
 Quintana Roo Police  (983) 832 9600, 832 0843, 832 1500
 Highway Police  (983) 832 1932
 Emergency  066
 Fire Station  (983) 832 1578
 Red Cross  (983) 833 0223
 General Hospital  (983) 832 1932

Clean Water filters for locals in Mahahual

The following is taken from the GVI website. For those who don't know who Global vision international is, they work with the town of Mahahual at the same time working with international students cataloging the reef in Uvero.

In Mexico 94% of surface water is contaminated but not everybody can afford to buy purified water which brings to scene different health problems. On the other hand the bottled water industry in Mexico is one of the largest in the world causing huge environmental concern as to the amount of waste plastic being produced.

To attack these two problems we have teamed up with Sustenta and their Zero Bottles project to try to create means for the people of Mahahual to obtain drinking water without buying it in plastic bottles. Families have been invited to collect rubbish from the beaches of Mahahual, as the major pollutants we normally find are plastic bottles, also these beaches are littered with rubbish that has been washed up from all over the world. The families who collect the most rubbish from the beaches will be rewarded with a water filter to use in their homes to reduce the cost of drinking water and reduce waste plastic.

So far Sustenta have been sponsored to provide a total of 40 water filters, in order to make this project a success the aim is to provide a minimum of 100 filters. Each water filter system houses three ceramic filters and has the capability to clean 150,000 liters of water. By donating just a small amount, this project will be able to provide 100 families in Mahahual with a water filter to make a real difference to the amount of waste plastic used in the area. The project will initially benefit 25% of the local population, and we hope to extend it to 100% of the population in the future.

International Beach cleanup day in Mahahual September 25

Event details

Event Type: Underwater and Beach Cleanup
25 September 2010 08:00:00am
Address: Ave Costera Mahahual Quintana Roo Mexico

Organizer: Julie Minter
Phone: 0115219831307315

We will be doing a community beach and ocean cleanup.  We will be giving away water filters thus equipping the community to stop buying water bottles.  The state university will come and help us separate and weight the trash removed from the ocean and the beaches of Mahahual.  All dive centers get together to do this event as a whole.  We are super excited to have gotten groups from Mexico city involved in our quest to stop the rubbish from coming to our beach.

NOTE from the editor: I (Marcia Bales) will be Coordinating cleanup in the North area passing out beach cleanup backs north of Mahahual, from Rio Indio to Uvero. I will be passing them out on Friday morning so that beaches will be clean by the time the garbage trucks come to pick up the trash on Saturday.

Dolphin Swim Returns, But Not to Uvero

According to some cruise ship news sites, the Costa Maya Port has partnered with Dolphin Discovery to bring interactive dolphin encounters to the Costa Maya beginning winter 2010. The dolphin shore excursion facilities will be located within the cruise terminal. Costa Maya’s Dolphin Discovery will offer both its “dolphin encounter” and “dolphin swim” tour options featuring up to 10 dolphins. Although the articles stated that you could find out more information on, I could find nothing that mentioned the Dolphin swim and Via Delphi, the organization that ran the Dolphin swim at Uvero Beach Club still has Uvero as a tour coming this winter. They did not return my email inquiries.

Bizarre wood deposits on the beach

No one can tell me where all the wood is coming from - but if you are like Mayan Beach Garden and clean the beach every day, you will find that you have a mountain of wood - enough for bonfires all winter long! The wood started showing up on the beach about a month ago along with a lot of sea beans. Some of the logs were huge. Tropical storm Karl seemed to put an end to the debris pushing it further up the beach and planting it there permanently. We found some really beautiful driftwood pieces along with a lot of smelly rotting wood. Anyone have any idea

Mahahualaneans back in action

When Marilyn Marshal returns, community gears up in Mahahual. She has asked that everyone remember that there will be a silent auction held again this November to raise money for the schools and the community. Last year they raised quite a bit of money especially to help the elementary schools. She is looking for donations for the silent auction, so if you have something to donate, please contact Marilyn directly at The big ticket item last hear was Jimmy Echino's hair - it isn't quite as long this year, so the Mahahualaneans need something else to top it!

NOTE: if you are ever asked to donate money on the street - please make sure and check the source of the donation. The Mahahualaneans donate all their money to local causes and work with the school, the PTA and the Alcaldia's office to find out the needs that are most important.

Jats' a ja'

Thanks to a great last minute campaign on behalf of the municipio, Jats' a ja' held August 13-15th turned out to be a great success this year. The activities were well attended, the restaurants and tables were full and people were staying in the hotels and spending money. There weren't any drunken brawls - it was basically a lovely family affair.

Mahahual beach

It was fun watching Mexican local families enjoying the beach during the perfect weather.

The photography contest was well supported. There were around 350 entries, split between the themes of Water, Air and Land. Hopefully you will be seeing some of the winning entries in a calendar promoting the area.

Pez Leon cooking contest

One of the most interesting parts of the festival was the Lion Safari, the brain child of Julie Minter from Blue Ocean Safari. Most of the dive shops participated and both snorkelers and divers joined in. A total of 34 lion fish were captures in only a few hours. Afterwards, local restaurants participated in a display of fabulous dishes made from Lion fish, or Pez Leon.

Awards ceremony

At the end of three days of fun, the festival ended with awards and recognition - especially for children of which activities included recycle workshops, sand castle building, beach volley ball and painting contest.

Crowds enjoying the beach

In the end it was all about spending the weekend in Paradise.

Travel news and Tips

Tax Refund at the Airport

I announced a couple of years ago that you could get a refund for taxes (currently 11%) paid in shops in Quintana Roo when you exited at the airport. However, I was told by several people that when they asked at the airport, they were told that it wasn't possible. On my last trip to the US, I found the office of Tax Refund. It is in Terminal 3 on the 2nd floor in front of gate 21.

Sounds simple, right? Not so simple. Here are the rules from the form I picked up at the airport:

  • You will need to present receipts showing taxes paid in the state of Quintana Roo. Official invoice (factura) and or credit card vouchers.
  • You will need a copy of your immigration form, (FMT) which, unless you have an FM3, by the time you get to departures you will have already surrendered to ticketing. I don't believe that you can deduct anything if you have an FM2, but it might be possible with an FM3. I'd be interested to find out..
  • You will also need a copy of your passport.
  • If the purchase of goods exceeds the amount of $5000 MX pesos, you will be asked to show the purchases at the Tax Back office. So don't put it in your luggage.
  • You will receive your money as a credit on your charge card.
  • You cannot get reimbursement for any consumable products such as hotels, restaurants, taxis, tours, food, etc. Other items are Books, Medicines and opened Liquor bottles.

  • It takes 40 days for you to get your money back.
  • CAsh purchases with receipt are valid if at least $1200 pesos to $3000 pesos including IVA.
  • There is no limit when using a credit card.

For more information on this, go to or call 01800.00.66829

Information for those who purchased tickets on Mexicana Airlines

Mexicana Airlines is currently grounded for various reasons. If you purchased tickets on Mexicana and have not yet rescheduled a flight - click here . You may qualify for a refund. Please act soon.

The impact on travel to and from Chetumal is serious, as only Mexicana had flights into Chetumal. As of Sept 2nd, all I can find on-line is the once a week flight by Interjet added a couple of days ago. Everything else comes up blank. On the flip-side - daily more airlines add flights to Cancun- so at this point it is status quo for most of us.

Mexicana ceased an estimated 220 daily mainline flights, in addition to Mexicana Click and Mexicana Link flights. Click and Link operated domestic routes in Mexico. An estimated 38,700 passengers each day have reportedly been affected by the loss of service.

Mexicana’s new majority owner, a group of Mexican businessman called Tenedora K, said it was forced to stop the bankrupt carrier’s operations due to "the previous management's decision to suspend ticket sales, forcing the company to continue operating in the interests of passengers without receiving any revenue."

The investment group also cited its inability to reach a "substantial agreement" with flight attendants as well as the "lack of effectiveness" of Mexican bankruptcy-protection laws.

The airline said passengers who have already flown a leg of their journey and who are scheduled to fly with Mexicana, Click or Link after Aug. 28 should consult the websites or contact the airline directly. The number from the U.S. or Canada is (877) 801-2010.

"If you have not yet begun your journey, we recommend you make alternative travel arrangements," the airline said. For information on how to apply for a refund, the airline said to click here to fill out a form for tickets issued in the U.S. and Canada.

Mexicana is a member of the Oneworld alliance. American, also a Oneworld member, added another flight between Mexico City and Dallas-Fort Worth to accommodate additional passengers. American also said Monday it would offer Mexicana passengers a 20% discount for many Mexicana-ticketed passengers, also allowing some destination changes for places not served by American or American Eagle.

Mexicana competitor AeroMexico is offering discounted fares to those with Mexicana tickets, based on a wait list system to be conducted at airports from Aug. 27 through Sept. 20, but they don't fly into Chetumal. Click here for information . NOTE: Aeromexico is not flying to Chetumal at this time.

Free spanish on-line

Once a year I like to review free Spanish lessons on-line. Nothing matches a Spanish immersion experience, but even utilizing an immersion course requires continual practice. Some new material has surfaced since I last did a review. - Spanishpod is a different way to learn than I have previously seen online with lots of audio followed by exercises. You can sign up for a 7 day trial and have access to most things they offer before paying. I was pretty impressed with the 7 day trial, but found for me, the entry level courses had too much "chatty" English spoken - something that makes it hard to immerse yourself. Still, I found myself learning some nuances about Spanish that I otherwise would not have found out. if you know you are going to be visiting Mexico and want a week's refresher - the free week trial is perfect. They have several levels and do a very good job discussing grammar. The intermediate level had a little less chat with the narrator speaking English and the Latin American speaker only speaking Spanish. Another nice thing -you can download all of the audio lessons onto your IPod for listening later. The best thing I found out the 7 day trial was that it let you see the advanced lessons. I couldn't see any other program that allowed that for free. Since I am at the intermediate level - this was important for me to see if I was ready for something more advanced since I still learn from the basic lessons.

Visual link Spanish - This is the program I purchased as a beginner and really liked it. I still really like it, because it works like I think and I like the repetition plus it is Latin American spanish. I'm ready to move on and I haven't been able to see a sample of their advanced courses which has kept me from paying for the advanced class. The 11 free classes they offer on line are excellent beginner material and they don't time out. You can use them any time and the phrases are something I find that I use all the time. with Marcus Santamaria - I really like this program too. Had I not purchased Visual Link Spanish, I probably would have gone with this one. The free lessons are very good and there is no chatty talking in the audio - something I despise. I hate it when I hear "now you are on your way to fluency" at the end of every lesson when you can't understand anything a native speaker says. This is Castilian Spanish, however - so beware of the differences. Still - I really like the audio program and have downloaded all the free stuff and even paid for some monthly plans for a while and downloaded a lot of material to listen to in my car which I love - the audio lessons are top notch. The monthly plan is pretty expensive - $29.99, so if you don't use it - don't pay for it. - good beginning lessons with practice, visuals and vocabulary. The online free demo was missing any serious intermediate lessons that I could find. They took the time to ask you what level you were on, but only showed beginning. I didn't see a time out on this, however and the beginning lessons are very good. This also allows you to talk to native speakers, so after you learn, you can practice the phrases with someone who speaks Spanish. I liked this aspect very much, only I get plenty of opportunity!

Study - This has a lot of information on verbs, verb tenses and Spanish grammar if you just want to know how something works. Tutorials help you through grammar and the information has a lot of depth - when you hear something in Spanish, this is a good way to find out the grammar behind it. I found some very helpful exercises. I didn't look into this program as deeply as I did some of the others, but I plan to do so.


I love you Xcalak

Miss Mece - new Kitten

Hola everyone!

Introducing my new assistant, Miss Mece, found in the Xahuayxol jungle on July 9th. Tiny, about the size of my hand, very hungry, full of fleas and filthy dirty. After a bath in the kitchen sink,( she was not best pleased, ) she ate for Mexico. She really was just teeth and pins, really feral, but we have got past that now and she lets me stroke her a couple of times before she bites me. She loves to help me especially with the Newsletter! She does get very tired though so, many naps are had while I type.



On going to the Pemex in Mahahual for petrol (gasoline) I took the the opportunity to visit a good friend. We strolled along the Malecon and then sat under an umbrella on the beach with a “limonada naturale”.

The sky was a perfect blue, the sand white, the breeze playing in the coco palm fronds, the Caribbean ocean , turquoise, blue, green and all colors in between, finishing touch being a white ruff where the waves were breaking on the reef.

My friend remarked, everybody that comes here to visit is knocked out by the beauty. Living here we become blase.

Some of us are lucky enough to be living the dream! Sometimes a nudge is needed for us to remember it.

Costa Maya Mint

One of my favorite programs to listen to on the BBC via the computer is Gardeners Question Time. ( well I am English!) They did a very interesting testing of plant pots. They wanted to see which flowerpots were best in the heat, not frying the plant roots! The black plastic pots that the plants usually come from the nursery's in, are among the worst as they get so hot, the plants dry out quickly and die. Metal pots /buckets were also really bad, but surprise, the terra cotta glazed pots, like our beautiful Talavera pots are also up there joint #1 as equally as bad. Best, plain terra cotta, the temperature was the lowest and most even.

Yes it's been really hot in England this summer, (well for a few days at least) hence the tests.

Okay. Question for the experts on Gardeners Question Time and any of you gardeners here. I love mint! I need it for Mojitos, I need it as part of the fruit salad in my Pimm's, I need it for potato salad and many, many, other things, I plant it, nurse it, water it, and it looks green and well and spreads. Then it goes black , shrivels up and is gone, roots and all!. I have at different times planted it in full sun, shade, partial shade , with exactly the same result. In England we used to plant mint in a bucket sunk in the garden to contain it as it spread like a weed. Any answers please. (NOTE: Marcia has the same problem with mint)

plastic garbage

Passing out gloves
Passing out gloves for lion hunting.

I have a friend who never fails to make me laugh, she says, I don't worry about Hubby ever divorcing me. All you have to do is look in my yard at the cars, trucks, trailers, RV, boats and all the "other" toys he has parked there and you just know, this man does not get rid of anything he has ever acquired in his life.

We have a problem here in Xcalak with plastic and other rubbish on the beaches. Especially where the land has been sold or owned by investors and there is no house, no caretaker/gardener to clean the beach. It is impossible to find out exactly who owns what and ask them to clean it, so

CANANP, at the park office, are paying for a clean up. Not only the pueblo but the beaches in the National Park. Oscar Salazar was voted as organizer/leader and each day, Monday to Friday 6 boats each with 6 Xcalakeno's in, go out of here at 4pm and for 2 hours pick up all kinds of rubbish from the beaches.

Mostly plastic, bags and bags of plastic of every description. This program is going to run for months. This last week they went from just south of SonRisa down to Portillas.

Lion fish different sizes

On Fridays after they have unloaded and everything is sorted into the correct bags they go out again to hunt for Lion fish. From Costa de Coco's down to the Xcalak Dos, (the old defunct Chinchorro co-operativa fishing boat parked south of the park office).They caught and killed 75 Lion fish last week.

(Left - variety of sizes of dead lionfish)

Photos by Jorge.

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. .




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 Evans/Markley