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Costa Maya Newsletter> Archived Costa Maya Newsletters > November, 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

You can now read up to the minute Mahahual happenings at

*******************Costa Maya Newsletter*******************
November / Noviembre 2009

Hi Costa Maya Neighbors-

Hurricane Ida and the Costa Maya (and Happy Thanksgiving!)

I want to wish everyone a lovely Thanksgiving, or Dia de Gracias as it is referred to here. It is one of my favorite holidays since it is all about food and friends and being grateful for both! Please join us for Thanksgiving dinner if you are in the area. We will start seating between 3:00 and 4:00 on the 26th. Wherever you are - may God Bless you and you find lots of things to be thankful for. I am and will continue to be grateful for the friendship of all of you!

Marcia with Baracuda

HURRICANE IDA: After a very dry rainy season, Hurricane Ida a couple of weeks ago was a welcome storm. Ida slammed into Nicaragua as one of the fastest escalating hurricanes in history - going from Tropical depression to Hurricane in hours. Nicaragua and Honduras were pummeled, but the Costa Maya only received some impressive swells and a lot of rain. We had some swells on the night of Saturday the 7th that reminded us that we need to respect the sea. Most of Mahahual and the surrounding buildings hauled their boats out of the water as preventative measures but to my knowledge, no one received any damage.

Meanwhile, I received quite a few worried emails (thank you by the way!). Concern is certainly warranted, but looking at the weather maps doesn't tell the story. I suggest going up onto the NHC web site and reading the discussions of the storm. When a hurricane is threatening land, the reports come out every hour. It helps you know whether or not you should panic. It also tells you weather conditions in the area and the methods of forecasting. After Dean, perhaps people are little gun shy. They shouldn't be.

A few people reported loosing some beach . We had some erosion in Placer, but nothing serious. I was happy that it pushed the 5 meter wide path of sea grass back a bit leaving cleaner looking beaches - at least at the water's edge.

We've had a horrible year this year of garbage dumping out in the caribbean, AND we haven't had any storms to consolidate it. Instead, the garbage is spread in wide swaths across the beach. This is the first storm all year. Sea-beaning was good the morning of the storm - the sea purses and sea hearts were plentiful. Just cleaning up Mayan Beach garden we found quite a few.

All in all, Ida was not bad for the Costa Maya. Some people will have gained beach, others will loose some beach - as in all storms, it kind of evens out. I think we can all welcome the rain!

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.


MESSAGE BOARD DISCUSSION - Retirement FM3's VS Working FM3's

Its been a while since we discussed FM3's. Since that time a lot of you have received FM3's and many of you have even moved on to FM2's. I am currently waiting for my FM2 and wondering really what benefits I will receive. Can anyone describe that for me, or is it just the process of moving toward becoming a national?

A lot of you have FM3's that are retirement FM3's you acquired in the US, but you have purchased your property with a corporation - It is my understanding with a Retirement FM3 you cannot represent your corporation and would still need to get a proxy to represent you in any legal document that might need to stand up in a court of law. Have you run into any trouble? I was also told that you couldn't legally represent your corporation unless you have an FM3 that you obtained in Mexico. I think everyone would like to know the real story and what experience you have had. Since people continue to struggle with FM3's, I think everyone can benefit.

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

Mahahualaneans on the move

Now that Marilyn Marshall is back in town things are moving again in Mahahual with the Mahahualaneans. This group's primary goal is to help the school children. Currently they are raising money to help fund several activities. They help a Bingo night and "Silent Auction"that raised (to date) 17,522 pesos to allows them to continue the work in Mahahual. Up and coming activities include:

  • Hearing Tests conducted in February
  • NATIVITY SCENE (NACIEMENTIO): Nativity scenes are still very important to Mexican Culture and every town needs one! This Year the Mahahualaneans will help the town acquire one. The town will build a palapa to put the Naciementio under and some benches will be built. The town will supply power for donated lights.
  • POPCORN MACHINE: They are looking into purchasing a Popcorn Machine to help raise money
  • CHRISTMAS PARTY FOR CHILDREN: Date confirmed and it will be at Tequila Beach - December 20th - 6 p.m. Often this can bring up to 400 children including those from Limones and the surrounding area.

Road improvement coming Rio-Placer

The anticipated beach road improvement has finally begun. Started over a year ago, it was stopped by Profepa because of illegal road moving. I'm not sure what the final outcome was, but the road will be more like the road going south out of Mahahual. They are bringing in Sascab to raise the road in some areas and pack it down. Now this does not mean they are going to maintain it. The road south of Mahahual is worse than our beach road ever was even after Dean. Still - it is a welcome addition.

Unpredictable Bus Schedule for low season (repeat)

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 departure 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. There should be a new schedule soon.

Mahahual gets coverage in NY Magazine.

Sleepy little Mahahual received a nice review in New York Magazine. In the article, it lists 6 hot spots to vacation - Mahahual was listed because of its non-giant resort status and reasonable rates. You can read the article at this link.


To make an appointment for service at the Consulate in Meridian, please visit  Before making your appointment be sure you are prepared by visiting to see lists of documents and payments required for each service.  Only emergency cases will be accepted without an appointment.

From Monday, November 30 through Friday, December 4, 2009 all requests for U.S. passports, Consular Reports of Birth Abroad, notarials, and other routine services must be applied for in person at the U.S. Consulate in Merida.  The U.S. Consular Agencies located in Playa Del Carmen and Cozumel will be closed.  Consular Agency Cancun will offer only limited emergency services.  No requests for U.S. passports, Consular Reports of Birth Abroad, notarials, or other routine services will be accepted at the Consular Agencies during these dates.

The Consular Agencies will resume normal operations on Monday, December 7, 2009.


Cooking classes
If you've ever spent time at Mayan Beach Garden, you have experienced Lupe's cooking. Now Lupe is teaching classes on Mexican and Yucatecan cooking. You don't have to be a guest at Mayan Beach garden to sign up for the classes, which are taught only on weekdays. Learn how to make all those Mexican dishes the way the Mexican's do. Lupe doesn't speak any English, but she does a good job of understanding bad Spanish! Plus I'm around to translate. You can check out the different cooking classes at

New Cook and On-line Menus
We have a new Mayan cook - Wilberth, who has worked in several restaurants up in Playa del Carmen. He makes great soups and loves to make desserts - finally I have someone who can consistently make good flan!. He's my first cook to successfully repeat flan on a regular basis! If you are planning on being in the area during high season this year, check out our on-line menus. I'm not always perfect about updating the calendar, so remind me if you have an inkling to drop by and find out what what the menu of the day is.

Cool kayak for fisherman available at MBG
We are really excited about these new kayaks that Jeff Kean has let us try out. Here is some of the marketing material he has created for us:

"MBG has just recently introduced the first Freedom Hawk Kayak to this area. Without a doubt these are the finest flats fishing / lagoon fishing kayaks on the market. Enjoy be able to position yourself to stand up and present the perfect cast to unsuspecting fish. *Freedom Hawk Kayaks are reserved on a first come first served basis."

Jeff tried the Kayak out yesterday and gave us some tips on fishing. He said it is perfect for the lagoons out back because it is so silent and doesn't spook the fish and the fact that you can stand up in these allows you to not only see the fish better but stand to cast. You can try one out and rent it for a day, or If you want to purchase one of the Kayaks, we can "make it happen" according to Jeff.

Freedom Hawk

New Homes for Rent

Mayan Beach Garden is proud to introduce two new homes. Both homes should be available for February Rentals - the hardest time to find homes for rent. Both homes are nearing completion and the owners will be "test-driving" them in the next month.

Evans/Markley - . Evans/Markley home is located about mid way between Rio Indio and Placer. Those of you who know where Lynn and Jerry Zimpleman's home is will know the location as it is next door. The home has 4 bedrooms and can sleep up to 10 comfortably. It is something that has been needed in the area - an affordable home for large groups. This is located on a great beach.

Palmas dos Cientas - This is the first home to be available for rent in Sapphire Beach. Those of you know how nice Placer beach is will be even more impressed by Sapphire beach. Sapphire is 2 km north of Mayan Beach Garden. This luxury home has a unique moorish design and huge wrap-around porch making it stand out from any other home in the area. Plus arguably it will have the most comfortable mattresses on the Costa Maya.

Watch the Mayan Beach Garden web site for web pages on these two homes or contact me for more information.

Evans/Markley (Rendering)

Palmas Doscientas

Palmas Doscientas large deck

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 and the goal is to have one of the first floor units available as a model to look at in the next couple of months. You can check out the progress of the Condos on the Mayan Paradise Properties web site

If you don't know where they are located, Costa Maya villas are the first luxury condo Hotels being developed on the Costa Maya. You can reach them by driving north on the road that parallels the beach at the lighthouse. They are being developed by Mayan Paradise Properties Inc. After Dean, the project was temporarily on hold waiting for environmental and zoning changes. Although construction has begun there are still units available at pre-construction prices. Financing is available.

Trees best suited to Hurricanes and Wind

After the 2004 hurricane season, author and landscape designer Pamela Crawford and researcher Barbara Hadsell studied the trees that held up best and worst in the storms. The result was their book, Stormscaping (Florida Gardening Series, Vol. 3) .

Worst: Australian Pine

We all should know by now how bad the Australian Pine is to the environment. But according to Pamela and Barbara, this is one of the worst trees to have near your house during a hurricane because its shallow roots cause it to topple and expose a large, expensive-to-remove root ball. A non-native, it is also disliked because it is invasive. Remove Australian pines within falling distance of your house. Low wind tolerance.

One of the most destructive trees in Tropical areas, it has shallow roots and a dense canopy, making it a prime blow-over candidate. The huge root balls make it dangerous and expensive to remove. Proper pruning and allowing aerial roots to grow increases stability. Substitute the native strangler fig. Low wind tolerance.


Many palms do well in hurricanes, but the queen is the exception. One of the most common palms used in Central and South Florida, it fell down all over the state during the 2004 hurricanes — from Punta Gorda to Palm Beach Gardens. Queens uproot rather than snap at the trunk. It was also one of the five species that did the most damage during Hurricane Andrew. Remove those within falling distance of your house. Low wind tolerance.

Austrailian Pine
Australian Pine (Worst)

Foxtail (BEST)


Pygmy date
Pygmy Date Palm (BEST)

BEST: Foxtail Palms
An Australian native, the foxtail is relatively new to Florida. It did well in the 2004 hurricanes, holding up considerably better than royal palms and showing high wind tolerance in Hurricane Charley. Some planted in March in Vero Beach survived but had to be re-staked. It grows to 30-feet and has one of the most spectacular foliage displays of all palms.

Best: Pygmy Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii)
The best tree for wind tolerance in South Florida, it survived Hurricane Andrew and fared well in 2004 in Vero Beach when hurricane winds hit more than 120 mph. It did not need re-staking or pruning. This slow-growing feather palm from Laos and Southeast Asia reaches about 10 feet and comes with single or multiple trunks. Very high wind tolerance.

Plan now for your Australian pine Christmas tree

If you read the text above about the Invasive Australian Pine, you can help out the environment by making one of them your Christmas tree. Last year, my experiment with the tree at the right was extremely satisfactory. It is long lasting, mine showed no dropping of leaves after well over a month. There is no pine smell that you associate with Christmas trees, but there is no guilt either. I found it to be a little on the limp side so trimmed the tree you see to the right way back. This year I have been training one since about August so it is fuller and sturdier. If you are in the area - keep an eye out for a good specimen and trim it now giving it a little time to fill out before you finally cut it down. We put ours in a bucket of sand and occasionally added water to it. Worked perfectly. Happy Tree Hunting!!!!!!

Christmas tree

I don't know if you have ever stopped at Rancho Km 5 on the Mahahual - Cafatel road, Lordis and her husband used to have a little palapa roofed tienda on the side of the road. Well that got blown down or something so they moved everything into the concrete building back from the road. They sell what they can grow on the ranchito, beans, tomatoes,papayas,calabasa etc:


I called in yesterday and took a tour, Lordes showed me jamaica plants growing, she says they have beautiful yellow flowers that  turn pink then red in the afternoon. Jamaica is one of my favorite drinks down here and to be able to buy it fresh and make it myself is wonderful. Normally I buy bottles or dried.  They also will have in about 3 weeks time maracuya, passion fruit, this truly is my favorite fruit.

They have chickens!!! I buy beautiful fresh brown eggs there. Do you remember what eggs used to be like. Not these pale excuses for yokes, but sit up straight orangey dark yellow yokes. These are eggs from chickens that are doing what chickens like to do, free range, scratching and pecking and laying where they want to. There are roosters there as well, so you see baby chicks following mum around. Happy chickens make wonderful eggs!

NOTE from Marcia: Polly has some great tidbits about keeping eggs out on the counters that we will will expand on in next month's Newsletter.

Whilst we are talking tidbits or tips, I have a Mexican friend who was born here  in Quintana Roo  and learned stuff from her Mother. She told me to put Bay leaves in the flour,sugar and dry goods as the weevils or whatever they are, nasty little things, don't like them and won't go near. It works.  It 's also works VERY VERY  well in dog food. Bay leaves are known as Laurel here.

Another from an American friend who has lived in the 'ot for most of her life. Lettuce, spinach, or other leafed vegetable, take out of plastic, roll up tightly in a cotton cloth, kitchen cloth, serviette, teacloth, and put in the vegetable drawer in the bottom of the fridge. It really lasts, and is as fresh as can be. I personally  had romaine lettuce that was fresh for 2-3 weeks by doing this.

NOTE from Marcia: Works for Cilantro too.

The Croc's back
We had all that rain courtesy of Ida, so the lagoon overflowed into the ocean via the river.  Yes, we got visited again, only this year, he,she,it, has grown a foot at least.  I have been watching it for at least a week, it really has the most super camouflage, can you spot it on the log? One day as I passed it was sprawled along the log with it's mouth wide open. It made it easy to see as the inside of it's mouth is pinkish cream but the teeth were not to be laughed at!  No camera that day!!

Jamison and his wife Jennifer have returned and are living "up North".  They invited me to go with them to Noc Bec and visit their friend Gualberto Casanova.  We drive past the Lumber Mill and on into the Pueblo, we pull up at a casa built from stone with a palapa roof.   The gardens are wonderful, all the way up the roads there are rampant vines crawling over garden walls and vibrant flowers in the gardens.  You also cannot miss the sawdust everywhere, the best plant food.

We are  welcomed into Gualberto's garden to look around in amazement, then after he has given us plants, into his house. Somebody silly asked me if I was hungry!!!! 
We sat down to brazio de riena, the queens arm.  This is typical Maya breakfast fare. A long tamale wrapped and cooked in a banana leaf with eggs, chaya (a bush who's leaves are the equivalent of spinach),  tomato and a little chili served with a tomato salsa. ummmmmmmmmm delicious.  On the side a cup of azole ,  tasting like a warm runny maize pudding.  For desert, sweet calabasa, calabasa that has been simmered in sugar and water for hours, days even, until it's caramelized. Unbelievable, I did ask if I could stay and live with them, but they turned that idea down.

It was time to go to Gualberto's ranch, 17 kilometers away, Gualberto does this on his bike everyday. We turned onto a jungle track, the plants and trees were  wonderful, one called Sak Ak had trumpet shaped purple flowers, another that smelled heavenly was Bal Che, it had tiny sweet pea shaped flowers that hung in clusters, it too was purple but a much deeper color. Gualberto told us they make a very alcoholic wine from the bark.  We arrive at his ranch, there had been cattle or pigs enclosed at some earlier time, the soil was a wonderful rich dark color. It looked so rich you could imagine the plant seeds just touching it and sprouting immediately. He had polytunnels, but made out of something that looked like spun fiberglass that he said kept the animals and bugs out. He's sown lettuce and mixed greens, heritage tomatoes and many other things. Jamison and Jen bring him the seed from USA and he is delighted with all the different types of vegetables he can grow. We are also delighted and get a bag of mixed greens every week now.

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 snorkeler 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: 27-Dec-2009

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