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Monthly Archives: February 2013

Alert! MexFeds boost at-fault driver liability

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COMING ATTRACTIONS:

 

MIRADOR BASIN PROJECT, lecture and slide show in English by Prof. Richard D. Hansen, Ph.D., 7 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 17 at Cultural Center, tickets 150 pesos at the Colonos office or at the door. (Scroll down for more information contained in a previous edition.)
NIGHT OF RISING STARS at Latitude 20 Restaurant, 7-9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15. The program features children from the Puerto Aventuras school.
REGGAE DANCE BAND Roots & Wisdom, Saturday, Feb. 16 from 6:30 p.m., Latitude 20 Restaurant.
HEALTHCARE FOR EXPATS is the title of an important symposium scheduled for 10 a.m., Feb. 26, in the Colonos Meeting Room. The American consular officer in Playa del Carmen will attend and representatives from the new Red Cross clinic in the Poblado, Hospiten and some insurers are expected to be presenters. Stay tuned and set that date aside if you have any concerns about health care and coverage.
A COLONOS ASSEMBLY to review and vote on a funding proposal to replenish and protect the Fatima Bay beach area will be held at 9:30 a.m. (first call) on Saturday, March 2, in the Colonos Meeting Room adjacent to the office. All voters are invited to participate. Stay tuned for details.

GUESS WHO CAME TO DINNER

Anteater makes for rare sighting here

By staff
       It was just the other day that our downstairs neighbor asked if we had anything to get rid of those pesky no-see-‘um ants. We gave him a tube inside a box of stuff we brought in from the States. Don’t know yet how it’s working out.
A few days later, Colonos GM Armando Rincon sent us the picture above taken by public works operations manager Eduardo Reynoso.
It’s anybody’s guess how exactly rare an anteater sighting here is, but to be sure, now that we’ve sated our glimpses of monkeys, we’d like to see one these in the flesh and get acquainted.  Reynoso said he has seen another one, “a big one,” climbing down a tree next to a real estate office near the Colonos headquarters in Centro.
These two occurrences so close together foster an idea: Perhaps residents with ant problems ought to invite the anteater for dinner, yes? Anteaters are called“vermilingua”or “worm tongue” because the tongue can stretch two feet in the 5-foot-long giant anteater. The type of anteater found in this area averages about two feet long and some are considered arboreal (living in trees).
As to its rarity in these parts, the anteater isn’t specifically mentioned in David A. Nunez’ colorful book on the natural treasures of the Mexican Caribbean.

New manager has high hopes for golf course

Seeking input from, cooperation of all  users;
Prices already reduced for local property owners

By Staff
    Puerto Aventuras has a new golf course manager, and while he may be new at his “dream job,” Jose Luis Ortega is an old hand from this resort community’s early development. Now he’s back to help lift Puerto’s golf course and tennis courts to a higher plane of “community” involvement and service.

Proficient in Spanish and English, Ortega places considerable value on communications. To that end, he met with a group of residents who are golfers, listened to their views and shared his vision with them. He had already heard some of their complaints through individual conversations and had actively sought input from other golf course users such as joggers and dog-walkers who can be considered as trespassing on private property.
“I am a golfer and tennis player, and I believe I know how these assets should be run from the point of view of owner-residents,” he said at an interview earlier this week while overseeing course operations.

Jim Caddey, one of the golfers at the meeting, said the group negotiated “new rates for local golfers to play golf at the PA course. The old rate was $79 USD for eighteen holes, which was completely out of line with the other courses in the area, “ Caddey said. “The new rate is now $40 USD plus $10 for a golf cart. If you want to play nine holes, the rate is $30 USD plus $5 USD for a cart. If you bring a guest the rate is $63.20 USD. A local is defined as one who owns property in PA.”
Married 32 years and father of two adult sons, Ortega has assimilated experience and networked with professionals at various area courses that traditionally cater to tourists. “We are not in competition with them,” he says, noting their courses are more extravagant and that their fees exceed what a community golf course can reasonably charge residents. “We are only half a course,” he says in referencing Puerto’s 9-hole facility that has plans for future expansion as Phase 4 development evolves.

For the moment, Ortega, who was a sales manager here during the resort’s early development, says he wants to revive club memberships to accumulate front-money to improve the facility. “The course has been losing money,” he said, a reason for dwindling maintenance expenditures. “We thought it would be nice to arrive at the right price for residents” he said, noting that he was open to reasonable compromise to create “a golf course that residents can and want to use.”
He would also like to initiate golf clinics for youth and women as another way of shaping the course as a primarily community asset. If that can be accomplished over time, he believes, the vacationers will come.
People living along the golf course have noticed an uptick in business lately despite what Ortega says are legitimate complaints from golfers concerning dog-walkers, bike riders and joggers using the course while golfers are trying to play.
Noting that, “…after all, the course is private property,” Ortega said he has talked with some of the trespassers and has attempted to see their point of view as well. He said the course doesn’t have cart trails that could accommodate joggers and others to keep them off the fairways where there is a potential for injury.

The new manager said he is amenable to a plan that would allow those uses between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., when golfers are not using the course. He said people riding bicycles across the course are creating grooves and ruining grass and while he understands the enticement of a short-cut, he says there are streets for bicycle use. He equated the problem with bikers riding through a private home’s garden or lawn. Who would tolerate that? he asked rhetorically.
He said he plans to discuss the possibility of a tournament with local golfers to raise funds for the purchase of maintenance equipment. There would not be a conflict with the charity golf tourneys held in the last two years since that one isn’t being held this year, according to its promoters. Those tourneys achieved their goal of helping build the Poblado high school and then some.
Ortega’s sales experience shines through his persuasive use of conversation to explain a goal and define options to achieve it.  But for him communication is a two-way street.  He will listen, he said, to any reasonable suggestion that will give new meaning to “community” golf course.
IN CASE YOU WANT TO KNOW…  

Car-death liability cap raised to $300K

    By Staff and Yucalandia
      It took the purchase of a new car to learn that liability insurance for at-fault drivers in death cases has increased considerably, as has its cost.
Formerly, liability in at-fault death cases due to negligence was capped at 750 days times the local prevailing Mexican minimum wage, or roughly $50,000. The new law now in effect is capped at around $300,000, or 5000 days multiplied by the minimum wage, or roughly $300K.
Some major companies have decided to unilaterally raise the limits for policies currently in force and until the policies are renewed.  Check with your insurer if this is a concern to you.

COMMERCE CORNER…

Playa school spawns business networking arm

One goal is to bridge the international gap

By Staff
     
Something new will be happening for local business people on Feb. 28 when a fresh organization called “Negocios Unidos” (United Business) launches its first “business exchange night” at the Colegio Ingles and Centro Universitario Ingles in Playa del Carmen from 6:30 to 11 p.m.    

Jon Felperin, director of United Business, is an American living and teaching in Playa who says his aim is to create a standing organization where local and international business people can network.
“My business is English education,” Felperin said, “and not event promotion.  However, we are trying to fill the gap that Chambers of Commerce normally concern themselves with in other countries.”
Felperin said he is expecting several hundred business people, some of whom will man information booths that are available for a fee to businesses that want to promote their wares or services.
An admission fee of 150 pesos covers an alcoholic drink, hors d’oeuvre, a raffle, music, speed networking and other opportunities to make new business contacts.
“We have offered the English-speaking Rotary International Club a free presence. The Municipio office for small business promotion will also be there,” Felperin said. Presentations will be in Spanish.
He said Colegio Inglés is located at Km. 291.5 on Feweral Highway 307 in Playa del Carmen. “Heading towards Cancun, just outside of Playa, the school is on the federal highway, where the overpass ends. It is on the left hand side of the road, just before the street 28 de Julio, behind Steren Electronics.”
More info at jfelperin@negociosunidos.net and at www.negociosunidos.net or by calling 984-806-3956.


Letters…

…On keeping Skidoos away from the shore

Dear Editor:
Is there no law keeping wave runners (Skidoos) out of our bay (Fatima). We have a peaceful little bay where people swim, snorkel and relax on the beach. Now there are people on wave runners coming in dangerously close to the beach and speeding along – disturbing us with loud noise, noxious gas fumes and, worst of all, the danger they pose to swimmers and snorkelers in the water.
Is there no regulation to keep them beyond the reef and out of the bay? There should be! They are ruining the quiet and safety of our beach and bay in Puerto Aventuras. Can officials look into this please?

signed/Karen Loewenstern

Phrase a week … By Gloria Contreras, state certified interpreter

The sales tax on a new car is 11 percent here.“El impuesto sobre la ventas en un coche nuevo es de 11 por ciento aquí ” Anyone interested in learning the language can please contact Ms. Contreras by email at Gloria Contreras nanigloria@hotmail.com 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
      THE PARK COMMITTEE has apparently become inactive as classes that were held there last year are no longer being held. Colonos GM Armando Rincon says he’ll call a meeting of the committee soon to learn what is going on, if anything…LET THERE BE LIGHTS – We continue to get verbal complaints about the lack of lighting on the highway.  Drivers say it is dangerous at night getting around the overpass. Who is responsible for that?…“EVEN FOREIGNERS” are engaging in street sales of drugs in Playa’s colonies noted a local newspaper after an Italian citizen was caught trying to sell 43 packets of marijuana…TULUM is expected to get a new landfill this year and in the process clean up its current open dump and the environmental problems it represented…- STATE OF THE STATE – Quintana Roo’s unemployment rate of 4.3 percent in 2012 was a bit under the national average as officials seek to lower the rate to around 3.5 percent…COLD WEATHER up north has benefitted small hotels along Playa’s 5th Avenue that were reporting a surprising 70 to 100 percent occupancy last week…ANOTHER CENOTE DEATH was reported last week when a professional Canadian diver drowned in the Kalimba cenote in Tulum…

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Coming events:

MIRADOR BASIN PROJECT, lecture and slide show by Prof. Richard D. Hansen, Ph.D., 7 p.m., Feb. 17 at Cultural Center, tickets 150 pesos at the Colonos office or at the door. Scroll down for story in previous edition.
NIGHT OF RISING STARS at Latitude 20 Restaurant, 7-9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15. The program features children from the  Puerto Aventuras school.
REGGAE DANCE BAND Roots & Wisdom, Feb. 16 from 6:30 p.m., Latitude 20 Restaurant.
HEALTHCARE FOR EXPATS is the title of an important  symposium scheduled for 10 a.m., Feb. 26, in the Colonos Meeting Room. The American consular officer in Playa del Carmen and representatives from the new Red Cross clinic in the Poblado, Hospiten and insurers are expected to be presenters. Stay tuned and set that date aside if you have any concerns about health care and coverage.

 PA regatta launches national competition

 

 

Races begin to attract more fans

 

Businesses get a boost from sailing event

Puerto Aventuras put a feather in the cap of sailmeister Daniele Gracis,  pesos in the pockets of local businesses and another notch in its resume as a primary port of call for national small-boat sailing regattas.

About the only element that didn’t fully cooperate with the three-day weekend of races in three classes of sailing craft was, well, the elements. The usually bright sun in a blue firmament with sporadic white clouds gave way Friday to a leaden overcast sky that chilled.
But that was generally ignored by the busy sailors concentrating on victory as they rode their craft over swells like cowboys on bucking bulls. For observers who watched from various vantage points ashore and a-sea,  it was a hit for those who know sailing and mildly interesting for the curious layman.
The awards ceremony conducted Sunday evening at the Cultural Center terminated the three-day event in celebratory style with the distribution of plaques to the winning sailors from throughout Mexico and accolades to those who were involved in hosting the national sailing event.

When speakers introduced PA’s own Daniele Gracis, the open air cultural center exploded with whistles, hoots, hollers and sustained applause as the man who not only attracted the race to this venue, but captains the local sailing club in the Optimist Class, repairs the boats, manages the annual marathon and advocates to put more kids on water to tame the sea and shape their character. But for brave sailors, there would be would be undiscovered continents, no?
The weekend also brought out the more gracious among us, like Inger Bjerre for example, as owners of  roof-top units in various condo buildings offered friends a lofty  “terraza” vantage point from which to observe the sailing action, albeit at a distance, and to socialize.
One such rooftop sailing fan was Danish recreational sailor and visitor Hans Ottesen who was armed with binoculars and a compass. He told the Pelican Free Press that he was able to actually follow the race leaders on each day from the numbers on their sails. He said quite a few boats went bottoms-up in Friday’s stiff winds and relatively rough sea, but the young sailors righted them well in don’t-give-up-the ship fashion to resume racing.

Among a smattering of observers on local beaches and other waterfront sites, the thrill of the race eluded some observers because of constricted views and brought forth admissions that they couldn’t tell what was going on. In some cases, their view was too narrow to see all the markers. Nonetheless, those who gave it thought were impressed with the evident skills of young sailors no older than 15 in the Optimist Class handling themselves so well.
There were actually four classes of boats sailing, but only three preparing for world championships. They included the Optimist Class for children, the Laser for youth and adults, a windsurfer class and the 420 two-man class sailed mostly by military cadets. The races were conducted on two courses, with multiple classes sailing the same courses simultaneously. The number of boats and various classes sailing at the same time helped build the action and the excitement of the race for observers ashore.

 

Puerto Aventuras hosted its first national regatta last year toward the end of the high season and it was a success, according to Gracis and press reports in the sports-centered newspaper “El Deportivo.”
Other regattas this year will be held in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico State and Acapulco. Winners of the regattas will continue competing to represent Mexico on the World Championship teams.
Gracis is the tireless chairman of the Colonos Sports and Cultural Committee and commodore of the sailing club here. He is joined by his wife, Lucia Perrotta, in also promoting cultural events like concerts. He would like to integrate the international community of ex-pats and snowbirds into the competitive sailing scene even though it is a national Mexican undertaking.

To that end, music and food and beverages have been woven into the awards ceremony at the cultural center in hopes of attracting an international audience, although the awards portion of the evening is conducted in Spanish.
Unfortunately this year, the ceremony coincided with the biggest athletic event of the year in the United States, the overhyped  football Super Bowl. That had an effect on attendance to the concert Sunday night to top off the race finale.
One man who had watched some of the races from the Omni Beach said he would have gone to the awards ceremony and concert had it not been for the Super Bowl that he wanted to watch on television. “Sometimes you have to make choices,” he said.

Despite that, there were around 200 people at the local event, where food, beverages and entertainment by Natalie and the Foxes offered a good mix of rock and blues renditions.
Oddly enough, Natalie the diva is also a diver based in Akumal and sings locally at Lol-Ha about once a month and at Zenzi in Playa del Carmen.
In the group are Mauro Montero, guitar; Daniel Martinez Sandra, keyboard; Jose Noe Paris, bass and
Charaguas on drums, who goes by one name only.
Regatta sponsors included the PA Fideicomiso, Nissan Cars, the Colonos, the Playa del Carmen Municipal Council, City Club, Coca Cola and the PROA Sailing Association.
In case you want to know….

Advantages and Disadvantages of Residente Permanente
vs. Residente Temporal Immigration Permits for Mexico

~   Residente Permanente offers the ease of a single, one-time application/registration.
~   There is only one payment needed for Residente Permanente vs. 4 years of Temporary Resident payments.
~   Residente Temporal
 card holders must change to Residente Permanente after four years of Temporary Residency anyway (or change to 6 month Visitor permits).
~   If you have a Residente Permanente card, your Notary may approve you for the Home-owners exemption from paying the 25% gains tax on a future sale of your Mexican home – a potential savings of $10′s – $100′s thousands of dollars.
~   If you are outside Mexico for part of the year, Residente Permanente keeps you from having to return to Mexico to deal with an expiring Residente Temporal card.
~    Residente Permanente allows you to work in Mexico, and to get an RFC from Hacienda.
~    Residente Permanente is a good stepping stone to becoming a Naturalized Citizen. Why?  If you have property under a Fidei Comiso, then getting Citizenship allows you to terminate theFidei Comiso , saving you $ thousands in annual payments to the bank.

      Please note that Yucalandia’s master article describing the latest information on how to Visit Mexico, Immigrate to Mexico, and how to apply for residency in Mexico is at:
New Rules and Procedures for Immigration, Visiting, and Staying in Mexico
Courtesy of YucaLandia/Surviving Yucatan.

Looking up in PA… with Gayle Sandholm

Thanks to some good folks who spotted it, I was able to spend some time recently

watching a rat snake, its head well into a small opening in a dead tree trunk. (Photo at right). I assumed it was looking for a meal. I know little about snakes, but one resident who came by said, “It is the snake that eats rats.”
Rat snakes are powerful constrictors able to take large prey. They can grow over three meters long. This one was more like 1.5 meters (5 feet). It was persistent. It was turning and twisting in the tree trunk for nearly an hour. Because they eat rats, some say when a rat snake appears, expect good health to follow! So “salud”, good health, to all in Puerto this week.

I also saw two Coatis cross a trail just off Blvd. Puerto Aventuras. Members of the raccoon family, these two were about 25 inches long with a tail equaling the length of the body.
Tails were held erect, which I have learned is one way to keep together in tall vegetation. Locals report coatis scavenging in garbage bins around Puerto. They can be fierce fighters so it is better to look but not approach.
If you have been looking up at the birds around town you may have seen more orioles. This week I saw Hooded and Scott’s Orioles along with the more usual Orange and Orchard ones. I also spotted small flocks of Blue Grosbeaks on the lawns and in the trees. And, though they were in the tops of trees some distance away and seen only through binoculars, I did see two Yucatan parrots and what I think were three green parakeets.
Until next time, keep looking up.

Letters…

Dear Editor:
Our normal means of transferring funds from our USA bank to our account with Bancomer in Mexico is via “Express Send”. The transfer fee is $2.00.
Sounds good so far, and it has worked very well except that the “wholesale currency price and the retail rate” have a significant gap. It appears to be about 25 cents difference between those two rates. For example, the bank’s most recent exchange rate yesterday (Jan. 31) was $1 USD = 12.5431 MXN.
Are there any other methods of transferring money into Mexican bank accounts that are giving better rates for other PA residents who also transfer money to pay their HOA fees, etc. in Mexico?
Often we have heard that banks pay the lowest exchange rate but we are not familiar with other means of transferring money. If any Pelican Free Press readers (or Pelican staff has suggestions) could you share those with us all?

Most appreciated,
Mary and Bernie Strojny

 

Dear Editor:
I just want to thank you for all the time and energy you contribute to this community newspaper. Since I’m frequently away from Puerto for my work in the United States, I enjoy reading the news and feeling “connected”. Thank you again.

Signed/Jayne A. Halle\

Smiling in Spanish…

 

Phrase a week … By Gloria Contreras, state certified interpreter

The sales tax on a new car is 11 percent here.“Impuesto sobre la ventas en un coche nuevo es de 11 por ciento aquí ” Anyone interested in learning the language can please contact Ms. Contreras by email at Gloria Contreras nanigloria@hotmail.com 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. (No class today, Feb. 7).

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 DRY MARINA AND STORAGE business has opened in Paamul, on the southbound lane of 307. Look for the sign there on the white, low-slung building and stay tuned…GRINGO’S CANTINA is reportedly for sale as  former owner Gringo Dave is seen in Puerto Aventuras…MOODY’S DOWNGRADE is a possibility for Quintana Roo and seven other Mexican states. But no municipality in Q. Roo other than Cancun faces a potential credit rating downgrade, says Moody’s…MAJOR PLANS for Mayakoba to include new hotels on its existing site and luxury homes and golf course across the highway are still in the works…NEIGHBOR COMPLAINTS in the north end of Playa known as Colonia Luis Donaldo led to the arrest of eight drug distributors and seizure of 60 doses of cocaine…RIVIERA TOURIST officials say they did well at the International Tourism Fair in Madrid, Spain, negotiating more than 80 strategic alliances with major companies and tour operators…SLIPPERY WHEN WET HIGHWAY 307 from Cancun to Tulum has the attention of local officials who are asking the federal government for help in diminishing the danger of wet cement roads in favor of blacktop. The highway carries some 4 million visitors to the Riviera Maya annually…

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