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Monthly Archives: December 2016

December 21, 2016

The Pelican adds its voice to Charlie Brown’s Choir (above) for joy to the world and to our friends, readers, contributors, local officials  and sponsors…

In the poblado…

The greatest gift of all
is education: Priceless!

Jafeth hangs onto a stencil, one of the items he chose to buy with his learning points. (Staff Photo)

By Staff
Shortly after the colonists landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620, they learned the first nation Wampanoag tribe used clam shells for currency. Last week, 396 years later in the Puerto Aventuras poblado, some 75 students transformed their craniums into cash.

Carolina ponders a purchase at one of the five gift tables…

The cash was excitedly exchanged at a Christmas shopping party offering choices of all-new soccer balls, T-shirts, sparkling tiaras,  ribbons, flip-flops, books, pens, barrettes, games, some toy items and other gifts as teacher Claudia Torres’ English language classroom hummed with Christmas delight.

But it took a 7-year old who was spending his cash – which, in reality, is points earned for good class work and attendance – to underscore the best gift of all. Asked why he surrendered play time after public school hours to volunteer to learn the English language, he replied confidently, “To get a good job.”

Parental influence

It is obvious when talking to the children that their parents exercise considerable influence over how to spend their time, in this case, studying English as a step to better employment opportunities in the future.

And while the classes are sponsored and funded by the Friends of Puerto Aventuras, FOPA,which also funds scholarships for higher education to older deserving students, the class charges parents a one-time fee of $4 USD (81 pesos) so that they feel invested in the program and to better assure children will continue their participation.

In a similar way and for similar reasons, Teacher Torres turns the classroom into a Christmas mini-mart where the children can begin to grasp the effect of working for something you want, and then getting it.

One 7-year-old boy stood for long time immobilized over a game on a table until he was asked what he wanted to buy. With a sad face, he held up his “cash” of 247 points while the game cost 250 points.

All hope was lost until a volunteer called the teacher for a conference with the boy. A bargain was reached and, with smiling face, he bought the toy at a 3-point discount.

Years of experience

Teacher Claudia Torres, right, explains how the shopping process will proceed to one of seven groups of students participating.

Mrs. Torres joined FOPA six years ago after years of teaching in various capacities, including several years with the government sponsored “Teleseconderia” program in the poblado that brought teachers into the home via television. “The government thought it was a way to reduce costs,” Mrs. Torres said.

She also teaches one class daily for Transformar Educando Civic Association, which provides basic education, work skills and counseling to the neediest population of new arrivals in the poblado community. Both organizations are housed in the poblado community building.

The party began with slices of sweet bread baked by the parents of one of the students and ended with the distribution, after gift selections, of a new pencil and a sweet to each student. It should be noted that several volunteers from the resort shopped for and contributed many of the gift items.

For more information on FOPA and how to donate, please click on the FOPA logo in the sponsor column at left. The website was updated and is maintained gratis by Social Sirens.

Holiday menu…

The Taverna Restaurant in Akumal will feature special menu choices of lobster, roast suckling pork, beef tenderloin or grilled grouper on its holidays menu. It will be serving from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Dec. 24 and 31 and Jan. 1, and from noon to 10 p.m. Christmas day. DJ Albert will entertain on New Year’s Eve. Trivial pursuits will be played at Latitude 20 Restaurant at 4 p.m. Monday, Dec. 26 and Bingo at 3:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 2. Proceeds help fund assistance to the children in the poblado through the Transformar Educando Civic Association… The annual road race is scheduled for January 22. Register at the Colonos office. The event is being sponsored by Dolphin Discovery…

The Round-Up…

Artist Isabel Schober and son Rhett place the first ball on the family tree

Artist Isabel Schober exhibited more of her Christmas spirit than her art last Saturday evening by inviting friends and family to partake in the decorating of her holiday tree. It graces her creatively dazzling villa where the artist’s sensibilities live in every crevice with delicate mosaic works living compatibly with her colorfully bold paintings. The villa is unexpectedly tucked in the jungle, about a hundred yards off Highway 307 in Akumal. One could say everyone had a ball – a ball to hang on a Christmas tree in just the right place to display one’s spatial aptitude.

There was a fine choice of libation – great lemonade for the faint of heart too – complemented by tasty hors d’oeuvres to stoke the bonhomie of pre-dinner banter and repartee occurring simultaneously from the unique Schober-designed mosaic tables on the expansive veranda. The merry hum and rhythm of people enjoying people filled the air.

Ms. Schober’s villa, called Farsidetara, is encased in a gated expanse along with several delightful, detached apartments, one of which containing all the comforts of home, is available, she said.

Her son, Rhett, a top fly fisherman, guide and owner of Akumal Villas vacation rental agency (see the logo in the sponsor column for more information) joined his mother to place the first ball on the tree, followed by a fading sun and a call to a delightful dinner…

The Puerto Aventuras main gate project may be full steam ahead after its funding approval at the annual assembly last week but it hasn’t stopped concerned resident Angelo Mouzouropoulos from sending his views to authorities. He suggests the safety problem is sufficiently complex as to require hiring road safety specialists for advice — or risk liability claims in cases of accidents for non-compliance with all regulations….

As if to prove the point there was a fender-bender at the main gate on Saturday afternoon involving two cars trying to pass through the resident exit gate at the same time, evidently. The left front end of a white SUV collided with the rear quarter panel of a sedan for no apparent reason, slowing traffic out the gate for a while. Ironically, one of the guards had to get into the roadway to direct the traffic, a plan advanced at the Dec. 10 Assembly…only do it before an accident occurs…

A good turnout was reported for the Puerto Aventuras election last Sunday of a delegate from the poblado to the municipal government. Antonio Hernandez came in first of five candidates to win the seat.

His election is seen as a defeat for Mayor Cristina Torres who sponsored another candidate, and as a response to the mayor’s reluctance to elevate the community of about 20,000 to a mayoralty and given autonomy.  Hernandez, who works in the PA resort’s marine industry, replaces Olivia Zamudio Escobar. What effect, if any, the election will have on the mayoralty issue supposedly in progress is not known…

Danger, gloom in Tulum  –  Puerto Aventuras aficionados of Tulum’s expansive beaches, cenotes and good restaurants might want to read a comprehensive report in the Dec. 1 issue of Newsweek Magazine about the recent and not-so-recent forced land evictions, alleged unhealthy infrastructure, polluted cenotes, political corruption and murder that has led the PRI Party to sanction a recent governor facing what a PRI national commission said are serious land-grab charges against him…

New Akumal Rule to be enforced by the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas will limit the swimming with turtles activity to six swimmers per guide. In addition, the groups will not be allowed to wear swim fins and must remain 10 meters apart…

It is being reported that there is something different this year about the usual holiday visits of Mexican nationals from the US: Many are said to be bringing their belongings with them because they aren’t going back to the US after the holidays for fear of being ground up by the Trump deportation machine. If it’s any consolation, some US snowbirds also dread US life after January 20….

Authorities are investigating suspected SAT tax evasion by several companies operating hotels in Cancun. Miami partners are suspected of diverting receipts to the US to avoid the Mexican tax…

Death march resumes – The warring days of drug cartels are percolating again. The New York Times carried a story on Mexico’s national death count – 17,063 in the last 10 months – on page one. The figure is the highest monthly sum since 2012, already more than all of last year and more widespread in different states… Meanwhile, a cold-blooded murder occurred in Playa del Carmen when a gunman brazenly walked up to a car and shot and killed the driver point blank and injured a passenger. Police believe it may have been a gang-related killing and have detained two suspects…

Did you know our neighbor state of Yucatan is the nation’s leading consumer of turkey at 6 percent per capita? It is also estimated this year that the Yucatan Peninsula population will consume 950,000 turkeys, much of it on holidays…

State health officials have reported more cases of Zika than Dengue this year, noting there were 347 cases of Zika to 256 cases of Dengue. Both are mosquito borne and transmitted…

ATM thefts are on the rise along 5th and 10th Avenues in Playa del Carmen, report businesses there. They say thieves have a new way of blocking the cash from exiting the machines using tinfoil or cardboard. There is an average of 15 thefts reported daily, the businessmen say, tainting the destination’s tourist image….

The Mail Bag….

Locusts overstayed visit
Dear Editor:
The locusts were swarming for a least a month, not a week, and continued to be a problem for a few weeks after that, although not in the “swarming numbers” that they were in the first four weeks. Besides eating the vegetation, another issue was the poop they leave everywhere. We still have them flying around here at Chac.

Signed/ Ron Hurst

Health Watch….
Taking the defibrillator issue
to the next life-saving level

By Staff

Electrode placement on a defibrillator

They say it is very easy to use a defibrillator to save a person’s life. But let’s be real. If you have never seen one up close, never touched it, never read about it, never looked at the gauges, have no idea what it does or what goes exactly where, then using it at the height of a tense medical crisis might not be so natural for the average person .

Simply put, a defibrillator applies electric shock to a person suffering from irregular heart rhythm. The shock returns much of the heart muscle’s normal charge and regularity.

The subject surfaced from the floor of the annual Assembly last week when a speaker re-called an error in protocols for allowing the well-intentioned public to use the defibrillator entrusted to the Security personnel at the main gate.

When a workman in Centro was electrocuted last October, nearby resident Christi Crawford called the gate to request the defibrillator to help. It was denied when she answered the duty guard that she had never operated one. It was later learned the victim had died instantly.

In a related incident, two of the resort’s philanthropic residents were also denied use when they wanted to inspect the equipment, which was donated by one of their ilk. The Colonos has admitted an error by the guards and reinforced its policy on public use. But is that enough in view of these incidents?

We are told one condo complex purchased its own and familiarized some of its residents with the equipment. A commendable move. Perhaps the Colonos/Security could offer similar self-help sessions now and then at the meeting room for residents who would not mind spending 15 or 30 minutes of their time to maybe someday save a life?

After all these years the Boy Scout motto still makes sense: “Be prepared!”

NOTE: We are taking a Christmas break.The next issue of Pelican Free Press will be on Jan. 4, 2017

PRODUCTION DEADLINES: The Pelican Free Press encourages and welcomes public announcements of events and activities. The deadline for publication during our weekly high-season schedule is 10 a.m. on Tuesdays. Thank you. Disclaimer: The Pelican Free Press is not responsible for content and/or claims made on sponsor web sites or social media links.

The end: Previous edition below

December 14, 2016

Assembly OK’s park proposal,
gate project, 5 percent fee hike

CASTING SHADOWS on a discussion of safety issues in the main gate road design are, from left, Colonos board member Daniele Gracis, developer Roman Rivera Torres, Sharon Baigle and real estate agent Sally Evans. (Staff Photo)

By Staff
Colonos voters approved a 5 percent increase in the 2017 maintenance fee at the annual Assembly held Saturday in the Dreams Hotel. The increase includes $12,000 USD each in dedicated funding for the Red Cross clinic and ambulance and for the Transformar Educando Civic Association, a teaching, social services and health counseling provider for the neediest poblado families of Puerto Aventuras, Akumal and Chemuyil.

Also approved following lively debate was a special assessment of roughly $205,840 USD to complete the second and last phase of the main gate project. Work could start in April-May when the special assessments are paid in the first two quarters. The plan adds two more entrance gates for residents, a switch gate in or out to accommodate peak demand hours, new pedestrian access, increase Security office space, improve camera technology and provide a secure and staffed second-level monitoring workspace.

Residents Sally Evans and Sharon Baigle of Bahia Akumal spoke persistently from the floor advocating safety design changes that would ease residents’ access to their road. They explained in detail their transit difficulties and the potential for an accident under current circumstances. They suggested design modifications while another speaker championed use of a traffic cop as being less expensive. Colonos board chairman Jorge Kaufer said the suggestions were under serious consideration.

Resident Angelo Mouzouropoulos suggested what he saw as a better way to present financials for a project such as this to improve transparency.

The golf-to-park transition    

There was considerable discussion over developer Roman Rivera Torres’ proposal to forgo the second nine holes of the golf course in favor of a community park. Several property owners in the park area, including Eduardo Said, expressed disappointment over what they said was the expectation their property would someday front a golf course and increase their property values.

GETTING the details are residents and voters at the annual Colonos general assembly held last Saturday in the Dreams Hotel. (Staff Photo)

But even they were not so much troubled by the park idea as they were in believing the timeline for its development after waiting since 2009 for the second nine holes and not getting them. They tied their approval to having the park developed in a reasonable amount of time.

Several speakers said they could support a park but not the addition of 83 unexpected house lots along its periphery, which the developer said are needed to fund park development and provide assets for its maintenance. Several speakers said they worry about excessive growth and the traffic, parking, infrastructure and other potential problems that usually accompany growth.

Gate use up, golfing down

In presenting the park and gate plans, Rivera Torres said 2,500 vehicles use the gates on an average day, slowing the process at peak hours. The improvements should ameliorate that process. On the golf issue, less than 3 percent of residents use the existing nine holes, giving the operation a monthly deficit. He said more people use the existing course for walking dogs, jogging, and other uses more befitting to a community park that, by its nature, is less costly to maintain and gets more use by more residents.

It was also noted by the Colonos board that approval of the park plan was being sought as a courtesy and an effort to involve the community in its development. The Fideicomiso (Trust) would continue to own the land. Once completed by the developer, the park would be maintained by the Colonos for the exclusive use of residents. It would be free of commercial activity, the board said.

Legality questioned

A question from the floor asked if the change of use was legal and in keeping with the master plan. The developer said it was since the master plan describes the golf course areas as green space, rather than specific use.

The public has already been engaged in proposing park uses, suggesting a jogging/bicycle track, picnic area, pet park, children’s gym, athletic field for use by the Colegio and public, a community garden for planting vegetables, and other uses that will be under discussion. Colonos Chairman Kaufer said development could begin shortly after the house lots are approved, which he said could take about a year. Proceeds from the lot sales, up to $3 million USD, will fund park development paid by the Fideicomiso. (For more details on the above issues, scroll down to previous edition.)

Bikers register concerns

Several residents articulated concerns with the green-lined bicycle path along the community’s roads that were painted for use by children going to school and residents at large. One speaker said the two-way lane is too narrow, forcing a biker to swerve into the traffic lane when confronting another biker going in the opposite direction. Speakers on this issue also requested signage improvements.

Too narrow, but restricted by available space?

In that vein, the former owner of a Centro business last week was struck by a car while bicycling across the pedestrian walk near the confluence of Boulevard Puerto Aventuras and  Bahias Xcacel and Yanten. Minor injuries and bicycle damage were reported to Security. The driver of the rented car was  a guest in a local hotel, Security said.

Another issue resurfaced concerning zoning and a two-unit residence in a one-family zone, which earlier prompted a speaker from the floor to comment that with 83 new house lots coming with the park, enforcement of zoning rules will be paramount to avoid overpopulation.

Attendance was average with most seats occupied. The Colonos board and vigilance committee and staff were applauded for their reports and handling of the association treasury. The meeting lasted about four hours and ended as the cookie tin was found to be empty.

Tax discounts still available

The property tax discount of 25 percent is still available in the Colonos meeting room the rest of this week, ending Dec. 16. Make payment with your bill or last year’s receipt between 9:30 and 4:30…The Colonos employee Christmas party will be held Dec. 16. Bring gifts to the Colonos office until the morning of Dec. 16 if you haven’t already done so… Trivial pursuits will be played at Latitude 20 Restaurant at 4 p.m. Sunday. Proceeds help fund assistance to the children in the poblado… The annual road race is scheduled for January 22. Register at the Colonos office. The event is being sponsored again by Dolphin Discovery…

Commerce Corner
John Klug: The answer-man
to medical evacuation questions

Where do I go? What do I do? I‘m so nervous! Dear God! Who will help me? Who do I call?

John Klug

Call John Klug at 984-169-2600. He is right here in Puerto Aventuras and says he is ready to answer those questions before you are confronted with the critical need for an immediate medical evacuation of a family member to a hospital in the US or Canada for specialty life-saving care.

Mr. Klug is the Riviera Maya’s senior consultant for Travel MedEvac, a membership organization that has the specially equipped and configured MedEvac jet planes always at the ready with experienced pilots and staff to transport an emergency patient and a family member to a destination hospital without causing added distress.

Travel MedEvac flights are efficient, less stressful “and for as little as $250 a year per person (depending on age and time spent in Mexico) you can be protected against upwards of $50,000 in costs for an ordinary medical evacuation flight,” Klug said.

Leaving the details to the experts.

Travel MedEvac membership handles all the necessary steps such as ground ambulance, navigating the legal international aspects of emergency travel and many more adjunct services that allow family members to concentrate on supporting the patient.

Klug, who is assisted by his wife, Bernice, was a publishing executive in Denver, Colorado, for many years before purchasing property in Puerto Aventuras and making it their second home. Bernice worked at the Children’s Hospital of Denver for 30 years as a nurse practitioner in oncology.

Their affiliation with Travel MedEvac membership began while the semi-retired couple investigated how they would protect themselves in a medical emergency while traveling or living in Puerto Aventuras. “Far and away, Travel MedEvac membership offered us the most practical and comprehensive service we could find and an array of affordable membership prices,” Klug said. “I was so impressed I offered to represent them in the Riviera Maya.”

Klug has been involved during his business life with the International Rotary and is now a member of the Seaside Rotary in Playa del Carmen, which is involved in funding a program that employs law firms to obtain birth certificates for children of families arriving from inland villages `in order for the children to attend school. (The government does not educate children lacking a birth certificate.)

Klug and several other residents of Puerto Aventuras also worked quietly through Rotary to acquire thousands of dollars in medical equipment for the new Red Cross station in Playa del Carmen and re-establishing the Red Cross clinic and ambulance service in the Puerto Aventuras poblado that also services resort residents.

“Families living or visiting here who might have health concerns or fears that could someday require medical evacuation, are invited to investigate the comprehensive services provided by a Travel MedEvac membership plan and call me with questions they may have.” Klug said. “I’m here to help.”  (Readers can click on the Travel MedEvac logo in the sponsor column to reach the web site and pertinent facts.)

Puerto Aventuras included
in huge new biosphere area

By Staff
The Mexican government last week announced the creation of the nation’s largest biosphere reserve of 5.7 million hectares, and Puerto Aventuras is included.

The Mexican Caribbean Biosphere Reserve, on and offshore, includes the Quintana Roo coast including Isla Mujeres, Benita Juarez (Cancun), Puerto Morelos, Solidaridad (that’s us), Cozumel, Tulum, Bacalar and Orthon P. Blanco.

The announcement came last Monday from Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto during the opening of the global biodiversity summit in Cancun.  Nearly 1,900 species of flora and fauna, 500 species of fish and 86 species of coral are in the biosphere’s parameters.

The state’s Caribbean waters and coast contain various habitats and ecosystems. Inland are different types of rain forests, while he shoreline is host to dunes, lagoons, flood plains and mangrove swamps. Seagrass meadows and coral reef dominate the state’s sea waters.

The National Protected Areas Commission (Conamp) will administer preservation efforts that will be enforced by the Navy. The attempt will be to protect what the Environmental Secretariat (Semarnat) lists as damage from the intense traffic of cruise and cargo ships, inexpert reef divers, fuel spills and illegal settlements ashore threatening the ecosystems.

The Round-Up…

Underscoring the need for educational improvement as noted at the Colonos Assembly last week by Transformar Educando, were results of international testing by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development showing Mexican students near the bottom, scoring 416 against the average of 492 in the OECD’s member countries…

Election of delegates in the poblado is scheduled for Dec. 18. Press reports note that dissatisfaction with the lack of services to the community there has created much interest in changing representation…

The Navy and environment authorities stopped three companies from illegally doing business in Akumal. The companies were found to be allowing too many people into the water to swim with turtles, contributing to damage of corals and the turtles…

A big-truck rollover on  Highway 307 recently that stalled traffic for up to four hours prompted renewed talk about constructing alternative routes to the airport to avoid gridlock in such emergencies. Four hour delays translate into a lot of missed flights…

A teen-age girl has given birth to triplet boys at Playa del Carmen’s general hospital, where mother and newborns remained under observation last week. The single mother, 18, lives in Cozumel…

State authorities have filed charges against members of various boards, including some in Playa del Carmen. They say the officials were complicit in the questionable property dispossessions that occurred last year in Tulum…

Increased thefts from cars in Playa del Carmen’s mall parking lots has prompted a reminder from authorities regarding laws requiring liability insurance to cover losses and damages not only from theft but poor maintenance of the lots that could cause accidents. In the first months of 2016, there were some 200 reported incidents of theft from parked cars, officials said…

Nature Watch…
Snowbirds missed the chance
to see locust swarm in action

THEY NEARLY ATE IT ALL IN THE FALL. (Staff Photo)

By Staff
We were disappointed when we returned to our condo here in late October. Ours is a second-level  unit and we had grown fond of the two flourishing palm trees that gave us the softly swaying beauty of fronds we could almost reach from our balcony. They added to our privacy and our supply of afternoon shade.

We noted on arrival the lower fronds had been surgically removed with machetes by maintenance staff despite our plea to spare them in the absence of a pressing reason. Evidently there was one.

We were told by condo management that swarms of locusts had hitched a ride into the Yucatan on the outer winds of Hurricane Matthew and feasted in a frenzy of gluttony upon the local flora that, to our chagrin, included our palms, leaving the lower fronds in a limp, moth-eaten condition .

Here’s looking at chew. (Staff Photo)

We wouldn’t have mentioned this were it not for a sluggish hanger-on we encountered on our staircase recently.  It was hanging over the edge of a step looking down at the hard tile some six feet below as though it were contemplating suicide.

By itself there, appearing to be in a serious funk, it seemed inconceivable it could do the damage that was escribed to us by condo management…were it not for their size and numbers. This fellow was no ordinary northern Yankee grasshopper. He (or she) was a good 4-inch plus bruiser that apparently had been left behind by his army, perhaps as a rear-guard.

We are told the locusts could have come from northern Africa – desert locusts – riding the fringe winds of a hurricane. The hordes are known to work up an appetite crossing the Atlantic at the speed of the winds at about 2000 meters above the water. It has been reported that swarms crossed from Africa to the Caribbean that way in 10 days during a 1987 plague.

One swarm contains  as many as 50 to 100 billion locusts weighing approximately 100 to 200,000 tons.

Some residents here reported their windows were covered with them during the roughly one week they were here feasting on Puerto Aventuras cuisine. Some say they could have been Central American locusts, about which we know nothing.

We don’t know what happened to the leftover locust on our staircase. But we  see the damage.

PRODUCTION DEADLINES: The Pelican Free Press encourages and welcomes public announcements of events and activities. The deadline for publication during our weekly high-season schedule is 10 a.m. on Tuesdays. Thank you. Disclaimer:  Not responsible for content and/or claims made on sponsor web sites or social media links.

The end…Previous edition below

 

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