February 2016; Week 4
When necessity trumps aesthetics …
Exclusive golf cart, bike parking
proposed to relieve Centro snarl
Residents may be complaining about the high-season traffic jam in Centro Comercial – the heart of Puerto Aventuras that pumps economic activity – but the Colonos administration and business community are doing what they can about it given the scarcity of unoccupied land.
The Colonos proposed and the Centro HOA Assembly approved a plan to design and implement a golf cart and bicycle parking lot on the relatively long and wide veranda outside of the CEDAM museum where the archaic cannon is located.
By creating a special parking lot for those two modes of transportation, said Colonos GM Armando Rincon, who proposed the plan at the HOA assembly, the hope is that it will free up automobile parking spots along congested Punta Celis and the main parking lot there.
The proposal was approved with 33 votes for and 25 against and work has already begun on the design phase that will determine the site and type of two access ramps from the street and the maximum number of spaces for carts and bicycles/scooters that can be achieved.
Rincon said the idea did attract some resistance at the assembly where some voters thought the Colonos was angling for its own benefit. Rincon said he explained the project will benefit the Centro businesses that he described as “the heart of Puerto Aventuras.”
Creating new spaces for golf carts will open up more spaces along Punta Celis and in the parking lots that carts now use and add to the ease of commerce when consumers readily find places to park.
The use of Centro common ground for beneficial reasons is not new. Several years ago, former resident John Schwandke and resident Dorothy Poritz approached produce vendors in Akumal to see if they would be interested in locating in Puerto Aventuras.
Schwandke at the time was a Centro HOA board member and arranged for use of common property near the post office twice a week where the produce stand has become a popular consumer attraction and source of added income to the HOA.
The parking design will necessarily use up some of the aesthetic space but, Rincon said, an ample walkway will be maintained as well. There was no immediate timeline for completion of the project until the design phase is adopted.
On another front, the Colonos has been painting a “greenway” for bicycles to travel along busy streets and intersections and will be adding black on white signs painted on the street to show the green line is a bicycle safety route.
Other traffic issues, as described in today’s Mail Bag (See below), require the public’s cooperation and willingness to live by traffic rules, since local Security is not empowered to issue fines for breaches of regulations.
Human nature defies attempts
to end highway-crossing deaths
When an infant was killed and the mother critically injured while trying to cross 307 here last year just outside the main gate, a delegate from the Poblado appealed to the municipal government to place a fence on the highway median strip to force use of the existing pedestrian bridge.
The delegate was told the highway is not controlled by the municipality, but by the federal government. A subsequent appeal to that branch resulted in a negative reply. Why? Because looking for short-cuts is part of human nature, often regardless of the risk.
Colonos GM Armando Rincon points to Puerto Morelos, near Cancun, where a lengthy fence was installed on the 307 median for the same reason. “Look at it today and you’ll see whole sections missing where people took it out to keep their short-cuts.” No wonder then that the feds consider median fences as bad investments.
Would removing the pedestrian bridge and extending the local overpass to that area be the key to safety? Probably not. Traffic fatalities are rampant under and across the Playa del Carmen highway overpass.
Drivers agree it is unnerving to see people preparing to beat speeding cars in their dash across the highway to a waiting colectivo. Historically, residents of the Poblado here had to conduct protests and blockade The 307 by the resort’s main gate some six or seven years ago to finally get the government to build the overpass and end fatal accidents at that busy crossing area.
Is the answer more topes, a tunnel, a traffic light, awareness education or eliminating colectivo stops on one side of the highway? Or is it a problem without a ready solution other than leaving individuals responsible for their own risk-taking and safety? If so, it is probably why there was another fatality in that location last week.
Colonos adds Security phone
for English speaking residents
Responding to a request from the floor of the Dec. 20 assembly, the Colonos last week inaugurated a Security Office telephone number for English speaking residents and visitors wishing to register a complaint or call for help.
The number is 984-214-7589. (Post it on your refrigerator)
For the time being, the number will be in use daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. until arrangements are completed for 24-hour service. Other emergency health numbers remain in use, including the number 984-114-9713 for the house-call doctor servicing Puerto Aventuras, Paamul and Akumal.
The Colonos also reminds residents of the emergency ambulance services available: The numbers:
Red Cross ambulance: 065; Puerto Aventuras Security 984-873-5173 and (English) 984-214-7589. Tell them what your emergency is, and whether you want the Red Cross ambulance or a private ambulance.
If a private ambulance, they will send the one which is closest. Ambulance at the Barceló: 044-984-876-2250; Ambulance at the Hard Rock: 044-998-214-4132. The Red Cross ambulance is without cost (although it would appreciate a donation based on your ability to pay), and will take you to the hospital of your choice. The private ambulances will bill you for the service and both will take you to Hospiten in Playa del Carmen, where most of the staff speaks English.
Rock a buy, maybe, on the tree top
Guard action at Phase 4 gate
confuses issue of access, use
An apparent disconnect between Phase 4 developer Roman Rivera Torres and the guards employed by his security chief is disillusioning some visitors who walk a long way to get to the caleta and are turned away at the Phase 4 gate by guards who apparently have difficulty distinguishing between a “campout” and a “picnic.”
Pierre and Diane Munger of Quebec, Canada, who are in their 60s, said they have a 3-month rental for their second year here, but when they walked from the Catalonia area to spend several hours relaxing at the caleta, they were turned away at the gate by a young guard, they said, because they were carrying beach chairs and small backpacks containing some snacks and towels.
“We just wanted to spend a few hours enjoying the peace of the caleta with our two friends, swim a little bit then enjoy a snack,” the Mungers said. “It made us feel like we are not wanted here.” Her husband, Pierre, quipped with a heavy Canadian accent, “Maybe it’s because we are French?”
Then just a few days later, the same quartet ventured to the gate again, this time without chairs, and were admitted.
They said they had been told by the guard that they couldn’t swim in the caleta anyway or remain for more than an hour, two statements that do not reflect the instructions issued earlier by Rivera Torres. To begin, Phase 4 remains private property until such time that it is turned over to the Colonos for road maintenance, hence rendering the roads as public ways for community residents but “not to the outside public in general.”
Rivera Torres said this week “the human factor” is a problem. “I write instructions and every time I go by the gate I stop, ask and comment in trying to establish the right way, but as you say, there is a thin line between a picnic with equipment and camping and is open to misinterpretation. I will keep working on it,” he said.
There has been a palpable influx of vacationers and winter renters from the Montreal area this year that has doubtless contributed to the profitable season for Centro businesses. Asked why they thought so many Quebecois are coming to Mexico, the Mungers said “word of mouth” and the favorable exchange rate. “Canadians are not going to Florida. It is too expensive,” they said. “Many are coming here.” The Canadian dollar is yielding 13.23 pesos (about 12 here)compared to paying out just 1.38 Canadian for an American dollar.
There have been other complaints about some guards at Phase 4 who understand the written instructions differently. But in one case, a guard at the caleta proper was immediately terminated after the developer heard reports the guard was making improper statements or otherwise annoying caleta visitors.
The Mungers say they are starting to “feel wanted” again but suggest bi-lingual rules should be posted on a sign outside the Phase 4 gate.
Auction to help save animals
Restaurant Latitude 20 is hosting a charity raffle/auction and everyone is welcome to join the fun from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday (Feb. 26.) Admission at the entrance is 100 pesos with all proceeds going to help “Save Lives, One Puppy at a Time”, which has a local foster-based program dedicated to rescuing sick, abandoned and unwanted puppies. There will be a raffle of 30 donated items and a live auction by a local ex-pat auctioneer of an original painting by local artist Peter Terrin, whose studio is located above the Hoo-Haa Café in Centro. The Exiliados Band will be playing Latin music for dancing pleasure.
Bird walk Thursday, Feb. 25, from 10 to noon. Join local amateur birders Ann Matheson and Gayle Sandholm on a leisurely bird walk around Puerto Aventuras. Wear comfortable shoes, bring water and binoculars if you have. Meet at the tennis courts near the Golf Course.
The Paamul annual charity auction will be held at the Paamul restaurant on Saturday, Feb. 27. It is the main fund-raising event for the Paamul Service to Others Committee. The silent auction is from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the live auction at 7 p.m. Make reservations for a table inside the restaurant to enjoy dinner and a 2 for1 (local alcoholic beverages) happy hour from 6 to 7 p.m. All menu items will be available. Restaurant reservations can be made by calling 984-134-2324 or 984-130-9670.
Trivial pursuits Sunday, March 6 at 4 p.m. at Latitude 20 with Shannon Rachynski. Proceeds go to the needy. Group Spanish lessons have returned to Puerto Aventuras this year with Maestra Gloria Contreras who has been teaching informal groups here for quite a few years. Classes are held Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:30 a.m. for beginners and 12:30 p.m. for advanced and intermediate. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call cel 984-108-3517 for more information…
Chefs, professional or amateur,
sought for international food fest
There are two ways to participate:
From the Colonos:
1) A private citizen cooks his recipe just to introduce his country, with no commercial intent. In this case, the Association of Colonos will refund the food cost
(but we need the receipts) up to a max of $2,000 pesos. Obviously the Association of Colonos provides also the installation: tables, chairs, cups, dishes for main course or soup, napkins, etc.
2) As commercial business (restaurant, hotel, foods dealer). The company makes its own publicity, in any way they want, but we need it to identify with one country: Chinese restaurant, Argentinean parrilla, French cheese import, etc. The Association of Colonos provides the installation: tables, chairs, cups, main course or soup dishes, napkins, etc., but not the food. This is the cost of publicity.
We need to know ASAP who wants to participate, name of the country and the dish that will be prepared.Invite your neighbors and friends from other countries to participate.We expect around 600 people at the event.Drinks are sold separately.
More info from Carlos Quiñones at email@example.com or tel. 984-873-5116.”
The idea it’s very simple: One country = one dish. It’s a way to know each other and to know the traditions of each country through their food.It’s not “high level cuisine”, but the traditional food, what we eat every day, or during the holidays, the Greeks, the Chinese or the Turkish. Not lobster or caviar, something more simple but characteristic from each country. México will participate by states: Puebla, Yucatán, Nuevo León, etc.
Each dish must be enough for 250/300 samples, small portions, a taste of flavor,30 grams of meat or 30 grams of pasta. Nothing big, we would like for everyone to be able to taste 10 countries before being full.
Municipality targets unlicensed
rentals in Puerto Aventuras
The municipal director of revenue has reported that out of 500 rental units in Puerto Aventuras, at least 100 are deriving a profit illegally by not registering with the municipality and paying their share of taxes that help promote the tourist industry.
Ercole Carpineti Rico says various hospitality associations and the Chamber of Commerce have complained that rogue rentals that do not register or pay taxes are guilty of unfair competition that diminishes the profits of legal vacation rentals such as small hotels.
He said the municipal tax code requires all rentals that derive a profit from a product or service must be licensed and share in the tax burden now borne by legitimate hospitality businesses.
Carpineti said this issue has been discussed with real estate groups with a notation that illegal rental units must meet basic standards of safety, health and civil protection requirements. He said that if people rent their condos for various periods of time to derive a profit then they must become licensed in order to level the playing field.
Since beginning a process last November to bring unlicensed rentals into the fold, fines have been temporarily suspended. He said the municipality would prefer to invite people who rent units to register their activity, become licensed and pay their fair share of modest taxes to avoid fines in the future.
The Mail Bag…
Let’s give Security more power
I have concerns over children driving/speeding/overloading golf carts and Security’s lack of enforcement power to end it by confronting parents, issuing fines or grounding the carts.
Certainly Colonos has the power to make this happen?
During our recent visit, two children of about five were seen several times riding a motorized mini replica car in main road traffic. On another occasion, I was "tailgated" from Centro, past Catalonia by a child of about 7 who could barely reach the gas pedal.
He floored it to whiz past me while kids were hanging from every orifice of the speedy cart, screaming and yelling down the road. Two Security staff passing us on motorbikes didn’t even look to see what was going on.
I hope it isn’t going to take someone getting maimed or killed before this issue is taken seriously. Some of these carts also lack headlights.
Equally disturbing are the speeds at which some of our residents and visitors are driving their cars on our narrow, busy roads that also accommodate people out for a morning walk or jog.
On a recent walk, I witnessed a white SUV speed down the road and tear through the golf course parking lot to pass the traffic, to evidently get her children to school. Many more vehicles are also flying through the pedestrian crossing in front of Hippos on the main road, one of them almost killing a woman and her dog 2 weeks ago. We need more diligence and hefty fines for such behavior.
Someone needs to step up to the plate, and keep it safe in PA. Let us see some action.
Signed/ Robert Bernardi
I just want to tell you that my husband and I absolutely love your newsletter! We are from Canada and purchased a condo in Puerto Aventuras about a year and a half ago. The information you provide is very valuable and allows us to stay connected to this lovely community, since we are currently only able to visit PA about 4 times per year. Thank you to the writer(s) and to the sponsors who make the Pelican Free Press happen.
Signed/ Jackie Switzer
Outdoor movie attendance in a test run last week at the Puerto Aventuras Cultural Center was sufficient to continue the trial project for another run soon, Colonos GM Armando Rincon said last week in announcing a paid attendance of 55 people. He said response from attendees was good, most favoring a continuation of the outdoor movie idea. Among suggestions were a perceived need for more additional publicity and promotion, a reminder to bring seat cushions, and perhaps a rotating venue into different neighborhoods. Stay tuned…
Akumal blockade traps tourists – Innocent tourists were trapped again last week as the disagreement between the private Akumal Ecological Center and local tourism cooperatives wrangled over access to the sea. This time, though, the tourists were trapped inside the parking area and couldn’t leave. A similar blockade some three weeks ago reportedly caused heavy business losses. Municipal and other officials are being criticized for not doing their duty and bringing the disagreement to a head and a decision. The blockade was lifted after a day by the cooperative group. Meanwhile, there are complaints that over-exploitation is damaging Akumal Bay reef and turtle population…
Tourism competition from Cuba could be increased after President Obama visits the island next month to advance renewed diplomatic ties with the island and loosen restrictions on travel there. Flights to and from the island nation from the US have already been approved and are running. Nonetheless, there appears to be an increased influx of visitors from French-speaking Quebec this high season…
A ‘waste’ of money and time – The municipality has a solution to ending the deposit of waste materials, mostly by contractors and individual litterers, on empty lots and along roads. Eight people have been arrested this year and some jailed for 72 hours with possible fine of 1,500 pesos. An event in Puerto Aventuras earlier this year that had contractors littering a vacant lot on Caleta Xel Ha resulted in a clean-up by the Colonos and a suggestion that contractors be made to cart waste away from construction sites and not deposit it in vacant lots they don’t own…
Croc of ages, blessed is thee,
if swallowed, then burped free
Met up with a French Canadian group on the path to the caleta in Phase 4 the other day who nervously asked if there were crocodiles on the path. They had seen the ominous blue and white sign poked into the sodden earth of the mushy mangrove.
We said we take the path often enough but had never noticed crocodile eyes peering at us from the dark waters of the cenote that hugs the trail along the otherwise mysterious patch of gnarled, antediluvian growth.
The incident triggered recollections of reading about Morelet, or Mexican, crocodiles in a nondescript nature book.
One could have momentary delight advising the uninitiated not to worry about crocs because the croc – despite its powerful jaw and 68 teeth – swallows its food whole. On the other hand, it is faster on its feet than one might think. And stop there.
However, to one’s relief, the croc is also known for being unable to make sudden changes in direction, much like the entrenched political ideologues of the United States intent on building a Berlin wall between the US and Mexico. So if one happens upon a charging croc on the path, run like h— in a zig-zag manner if you have room.
Morelet crocs, named after the French naturalist Pierre Morelet who discovered them, are smaller than other crocs, with an average length, tail and all, of about 7 feet, though some outsized specimens have been measured at 14 feet.
The saving grace for tourists visiting unknown territory on the Yucatan, is that crocs, as a general routine, prey only on small mammals, birds, dogs, goats and cats, invertebrates, mollusks and each other sometimes in small fish-big fish manner. Really large Morelets can gobble up small cattle and, in rare cases, overpower unaware humans frolicking near the water.
The fact that crocodiles continually grow new teeth to replace old ones is of no import because they don’t use them much. It could mean a human victim would be swallowed whole and, like the biblical Jonah in the whale, have a chance to return to Camelot whole, providing the prey prays.
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 – Previous edition below