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

Costa Maya Newsletters: of primary interest to property owners from Mahahual / Majahual - Rio Indio - Placer - Uvero - Punta Herrera - Xcalak and other points along the southern coast of Quintana Roo

*******************Costa Maya Newsletter*******************
March / Marzo 2009

Hi Costa Maya Neighbors- Embracing the unexpected

Some times I'm so glad I live here on the Costa Maya. There are lots of unpleasant things happening in the world right now, but here on the Costa Maya it seems far away. There is a reason people fall in love with it. When I first moved to the Costa Maya I wasn't sure how much I liked living here. It took a while to get adjusted, but now I can verbalize the reason I stayed and why I love Mexico . . . I've finally embraced the unexpected!

Marcia with Baracuda

I have watched Mexicans - they live day to day. We Americans can't do that. We have to know the weather report, we have to know what is happening, what the forecasts are for everything so that we can be prepared. But when bad or unexpected things happen, we are devastated and we often don't have the skill set to handle the unexpected. We've never learned.

Here in Mexico, especially the Costa Maya, the unexpected happens every day. For example, the other day, Kim was driving down the Mahahual-Tampalam road and his axle broke. There wasn't any point in getting mad, he just waited for some help to get the message to me--remember there is no phone coverage along that road. It took all day ferrying messages back and forth, getting help from people in Mahahual and in Chetumal to get us a tow truck. By the end of the day, his truck was on its way to Chetumal and Jimmy was bringing Kim back to Mayan Beach Garden. The unexpected turned out to be an interesting experience and a joy being with friends who helped us.

I've decided that I can look at life two different ways. I can complain about Mexico, its funny laws and way of doing things, or I can be entertained by it and enjoy the unexpected when it arises. I've chosen the latter. If I were to return to the US at this time, I would be bored. The US is so "safe" and so homogenized that the news media has to look for bad news because life itself is dull. In Mexico, the culture itself is colorful, different and exciting. I feel in a lifetime I could never discover it all and I've only just started to explore the "unexpected."

When everyone tells me how "Brutal" things are in the US, I have to ponder how to respond to it. My solution is to not have a TV, only check internet news once or twice a week and visit more with my guests. A year and a half after Dean - the Costa Maya is beautiful. There are still evidences of the third worst hurricane ever to hit land, but Dean too was a blessing in that it opened my eyes to the unexpected. At least I can say my life is far more interesting because of it and laugh at the small daily annoyances that make life here more colorful.

Past newsletters can be found at NEWSLETTER ARCHIVES

PS March and April is filling up fast and vacancies are going to be very tight in Mahahual. If you are planning on a visit, please think of booking your vacation soon. If you have flexibility - March is still showing good availability, but expect that to change.


MESSAGE BOARD DISCUSSION: Drug war in mexico - have they changed your perspective about owning property in Mexico?

What are you hearing about the drug war in Mexico? all of a sudden many people are emailing me asking about their safety. I want to assure everyone that the Costa Maya hasn't changed much - I still feel as safe as I did when I moved here. Probably safer than in parts of the US. Still, the warning is affecting tourism. People are not coming into Mahahual from the cruise ships - the fear factor seems to be huge. The town needs the business - first Dean, then the economy, now a drug war on the border of the US and Mexico - it makes you wonder what next for little Mahahual? Here is how I look at it - People in San Antonio are closer to the war than tourists in the Yucatan. Is anyone having second thoughts about vacationing in Mexico - specifically the Costa Maya because of it? I hope not - but please be honest. We need some positive thoughts and Marketing coming this way! What is your feelings about the warnings? Please log on and voice your opinion.

Just Chatting --

Mahahual/Majahual - Costa Maya Updates

Mahahual Ship Schedule
The economy apparently is affecting the number of cruise ships coming into the Costa Maya Port. High season is still good, but there are relatively few ships during low season. I've posted the Costa Maya Ship Schedule on the Mayan Beach Garden web site. You can find it at : Puerto Costa Maya Calendar

Wireless in Mahahual/Majahual
A new wireless service has popped up in Mahahual and what treat! With this new service, you will be able to sit on the beach with your laptop, anywhere in old Mahahual and browse the internet. How you might ask? Mahas Wireless - located on the North side of the soccer field next to the Novidades store has opened allowing you to purchase an hour, day, week, month of time. How this works is that a buyer purchases a card that is worth a certain amount of time. When the time expires, the user is disconnected from the service. It works anywhere in down-town Mahahual and will soon be available in the casitas. The service is fast and will allow you to make phone calls over VoIP. If you are interested in this service, contact Eder Astudillo - email:

Carnival in Mahahual

Carnival came late in Mahahual this year due to the arrival of 40 travel Agents from Mahahual. While the agents were wined and dined, carnival came and went in other towns. The new date was the 5,6,and 7th of March - 2 weeks later than other towns.

Leash Laws
I'll bet when you watch all those dogs sleeping in the streets, you would never believe that there is such a thing as a leash law. I had to do a double take when I heard the story of animal control officials grabbing dogs in Mahahual and putting them to sleep. This had quite a few people up in arms (and rightfully so). It is my understanding from the towns people, that everyone knows there is a leash law. Your dogs should be leashed or penned up at all times. The animal control officers can come on your property if it is not fenced or the dog tied up and they can take the dog. Dogs must have collars and rabies tags. The law says that if you don't come and retrieve the dog in 72 hours, they can put it to sleep. The towns people were upset because there was an incident of dogs that were put to sleep prior to the 72 hours and the officers came onto properties and took unfenced dogs. Please be aware. This law affects not just Mahahual as it is a Municipio law - that is all of Opon P Blanco which covers all of the Costa Maya and Chetumal.

Zoning Laws
I've discovered that most people have no idea of the vast number of laws in Mexico. But every time I look around, there is a new law that you can only find out about when someone decides to enforce it. The point is there is actually zoning in the casitas -- it is zoned residential. Well for a long time, you would drive down the streets and people had big trucks, campers, heavy machinery and all manner of business related items along the streets. This is now being enforced and several businesses have been asked to close shop or move elsewhere. Some of the businesses are a welding shop, a carpenteria, a mechanic and I'm sure there are others that have been asked to leave

Malecon bathroom Concession - no takers

Despite the fact that there is some serious money that can be made selling little wads of toilet paper outside public restrooms, there doesn't seem to be any takers for the concessions for the new beachfront bathroom along the Malecon - there are probably too many days with no cruise ship coming in (see the calendar).

New Pictures from Mahahual

Mahahual hard Rock Cafe
Yes, there really is going to be a Costa Maya Hard Rock Cafe - the first franchise, and probably (unfortunately) not the last !

Mahahual Mall
New mall just outside the Costa Maya port's entrance
Mahahaual vendor stalls
New vendor stalls for the the 2010 Costa Maya cruise ship season
Mahahual Jewelry store coming
This is a new jewelry store that is just going in just outside the costa Maya pier.
coming mall
New Mall area just outside the Costa Maya port area.
Puerto Costa Maya Mall
The ship peaks out above the palapas inside the Costa Maya port's mall. The buildings pictured in this section are just outside this area.


Mayan Beach Garden is getting to be pretty well known for serving a "menu of the day." We've fine-tuned the menu so that we have about 3 weeks worth of menus. Still, you may have a favorite dish that you want and wonder when we are serving it. Due to popular demand, you can check out the Menu of the Day Calendar on our web site. before heading to Placer. We always have vegetarian options, even if it isn't posted.

Email us at for reservations, to ask questions and to verify that something hasn't changed.


If you've been to Placer any time in the past two years, you've seen both Taj Majahual and Casita Guerin being built. Dean came in the middle of the process and completely destroyed Casa Guerin, but due to the Guerin's tanacity - it rose again. Taj Majahual, originally designed to withstand hurricanes was not damaged, but reqrouped and changed some of its design during the rebuilding delay. Both finished about the same time and are now available for rental. You can see more pictures of the two houses on the Mayan Beach Garden website.

casa Guerin
Casa Guerin (webpage coming soon!)
email me for information.


OWNING BEACHFRONT PROPERTY IN MEXICO (FOREIGN OWNERSHIP) - proposed initiative may make it possible

Unless you are a Mexican national, you purchase your land as a Fide Camiso, or with a foreign owned corporation. A change to the law has been proposed by Mexican Senator Mario López Valdez wherein ownership may not require either of these. The following article about the proposed initiative is taken from Mexidata Info. You can read the entire article at:

Mexico Might Allow Foreign Ownership of Coastal Property

By Brian Flock

. . .A new constitutional amendment, proposed by Mexican Senator Mario López Valdez of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) on March 5, 2009, sets the stage for what could become one of the most dramatic changes in Mexico’s regulations on foreign real estate ownership and investment since the 1971 recognition of the “bank trust,” or fideicomiso.

The fideicomiso being a mechanism for foreigners to control coastal property, as the document gives the trust deed moral Mexican citizenship by law, and as such trust owners may hold the property to the sole benefit of the foreign beneficiary. Prior to 1971, foreigners were relegated to controlling real property through either leases or time-share clubs.

Mexico boasts nearly 7,000 miles of coastline, ranking it the 12th longest coastline in the world. The country’s 1917 Magna Carta reads, in Article 27, Section 1 (in part), “Under no circumstances will foreigners be able to acquire direct ownership of land and waters within a zone of one hundred kilometers [62 miles] along the borders, and fifty (kilometers) [31 miles] along the shores.”¹ (This language was adopted by Mexico in the Constitution of 1917, after hundreds of years of invasions by Spanish, French and even United States forces.)

However, the current global economy and the importance of international tourism make such restrictions anachronistic and inhibitors to investment. The current Constitution has been viewed by many in the business sector as impeding the proper functioning of the tourist sector.

According to Senator López, even the time-tested bank trust (aka fideicomiso in Spanish) has made it unnecessarily complicated for foreign visitors to enjoy their properties. The myriad of paperwork requirements and fees have been an impediment to investment, and have sometimes further propagated long-standing myths about Mexico property ownership. For example, many foreigners still mistakenly confuse the bank trust with a lease of a fixed duration which it is not.. . .

. . .Senator López Valdez’s new constitutional amendment is trumpeted by proponents to be a major incentive for foreign investment in all of Mexico’s coastal regions with ample benefits for the general population.

He introduces his initiative by stating that the country had over 4,300,000 vacation properties (including timeshare units) in 2007 within the coastal regions, with nearly 70% of those belonging to foreigners. Additionally, 48% of Mexico’s financial investment came from foreigners, with nearly half of that being from the United States of America.

The initiative ensures that foreign ownership would be for habitation purposes only and, as such, will not threaten Mexico’s sovereignty, a major point of contention with more nationalistic voices.

The development of tourism is a national priority for Mexico, given its importance as a development factor and growth engine. Tourism is credited with elevating the country’s productivity, employment opportunities, and generally lifting areas of the country with fewer economic development options, thereby increasing the quality of life of the people.

The nation’s development plan of 2007 to 2012 has as one of its principal objectives to convert Mexico into a leader of the tourist sector, with the goal of raising tourism 35% by 2012 and an objective of gaining US$20 billion in tourist investment.

The creation of additional legal certainties for new investments is expected to be an important catalyst. The results should be a greater inflow of foreign capital, the creation of jobs, and it will contribute to Mexico’s leadership in tourism.

The constitutional amendment initiative has now been turned over to a Committee of the Senate for analysis and official opinion, a positive step versus immediate rejection.

Yet the future of the initiative is by no means guaranteed. Mexico’s current congressional session, with the largest block of seats [207 of 500] in the Chamber of Deputies held by the government's National Action Party (PAN), ends on April 30th, and the resulting lame duck deputies will be replaced as of September 1st, after July 5th elections.

Thus it is likely that the future of this Senate initiative will become clearer against the backdrop of September’s new congressional session.

• • •

¹  Comparison of the proposed decree, and that included in the current Mexican Constitution (translations) (new addition to the law in red):

New, proposed Article 27, Section 1 (in part)

Foreigners will not be able to acquire direct ownership (of) land and waters within a zone of one hundred kilometers along the borders and fifty (kilometers) along the shores, except in the case of individuals who may acquire property for their own residential use, (and) not for commercial purposes.

Present Article 27, Section 1 (in part)

Under no circumstances will foreigners be able to acquire direct ownership (of) land and waters within a zone of one hundred kilometers along the borders and fifty (kilometers) ] along the shores.


Its not your imagination - if you come to the Costa Maya and wonder where the trash comes from -you might be right in assuming that it is getting worse. Ocean Conservancy provides a compelling global snapshot of marine debris collected on one day at thousands of sites all over the world during the International Coastal Cleanup held the third Saturday of each September. This year's report, A Rising Tide of Ocean Debris and What We Can Do About It, presents data recorded by nearly 400,000 volunteers in 104 countries and locations and 42 US states at the 23rd annual Cleanup. In 2008, about 27 percent of cleanups were done on inland waterways and lakes, not ocean beaches. That's because trash travels to the ocean from thousands of miles inland. Litter washes into the ocean from streets, parking lots, and storm drains.

Key Findings & Recommendations

The report features the Marine Debris Index, the world's only state-by-state and country-by-country breakdown of the amount and type of trash in the ocean and waterways collected on just one day. This report also zeroes in on the startling impacts of ocean trash on wildlife and its connection to the challenge of global climate change. Along with the report's recommendations, the Marine Debris Index provides a roadmap for eliminating marine debris altogether by reducing it at the source, changing behaviors that cause it, and supporting better policy.

Some facts about Mexico - although Mexico has one of the longest coastlines in the world, only 99 miles of it were covered. Mahahual had its first organized cleanup last September - joining over 9000 other volunteers in Mexico. It is not surprising, that the number one type of garbage that washes up on the shore in Mexico is recreation type garbage - bottles, bags, toys, etc.

You can view the entire report on the Ocean Conservancy webs site. Also consider a vacation to Mahahual in September to join in the cleanup efforts. The Costa Maya alone has about 100 miles of beach! lots of work out there to do!

    • 6,800,000 pounds of trash collected
    • 11,400,000 items removed, including the top three:
      • 3,200,000 cigarette butts
      • 1,400,000 plastic bags
      • 943,000 food wrappers/containers
    • 390,881 volunteers
    • 6,485 sites in 104 countries and locations
    • 23 consecutive years
    • 1 ocean

Save the date for this year's Cleanup on September 19, 2009.


Get out of jail free - Courtesy of rental car companies

Great ideas do still happen. Two rental companies that I know of are giving "get out of jail free" cards to customers. Advantage and Budget (as reported by my guests) have been giving out cards that you can use when pulled over by a policeman. On it, the cards instruct the policeman to give the ticket and the rental car company will pay the ticket in your behalf. You give the rental car company the money as shown in the ticket at the time your return the car. My guests tried it when they were pulled over. They showed the cop the card and he waved them on, not caring to take the time to write up the ticket. Great idea and worth some kudos.


Due to the drug war that is raging on the border of Mexico and the US, there is an environment of fear that is happening about vacationing in Mexico. Below is a response that Kevin Graham drafted to a traveler who has read US state department warnings about traveling in Mexico and that I'd like to share with you.

"Here is a response I sent to a traveler who received the email by the US government and wrote me asking if I could guarantee their safety here.  If you have received concerns from anyone thinking about traveling to the area, please quote this email and I’ll be happy to personally address any concern personally as well.

“First let me say thank you for being a conscientious traveler.  I do realize that an updated travel alert for Mexico was issued recently and can be seen at  I urge you to go to that web site to get the official information that the department of state is dispersing on the matter of safety in Mexico. On top of the travel alert you should read of the Country specific pages for Mexico. I will warn you that you will most likely be alarmed by what you read.  Please keep in mind that a very large percentage of the violent crime that is occurring in Mexico that has had any affect to Americans is happening in the Northern part of Mexico, near the border.  Also keep in mind that the department has a responsibility to report the facts about situations that have occurred, but I would guess about 99% of the people who travel for vacation purposes to Mexico every year have very enjoyable vacations without facing any of the preoccupations you may be having.
Of course, I can no more give you a guarantee about your safety coming here than I could about traveling to any vacation destinations in the US.  On the whole, I feel much more at ease anywhere in the Yucatan peninsula than in my hometown in the US.  Your coming or not will have to be your families decision.  Neither my life nor my daily patterns have changed and I feel no less safe than ever.  There has been no increase in reported violent or petty crime in this area directed toward Americans over the past few months.
Most of the emergencies I assist Americans with in this area (Costa Maya) are a result of them acting in a way they might not in the US.  It is very important to not take a vacation from your common sense.  Follow the laws, do not over consume alcoholic beverages, if you drive, go the posted speed limit, wear seat belt, do not talk on a cell phone and get full car insurance. Do not engage in extreme sports, skydiving, parasailing, etc.. If you engage in tours, make sure that they are sponsored by your hotel or travel company or have been recommended to the business by a foreigner (US or Canadian). I would also recommend that you look in to getting travel insurance that has some medical coverage or check to see if your health insurance covers you in a foreign country”.

Kevin Graham


Well it's true, everything comes to those who wait, and wait, and wait. The machinery for repairing/resurfacing the road has been parked in town for, seems like, ages. The people who live North of town have been battling with the potholes, cenotes for at least the last two years, breaking suspensions and blowing tires on their vehicles. 


Now we have a crew and they are working, two to three months is the estimated time for the job. 

I just had to take these photos of one of the big trucks being used to haul the sascab in. How macho is this, it makes one hell of a noise when it's braking, sounding like an enraged torro charging the Toreador in the bullring. I love those shiny exhaust/air pipes behind the cab, could be horns!

pier xcalak
Lorisito, Lolita the Parrot

Parrot Update.

Her name is now Lolita, possible change of sex? (no experts to tell) to go with her new name. Linda and Marla decided she must be a she as she is a little slow to wake up and can be moody!  She is now coming out of her cage to 'help' Linda with book work, when she 'dances' it's because she either wants something or it's time to come out of the cage. She really likes to sleep on Linda's shoulder with her head in Linda's ear but as Linda says 'she would get squished' so she has a pink blanket tent in her cage where she retires for sleep, putting her head out when she wakes in the morning. Her favorite things are banana and sunflower seeds. New big cage finished and in a protected outside area for nice days. She is thoroughly spoilt, lucky girl!

The Leaky Palapa is now open,  Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.  You can check out the menu on bill-in-tulsa message board.

Sea Bean pod

Macuna sloanei



I know I have probably bored the pants off of all of you going on and on about my sea bean, Macuna Sloanei, that grew to great heights, flowered and even without the bats pollinating (well I didn't see them) fruited. Yes I have my own home grown sea beans now. The last few weeks the vine looked anything but beautiful, wind ragged, blackened leaves, really tatty so yesterday when my young Mexican friend came to help I very reluctantly asked him to cut it back!! It's gone, completely gone, I felt really sad. There is a big bare patch that had been 'jungle' now it's fresh air. Later I went out to take photo's of my home grown beans and low and behold, there is a sea bean vine growing up the bougainvillea. They grow really quickly, supposedly five and a half inches a day so maybe ......  I expect you will be hearing more.

We really are getting civilized down here at the end of the road, the Mahahual-Xcalak road now has white lines at each side and a yellow line down the middle with, Ta da  cats eyes. Now that means I don't throw a fit when I'm leaving Chetumal or somewhere else late, I was always really scared driving that road in the dark. 

Costa de Coco's now do a delivery service of their fabulous pizza's.  How about that then!

The last photo is as you leave the canal, can you believe the colors? fishing done, time for a cup of tea! well that's my choice!!


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: 11-Mar-2009

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