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Monthly Archives: August 2013

Look for improved Centro Comercial

 If your property has sprung a leak or two in the rainy weather and you need relief and repairs, check out “Definitive Solutions” by clicking on the sponsor icon on this page to reach the company’s web page and all the services it offers in protecting property from the elements.

Centro assembly supports renewal projects  

By Staff
      Snowbirds returning later this year can expect to see some improvements in the Centro Comercial common areas according to the minutes of the association’s May assembly chaired by Daniel Reyes Basso, of the association’s supervisory committee.       

     One improvement, although not in public view, will serve well the safety of the association members and the public by revamping the electrical service gauges and the deteriorated rooms that house them away from public view. On the advice of an architect, the voters also approved a plan to separate the electrical equipment from gas tanks also located in the area and posing a potential risk. Fortunately, the association had sufficient reserves to pay for the 337,982 pesos project ($25,262 USD),meaning there is no added cost to association members. The association reserves were accumulated from savings in 2011 and 2012.
      In response to numerous requests in the past, the association approved a plan whereby common area roofing at all commercial areas will eventually be standardized to cover all common-area pergolas used by businesses that now are open to the weather, which, in its wet or nasty moods, can disrupt diners and shoppers. A thatched-roof sample will be designed and installed for public view and comment, after which time further installations will be modeled from the sample to standardize, modernize and maintain the original aesthetic concept.
     A design prepared by Arq. Roman Rivera Torres was adopted and includes continued use of wood beams and cross members, thatched roofs but with addition of transparent polycarbonate material to keep out the rain while still maintaining the general aesthetics of Centro. 
     One of the more contentious situations concerned the problem of loud music (noise) from some of the eateries in the late night hours of operation. Debate yielded a compromise that would consider entertainment permits for limited days with the proviso that the sound not be the subject of continued, legitimate neighbor complaints.
     In another change,voters approved the purchase of four vendor carts to be placed in the area of the kiosk (post office and barber shop) where the fruit stand is located. This will standardize the look of the carts, accommodate more vendors and furnish income to the association after the first year of use when the cost of the carts would be recovered by income from the leases.
            
 

The Buzz…

COSTCO a NO GO for the time being

      By Staff
           We’ve been reporting on rumors that Costco, a favorite of quite a few locals, was considering an outlet in Playa del Carmen somewhere near Las Americas Mall. Nobody had bothered to counter the rumor until now.
           “
The rumors of a COSTCO coming to Playa are just that…..rumors,” says reader Allan Rosenfeld. “  I know the manger of COSTCO, Cancun, Mr. Berek Skikman. Six months ago he told me that he had been the one in charge of looking into a Playa location but could not see one being built in Playa any time soon.
          “
With two Walmarts, two Chedrauis, two Sorianna’s, a MEGA, a Sam’s Club, a City Club, and two AKis and a third huge AKi under construction at Aveneda 115 and Constituyentes and with a population of about only 200,000 to 300,000 equals no COSTCO in Playa any time soon,” he said. 
          

Navigating visa, foreign-plated car maze,

has become x-pat and snowbird craze

     Mr. Rosenfeld also wanted to know if anyone has “a definitive ruling” in writing on whether “residente permanente” holders driving cars with U.S./Canada plates and temporary import stickers are still able to drive the car in Mexico. “My lawyer says it is OK. But talk to five different lawyers and you get five different answers.” He wanted to know if anybody had some hard facts. 
    

The Pelican also monitors various blogs on the subject and receives information from readers like Mr. Rosenfeld, all of them looking for definitive answers that even lawyers and government employees can’t seem to provide with one authoritative voice. We received a few letters after publishing Robert Roadway’s comparatively uneventful drive back home to Colorado without any immigration problems.
     The latest news we have on that issue is from Prof. Andy Pittman of Texas A&M and Puerto Aventuras who has been going through the process. Here is his story, printed with his permission:
      “Pat (his wife) and I went to immigration on Monday and got fingerprinted and interviewed and were told that it would be two to three weeks before the permanent visa came back. However, we talked to a man waiting in the office and his came back in a week, so who knows. Also, you have to pick up your own visa. No one else can pick it up for you, which makes things interesting since immigration does not notify you online that it is ready. You have to guess.
      “
The other issue that came up Monday has to do with driving our foreign plated car out of Mexico. I met with Solomon the attorney for advice. (see My Mexican Lawyer in the sponsor column).
      “Here is what I have to provide Mexican customs officials to safely get the car out: My social security number, my original driver’s license, my original American passport, the original car title, and the original of the registration document when we brought the car into the country. They keep this information until your application is processed, which can take up to a week.
     “Needless to say, I have numerous problems giving them this information but Solomon said the Mexican customs officials’ attitude is if you want to drive your car across the border you have to give them this information. You can take a chance and not get this safe passage letter like Bob did , but if you are stopped and the officials decide to enforce the law, Solomon said they can take your car from you. (There are reports of this happening on the country’s West Coast.) 
      “I think Bob was stopped three times and had an accident but not once did the police ask him for his letter nor did they ask him for his visa or passport until he crossed the border. What they did ask him for when he was stopped along the way was his driver’s license, a copy of his auto insurance, and his vehicle registration. Oh, one other thing Solomon told me. Since the vehicle was registered in my name when we crossed the border four years ago, my name is the only one that will appear on the safe passage letter and I am the only one who can officially drive the car.
      “In other words I will be the only one who can safely drive the car through Mexico and if we are stopped with Pat driving the vehicle we could be in trouble. How dangerous this could be! “
Maybe a suggestion for you to address in the Pelican Free Press and through the local embassy is to get some of this changed. (Let’s hope the politicians and bureaucrats are listening.)
      “
If anything changes I will let you know.”
       It appears it will rake a considerable amount of time before all the rules of the visa-and-car game are understood, implemented and enforced similarly and fairly by all the players.

Ex-Bill Gates guard opens
martial arts school in PA

             
       Guy Warnow lays claim to impressive intellectual and physical attributes. He speaks four languages, English, Spanish, German, Portuguese and ”un poco” of French. He holds a dizzying number of martial arts belts and awards, has several championships under his belt (no pun intended) as a highly ranked competitor, fighter and teacher in a range of self-defense methods.  
      He owns the GWAR Fighting Team Playa del Carmen and is sharing his instructors and what he knows about self defense tactics at a new school in Puerto Aventuras located across from the Colegio along the marina. 
      Warnow is also well-versed in an eclectic array of self-defense practices. He was a shooting instructor for special police reams in the state of Mexico; was an anti-kidnapping instructor for Coca-Cola in the Mexico Federal District, a security officer for two Israeli armored car companies, bodyguard instructor for a Puebla governor among other officials in Hidalgo, Colima and Merida. He also served as b
odyguard for Bill Gates when in Mexico.
      He is also a tactical driving instructor, a level 3 British horse society instructor and knife-fighting master.
      At last count, the new school already had 10 students for classes being held from 5 to 6 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays and 4 to 5 p.m. Fridays.The classes are open to all ages.       
           

 

   

Briefly Noted…

PUERTO AVENTURAS didn’t even get a mention when an agency listed the 10 best beaches in the Riviera Maya that included Isla Mujeres, Holbox (first),Cancun, Tulum and Akumal among others…DRIVER VISA I.D. is becoming necessary in some states according to several blogs noting that drivers

must have their visa, be it permanent, temporary or visitor, available to show police if they get stopped…MERCHANTS  and visitors along Juarez Avenue in Playa del Carmen have been complaining for more than a month about the stench of sewerage has been discouraging purchases. Complaint to officials did not bring immediate relief…OH, OH! Chunks of concrete fell from the northern tip of the Route 307 overpass near Calle 62 again raising the question about the failure to provide sufficient drainage and other alleged irregularities with the construction. Nobody was hurt by the falling concrete…COZUMEL-MIAMI flights will resume in November with American Airlines providing five weekly flights on Tuesdays then Thursdays through Sundays on Boeing 737s with 166 seats. It is being said the average cost of a ticket would be $500. Cozumel hotel group says it should hike room occupancy by 5 percent as hotels invest in promoting the flights and the airline…AN ESTIMATED 40,000 students started school August 19 in Solidarity. A WEEK LATER several dozen elementary school teachers marched in protest along 5th Avenue and other streets seeking education reform, better treatment, schools and furniture from the government…MEANWHILE, Solidarity reports 745 people took advantage of education opportunities offered by the Community Development Centers during the last quarter…BUSINESS COUNCIL officials have complained about the proliferation of ATMs on 5th Avenue in Playa, saying they emit a less than welcoming image to tourists by charging higher fees than banks. The council spokesman noted there were 15 ATMs in one 5th Avenue block…DELTA AIRLINES will inaugurate a daily direct flight from Los Angeles to Cancun in mid-December, shuttling an estimated 1,000 visitors a week…ONE PLAYA ASASSINATION apparently involving drug business was reported in mid-August. A body, shot in the head, was found on a rutted road near Xcalacoco north of Playa. Investigators later raided a place called The Santanera located at 12th St. between 5th and 10th Avenues that allegedly was a base for independent drug dealers, known as “grasshoppers.”. This was one of four assassinations in the area, the other three in Cancun and Cozumel…GREEN GROUP collected more than a ton of  recyclables in one day from the Villas del Sol neighborhood in Playa del Carmen, a worthy if heavy task…THE DISCOVERY CHANNEL was in Isla Mujeres for several days in August shooting the progress of a sun-powered boat of the future being developed there. The segment will be aired (don’t know when)  on a TV show entitled “Future Planet.”…CONSTRUCTION UNION  spokesman in Solidaridad says the industry is in a tailspin with major projects being postponed, but housing starts in Puerto Aventuras have appeared relatively vibrant this year…AUTHORITIES CONFISCATED 46 liters of adulterated alcohol in nearby Bacalar in August…HOTEL OWNERS in Playa del Carmen are waiting to work with the new municipal administration taking over in October to continue beach replenishment projects and  completion of 10th Avenue improvements…

Phrase a Week…By Gloria Contreras, state certified interpreter
Next month the winter residents begin arriving. 
“El mes próximo comenzarán a llegar los residentes de invierno.”
Anyone interested in learning the language can please contact Ms. Contreras by email at
nanigloria@hotmail.com or Cel: 984-108-3517 .

Church Services… Please click Colonos icon on right top of page.

AA and Alanon meetings…
AA and ALANON meetings are held at the public library at the Colegio as follows:
AA Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m; Thursdays at 6 p.m. and Saturdays at noon. ALANON meeting is held Mondays at 5:30 p.m., also at the library. Meetings are “open” and non-members are welcomed to attend.

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New Solidarity mayor sets broad goals

The Buzz 

Mayor-elect to arrive with snowbirds;
Resort wastewater pipeline enlarged
 

By Staff
       So what’s going on in Mexico in the absence of the snowbirds who bring economic and cultural zest to the developing place they call “Paradise”?.  For one thing, no hurricane yet!    

Sources in Puerto Aventuras say the gated community is tranquil minus the snowbirds, that rentals have been short at some condo complexes but that the Omni with its diminished beach still attracts many locals on day passes. Otherwise, the local press reports a surge in nationals on vacation in Playa del Carmen where there is some dissatisfaction among vacationers with the trash left behind on the beaches … by the very same vacationers who leave the trash there to begin with.
       And those of you who spend some time complaining about being short-changed at Pemex might like to know that Mexico President E
nrique Pena Nieto, who we presume vacations at the presidential digs on Cozumel like his predecessors, has succeeded in welding the nation’s political parties together in an attempt to reform the nation’s energy policy and its sacred cow, Pemex, opening it up to competition and transparency. This is expected to sorely test the coalition that so far has been tugging the nation’s policies out of the Third World rut. 
        Meanwhile, reports from the United Nations food agency notes several Latin American countries – Mexico is one of them – are catching up to the U.S. level of obesity as they choose sugary drinks, fat fast-foods and snacks over traditional fare. The officials say that does not bode well for health care costs that will rise along with diseases like hypertension and diabetes fed by obesity. We note that many of the construction workers we see walking back to the Poblado after a long day’s work do not seem to be carrying much extra weight. The government does have a proposal, however, to  reform school lunches in the “Battle against Big.”
  
       Closer to home, we received a note from Donna Carey, owner of the former Tiramisu Restaurant in the Centro Comercial, that she is moving along with a new restaurant just outside the gate.  Prof. Andy Pittman of Texas A&M is back in Puerto jumping the hurdles on the the track of the residente permanente visa before heading back to Texas.
        Colonos GM Armando Rincon reports a project to improve sewage flow for the resort will begin as soon as detours of the temporary gridlock the work will cause are designed. The water department is replacing its main 6-inch underground sewer pipe with a 10-inch pipe and will have to cross the resort’s main street near the skate park, causing a temporary traffic slowdown. 
        Teresa Jimenez, who some of you might remember from her appearances at the new Red Cross station in the Poblado’s former police station building, was in the news again as leader of the Red Cross’ volunteers. She has been asking businesses to donate in-kind services and/or products such as building blocks or machinery to the construction of a new Red Cross center in Playa del Carmen. And speaking of the Red Cross, one Puerto Aventuras resident who suffered a thorn deep in her foot a few weeks ago sang the praises of the staff at the Red Cross station in the Poblado for removing the thorn, greatly relieving the pain and preventing infection.
        “Heat” seemed a worldwide problem this summer and the Yucatan wasn’t spared. Officials in Q. Roo, (state) and Solidarity (municipality) said local hospitals were gearing up for heat stroke cases while also urging preventive measures be taken by the populace, which was being urged to look for the shade, limit sun exposure even at the beach, drink lots of water and beware of exhaustion on the job.
       

The municipality of Solidaridad will be installing it’s new mayor, Mauricio Gongora Escalante, at about the same time in October as snowbirds begin returning. Gringos who have invested here may be interested to know that Mayor-elect Gongora is looking to improve general security and promote job growth, which of course is a by-product of economic expansion, which is usually good for investors.
       The new mayor will evidently inherit the same problem the outgoing mayor found when he took office: major rubbish collection hang-ups because new trucks purchased several years ago are in the shop for repairs or waiting for tires. Eight units were reportedly off the road this week. The new mayor could really score with the public if he could find a way to soundproof those midnight monsters collecting the rubbish.   
     A new church is being built in Playa del Carmen and is expected to be completed next year. It will be on Avenida 115 near Las Americas Mall. And while rumors persist that CostCo is planning an outlet in that general area, nothing’s happening.
      The Pelican heard of reports that a new wastewater system was constructed jointly in Puerto Aventuras village by the Commission on Water and Wastewater and the National Water Commission. It reportedly is expected to service more than 12,000 inhabitants. (As of this writing the Pelican was still seeking corroboration).
      The cornerstone was laid this week at Playa del Carmen for a biodiesel plant that will transform the city’s municipal rubbish into fuel. It could be operational in a year, said officials. The plant is near the Playa del Carmen landfill about nine miles from the Arco Vial.       
        
         
Worry wasted on drive back to States      

 Accident, not paperwork, mars trip  
    

By Staff
     For quite some time w
e’ve been hearing or reading critiques of Mexican lawmaking, particularly relating to immigration and status of foreign-plated cars under the new immigration policy. Contrary blogs by lawyers and others intended to help the English-speaking community understand the law have been long on generalities and short on fact, generating more heat than light. 
     For Robert Roadway, of Puerto Aventuras and Colorado, the uncertainty meant lingering in Puerto Aventuras a bit longer than usual this year, first waiting for his residente permanente visa to be processed, then to strategize getting his Colorado-plated car out of Mexico. For him it required buying a second car in Mexico, so that he’d have one here with Mexican plates when he returns in the fall. Then came the reality of driving the U.S. car 3,230 miles back to his home in Colorado with, perhaps, difficulties at the border or on the road. 
     There have been horror stories published in blogs emanating from Mexico’s West Coast and Baja California concerning U.S.cars being impounded as their owners tried to drive them back to the U.S. with their new visas. Those tales may have shed some light on the issue, but also generated anxiety for gringos needing to legally get their cars back over the border.
    

     Roadway was no exception. The potential for difficulties over such a long drive and at the border crossing prompted him to hire a Mexican friend, Daniel Iglesias, well known by the English speaking community in Puerto Aventuras as operator of a carwash in the Poblado. “He accompanied me to the border crossing at Reynosa, Mex., and Ft. McAllen, Texas, where I dropped him off at a bus station so he could visit relatives nearby. I’m really happy I had Daniel with me. The signs on the highways are not that good, specially in towns that don’t even have signs. Daniel would pull over to a Pemex and ask if we were going the right way. It saved us a lot of time,” Roadway said.
     There was one significant problem, but it had little to do with Mexican immigration law: Roadway’s car was struck and heavily damaged by the fish-tailing trailer of a tractor truck that didn’t stop long enough to assess the damage and exchange insurance information.
     “M
y car got hit hard… I was surprised I was still able to drive home to Fort Collins. The truck driver stopped about a quarter mile up the highway, sat there for about 20-30 seconds then took off,” Roadway said. “We drove 20 miles to a pay phone to call the insurance company before getting to a toll booth where Daniel explained the accident to the federal police, but since we had no information about the truck, they didn’t do anything.”
     A Mexican insurance adjuster met them on the highway, took photos and information, a step that was repeated by his U.S. insurer once Roadway was back home in Fort Collins. As of this writing he was awaiting payment of an estimated $5,000 to repair the damage to the rear end of his car.
      Roadway said Iglesias also was most helpful at the Mexican side of the border crossing where he easily explained the situation and answered questions crossing officials had. “For example,” Roadway said, “one official claimed the visa was expired. But he was looking at the date of issue. I think that may have been the first residente permanente visa he’d ever seen.”
      Having someone who speaks the language made the trip “much easier,” Roadway said. “On the first night we were able to drive all night on the Yucatan, which is safe, helping us make the 1,547 miles to the border crossing in three days. Having Iglesias drive along was $800 well-spent. I would recommend it,” Roadway said last week from his Colorado home. 

 

Akumal fund-raisers raise fun for kids

New playground already in use

     By Staff
     The opening of the Akumal Children’s Playground in July was a “massive success and we were humbled by the fabulous response from the community!” So reported civic minded volunteer Marieke Brown who helped make this dream come true for the pueblo children.. “I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who came along to support the event.”
     She was referring to the playground many people helped purchase through fundraisers in Akumal, South Akumal, the children of the Akumal Primaria Francisco Sarabia, and the Akumal Comedy Festival of 2012 that attracted many attendees from Puerto Aventuras and other local communities.
    The playground was purchased from and installed by Swings and Slides Company and we purchased the Camion Ecologico as well.  We also included a swing set in the order, Brown said.
   

The idea for the playground initiated with local families having to drive to Puerto Maya in order to find a decent park where their young children could play safely. This is not realistic for the majority of the families in the pueblo of Akumal as, even if they took the colectivo to get to Puerto Aventuras, the Puerto Maya playground is a long walk from the highway entrance, too far for little ones.
     Even the parks in Chemuyil are not particularly easy for local mothers with young children to get to.   As far as I am aware, the pueblo of Akumal has never had a safe public play facilities for it’s small children.  We decided that it was time to change this.
     The Akumal Childrens Playground Project was the chosen local cause for the 1st
Akumal Comedy Festival (2012) where 18 professional comedians, the Akumal Jarana Dancers, the music group Arpason, the Akumal drummers, and the children of the Akumal Primaria Francisco Sarabia all performed for free to promote and fund-raise for this project.  Over the year, the combined efforts of the Akumal Comedy Festival, its sponsors, and private donations from many big hearted members of the communities of Akumal and South Akumal helped us to raise almost US$14,000. 
     The park was officially opened by the President of DIF Tulum, Cristina Beatriz Bracamonte de Cobos who is the wife of the Municipal President Martín Cobos Villalobos. Project organizers Gabriela Herbert, Marieke Brown, and the Akumal delegado Don Melchor were present to hand the park over to the children of the Akumal Pueblo.      
       “It was a very proud day for us all,” Brown said as children congregated around their new payground. “This park has become a reality as the result of the efforts of a large group of people, both resident in Akumal and overseas. I would like to thank each and every person who contributed to this project.  This has been a true community effort, and am incredibly proud to be part of a group who take such good care of each other,” Brown said.

Briefly Noted…

UNCLEAN CHINESE RESTAURANTS, four of them in Solidaridad, were closed by health officials who found the eateries failed to properly fumigate, resulting in the presence of vermin and also failed to serve properly heated foods. Officials of the Federal Commission for Protection Against Sanitary Risks did not name the restaurants…AKUMAL CLOSURE of beach access to local residents created a response in July as several hundred people blocked the bridge linking the resort and the puebla. Environmental officials claim the closure is to protect turtle species spawning on the beach. Such closures are common in the U.S. to protect various species of nesting birds…THE BIRTH RATE in Quintana Roo is up 15 percent so far this year indicating an increase in migration and land-grab problems,,,BASIC COMMODITY, FOOD prices have remained stable in the municipality of Solidaridad so far this year…THE RAINY SEASON has brought a slight increase in the number of area respiratory cases zat local hospitals this summer…SOLIDARITY has eliminated eight major projects from a capital outlay list, including a new municipal palace and a city theater as more than the municipality could handle financially…TWELVE COURSES being taught on Saturdays in Playa del Carmen have been open to the members of the public working force to impart basic or increase their skills in a number of work-related computer courses, languages (French and Italian), cooking and personal care…ALL- INCLUSIVE hotels in Playa del Carmen found themselves overbooking guests in July, which they had to redistribute. The up side is that the hotels had to hire more help, always a good thing for labor…CALICA, d/b/a Limestone Rancho,, and the municipal government were into a flap over tax payments involving some land bordering Puerto Aventuras. Recent reports noted both sides were attempting to reconcile the issue amicably and equitably…25 RETAIL SHOPS in Playa’s tourist district were closed for non-payment of taxes and/or renewal of retail licenses…THIS YEAR marks the 20th anniversary of the municipality of Solidaridad, of which we are part. It reminds us that we live in a fledgling community with a future for development…FORESTY OFFICIALS in the Chetumal area say cedar and mahogany trees are disappearing from the land there where hectares that had 20 to 30 trees now only has one or two. They say overexploitation could mean the end of the species in that area…

Library Summer Hours Please click on Colonos icon above the page for library news 

Phrase a Week…By Gloria Contreras, state certified interpreter
He gets very nervous when he has to travel by plane.  Cuando tiene que viajar en avión se pone muy nervioso.
Anyone interested in learning the language can please contact Ms. Contreras by email at nanigloria@hotmail.com or Cel: 984-108-3517 .

Church Services… Please click Colonos icon on right top of page.

AA and Alanon meetings…
AA and ALANON meetings are held at the public library at the Colegio as follows:
AA Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m; Thursdays at 6 p.m. and Saturdays at noon. ALANON meeting is held Mondays at 5:30 p.m., also at the library. Meetings are “open” and non-members are welcomed to attend.

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