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Monthly Archives: July 2016

AUGUST, 2016

A solid investment…

People who give to FOPA know

clear communication counts

The program that gave one lawyer his start

By Donna Carey,
Contributing Writer
A buzz is being created in our local community by people banding together to help continue English language instruction opportunities for children in the Poblado of Puerto Aventuras. 

What many may not know is there is a longstanding, extremely successful program teaching English to adults and children in PA since 1995.  The problem is that this non-profit known as “FOPA”, Friends of Puerto Aventuras located in the poblado community center is underfunded and relatively unknown on the resort side of PA. 

FOPA is highly esteemed by the local population. Its long-term success has caused a strain on its budget as more and more students apply to take advantage of the programs. These longstanding FOPA courses are established, active, and now have students on a waiting list hoping that funds will become available.

Multi-faceted program

FOPA provides before- and after-school language programs for poblado school children; it provides daytime classes in English for undocumented children who cannot go to regular school and night classes for adults who want to better their circumstances.

This base of educational programs has also morphed over the years into an amazing opportunity for local students.  FOPA provides college scholarships for the brightest graduates from Puerto Aventuras.

In 2008, FOPA celebrated the graduation of its first post-secondary student and now, it includes an attorney among its alumni.  Until 2011, FOPA also offered high school scholarships before the local public high school was built.

However, the high school scholarship program was phased out as the new Puerto Aventuras High School came online to meet local needs.  With more high school graduates, FOPA is now straining to help those who they can and for the first time is turning students away, unable to expand for lack of funding.

Founders raise funds

This year, FOPA was able to guarantee 16 post-secondary scholarships from funds raised primarily by FOPA founders Paul Ramsey, a former vice president of the iconic Educational Testing Services International, based in Princeton, NJ, and Richard Coburn, a New Jersey veterinarian, both of whom are longstanding part-time residents of Puerto Aventuras. 

But it is not enough. Even though they have also funded the English language program for 70 school age students, the problem is there are 11 more qualified, eligible and deserving students who have been turned away from college aid.

The three-year commitment for these 11 students translates into $27,300 USD.  That is approximately $830 USD a year to assist each of the 11 with their educational expenses. These wait-listed students, want to attend college, have the grades to do so and have met PA residency requirements from the FOPA program.

You may even know some of them as they are the children of maids, gardeners, fishermen and local waiters. The program has just run out of funds to help any further. This is the problem created by success.

For those of you who are looking to help we can accept donations on the Friendsofpa.org website or if you have any questions about how you can help, you can contact us there as well.

Look at it as an investment opportunity with big returns for the future of Puerto Aventuras.


Commerce corner…










Full-time fruit and produce store

established in Centro Comercial

  There is fresh (“fresco” in Spanish) cause for dieters, vegetarians, vegans and fruit and produce lovers in general to rejoice in Puerto Aventuras.

A new full-service produce market has opened in Centro Comercial, adjacent to “The Pub” restaurant  and is offering its wares from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekends, including home delivery within Puerto Aventuras..

Becky Huck, spokesperson for the family-owned venture called “Del Prado” (from the meadow), describes Puerto’s newest retail outlet as one of 10 owned in the area that are practicing “fair trade with the Mexican farmers” and offering “excellent produce at great prices.”

Del Prado delivers to its retail outlets daily, assuring a continuing flow of fresh fruit and produce every day,” Huck said. Del Prado in Puerto Aventuras also keeps a supply of refrigerated products to expand its local offerings.

Visit the store at www.facebook.com/delpradofrescosPA/ or by clicking on the Del Prado logo in the sponsor column at left.


Dolphin Discovery announces

winner of “Dory” contest

A Mexico City resident who participated with 7,365 other people in a Dolphin Discovery promotion on social media for the premier showing of “Looking for Dory” has won an all-expense paid, four-day and three-night vacation for four in Cancun.

Emiliano Mendoza Huerta was one of 1,575 finalists in a joint promotion of Dolphin Discovery, Disney Mexico, and the Cancun Convention and Visitors Bureau, who completed four weeks of interactive competition on social media and was randomly chosen among the finalists by Random. org.

Dolphin Discovery operates a major site in Puerto Aventuras that is also a birthing and animal welfare location that supports scientific studies in animal conservation along with the exciting experience for visitors of swimming with the dolphins. The company joined the promotion because of the movie’s concerns for animal welfare, family life, conservation of the species and the importance of the company’s research centers.

The winnings include round-trip flights on Magnicharters Airline, a stay at the all-inclusive Grand Oasis Palm Hotel in Cancun and guided tours by animal specialists at Dolphin Discovery Isla Mujeres, where the winner and his guests will enjoy guided interactions with dolphins, manatees and sea lions.

Claudia Sosa, commercial director, said she hopes people will think of Dolphin Discovery along with the importance of animal welfare imparted in the movie.


Turtle Bay restaurant hosting

dinner to save Red Cross services

Getting to the hospital on time to save lives

By Marieke Brown,
Contributing Writer

  Over the last 8 months, the Akumal Ambulance has attended almost 120 medical emergencies in Akumal! Especially in the high season, we saw the paramedics and life guards pull a number of unresponsive people from our bays, and successfully resuscitate them and get them to a hospital in time to make a full recovery.

  The Red Cross teams have also been running training courses in our community on the use of defibrillator machines, of which we now have several throughout Akumal.  This will help to dramatically increase the survival/recovery chances of heart attack victims in Akumal.

Fundraiser set

“We are now running low on funds again, and Turtle Bay Cafe has very generously offered to host another fund raiser dinner,” say the RC supporters.  “We invite all our friends and neighbors from Tulum up to Puerto Aventuras to come and enjoy a fabulous evening of delicious food, live music and comedy entertainment, to help raise funds to keep our ambulance and its crew in Akumal.” 

A three-course meal plus 2 Cueva Vodka cocktails, and also live music and comedy entertainment with special guests await you. The menu includes: Appetizer choice of one, chicken tortilla soup or Cesar salad: One entrée: Roasted vegetable lasagna, or grilled fresh fish or smoked stuffed pork loin. Dessert: Chose one from homemade small batch ice-cream, or flan or key lime Pie. Price:  $650 pesos per person and, thanks to Turtle Bay Cafe, 100% of the ticket price will go directly to the operating costs of the Akumal Ambulance.

You can reserve your seats directly at Turtle Bay Cafe, or donate to support the Akumal Ambulance by contacting Alejandra Coronel Dzul at [email protected].


In Mexico, governments do not provide ambulances or Red Cross funding. In emergencies, the Cruz Roja (Mexican Red Cross) is the only sponsored way for most people to receive emergency medical care and transportation to a hospital. Each Red Cross chapter relies entirely on the generosity and financial support of their community to offer emergency ambulance and clinical services to the community at large.

At the end of 2014, after a record number of accidents and deaths in Akumal, we campaigned for a locally based ambulance and paramedic team to dramatically hasten the response time to accidents, and in doing so, save lives. We saw deaths in Akumal drop by an incredible 500% in 2015 due to the paramedics and life guards being able to attend to, and get patients to a hospital quickly. 

Through lack of funding, we almost lost our ambulance in the Fall of 2015. However, our community rallied and by way of much needed monthly donation commitments from generous local businesses and individuals, and topped up by a fantastic fundraiser dinner hosted by Turtle Bay Cafe, we were able to get the ambulance and paramedics back in Akumal by late November 2015, and fund the running costs for a good portion of 2016. 

Please make sure that you have the following numbers in your cell phone:  Tulum Red Cross HQ – 984 802 5521  Akumal Ambulance Direct Cell – 984 129 9471

The Roundup:…

Gas price increase to 13.96 pesos per liter of magna, have elicited comments from businesses already stung by incremental hikes in other commodities, helping to force a spike in the general cost-of-living index that affects the poorest the hardest… 

The proposed airport in Puerto Aventuras hat had been developing at a snail’s pace has now apparently stopped completely, leaving pilots and businesses that are waiting to move in wondering what’s going on…

Seven tourism companies face fines and possible imprisonment by the federal attorney for environmental protection for allowing some 1,000 tourists to swim with the turtles last week in Akumal Bay without permission. The bay was declared a federal refuge last March and limits placed on the number of tourists it can accommodate on a given day, Overuse by humans has contributed to the growing ill health of turtles inhabiting the area…

Celebrations were held last week marking the 23d anniversary of the founding of Solidaridad, the last and 8th municipality in the state of Quintana Roo. What was formerly the mainland of Cozumel was split from the island to become the youngest municipality in the nation on July 28, 1993, after which it experienced a rapid growth spasm of tourism that morphed the fishing village of Playa del Carmen and its environs into a bustling tourist destination that continues today…

Two hundred Tulum police did not show up for work during parts of July in protest to the lack of response to their demands for higher wages, more patrols and the firing of some mid-level managers in the municipal government… Later, some firefighters joined the police walkout and, after that, an accommodation reportedly was reached and police returned to work… Meanwhile, the federal government reported a 15.4 percent increase in homicides nationally during the first 6 months of 2016, just under the 9,502 reported in the first 6 months of President Pena Nieto’s administration. Figures then dropped for a while and are now rebounding mostly in the violence-prone drug cartel states of Guerrero, Baja, Michoacan and Veracruz… Then there was  shootout  last weekend in Playa del Carmen between robbers and military personnel responding to the hold-up of an Oxxo convenience store…

In the interim, a drug gang leader allegedly responsible for the violence in touristy Acapulco including the murders of taxi drivers and low-level drug pushers has been arrested. However, the number of entire families murdered in western Mexico in the last two weeks comes to five, while mayors of two towns that previously announced threats by cartel gangs, were murdered last week… Meanwhile illegal shipments of marijuana have been washing ashore in Playacar, Cozumel and Akumal…

A different growth – While we usually consider growth in terms of the economy or urban sprawl, a report out of Cancun notes that Mexicans have grown by 13 centimeters (five inches) in 100 years…

Convent. nuns are suspected of involvement in a scheme to store millions of bribe dollars in a small, “private” convent in Argentina. Authorities have phone calls between the convent and the former Argentina Secretary of Works that were made shortly before backpacks containing millions of dollars were thrown over a convent wall for storage, the action captured on video, said authorities….

Two armed holdups within days of each other in Playa del Carmen, along with an apparent spike in illegal businesses and dope pushers operating in the tourist sector has spurred an oft-repeated plea in the local press for help from federal, state and local governments to diminish criminal activity before it ruins the tourist industry…

However a police presence was much in evidence during the continuing weekends of domestic tourism when some 20,000 visitors walked 5th Avenue and its environs… Meanwhile, several Puerto Aventuras businesses like Jessie’s Gelato reported that while business was good, it had neither reached last year’s earnings yet nor the domestic summer visitor numbers…

Tulum’s archeological site was listed as the “most visited” site in Quintana Roo during the first half of this year by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), with 884,000 of the 1.4 million visitors to such sites in the state. Of the visitors to Tulum, INAH said 548,000 were foreigners and the rest domestic…

An ADO bus carrying passengers from Tulum to Merida crashed into another bus on the highway last week, ending in four deaths and multiple injured… And a Tulum study indicates that 10 percent of residents in the municipality are living in extreme poverty…

Major beach recovery project is being planned for Punta Maroma, Punta Bete, Mayakoba by the Spanish firm OHL hired by Mayakoba to replenish a beach to 25 meters wide and add protection with natural and artificial reefs to include beachfront reforestation… As another attempt in Akumal to privatize a small parcel of land that gives public beach access added to that area’s beach-access woes…


Nature Watch…

Mayan Riviera coastline not only

victim of ruinous algal blooms


By Staff
Repeated invasions of stinky sargassum along the Riviera Maya, including Puerto Aventuras, may seem like a targeted curse on this otherwise pristine shoreline, but look around and one is reminded, once again, of nature’s complete lack of bias.

Years ago we remember reporting on the so-called “Red Tide” that closed shellfish beds on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, for several years and other invasions of algae blooms along the US eastern seaboard. The latest such incursion was recorded in southern Florida last month when decaying algae reeked of odors that caused closure of some businesses and beaches in four counties.

A huge patch of blue-green algae covered a 636-mile distance on the Ohio River last September and another bloom on Lake Erie, which has become an annual event, caused some 400,000 residents to avoid drinking tap water in Toledo, Ohio.

As if to show its impartiality, in 2014 nature deposited a bloom in Quingdao, China, that covered 7,500 sq. miles including its popular beaches….and has returned this year.

But the most recent damaging bloom appeared off the coast of Central California up to British Columbia produced such a high level of toxins that it decimated crab and clam fisheries for months, leaving fishermen unable to pay rent and buy groceries.

In a sense, the Mayan Riviera coast is comparatively fortunate since seaweed and forms of kelp, which is the local menace, is considered to be a more cultured, less threatening type of algae, although some fishermen in Playa del Carmen have complained of illness from exposure to decaying sargassum.

While blooms worldwide occur naturally, they are suspected of being intensified, say scientists, by human activity including runoff from farms, feedlots and municipal sewer systems.

A recent report from a Puerto Aventuras resident concerning night-time dredging activity at the Kantenah lagoon inlet revealed that the Quinta Luna condo complex was paying to clean-dredge its half of the lagoon bottom of excessive plant growth. The Pelican was told the Catalonia Hotel was also considering dredging its half of the lagoon while the equipment was on hand.

There is considerable activity by private hotel and marine services and public sectors along the coastline to devise ways of preventing sargassum from reaching the shore to maintain the area’s position as a prime beach and water services destination.



Around town…


PA’s municipal delegation

asks to have its own mayor

By Staff
There is a move afoot in the poblado’s political delegation to create a mayor’s position in Puerto Aventuras. If such an alteration should come to pass – and a decision on the plan could happen this month – Colonos General Manager Armando Rincon says he doubts the modification would have much, if any effect on the community’s  generally self-governing resort at least until November when a new municipal administration takes charge.

From what can be gathered thus far, the request to establish a mayoralty in Puerto Aventuras is aimed mostly at affording the indigenous community – comprising the poblado and the massive Puerto Maya sector – an updated measure of fiscal and political autonomy, subject however to oversight by the municipal seat of Solidaridad in Playa del Carmen. In a meeting this week, the Citizen’s Council moved to invite the University of Quintana Roo to help in a proper transformation.

It appears the proposal aims to assure that the Puerto Aventuras municipal delegation is allotted a more equitable return on the tax dollars the community sends to the municipality, and more control over how it is spent.

The plan was presented to the city council earlier this month by Councilor Emilio Tamargo, and was initially viewed favorably by that body pending legal review.

Tamargo pointed out that Puerto Aventuras is no longer a community of “just 6,000” residents, pegging the population now at 11,000 according to the Municipal Population Council while other reports count as many as 15,000 inhabitants. The higher population figures and the distance between Puerto Aventuras and the municipal seat in Playa requires a more elevated, responsive and efficient status, Tamargo infers.


Library sets summer hours:

The Puerto Aventuras Library will begin summer hours on Wednesday, July 20 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Wednesdays only until August 10.  Regular schedule will resume on August 15.


Federal anti-corruption move

on 2 states includes Q. Roo

By Staff
The Pena Nieto administration took aim at two state governments this week over allegations they defied federal anti-corruption laws. One of those states is tourism-rich Quintana Roo. The fed action comes as a mild surprise to the foreign, non-voting community invested in the state’s flourishing tourist sector. The other is the oil-rich but crime-ridden state of Veracruz.

Pena Nieto’s office is pursuing allegations made by critics and the press during the last election that new state prosecutors’ offices in the process of being created in both states are intended to shield the governors of those states from alleged wrongdoing.

The Pena Nieto administration wants the Supreme Court to rule against those measures being implemented by the two states to preempt federal rule. (There are already US indictments outstanding against some three PRI governors.)

The President’s office acted after the people of both states recently voted in gubernatorial elections to end the decades-long reign of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the President’s party, and joining five other states in a rebuke of PRI control.

Quintana Roo’s governor, Roberto Borge, who has been accused of corruption by critics of his administration, denied this week that he has promoted the creation of any state controlled anti-corruption system for self-protection. He said he has full respect for the coming federal anti-corruption initiative.

The weak rule of law and rampant impunity nationwide have been listed by economists as major concerns of investors in Mexico’s future.

Another US fugitive caught here;

faces LA charges of felony fraud

For the second time in three months, international enforcement authorities have taken into custody an alleged fugitive living in Puerto Aventuras. Both fugitives are separately charged in unrelated US warrants concerning fraud complaints in the US and both men were employed of late in the real estate industry in Mexico.

Apprehended last week at a rented, upscale Punta Roca condo was a suspect identified as Wallace E. Thomas, 53, who, it is alleged, is wanted in Los Angeles County, USA, in connection with a multi-million-dollar fraud case involving sales of unqualified securities.

A resident familiar with the arrest scene said Thomas was taken away without incident or resistance. Booking information at the North County Correctional Facility, Los Angeles County, CA, notes Thomas was being held in lieu of $980,000 bail.

In late April, another fugitive, William Bowen, was taken into custody and returned to the Colorado judicial system in the US where he is now incarcerated and facing allegations of fraud. His cases are still pending in Colorado Courts and several hearings scheduled this month.

Details concerning the US charges leveled at Thomas are included in papers filed in LA Superior Court on March 26, 2012 by the LA Department of Corporations. The filing purports that a defendant, Wallace E. Thomas, a/k/a “Wally”, was involved in a continuing scheme with other individuals and businesses in which investors poured $10 million, of which $2.7 million was diverted to Thomas, notes the court filing.

While living in Puerto Aventuras, Thomas and Bowen were employed in real estate sales.The day after Bowen was extradited in April, the rented office of the time-share sales company  in which he reportedly was a partner closed. There are no known official charges on file against either fugitive in Mexico.


Limits on Akumal snorkelers

cut profits despite price hike

A limit of 12 snorkelers a day in Akumal Bay per licensed tour operator is reportedly causing fiscal hardship for cooperatives with permits and resentment from companies as far away as Puerto Morelos that were turned away last week, one with a group of 80 swimmers and another with 60.

Recent regulations to control tourism and simultaneously protect sea life that has been endangered by overuse, according to recent studies, has already caused a doubling of the fee from $25 to $50 for tourists to snorkel with turtles. Still, some cooperative members say that leaves little room for profit to make up the loss from the diminished number of tourists.

The limit of 280 snorkelers a day total, or 12 per licensed operator, was instituted by Semarnat (Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources) and is being enforced by agents of Profepa (Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection.)

The issues of curtailing beach access over purported private land and unlimited activity by local tour operators have in the last few months caused protests and demonstrations in which fences were torn down, Molotov cocktails thrown, roads blockaded and tear gas used to disperse protesters in efforts by the cooperatives to maintain access in the face of new hotel construction and get intervention by government.

The negative behaviors awakened government agencies to the need for intervention and the promulgation of rules – basically limiting tour numbers – that are now themselves subject to disagreement.

Studies claim there is a possible link between tumors found on turtles and overuse of the resource by humans.


The Roundup…

Hoo Haa lounge was shut down by municipal authorities after months of late-night noise complaints and other problems involving encroachment on common property. The restaurant and lounge abuts Centro HOA properties and generally has been criticized for not responding to legitimate complaints of nearby residents, particularly from the iconic Chac-Hal-Al housing complex, concerning late-night noise. It could not be determined as of this writing whether the closure is permanent or temporary…

Tulum dispossessed hold protest – About 100 aggrieved people who were unceremoniously removed from private homes and hotels they were operating in Tulum’s Punta Pierda area gathered peacefully outside the judiciary building last week to protest government action in removing them from their rented properties for allegedly not paying rent as per an oral agreement, a claim that is disputed. The aggrieved allege government officials conspired to carry out the eviction without warning or displaying a court order. The eviction is causing jitters in some area land investors in Tulum…

The ADO bus company, (Autobuses de Oriente) suspended service to areas of the states of Oaxaca and Chiapas for the safety of their passengers as June came to a close. Those states have recently been subject to violent protests (11 deaths in Oaxaca) over teacher union concerns regarding education reforms and a rise in gang violence…

Meanwhile, police in Solidaridad have been reduced to asking businesses for money to purchase gasoline for police cars after limits were placed on petrol purchases by Solidaridad’s municipal government…

Two deaths from heat stroke, one of them in Solidaridad, prompted officials to release an alert reminding the populace to take precautions against heat that has occasionally risen to 45 degrees Celsius (113 F). The victim in Solidaridad was a 32-year-old laborer…

The massive Mayakoba City project west of 307 continues to foment protests by residents of two nearby neighborhoods concerned about disruptions of their water and sewerage services by the Mayakoba construction process. But the aggrieved added another complaint recently alleging that city officials have increased police patrols in the area that harass and intimidate residents…

Daily rubbish collection service faltered again in June, requiring a posted notice to residents by the Colonos that it was actively “putting pressure” on the municipal collection service to quickly resume daily service. It worked, evidently, as the department responded with a pledge to do just that by the following weekend…

Surprising turn-around – While the US is known for its frequent advisories cautioning Americans about travel in certain Mexico states, a rare step was taken by the foreign ministry of the Bahamas last week cautioning its citizens to use caution traveling to certain US cities in view of the recent spate of deadly shootings. Bahrain and United Arab Emirates followed suit…Meanwhile, police reported 15 people including a family of 11 and six minors were murdered over the weekend in apparent intramural  cartel violence in Ciudad Victoria, capital of Tamaulipas state…

There is optimism in PA and the area that the summer high season beginning this week will be as good as last year’s, according to tourism sources. While the influx of summer tourists isn’t as exuberant as the Christmas and Easter seasons, the summer high season is longer, reaching into August, say tourism spokesmen. PA service providers and food retailers reported a good season last summer…

Rising prices for gasoline, electricity and other commodities are being lamented by Mexico’s businesses and working class, the latter wondering how it will be able to pay for even basic items… Ten inmates escaped from jail in Cancun over the weekend by going over a wall.


Nature watch….

The frigate bird we see here

is a truly unflappable fellow

By Staff

“Cloud nine, please.”

That’s what the frigate birds we see gliding gracefully above the Puerto Aventuras shoreline might order as they enter Mother Nature’s elevator on their roughly 2.5 mile climb half way to the limits of earth’s troposphere, which ends at five to nine miles up before thinning out.

To get there, the frigates ride the winds and clouds that comprise nature’s elevator of convection, which in this case is vertical atmospheric movement by which the warmer air ascends and the colder air descends – up and down like an elevator. That’s what the frigate rides by merely spreading its wings.

Here are a few astonishing facts made possible by the convenient relationship of the frigate’s physical structure and convection’s natural movements: The bird can remain aloft for two months, travel more than 250 miles daily and glide up to 40 miles without flapping its wings at all. Not once. How come?

For one thing, the frigate bird weighs only two to four pounds but has a wingspan of about seven feet. It is quite a high ratio of wingspan to body mass compared, for example, to the Canada geese which weighs 15 pounds and has about the same wingspan as a frigate.

The frigate gets to and uses the elevator thus: It glides under a convenient cloud about 100 feet above the water and fills its wings with warm rising air with such efficiency that up it goes in a corkscrew movement without a flap. They exit the elevator as it reaches about 2000 feet and increasing turbulence by lapping their wings to exit, fly downward to catch another cloud and repeat the cycle.

By the way, the frigate’s feathers aren’t waterproof so they don’t sit on the water after dinner, a repast they must swoop and scoop while skimming in flight just above the water. They don’t splash into the water to stun their prey as does the pelican.

One frigate tracked by ornithologist Henri Weimerskersh, of the National Center for Scientific Research, whose report was fodder for news articles, reached 2.5 miles vertically then glided diagonally downward for nearly 40 miles before catching another cloudy cumulus elevator.

While they spend much of their time at sea, the frigates rest now and then on land, in trees and rocky cliffs. Chances are when we spot them gliding over the Puerto Aventuras caleta, they aren’t lollygagging. They’re looking for an elevator.


PRODUCTION DEADLINES: The Pelican Free Press encourages and welcomes public announcements of events and activities. The deadline for publication during our monthly schedule beginning in May is the third week of the month for production at month’s end. Thank you.

The End – Previous edition below

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