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Monthly Archives: January 2013

National sailing regatta set for racy weekend

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This Weekend…

    Sailors from various parts of Mexico began arriving on Tuesday for this weekend’s triple crown national regatta featuring three types of sailing craft manned by some 300 sailors on 180 boats.

   The early arrivals took the Latitude 20 Restaurant by surprise Tuesday afternoon as galley staff fired up the charcoal for what is expected to be a grand weekend of sailing. The restaurant has a contract to feed them. The regatta has preempted Latitude’s regular 10 a.m. cooking class on Friday, Feb. 1. Classes will resume at the same time Feb. 8.
The staging area, located in hard-to-get to Phase 4 should be bustling as boats are floated, sails raised, rudders affixed and gear checked for the races to be held on two separate courses. Several of the commercial catamarans, the Paso Doble and Catamaya that operate here, are offering race-watching excursions, said PA Sailing Club Commodore Daniele Gracis. Find them at the marina.
Viewing activity at the sailing club across the north channel can be accomplished by heading north on Punta Matzoma, past Villa del Mar to an empty lot with a for-sale sign. The lot has a path to the beach from where the channel can been seen. Gracis said there would be activity all day on racing days, Feb. 1, 2, 3.
( Scroll down to the previous edition to view additional information about the races.)  


Coming Attractions…

REGATTA CONCERT Feb. 3 ; 7 p.m., Cultural Center, 80 pesos, R&B band
NIGHT OF RISING STARS, Feb 8; 7 to 9:30 p.m., Latitude 20 Restaurant

…And a night among ancient Mayans


Professor’s talk to resurrect exotic history

By Staff
   Few dig the ancient Mayan civilization more than acclaimed University of Idaho archeologist Richard D. Hansen, Ph.D., a director of the Mexico-Guatemala Mirador Basin Project, the cradle of Mayan civilization and the world’s largest Mayan treasure trove of artifacts, architecture and art.

And he’s going to be right here in Puerto Aventuras on Feb. 17 to share this amazing story and exquisite slides with us in the PA Cultural Center. This is a “don’t miss” Center presentation for anyone with even the slightest interest in the mysteries and wonders of the ancient but advanced Mayan culture.
PA’s own grand dame, Doe Stowell, enticed Dr. Hansen to Paradise (note the first two letters in Paradise are PA) after hearing his lecture in frigid Minnesota where, can you believe, there exists a local Maya Society. “I heard him in St. Paul,” Ms. Stowell said while sipping water at a press interview in Hippo’s Restaurant last week. “He is a fabulous speaker with an entertaining sense of humor and exquisite slides.” Since then she has been working to bring him here to share with her PA neighbors what she so enjoyed in St. Paul.

For the uninitiated, the Mirador Basin Project, on which Hansen has worked for some 30 years, is located in the remote rainforest of Peten, Guatemala, in a depression of sloping terrain that includes swamps and foreboding jungle inhabited by snakes, jaguars and puma, not to mention thieves – a dangerous menagerie that has deterred some PA visitors from venturing inside even with guards.
In this unwelcoming topography nonetheless, emerges 837 square miles of amazing history and cultural remains that Hansen has captured in words and film to be shared  with his Puerto Aventuras audience.
Hansen has  received numerous awards, written many papers and reports, been featured in  a number of prestigious magazines and served as a technical advisor for the Mel Gibson movie “Apocalypto.” That’s in addition to his university duties, research and work uncovering numerous sites in the Mirador project such as pyramids higher than… But let’s wait to hear him tell it…
Advance tickets of 100 pesos to defray costs are available at the Colonos office and 150 pesos at the door.

Ex-PA man survives alleged assassination try

The police detain 3 alleged conspirators

     From Staff and press reports
The husband of  the owner of a real estate office here was shot in the neck/head area with a .22 caliber pistol outside his home in Playa del Carmen on Wednesday of last week. The police have detained suspect Leon Jorge Cervantes, 34, of Jalisco, and say Cervantes admitted the shooting for 60,000 pesos plus expenses.
The police identified the victim as former PA resident and businessman-contractor Daniel Traconis Carlos Pena, 64. He was shot while entering his car outside his home at 10th Ave. and 74th St. in Playa’s north end Luis Donaldo neighborhood. As of this writing, he was in a coma in intensive care at a private hospital in Cancun, friends in PA and the police reported.
Police say Cervantes was apprehended by alert officers as he went through a filtro heading out of town. Subsequently, two other men were detained as co-conspirators and all three face attempted murder complaints. None of them are from this area.
Prosecutors told the local press the two other conspirators, also suspected of complicity in the Oct. 2012  murder of a Russian land speculator on Isla Mujeres, have been detained n the Pena case also. Investigators told the press a possible motive is conflict litigation over waterfront property in Cancun worth several million US dollars. Those arrested say they were hired by a third party and had planned the hit for several months. They have given investigators a first name.
Prosecutors continue to seek the identity of the person who ordered and paid for the shooting.
Local newspapers have been following the story almost daily as Pena battles for his life in intensive care. His wife and friends were at his bedside, said friends here who have a link to the family.
In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, a call went out for donors of type O-negative blood. An employee of  of the real estate office said on Friday there was no follow-up call for more blood donors. Another person working in the office said yesterday the family wishes anonymity and privacy. The Pelican Free Press respects the family’s wish and joins the community in extending its concern.
      Friends of Pena who did not want to be identified said they could not imagine why anyone would do such a thing. “He has always been a straight businessman in all the years I have known him,” said one restaurant owner here.

That sinking feeling…

The Pelican Pulpit…Staff Opinion

Classic case of  ‘Paying It Forward’

     Restaurateuse Donna Carey shared with us a classic story of ‘paying it forward’ this week. It was about an 18-year-old Pobladan named Alex who was orphaned with another sibling at age 10 when his single mom was killed by a car while crossing the highway to go to work in the resort.
Alex and his sibling moved in with poor relatives, Carey and some friends saw a desperate need there and responded with enough in donations from the public to provide each sibling with 500 pesos a month for several years to get them started and kept in school.

Alex eventually got a job and became self-sufficient living alone in a one-room accommodation. That was until he was alerted by friends that two fatherless young siblings had been abandoned by their alcoholic mother and were living outdoors under beach palapas with no place to go. Alex took them in. While he can feed them, his income does not allow for clothing and other needs such as education.
As has Alex, Carey and friends have reprised the original kindness by starting a drive to help Alex give his new charges the same opportunity he had. Carey is appealing for donations that can by dropped off at her restaurant, the Tiramisu. Snowbirds who are not here and others can participate by asking Donna via email for her PayPal account number.
Carey says she can arrange meetings with Alex and the siblings for those who wish it. Accountability for expenditure of the funds will be in the hands of  longtime PA resident Marion Howard.
This is another act of caring that has been established by Puerto residents over the years. Quiet donations have been made by individuals to train mothers in new skills by which to earn a living; to support English and computer classes and help with health care needs as was the case of a very generous couple who paid for operations for Danny Iglesias last year. He had suffered a badly smashed knee trying to help another person in trouble.
There is also the ongoing work of Anat Kah , this area’s answer to the United fund and its construction of the Poblado’s initial high school classroom with the help of many who participated in two local golf tournaments.
It’s an honor to live among such people.

Phrase a week … By Gloria Contreras, state certified interpreter

Robust debate is good for the community. “Fuerte debate es bueno para la comunidad Anyone interested in learning the language can please contact Ms. Contreras by email at Gloria Contreras [email protected] or Cel: 984-108-3517 so she can prepare materials in advance.
(Classes are from 2;30 to 3;30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at Tiramisu Restaurant and all are welcomed to attend. The fee is $150 pesos per session.

What’s Playing…

See for yourself what’s showing at the local movie houses in Playa del Carmen at the links below.
Centro Maya: http://cinemex.com/

Las Americas: http://www.cinepolis.com/_CARTELERA/cartelera.aspx?ic=70#Cine215

Briefly noted…

Compiled from staff, contributor and media reports
A DIVE SHOP is reportedly negotiating for space in Puerto Aventuras as the resort community enjoys growing popularity and housing starts…CHARITY GOLF is rumored to be taking a break here this year…THE GRAND VELAS  all-inclusive hotel just outside Playa del Carmen made the Travel and Leisure Magazine’s list of best hotels in the world…BAD PRESS over violence was blamed for Mexico’s decline of 1 percent in foreign visitors and thus off the list of the top 10 countries with most visitors…DRIVING IN THE RAIN is not like singing in the rain. It can be dangerous, a 20-year-old learned after a rainfall last week. His car skidded and flipped on its side on Highway 307 near Calica. Fortunately, he was not injured. Drive carefully on wet pavement…THE REGISTRATION  of bikes and business tricycles in Playa won’t stop them from being stolen, repainted and otherwise disguised say officials…BETTING ON TILAPIA – The Q. Roo government is betting that the farming of tilapia fish (aquaculture) will provide a replacement for declining stocks of natural fish species in area waters. They say tilapia is very popular in the tourist areas. The small filets are a godsend for people here and in the States watching their diet…ANYBODY NOTICE the new sidewalk  off the north-bound lane of Highway 307 near Hospiten and Playacar? Aventurans who ride bikes and scooters hope it snakes its way here…OFFICE MAX at Centro Maya was closed on Sunday as the company continued its move across 307 to a new business complex…

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Details awaited on plan to reclaim beach

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IMAGES OF WOMAN’ at 7:30 p.m. Friday (Jan. 18) at the Cultural Center offers poetry, dance, music entertainingly designed to inspire women. Men welcome. Tickets at 120 pesos available at the Colonos Office and at the door. Beverages available.
TRIPLE NATIONAL REGATTA is coming here Feb. 1,2 and 3. The event, which should reportedly attract hundreds of visitors, is organized by Daniele Gracis and the Puerto Aventuras Sailing Club. Stay tuned for more information.


Talented team tackles beach erosion fix

Issue boiling down to sharing
costs and timing of permits

By Staff
    Fideicomiso Roman River Torres has assembled an impressive team of talent in an attempt to rectify the depletion of sand along Omni Beach in Fatima Bay.
Nature has ravaged what is perhaps the only beach within the confines of Puerto Aventuras Resort that is considered to be a primary public facility for resort residents in addition to guests of the Omni Hotel and members of the popular Omni Beach Club.

As it now stands, the beach has all but disappeared along the Omni frontage and the Fideicomiso, along with residents, have a stake in seeing its expanse replenished with sand to accommodate all residents and guests who wish to use it.
To that end, Rivera Torres has offered a plan to the Colonos, which is the association of property owners in charge of maintaining peace and infrastructure and promoting cultural growth. The plan, the details of which will be released later, was floated at the Dec. 15 Colonos Assembly, where voters received the proposal with interest but wanted more details since the plan involves a cost-sharing agreement to proceed.
It was decided to conduct a Special Assembly on Feb. 16 to give the Fideicomiso time to gather all details and polish its presentation.  The Colonos,in turn, has said that if all aspects of a presentation are not completed by the deadline to be placed on the Assembly agenda, the Assembly will be canceled.
Rivera Torres told the Pelican Free Press last week, “A year ago I hired a company known as Oceanus SA headed by Pablo Besquin who  hired Dr. Ping Wang from the University of Florida to do the studies.
“They finished the studies only this last November and now we have the project of what we have to do. We have the cost and budget,  and the permits are on the way.  We have also prepared the 3 tons of rocks necessary to do the job. The rocks are now ready and available on Plano 4 for anyone to see.”
Oceanus, based out of Merida, specializes in beach recovery and wave attenuation devices. The company says it has allied with other international technologies to offer the most scientifically advanced technologies in the world today related to coastal protection and beach reclamation.

The company engineers wave attenuation devices to replicate the hydrodynamics of natural reef systems. These devices, the company says, are the most stable, productive and sustainable coastal protection anti-erosion devices available worldwide.
Besquin, the company CEO,  is currently involved in a project to create an artificial reef barrier spanning the coastline from Cancun to Punta Nizuc. The aim is to provide a new tourist diving experience while reducing the pressure on the natural barrier. The project has involved the Mexican navy and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Dr.Wang, an assistant professor at the University of South Florida (USF), earned a Ph.D. from USF with a dissertation that examined “near-shore sediment transport and field measurement and prediction.” Dr.Wang earned a Masters Degree in geology from Shanghai University with a thesis on Barrier Island Depositional systems.
Dr. Wang has an impressive list of published papers and technical reports and more than 26 recent projects to which he has contributed his talents.
Meanwhile, the local press reports that the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport (Sintra) is planning a beach recovery project to about 4 kilometers of beach in Playa del Carmen and Cozumel. Lack of funding prohibits more extensive projects, it was reported.

LOOKING UP IN PA… with Gayle Sandholm


Big Boa sighted on Bahia Chemuyil;

Nobody asked it for a hug

There have been a few sightings around town this week. No film stars, soccer greats, or well known politicians—or none that I saw.  There was, however, a good sized boa constrictor shown here on Bahia Chemuyil near the highway.

Vehicles stopped, locals and tourists got just close enough for a good look, took some photos, then drove their bikes, cars, scooters around the boa who slithered to the more hospitable nearby jungle.

I estimate this boa was between 6 and 7 feet. Female boas can grow up to 10 feet in length. Even longer in captivity. The boa on Chemuyil will likely grow to be a little longer and a little heavier, if it learns to stay off the street.
I have been back in Puerto just over a week, but the birds around town continue to amaze me. The orioles are enjoying the blossoming trees all around town. Lots of Orange

Orioles and Orchard Orioles, plus some yet to be identified. The red hepatic tanager still hangs out in the trees behind Hippos.
This week I am enjoying two birds seen around town, the Rufous-browed Peppershrike and the Squirrel Cuckoo (photo below). The Cuckoo has a long tail and can be up to 50 centimeters long. It has a chestnut brown head, wings and back. The outer tail feathers are black with white tips.
The name derives from its habit of running along branches and leaping from branch to branch like a squirrel. It normally flies only short distances, mainly gliding with an occasional flap.

A  spider monkey walked in front of our family on Bahia Chemuyil for 50 meters before disappearing into the nearby trees. Our grandkids enjoyed watching a large blue crab hiding out in the rocks near Café Ole. It was probably hungering for a bite of one of Gaylita’s famous pies.
Mostly a quiet week here in Puerto. I will report more sightings around town from time to time. For now just keep looking up, down and all around. There is always something interesting to see. It could be a place, a face or add a slice of Mother nature.


The Pelican Pulpit…

In this case, the bark is worse than the bite

Staff Opinion
    Should one family with two dogs be allowed with impunity to frequently disturb and thus infuriate more than 50 neighbors?
That’s a question that the Colonos needs to answer for those 50 or so families living along the golf course who have been exposed to the cacophony of two yapping dogs whose purpose in life seems to be riling nearby residents and keeping potential real estate buyers at bay.

The non-stop barking – the frenzied yelping type -for three hours last Wednesday evening prompted one vigilance committee member representing 32 condo units to cross the fairway in the black of night, flashlight in hand, to discover why the dogs yipped and yapped consistently for some three hours, disturbing the dinner hour and sleep for a number of taxpaying families.
As it turned out, the owners were away on vacation and neighbors taking care of the dogs didn’t notice one had gotten loose, causing both dogs to break the peace incessantly for three hours.
The owners were expected back Monday. In the meantime, the vigilance committee was hoping to visit with the owners, who live on Yalku to complain about the frequent barking and suggest remedies.

“It isn’t the dogs,” said the vigilance committee member. “It’s the inconsiderate behavior of the owners.” They apparently lack the presence of mind to realize they aren’t living by themselves in the middle of the desert but in a close-knit society by agreement where keeping the peace is everybody’s job. Shame on them!
If there is no satisfactory understanding with the owners, the vigilance committee spokesman says it will endeavor to present a petition to the Colonos and municipal dog pound officials to enforce the law. The two dogs in question are frequently let loose to roam the golf course, bother elderly strollers and bark incessantly at other dogs passing by or left outdoors to bark when the family is out.
If there is no law to stop this inconsiderate behavior by owners, then there ought to be one. What do YOUthink? Send us your comments.
Phrase a week … By Gloria Contreras, state certified interpreter

What is the price of a liter of gasoline? “¿Cuál es el precio de un litro de gasolina? Anyone interested in learning the language can contact Ms. Contreras by email at Gloria Contreras [email protected] or Cel: 984-108-3517.
(Ms. Contreras teaches Spanish classes from 3 to 4 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays at Tiramisu Restaurant and all are welcomed to attend. The fee is $150 pesos per session. Please call her first to make arrangements.)




What’s Playing…

See for yourself what’s showing at the local movie houses in Playa del Carmen at the links below.
Centro Maya: http://cinemex.com/

Las Americas: http://www.cinepolis.com/_CARTELERA/cartelera.aspx?ic=70#Cine215

Briefly noted…

Compiled from staff, contributor and media reports

FOUR KILLED in a senseless crash in front of the Mayan Palace Hotel on 307, at kilometer 310, heading north toward Cancun. A car driven by a Cuban national evidently took a wrong lane and caused a crash when trying to correct the error. It is another reminder of why all are urged to drive defensively please…YES, WE HAVE NO BANANAS – Supermarkets in the area have been running out of bananas including plantains and we wonder why. We saw one clerk picking up bananas that had been dropped to the floor under the display counter. The clerk was putting them back on the counter for sale…OFFICIALS ARRESTED a number of gang suspects in the Sunday (Jan. 13)  execution of two people in Cozumel…THE STATE AND TEACHERS are having a debate on education reform and whether the reforms infringe on the rights of labor…DRAGON MART MERRY-GO-ROUND – The latest on the proposed Dragon Mart near Cancun and Puerto Morelos is that it will cover 100 acres with room for 3,000 stores, 700 houses and break ground in 2014…AIRPORT CRIME including attacks/robberies on individuals and car break-ins have engendered an increase in police patrols in the airport’s “zero-kilometer zone”…ALSO, MEXICAN FEDERAL officials caught several immigration employees releasing some six newly arrived passengers from Germany traveling on false papers and suspected of dealing drugs…POLICE HAVE DETAINED TWO CANADIANS who were carrying three guns in their car outside of a known criminal hangout called Chilly Willi’s on Playa del Carmen Boulevard…

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