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December 2015, Week 4



Generous response gives tangible

evidence employees are valued

By Staff
The resort community’s generosity toward the 42 Colonos employees who keep the resort’s roads and grounds nicely maintained all year blended smoothly with good-humored Mexican camaraderie at last Friday’s annual employee Christmas party.

There was no doubting the rapport that exists among and between rank and file employees and the Colonos administrators as General Manager Armando Rincon and Operations Director Eduardo Reynoso were joyfully teased as they expressed their gratitude and holiday wishes to the workforce.

Some 90 gifts, most of them purchased with 11,000 pesos (about $650 USD) among actual gifts contributed by resort inhabitants, were neatly displayed in a corner waiting to be distributed via three lotteries shortly after dinner.

Administrative coordinator Carlos Quinones said many of the gifts were selected and purchased by staff with the cash donations, assuring that all donations were well spent on gifts that please.

“We have been having the party for a long time,” Quinones said, but the request for gifts from the cosmopolitan resort community started only three year ago. Since then, the Colonos board, administration and employees have expressed their appreciation for the community’s response.

The event, held in a building near the CFE yard, featured taped music, dinner of assorted foods topped with flan for dessert, assorted beverages and, perhaps most of all, a healthy and optimistic holiday spirit.



Reporting series on assembly issues  begins next week in the Pelican Free Press. Comments to the editor are invited…Trivial Pursuits Sunday, Dec. 27, 4 p.m. at Latitude 20 with Shannon Rachynski. Proceeds go to the needy.  The Dec. 13 trivial game collected  gifts and raised 3,000 pesos with which to buy more gifts for the children of the poblado. The gifts will be distributed on Christmas Eve… Annual road race scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 31. Time is getting short so sign up at the Colonos office. There are 10K and 5K races and shorter jaunts for children. More information later… Group Spanish lessons are returning to Puerto Aventuras this year with Maestra Gloria Contreras who has been teaching informal groups here for quite a few years. Classes will be held Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:30 a.m. for beginners and 12:30 p.m. for advanced and intermediate. Contact her at [email protected] or call cel 984-108-3517 for more information… Check your local restaurants to find those offering Christmas fare and events… CORRECTION: Ron Hurst, who spoke at the annual assembly on traffic issues, was misidentified as Ron Hughes in the Dec. 16 issue. The Pelican regrets the error.


Smallest US state celebrates

big Mexican Yule tradition

By Carol Kozma

Providence (RI) Journal

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Julio Cesar Aragon said he respects the church, but added he wanted “to do something different” to celebrate the birth of Christ.

In church, there are no piñatas filled with sweets for children to break open with a stick. There is no tequila either, he said.“We are losing the traditions,” Aragon said in Spanish.

So Aragon and his wife organized a get-together at his home on Pembroke Avenue Saturday celebrating Las Posadas for one night. The holiday, often held in Mexico, runs for nine days, which represent the nine months the Virgin Mary was pregnant.

About 30 people gathered in the driveway singing Christmas songs before heading into a heated garage. Tables had been set in a horseshoe, and on another table empanadas, tamales and other foods were laid out.

Some continued singing while others sat to eat and drink while children played. For Miriam Berrios, originally of Bolivia, it was a new experience.

“I like it a lot,” she said, adding that in Bolivia, people often celebrate only Christmas Eve and day.

Others who came had their roots in Panama, Portugal, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and other central and south American countries.

But Aragon said the group also respects American traditions. Next to a Nativity scene neighbors had built together, a small Christmas tree with lights shone brightly.


Where is it?…

Like the old time song laments,

‘I didn’t know what time it was’

By Staff
A few weeks ago, this writer’s wristwatch started skipping along the seconds markers two or three at a time, a sure signal it needed a new battery. Having lived many years with journalistic deadlines, not having a working watch makes me antsy. So I first went to the find-all Internet to little avail. It was full of people asking where they could get a watch battery in Playa del Carmen.

Next step was to stop by Centro Maya, then the Chedraui plaza in Playa, then generate perspiration hoofing along touristy 5th Avenue where one can supposedly get almost anything. Stopped by various gold and silver stores, some fancy ones included, but there was no fix to be found.

So I did last what I should have done first. I called Maestra Gloria Contreras, who conducts informal Spanish classes in Paamul and Puerto Aventuras and lives in busy Playa del Carmen. She put me in touch with the area of 30th Avenue and 34th Street’s bike shop area.Walked up and down by a slew of small retail outlets a few times and finally saw a sign that said “Relojeria” – a clock shop.

A female clerk took the watch. cleaned and polished it a bit and tried to remove the old battery, which wouldn’t budge. So she handed it over to the older gentleman sitting at a bench watching time click away through a “loupe,” or watchmaker’s eyeglass, and “poof,” in about five minutes my trusted old Seiko was back on my wrist telling me I was on time for my next appointment.

So if your watch needs a battery and you don’t know to where to go, try Gina on 30th Ave. between 26th and 28th Streets and look on the west side for the “Relojeria” sign on a blue field. Good work at a more than reasonable price.

You’re welcome!

Hats off to Playa Rotary

plan to vet “aid’ groups

By Staff
The Playa del Carmen Rotary Club in cooperation with municipal and state governments plans to conduct a census of charitable organizations in the state that are truly high-minded.

“There have been numerous associations created in the state that are more politically motivated and self-serving than altruistic,” said Fernando Perez Vega, president of Playa Rotary. “We want to list and monitor civic associations that are bona fide human resources serving the needy and not diverging from that task,” he said.

There have long been complaints in Puerto Aventuras, for example, concerning the final destinations of charitable donations to agencies or non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that do not report on how or when or where the donations were expended and who they truly benefited.

The Rotary Club has already listed some 45 civic organizations in Cancun, Puerto Morelos, Cozumel and Solidaridad that will hopefully form a bona-fide public service network.

Perez Vega said the Institute for Social Development awarded 3.5 million pesos to state civic associations in 2014 without any follow-up as to where the resources went.

Briefly Noted…


Sargassum continues to invade area beaches as Playa del Carmen reports removing about 28 tons of it from the city’s beachfronts. The city wonders how much economic damage could arise from losses in tourism caused by the fouling of area beaches during this peak season… In Puerto Aventuras, the placement of barriers in front of the Catalonia Hotel to prevent sargassum from fouling the beach and a lagoon has resulted in kelp washing ashore upstream at the Dreams Hotel next door… Meanwhile, two federal agencies are hiring some 40 workers and providing heavy machinery to keep Playa beaches clear of the kelp during the high season… The immigration office in Playa del Carmen is closed for two weeks, reopening Jan. 6,  a guard at the door said on Monday… A Coppel store in the state of Nayarit was shuttered by state officials after the store manager was photographed by a passing journalist hosing two homeless indigenous people sitting on public land outside the store eating some food. The company has apologized and said it is investigating the mistreatment …

Akumal lost 20 million pesos of business  this past weekend as the result of protest blockades over a locked access gate that was reopened Sunday afternoon following negotiations over beach access, it was estimated. Annoyed tourists were trapped on the Main entrance road to Akumal Bay when more than 100 protesters blocked passage of cars to the beach area in the festering dispute over access and reported $12 charge for beach access in what was until lately a traditional public right, according to protesters… The PA Colonos warned residents last week that people knocking on doors soliciting gifts for Colonos employees were not authorized. Gifts are accepted only at the Colonos office. Residents were asked to call security, 873-5128, 873-5173 or 802-9078 if they are solicited… Health agents  are currently monitoring wild birds in the area for possible bird flu. Meanwhile, dengue has claimed a second life, this one a retired doctor in Carillo Puerto. out of 992 cases this year reported in the state… Right idea, wrong timing –  We have noticed that the lights along the highway are on in the daytime wasting away power. Does anybody know if they are on at night as well?…

Cuba-Mexico tourist competition and perhaps cooperation could emerge soon with the announcement by the US and Cuba last week to begin regular airline flights to and from the island that could deposit 4,000 tourists a day in Cuba at the outset. Currently, only chartered flights are operating between the two countries… Solidaridad’s employment exchange went on the road last week to bring some 250 service industry employment opportunities to the Puerto Aventuras labor force…

A van was hijacked by a gun-wielding trio of men at 2 a.m. last Friday in the Puerto Aventuras poblado. The owner of the Windstar was violently accosted as he emerged from his vehicle near his home. A three-hour police dragnet failed to find the van and thieves who could have hidden in some surrounding farms, police said… Oil exploration contracts for open bidding on some 10 deep water tracts in the Gulf have been completed and they declare that bidders have the skills and experience for the job… Mexico businesses are expressing concern over Mexico’s intent to mimic the United States interest rate increase and what effect it will have on the peso and economy…

Several taxi drivers from the area union were sanctioned for giving the destination a bad image after they stopped and blocked a legitimate van service that was transporting tourists. The taxi drivers, believing the van was a “pirate” operation, demanded to see permit papers, which the van driver refused to give them because they didn’t have the authority to demand them in the first place. The action took place with tourists on board…

Special delivery – Police in Ciudad Juarez near the Texas border were tipped off to an unusual scene – five men bound, gagged and tied to a lamp post with a sign identifying them as members of a drug cartel. Now the police are wondering which Santa sent them this present – a rival cartel, the same cartel or a group of vigilantes… The Q. Roo crime index released last week by the state attorney general shows a domestic violence increase of 34 percent. The most frequent crime of theft, one that has led to the formation of neighborhood watches, showed only slight variation for the last three years. There were three fewer cases of rape – 88 – than the 91 reported in 2014…


Commerce Corner…

Peso Part 2

Mexico besting inflation

as world goes other way

(Last Week: The Peso was said to be keeping inflation at bay despite devaluation. The exception is Christmas week hotel prices that double or triple during Christmas week as demand is high. Hotel prices, likewise, drop considerably during off-season months. The theories continue.)

From Bloomberg and Mexico Star
Theories abound as to what’s behind the shift. Many of them lean toward the ethereal and conceptual: It’s the result of Mexico’s hard-won inflation credibility over the past two decades; or because the country doesn’t target an exchange-rate level, allowing the peso to move freely in both directions; or because the central bank was given its independence from the government.

Others are a bit more tangible: greater competition in the retail industry is making it harder for companies to pass the higher cost of imports onto consumers; the country’s sluggish consumer demand, and weak overall economic expansion, are accentuating that trend. Gross domestic product has grown at an annual clip of less than 3 percent this year, not even half the long-term goal that President Enrique Pena Nieto set when he pushed through legislation to open up the energy and telecom industries.

That last point, of course, would be more of a negative than a positive, a reflection in part of the sluggish growth and almost non-existent inflation plaguing much of the developed world. But if higher inflation has become something that policy makers are trying to foster nowadays in the U.S., Europe and Japan as part of their pro-growth strategies, fighting inflation remains the focus throughout much of emerging markets. Just look at Mexico’s neighbors. Brazil has raised interest rates 16 times in the past 2 1/2 years in a futile bid to shore up the currency and curb an inflation rate that’s topped 10 percent. And in Colombia, where the peso has dropped 30 percent, the central bank has boosted borrowing costs seven times since last year.

Mexico, by contrast, has held its benchmark rate at a record-low 3 percent since last year. Policy makers are quick to highlight the feat. The central bank released a study this month showing Mexico has the lowest pass-through ratio among major Latin American countries. And in an August op-ed piece in Reforma newspaper, central bank Governor Agustin Carstens declared that the peso-inflation link is, by and large, dead. (Weeks later, the peso touched a record low of 17.3 per dollar, the result in part of declining international prices for the country’s oil exports.)

While this marks a milestone for Mexico, “it’s not the moment also to do a victory lap,” said a Goldman economist. If the expansion is more robust the next time the currency sinks, inflation could react differently, he warned. Luis Jorge Turati has had an up-close view of the peso’s transformation over the years.

His family has owned eyeglass shops in Mexico City for almost 100 years. Back in the 1980s and ’90s, Turati remembers raising prices on the frames he imported following devaluations. Now, he says, shoppers will turn elsewhere if he lifts prices. “Basically we’re absorbing it,” he says, after reeling off a litany of possible factors driving consumers’ new behavior. One of his explanations went roughly like this: After years of living in a low inflation environment, Mexicans can more easily spot price increases and, as a result, are more likely to balk at forking over the extra cash.

That’s actually something of a classic textbook argument. And it’s an idea that the central bank touched on too in this month’s inflation study. Add it to the list of theories dedicated to the end of pass-through in Mexico.

US and Mexico sign new

air transport agreement

Secretaries of State Kerry of the US and Foxx of Mexico have jointly released the following general statement concerning a new air transport agreement between the two countries.

“We welcome the signing this morning of a new air transport agreement between the United States and Mexico. This landmark agreement with one of our largest aviation partners will significantly increase future trade and travel between the United States and Mexico. The signing of this important agreement is the result of more than two years of negotiations led by the Department of State with the Department of Transportation and the Department of Commerce.

The new agreement will benefit U.S. and Mexican airlines, travelers, businesses, airports and localities by allowing increased market access for passenger and cargo airlines to fly between any city in Mexico and any city in the United States. Cargo carriers will now have expanded opportunities to provide service to new destinations that were not available under the current, more restrictive agreement.

This new air transport agreement further elevates and strengthens the dynamic commercial and economic relationship between the United States and Mexico and advances our goal of shared prosperity. By allowing air carriers to better meet increasing demand in both countries, the agreement will help drive economic growth in sectors beyond aviation, including tourism and manufacturing.

Following internal ratification procedures in Mexico, both governments will be in a position to bring the new agreement into force.”


Nature Watch:…

Recognizing a rip tide

can help save lives




By Staff:

The Pelican Free Press issues this annual reminder to swimmers as a precaution in observing red flags in rough surf and recognizing the formation of rip currents to help prevent accidental death.


For the uninitiated, a rip current, or simply “rip” is a potent water channel that flows from the shore to the sea through a surf line, sometimes flowing as fast as 8 feet per second. They potentially occur at any beach with breaking waves in the world’s oceans, seas and even large lakes. A rip is formed when wind and waves drive water toward the shore, forcing the water sideways. When wind and waves drive water toward the shore, that water is often forced sideways by the oncoming waves and it streams along the beach in search of an exit.


This results in the rip. It is more often than not narrow and found in trenches between sandbars, under piers or running along jetties.

There is a misguided view that undertow or rips pull victims under water when in fact the current is stronger at the water’s surface, which tends to dampen incoming waves, creating an illusion the water is calm. Some say this may deceive some swimmers and lure them into the swift-moving channel in some cases causing death following exhaustion while fighting the current.

Typically, the strongest part of a rip current is the direct line between the water’s edge and the sandbar opening, but the current will also pull in water from either side of the basin. In this way, a rip current might pull you sideways, parallel to the beach, before it pulls you outward, away from the beach.

Once the receding wave makes its way through the sandbar opening and meets up with water at its own level, its pressure immediately drops. Overall, the water flow pattern has a mushroom shape.

Depending on its severity, you may be able to see a rip current from the beach. Strong rip currents disrupt incoming waves and stir up sand from the ocean floor. When you’re at the beach, keep an eye out for narrow, muddy streaks in the ocean where there aren’t any waves breaking.
If you get caught up in a rip current, it’s crucial that you keep your wits about you. Your first instinct may be to swim against the current, back to shallow waters. In most cases, even if you’re a strong swimmer, this will only wear you out. The current is too strong to fight head-on.

Instead, swim sideways, parallel to the beach. This will get you out of the narrow outward current, so you can swim back in with the waves helping you along. If it’s too hard to swim sideways while you’re being dragged through the water, just wait until the current carries you past the sandbar. The water will be much calmer there, and you can get clear of the rip current before heading back in.

People drown when they thrash about in the water or expend all of their energy swimming. To survive a rip current, or any crisis in the water, you have to keep calm, and you have to conserve your energy. If you don’t think you can swim all the way back to the beach, get past the rip current and tread water. Call for help, signal to people on the beach and, if all else fails, wait for the waves to carry you in.
If you’re on the beach and see somebody else caught in a rip current, call for help from a lifeguard or the police. Don’t immediately dive in and swim out to the person. It’s too risky to swim out there yourself unless you have a raft, boogie board or life preserver with you.
People who are not excellent and strong swimmers must exercise sensible caution when entering water with breaking surf and noticeable undertow, particularly near sandbars, reefs and jetties. A rip current could be lurking nearby. Common sense dictates that people not swim or snorkel alone or venture out in deep water or heavy surf without a life preserver and/or friends nearby.


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

The end

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