Costa Maya Newsletter > Archived Newsletters > December 2005

Newsletters: of primary interest to property owners on the Costa Maya, - Rio Indio - Placer - Uvero - Punta Herrera - Xcalak and other points along the coast

  • December 16, 2005 - Contents
    * New title for the newsletter
    * Sea-beans or Drift Seeds and other items that drift on the beach
    * Changes to the way airline passengers are searched
    * X-ray of luggage when entering Mexico
    * Coral Reef Set Back 100 Years by Wilma
    * Swim with dolphins now open at Uvero Beach Club
    * Costa Maya Ecological land Zoning Program
    * Time to pay property taxes
    * New DA in Mahahual
    * Recycling update

Hi Neighbors,

With the weather so warm and the absence of large shopping centers vying for your dollar, sometimes it is hard to remember that Christmas is just around the corner other than we are getting really busy! I'm still looking for something to double as a Christmas tree and thinking a palm will suffice nicely. Being from Seattle, Washington where fresh cut trees were plentiful, I have difficulty making the leap to an artificial tree. For your information, you can purchase live trees in Chetumal but they aren't as lush and fresh as I am used to -- still I may end up purchasing one if the palm tree looks too pathetic! I want to thank all of you for your friendship and goodwill throughout the year. Kim and I and the staff at Mayan Beach Garden want to wish you the happiest of holidays and a prosperous New Year and hope to meet each and every one of you if you get the opportunity to make it up to this part of the beach.


Commencing with 2006, the newsletter will be re-named to Costa Maya Neighbor's Newsletter. If you have a better suggestion, please let me know -- change is EASY!


Last week we had 11 "beaners" visit us from various parts of the United States. Their primary interest was in tropical drift seeds or sea beans that are carried with all the garbage from various parts of the world. These people are serious beachcombers. Included in their group was a Florida Everglades biologist, a world-wide specialist in currents and a biologist specializing in turtles and other life living in the reef. They brought new meaning to the garbage that washes up on the beach, but I learned a lot about our beaches as well. They found many rare and valuable seeds along the beaches here as well as some other interesting items. Many of you have commented on the amount of trash and grass that wash up on the shores here. The beaners call this the "wrack" and they say the Costa Maya has some of the best wrack they have ever seen. Florida has very little so beachcombing is not any near as much fun. You can find out more about sea-beans at Earlier in October, Ted Trauernicht's son left a bag of sea-beans at our front desk (Ted owns property her on the Costa Maya). I gave the bag of beans to the group who were absolutely delighted because there were some wonderful specimens of Sea Hearts (Entrada gigas) and some hamburger beans.

Collectively the group found 150 cigarette lighters, half with fluid still in them. These can be very dangerous as they attract fish, birds and dogs who bite down on them. One of the members of the group found two World War II vials two or three km. north of Rio Indio that contain either medicine or poison. I should have taken a picture to show you but they look like very tiny brown medicine bottles completely sealed - no lid. Curtis Ebbesmeyer who specializes in drift currents says that these are potentially extremely dangerous and should be reported and sent to him immediately. On a lighter note, Curtis is also studying pigs that drift on shore. Recently there have been an incredible number of plastic piggy banks that have found their way to shore. Curtis thinks that there may be something going on related to the pigs. If you find plastic pigs of any size laying on the beach, please either send them to Curtis or drop them off here at Mayan Beach Garden so that we can take a picture and send it to him. His studies of ocean currents have brought the attention of Smithsonian Magazine, National Geographic, people magazine and other periodicals. He says one pound of plastic turns into 100,000 small pieces of plastic if left in the ocean. While oil spills get more attention as an environmental threat, he says plastic is a far more serious danger to the ocean's health. Oil is harmful but eventually biodegrades, while plastic remains forever. Half of beach debris worldwide is plastic, it doesn't biodegrade, it just gets broken into smaller pieces resembling zooplankton. The plastic is eaten by jellyfish, which are then eaten by fish. After a recent research, he says the mass of plastic has increased to 10 pounds of plastic to one pound of zooplankton. "The ocean uses what she can get. She grinds it up and feeds it to her critters," Ebbesmeyer says. "Picking up one thing off the beach makes a big difference…People think it disappears, but in the ocean, it goes someplace else." His website


Effective December 22,The Transportation Security Administration announced changes to the way airline passengers are searched, including more random searches. Also, it updates the list of prohibited items aboard planes, allowing more sharp objects.

Passengers will continue to walk through a metal detector and have their carry-on and checked baggage screened. However, these measures may now include a brief additional search of their person or their property. Examples of this additional screening include: explosive screening of shoes, hand-wanding of passengers, enhanced pat down searches and inspections of carry-on bags. These searches will be generated at random and will take only about a minute to complete. They will allow Transportation Security Officers to better screen passengers for explosives and other threats to the aviation system.

Beginning December 22, scissors with a cutting edge of four inches or less and tools such as screwdrivers, wrenches and pliers smaller than seven inches will be permitted on board. Scissors longer than four inches and tools such as crowbars, drills, hammers, and saws will continue to be prohibited from carry-on bags. Lighters will continue to be banned from the cabin of aircraft and in checked baggage.


Some time during the fall, luggage entering Mexico began to be x-rayed at customs. I experienced this in Merida and other people have reported that this is now the case in Cancun. I am not clear yet as to the complete list of items they are x-raying for, but Mike Woodburn, one of your neighbors, brought down two frozen steaks which were quickly confiscated based on the scan, so clearly red meat is not something you can bring into the country. If you know more about restricted items, please email me and I will report it in this newsletter.


Mexico's National Protected Natural Areas Commission, known as reported on Nov. 7th that the reef off the coast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula could take more than a century to recover from a thrashing by Hurricane Wilma. The hurricane damaged a 25-mile stretch of delicate reefs off the island of Cozumel. "The area was hit hard by the storm and it could take at least 100 years for the reef to recover," Conanp regional director Alfredo Arellano said. "Whole colonies of coral were torn from their original site and tossed into the abyss," he said. Arellano said a team of 10 divers and conservationists had begun rebuilding sections of the damaged reef, using pneumatic drills to bore holes in sea-bed rocks to reattach loose coral fragments with epoxy cement.

The reef along the Costa Maya was damaged as well, but not nearly as severely since the force of the waves here was not as bad. Still there are big chucks of coral upside down.


Uvero has now opened their beach club to those outside of the cruise ship. You may use the facilities for the day the same way the cruise ship passengers use it. NOTE: you cannot just walk up and expect to pay to use the facilities. You will need a pass. We sell passes here at Mayan Beach Garden that provide use of the club, open bar, use of paddle boats, showers and other amenities.

You can also swim with the dolphins there. The Dolphin swim opened in early November, ahead of schedule. The rate is currently $115 per person for 30 minutes of dolphin swim. This is run by the same folks that run Xcaret and Xelha and you can book a dolphin tour even when the cruise ships are not there. They do accept credit cards. You do not have to be a guest of Uvero to swim with the Dolphins, although they may tell you that when you arrive-- not everyone who works there knows yet. Tell them you own property here and want to swim with the dolphins or that you are a guest of Mayan Beach Garden (we are the closest hotel to them). You can check out the dolphin swim at:


Curious as to how your property is zoned, what you can do with it and how big of a house you can build? The information has been available in Spanish, but is now been translated into English by Orlando Iglesias and Carlos Lopez, local biologists who also do the environmental impact studies you need done when you are ready to build. You can purchase the 53 page document and associated maps on CD for $82.50 (includes IVA) -- shipping is extra. We can also email it to you in 4 separate emails (PDF document plus 3 maps) if you want to save the shipping charge or receive it sooner. Contact me if you are interested and we will help you facilitate the purchase via charge card or check. One caveat, if you are close to one of the zoning boundaries, you will need to have someone who can take GPS coordinates tell you which zone you are in as the maps do not have lot numbers or mile markers on them -- all of the points and lagoons are well labeled.


Just a reminder that December - February is the time to pay property taxes. You will be getting a discount on your taxes if you pay in December. After February there are late fees. You can pay in Chetumal or Mahahual. Normally your accountant takes care of this for you, but not all accountants are equal. You may want to let him/her know you want it taken care of. Most charge a minimal fee to take care of this for you. If you are visiting the area and have a past tax receipt, you can pay for it yourself. If the name on the tax receipt is not your own name, they may have difficulty receiving it in Mahahual as they don't seem to have the means to do anything out of the ordinary. If so, you should be able to pay in Chetumal (this was the case for us last year).


A new Attorney of State/District Attorney (agente del Ministerio Publico) has been assigned to the Mahahual area by the Governor. The position varies from that in the US or elsewhere in the world in that this position takes legal complaints and then based on his judgment, orders police investigations. The name of the new Attorney is Lic. Juan Antonio Alcocer Basto. His cell phone is 983-1101-1067 and he is located in the casitas just a block E. of Barudi's store, or the first street on the right as you enter into the houses by the pier. Oh, he speaks some English, although you will need to speak slowly to him so he can understand you.


As frustrating as it can be sometimes, the recycling effort will not die thanks to the efforts of Carlos Lopez from "Amigo de Sian Ka'an" and Orlando Iglesias from the University of Quintana Roo. They are currently hosting the recycling drop-off center at the University's extension center 2 km south of Mahahaul. They are also working to get something more permanent. This is very difficult, bordering on the impossible sometimes. The currently project is to legally reorganize under the Mayor and try and get a trash compactor. If they can come up with 10 tons of plastic a week they can get one donated from Playa del Carmen. That is a lot of plastic, far more than Mahahaul can come up with without the efforts of Uvero Beach Club and the Pier. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next month or so.

Total donations to date: $2332.27
Donations turned over to the city: $834.55
Balance $1,49.72
Recent donation: Larry Sweet who owns property about 10 km south of Mahahaul: $1000 pesos


The chamber of Commerce has been very busy, but I don't have any official information at this time. Rather than delay the newsletter, I will send out a separate email if the news turns out to be really interesting (as it usually is).



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