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Monthly Archives: January 2016

January 2016, Week 4

 

What’s going on?

Annual race set this Sunday

Everybody is welcome to enjoy watching the annual road race this Sunday, Jan. 31. Runners kick off at 8 a.m. from the parking lot at Porto Bello and will retire to the Dolphin Discovery Palapa afterwards where all the activities and award celebrations will take place. More than 500 runners participated last year… Colegio Puerto Aventuras will hold its traditional “Saturday in Puerto Bazaar” on Saturday, Feb. 6 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. You will find new and old items to buy and fun activities for all the community. If you are interested in a booth, get information at info@colegiopuertoaventuras.com …  Speaker Series at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 3 in the Colonos Meeting Room features information on the new permanent or temporary resident visa law and also a real estate guide offered by Mexlaw of Playa del Carmen… Trivial pursuits Sunday, Feb. 7 at 4 p.m. at Latitude 20 with Shannon Rachynski. Proceeds go to the needy. Group Spanish lessons are returning to Puerto Aventuras this year with Maestra Gloria Contreras who has been teaching informal groups here for quite a few years. Classes are held Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:30 a.m. for beginners and 12:30 p.m. for advanced and intermediate. Contact her at gloriatraducciones@hotmail.com or call cel 984-108-3517 for more information… Workshop for writers will be held 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 20. A 1,000 pesos donation will benefit the PA Library.  More information and reservations at eliecosimano@gmail.com  …  Also…

From moist to hoist

Assembly 3; parking and traffic

Growing mobility problems

aired at annual Assembly

Fixes not that easy to find

By Staff:
Parking and traffic issues, particularly in the busy Centro area, were aired at the Dec. 20 Colonos Assembly while several modest steps were already under way to ameliorate high-season, peak-time parking demand and traffic control.

In addition, reports Colonos GM Armando Rincon, planning is under way for painting a green safety line about a foot wide showing the safest routes to get to and from the Colegio, for example, where many children travel daily.

These issues were broached at the lightly attended meeting by resident Ron Hurst of Chac-Hal Al condominiums, a complex that has been painted into the proverbial corner by near Centro gridlock.

While PA’s shortcomings pale in comparison to the traffic, infrastructure, utilities, political, criminal and other social ills that beset other Mexican regions and communities, it is recognized that even “Paradise” has flaws requiring debate and solutions.

That said, we’re told a person who drove to Centro on a recent holiday week afternoon to purchase gelato could not find a place to park, didn’t want the product to melt, gave up on gelato, returned home and served yogurt on cake with a dash of Kahlua instead. A sale lost to the lack of a parking space.

Revoke gate passes

So in the fashion of constructive criticism, Hurst brought up the practice of some businesses that park rental golf carts and bicycles on public parking spaces or sidewalks, depriving Centro of those spaces to accommodate commerce. He suggested better signage to control traffic and revoking gate passes of errant drivers and parking scofflaws.

This inspired some other proposals from the floor to enforce use of night lights on golf carts and bicycles to prevent accidents and injuries, adding these concerns to the traditional debate about the profusion of children driving golf carts, contrary to local rules.

There is genuine public concern over these issues as the population continues to grow, surely generating increased traffic and mounting demand for parking. The problem is, Centro is nearly out of ground-level space. A tiered parking garage is generally viewed as overkill and streets are already hemmed in.

Let freedom ring?

One observer said “residents here need to adapt. We can change our shopping hours and let the tourists have Centro at peak times,” to ease the strain. Some residents want – insist even – that their children be able to drive golf carts, albeit responsibly. These general issues then, are debatable and open to meaningful discussion.

Part of PA’s attraction for some is the lingering laissez-faire “frontier” character that moves along helter-skelter with fewer rules and controls of the type that constrain the more populated, less developed villages and municipalities.

Taking heed to what is obvious, the Colonos has already placed signs in the Punta Celis (Omni and Oxxo) Centro parking lot that are intended to reserve spaces for delivery trucks. Unfortunately, the signs are largely ignored by car, cart and motorbike owners who need a place to park, leaving large trucks in the middle of the lot sometimes hindering the efficient flow of traffic as they unload.

Foot-long topes angled perpendicularly along Punta Celis on the Oxxo side are often disregarded by drivers in a rush who want to go into a store “for a minute”, which usually translates easily into five or 10 minutes of confounding vehicular flow.

Problem not a constant

The reality is that gridlock here is not a constant. It is mostly a peak-time event. How much does one invest to fix something that is a significant obstruction only one quarter of the time?

Aside from the signs and added topes, some curbing has been removed from walkways along Bahia Xcacel between the post office kiosk and Cedam Museum to park more golf carts at an angle, hopefully freeing up other spaces for cars.

In addition, part of the small verdant park between the post office and Cedam fronting Le Bistro and several small retail spaces could possibly be used to expand parking there and is a partial solution under consideration by PA developer Roman Rivera Torres.

Get-tough rumor unfounded

A rumor that the Colonos was negotiating with the municipality to have municipal police patrol Puerto Aventuras resort to hand out traffic tickets was characterized by Rincon as perhaps a misunderstanding.

Saying no such request has been made, Rincon explained that a long-standing agreement with the municipality has been renegotiated with just a few changes concerning animal an abandoned-car controls and a rewording of violation notices.

For example, he said abandoned cars are tagged by Security here and if not removed within a certain period of time, the municipality can impound the auto. He said municipal dog pound personnel with power to take errant dogs is making unannounced rounds in PA in order to assist and encourage owners to use the leash and pick up the poop.

Start at main gate

More efficient movement of traffic begins at the main gate and it is there the Colonos is concentrating its current efforts to make improvements by adding another resident access lane, an improved pedestrian lane and comprehensive security office to handle expanding technical security equipment.

In the absence of major parking expansion possibilities around Centro, demand can be expected to exceed supply at peak times, supporting the suggestion for the moment that residents adapt by walking or biking to Centro and consider doing so at times when tourists are elsewhere.

The habit of on-street parking in some of the various neighborhoods is also a growing problem. If it is unavoidable, then for the moment parking as much as possible out of the traffic lanes and on one side of the road will help keep moving-traffic lanes safer.

The Mail Bag …

 

Comment adds to debate

Dear Editor,

I moved to Puerto Aventuras back in 2001. It was like living in a ghost town, especially after 9/11. I still remember how my wife and I enjoyed walking around the place without seeing cars passing by. It was quiet and peaceful, and although we knew it was not going to be like that forever, we expected it to still be a great place to live.

Today my heart is broken after seeing how traffic anarchy has taken over this little piece of paradise. In the last five to six years, Puerto Aventuras has grown exponentially having people from all over the world moving in. Along with that, some of them have brought their big city lifestyles to this once peaceful community.

I’m amazed at the number of residents who park their cars on sidewalks, right in front of crossroads, on the places marked for golf carts only, etc. Riding a bicycle has become an extreme sport thanks to the taxis, tourist vans, buses, and several locals that neglect to respect speed limits and crosswalks, and that couldn’t care less if a family enjoying a bike ride has the right to pass. My own son has been almost run over on several occasions by drivers who seem to think they are on a freeway. Fortunately but sadly, he has been instructed never to trust a vehicle approaching, even if he is using a crosswalk.

I really wish we could have bike lanes around Puerto for the many people who use bikes for transportation and/or for joy. It would be lovely to see more kids riding their bikes to school confident that they are safe.

Last week I had to ask the chief of security from Dolphin Discovery to please make sure they don’t park their wagon on the sidewalk, where a Starbucks Café sign is already blocking part of it. He was very polite and promised to take care of it. One week later, I’m pleased to say he kept his word.

Unfortunately, it would be very hard to go around Puerto finding out who the owners of the many wrongly parked vehicles are, and it cannot be one man’s job. This is everyone’s responsibility. If we all work together and show respect to the place we live in or that we are visiting, things will change for the better.

I want to acknowledge the efforts by Puerto Aventuras Security personnel who are always attentive whenever I report any of these situations. I hope that by working together we can notice a change very soon.

Signed/Alberto Andrés de la Fuente

Local artist’s unusual pet hogs

attention when out for a stroll

By Gayle Sandholm

Peter Terrin is often seen walking around Puerto Aventuras with his pets, one dog and one pig. In recognition of one of Terrin’s favorite artists, he named the pig, Picasso.

Born in Belgium, Terrin came to Mexico several years ago. He opened his studio in Puerto Aventuras four years ago. The studio is located above the music school near the dolphin pools. He describes his art as modern expressionism (thus his appreciation of Picasso) and informs that he has sold works around the globe.

Picasso is a male mini-pig, also known as a teacup pig. When fully grown miniature pigs weigh only a fraction of larger farm pigs. Terrin got his mini-pig 15 months ago and with continual attention, not unlike that given to other house pets, Picasso is now fully trained.

Terrin calls, “Here pig”, and Picasso comes running. As the artist, his dog and his pig go out for walks at least twice a day, Terrin carries several bags. Some to pick up after the pig and the dog. Other bags contain food. Picasso loves food and lives up to the old saying, “eats like a pig!” The artist says he often carries extra food knowing any children who stop to look will enjoy sharing some with Picasso.

Often passersby will stop, look again in disbelief. “Oh my…it’s a PIG!” Yes a pet pig walking on the streets here in Puerto. While the artist uses the name Picasso, some locals have been known to prefer a similar sounding name: “Pigcasso.”

So keep looking up (or down) in Puerto. You never know what you might see.

The Roundup…

Catnap crash- A police pick-up truck unit was involved in a Highway 307 crash in Puerto Aventuras last week when the driver dozed off for a few seconds and struck several other cars on the highway. Two policemen were injured but no injuries were reported from the other vehicles involved…

A small plane carrying the mayor of Cozumel and three other people made an emergency landing on Highway 307 last week on its way to Cancun Airport. Occupants of cars looked amazed as the plane descended upon the heavily traveled highway without incident. It was reported that an oil leak caused the emergency landing…

Zika virus, suspected of causing an alarming rate of microcephaly, a brain disorder, in Brazilian children has made its way to Mexico – 15 cases confirmed – and in the US – less than 15 cases so far. Zika, named after the Zika Forest in Uganda where the virus was discovered in 1947, is traditionally non-fatal, causes a rash and joint pain but disappears after a few days. It is feared the virus is spread to the fetus when pregnant women are bitten by infected mosquitoes, causing brain damage in newborn infants. The US Centers for Disease control recommends pregnant women not travel to Latin America …

While health officials urge steps to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes in the Zika-impacted countries like Mexico and Brazil, some people in Puerto Aventuras are wondering if there is sufficient spraying going on while the rainy season unexpectedly continues. Others find it odd that none of the major retailers in the area seem to be carrying citronella candles to keep mosquitoes at bay when health officials simultaneously urge precautions. The Zika is carried by the aedes aegypti mosquito, which is also responsible for spreading dengue, yellow fever and chikungunya…

A thousand pigs were slaughtered on a farm in neighboring Yucatan state for displaying symptoms of swine flu. But after investigation by health officials, it was reported the pigs became ill after eating some contaminated grain, and swine flu was discounted….

Bridge repairs on the elevated roadway through Playa del Carmen caused traffic delays along the underpass road, known as Boulevard Playa del Carmen, last week. The work was part of a project to repair the road surface and bridge joints that began last September…

A package headed for an address in Playa del Carmen was intercepted by police dogs at the Cancun Airport. Officials reported the package contained 100 suspected methamphetamine pills. Drug-sniffing dogs regularly check incoming containers at the airport…

Seven businesses, from bars to massage parlors, have been shuttered by municipal police in the new year for infractions of local rules, from serving alcohol after hours, or selling without a permit, to tolerating incidents of violence. Fines of 20,000 pesos were issued…

More than 100 mayors of Mexican municipalities have been murdered in the last decade, reported the New York Times last week, prompting concern that drug gangs are modifying their tactics in attempting to control municipal governments and steal their resources. The latest such killing on Jan. 2 of a female mayor who was gunned down the day after her inauguration in Temixco, an hour south of Mexico City, was said by police who interrogated two of the captured killers to signal a move by regional gangs to control political power. The words for that are “mobocracy” or “anarchy” – a state of disorder or non-recognition of authority…

Mexico’s murder rate surged 9 percent in 2015, to 17,013 from 15,653 in 2014. Statisticians say only a fraction of all crime in Mexico is reported and that the dozens of drug cartels in existence routinely buy off police, leading to impunity and mistrust. Meanwhile, kidnappings fell 24.5 percent, the lowest since 2008, and extortion is down 12.6 percent, according to prosecutors from the nation’s 31 states and federal district of Mexico City…  And at last the deep potholes at Chedraui parking lot entrances have been filled with stone…

The visa caper: Part 2 of 3

Being lost in translation

confounds the process

By Staff
The ease of applying for permanent resident visas at the Mexican consulate in Boston, MA., did not prepare us for the frustrations born of confusion that were to follow at the immigration office in Playa del Carmen.

On Nov. 3, just a few days after arriving, we got into the line hanging outside the guarded door at the immigration office. As we waited for quite some time, feeding anxiety, we witnessed several bewildered people clutching sheets of paperwork exiting the office and disappearing into another nearby door that we later learned was a for-profit computer/copy shop that, alas, we would later depend upon for survival.

 

Next door to that was a lawyer’s office that was being shared with a photographer and maybe somebody else offering another kind of service. We later learned the photos we took in the US were no good here. So we had to have them taken again by the photographer in the lawyer’s office. Don’t ask why.

It appeared that a veritable cottage industry had blossomed around the busy immigration office located on the second floor of the Plaza A building just north of the Playacar gate on 10th Avenue.

Reluctant guidance

Without belaboring the difficulties we encountered translating what was needed to advance to Phase 2, we were told to fill out a basic information form that we could get on the computer by going to the Internet’s Mexican immigration site.

Of course, we didn’t have a computer with us so it was suggested by a not terribly helpful receptionist that we visit the aforementioned computer/copy shop, find and fill out the form, which naturally, is written in Spanish. Our smiles were replaced with worried frowns.

Let’s just say the computers themselves were not exactly state-of-the-art. When we got to the immigration page where we were told we would find the form, we saw a half-dozen forms there and we suddenly were not sure which to use. Such was the derelict nature of the guidance offered by the INM receptionist.

So we asked the young lady who runs the shop to help us, told her what we were doing and she pointed out the form we should use. After we struggled with a strange computer and some vaguely-worded questions, the young lady printed the form and a copy or two, charged us a nominal amount (plus our happy tip) and we returned to the line to answer questions and show passports again, something you do every step of the way. Don’t ask why. Its universal.

Wrong form

The receptionist with the sour look and the dour demeanor then said it was the wrong form, added another form and a piece of paper purporting to tell us that we had to also write a required letter to go along with the forms. It was our fault we don’t speak bureaucratic Spanish, but still, eliciting guidance from this particular receptionist was like trying to keep sargassum off the beach.

We were running out of time and patience, spoiled as we are by US standards of customer service. We decided to bring the forms home, ponder the vague questions and write the required letter which, to our chagrin, we overdid…in English and Spanish.

And then we cheated. We asked a veteran facilitator friend to look over the letter, which was a full page (each) containing our Mexican address with the lotes and zonas and every possible distinguishing piece of address information, followed by several paragraphs of why we wanted the visa.

Saved from anguish

The facilitator saved us from more anguish. All the letter had to say was that “I want a residente permanente status, I am retired, and my address is…” The facilitator then gave us an important tip: “Your address needs to be the same as your CFE bill,- and bring the bill with you. It becomes part of your documentation.”

On our fourth visit to immigration with our completed forms and the letter, we were made to show passports again, asked the same questions again and finally the red light at the reception desk turned green. We were given numbers and told to sit and wait.

We now progressed from the reception circuit to a counter where an agent went through our documents, asked to see passports, again, confiscated our visitor visa, gave us a paper to bring to a bank to pay our fee later and then told us we would be contacted by email from Mexico City and told when to return to the Playa office. So much for Phase 2. We didn’t know it yet, but Phase 3 would surprise us.

(Next Week: The smile slowly returns)

SPEAKING OF SMILES…

 

PRODUCTION DEADLINES: The Pelican Free Press encourages and welcomes public announcements of events and activities. The deadline for publication in any given week is Monday at 5 p.m. for production mid-week, usually Wednesday. Thank you.

The end – Previous issue below

January 2016, Week 3

 

Colonos negotiating portable

outdoor movie showings here

By Staff:
Weekly outdoor movies may be coming to Puerto Aventuras following an exploratory session held last Friday night between Colonos GM Armando Rincon and Victor Modillas, a principal of El Cine Club in Playa del Carmen.

The Pelican tagged along with Rincon to La Ceiba Park in Playa’s ejido land west of Highway 307 where the Cine Club shows a weekly movie to audiences that number between 50 and 200 viewers, the latter the largest number ever to assemble there. El Cine also shows weekly films at the Blue Parrot Café in Playa’s tourist zone.

Rincon said the Colonos board has been looking for events that not only entertain but bring local residents together socially, as did the series of concerts several years ago at the Cultural Center on Bahia Akumal.

Concerts have fallen by the wayside as the field of talent to draw from has dwindled in the area, leaving the Sports and Cultural Committee chaired by Daniel Gracis to fade as his duties with the award-winning PA Sailing Club have mounted.

Visit to show satisfies

Rincon’s visit to an actual showing was to satisfy questions about the operation and gauge the performance of sight and sound elements of El Cine’s equipment, the source of movies shown, and other logistical information.

Modillas explained that the portable system uses Blue Ray DVD movies on large screens, back-lighted projection and a sound system that combined give a quality performance at various venues such as palapas, open parks, empty lots (with electrical connectors) beaches and indoor venues. Most movies are in English with Spanish sub-titles.

The Cine Club deals with a major Mexican movie distributor and pays for the rights to show the selections it chooses but can also display movies contributed by individuals who own DVDs and is receptive to movie suggestions from the audience.

Hither and yon

In preparation, Rincon said he is mulling adequate sites in the various neighborhoods for walk-to access and possibly having El Cine move its venue weekly to those various sites.

He plans to bring up to the board a suggestion that one of the four monthly shows that would be contracted for and paid by the Colonos social events account be shown in the Poblado, perhaps under a sports dome there.

El Cine operates with a team of five that erects the screen, hauls some fifty folding chairs, sets up and tests the projection and audio and positions a reception table. This takes about two hours, Modillas said, to put in place and about an hour to take it all down and pack it up in the panel truck.

A team of two accompanies El Cine with a popcorn machine for a fresh product and other snack items. Rincon said he is working to start a test series by mid-February to gauge its reception and attendance,

Dinner and a movie anyone? Stay tuned.

 

Navy’s second biggest ship

called to PA to lift patrol boat

Beachgoers continue watching

drama unfold in Fatima Bay

The Navy’s second largest multi-purpose logistical support vessel, (BAL-02) built by Mexican Navy personnel and materiel at the Naval shipyard in Oaxaca in 2012, arrived in PA this week with onboard crane to complete the salvage of the Polaris Patrol Interceptor boat that sank off the south channel last week after experiencing loss of power and crashing into rocks. Early salvage operations stripped the boat of its weaponry and other equipment and tried to haul her off the rocks with cables. The boat sank in Fatima Bay waters, requiring the BAL-02 services to refloat and tow her for repairs..

.

    Trivial pursuits Sunday, Jan. 24, 4 p.m. at Latitude 20 with Shannon Rachynski. Proceeds go to the needy. The Dec. 13 game raised 3,000 pesos with which to buy Christmas gifts for the children of the poblado. Annual road race is scheduled to start at 8 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 31. Time is getting short so sign up at the Colonos office. There are 10K and 5K races and shorter jaunts for children. Residents willing to volunteer to help in various tasks preparing for the race are asked to call Carlos Quinones at 984-873-5116 … Back by popular demand is the Petanque tournament for another go-around on Jan. 23 at the Information and Art Center… Group Spanish lessons are returning to Puerto Aventuras this year with Maestra Gloria Contreras who has been teaching informal groups here for quite a few years. Classes are held Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:30 a.m. for beginners and 12:30 p.m. for advanced and intermediate. Contact her at gloriatraducciones@hotmail.com or call cel 984-108-3517 for more information… Also…

The Visa Caper: Part 1 of 3…

First leg of visa application

in U.S. a model of efficiency

By Staff:
Ask 20 people in Puerto Aventuras or Playa del Carmen how you go about getting a new Mexican visa and you’ll likely get 20 different answers, all of them deficient in one aspect of accuracy or another.

After recently going through the process without hiring a lawyer and for the sake of a story, we are tempted to compare part of the experience to water-board torture – without the water. Sometimes in any visa process anywhere you just plain think you’re gonna die of frustration.

We chose the ‘residente permanente” visa designed for retired folk who have enough cash to satisfy the Mexican government’s understandable preference that applicant(s) are and remain self-supporting over the long haul.

Beginning in Boston

We started the application last August relatively unprepared for it by virtue of limited skill in the Spanish language and woefully short of definitive information about the process, which later proved to be two of the more onerous aspects of the journey into the unknown.

First, we went to the nearest Mexican Consulate website, in our case Boston, MA, where we clicked on “visa” and found information about the visa we wanted and a simple form to fill out. The site was in Spanish but after clicking on “visa” there was a translation button in the upper right hand corner for “English.” Great!

There was a choice of five visas and we clicked on the one marked “permanent resident.” Here is the requisite information it contained, which may or may not be the same for every Mexican consulate in the US or any other country:

Permanent Resident Visa

  • Visa application (click here to download application).
  • Valid passport and copy of the main page.
  • One color passport photo, front view, with no eyeglasses and white background.
  • Original and a copy of the document that proves that the applicant is a foreign legal resident of the USA. (I-797, I-20 advance parole, etc) Only if you are NOT a US citizen
  • $36.00 dollars in cash, Visa, Master Card or Discover.
  • Cover at least one of the requirements listed below:
  • a)  Original and copy of proof of investments or bank accounts  during the previous 12 months proving a monthly minimum balance of $106,000.00 USD after taxes.

b)  Original and copy of documents showing that the applicant has a job or pension during the previous 6 months that yields a monthly income of $2,600.00 USD after taxes. This can be supported by a letter from the bank stating that your pension or monthly deposit have been made to your account for the last 6 months.

c)   If you own a property in Mexico, original and copy of the property deed, stating that the person requesting the visa is the owner. The property must be valued at 207,000 USD. (Ed. Note: Caution here: The rule is “if” you own property, not that you must own property.)

d)  If you have a Mexican son or daughter, original and copy of his/her birth certificate. (Ed. Note: Again, “if” not a requirement)

*The visa issued by the Mexican Consulate is valid for 6 months and one entry. That visa will allow you to enter with a resident status to Mexico. Once in Mexico you have 30 days to go to the nearest INM (Mexican Inmigration) office to process your resident card.”

Gather up records

We gathered up our bank records and income statements showing the monthly income AND the required savings or investment accounts just to be sure. Each of us, my wife and I, applied on our own so as not to confuse the issue and to show that we met the minimum requirements individually and independent of one another. We filled out the application forms and neatly packaged everything in folders.

Then, as instructed on the consular web site, we called the consulate in Boston and made an appointment for Sept. 14, 2015. What a great experience that was! The hardest part was finding a place to park in Boston’s busy financial district. Two parking garages we went to were already full. We ended up paying a hotel doorman $25 to watch our car parked in the drop zone in front of his hotel.

Model of efficiency

We waited about 15 minutes inside the consulate then were summoned to the teller’s cage by an English-speaking young man of pleasant, earnest and helpful demeanor. He took the applications, the bank statements and reviewed them briefly.

We volunteered information such as owning property in Mexico for six years and snow-birding there, none of which seemed to make a difference. We had already met the financial stipulations and that, apparently, was enough. He agreed that our manner of application was the least complicated to process.

The agent motioned us to a corner where a photo was taken and one fingerprint. (We didn’t know the other nine would be taken later in Mexico). We paid the required modest fee of $36 each with a credit card and were told to go to lunch, come back in an hour and our Mexican visa card affixed to our passports would be ready.

No wait in Cancun

In less than two hours, our temporary visa was there in our passport, ready to roll. It was good for six months and one entrance into Mexico to establish the fact that we had a pre-approved permanente residente visa application.

We were reminded by the Boston clerk that we had 30 days to continue the process once we arrived in Mexico and to be sure the visa affixed to our passport was stamped by immigration upon arrival in Mexico.

On Oct. 31, 2015, we landed in Cancun where, to our extreme delight, we were to experience our first perk of the new visa. We filled out the FMM (tourist visa given to flight passengers). While some three or four planeloads of arrivals were jammed up at immigration, we showed an airport guard our new visa and were directed to the “Mexican” line. There was only one person ahead of us. My wife and I looked at each other. We were smiling.

(Next Week: Part 2: The smile fades, the torture begins)

The Roundup…

Rare blaze damages home

By Staff
   

An alert condo administrator may have helped avoid personal injury and more damage when a fire broke out – a rare event here – Monday afternoon in a home at 112 Bahia Xaac.

Carlos Suarez was on his way to a condo complex on business when a woman ran out into Bahia Xaac frantically waving her arms and yelling “fire”! Suarez stopped, parked and ran to the house but stopped after opening the door when he was confronted by thick, black smoke and a woman of the house who was trying to get back in. He told her to stay outside.

Suarez immediately called Puerto Aventuras Security Chief Luis Espinosa at 1:06 p.m.. who in turn called firefighters. Meanwhile, Suarez located gas outlets and tanks along with electrical boxes and shut them down, including one at a house next door. Meanwhile, a maid who appeared hysterical, ran out with four dogs as flames licked at furniture inside.

Oddly, said Suarez, he was told the fire was started by a malfunction in a bedroom air conditioner that heated up some plastic fittings which melted and dropped onto a bed and set it ablaze. One of the gas tanks was outside that room, he said.

Firefighters from the Poblado responded swiftly, Suarez said, were in the house battling the fire by 1:29 and had it under control within about 10 minutes. Resort water trucks were standing by as well.

Before firefighters arrived, Suarez stopped traffic coming out of the nearby condo complex and enlisted the help of some construction workers to block the other direction as the fire apparatus was approaching.

Colonos GM Armando Rincon had dispatched the water trucks after receiving a call from Suarez, who is a member of the Colonos Vigilance Committee. Rincon, who has been general manager for some seven years, said he can’t recall a house fire of this magnitude.

Last year, a boat near the marina ramp caught fire and seriously injured a crewman. Fortunately, several guests at the nearby Aventuras Club, one of them a male nurse, took care of the crewman until an ambulance arrived after about 30 minutes.

The poor ambulance response time on that occasion energized local residents to press the Red Cross to return its ambulance to Puerto Aventuras and raised funds to pay for its and the crew’s upkeep.

 Give us lights – It is nice to see lights shining brightly on Highway 307 lately from Puerto Aventuras almost all the way to Playa. Problem is, they’re shining in the daytime when they aren’t needed and are partly unlit at night when they are. Night lights add greatly to safe driving and avoiding accidents. The municipality should endeavor to make sure they work when they are supposed to…

Pothole effort – The deep pothole at the Chedraui driveway was partially filled recently but the rains came and the hole is back to where it was…too deep and not very kind to cars. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again…

Money from the north – Of $2.5 billion in foreign investment expected in Mexico in 2016, $1.5 billion is from Ford Motor Co.’s proposed new plant in San Luis Potosi where 350,000 cars a year will be produced…

Smugglers going vegan – Border authorities acting on a citizen’s tip, stopped a truck in northern Sonora near the US border and found a load of fake, plastic coconuts containing 1,998 packets of marijuana. Previously, the same ruse was tried with fake carrots. So, what’s up doc?…

Faking it – Police arrested three people in Playa after they tried to get a room at the Blue Parrot bar and hotel in the tourist district with counterfeit money… Help for kelp – A pilot program in Puerto Morelos will attempt to corral sargassum before it reaches beaches and then find a use for the product. The containment aspect of keeping kelp off the beaches is said to be “unprecedented” by local officials…

Mexico’s electric company makes it a habit to collect damages from drivers who crash their cars into the company’s poles. In 2015, the company (CFE) reports collecting damages of about 300,000 pesos from motorists… A mysterious animal has been killing ducks and chickens at area farms and not eating them, discounting the possibility of a jaguar that would devour its prey, say officials…

Editorial…

Zeta Gas Co., ePura fail

customers over holidays

Zeta Gas Co. allowed multiple families who pay their bills to go without gas for a day and night last week, creating angst in one of the families that was preparing an open house for friends.

Likewise, ePura left multiple families high and dry over the holidays, missing three successive delivery days in some Puerto Aventuras neighborhoods, resulting in Christmas condo hallways decorated with empty bottles, attached pesos and a lingering aura of annoyance.

It is understood such oversights happen now and then and are usually no cause for alarm. Folks can survive without water deliveries by going to a local Oxxo or supermarket to buy some, which, of course, they shouldn’t have to do.

The Zeta Gas goof is more egregious for condo dwellers since they can’t go to Oxxo or Chedraui to purchase 50 pounds of gas then figure out a way to spoon it into the multiple  delivery systems that power stoves and hot water heaters.

But here’s the real rub, though. There would be no need for this hopefully constructive editorial criticism if Zeta Gas Co. answered its telephones. Multiple people calling multiple Zeta numbers multiple times over six or seven hours were unable to reach anyone on a working day.

One person reported getting an electronic answer: “We’re busy, call later.” No, the condo administrator didn’t have a special connection with Zeta either, which is something that ought to be arranged for future emergencies.

Folks went to bed after cold showers, rinsed unwashed dishes and left wet clothing in the dryer not knowing what the next day would bring. Are these customer service failures the result of sloppy management, pathetic production and delivery practices, indifferent employees who see nothing wrong in the failure to deliver and nothing virtuous in going the extra mile for the consumer?

These are the types of negative practices that invite competition, which could boost customer service here. Short of that, we call the attention of managers to an old naval maxim: “Shape up or ship out!”

P.S.- Somebody, somewhere, somehow got hold of Zeta. A truck showed up fairly early the next day .

The Learning Tree …

Torrential rain bares flaws

In Playa’s infrastructure

Shortfalls in Playa del Carmen’s tourist area infrastructure surfaced last week when drenching rain created pools of water more than a foot deep.

A simultaneous overflow of the sewage system generated considerable floating waste that in turn blocked drainage and spawned an odor found quite offensive by tourists in the area, the local press reported.

The flash situation mobilized municipal agencies and firefighters in an attempt to clear the drains and absorption pits. Firefighters sent a plea to residents and businesses not to throw rubbish into the streets that could in turn block drains. Workers reportedly collected 100 kilos of waste.

A sewer rupture on 12th Street floated sewage that domestic and foreign visitors had to pick their way through, said the local press.

Despite heavy rains here in Aventuras, there were no reports of excessive damage to the infrastructure.

Pelican visitors for last week:

 

Mon

Tues

Wed

Thur

Fri

Sat

Sun

Total

Avg

Pageloads

115

347

693

164

164

111

109

1,703

243

Unique Visits

100

287

626

149

115

90

101

1,468

210

First Time Visits

64

192

409

103

81

71

76

996

142

Returning Visits

36

95

217

46

34

19

25

472

67

 

PRODUCTION DEADLINES: The Pelican Free Press encourages and welcomes public announcements of free or charitable events and activities. The deadline for publication in any given week is Monday at 5 p.m. for production mid-week, usually Wednesday. Thank you.

The end – Previous issue below

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