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Property Owners > Archived Costa Maya Newsletters > June 25, 2008 -

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*******************
25 - June. 2008


Hi Costa Maya Neighbors- reflections on Tropical Storm Arther

Thanks for all the emails wondering how things were after Tropical Storm Arthur.  Basically Arthur  was a "pain in the but" here on the Costa Maya. Belize had it far worse with severe flooding. For five  days it blew like crazy, rained like crazy, blew big piles of turtle grass up on the beach and filled our cisterns (the silver lining). We had water everywhere since the rain came sideways. A normal tropical storm in this area will rain like crazy for a couple of days (usually with no wind) and then the sun comes out and we are all happy. Arthur was hardly normal.  In this case, the rain would hit the side of buildings, rundown the wall and end up inside your house through any crack - under doors and in windows.  It ended the 5 month drought we have had, and for that we are very grateful. By the fifth day, as the cisterns over-flowed I found myself luxuriously wasting water for the first time in over a year. The only downside is that the day before the rain started we got two truckloads of water from Max at $1200 pesos each!!

Marcia with Baracuda
Photo of Marcia, courtesy of Captain Graybeard
Water is our most precious resource here on the beach. As much as we hope for electricity to come to our properties, the need for water is far greater.  It isn't uncommon to go months without rain and then get  five inches of water over night. After Dean, one of the main considerations we made during restoration was how to capture more water. We eliminated the charming  palapa roofs in favor of concrete roofs and added more cisterns.  It kills me that we still have roofs that aren't collecting water right now - design flaws in our earlier, less educated days on the Costa Maya when we thought all we had to do was drill a well. I'll be covering more on water in the next few newsletters. If anyone has any resources they can point me to and that I can in turn share it with this group, please pass it along. The more we are all educated, the better decisions we can make as we build on the Costa Maya.

Past newsletters can be found at NEWSLETTER ARCHIVES

PS If you are planning on a Christmas time visit - please book your accommodations soon! - Only a couple of properties left!


MESSAGE BOARD DISCUSSION: Looking for great Ideas for cleaning up the beach trash

Thanks for the great hotel references in the Playa and Tulum area. I'll make sure and try them out on my next trip and will recommend them to others. The conversations are still on the board.

This month, I'd like to turn our attention to trash.  There are a few news items below on trash - the never ending struggle to clean it up forever goes on. What are your thoughts on trash and  ideas on how to clean it up?

Also I'd like to put in a little plug for a book that a friend of mine collaborated on called "Tracking Trash."  If any of you have stayed at Mayan Beach Garden in the past, you might remember collecting Doll's feet.  These were shipped to Curtis Ebbesmeyer who used the data for his studies, some of which are included in this book. Not like I have any ownership of garbage, but I dare say that some of the garbage in the pictures was Costa Maya beach garbage!

This month's topic -Cleaning up trash on the beaches:



A few months ago I reported that the Cruise ships were ahead of schedule and were going to start accepting cruise ships in July. The official stance of the port hadn't changed until Tuesday June 24th. The question is -- if they build it will the cruise ships come? Apparently not. I've taken the liberty of pasting most of the following from Cruise They seem to have their pulse on what is [NOT] happening with the cruise ships - especially this port. The following article was posted on Friday the 27th, after a series of misinformation from the port (see dated material below)

Friday 27 Cruise last week announced the schedule they received (and shared) from the port's Miami-based public relations firm that indicated the early return of several cruise ships this fall -- much of which turned out to be erroneous (see announcements below.

Costa Maya has since provided an updated schedule of arrivals, dated June 24 and accurate through the end of 2008. Cruise Critic sayas thay have confirmed all of these port calls with each cruise line directly, either with a spokesperson or by referencing updated itineraries on its Web site. According to the new chart, Holland America's Westerdam will be the first ship to dock in Costa Maya on October 31 -- not Disney Magic in September, as was originally reported.

Mahahual Malecon Mahahual Malecon

23 June, 2008 Costa Maya Confusion Over Ship Return Dates

Editor's Note: Costa Maya is working to update the information they provided to us last week about cruise lines' plans to return to the port following its massive rebuilding as a result of a strike by Hurricane Dean last year.

At this point, we do know that its information on some Royal Caribbean ship visits along with Disney and Ocean Village calls is incorrect. Officials at the port are working to provide a more accurate timetable; stay tuned and we'll keep you posted.

(June 21) -- Costa Maya, the port of call carved out of a jungle along Mexico's Riviera Maya, had been one of the most popular stops on Western Caribbean itineraries until Hurricane Dean last fall demolished the place, along with the much loved village of Majahual.

So the good news yesterday that not only would the port reopen earlier than expected it also would welcome Disney Magic, as its first ship, on September 27, generated all the more excitement. The information was provided by the port's Miami-based public relations firm. Other major cruise lines committed to returning include Princess, Celebrity, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Lines, Regent Seven Seas, P&O Cruises, Windstar, MSC Cruises and Ocean Village.

But wait a minute. Confused Cruise Critic members slated to cruise on that Disney Magic voyage, immediately contacted us, saying they'd just been informed that their September 27 sailing would call at Grand Cayman instead of Costa Maya. Even more bizarre is Costa Maya's claim that Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas and Splendour of the Seas would make visits this fall. It turns out that neither ship is anywhere near Costa Maya during the season (according to a Royal Caribbean spokesman, Grandeur's calls aren't scheduled until 2010 and Splendour is in South America).

The Costa Maya spokeswoman tells us she's trying to track down the "most updated call info" (the schedule she provided to us is dated June 17) and we'll keep you posted.

But remember this: It's not enough for a port to simply say -- we've rebuilt and we're ready to accept you. Cruise lines must also send in their own teams to inspect both the facilities and the shore tour operations. A source at Disney told us that the company has not yet made such an inspection and until that's completed its Disney Magic will not be calling there. "

Marcia's NOTE: Cruise has Disney Magic scheduled for September 28th , a few ships in October and November ships every Friday and several others during the week.  Apparently no one knows what is happening.  We'll keep you posted.

Four candidates are running for Mayor/Alcalde in the town of Mahahual. The stakes are a little higher this time with more opportunities for corruption. I don't mean to imply that the candidates are dishonest, but in the past, Mahahual had a Delgado, which was a figurehead, more than an official with any authority. The position of Alcalde is more closely related to a Mayor. The four candidates are William Calderon, Jose Fernandez (from Chepe's supermini), Saul Toledo Aguayo (a resident of Bacalar and arguabley not a valid contestant) and Jose Luis Rosas, ower of Aricife restaurant and the Delgado of a couple of years ago. The election is sunday the 29th of June Polls open at 9:00 AM

Last week, work commenced on Black-topping the road that enters the "old Mahahual". Concrete curbs, lights and drainage were included. However, the mangroves on either side of the road are as dead as ever and the entrance to town certainly can use a facelift. Promises have been made by SEMARNAT to reforest that area, but at this time, nothing has started.

The next meeting is scheduled to occur on July 15th at Tequila Beach. By that time we will have a new Alcaldo.


 I just found out that since Hurricane Dean, Xcalak has had a monthly "Splash for Trash" - how cool is that?  Itīs that time of the month again. Splash for Trash will be be on June 28 and 29 this month. they begin with beach pick up on Saturday morning followed by snorkeling clean up in the lagoon, and then diving clean up on Sunday, weather permitting.  This is sponsored by XTC diving, SEMARNAT, CONANP and  other businesses in Xcalak.  Local hotels are encouraged to get their guests to participate. The following is from Susan at XTC:

"Even if you can just get a group of people to pick up trash on the beach it makes such a huge impact. We give out free lunch and then somebody usually buys a case of beer at the end of the day. It's actually a lot of fun and we find some really interesting trash (and a lot of trashy trash).

The nice thing about having the biologists involved is that they discuss the importance of how to properly and safely collect man made waste w/o injuring yourself or damaging the environment. In April, they decided to leave something that looked like a roof rack from a car in the water as it had new coral growth all over it. And they left the cover to a lawn mower because it had become a lobster condo. Liliana and her co-workers usually give a briefing, in English, to explain the best ways to remove trash w/o removing or harming any animal life. A lot of those beer bottles have an animal or two living in side that must be gently removed, if possible, before you remove the container. And there are always issues of sharp, rusty metal and broken glass."

Less community minded and more "I'm fed up with the trash and I'm not going to take it any more" Gabe Zarnoti of Placer is having teams of men cleaning up the trash from Rio Indio to No Placer.  It is a true fact that garbage washes in and out over and over again, so this effort will not only keep our beaches cleaner for a while, but also protect wild life in the process. PLEASE help him and if you visit your beach, plan on bringing garbage bags with you and pick up the trash - not just on your lot but on your neighbors.  Perhaps they will reciprocate when they visit.  If everyone cleans up their neighbor's lots as well as their own, we will have a cleaner place.  If you don't have the room to take garbage into Mahahual in a dumpster or to the land fill, you can bring the bags here to Mayan Beach Garden.  As much as I don't want the trash around here, I would much rather not have it on the beach.  We'll make sure it gets picked up by the garbage trucks.  This is not the only effort to clean up.  John and Valarie McChristy cleaned a good portion of Punta Placer, so if you have property in that neighborhood, you'll know who to thank. .

Each year, on the third Saturday of September, Ocean Conservancy and 350,000 ocean advocates like you meet on beaches and waterways the world over to gather, tally and report on the trash in our waters. This year's event is on Saturday, September 20th in your community and promises to be even bigger than last year. Online registration is now open so come sign up now to be a part of the sea change!

Register for the event in your area today:
I was thinking it would be a fun excuse to come to Mahahual for a September "beach clean-up" vacation -- its kind of nice here in  late September. . . . ;-)


The 2007 Belize tourism board statistics show that of all over night stays 60% of tourists are from the U.S.  Out of the 251 thousand 656 overnight stays in 2007, Mexicans only accounted for a little more than 2%.  It is because of this that the Belize Tourism Industry Association, B.T.I.A. is making it a goal to get more tourism from Mexico.  Why is this good for the Costa Maya?  For one thing, it is cheaper to fly to Belize city than it is to Chetumal and there are direct flights from the US.  With that in mind. . . read the following:
  • Rosella Zabaneh, B.T.I.A President said,   “We are looking mainly at flights coming out of Mexico to Belize and at the same time inviting Mexicans to come to Belize and get to know the country. The Ministry of Tourism has been working on getting a proposal to get flights coming into Belize or at least to Chetumal; from Cancun to Chetumal, from Merida to Chetumal and that is going to help with tourists coming in from that area.  This is just a first step.The areas that we are looking at are  Chetumal, Campeche, Tabasco, Merida and Mexico City.” 
  • There are also talks being held with the Mexican airlines and the bus lines like ADO.  They have a run from Cancun to Flores, Guatemala and we are trying to establish that that run be from Cancun Belize then Flores and then Flores Belize then Cancun stopping in Chetumal. 
  • Talks are being held with Mexico who will promote the exchange of tourism coming from Mexico to Belize
  • Travel to Belize  requires a high tax to enter the country.  They are working at making some exceptions
  • Airlines vying for expansion into Mexico are Maya island and Tropic Air.

The following information is from Kevin Graham in his capacity as Warden for Costa Maya.  For  more information, contact Kevin at

"As Warden for Costa Maya, I only serve as an extension of the US Consular Agency in Playa del Carmen.  There was a good turnout at the very 1st American Citizen Town Hall meeting in Playa del Carmen last month.  Several people in Costa Maya asked me about the meeting so I will cover the points that were covered that were provided to me

ROUTINE SERVICES – These only done in the Consular Agency in Playa del Carmen and the US Consular office in Merida.  These services are not available in Costa Maya at this time.
    • Verify the citizenship and identity of the deceased
    • Determine who the next-of-kin are and notify them of the death
    • Provide emotional support to NOK
    • Assist with arrangements for the disposition of the remains
    • Under certain circumstances, act as provisional conservator of the estate
    • Complete necessary paperwork and produce an official record of death
    • Consular Agent / Warden can NOT:  Make decisions of disposition of remains or  Make Payments for disposition of remains
    • Visit prisoner regularly and as soon as possible after notification
    • Provide list of local attorneys and assist in obtaining legal representation
    • Provide general information about judicial procedures in the foreign country
    •  Notify family / friends, if authorized by prisoner
    • Relay requests to family and friends for money / aid
    • Report to the department of state
    • Provide loans to destitute prisoners through EMDA program
    • Arrange dietary supplements
    • Protest abuse or mistreatment to appropriate authority
    • Provide information about prisoner transfer treaties, if applicable
    • Consular Agent / Warden can NOT:  Demand the immediate release of a US citizen arrested abroad or otherwise cause the citizen to be released OR Represent a US citizen at trial, give legal advice or pay legal fees or fines with US Government funds
    • Consult with victim to assist in meeting immediate requirements;  secure environment, medical care and satisfying basic needs
    • Emotionally support the victim and contacting others to do so if authorized by the victim
    • Provide information and referrals to victims on local judicial procedures, available sources of emotional support and assistance available to crime victims in the US and locally.
    • Ensure that local officials give the victim fair treatment under the law
    • Consular Agent / Warden Can NOT:   Interfere with the investigative and judicial procedures in the local jurisdiction.
    • Assist US Citizen in contacting local / US friends or family who might be able to help
    • Investigate options of  local charitable organizations who may be willing to help
    • As a last resort, the US GOV can provide a repatriation loan for direct return to the US  if the Citizen does not have any outstanding loans to the US GOV. (Citizen must be willing to return to the US and agree to repay loan)
    • US Consular Agent / Warden Can NOT :  Provide personal loans OR  Provide US GOV loans to pay existing bad debt (hospital / hotel bills) or to rebuild business. 
    • Utilize local contacts to search for missing persons
    • Pass emergency messages
    • Consular Agency / Warden Can NOT Report any information back to inquirer without  consent from "missing person"
    • l  Provide list of local Doctorīs
    • Offer emotional and logistical support
    • Notify family / friends (PAW) and ask for monetary and emotional assistance
    • Inform of local support options
    • Consular Agency / Warden Can NOT  Use US GOV funds to pay hospital costs overseas or for private medical repatriation via medevac
    • Inform Amcit population of impending threat
    •  If deemed necessary, send additional personnel to assist with Crisis
    • Apply full range of consular services to assist Americans abroad
    • Work with local authorities and commercial organizations to secure local and foreign citizens
    •  If asked for emergency funds from host government can provide.
    • Consular Agent  / Warden Can NOT   Foot the bill for repatriation / evacuation of American Citizens,  By-pass local authorities and procedures to insure safety of Americans or  Decide how the donated funds are spent during post crisis period
    • For routine renewals with passport in possession the US Consular Office in Playa del Carmen can help.  Turnaround time is about 2-3 weeks
    • For lost or stolen passports you must use the US Consulate office in Merida.  Process time is about 2-3 weeks unless in case of emergency.
    • On June 1, 2009, the U.S. government will implement the full requirements of the land and sea phase of WHTI.  The proposed rules require most U.S. citizens entering the United States at sea or land ports of entry to have a passport or passport card.
  • Trade and Property Matters
The Warden for Costa Maya (Kevin) through the US Consular Agency Can:
  • Respond to individuals
  • Obtain information of the case
  • Be understanding and sympathetic
  •  Use office to verify facts or expedite settlement, when appropriate
  • Provide list of local attorneys
Consular Agency Can NOT :
  • l  Act as Agent for US Citizen
  • Give legal advice
  • Act in fiduciary capacity
  • Help American violate or circumvent law
"I can provide you an American Citizen registration form that you are welcome to fill out.  This form will be held under lock and key in my office and the information will be kept private, unless there is a true emergency where the information must be shared.  You are also advised to register with the Department of State at  In that, all segments of the diplomatic infrastructure have access to your information if you are involved in an emergency." Kevin Graham


Generally, all U.S. citizens 18 years or older who are residing outside the United States during an election period are eligible to vote absentee in any election for Federal office. Some states allow overseas voters to vote in state and local elections as well.

Voting eligibility and residency requirements are determined by the various U.S. states, and are available on-line at  Your "legal state of residence" for voting purposes is the state where you last resided immediately prior to departure from the United States. Voting rights extend to overseas citizens even though they may no longer own property or have other ties to their last state of residence, and even if their intent to return to that state may be uncertain. For those who have never resided in the United States, sixteen states   allow certain U.S. citizens to register where a parent or spouse would be eligible to vote. Voter Registration & Requesting an Absentee Ballot Voters who have not yet registered to vote and requested an absentee ballot should do so now.

  1. Complete the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) using the instructions for your state in the Voting Assistance Guide. You may pick up a hard copy of the FPCA from any U.S. Embassy or Consulate, or use the online version
  2.  Sign, date and mail the completed FPCA to the address listed in the Voting Assistance Guide If you are sending the FPCA through international mail, please affix appropriate airmail postage. Follow your state's regulations precisely.
  3.  Send in a new FPCA if you have moved or changed your name since the last time you voted.
  4. Check your state's voter registration verification website or follow up directly with your local election officials, to confirm that you are registered.
Your local voting officials should mail your absentee ballot 30 to 45
days before the November 4 general election.  Return your voted ballot as early as possible.  Be aware of your state's ballot receipt deadline,as well as any postmarking requirements.


The official U.S. government website for overseas voters is the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) website at

The Voting Assistance Officer at the U.S. Consulate in Merida, Mexico is also always available to answer questions about absentee voting.  To contact the Voting Assistance Officer, call (999-942-5716) or send an e-mail to .


(Editor's note: This has to Polly's best newsletter yet.  Have I mentioned how much we adore your column (and you)?) 

"I am standing with my hand on my heart and promising never to open my big mouth again and ask for rain!!!  


Saturday 31st May was Xcalak pueblo's birthday, needless to say Arthur spoiled it. We just celebrated it a week later, great fun. A Punta/Reggie band from San Pedro Belize, beer and dancing. Mariners day on Sunday 1st June was also a complete no go. Our Port Captain Suzi  (she is only the 2nd female port Captain in Mexico)  rescheduled and here are a couple of photo's taken at the end of the new pier between rain storms.

Xcalak Birthday N Mariner's day
Port Captain Suzi 
Tuesday 10th June - while taking my son and his girlfriend to Mahahual to catch the ADO bus  the most beautiful big black jaguar ambles lazily across the road in front of us, then we see parrots,ospreys,snakes and turtles. Now they know why I love living here in the jungle. You never know what you are going to see.

Talking of living in the jungle, last week a friend went into the Pemex in Mahahual and saw Jose Luis from Matahual chasing one of the pump attendants around the forecourt yelling that he had been robbed.  We in Xcalak use this Pemex station very reluctantly, we know we are going to get scammed.  Really clever scams.
Well I saw this on another message board, and asked Whales permission to post it here.
'Being a technical geek, one of the Pemex scams has been worrying me for a while. How could they reset a pump to zero, start it pumping and still scam you on the amount? Sounded very technically difficult without a trick pump and I couldn't imagine the pump jockies having the access or the ability to pull that off. However, I knew from a prior experience it could be done, but how, especially on a digital pump? I was determined to find out. It was easier than I thought.

I pulled into the Pemex station just before the San Francisco market in Tulum, got out of the car and ordered 200 pesos of Magna. I then watched the attendant reset the pump to zero and then punch in the amount of 205 pesos on the auto stop. The pump was running and was at about 130 pesos when he asked if I wanted him to check my tires, thinking to myself "here it comes", I said no they were fine. He pointed to the front tire and said it was low. For a fraction of a second I started turning my head in that direction and then immediately turned back toward him as he calmly reached over an hit the stop button on the pump. Bingo, the pump instantly went from 130 pesos  to 205 pesos and stopped. I yelled at him and said "what are you trying to pull". He pointed to the amount, I yelled at him again and said "you stopped the pump, we are going to the oficina" and started walking to the office and motioned for him to follow. He turned to the other attendant, they exchanged some words in Spanish and he said in pretty good English, "what do you want?" I said I wanted 80 more pesos of gas. He reset the pump to zero again, pumped in 80 more pesos, I gave him the 200 and left, so I guess I actually scammed him out of ten pesos . Moral: Never take your eyes off the pump while it is pumping, no matter what anyone around you says or does.

In Merida I also tried Iguana mama's trick of using a 100 peso note since there is no corresponding smaller bill for them to switch it with. (They usually try to switch a 200 with a 20 but there is no 10 peso bill, only coins) It was a worthwhile effort Iggymom, but no cigar. I ordered 100 pesos, he pumped it in, I gave him a 100 peso bill. He then asked me where I was from, I told him "Colorado" and he held up a 50 peso note. I busted out laughing at him (this is really getting to be a fun game for me) and said "you know and I know I gave you a 100" he just sheepishly turned around and walked to the next car as I got in mine and drove away.

Another Xcalakeno says,"I now have someone who will help with the people and problems in the Mahahual Pemex. Will you please get any one who has had a problem to write an e mail. Just give an honest account of the gas attendants there."

Is this a case of if we don't use it we loose it? Remember how awful it was before it was built.

Polly in Xcalak


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,




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