March/30 - marzo 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
30 - Mar. 2008**************************
Hi Costa Maya Neighbors
As always, the preparations for Semana Santa (Holy Week) were an
event. Starting the week before Easter, Semana Santa is like Memorial
day, Labor day and the 4th of July holidays rolled into one. I'm not
sure what equivalent holidays exist elsewhere in the world, but Latin
countries all over the world celebrate Semana Santa. In Mexico, everyone
goes to the beach. This year was especially celebratory because Semana
Santa was rolled up with Benito Juarez day, the full moon and the
Vernal Equinox. Mahahual started talking about preparations for Semana
Santa months before the date. Despite the preparations, I went to
town on the Tuesday before Easter to replenish our own reserves of
beer and everyone was out of Corona, Pacifico and Leon - already!
Meanwhile the campers were covering the beach with nylon tents. In
the past, those tents would have been in the town of Mahahual, but
they weren't allowing them this year, so they pitched them elsewhere
on the beach. It wasn't hard to find cleared beaches after Dean. Constant
20 knot winds gusted to higher speeds with common frequency causing
camping to be less than ideal. You walked outside and got sand blasted.
The poor trees and post-Dean planted shrubs were drying up and shriveling
in the salt laden air. We've lost at least 5 inches of sand before
it seized. The new soft sand deposited in Mahahual is also getting
blown away and eroded by the wind driven waves. Still, they came with
their tents and had fun. The hotels were full and the restaurants
busy. Without the cruise ship passengers in the way, Mexicans enjoyed
Mahahual the way they used to. I noticed that only a few of the prices
had gone up and there wasn't quite the gouging we have seen in the
Over the Easter Holiday I had the opportunity to visit the US. Everyone
was talking about the economy. We are already feeling it here in a
decrease of advance reservations. We are finding even homes are renting
out with less advance notice. In an effort to promote the rental homes
in the area, there are some great offers listed below under Vacation
Rental Promotions. You can also find more homes for rent on the Mayan
Beach Garden website and last minute promotions that might be posted.
MESSAGE BOARD DISCUSSION: FONATUR
PULLS FUNDING FROM COSTA MAYA
This week's topic is about FONATUR's decision to pull funding from
the Costa Maya. Read the article below for more information, but in
a nutshell FONATUR announced they were pulling funding for the Costa
Maya. Marcia's opinion? I think it's a good thing. Playa del Carmen
and Tulum evolved naturally without FONATUR support. I think all of
us would rather not live in a place that looks like it was designed
on a computer. This is always a danger when someone comes in and builds
something according to a grand plan. My only regret is that without
funding, we won't get the infrastructure we need for power and water
(I personally don't want a golf course). Anyone have any other opinions
or information about this? If so, please log on and give your opinion.
More on this subject below.
FONATUR pulling funding: http://costamayalive.com/Forum/viewforum.php?f=9
FONATUR's DECISION TO PULL
FINDING FROM THE COSTA MAYA - FULL REPORT
FONATUR announced the first week of March at the VI Tourism Forum
that they were canceling the 400 million pesos contribution that had
previously been dedicated to the Costa Maya. Director of FONATUR,
Miguel Gomez Mont stated the reason given behind the suspension of
funds is the General Law on Wildlife and Wetlands/Mangrove Protection
which was passed in 2007 and supports the North American Wetland's
Conservation Act passed in 1999 of which Mexico is a member. Amid
protests, Mexican President Calderon signed this bill into law. Sixteen
governors vowed to fight it, including Quintana Roo's Governor Felix.
The headlines stated that the announcement was like a bucket of ice
water dropped on the Costa Maya development community. After the destruction
of Hurricane Dean, this was indeed a disappointment for many. It has
always been known that the area had mangroves and that it was a protected
area, so the announcement now doesn't make a lot of sense to many.
FONATUR will finish Costa Maya projects that have already been funded,
such as the Malecon, but no further money is currently targeted. Felix,
the governor of QRoo has stated that he will still put money into
the area and it will move forward even without the funding, progress
may just take longer.
I've included the Wetlands Act Declaration below so the readers of
this newspaper and more fully understand the issues and value of what
has happened. The arguments were effective enough to cause the withdrawal
of funds from not only Costa Maya but from a project on the Pacific
coast as well. You can read the North American Wetland's Conservation
Act at http://ipl.unm.edu/cwl/fedbook/nawca.html
WETLANDS ACT DECLARATION
CANCUN, MX .- Under the World Wetlands Day (February 2) the Citizen
Environmental Monitoring Centre (OCVA), a movement which comprises
120 citizen organizations, launched the "Declaration For the
Protection of Mangrove in Mexico. " According to UN figures,
35 percent of mangroves worldwide have been lost . In Mexico authorities
estimate that it has lost 65 percent of this ecosystem, of which only
655 thousand hectares throughout the country. Most alarming, they
say, is that each day the loss continues at a rate of 63 football
fields. Locally, in the municipality Benito Juarez (Cancun area) estimated
a loss of mangroves of 40 percent since its founding as a tourist
The following is a translation of the act:
We the undersigned citizens, academics and civil society organizations
recognize the importance guarding mangrove ecosystems and the urgent
need to protect them, because they:
VACATION RENTAL PROMOTIONS
(2007 Spring and Summer))
We know the economy is making everyone jittery, but it is a great
time to visit the Costa Maya. You can still see what Dean did in the
area, but most of the beaches have been restored. I love it without
the Cruise ship passengers. If you are thinking of coming down to
check out your property, think about staying in a rental house. There
are some great prices and some great houses. You can see all homes
Rio Indio Oasis - **Great deal for those last minute trips**
Short term Private room (2 persons) - inside of 20 days from reservation
date - full use of all amenities and shared common area.
$95/night 1st night - $75/night each additional night (plus taxes)
Long term rental discounts from list price (all seasons)
2 weeks - 20% discount
3 weeks - 25% discount
4 weeks - 30% discount
4 weeks plus - 40% discount
Mayan Beach Garden -
Mayan Beach Garden is offering 15% off any cabana reservation during
the month of June and July PLUS the 5th night free. Just mention this
newsletter to get the discount.
Dragonfly - "Couple's" special
Good only for two person rental on this two bedroom house South of
Mahahual. $600 a week or $100 per night for the months of April, May
and June plus taxes. Normal rate for all other rentals. Must mention
Villa Costa Maya
May -August is discounted 10% from this time last year, NOW ONLY
$455 per week plus taxes. Staying a month? The rate is $1300 for that
TURTLES WASHING UP ON THE BEACH
In the opening editorial, I mentioned the strong winds we've had.
Along with the winds have been wind driven waves and strong surge.
A sad by-product of the wind are dead turtles showing up on the beach.
The following is courtesy of Karla Nelson from Placer:
"We are seeing a lot of baby turtles washed up on shore. This
is due to the strong winds we are experiencing. They do not have the
strength for this and become exhausted. If you find a dead turtle
washed up on the beach you should bag it in ice and call Roberto from
ECOSUR in Chetumal (contact below). He will make arrangements with
you to get it. They will perform a autopsy to find out why it died.
If you find a live turtle you have two options. Place the turtle in
a container with a little salt water. Give it some Pedialite (can
be bought easily in Mahahual, etc.) Try to feed it tiny pieces of
fish. If it won't eat. mush up the fish in a little water and use
an eye dropper or a syringe and squirt it down its throat. Do this
for about 3 days so it can regain it's strength. Then let it go at
night. Or, once again, call Roberto and he says he'll take care of
it. If you are in the Playa del Carmen area, call Ana Negrete, director
of the turtle program in Xcaret (contact below)
Roberto Herrera (Chetumal)
Cell # 983-7520565
MV2 - Ana Negrete (Director)
Cell # 984-8715273
Let's all do our part. If you are unable to do the above please contact
me, Karla next to MBG, and I will do it for you."
NEWS FROM MAHAHUAL
Protesting the Mahahual inclusion into the Municipality of Maya
The business owners and inhabitants of Mahahual have published a
protest in the newspaper in an effort to avoid inclusion in Municipio
of Maya Bacalar. Currently the entire Costa Maya is part of Opon P
Blanco. A municipio is the equivalent of a county or township. The
protest was published on March 6th in the newspaper. Reasons for not
being included are many. Primarily, the reason is to remain under
the stewardship of Chetumal. The maturity and influence offered by
staying in Opon P Blanco are very beneficial to the Costa Maya at
this juncture. Opon P Blanco is the largest Municipio by land area
Of interest to many is the fact that the Municipio of Tulum was just
granted the first week of March.
New organization for Mahahual business owners
I don't quite know the name of the Mahahual tourist associated business
owner's organization that I've joined , but it currently holds great
promise for having some impact. Active committees include security
and ambiental (environmental), among others. It costs 1,000 pesos
to sign up and $250 pesos per month for dues. Meetings are Saturday
afternoons at Tequila Beach. The Chamber of Commerce is working closely
with this organization.
- The jungle roads going south to Xcalak and north to Uvero are getting
tarred and graveled. During that process, the roads can be dangerous
because of the loose gravel. We've already had an accident with one
of our guests hitting loose gravel - please be careful.
- Another improvement is that the signs indicating the turnoff to
Mahahual / Costa Maya have been restored on 307.
- The new roads in Mahahual are still being improved. They recently
dug trenches for the installation of power, water and sewer along
the new roads. They are still not paved, but significantly better
than they were pre-improvement.
- The Malecon is still under construction.
- 307 - the improvement to the highway from Tulum to Cafetal junction
is moving along. Watch for change of lanes and construction crews.
It is not always marked well. You will love the new road - it makes
it much safer to drive (now if only they would build a bypass to Playa
- Traffic in Playa Del Carmen is getting very bad. Please allow for
an extra 1/2 hour to get through this area, especially if driving
in the afternoon.
FIRE IN PLACER
Early in March, during a period of high winds, someone deliberately
set a fire on the west side of the beach road, approximately 1 km
north of Mayan Beach Garden. The fire first spread South to Punta
Placer area before the winds changed direction. It then spread north
into the Sapphire area of Placer, burning trees in the B lots of Sapphire.
Those affected were lots 8B and higher with the worst damage being
in the 11-20B lots. I have photos of some of the lots. Please email
me if you own lots here and I'll make a point of finding your lot
and emailing you pictures. No homes were destroyed, although the fire
came very close to Slahetka's new construction on lot 7A, (since the
hurricane, lot numbers are harder to find so I may not be exactly
accurate on the number). The fire, which covered over a kilometer
north and south was reported to the police on the second day of burning.
They came and looked at the fire, but no one came to put it out. I
solicited help from the Chamber of Commerce who called the Department
of Civil protection in Chetumal. It took them two days to come and
put out the fire. Sapphire lots burned on the last day. I contacted
a biologist who reported this to PROFEPA and SEMARNAT. They are looking
into this as a suspicious fire.
AIRPORT IN TULUM
Consistently people ask, " What is the status of the airport
in Tulum?" The Spanish group Obrascón Huarte Lain (OHL),
announced its interest in participating in the construction of the
international airport in the Riviera Maya which is still under study.
They join other business groups such as CEMEX and ASUR seeking to
be granted the project. OHL is one of the primary investors in the
Riviera Maya projected to spend over $ 50 million USD to the development
of Mayakoba resort, located about nine miles north of Playa del Carmen,
hosting Cancun's first professional golf course.
Meanwhile, the plot thickens. Mexican airport operator Asur will
fight to take part in the bidding process. Chief Financial Officer
Adolfo Castro said ASUR will take the case to court if government
authorities do not allow the company to bid for the rights to build
and run the airport. The government, ever more sensitive to monopolies,
has not yet decided if Asur can participate in the bidding process.
The sticking point is competition because Asur already operates nine
airports in Mexico's southeast, including Cancun, Cozumel and Merida.
"If they do not allow us to participate we will use all the
legal tools that we have in hand in order to protect our rights and
in order to be part of the bidding process," Castro told a conference
call with analysts. Once built, it is estimated that Cancun, which
currently accounts for 70% of Asur's traffic could loose 20% to the
If ASUR does choose to sue, it could slow the development of an airport
in Tulum. I certainly hope this gets resolved soon.
MEXICO TO GRANT WORK VISAS TO
March 13, 2008 The Mexican government has opened its doors
to Belizean workers allowing them to work legally in southern Mexican
states. This offer became effective on March 13 and is opened to any
Belizean sixteen years or older. Press officer at the Mexican Embassy
in Belize Marcelino Miranda said the Mexican government has realized
that there are a number of Belizeans working in Mexico and this is
a first step in legalizing their status.
What Mexico is doing is recognizing a reality that there is a need
for labor force in Mexico and that there workers already in Mexico
who dont have the legal documents. For all the Belizeans who
want to work in Mexico this is good news because the procedure is
going to be easier. With the temporary work visa workers will be able
to work in the border states of Tabasco, Chiapas, Campeche and Quintana
Roo. If you are hiring workers, make sure they have these visas.
Without it, you can not legally hire non-Mexican workers.
US CONSULAR UPDATES
Sun, Fun, and Safety this Spring Break Season:
Over 100,000 American teenagers and young adults travel to resort
areas throughout Mexico over Spring Break each year. While the
vast majority enjoys their vacation without incident, several may
die, hundreds will be arrested, and still more will make mistakes
that could affect them for the rest of their lives. We encourage
all U.S. citizens to phone home periodically to assure family members
of your safety and inform them of your whereabouts. Remember,
whether you travel to Mexico by land, air, or sea, you are entering
a foreign country and are subject to the laws and customs regulations
Registration with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate (in the country you
are visiting) makes your presence and whereabouts known, in case it
is necessary for a consular officer to contact you in an emergency.
During a disaster overseas, American consular officers can assist
in evacuation were that to become necessary, but they cannot assist
you if they do not know where you are. You can register with
the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Departments
travel registration web site.
more information on how to stay safe this Spring Break please visit
the State Departments website:
Border Crossing Requirements:
The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City wishes to remind the traveling public
that as of January 31, 2008, all adult travelers will be required
to present both proof of citizenship and proof of identity or a U.S.
Passport or SENTRI/NEXUS/FAST card, when entering the United States
through land and sea ports of entry. This requirement results from
implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI),
and applies to U.S., Canadian, and Bermudian citizens.
Oral declarations of citizenship alone are no longer acceptable.
Instead, the following documents must be provided at the land and
sea points of entry:
- U.S. and Canadian citizens ages 19 and older will need to present
a government-issued photo ID, such as a drivers license, along
with proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate or naturalization
- Children ages 18 and under will only be required to present proof
of citizenship, such as a birth certificate.
- Passports and trusted traveler program cards - NEXUS, SENTRI and
FAST - will continue to be accepted for cross-border travel.
- Aside from U.S., Canadian, and Bermudian citizens, document requirements
for other travelers will not be affected by this change. There is
NO change in entry requirements for Mexican nationals.
Alert! Change in Passport Fees
On February 1, 2008, the U.S. Government increased its fees for
certain U.S. citizen passport services. For adult applicants renewing
a passport, the total fee will increase to $75. For first-time applicants
age 16 and over, the total fee will increase to $100. The fee for
minors under 16 years of age will be $85.
Alert to Parents! Parental Signature Requirements are Expanded
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 of consent, or One parent may appear, sign, and submit
primary evidence of sole legal custody. 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.
New Passport Card Applications Now Available:
The U.S. Embassy Passports Office is accepting applications for
the new U.S. Passport Card accepted under the WHTI land border travel
document requirements. We expect cards will be available and
mailed to applicants in spring 2008.
The passport card will facilitate entry and expedite document processing
at U.S. land and sea ports-of-entry when arriving from Canada, Mexico,
the Caribbean and Bermuda. The card may not be used to travel
by air. It will otherwise carry the rights and privileges
of the U.S. passport book and will be adjudicated to the exact same
The card will have the same validity period as a passport book:
10 years for an adult, five years for children 15 and younger.
For adults who already have a passport book, they may apply for
the card as a passport renewal and pay only $20. First-time
applicants will pay $45 for adult cards and $35 for children.
For more information on the Passport Card please visit http://travel.state.gov/passport/ppt_card/ppt_card_3926.html
Traveling Soon? Get Your Passport!
Due to WHTI requirements, if you plan to travel by air in the next
few months, plan ahead! It currently takes 4-6 weeks to process
a passport application submitted at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City.
The standard processing time for passports applied for in the U.S.
is 6-8 weeks. For expedited passports, the processing time is 3
If the traveler is traveling in less than two weeks, they should
email the Department via the form on http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html
or call 1-877-487-2778 to schedule an appointment.
Voting-Exercise Your Constitutional Right:
Wondering how to register to vote while living overseas? Visit www.fvap.gov,
the official government website for overseas voters. You will need
to fill out a registration card, with your US address (where you
want to register to vote) and the mailing address here in Mexico
(where the ballot will be sent). Every state is different and has
different requirements for the registration card. The website has
all the information for all the states. You send the registration
card to the county in the state where you wish to register.
Survey: Did You Have Problems Migrating to Mexico?:
The Mexican Government is conducting a perception survey among citizens
of the United States and Canada living in Mexico in order to identify
the main difficulties they faced during the process of migrating
to Mexico and once they have settled in the country. Its purpose
is to collect information, analyze the main difficulties, and propose
policy changes to facilitate migration to Mexico.
Your participation is completely voluntary; please forward it to
any other US or Canadian citizens living in Mexico you may know.
All information provided will remain anonymous and strictly confidential,
and will only be used for the purpose of this study. Follow the
link below to complete the 5 minute survey.
Services Provided by the U.S. Embassy in the Event of a Death
of a U.S. Citizen:
When a U.S. citizen dies abroad, the Embassy can notify the family
at home and provide information about the options and costs of disposition
of the remains. The Embassy can also prepare a Report of Death based
on the local death certificate. This report can be used as proof
of death in most legal proceedings in the United States. More information
can be found at: travel.state.gov/law/deathrep.html
or by calling the Embassy.
NEWS FROM XCALAK-POLLY
"We have had some excitement here in Xcalak, a couple of weeks
ago we woke up to a Colombian panga on the reef in front of the dive
shop. It was big panga with 3, 200 hp, Yamaha 4 stroke engines, plenty
of room in the boat for cargo, but completely empty. It took all of
one day, a big marine boat, a helicopter winching the marines on and
off, and a couple of pangas to get it off the reef and on to the beach
where it was then guarded day and night.
Last week with those strong winds we had a beautiful 40 foot sail
boat blown on to the reef as she tried to get through the cut. Many
local pangas, the marines and the Guardia de Parque tried to get it
off the reef with no avail, sometime during the night it freed itself
and was inside the reef in the morning. Unfortunately it has broken
it's keel as well as it's Captain's heart.
The mangrove flats are drying out, sad to think that the wading birds
will soon be gone for another year, those wonderful sights and sounds,
candy floss when the white egrets and roseate spoonbills rise in a
cloud when disturbed. Luis Bon and I went to check out a new rancho
walk to take the birders (twitchers), he spotted some rare birds and
is going back to check out early morning when there should be many
I don't know if there are anymore like me down here!! I spent an
hour the other morning watching a beautiful vine snake climb from
a shrub up a tree and along my fence.
I went off to Chetumal another day, full of gloom and doom at the
thought of immigration and renewing my FM2. On the Xcalak/Mahahual
road I slowed as I saw a coatamundi cross the road, I then sat watching
as 22 others followed, big, medium and small, that 5 minutes, put
a smile on my face and everything went better in Chetumal.
I have a banana plant in my garden that is flowering, fruiting, this
is amazing for me from cold, wet England.
Just time for a quick boast, I have two more orchids out, I must
take some more photos.
Happy Easter.............Polly from Xcalak "
2008-INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF THE
REEF (Please read this!)
Despite the length of the following article, I decided to include
the important portions as it relates directly to the decision by FONATUR
to remove funding from the area and the Wetlands Declaration listed
(CNN) -- In Mexico and across the world, the fragile ecosystems of
coral reefs are under threat from human activity. Over fishing, unsustainable
tourism, coastal development, pollution, the global aquarium trade
and climate change are having a devastating effect on these fragile
ecosystems, according to the International Coral Reef Initiative.
The group has designated 2008 as International Year of the Reef in
a bid to publicize the reefs' precarious predicament. Meanwhile fellow
conservation group, Nature Conservancy, warns that if destruction
continues at its current rate, 70 percent of the world's coral reefs
will have disappeared within 50 years.
A report released in January by the World Conservation Union concluded
that hurricanes and rising sea temperatures in 2005 -- the hottest
year since records began -- caused large-scale examples coral bleaching,
in which corals lose the essential algae that coat their surfaces,
devastating more than half of the Caribbean's reefs.
But human activity at ground level is having an equally damaging
effect, says Paul Sanchez-Navarro, Director of Centro Ecologico Akumal,
an organization that monitors the impact of development on the reefs
that thrive off the coast of Mexico's Quintana Roo. Pollution spilled
into the sea by the thousands of hotels on the Mexican Riviera is
"stressing" the coral reefs.
"There are a lot of nutrients going into the ground water caused
by treated water from the hotels and municipal waste water treatment
plants," he explains. "They inject the water into the ground
and that makes its way into the aquifer... We've found way too many
nutrients -- nitrates and phosphates -- and that comes from human
waste, mostly urine." The result, says Sanchez-Navarro, is increased
algae growth that effectively suffocates the coral, impeding its growth.
While coral reefs in other parts of the Caribbean have suffered from
coral bleaching caused by rising sea temperatures, Mexico's reefs
have largely escaped this partly due to the hurricanes that have battered
this coastline in recent years. These cool the water down in their
wake but damage the reefs in other ways: the World Conservation's
report, "Corals -- facing the death sentence", found that
2005's Hurricane Wilma and Hurricane Emily decreased coral cover from
24 percent to 10 percent in the reefs off Mexico's Cozumel.
An occasional storm can actually have a beneficial effect on coral
reefs, says Sanchez-Navarro, because the turbulence allows the coral
to break off and spread. But the coral needs time to recover and the
increase in category four and five storms, which some scientists believe
is caused by climate change and rising sea temperatures, allows no
time for this. "The difficulty now with climate change is that
if we are going to have big storms every year then the coral doesn't
have a chance to recover," says Sanchez-Navarro. "Normally
you would have a big storm every five to ten years. The storm breaks
up the coral but if the coral is healthy it starts to grow again and
actually a hurricane every ten years is not bad because it disperses
the coral in more places and then it grows up more."
The white sands that have made this stretch of tropical paradise
so popular with tourists are generated by the breakdown over thousands
of years of coral and the calcium it produces. Eventually no coral
will mean no white beaches.
Sanchez-Navarro believes the depletion of Quintana Roo's reefs is
already affecting the local fishingindustry. Around the world ten
percent of all fish caught originate from reefs. "We'll probably
see reduced fish stocks because there is less areas for them to take
refuge in," he says. "We don't have numbers for them but
we have observations made by divers who have been coming here for
years who have noticed over time the depletion."
"This momentum that comes from the storm usually has this big
surge but it hits the reef first and it changes the dynamic of the
waves. Coral reefs drop the intensity of the storm significantly:
the surge can become 75 percent less."
Sanchez-Navarro does not think that tourism in itself is necessarily
damaging to the region's coral reefs. Snorkeling and sub aqua can
cause physical damage to the reef if divers stand on the reef or anchors
from boats are dropped in the wrong place. But with co-operation with
the local dive schools he believes bad practice can be cut out.
The main threat remains the expansion of unsustainable hotels and
the dumping of untreated pollution into the sea, he says.
"The biggest challenge here is defining what is sustainability
for the region because there's so much investment, especially from
Spain -- Spanish investment has bought up virtually the entire coast
-- and they don't seem to be required to obey the law.
"They can cut down mangrove when they want -- they actually pressured
the federal government to change the mangrove law because they bought
up all this mangrove and they want to cut it down and drain it and
fill it up with hotels."