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Property Owners > Archived Newsletters > February/febrero 18, 2008 -

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

***********************Newsletter: Feb. 18. 2008**************************


Hi Costa Maya Neighbors

As most of you know, the area north of Mahahual/Majahual was hit the hardest by Dean. The good news is that a good portion of the beaches in this area have been restored. These beaches are looking great. I see lots of new palms planted and Vincent, the palm salesman is doing his best to sell Kerpis and other palms from one of the most beat-up pickups you will ever see. You can purchase a 4 meter coco palm for about $100. It makes me feel good to have height on the beach. I've way surpassed my gardening budget, but I couldn't be happier when Kim brought me more tropical plants for Valentines day. After all, one can't be called "Mayan Beach Garden" without a GARDEN!!!!! Every day things are looking better and I plant new plants every chance I get.

We've now been open almost two months. The first few days were kind of shaky but our guests were great sports. Now we have things well under control. In our little cocoon of Placer, If you don't look at the West side of the road and the pile of gravel in the road you wouldn't even know there was a hurricane! Our neighbor's houses have mostly been restored, the lots south of me are cleaned up and I've embraced the distressed look in my restaurant. I figure people pay a lot of money to get that look on their walls. My entire staff is back (at least the ones I cared about) so the food and the service is the same. When people come and say "wow, this is really a mess" I almost forget that outside Mayan Beach Garden, you can still tell there was a hurricane!

The NEW Mayan Beach Garden

Archives of this newsletter can be found at: Costa Maya Newsletter Archives


This week's topic is a great one for those thinking about building. Kerry V. posted the following on the message board for the San Jose/Placer area, but I'd like to expand it to all of the Costa Maya (hope Kerry doesn't mind!)!:

"I am wondering how many of you are planning on building this year or have started building already. Just curious really, but it would be great to find out about future neighbors, their time frames for building, if they will be permanent residents...Anyone planning on starting a business there?"

Message Board topic "Building Soon?"

Also check out the Neighborhood section and Just Chatting -- there are some great discussions happening and some new folks joining in.

Gabe Zarnoti's house under construction


Since Kim builds homes here on the Costa Maya, we get the opportunity to see people's dreams come to fruition. After Dean, many property owners took the opportunity to improve their homes or simplify them, adding things they didn't have before or replacing items that didn't work well on the beach. As Beau and Kitty Speed who remodeled Casa Las Brisas said, "its the opportunity to change what you didn't like before." Well, no one wants a hurricane to happen to figure out what you want! We suggest renting more than one beach-front home before you build. It gives you a chance to see what you love, what you hate and what you would do differently. We also think it is a good idea to experience various seasons of the year and see how the weather changes affect the comfort of a home "off the grid." You can view detailed pictures of the rentals at ttp://

Oasis Rio Indio - Brand NEW! check out this property!
La Brisa: Newly remodeled
Casa Porto Vino:- Costa Maya's most spectacular property

Casita Dragonfly:


Please refer to the Department of State’s website at or the US consulate site in Merid

On February 1, 2008, the U.S. Government will increase its fees for certain U.S. citizen passport services.

  • adult applicants renewing a passport, the total fee will increase to $75.
  • first-time applicants age 16 and over, the total fee will increase to $100.
  • First time fee for minors under 16 years of age will be $85.

Effective February 1, 2008, passport applicants who are U.S. citizen minors under the age of 16 must appear personally with their parents to establish identity, proof of citizenship and proof of relationship. For parental application permission, both parents must appear together and sign or one parent may appear to sign and submit the other parent’s notarized statement, or one parent may appear, sign, and submit primary evidence of sole authority. Minors age 16 and 17 may apply in person with their own identification, but for security reasons, parental consent may be required. If your child does not have identification of their own, a parent will be required to accompany the child and present identification.


As of the first of the year, we have been hearing about a lot of people being stopped for not wearing seatbelts. They seem to be targeting people as they exit the airport. It has long been a law, but now the police are wising up and extorting money from those not wearing seatbelts. I'm not sure what the fine is if you actually can get one of the police to write you up a legitimate ticket, but we've had guests pay from $200 pesos to $600 pesos. They haven't been wearing the seatbelt, so they feel guilty and pay on the spot. Remember, to pay a policeman by the side of the road is bribery and he or she is guilty of extortion. Don't do it. Let them write you out the ticket (but I dare you to get one of them to do it!!!!). My guess is that if you actually ever get a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt you will only end up paying $100 pesos, but why take the chance? Wear your seatbelt, follow the law and let the police extort money from someone else.


  • Costa Maya Pier - According to an official statement the last week of January, the reconstruction of berthing spaces one and two is now 58 percent complete -- and both will be ready to receive cruise ships three months earlier than originally expected (no exact date was given). A third position is also being rebuilt, to be finished after the summertime reopening. In the interim, Costa Maya will only welcome ships at its fully operational berths. The port will not tender in additional passengers, in order to focus on reconstruction and recovery while still operating at two-thirds capacity.

At this point, we do not know which cruise lines will be first to return. Negotiations are underway, according to the statement, and a new schedule should be finalized and available by the beginning of February. I checked with and as of Feb. 18th, the first scheduled ship is Disney Magic on Sept. 30.


COZUMEL, Mexico, January 20, 2008 (ENS) -

To minimize the impact of up to 10,000 visitors a day on Cozumel's sensitive coral reef ecosystem, a conservation agreement was signed by cruise industry leaders representing government, private sector, civil society, and the cruise lines. The agreement is intended to enhance environmental awareness and education of cruise ship passengers, tour operators, service providers and the local community about the area's fragile natural resources that include endangered hawksbill turtles and living coral reefs. Parties to the agreement pledged to improve island management of tourism infrastructure, including improving island traffic and waste management.

The agreement provides a framework to facilitate the sustainability of cruise tourism in Cozumel through concerted action by government, private sector, civil society organizations and cruise lines that all have a stake in ensuring a healthy future of the island's natural assets. This participatory planning process for the cruise industry is the first of its kind in the region, making Cozumel a pioneer cruise destination in demonstrating its commitment to protecting its natural attractions and biodiversity.

The initiative was made possible with support from National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Coral Reef Conservation Fund and the Cruise Lines International Association. A 30-second educational video is shown to passengers onboard cruise ships encouraging them to leave a light footprint and a recycling campaign is now offered on board all tour boats and offices of onshore service providers.

The partners estimate that Cozumel's destination-level Cruise Passenger Education Campaign will reach more than 500,000 cruise visitors over the next six months.

  • Where did the Costa Maya cruise ships go? As all of the readers of this newsletter know, Puerto Costa Maya was so damaged that cruise ships were not able to dock. Since then, the State of Yucatan has been accommodating the cruise ships that would have docked at the Costa Maya. This brought Yucatan a tourism windfall of almost $2 million U.S. dollars per week. Yucatan will not, however, lose all of the new cruise ships that stopped there. Quite a few have signed continuing contracts to dock at Progresso. We believe that Quintana Roo and Yucatan are so different from each other that there is room for both to continue to be more successful than ever before in providing tourists with the ultimate in vacation pleasure.


Whether or not you approve of the plans for Mahahaul/Majahual -it is a flurry of activity! The construction is moving rapidly to a point of semi-completion for Semana Santa (Holy Week) when Mahahual is flooded with Mexican tourists coming to the beach to vacation. (more about plans for Mahahual's Semana Santa below).

I guess like anything spawned by bureaucracy, in the end no one is completely happy. There are things to like and probably more things to hate. For example, I really like the large palms they have planted along the beach and as much as I hate the fact that they took away sand from roads that didn't belong to them, I like the wider beaches created by that act (time and weather will tell if they stay). I also like the new road they put in that allows you to by-pass the light house and military checkpoint. It makes getting in and out of town a lot easier. I've seen the finished plans for the next two years, and there will be a very nice, wide 4-lane road in the 2nd phase that will cut through the mangroves, bypass the town and connect with the beach road south. It will include gloriettas (round-a-bouts or circle-y things as Kim calls them), islands in the middle, and will be a nice way to bypass the town. What I don't like is the concrete Malecon. For some reason, they decided that the Malecon should be this Mexican-modern blue stamped concrete. What I've seen looks like the color of a grey and cloudy Seattle sky, not beachy and warm. They say it will look better when they put the sealer on it, but I'm not convinced. More about the plans for Mahahual in bulleted items below.

  • New Topes - whether we like them or not, they are a fact of life in Mexico. There are going to be two new topes added on the Cafetal road at either side of the road into the businesses and homes at Kilometer 55. If you don't know where that is, you soon will!
  • Information booth - Speaking of Topes, I'm sure many of you have hit the tope on Cafetal that is labeled Taxi tours. There will be a tourist information booth there to service travelers.
  • No more camping in Mahahual - As of last Saturday, there will be no camping in the urban areas of Mahahual. I asked where camping is allowed, and it is only allowed on private lots. It is not legal on the federal zone. It will be interesting to see what happened at Semana Santa when people who have been used to setting up their tents between the light house and the fisherman's pier will not be allowed to do so.
  • Public Bathrooms - the first public bathrooms as part of the Urban planning for Mahahual will be ready by Semana Santa. As of today, it has not yet begun. I hope they follow the example of the bathrooms in Progresso which are free to tourists. At this point in time, Mahahual bathrooms will not be free.
  • Protected swimming areas - the port captain announced that there will be no boats, kayaks, jet skis or any other devices in the area from Mahahaul hotel to 40 Cannones. This area is reserved for swimmers. Elsewhere, boats and jet-skis may travel at no more than 5km an hour inside the reef and once out side the reef they can open up. This will be enforced by the Port Captain. Complaints can be addressed to him
  • No Tricycles on the Malecon - The Malecon will only be for pedestrians. Vendors selling items on their tricycles will not be allowed to travel on the Malecon. In fact, no bicycles of any kind will be allowed there. Bicycle tours will be routed around the Malecon.
  • Garbage pickup - In an attempt to clean up the town, all garbage pickup in the beach area will be daily from 6:00-8:00. That would leave them plenty of time to come here to pick up garbage in Placer, but they were a no-show to day. We haven't had pickup for 2 weeks! The beach plastic is mounding!


The following is courtesy of Kevin Graham regarding plans for a new hospital:

"A foundation made up primarily of business owners in Cancun has formed a group called, UAI NAT ZÉ, which is Maya for “from here”, or “from the heart”. The primary goal of this group is initially to build a hospital in Mahahual for everyone including the poor. Land has already been donated, as have the building or construction. I was asked to be on the board of this foundation to help direct the effort from Mahahual. The long term goal of the foundation is to help the Maya anywhere in the Yucatan Peninsula after natural disasters such as floods and hurricanes…rebuilding schools, churches, homes. There is also a very key person in the US (Tara Shields) who is collecting hospital supplies such as beds, medications, equipment and much more. A group of Catholic doctors and nurses might be coming to staff the hospital, at least in its inception. This should be a sign that this hospital is not meant to serve only those who can afford medical care. LocoGringo has already donated the remaining [Dean] funds to this foundation and PlayaPals has committed to donating its remaining funds. Another donation has been received from a volunteer by the name of Joanna Kurth from friends in Germany who want to help. (I list her name individually because the group does not have a name). As you can imagine, this project will be a very expensive and complex undertaking and won’t happen overnight. We really need funds to complete the project and hope people will adopt this effort as their own."

I've asked Kevin to keep us apprised of any information he has about the proposed hospital. You can contact Kevin at


From the Ocean Conservancy newsletter:

"On January 22, Ocean Conservancy launched SEE Turtles, a program that informs people about tour operators who are helping us save sea turtles. Well-planned, modest tourism programs can be a huge lift to small-budget turtle conservation programs, providing both support for actual field efforts, as well as alternatives for local fishermen whose livelihoods would otherwise be destructive to turtles. To learn more about SEE Turtles or to plan your vacation, visit: or read the article in Ocean Conservancy magazine. "

Turtle photo copyrighted by Neil Osborne.



Polly is back this month -

"I can't believe that it's February 2007, Happy New Year everybody. Had my #1 son and his family here for a visit. Of course they arrived with the coldest Norte we have had in all the time I've been here. Fleeces, long pants, socks and shoes were the order of the day. No sand castles, snorkeling this time, we did however go beach combing both here and in Mahahual. We now have another convert to Sea Bean/Drift Seed collecting. Julia is six so wanted to know how, where, and when, luckily I have the book by Perry/Dennis, Sea Beans from the Tropics, there is also a great website same name. Marcia has written on this subject (Dec 16Th 2005 Archive Newsletter ) after having guests that were avid collectors, it doesn't take long to get hooked! Just walk the dogs along the high tide mark...... there you go! I have 4 beans that I found sprouting on the beach, planted them in my garden and watched them grow 5 inches a day! Now they are up to the roof of the hotel next door and I am waiting for them to flower.

Xcalak had it's first Spay and Neuter Vet Clinic. It was a great success, five vets and six/seven specialized helpers spayed/neutered/vaccinated over 90 animals in 2 days. They then moved on to Mahahual to start again. We thank all who participated, owners, pets, helpers and of course our hero's the vets. We are noticing the difference already, much quieter, the "boys" are not scrapping all night long.

I may have mentioned that I quit smoking in May, I am now a rolly-polly, nuff said, I have bought a beach bike. It is a revelation to ride out early morning and see the birds and animals without disturbing them. This week, 4 Wood Storks and incredibly, 100 or more, NO REALLY, immature White Ibis in the mangrove lagoons on the road out of the pueblo. Amazing sights and sounds. "
Polly from Xcalak.


The World Bank has begun its feasibility study of the proposed bullet train between Merida and Chichen Itza and Tulum. Their findings should be out by August of 2008. This is one project that has strong opinions on all sides and the findings of the World Bank are going to be anxiously awaited. The governor of Yucatan would like some of the tourist dollars coming to Cancun and would like to position Merida as the gateway to Chichen Itza. That would make a visit to Chichen Itza a viable option for cruise ship passengers visiting Progresso. Currently most people visiting Chichen Itza do so from Cancun and the Riviera Maya. Many people are not aware that Chichen Itza is not in the state of Quintana Roo, but is in the state of Yucatan. Tourism in Yucatan’s archaeological zones has increased 75 percent since Chichen Itza was named one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.

Juan Jose Martí Pacheco, secretary of Tourist Promotion of the state of Yucatan, said that over the past six months, the number of visitors reached 1.7 million, and more than a third from countries other than Mexico. The visitors pumped 200 million pesos in special taxes into government coffers.

The state is looking to boost archaeological tourism in the southwest part of the state, home to the ancient Maya cities of Uxmal, Kabah, Celestun and the Loltun Cave. “We are going to work very hard to create programs to present (visitors),” Marti Pacheco said.


February 11, 2008 (Speech by Mexican President Calderon - PRESS RELEASE) “I am delighted to be here with this select group of businessmen from the tourist sector and to be able to analyze the many opportunities Mexico provides as regards to investing in tourism and infrastructure.

“By 2012, we want Mexico to have achieved at least US$20 billion in private investment in tourism. That is why we are making every effort to create a suitable business environment for investment in our country.

“In five years I am sure we will be able to transform Mexico through new ports, capable of receiving more cruise ships, and therefore more visitors; more modern highways, new roads that will reduce transit times between cities and tourist centers; and more and more modern airports that will enable us to receive visitors from the five continents.

“The goal we have set is to turn Mexico into a Latin American leader as regards to infrastructure. According to some estimates, we were in seventh or fifth place a couple of years ago.

“This year, the National Tourism Fund, FONATUR, alone will receive over a billion dollars more, over twice the amount it was assigned last year. At the same time, we will implement a strategy that will guarantee more attractive traveling conditions to tourists from the regional market of the United States and Canada, and of course from Europe, where I see an enormous potential for growth in the number of visitors to Mexico.

“Rest assured that government is making every effort to give the tourist industry the boost it deserves, and to provide all the necessary guarantees for the investment decisions you are making or decide to make later so that your business will prove successful within the market conditions.

“For Mexico, tourism is a powerful engine for generating the income the country needs, attracting new opportunities for investment and employment while its development is a response to the opportunities available to Mexico, as well as providing another alternative for coping with the short-term conditions of the international economic sphere.”


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,

Mayan Beach Garden, Boutique hotel on the Costa Maya
21.5 km. N Carretera Costera Rio Indio - Uvero
Mahahual, QRoo Mexico, 77940


Updated: 03-Feb-2010

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