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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.

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