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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…

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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 tulumcruzroja@hotmail.com.

Background

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.

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