Costa Maya Newsletter > Archived Newsletters > NOV 2006

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

***********************Newsletter: Nov. 06, 2006**************************


* Message board topic for Costa Maya Neighbors
* Despeinada palm
* New development on the Costa Maya and surrounding area
* Cruise News
* Swimming with Stingrays
* AA on the Costa Maya
* Should you be eating that fish?
* Learn Spanish on-line
* Recycling news (finally!)
* News you can use about FM-3s
* Spotlight on your Neighbors

Hi Neighbors,

I'm sure all of you are at least somewhat aware of the Mexican festival that is Day of the Dead. Before coming to Mexico, I thought it was a tradition that was similar to Halloween, only maybe a little more quaint and without the "trick or treat." I'm discovering that it is a lovely tradition, and has nothing to do with Halloween. It is time for families to get together and remember those who have passed away. Sure there are sugar candy skulls, but those are looked on fondly -- not as something frightful, but as a remembrance of loved ones. It is also a time for food! Families build alters in their homes and place a loved one's favorite food on the altar as they remember fond things about the person. Throughout Mexico, people gather and eat "Pan de Muerto" or Bread of the Dead, a lovely bread with a delicate texture, flavored with Anise or cinnamon and vanilla and decorated with crossbones. Mountains of Pan de Muerto are sold at the grocery stores, but my cook makes it up fresh and we dunk it into foamy chocolate milk. It is also the day when Mexicans in this area eat Relleno Negro. This black and white dish uses burnt chilies to flavor and make it black. It is savory and wonderful. You might find it in some Mexican restaurants, but similar to Turkey and stuffing at the USA's Thanksgiving, you usually only eat this one day of the year. We've had it the last three years and it just gets better, as does our understanding of this great traditional celebration. Hope you all in the US had a great Halloween and are looking forward to Thanksgiving (Dia de Gracias). And yes, we can get turkeys, and are looking forward to traditional Thanksgiving fare as well!

You can find this issue of the newsletter and archives of past e-newsletters at this location:


The response to the Costa Maya Message Board has been lackluster this month. I guess the subject matter of recommended services was more of a "lurker" type of thing -- lots of people looking, but not very many people offering advice (thanks for those who did!!!!). We've been receiving a lot of interest in the Concession for the Federal Zone lately, and rightly so. If you don't have your federal zone, it is a good idea to get it. We have heard of more than one instance of an official requiring proof of an application for the federal zone before a building permit was approved (although we think this is not a real requirement because what if someone else bought the federal zone?). Also, we've seen some buyers starting to ask sellers to secure the federal zone BEFORE a sale is complete. We have had both good and bad experiences with acquiring ours. The first time, someone took our money and never filed the paperwork (we found out sadly later) and we had to start all over again. We still don't have the final permit. Maybe you have had a great experience. If you have had any experience with getting your federal Zone, good or bad, please join and voice your questions or advice. If you don't even know what a "federal zone concession" is, you might become educated. We know some people who have been swindled in the process of acquiring theirs. Its not a cheap process, and misunderstandings abound. It would be great if we can help each other.

Costa Maya Live Forum -
Building regulations and Permits / Federal Zone concession -


You may never have heard of Despeinada Palm -- I hadn't before moving here, but it is a plant you should become familiar with. You absolutely cannot remove this palm if it is on your property. The Despeinada falls in the same category as Mangroves -- if you have one of these on your property, you don't cut it down. You should feel extremely lucky if you do have a Despeinada, however, because it is really a beautiful tree. What then does this palm look like? I searched for a long time and finally found it at a park in the middle of the Yucatan Peninsula, on a nature walk. There, I found both the Mayan name - ts’ipil or Dzipil and the Latin name, which is Beaucarnea ameliae (Latin).

I managed to get a sampling from a neighbor, who had it growing in her garden, and now I have one right outside my MBG door. It is found in the Forests around Lake Bacalar, but I've never seen one growing naturally. I've included a picture of a Despeinada on the Mayan Beach Garden web site.


Sam's Club opening - As promised last month, I went to the opening of Sam's club. It was not dissimilar from the one in Playa Del Carmen, but it didn't have as many higher quality items. For example, the imported food section was missing, there weren't as many varieties of wines and I felt all the steaks still looked a lot like Round steak. Still, I was able to buy a block of Parmesan cheese at 1/2 the price I would have paid at Chedraui's, but I didn't really see much in the way of bargains. I was, however, able to purchase zip-lock freezer bags (the ones in the grocery stores are way to thin to protect from freezer burn) and they did have a lot of bulk items for restaurants and Hotels (which I care about.)

Road report - The rainy season has been brutal to the roads. Both jungle roads, the one going south to Xcalak and the one that goes north to Tampalam now have lots of potholes -- one or two are large enough to bend your rim and flatten a tire on a small car, so watch out. The beach roads have had some improvements -- especially the beach-road running south out of Mahahual. The problem is that it was improved in the middle of rainy season and it gets so much traffic, that it will soon be in bad shape again. The first 4.5 kms. North of Uvero Beach club were improved last winter by TransCaribbean during the dry season and has held up quite well. They have also improved the beach road south of Rio Indio -- another nice improvement. I hear that the Beach Road north of Xcalak is also slated for improvement. Mahahual seems to fix the road through town once a month, only to have it beat up during each rain.

Chetumal - On a better note, the highway into Chetumal is getting some new overpasses. Watch so that you don't get lost in the small detours that are put up (I found myself heading into Belice one day), but when it is done, the overpasses they are working on will make things safer and easier to drive through. Weekly we keep seeing improvements in Chetumal. If you think about it -- 3 years ago there wasn't even a movie theater in Chetumal. Now there is a movie theater complex, department stores, more Mega stores and Office Depot. MacDonalds and Burger King have also moved in (although I wouldn't call that an improvement). I just hope that some of the flavor of Chetumal is not lost.


Queen Mary 2 to Visit Costa Maya -- in 2004 when it was built, the Queen Mary was the largest cruise ship ever built and the only one now doing regular trans-Atlantic voyages. On Wednesday Nov. 29 along with two other ships. NOT a great day to be in little Mahahual unless you want to see this big ship. It is in town with two other ships, so it should be a very crowded day.

Cruise Lines Stand By Stingray Excursions Steve Irwin, Australian wildlife conservationist and host of the popular TV series "The Crocodile Hunter," died September 4 after being attacked by a stingray off the remote coast of northeastern Queensland, Australia -- and the tragedy has had some cruisers questioning shore excursions that feature Sting Rays. At this point, there are no Sting Ray excursions at the Costa Maya, but it is interesting to see that all of the Cruise ships are standing by their tours.


Shortly after Steve Irwin's freak incident with a bull ray in Australia, a man in Florida was wounded by a spotted eagle ray, which is very common here on the Costa Maya. In the second incident, the stingray jumped out of the water and landed in the boat. As the man was attempting to return the ray into the water, he was pierced in the heart. The Associated Press reports that stingrays are "normally shy" creatures, and that experts are calling these incidents as "freak occurrences."

How "freak" is it? Eagle ray stings are extremely rare because they spend much of their time swimming, unlike the more commonly seen southern rays that rest on the sandy sea floor—and often get stepped on.
Eagle rays do, however leap out of the water, slapping the surface as they land. They are remarkable in that they are 3 ft - 5 ft across but can have 16 foot tails.
Swimming with stingrays is a popular pastime in Caribbean ports of call, including Antigua, Grand Turk and Grand Cayman (its Stingray City is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Caribbean).

Cruise lines are reporting that stingray swims will operate as planned.

I've been stung myself, since I sometimes will touch a stingray in an effort to get it to swim. One day, the tail flipped up and pierced my hand. Not seriously, but enough to get a new respect for the animal. Shortly thereafter, the two incidents occurred. Now I am much more careful!


Great news for AA members -- Anyone wishing to locate AA meetings in Costa Maya can contact Thanks to Louise Trygstad for forwarding this email address. I've had lots of requests from guests and neighbors for AA support. (which by the way, if you are aware of ANY service that would be beneficial to the neighborhood -- please share it!)


Ocean's alive has a great website for anyone who supports saving our oceans, but my favorite part of the site is where you can check out your favorite fish and see if you should be eating it. Each fish reviewed on is rated for health (such as how much mercury is in a fish) and environmental issues - as to whether they are plentiful or are severely depleted. Check out your favorite fish - it will give you some reason to think a little:


This month, I discovered CONJUGUEMOS. This is a website made by a teacher for teachers of Spanish. If your Spanish is getting to a point where you want to start practicing verb conjugations and grammar, this is a great website. The interface is very confusing, and you have to register as a student (not a big deal since we are all students, right?), but once you are logged into the site, there are lots of interactive "worksheets" to help you practice your Spanish. The nice thing about this site is it is forever growing. Teachers submit lessons for their students who can then go and practice the lessons - hence a predominance of words like backpack, pencil, chalk and paper. Each quiz includes a timer, "vocabulary sheets" to refer to and score at the end. It is run purely via donations, so is completely free. If you find you like it and are using it, you can donate to the cause.


Kim and I have been hauling plastic to Chetumal to the recycling center since April, just waiting for something to resume recycling in Mahahual. When we fill our van, we get a whopping 50 pesos or so for the plastic. It doesn't really pay, but it makes us feel a whole lot better than turning into the landfill. Last week when Kim went in, he was informed by the owner of the recycling center that there would be a drop-off in Mahahual in the next couple of weeks. I am still trying to find out where this is located. The plant in Chetumal will take not only plastic bottles, but beach plastic as well. We hope the drop-off center in Mahahual (where-ever it is!) will do the same. We'll keep you posted.


The following was sent to me by Kevin Graham, from Costa Maya Living, and includes a few edits.

"As Costa Maya has developed it is becoming more common that a non-Mexican citizen will sell his/her property. This has caused a lot of grief at the last minute before closing because the Seller(s) must have a FM-3 visa. It is usually a shock because no FM-3 was necessary to purchase the property in the first place. The problem is that agents, accountants and attorneys have not always advised their clients of all the necessary requirements for legally holding a property in a corporation or for maintaining the corporation in a legal manner.

It is important that when opening a Foreign owned Mexican corporation, owners need to make certain they contract the services of a good accountant to file the corporation with the secretaries of economy, treasury and foreign affairs and that one of the members of the corporation must obtain and maintain an FM-3 visa (which requires renewal every year).

An FM-3 visa can be obtained in the US from the Mexican Consulate office quicker and for less money than it does here. However, when entering Mexico it is still necessary to register the FM-3 at an immigration office."

According to Ernesto Arranaga, Lawyer in Playa Del Carmen, if the property is held in a Fide Camiso, Sellers don't need an FM-3 visa to sell the property.
If you are at all confused about FM3's, there is a very good discussion on the forum that started about 4 months ago. If anyone has any experience with this, please provide some advice to the rest of us! I have an FM3, but this was the first time I had heard that it was required before selling property.

Forum Discussion on FM3's


I don't have a spotlight this month, but if you would like to be featured on the neighborhood spotlight next month-- please send me an email. It's a good way to find out who your neighbors are:


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 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. THANKS!!!!!

Until Next month...

Regards from your Costa Maya Neighbor
Mayan Beach Garden, Boutique hotel on the Costa Maya


Updated: 26-Apr-2008

Home | Activities | Mayan Ruins | Accommodations | Travel Info | Costa Maya | Recipes
FAQs | About us | Site directory | Links | Costa Maya Newsletter | Press Releases

Contact us via email at
Copyright MMB Inc. and MMBKIM