Costa Maya Newsletter > Archived Newsletters > Nov. 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

**********November 6, 2005 - Hurricane Wilma edition**********


  • Hurricane Wilma - aftermath on the Costa Maya --Mahahual, Placer and Chetumal
  • Costa Maya Road report
  • Mayan Beach Garden report
  • Homes for rent

Hi Neighbors,

Wow has this been a wild October. In the first part of the month we found ourselves in Chiapas getting rained out from remnants of hurricane Stan, then during a vacation to the states, we watched helplessly as we were stuck in the US during Hurricane Wilma. We had made the decision not to return when we thought it was going to be a category 1 with an eye only 2 miles across. Didn't sound too bad. The next morning we woke to find a category 5 and the worst hurricane in history. By that time it was too late to get a flight back.

For 10 days we tried getting back. Finally we gave up on Cancun and flew into Merida. Although the drive time is only 1/2 hour longer, it seemed much further because we were unaccustomed to the road. As an alternative airport, however, it isn't too bad. Going through customs and immigration was a fraction of the time it takes in Cancun and getting luggage was equally quick. Porters are waiting to pick up your luggage, take your through customs and on out to the parking lot. I took note of Avis, Executive and Hertz rental booths right in the airport. There may have been others, but I was anxious to get out. The only down side was that when we hit the "Pase" button, we got a red light. We were bringing items that potentially should have been taxed, but they didn't bat an eye and let us right through after determining that our solar equipment was not computer parts! All in all it I can recommend it. There are also great hotels both in downtown Merida if you want to spend a few days in that area (also to be recommended) , decent hotels in Ticul and in Santa Elena if your flight gets in somewhat late and you just need a place on the way down. You may find you have to fly into Merida at some point.

This entire newsletter is dedicated to news of Hurricane Wilma. I will send out the normal newsletter next month. You can find this newsletter and archives of past newsletters at this location: You can also view pictures of Wilma's aftermath in and around Mahahual at this location on the Mayan Beach Garden Website: I will continue to add pictures as we discover new areas and take pictures.


Mahahual faired fairly well, The water and debris covered the road and sent logs hurling into the buildings. The town and locations north were under an evacuation order. Super Carolina looked like a big log had smashed into one of its steel doors and created a big dent. I feel hurtling debris was probably the biggest danger as there was no damaging wind and the area took the rain pretty well. There was beach erosion, but it didn't appear that they lost much because the rocks are so close the surface. You can see exposed rock on the shore where previously there was none. Many of the palapas on the beach were washed out to sea and some docks were severely damaged, but we didn't see any damage to any of the permanent buildings. A tremendous amount of sand was deposited in town and in various spots along the coastal road. There was up to a foot and a half of sand in some areas as far south as km 18 and we could see areas of some fairly severe beach erosion. The road has already been graded and you can get through in those areas.

Mahahual benefited from the storm in that the cruise ships in Cozumel are being diverted to Costa Maya. This last week had been scheduled to only have 2 or 3, but they had 12 that I know of and even three on Saturday, almost unheard of previously.

The influx of extra business in Mahahual has brought mixed blessings. Looking for tourist dollars, vendors from Cancun and Playa del Carmen have come to Mahahual to sell their wares. This in itself is not bad, but there are reports of vendors with permits loosing prime spaces to vendors from up north who lack permits. Obviously tempers flared, but the chamber of commerce stepped in and negotiated a way for everyone to "play" in the sand of Mahahual. There are also extra Military in the area--I am glad to see them here so that we don't any activities that we have heard reported in Cancun.

The further north one goes, the bigger the waves. That doesn't mean there was more damage because of the health of the reef. We only saw damage to palapas and unreinforced concrete floors in shacks on the beach. Here, the water went high enough that it crested the highest portion of the land and then flowed downwards to the road as far back as 100 meters from the beach. This flooded the beach road making exit an impossibility for a couple of days and dumped huge amounts of sand on the road in areas closer to Rio Indio. There didn't seem to be a huge amount of beach erosion, rather beach reshaping. This sounds odd, but the cutting action of the waves removing sand was followed by a push of sand that deposited up to 18 extra inches in some areas. Neighbors to the south of us in Placer whose house was two feet above the sand prior to Wilma now find the sand level with their floor. Lots of trees were lost, but sand was deposited where they used to be. Properties in the center of the bays seem to have had their beach more severely "reshaped" than properties at the point, but the points themselves were reshaped. Tide pools were altered and extra sand was deposited in some areas and others appeared to not have been touched. I saw fishermen out yesterday wandering around looking for their favorite spot and having a hard time finding it.

I haven't had a chance to go north of Uvero, although I have talked to people who said it seemed to be similar to Placer in how the storm affected it. I will post pictures of that on my website when I do. I also hope to go up to Punta Herrera and check out the village there. I saw a big grader headed north on the road so I am optimistic that they are going to do the same type of grading that occurred along the beach-road here and we can make it there next week.

I mentioned the sand that covered the coast road in the reports above. This was actually some of the better areas to drive through when I drove the coast road this week. Other areas had big dips in them and were full of standing water from the rain we have had lately . This is especially true of the roads around 15 km South of Mahahual. I couldn't tell if it was rain or overflow from the Mangroves, but the water was almost car swallowing depth and a little unnerving to drive through. North from Rio-Indio to Placer the road is in much better shape. There are a few big potholes in the road, but they are not very big and with only a little water in them. Around Placer the beach roads are especially good because Paradise Hotel tries to keep the potholes maintained by filling the potholes with Kalichi. We all benefit from their diligence in maintaining the road so it doesn't take us 45 minutes to go 3 kilometers. Thank you Paradise!

The jungle roads, or paved roads that parallel the beach road has taken some wear this wet season. All have some potholes, with the first two kilometers south on the road to Tampalam being the worst. The access road at km. 18 South to Xcalak is also fairly beaten up.

There is exciting news on the highway front. Last week I was able to drive on concrete all the way from Cafetal Junction to Chetumal. This is pretty exciting and cut the time down by 10 minutes. The road is far from finished as in many areas this will be 4 lanes, but you can see the end of the tunnel and hopefully the trip will get even shorter. By the way, Chetumal was not affected by the hurricane - not even high water.


I couldn't end this e-mail without thanking you for all your e-mails and concern for us, our staff, our property and Buddy. Our fabulous staff refused to leave even after an evacuation order by the military and worked so hard to clean the place up so it could reopen on time. Many of you who have stayed at Mayan Beach Garden know Alex and Rafael who held down the fort in our absence along with Buddy, our "pain in the but" dog. He has become quite the water dog, riding logs as if they were a surf board and jumping into the water. Our staff thought he was gone several times, but he always managed to swim to a safe spot. Miss Moo made it through equally unscathed along with a lot of other wild felines. We hope other pet owners were equally blessed.

We lost quite a bit of beach height close to the water. Many people say they like the new beach, but we lost a lot of trees in the process. Having lost trees before, we know that we can replant and you quickly get used to the new look. The salt water crested over our high point on our property and flowed down hill to the road taking debris, logs, grass and garbage with it. We lost an umbrella palapa at the front of the beach as well. The salt water killed many of our plants. When I drove the beach road I saw 20-30 year old trees dead from the salt water. I also noted that many trees were shocked but not killed by the salt. Some palms were killed, as were many papayas and ornamental trees. The deep magenta colored Bouganvillais were shocked and lost leaves, but still appear to hang in there. Even Chechen was affected and dropped leaves, but is far from dead. You will see that the jungle is much thinner in areas where this happened as it also killed a lot of the ground cover that we pay labor to clear, so now I am wondering if salt water is a better and safer herbicide!

I've been asked about the reef. The weather has been so bad and visibility poor every day so I haven't been able to see what is out there. I went out today and what I could see didn't look good. Lots of mushroom caps were turned over on their heads and the floor was scattered with finger coral and organ pipes. It was hard to tell if it was all from Wilma or just stirred up sand that is exposing past damage as everything was covered with sand. I will keep checking and give you a more accurate report next month.

We know some of you live in Florida and the gulf states are recuperating from you own weather issues. We hope all of you made it through this season with minimal damage and that we won't have another repeat next year.


I quickly wanted to mention that several neighbors have listed their homes for rent on our website including the Hadfield's, which was spotlighted a few months ago and is located near the 18 km south Mahahual access road. If you are coming down and want to stay in a house let us know and we can book it for you. You can view the existing homes at By the way, all the homes did great through Wilma. Some had a little water and sand inside, all lost some trees and most are a little closer to the water, making renting them more fun than ever.

Hopefully next month all will return to normal! Until next month. . .

Best regards,

Mayan Beach Garden


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