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Costa Maya Newsletter> Archived Costa Maya Newsletters > October, 2009 -

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

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*******************Costa Maya Newsletter*******************
October / Oct. 2009

Hi Costa Maya Neighbors-

Charles and Margaret's excellent adventure

Remember your first Mexico driving experience and the anxiety you felt the first time you approached a Military checkpoint? A couple of weeks ago, a good friend and Canadian expat gave some folks a lift out of Mahahual. Unbeknownst to him, the hitch-hikers had marijuana cigarettes in their luggage which of course the military found. My friend was furious and after the soldiers confiscated the Marijuana, he was allowed to proceed. My Canadian friend was lucky. He could have had his vehicle confiscated for possession, but that would be another story. This is the story of Charles and Margaret (not their real names).

Marcia with Baracuda

Charles and Margaret arrived at Mayan Beach Garden shortly after the incident described above. Now Charles and Margaret have "tourist" written all over them, despite the fact that Margaret was born in Mexico and speaks fluent Spanish. On their first morning they decided to go to Bacalar and on the way, they were stopped at the military checkpoint. While checking the car, the soldiers coincidentally discovered a marijuana cigarette. Margaret Panicked - she knew a Mexican set-up when she saw one. What she didn't know was that you really can't get in trouble for a single joint and . . . . REALLY, if you saw Margaret. . . . but the point is, she did panic and in perfect Spanish asked how much to make this go away. The going rate for the day was $100 USD. Margaret not only paid, but quickly did the math and paid $1300 pesos - using the exchange rate of 13x1.

They were both pretty shook up when they got back into their car, but this is where it get's interesting. Rather than trying to forget it happened, they went into Chetumal and reported it to the Military authorities. The Military Commandante was so appalled he ordered every soldier retrieved from that checkpoint and was prepared to put them in front of Charles and Margaret for a line-up. Since there was no mirrored glass to stand behind, Charles and Margaret decided that wasn't very prudent so gracefully declined. However, they gave definite descriptions of the soldiers involved. They came back to Mayan Beach Garden that evening deciding to hang out on the beach for a day so that Margaret's could settle her nerves.

Before long , an entire truckload of soldiers with guns showed up at Mayan Beach Garden. A full apology was given by both the commander and the two soldiers who planted the joints and who had apparently confessed to the crime. Charles and Margaret were amazed as the two soldiers asked for forgiveness and the commandante returned their $1300 pesos. The commandante made it clear that the Military's job is to protect the people and that includes tourists and they did the right thing in reporting it. The commandante wanted to make sure that no legal complaint would later be filed against the military or against the Commandante (I found that interesting that you can file legal charges against the military!)

All this made for lively conversation around the dinner table as you can imagine - but was to me a fascinating insight into the military. I pass them all the time, I wave to them and wonder what goes on in their heads. I'm sure there are and will me more incidents where individual soldiers try to take advantage of people like Charles and Margaret, but I'm still glad the military is here and this incident made me feel more secure knowing they are around and their superiors take their jobs seriously. At least this commandante did.

Past newsletters can be found at NEWSLETTER ARCHIVES

PS If you don't already, instead of staying up in Playa del Carmen and Tulum when you travel to Mexico - Try staying on the Costa Maya for a change! Every month there are more rental options and things to do.



There weren't many comments to the last questions about importing cars . I have a simpler question, however that some of you may be able to help with:

Does anyone have any experience legally importing an old car that is already in the country? I'm trying to figure out if it is worth it. I brought my subaru with me 7 years ago. It made it through Dean and I loaned it to Charlie for a year and its still kicking. The point is that I can't insure it. No one will insure it because it isn't legally imported and I don't live in the states so I haven't paid US taxes, so it isn't legal in the US either. I need to know how to do it and what the price is. I've heard it is $600 USD. I'm not sure the car is worth it, but I don't like driving an uninsured vehicle. Does anyone have any ideas?

Check out the message board this week and add your thoughts - good or bad so that we all can learn.

mahahual and Costa maya news

Happenings in and Around Mahahual

International Beach Clean-up day 19 de Sept

Despite clouds and the occasional downpour, Beach clean-up day in Mahahual was an interesting event. Mostly because of the National support and aid it received from Project Aware. July Minter from Blue Ocean Safari was instrumental in organizing the event which included attendance by Mexican pop singer Chavo.

Mahahual Cleanup

At the end of the day, he even performed a free concert in Tequila beach. He was very interested in all the Columbian labeled garbage we found up in the Placer area, so I left him a gift of a bag of well preserved Columbian Beach trash as a gift. In return I received a CD of his new album, Chavo Nueva Tierra.

Chavo singing his heart out for environmental causes in Mahahual.


The Project Aware group may very well be instrumental in finally bringing recycling to Mahahual. I will keep you informed! Again, the problem seems to be location, location location.

Cruise ships return next week

Cruise ships will be returning to Mahahual next week in near normal numbers. Since the influenza scare hit last April, there have only been two ships a month and none in a couple of months. It will be good news indeed for the town. Many were struggling to pay off debt after hurricane Dean. Everyone is looking forward to a renewal of tourist dollars.

The cost of Beer and Soda has gone up in anticipation.

Unpredictable Bus Schedule for low season

For those of you taking the bus in and out of Mahahual, the pickings are slim. There are ample busses going north and south on 307, but those going from Limones to Mahahual are down to only a couple a day. The times that seem to be consistent are 6:30 AM, 1:00 PM and 3:30 PM and one later in the evening, but I can't confirm that time. All go to Limones where you can change busses to Chetumal or Cancun. If you are arriving to Mahahual, the first bus is the Caribe bus that arrives in Mahahual about 8:30 AM, so I think it must leave Limones about 7:30. THe ADO has about cancelled busses until high season starts.

Recommended links

Robin Leach reviews Costa Maya for Boca del Mar - This rather cheesy but wonderful video/ slide show of the the Costa Maya narrated by Robin Leach is a lot of fun. If you have a web site, you might find some of your photos have been used without permission, but its fund to watch.

Mi Vida Loco - this fun spanish learning program by the BBC is pretty amazing - mostly in that it is free. It has a nice mystery running through it. The problem is that it is Castilian Spanish so a large amount of words are spelled differently and the "th" for the "s" sound is kind of annoying. The other thing that might confuse some people is the informal "you" is different in Castilian Spanish. Still it is very good for listening skills.

.World's largest underwater Sculpture garden to be built near Cancun. This is truly brilliant work. I've seldom been moved by images more thought provoking than these created by Jason de Caires Taylor. According to news announcements, 4 sculptures will be ready for early 2010 with the goal of 400 sculptures by the time it is completed. The goal is to direct people to the sculptures and away from tender reefs where over diving is deteriorating the reef -


Christmas is full!

If you are planning a vacation at Christmas time - that may not be good news, I've sent lots of people to other hotels and they are reporting full rosters now as well. The good news is that rooms are filling up - things are returning to normal occupancy (Christmas is supposed to be full by the end of September!) February and January are starting to fill up too.

What many people don't realize is that the first two weeks of January are usually pretty slow - its a great time to vacation. You can even usually get accommodations at the last minute. february on the other hand is probably the fullest month. Here's a little tidbit to all of you have rental properties or are procrastinators. Year round, the average time that people make reservations in advance is 42 days. If you are planning a vacation in February, don't wait for the 42 days average, or you might miss out on accommodations. We have a couple of homes we've added since last year, but I expect this year to be near normal and those will fill up soon.

There are still some good deals on Fall rentals. Check out  Costa Maya Vacation Home deals with Mayan Beach Garden Reservations.

Costa Maya Villas

I know you've been seeing Costa Maya Villas mentioned here before. You'll be able to rent Costa Maya Villas through me at some time in the future. The project will be ready for rentals Winter 2010.

Environmental News elsewhere in mexico

Aside from from the beach, when you drive down the highways and see large areas full of trash, you might wonder why the elusive "THEY" doesn't do something about it. Only 18 percent of the 142 cities in Mexico with more than 100,000 people have landfills, and a full 36 percent of the country's garbage ends up in open-air dumps, which were to be closed down three years ago under a federal law on waste. I'm sure you've seen them.

Meanwhile, Heavy rains in Mexico city have drawn attention to one of the city's most pressing environmental problems, the generation and collection of rubbish, because the entry to the country's biggest landfill – Bordo Poniente – has been flooded. 

The flooding initially made the collection of garbage – the city generates 13,300 tons of garbage, or 1.5 kg per person, a day – impossible. And although the city government has opened up an alternative route to reach the dump, collection services have not yet returned to normal. 

"The problem we see is that an effort is not being made to reduce the volume of solid waste; there is no campaign to discourage people from producing garbage," Patricia Ramos, head of Greenpeace Mexico's solid waste campaign, told IPS. 

Local authorities plan to build an Integral Recycling and Energy Centre southeast of the capital, which would bring in funds through recycling, the generation of compost and the use of biogas from landfill areas. But the plant has not yet been built. 

Besides the shortage of proper landfills, Mexico does not make use of the potential of waste to generate electricity or produce organic fertilizers on a large-scale, although there are six compost plants in the capital. 

Greenpeace Mexico has unsuccessfully lobbied for a specific packaging reduction law to reduce the amount of solid waste going to disposal, along the lines of legislation that exists in the European Union and Latin American countries like Argentina. (END/2009) 


I love you Xcalak

When a friend forgot what day of the week it was, I was reminded of a story from a few years ago. In the days of Alan's Xcalak Caribe bar it was pretty well normal to drop in at some time during the day if you were in "town". I dropped in about lunchtime this day. There was an American at the bar, he had a property North, up the beach. We started chatting, what day of the week was it?  Then what month? We worked out it was May. Then a half hour later when that was settled, what is the date, it was decided it was 10th. 

Oh, May 10th says the guy, it's my birthday.  Happy Birthday we all sang. Party time, and we did!



Animal clinic




Ginny, Kevin, Jenny and I met up at 100% Agave in Mahahual to talk about what is needed to get the Vets here again. We had such successful clinics 2008, we really want to continue, the people as well as the animals benefit.

Ginny is a whiz organizer, so she got voted in for the job for Xcalak, Mahahual and Bacalar.   Ginny has been VIDAS's helper organizer here for years, this year because of the financial situation we are combining, VIDAS and The Humane Society. The rest of us will do whatever we are asked to do.  We need any help you can give, be it funds, accommodation, food or hands on help on the clinic days.

Hoping for January 2010. I will keep you all updated. Thank you all for your interest.

I know I keep on about the hummingbirds but, I now have at least four that visit, I can't tell which is which except one "shouts" at me when the feeders are empty or have too many dead ants in them. I have them on the banana plants. I heard such a commotion the other day, looked up and there in a big garden spiders web was a hummingbird, all tangled up. Well, I love the spiders too but, I broke the web and off flew the hummingbird. I am amazed at just how strong the spiders webs are. Sorry spider, it was too big for you anyway.


This is another visitor to the hummingbird feeders. Does anybody know what type of moth it is?

I I have a Mexican friend who comes in and helps me with the garden once a month, more or less. When he came in a couple of months ago he turned round and gave a huge grin and then picked me up and danced round in the garden with me!    what!!
Polly, Polly you're growing ganja !!!!!    Whoopeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
When I eventually stopped laughing and told him it was just Tulipan de India, Indian Hibiscus, he was very sad.

Poinciana Mexico in all it's flamboyant splendor. Arrive in Cancun in July or August and you behold the Flamboyant tree, you can't miss them, they're everywhere. Vibrant, beautiful, totally Caribbean, a shade tree with an umbrella canopy of red flowers. There are also orange and yellow but the red is the show stopper. They shed petals everywhere, best not to park near or under them, the road, pavement is just a red carpet, as your car would be.
I remember them from Southern Africa, they are called Flame trees there. They are planted in line up the drive to the house or ranch. Very impressive. In USA they go by Royal Poinciana, all in all a fabulous tree. I just bought one from Lilly at Pedro Santos, I will have to wait a bit to see it flower though.

More about Lionfish sightings by Tiffany Boeke


By now most of you know about the threat that the newly discovered lionfish pose to the local reef. Though I’ve started to inform myself about this problem I’m certainly no expert. What I do have is personal experience finding lionfish in the waters around Xcalak. Because these fish have the potential to be incredibly devastating to the underwater environment it’s important that we arm ourselves not only physically but also with as much information as possible in the hopes of keeping their numbers down. This past August I found 4 lionfish while snorkeling. These were some of the first that were found. By the time we left Xcalak at the end of that same month close to 30 had been reported. I fear the number is far larger now. The night before I found my first fish another tourist told me about their lionfish sighting. She described the fish as beautiful with lots of spines jutting out from it’s body like a lion’s mane. Had we not just talked about this I may have missed the first one that I spotted the following day. And I hope by continuing to tell others about what to look for and what to do after spotting a fish that we will curb their growth.

About half way between the reef and Tierra Maya I saw my first lion fish in the wild. I now realize that it’s the silhouette that I recognize first. I often mistake the spines swaying in the current for anemones or some kind of sea grass. On closer inspection I noticed the gray, black stripe and the body of the fish. This one was ducking in and out under a small coral head. It seemed unconcerned with me. It would swim for cover if I approached too closely but never in a great hurry. My husband and I spent about ½ hour around this fish trying to find something to tie a buoy to so that we might notify some one to come and destroy it. Even after this much time around the fish it stayed very close to it’s little home. In fact, with subsequent sightings I had to wait hours and one time even a day before I could get someone to spear it. Each time the fish was exactly where I’d left it. So…fish #1 met it’s end when the park patrol happened by. We flagged them down and they speared it. Out of the water and speared it was much smaller than I first thought, about 4” in length and 1” thick. In the water, with spines waving I would have guessed it to be closer to 5” around.

The following 3 fish that I spotted had a similar MO. All three were about the same size. And each one was around a small coral head. I’ve since wondered if they were also hanging around the big coral heads but just hard to see because there’s so much more to look at . All three stayed near their little homes until I was able to find someone to spear them. On one particularly sad day I spotted two during one snorkel trip. I tried to catch one with a net made by my friend John out of bits and pieces of things found in his car. This didn’t work. The handle was too short and flexible and I wasn’t able to stay under long enough to approach the fish slowly. In later attempts I used a butterfly net. The handles on these nets had been cut in order to fit into a suitcase and attempts to reattach them caused them to be a bit too flexible as well. I imagine that there are nets out there that would work but they must be strong -to hold their rigidity against a current, must have a long handle-for a snorkler to be able to use it and remain at the surface, and it must have a long net and wide opening -to easily capture and then tangle the fish inside.

Other options and perhaps the easiest is spearing. However, this may pose other problems for some people. There are park rules about the use of spear guns and not everyone has one or is willing to use it.

My last idea and the one that might work well for tourists and other visitors; I started going out with a small buoy (which is a good idea for visibility anyway) and a heavy duty zip lock bag. If a lionfish is spotted the bag can be filled with sand from the bottom and the buoy can be tied around it and left somewhere nearby. Then I reported the spot to the park guards who could get to it when they had a chance.

Still, none of this will work if the people who are frequently in these waters (especially tourists and visitors) aren’t made aware of their presence and recruited in the fight. Let’s try to do what we can while their numbers are still relatively low. So please, speak out and act in order to protect this beautiful place.


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,



Updated: 19-Oct-2009

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