February/febrero 18, 2008 -
Maya Newsletters: of primary interest to property owners on the Costa
Maya, - Mahahual / Majahual - Rio Indio - Placer - Uvero - Punta Herrera
- Xcalak and other points along the southern coast of Quintan Roo
Feb. 18. 2008**************************
Hi Costa Maya Neighbors
As most of you know, the area north of Mahahual/Majahual was hit
the hardest by Dean. The good news is that a good portion of the beaches
in this area have been restored. These beaches are looking great.
I see lots of new palms planted and Vincent, the palm salesman is
doing his best to sell Kerpis and other palms from one of the most
beat-up pickups you will ever see. You can purchase a 4 meter coco
palm for about $100. It makes me feel good to have height on the beach.
I've way surpassed my gardening budget, but I couldn't be happier
when Kim brought me more tropical plants for Valentines day. After
all, one can't be called "Mayan Beach Garden" without a
GARDEN!!!!! Every day things are looking better and I plant new plants
every chance I get.
We've now been open almost two months. The first few days were kind
of shaky but our guests were great sports. Now we have things well
under control. In our little cocoon of Placer, If you don't look at
the West side of the road and the pile of gravel in the road you wouldn't
even know there was a hurricane! Our neighbor's houses have mostly
been restored, the lots south of me are cleaned up and I've embraced
the distressed look in my restaurant. I figure people pay a lot of
money to get that look on their walls. My entire staff is back (at
least the ones I cared about) so the food and the service is the same.
When people come and say "wow, this is really a mess" I
almost forget that outside Mayan Beach Garden, you can still tell
there was a hurricane!
The NEW Mayan Beach Garden
Archives of this newsletter can be found at: Costa
Maya Newsletter Archives
MESSAGE BOARD DISCUSSION: BUILDING SOON?
This week's topic is a great one for those thinking about building.
Kerry V. posted the following on the message board for the San Jose/Placer
area, but I'd like to expand it to all of the Costa Maya (hope Kerry
"I am wondering how many of you are planning on building this
year or have started building already. Just curious really, but it
would be great to find out about future neighbors, their time frames
for building, if they will be permanent residents...Anyone planning
on starting a business there?"
Board topic "Building Soon?"
Also check out the Neighborhood section and Just Chatting -- there
are some great discussions happening and some new folks joining in.
Gabe Zarnoti's house under construction
ARGUMENT FOR RENTING "OFF THE
GRID" COSTA MAYA BEACH HOMES
Since Kim builds homes here on the Costa Maya, we get the opportunity
to see people's dreams come to fruition. After Dean, many property
owners took the opportunity to improve their homes or simplify them,
adding things they didn't have before or replacing items that didn't
work well on the beach. As Beau and Kitty Speed who remodeled Casa
Las Brisas said, "its the opportunity to change what you didn't
like before." Well, no one wants a hurricane to happen to figure
out what you want! We suggest renting more than one beach-front home
before you build. It gives you a chance to see what you love, what
you hate and what you would do differently. We also think it is a
good idea to experience various seasons of the year and see how the
weather changes affect the comfort of a home "off the grid."
You can view detailed pictures of the rentals at ttp://www.mayanbeachgarden.com/Rental_Homes.html.
Oasis Rio Indio - Brand NEW! check
out this property!
La Brisa: Newly remodeled
Casa Porto Vino:- Costa Maya's most spectacular property
INCREASE IN PASSPORT FEES
Please refer to the Department of States website
at www.travel.state.gov or the US
consulate site in Merid
On February 1, 2008, the U.S. Government will increase its fees for
certain U.S. citizen passport services.
- adult applicants renewing a passport, the total fee will increase
- first-time applicants age 16 and over, the total fee will increase
- First time fee for minors under 16 years of age will be $85.
Effective February 1, 2008, passport applicants who are U.S. citizen
minors under the age of 16 must appear personally with their parents
to establish identity, proof of citizenship and proof of relationship.
For parental application permission, both parents must appear together
and sign or one parent may appear to sign and submit the other parents
notarized statement, or one parent may appear, sign, and submit primary
evidence of sole authority. Minors age 16 and 17 may apply in person
with their own identification, but for security reasons, parental consent
may be required. If your child does not have identification of their
own, a parent will be required to accompany the child and present identification.
SEAT BELT TICKETING
| As of the first of the year, we have been
hearing about a lot of people being stopped for not wearing seatbelts.
They seem to be targeting people as they exit the airport. It has long
been a law, but now the police are wising up and extorting money from
those not wearing seatbelts. I'm not sure what the fine is if you actually
can get one of the police to write you up a legitimate ticket, but we've
had guests pay from $200 pesos to $600 pesos. They haven't been wearing
the seatbelt, so they feel guilty and pay on the spot. Remember, to pay
a policeman by the side of the road is bribery and he or she is guilty
of extortion. Don't do it. Let them write you out the ticket (but I dare
you to get one of them to do it!!!!). My guess is that if you actually
ever get a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt you will only end up paying
$100 pesos, but why take the chance? Wear your seatbelt, follow the law
and let the police extort money from someone else.
COSTA MAYA CRUISE SHIP NEWS
- Costa Maya Pier - According to an official statement the
last week of January, the reconstruction of berthing spaces one and
two is now 58 percent complete -- and both will be ready to receive
cruise ships three months earlier than originally expected (no exact
date was given). A third position is also being rebuilt, to be finished
after the summertime reopening. In the interim, Costa Maya will only
welcome ships at its fully operational berths. The port will not tender
in additional passengers, in order to focus on reconstruction and
recovery while still operating at two-thirds capacity.
At this point, we do not know which cruise lines will be first to
return. Negotiations are underway, according to the statement, and
a new schedule should be finalized and available by the beginning
of February. I checked with cruisecal.com and as of Feb. 18th, the
first scheduled ship is Disney Magic on Sept. 30.
COZUMEL, Mexico, January 20, 2008 (ENS) -
To minimize the impact of up to 10,000 visitors a day on Cozumel's
sensitive coral reef ecosystem, a conservation agreement was signed
by cruise industry leaders representing government, private sector,
civil society, and the cruise lines. The agreement is intended to enhance
environmental awareness and education of cruise ship passengers, tour
operators, service providers and the local community about the area's
fragile natural resources that include endangered hawksbill turtles
and living coral reefs. Parties to the agreement pledged to improve
island management of tourism infrastructure, including improving island
traffic and waste management.
The agreement provides a framework to facilitate the sustainability
of cruise tourism in Cozumel through concerted action by government,
private sector, civil society organizations and cruise lines that all
have a stake in ensuring a healthy future of the island's natural assets.
This participatory planning process for the cruise industry is the first
of its kind in the region, making Cozumel a pioneer cruise destination
in demonstrating its commitment to protecting its natural attractions
The initiative was made possible with support from National Fish and
Wildlife Foundation Coral Reef Conservation Fund and the Cruise Lines
International Association. A 30-second educational video is shown to
passengers onboard cruise ships encouraging them to leave a light footprint
and a recycling campaign is now offered on board all tour boats and
offices of onshore service providers.
The partners estimate that Cozumel's destination-level Cruise Passenger
Education Campaign will reach more than 500,000 cruise visitors over
the next six months.
- Where did the Costa Maya cruise ships go? As all of the readers
of this newsletter know, Puerto Costa Maya was so damaged that cruise
ships were not able to dock. Since then, the State of Yucatan has
been accommodating the cruise ships that would have docked at the
Costa Maya. This brought Yucatan a tourism windfall of almost $2 million
U.S. dollars per week. Yucatan will not, however, lose all of the
new cruise ships that stopped there. Quite a few have signed continuing
contracts to dock at Progresso. We believe that Quintana Roo and Yucatan
are so different from each other that there is room for both to continue
to be more successful than ever before in providing tourists with
the ultimate in vacation pleasure.
Whether or not you approve of the plans for Mahahaul/Majahual -it
is a flurry of activity! The construction is moving rapidly to a point
of semi-completion for Semana Santa (Holy Week) when Mahahual is flooded
with Mexican tourists coming to the beach to vacation. (more about
plans for Mahahual's Semana Santa below).
I guess like anything spawned by bureaucracy, in the end no one
is completely happy. There are things to like and probably more things
to hate. For example, I really like the large palms they have planted
along the beach and as much as I hate the fact that they took away
sand from roads that didn't belong to them, I like the wider beaches
created by that act (time and weather will tell if they stay). I also
like the new road they put in that allows you to by-pass the light
house and military checkpoint. It makes getting in and out of town
a lot easier. I've seen the finished plans for the next two years,
and there will be a very nice, wide 4-lane road in the 2nd phase that
will cut through the mangroves, bypass the town and connect with the
beach road south. It will include gloriettas (round-a-bouts or circle-y
things as Kim calls them), islands in the middle, and will be a nice
way to bypass the town. What I don't like is the concrete Malecon.
For some reason, they decided that the Malecon should be this Mexican-modern
blue stamped concrete. What I've seen looks like the color of a grey
and cloudy Seattle sky, not beachy and warm. They say it will look
better when they put the sealer on it, but I'm not convinced. More
about the plans for Mahahual in bulleted items below.
- New Topes - whether we like them or not, they are a fact
of life in Mexico. There are going to be two new topes added on the
Cafetal road at either side of the road into the businesses and homes
at Kilometer 55. If you don't know where that is, you soon will!
- Information booth - Speaking of Topes, I'm sure many of you
have hit the tope on Cafetal that is labeled Taxi tours. There will
be a tourist information booth there to service travelers.
- No more camping in Mahahual - As of last Saturday, there
will be no camping in the urban areas of Mahahual. I asked where camping
is allowed, and it is only allowed on private lots. It is not legal
on the federal zone. It will be interesting to see what happened at
Semana Santa when people who have been used to setting up their tents
between the light house and the fisherman's pier will not be allowed
to do so.
- Public Bathrooms - the first public bathrooms as part of
the Urban planning for Mahahual will be ready by Semana Santa. As
of today, it has not yet begun. I hope they follow the example of
the bathrooms in Progresso which are free to tourists. At this point
in time, Mahahual bathrooms will not be free.
- Protected swimming areas - the port captain announced that
there will be no boats, kayaks, jet skis or any other devices in the
area from Mahahaul hotel to 40 Cannones. This area is reserved for
swimmers. Elsewhere, boats and jet-skis may travel at no more than
5km an hour inside the reef and once out side the reef they can open
up. This will be enforced by the Port Captain. Complaints can be addressed
- No Tricycles on the Malecon - The Malecon will only be for
pedestrians. Vendors selling items on their tricycles will not be
allowed to travel on the Malecon. In fact, no bicycles of any kind
will be allowed there. Bicycle tours will be routed around the Malecon.
- Garbage pickup - In an attempt to clean up the town, all
garbage pickup in the beach area will be daily from 6:00-8:00. That
would leave them plenty of time to come here to pick up garbage in
Placer, but they were a no-show to day. We haven't had pickup for
2 weeks! The beach plastic is mounding!
COSTA MAYA HOSPITAL
The following is courtesy of Kevin Graham regarding plans for a new
"A foundation made up primarily of business owners in Cancun
has formed a group called, UAI NAT ZÉ, which is Maya for
from here, or from the heart. The primary
goal of this group is initially to build a hospital in Mahahual
for everyone including the poor. Land has already been donated,
as have the building or construction. I was asked to be on the board
of this foundation to help direct the effort from Mahahual. The
long term goal of the foundation is to help the Maya anywhere in
the Yucatan Peninsula after natural disasters such as floods and
rebuilding schools, churches, homes. There is also
a very key person in the US (Tara Shields) who is collecting hospital
supplies such as beds, medications, equipment and much more. A group
of Catholic doctors and nurses might be coming to staff the hospital,
at least in its inception. This should be a sign that this hospital
is not meant to serve only those who can afford medical care. LocoGringo
has already donated the remaining [Dean] funds to this foundation
and PlayaPals has committed to donating its remaining funds. Another
donation has been received from a volunteer by the name of Joanna
Kurth from friends in Germany who want to help. (I list her name
individually because the group does not have a name). As you can
imagine, this project will be a very expensive and complex undertaking
and wont happen overnight. We really need funds to complete
the project and hope people will adopt this effort as their own."
I've asked Kevin to keep us apprised of any information he has about
the proposed hospital. You can contact Kevin at firstname.lastname@example.org
OCEAN CONSERVANCY AND SEE TURTLES
From the Ocean Conservancy newsletter:
"On January 22, Ocean Conservancy launched SEE Turtles, a program
that informs people about tour operators who are helping us save sea
turtles. Well-planned, modest tourism programs can be a huge lift to
small-budget turtle conservation programs, providing both support for
actual field efforts, as well as alternatives for local fishermen whose
livelihoods would otherwise be destructive to turtles. To learn more
about SEE Turtles or to plan your vacation, visit:
or read the article in Ocean Conservancy magazine. "
Turtle photo copyrighted by Neil Osborne.
NEWS FROM XCALAK
Polly is back this month -
"I can't believe that it's February 2007, Happy New Year everybody.
Had my #1 son and his family here for a visit. Of course they arrived
with the coldest Norte we have had in all the time I've been here. Fleeces,
long pants, socks and shoes were the order of the day. No sand castles,
snorkeling this time, we did however go beach combing both here and
in Mahahual. We now have another convert to Sea Bean/Drift Seed collecting.
Julia is six so wanted to know how, where, and when, luckily I have
the book by Perry/Dennis, Sea Beans from the Tropics, there is also
a great website same name. Marcia has written on this subject (Dec
16Th 2005 Archive Newsletter ) after having guests that were
avid collectors, it doesn't take long to get hooked! Just walk the dogs
along the high tide mark...... there you go! I have 4 beans that I found
sprouting on the beach, planted them in my garden and watched them grow
5 inches a day! Now they are up to the roof of the hotel next door and
I am waiting for them to flower.
Xcalak had it's first Spay and Neuter Vet Clinic. It was a great success,
five vets and six/seven specialized helpers spayed/neutered/vaccinated
over 90 animals in 2 days. They then moved on to Mahahual to start again.
We thank all who participated, owners, pets, helpers and of course our
hero's the vets. We are noticing the difference already, much quieter,
the "boys" are not scrapping all night long.
I may have mentioned that I quit smoking in May, I am now a rolly-polly,
nuff said, I have bought a beach bike. It is a revelation to ride out
early morning and see the birds and animals without disturbing them.
This week, 4 Wood Storks and incredibly, 100 or more, NO REALLY, immature
White Ibis in the mangrove lagoons on the road out of the pueblo. Amazing
sights and sounds. "
Polly from Xcalak.
BULLET TRAIN FROM MERIDA TO CHICHEN
The World Bank has begun its feasibility study of the proposed bullet
train between Merida and Chichen Itza and Tulum. Their findings should
be out by August of 2008. This is one project that has strong opinions
on all sides and the findings of the World Bank are going to be anxiously
awaited. The governor of Yucatan would like some of the tourist dollars
coming to Cancun and would like to position Merida as the gateway to
Chichen Itza. That would make a visit to Chichen Itza a viable option
for cruise ship passengers visiting Progresso. Currently most people
visiting Chichen Itza do so from Cancun and the Riviera Maya. Many people
are not aware that Chichen Itza is not in the state of Quintana Roo,
but is in the state of Yucatan. Tourism in Yucatans archaeological
zones has increased 75 percent since Chichen Itza was named one of the
new Seven Wonders of the World.
Juan Jose Martí Pacheco, secretary of Tourist Promotion of the
state of Yucatan, said that over the past six months, the number of
visitors reached 1.7 million, and more than a third from countries other
than Mexico. The visitors pumped 200 million pesos in special taxes
into government coffers.
The state is looking to boost archaeological tourism in the southwest
part of the state, home to the ancient Maya cities of Uxmal, Kabah,
Celestun and the Loltun Cave. We are going to work very hard to
create programs to present (visitors), Marti Pacheco said.
MEXICO GOAL TO BE #1 IN WORLDWIDE TOURISM
February 11, 2008 (Speech by Mexican President Calderon - PRESS
RELEASE) I am delighted to be here with this select group
of businessmen from the tourist sector and to be able to analyze
the many opportunities Mexico provides as regards to investing in
tourism and infrastructure.
By 2012, we want Mexico to have achieved at least US$20 billion
in private investment in tourism. That is why we are making every
effort to create a suitable business environment for investment
in our country.
In five years I am sure we will be able to transform Mexico
through new ports, capable of receiving more cruise ships, and therefore
more visitors; more modern highways, new roads that will reduce
transit times between cities and tourist centers; and more and more
modern airports that will enable us to receive visitors from the
The goal we have set is to turn Mexico into a Latin American
leader as regards to infrastructure. According to some estimates,
we were in seventh or fifth place a couple of years ago.
This year, the National Tourism Fund, FONATUR, alone will
receive over a billion dollars more, over twice the amount it was
assigned last year. At the same time, we will implement a strategy
that will guarantee more attractive traveling conditions to tourists
from the regional market of the United States and Canada, and of
course from Europe, where I see an enormous potential for growth
in the number of visitors to Mexico.
Rest assured that government is making every effort to give
the tourist industry the boost it deserves, and to provide all the
necessary guarantees for the investment decisions you are making
or decide to make later so that your business will prove successful
within the market conditions.
For Mexico, tourism is a powerful engine for generating the
income the country needs, attracting new opportunities for investment
and employment while its development is a response to the opportunities
available to Mexico, as well as providing another alternative for
coping with the short-term conditions of the international economic
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
Until next month,
Best wishes from your neighbor,
Mayan Beach Garden, Boutique hotel on the Costa Maya
21.5 km. N Carretera Costera Rio Indio - Uvero
Mahahual, QRoo Mexico, 77940
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