Dear Readers: Technical problems stymied our techies this week preventing editorial staff from conducting normal operations. We offer this photo-less and abbreviated edition hoping the problem is solved by the next edition. Thank you for understanding.
Colonos: Video clearly shows
fire at Hoo Haa was arson
The early morning blaze that damaged the Hoo Haa Lounge in Centro Comercial on Oct. 21 has opened a Pandora’s Box of festering issues in its wake, including the confirmed allegation of arson by the property owner who claims the fire was motivated by longstanding tensions between various owners of the 16-unit Gourmet Plaza complex and the neighboring Chac Hal Al condo community.
Ten days after the fire, reports surfaced of a human figure captured by security cameras scurrying about the Hoo-Haa site as the fire erupted at about 3:30 a.m. The video contradicted an earlier determination by Colonos Security, firefighters and municipal inspectors that faulty decorative lighting was the cause, Colonos general manager Armando Rincon reported last Thursday.
The first mention of the video was made on Oct. 28 by property owners Ramon and Heidi Putscher in an e-mail to the Chac Hal Al Vigilance Committee. That revelation began to spread in the community and was a topic of muted conversations at Halloween night festivities.
Then, last Thursday morning, Hoo Haa business owner Dugan Harley, who was in Canada at the time of the fire, appeared at Colonos headquarters to present the video in which, Rincon said, “you can clearly see it (the fire) being ignited” by a person. Harley told the Pelican he had also brought the video to the Civil Protection Bureau (municipal detectives in Playa del Carmen) to file a complaint. “I’m fighting this,” he said, adding that he is meanwhile weighing his options as he cleans the mess and assesses the uninsured damage to the sound system, stage, soundproofing and wiring.
Rincon said the fuzzy facial features of the person in the video defy identification without expert manipulation of the grainy film. Unlike the Putschers whose letter to the Chac Hal Al Vigilance Committee pointed to a particular suspect, Harley told Rincon he could think of at least three possible suspects.
Oscar Calderon, administrator of the complex known as “Condominio Plaza Gourmet”, where Hoo Haa is located, told the Pelican he has been attempting, by virtue of his office as administrator, to end “abuses” by the Hoo Haa operation and the Putschers in terms of operating hours that, he said, stretch to 3 a.m., excessive nighttime noise that rattles residents of Chac Hal Al next door, and encroachment on common property.
All other eateries in Centro close by 11 p.m. in deference to families living in mixed-use units that form part of the association. Hoo Haa is not part of the association and operates under different license rules and norms, Dugan inferred. As such, the noise generated in the wee hours, despite some efforts to mute it, “produces many complaints to the Colonos,” Rincon said. Harley claimed last Friday that he had installed soundproofing and had shut down outside speakers at 11 p.m. and that it appeared to him the sound system and stage were the main targets of the arsonist.
Calderon said the Putschers, who own 34.61 sq. meters of Plaza Gourmet and rent it to Hoo Haa, unlawfully encroached upon an additional 543 sq. meters of common property in 2014 and have been collecting rent on it from Hoo Haa for two years without paying into the association. Calderon, on behalf of other owners, personally petitioned Hoo Haa to remove itself from the common area portion of its operations, which was ignored, Calderon said.
He said Mrs. Putscher “… responded by saying she was an influential lawyer who would do as she pleased with the property no matter who the owners (tenants) were, would continue renting all areas to her tenants and would support them to continue the bar service and music as they decided according to business.”
Calderon said he then obtained a legal public notary notice for Hoo Haa to vacate the common area. “In order to counteract that and any further pressure on their operation,” he continued, “ Mrs. Putscher filed a suit alleging that PA developer Roman Rivera Torres harassed and bothered her.” The suit was dismissed, he said, “but not without causing inconvenience to Mr. Rivera Torres.”
Claim called false
In her letter to the vigilance committee, Mrs. Putscher said her condo unit door in Chac Hal Al and her car previously were vandalized in addition to last week’s fire at Hoo Haa. She alleges that “all these criminal acts have been organized due to a lawsuit we have started against Mr. Rivera Torres…who wants to unlawfully sell or rent Plaza Gourmet.” Rivera Torres responded last week saying that claim is patently false.
Rincon told the Pelican late Thursday that Security was reviewing its cameras to see if it could possibly match the figure in the fire video by the way it walked or other signs like clothing. Short of that, he said the Colonos Security would step aside and leave the detective work to the civil protection investigators. Harley said he was considering having the video company work on the film to target the facial features of the arsonist caught in the camera.
Latitude 20 Restaurant and Lounge notes the resumption of live entertainment as snowbirds begin to nest for the new high-season. While the popular and charitable bi-monthly Trivial Pursuits fund-raisers have continued on alternating Sundays through the summer season, they will be joined by BINGO games on the remaining alternate Sunday afternoons. The first Bingo game will get under way on Nov. 27 .… The 9th Annual Road race registrations are expected to begin this month for the race day of January 22, 2017. Dolphin Discovery is again the sponsor… The Colonos annual assembly is currently scheduled for Dec. 10 where, among other business, funds will be sought to finish the second phase of the main gate project. There is talk of a modest maintenance fee increase in addition to a special assessment to complete the main gate project…
Halloween, Days of the Dead
observed in various ways here
Two days of honoring the departed and one for thanking the gods for a bountiful harvest blended into the cosmopolitan Puerto Aventuras scene last week. Make no bones about it.
While Mexicans largely observed the Days of the Dead – All Saints Day on Nov. 1 and All Souls Day on Nov. 2, – the ex-pat community gathered at Latitude 20 Restaurant on the ghoulish night of Oct. 31 to frighten the bejesus out of each other as pirates, devils with blinking horns, skeletons, all sorts of walking dead and assorted ogres playfully competing for attention and the Boo!-by prize.
Also, Pumpkin carving got an early start at 4 p.m. on Oct. 29 where more than 20 families gathered at Jessie Gelato and The Pub properties to carve pumpkins donated by a new business in town, Flowers Puerto Aventuras located outside the main gate with carving under the tutelage of Kate Hauser in what has become an annual event as has the Latitude 20 celebration.
The local population held its observances in a more subdued manner in keeping with appropriate reverence for their departed loved ones. The Days of the Dead – All Saints Day (Dia de Todas los Santos) and All Souls Day (Dia de los Fieles Defuntos) honor the departed by age group.
All Saints Day honors dead relatives and/or friends who were less than 18 years of age and unmarried, with candles, food and flower offerings, altars, and pre-Columbian and Christian rituals. It is not a state holiday. All Souls Day moves up in age to departed friends or relatives older than 18 and/or married. It also is not a state holiday.
The Irish immigrating to the USA and Canada during the great famine are credited with starting the practice of carving “jack o’ lanterns” and the pagans take a bow for using Halloween as a Harvest Festival…or is it the other way around?
Tech, TV problem on arrival?
Call Alan for support, repair
It’s been said that you don’t miss your water until your well runs dry. The same is true of one’s electronic paraphernalia necessary to keep pace with life’s demands and luxuries in the 21st Century. That’s why The Pelican keeps the phone number of Alan’s Technology Service and Support Co. real handy. Our production depends on it.
For example, on our arrival last year, our computer (like the editor) was running out of memory, the printer couldn’t pass its ink and the TV was on strike. We called Alan Witherington at 984-806-2706. We joyfully learned that Alan doesn’t know the meaning of manana, so he arrived promptly when he said he would, then calmly tooled with the printer, poked around the TV and had both items running like new in less than an hour. He later added memory to our computer.
What you get when you call Alan Witherington to solve your tech problems is 20 years of tech industry experience in the United States, a business degree from Metropolitan State University of Denver and a broad working history from alpha tester to vice-president of operations in the tech industry.
Alan has been offering his services in Paamul, Puerto Aventuras, Akumal and Tulum for six years and, by the way, his charge is 500 pesos per hour, or $27 USD, at the current exchange level. And he comes to you free of transportation charges, if you live in Paamul, Puerto Aventuras or Akumal.
Alan ‘s skills are not limited to computers and printers, but to home and business sound systems and television. He repairs or replaces computer components such as hard drives, keyboards, processors, memory, cooling fan, screen and other parts; he can remove security threats such as malware, viruses and spyware and set up wireless and wired networking and extend the WiFi signal to any part of your office or home.
He installs streaming devices like Roku, Sling and Apple TV as well as data backup and Cloud setup. For a full measure of Alan’s tech service, check out the website by clicking on Alan’s logo in the sponsor column or visit him on Facebook at : https://www.facebook.com/alanstechservice/ . Currently, Alan is offering a one-time 20 percent discount on labor for repeat customers who write their experience with his service on Facebook.
The Round Up…
Circuitous route for trucks should improve the safety of travel on the Playa del Carmen 307 overpass for automobiles. The municipality is diverting heavy-truck travel to the Arco Vial, which loops around 307 south from Centro Maya to the city’s north end near Luis Donald Colosia. Heavy truck use also hastens damage to the overpass, officials said…
More mono-logue We wondered, in our previous issue, if we’d get to see more spider monkeys this upcoming high season. We received two reports of multiple sightings along he golf course tree line and along Bahia Xaac. Thanks for the input…
Beach erosion has businessmen in Playa del Carmen quite concerned as the high season approaches. They are pleading with all levels of government to do something about replenishment or face heavy economic losses. The recurring problems of beach erosion and sargassum invasion hasn’t stopped big investors from more development on the Riviera Maya…
Even in North Korea – We may have thought differently, but the Riviera Maya hasn’t cornered the market on dolphinariums. A recent visitor to North Korea, of all places, was surprised to find about 1,400 people enjoying a show at the Rungna Dolphinarium on an island in the Taedong River. But the visitor couldn’t take photos of the show because the workers, he was told, were not dressed smartly enough…
Preparation for the high season includes a plea by businesses in Playa’s “tourist” area for authorities to do something about “paupers, beggars, child labor, homeless” and others who taint the image of the destination. In another move, the new municipal administration has ordered removal of some 220 billboards marring the urban scene that were allowed by the previous administration…
‘El Chapo’ losing sanity – Imprisoned and constantly watched by three masked guards, even in the bathroom, drug thug Joaquin Guzman is losing his sanity, his common-law wife has told authorities. He has already escaped from two prisons. His lawyer says Guzman isn’t looking for sympathy but would like to be treated like a human being, probably the same feeling his alleged murder and overdose victims would have preferred. Guzman is awaiting extradition to the US where he is wanted on multiple drug charges…
The Federeal Electric Commission has warned some 6,000 squatters living under and along the huge electrical towers west of Highway 307 in Playa del Carmen that they are subject to danger from the towers in the event of electrical storms and because some of the metal parts are being stolen, weakening the towers that could possible fall in a storm. The CFE management say the illegal inhabitants should be removed from the CFE’s right-of-way…
Don’t have a “fine” day – The city council in Playa is negotiating with several companies for installation of traffic cameras in some trouble spots. The good news is the cost won’t be borne by taxpayers, per se. The bad news is they will be amortized with a percentage of fines assessed to drivers who are photographed ignoring the rules of the road…
The Mail Bag…
Main gate worse?
Why was $86,000 USD spent outside our entrance? It did nothing to help come and go or add a service entrance. Why was money spent on taxi parking and all those rocks placed there? Not even an extra lane at the entrance. It’s worse now than before.
Signed: Jenevieve Nagle
(Ed. Note: Phase 2 of this project will add three more gates and make improvements to the office and security system if the annual assembly in December approves funding. The first phase expenditure was approved by a sparsely attended special assembly .)
Sad about the crime, but…
Great reporting. So glad we can get caught up on the news while we are not there! Sad to hear about the crime but it happens everywhere! Keep up the good work.
Signed/ Mary Ann Parrack
Can you believe Chichen Itza
was owned by a US citizen?
Artifacts shipped to US raised tensions
One reason the Pelican maintains a “Nature Watch” column is that whimsical nature has a way of changing things around when you’re not looking. We experienced a case in point this summer when a longtime journalism colleague invited us to a talk- and book-signing on Cape Cod. The book, we might add, was authored by another fellow Cape Cod journalist named Evan J. Albright.
We’ve been wintering in Mexico for nearly a decade, so imagine our surprise when an animated Albright, speaking to a full house from the makeshift stage of a colonial era courthouse, told the story of Edward Thompson, a man from a neighboring Cape Cod town, who, in the late 1800s, was the bona fide owner of the Yucatan’s iconic archeological masterpiece – Chichen Itza.
What? A private US citizen owned Chichen Itza, one of Mexico’s prized jewels in the crown?
Albright unravels an epic tale of discovery, adventure, social intrigue and Yankee opportunism in the Yucatan’s dense jungle that eventually cost Thompson “his reputation, his fortune and even his life,” Albright infers.
Thompson’s ownership, of course, occurred in the 1800s after Mother Nature had laid a heavy jungle blanket over the site while the ancient, abandoned Mayan City was deep in slumber.
Prodded on by some Massachusetts investors, Thompson reluctantly accepted the task of re-discovering what was under nature’s camouflage. Calling upon Yankee ingenuity, he extracted from the site and its environs a veritable booty of artifacts, many of which he covertly shipped out of Mexico, a move that did not sit well with the Mexican government after the fact. The treasure, much of it now ensconced in Harvard University’s Peabody Museum, remains to this day a point of contention between the two countries.
Many of the artifacts were extracted from the dark bottom of a cenote on the archeological site using a homemade dredge and local labor. Going underwater had been Thompson’s idea and he had discussed it with a familiar name in these parts, Pablo Bush Romero, founder of Akumal.
This educational 480-page beach read exposes the reader to the faces and places of century-old Yucatan Peninsula and describes how, then and now, cultures, families, characters and commerce have a natural capacity to negotiate and intertwine in intriguing ways. Read the book, get the fascinating details and learn who maybe owns Chichen Itza now.
The last time we looked, the book is available on Amazon Kindle for $26.99 or $34.99 paperback. (The Pelican Free Press has donated a copy to the Puerto Aventuras Library located at the Colegio.)
PRODUCTION DEADLINES: The Pelican Free Press encourages and welcomes public announcements of events and activities. The deadline for publication during our upcoming weekly schedule beginning in November is noon on Tuesdays. Thank you.
The end – previous edition below