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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Feasting and sharing in Paradise

 REMINDERS: The Colonos General Assembly begins at 9:30 Saturday, Dec. 7, at the Xenote Restaurant in the Omni Hotel and Beach Club. There will be a report on the important Fatima Bay beach reclamation project and details for receiving and using the new beach access cards. Also, runners in the annual road race, being held on Jan. 19 this year, are reminded to get in shape to vie for one of the prizes. More details later.
FOR SALE: There is a 44-foot yacht available for the men of the sea and a guitar and banjo for those who like to strum in Margaritaville. Get the details by clicking on the “for sale” page.
REMEMBER:  Pelican Free Press sponsors, logos at left, help make our local volunteer publication possible by underwriting some of the expenses. Please consider and patronize them when you need the services or products they offer. Thank you.
WANTED:  Golf cart, aluminum frame, 4-person, good shape. Contact Carlos 984-111-1252

Paamul’s Thanksgiving spirit

like a page from the past

  By Staff
 

Ninety native Americans and 63 Pilgrims attended the first Thanksgiving feast at Plymouth Colony, USA, in 1621 after a successful first harvest. Last week, 392 years later, about 260 people of diverse ethnic and cultural groups gathered in congenial brotherhood under a palapa in Paamul. They were there to replicate a ritual of appreciation that was proclaimed a USA federal holiday by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 as the U.S. Civil War raged. Lincoln nonetheless called for a day of “Thanksgiving and praise” to one’s deity.
  Plymouth and Paamul start with a “P” and both are villages by the sea. Similarities continued last Thursday as joyful Paamul residents strolled with foodstuffs in hand along thatched-roof domiciles to a gathering place – this one the palapa church/cultural center – to feed on the good fortune their lifetimes have harvested. The scene was reminiscent of artistic renderings of strolling Indians carrying fowl from the hunt and Pilgrims preparing and sharing the yields from the rich earth of what would some day become, arguably, the world’s  greatest nation. 
  Like Plymouth Colony, Paamul is a desirable seafront community of expats, snowbirds and natives of only a few hundred residents linked as the likeness of one big family. That was exactly the enviable scenario cast on Thanksgiving Day last Thursday as the residents and friends from other villages shared in a blessing given by Doug Millar, pastor of the sponsoring Fellowship Church of Riviera Maya.
  “About three quarters of the people here today are from Paamul. Most of them are from the United States. Of course, there are Canadians here too who are only too happy to partake of the feast,” Millar quipped. (The Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October).  
 

Millar said the communal celebration was inaugurated by the church and interested parties about 10 years ago. “The church budget buys the turkeys – 17 of them this year – and 17 volunteers each cook one.” All other families are asked to bring a dish, a dessert or vegetable, and bring them they did. It took quite a few tables and small signs gracing them to accommodate and identify the generous melange of foodstuffs that were available to complement the turkey.
  Participant Linda Gosslin, a Paamul resident and library volunteer in nearby Puerto Aventuras, marveled at the “amazing array of side dishes and desserts, from mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, green bean casseroles, vegetable medleys to pumpkin pie with whipped cream, brownies, assorted cakes, cookies and an amazing, beautifully decorated cake celebrating a Mayan occasion.”  It was, briefly, a completely satisfying horn of plenty, another dimension of Paradise. 
  And in keeping with the generous nature and tenet of religious raison d’etre, each participant was asked to bring canned or packaged foodstuffs to be distributed to needy families in Playa del Carmen of which, we are told, there are many in the growing city.  
  One elderly gentleman clutching the neck of a wine bottle walked into the visually welcoming dining area in a situation the church doesn’t condone but looks the other way in heavenly understanding. 

 

  Promptly at 4 p.m. a line formed outside the dining area for the buffet-style celebration and the aura of great expectations was palpable. Also like the first Thanksgiving, which lasted three days, there was three days of celebratory bent here as a jazz festival in Playa del Carmen’s popular Mamitas Beach attracted thousands of music lovers, mostly locals, we are told, to three nights of music, which is considered the universal language. One Pelican contributor from Puerto Aventuras who ventured to the event via collectivo said the event was so crowded they couldn’t get close enough to hear the music and left before the starring attraction, Earth, Wind and Fire, was to perform at 11:30 p.m.
  Another event rounded out the active holiday weekend at the Latitude 20 Restaurant in Puerto Aventuras where artists, artisans, musicians, cooks and bakers were invited to display their skills and products. The early season event provided a venue for returning snowbirds to enjoy the food while renewing acquaintances in lagoon-front ambience. Another such event is being planned for later in the high season, when most of the snowbirds and visitors have arrived.   
    
  

     
 

 

Report says Dragon Mart

construction to begin

   By Staff from media reports
  A report out of Cancun indicates site preparation for the long-discussed Dragon Mart exhibition center is about to begin on some 557 hectares (1,376 acres) of land located at the 3.31 mile point on Highway 307 between Cancun and Chetumal and known as the “El Tucan” site. The mega-complex exhibition of Chinese and Mexican goods is expected to open its doors during the third quarter of 2015.
 

Juan Carlos Lopez Rodrigues, project director, has reported the site preparation will last about 22 weeks while some actual construction will begin in tandem with site work. The announced size of the exhibition center is 127,000 square meters (1,367,000 sq. feet) and will house numerous companies from China exhibiting their wares. Earlier reports of the project in the area included numerous retail outlets as well. A final segment of the project will be construction of 722 homes for employees at the site that will include restaurants, public parks, banks and general offices.
  The ratio of Mexican-Chinese firms occupying the complex is expected to be 500 Chinese and 200 Mexican. Earlier reports noted  100 Mexican corporations had already signed up for space and that marketing was beginning in China to attract companies in various product lines such as furniture, electronics, hardware, building materials, lighting, medical, machinery, heavy equipment among other product lines.
  There has been a five-month delay in start of construction, in part awaiting building permits and in part because of the drenching rains that flooded much of the property. In the latest report, some of the land remains flooded but work will begin on areas that already have dried out.

 

 

Library seeks media volunteer,

new members to up revenue 

  By Library Staff:
  The Puerto Aventuras community library is in need of a volunteer with marketing and social media experience to aid us in fulfilling our mission to provide literary resources for students and teachers of the school as well as the the local community.
  Ideally we are looking for someone who can spend a few hours per week keeping our web page updated, creating and maintaining a Facebook page, and preparing marketing/informational communications as needed.
  Interested parties with skills in these areas who are interested in volunteering their time to assist us in our efforts, please contact Bonnie Karns at blk915@icloud.com.

Lifetime membership 100 pesos

Snowbirds and nationals may not realize that the community library, staffed entirely by volunteers, has a surprisingly considerable collection of English and Spanish-language books to loan, all of them donated to the library. The current tally includes 4,400 non-fiction and 10,890 works of fiction across all genres that make terrific beach reading.
  The community library is in dire need of supplies to support our work.  Any monetary donations would be greatly appreciated, including lifetime memberships for a very modest one-time payment of 100 pesos.  We encourage everyone to become a member and read all the books you want for the rest of your life…(and more if you can figure out the resurrection scheme.) 
   Memberships and donations not only provide operating expenses, but also the opportunity to check out books from our collection of over 15,000 volumes.  You may join the library week-day afternoons from 2:30 PM to 4:30 PM.  If you would like to make a donation, please contact our Treasurer, Linda Gosslin via email:  linda.gosslin@gmail.com 
  For those in the community who have checked out books in the past, and somehow forgotten to return them, December is Amnesty Month!  You can return your books, no matter how long you have had them, with no questions asked!  We have quite a number of books that are past due at this time.  If you could take a moment to look around to see if you have any tucked away and return them, it would be greatly appreciated.   The library is open Monday through Friday from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.

 

Commerce Corner…

‘Eat ‘em to beat ‘em’ lionfish
plan joined by local agencies

By Staff
  The colorful killer we all know around these parts as the “lionfish” has a reputation and voracious appetite for decimating coral fish populations along reefs, including our own here on the Riviera Maya. But now, environmental and restaurant groups in the area are joining the strategy of “eat ‘em to beat ‘em.”

  Now, municipal authorities, restaurant groups, environmentalists, ecology students and nautical tourism providers are planning to “monetize” the fish by marketing it in restaurants and markets as a way to provide incentives to divers and fishermen. Reportedly, the fish is going for 140 pesos per kilo (a little over two pounds) on Cozumel.  

  There have been contests in this area for divers to capture as many lionfish as they can and they, like similar contests in the Florida Keyes, have yielded good results, but perhaps not enough to stem the spreading population of these interlopers from other seas.
  Maintaining the indigenous fish populations in area reefs for recreational diving is an important part of the Rivera Maya’s revenue strategy, but a sustained economic incentive for capturing lionfish has been absent…until now. The strategy of marketing the fish to tourists follows an old Cuban tenet that says something like “if you can’t beat it, eat it.”
  So the Key Largo, Fla. based Reef Environmental Education Foundation has published “The Lionfish Cookbook” which has 45 recipes for the mild flavored fish plus tips on how to handle them without getting injured from their venomous spines.Proceeds from the sale of the book go to support REEF’s marine conservation and lionfish research activities.
  There is nothing new with the strategy. As stocks of prime eating fish – such as cod – are depleted,
  The mane-like assemblage of spines that give the fish its lion-like appearance are tipped in poison that can cause severe pain, swelling, nausea, headaches and convulsions in humans. However, the fish can be safely handled once the spines have been removed. Many people filet lionfish and cook them up just like any other fish. Several chefs in Puerto Aventuras say they have cooked the fish creatively for a delightful meal.
Observers in Florida, where many derbies have yielded hundreds of lionfish, say that if a local market for lionfish as food could be developed, the fish population could be locally controlled. Perhaps there is a message there for the Riviera Maya?

  Meanwhile, students of Sustainable Tourism and Gastronomy of the University of the Caribbean talked to high school students on Isla de Mujeres concerning the consumption and preparation of lionfish.
        Biologist José Ángel Cohuo Colli told the high school students that the project now being undertaken by the University of the Caribbean is to reduce the spread of lionfish since it is not native to the Caribbean.
  He said activities and joint projects aim to promote consumption of lionfish as an important alternative to regulate their presence on the island coasts, as it is a serious threat to local wildlife.For more cookbook information, email reefhq@reef.org orhttp://www.reef.org/catalog/cookbook.

IN OTHER business news, local media is quoting various agencies and public officials about an expected surge in tourism, housing and cruise ships, all of which would contribute to the local economy. But there is a red flag flying that could in reality dampen prospects, and that’s the rising tide of pension reductions being taken by a growing number of cities in the U.S. that made pension promises they now find they can’t keep. It put Detroit into bankruptcy and just yesterday the governor of Illinois signed a bill trimming pensions in that state as the movement drifts toward California. It could affect future housing investment in Mexico by northern pensioners.
ON A BRIGHTER NOTE, the all inclusive Playa Paraiso hotel in Playa del Carmen reportedly emerged as the number 1 choice of international vacationers in a recent worldwide poll…  

The Mail Bag …

Dear Editor:
   Thank you for your note on egrets. For future reference on birds, you might wish to be aware of the Yucatan Bird Club http://yucatanbirdclub.wordpress.com/, the wonderful ongoing photos of Cherie Pittilo of Backyard Birding in Merida in The Yucatan Times http://www.theyucatantimes.com/2012/11/backyard-birding-in-merida-and-beyond/. Many, many birders and outings in Yucatan, which is really not far away.

Signed/ Phyllis Boyd

 

Briefly Noted…

Compiled from staff, contributor and media reports

A SAFE IDEA – Colonos officials call attention to new sidewalks constructed along the top portion of Bahia Chemuyil adjacent to the fence perimeter separating the resort from the highway. The walks, one inside and one outside the fence, will help improve the safety of joggers, strollers and walkers who use the narrow street for exercise or to get to the markets across the highway. Bahia Chemuyil will get busier as new construction of housing seen in the last year becomes occupied. Pedestrians are asked to use the walkways, which also provide some shade on hot days…WHILE PUERTO AVENTURAS struggles in its efforts to reclaim Fatima Bay beaches, Playa del Carmen officials prepare to jump in a similar boat to have the European Foundation for Environmental Education certify 1.2 miles of beach for European travelers. The first step would be to create a natural barrier to contain beach sand, which is what PA is now attempting. Playa’s second and more important project would be to offer certified clean waters…ANIMAL SAFETY is getting more attention along Playa’s 5th Avenue as permanent patrols from the federal  Environmental Protection Agency (Profepa) take to tourist areas where animals are used as attractions. Profepa says there is a right to have the animals but not abuse them, as has been reported to the agency by tourists…CRUISE SHIP ARRIVALS in Cozumel this week were expected to bring 75,000 tourists ashore, a figure that is in line with great expectations for the tourist industry this season…OUR HOST STATE, Quintana Roo, has been cited as a top generator of jobs this year averaging 5.3 percent growth compared to just the opposite national job-growth figure of 3.5 percent. The figure supports the growth spurt in populations on the western side of the highway in Playa and Puerto…MORE THAN 10,000 federal government bureaucrats have been punished by the Pena Nieto administration for misfeasance in the handling of public funds and thousands of dollars recouped…A STATE HOUSING AWARD was presented to the Solidarity comprehensive housing group “Vinte” by Gov. Roberto Borge Angulo for developing housing through efficient and creative use of natural, social and economic resources and for promoting legal certainty of ownership…SAVING THE GREEN – Three thousand trees will be distributed in Playa del Carmen through “adoption” by citizens in an effort to sustain the “go green” effort. The trees are being donated by Banyan Tree Mayakoba Co. and Riviera Maya Sustainable group…     

 Phrase a Week…By Gloria Contreras, state certified interpreter
If you go to an art show, you might ask: “I wonder who painted that?” In Spanish, you would say, “Quien pintaria eso?”
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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dPuerto Aventuras

Jazz, art and turkey too

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Mass distribution of beach access cards will not take place until some time following the Colonos general assembly of Dec. 7.  A notice concerning the cards in our last edition evidently was ambiguous, leading some to believe mass distribution had started. We apologize to the 20 or so people who climbed the Colonos stairs prematurely to be carded. On the other hand, they got to use the new handrails so graciously installed at the behest of some Pelican readers and to enjoy a smidgeon of healthy exercise. Kindly wait for further notice of the distribution schedule from the Colonos. Thank you.

 

LOOK HERE FOR COMING EVENTS:

Local art, music, food events,

Playa jazz fest this weekend

 

By Staff

  Funk icon “Earth, Wind and Fire” is among the top-shelf cast that will entertain during the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival beginning at 7 tomorrow night (Nov. 28) at Mamitas Beach, at the foot of 28th Street North in Playa del Carmen and continuing Friday and Saturday nights at the same time and place. Admission is free.
  Helping to round out a cultural/gastronomical weekend will be an Art, Music and Food fest from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday at the Latitude 20 Restaurant bordering the Lagoon of Dreams in Puerto Aventuras and a (U.S.) Thanksgiving night turkey feast with three seatings at Cafe Ole on the PA Centro dolphin walk. Seatings begin at 5:30, 7 and 8:30. Price 220 pesos. 
  The popular Earth, Wind and Fire will close out the three-day jazz event Saturday night with Matthew Garrison and accordionist Celso Pina. Opening night performers Thursday night are Aguamala, Frank Gambale and Brent Fischer. Friday night’s performers are Scott Henderson, Jeff Berlin, Dennis Chambers, Jim Beard and Ed Motta.
  Earth, Wind and Fire emerged from the 70s as probably the best of their music genre, applying huge hooks, heavenly harmonies and unique syncopation to remain perhaps forever the icing on the pop funk musical cake. 
Other coming events:
COLONOS GENERAL ASSEMBLY at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 7, at Omni Hotel’s Xenote Waterfront Restaurant
G.I.S. (Geographic Information ystem) Training course, Dec. 9-14 in Akumal, $800 MN . More info at communicacion@ceakumal.org
ANNUAL ROAD RACE Jan. 19, multi-class,  prizes, stay tuned. More later.
TAX DISCOUNT on property begins at the Colonos office around Dec. 2. Pay early and get 25 percent off.

Egrets, we had a few, then

again, too few to mention…

By Staff:
   …But we decided to mention them anyway because early one week-end morning as dew drops twinkled under the rising sun like a blanket of shiny sequins, white flashes of movement were discernable between the fluttering fronds of chit palm and other trees. By stooping a bit on the veranda we achieved a better view between the barren tree trunks.  

And there, on the glistening green carpet of the golf course fairway, we saw something we had never seen here before.
  A flock of chicken-sized birds with snow-white plumage lazily foraging for…for…for what, we didn’t know. Seed? Insect? A quick dash for the camera, then back to the wood line separating the fairway from peripheral housing, quietly so as not to disturb what could be a rare photo op in one’s own back yard.
  We counted 18 individual birds while zooming out as far as the lens on the Nikon would go. We leaned against a tree, the Nikon and me, to eliminate camera shake and, like an assassin in a Hollywood movie, began noiselessly shooting at…at what?
  We didn’t know what kind of birds they were. A really far-out guess was that they might be rare albino chachalacas. Back in the apartment, we took David A. Nunez’s book, “What Did I See?” an aggregation of photos and synoptic text of local wildlife and plant species and searched for clues. The closest photos we found were of a “snowy egret”  that Nunez described as “one of the most beautiful birds in the region.” Comparing the photos, the legs of the “snowy” egret seemed a big longer than those of the birds in our photo, as did the bill. But there were a few social similarities too, such as nesting (and probably foraging) in flocks.
  Still unsure, we dashed off a photo to the Pelican’s sometimes bird columnist Gayle Sandholm who is still in the f-f-f-frozen Montana country until January when he returns here. His take: “
From here in Montana, on this cool day during the week of Thanksgiving, I first thought these lovely birds might be turkeys!!  On second thought I do believe they are egrets. Given their size, what looks like dark legs, stocky necks, and appear to be feeding as a flock on insects, my guess is that they are Cattle Egrets. Best guess.”
  Anybody out there in reader-land have suggestions?

 
  Commerce Corner

‘Hard Rock’ coming next door;

Look for the big guitar off 307

By Staff:

          A big guitar, the iconic trademark of the Hard Rock cafe and hotel conglomerate, should be popping up any day now where the Aventuras Spa Palace sign  used to be, according to news from the international Hard Rock web site. The company, partnering with Palace Resorts Properties, plans to take over the operation in December with a seamless transition.
 
Questions about whether the new management would operate a casino on the premises seems to be answered by the announcement’s lack of gambling information and Mexico’s own federal laws against casinos.
  In its own words:
  “Hard Rock Riviera Maya will combine two adjacent Palace Resorts properties, Aventuras Cove Palace and Aventuras Spa Palace. The former will offer 489 guestrooms, three restaurants including a new dinner theatre venue, four bars, multiple pools, water activities, and other family-friendly amenities, including a unique teen club with cabanas for games. The latter, to be marketed to adults, will provide 777 guestrooms, four restaurants, four bars, numerous pools including a grotto pool that will become a nighttime club experience, and one of the top-rated spas in Riviera Maya, featuring an extensive menu of services.”
  There is no mention of gambling or day passes for residents of their neighboring PA resort community.


New Airport “railroaded” for now

  It looks like the oft-discussed international airport proposal in Tulum is being shoved on the back burner again in favor of moving ahead with the other oft-debated project, the trans-peninsular train, that would have a junction in Calica and further open up this part of the Yucatan Peninsula to development.
  The state’s  (Quintana Roo) delegate to the Ministry of Communication and Transport made the comment as a presentation before the 4th National Congress of the Mexican Federation of Civil Engineers was being prepared last weekend by the project’s design consultants.
  The federal delegate, Elizondo Franciso Garrido, said the intention is to solicit RFPs (requests for proposals) early next year (2014) that will be open to national and international bidders. The delegate noted that project work would begin in 2014 because it was a commitment by Mexico President Enrique Pina Nieto.

  Is Home Depot coming closer?
 
  Home Depot is evidently among some of  the projects being heralded by local authorities as a boon to the Playa del Carmen area for job creation and expanding the tax base.
  Predicting a rebound in investment this year, Edward Morentin Ocejo, director of municipal urban and environmental planning, estimates that investment to be around
600 Million between all the proposed projects that include a signature Hyatt, Grand Princess expansion plans and reportedly a fourth location by the Spanish consortium Jesusito OHL Chedraui.
  Whether all these plans make it to the finish line is still early to tell since some are still in the permitting stage, environmental and otherwise, while others apparently were finished with the process and handed permits by the previous municipal administration.
  In line with all these developments, the municipality of Solidarity has announced the formation of a Planning Committee for Municipal Development with the ambition of
covering nearly every aspect of life that makes a community what it is. Sub-committees will cover aspects of social development, public works, gender equality, education, finance, tourism and civil protection among a host of other human endeavors and conditions.

No Escape…

 

 Briefly Noted…

Compiled from staff, contributor and media reports
FOREVER A MYSTERY? We heard from one of the victims of a thief who stole households of furniture in Puerto Aventuras resort during the summer. “Unfortunately, we never received any response from anyone with regard to our story in The Pelican Press.” So where did several households of furniture and appliances disappear to? And how? THE RUSTIC PIER at the foot of 14th St. in Playa del Carmen that was to be the first of four convenient facilities for embarking divers and tourists has been ordered dismantled as a “white Elephant” that looked promising on paper but didn’t work out…AMERICAN AIRLINES inaugurated direct flights from Miami to Cozumel last week, noting there would be five flights a week… COBA is reportedly still suffering from the damaging effects of unusual rainfall, with some tourist areas so flooded they are discouraging tourism, which 80 percent of the people there rely on for income…PLAYA FISHERMEN say they aren’t caching as many snapper this fishing season as last year. Meanwhile, officials are concerned about the number of boats and chaises being left on the beach, hampering access to restaurants and beach clubs…FUNERAL SERVICES were held yesterday (Nov. 26) on Cozumel for the young doctor killed in the crash of a private ambulance jet off the coast of Florida last week. His body was lost at sea…FOREWARNED – Traffic lights at. Playa del Carmen Blvd. (lower 307) and 38th St., are now working…

Phrase a Week…By Gloria Contreras, state certified interpreter
Where are the new restaurants in Centro? In Spanish, you would say, “¿Dónde están los nuevos restaurantes en el Centro?  ”
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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