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January 2016, Week 3

 

Colonos negotiating portable

outdoor movie showings here

By Staff:
Weekly outdoor movies may be coming to Puerto Aventuras following an exploratory session held last Friday night between Colonos GM Armando Rincon and Victor Modillas, a principal of El Cine Club in Playa del Carmen.

The Pelican tagged along with Rincon to La Ceiba Park in Playa’s ejido land west of Highway 307 where the Cine Club shows a weekly movie to audiences that number between 50 and 200 viewers, the latter the largest number ever to assemble there. El Cine also shows weekly films at the Blue Parrot Café in Playa’s tourist zone.

Rincon said the Colonos board has been looking for events that not only entertain but bring local residents together socially, as did the series of concerts several years ago at the Cultural Center on Bahia Akumal.

Concerts have fallen by the wayside as the field of talent to draw from has dwindled in the area, leaving the Sports and Cultural Committee chaired by Daniel Gracis to fade as his duties with the award-winning PA Sailing Club have mounted.

Visit to show satisfies

Rincon’s visit to an actual showing was to satisfy questions about the operation and gauge the performance of sight and sound elements of El Cine’s equipment, the source of movies shown, and other logistical information.

Modillas explained that the portable system uses Blue Ray DVD movies on large screens, back-lighted projection and a sound system that combined give a quality performance at various venues such as palapas, open parks, empty lots (with electrical connectors) beaches and indoor venues. Most movies are in English with Spanish sub-titles.

The Cine Club deals with a major Mexican movie distributor and pays for the rights to show the selections it chooses but can also display movies contributed by individuals who own DVDs and is receptive to movie suggestions from the audience.

Hither and yon

In preparation, Rincon said he is mulling adequate sites in the various neighborhoods for walk-to access and possibly having El Cine move its venue weekly to those various sites.

He plans to bring up to the board a suggestion that one of the four monthly shows that would be contracted for and paid by the Colonos social events account be shown in the Poblado, perhaps under a sports dome there.

El Cine operates with a team of five that erects the screen, hauls some fifty folding chairs, sets up and tests the projection and audio and positions a reception table. This takes about two hours, Modillas said, to put in place and about an hour to take it all down and pack it up in the panel truck.

A team of two accompanies El Cine with a popcorn machine for a fresh product and other snack items. Rincon said he is working to start a test series by mid-February to gauge its reception and attendance,

Dinner and a movie anyone? Stay tuned.

 

Navy’s second biggest ship

called to PA to lift patrol boat

Beachgoers continue watching

drama unfold in Fatima Bay

The Navy’s second largest multi-purpose logistical support vessel, (BAL-02) built by Mexican Navy personnel and materiel at the Naval shipyard in Oaxaca in 2012, arrived in PA this week with onboard crane to complete the salvage of the Polaris Patrol Interceptor boat that sank off the south channel last week after experiencing loss of power and crashing into rocks. Early salvage operations stripped the boat of its weaponry and other equipment and tried to haul her off the rocks with cables. The boat sank in Fatima Bay waters, requiring the BAL-02 services to refloat and tow her for repairs..

.

    Trivial pursuits Sunday, Jan. 24, 4 p.m. at Latitude 20 with Shannon Rachynski. Proceeds go to the needy. The Dec. 13 game raised 3,000 pesos with which to buy Christmas gifts for the children of the poblado. Annual road race is scheduled to start at 8 a.m. on 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. Residents willing to volunteer to help in various tasks preparing for the race are asked to call Carlos Quinones at 984-873-5116 … Back by popular demand is the Petanque tournament for another go-around on Jan. 23 at the Information and Art Center… 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 are held Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:30 a.m. for beginners and 12:30 p.m. for advanced and intermediate. Contact her at gloriatraducciones@hotmail.com or call cel 984-108-3517 for more information… Also…

The Visa Caper: Part 1 of 3…

First leg of visa application

in U.S. a model of efficiency

By Staff:
Ask 20 people in Puerto Aventuras or Playa del Carmen how you go about getting a new Mexican visa and you’ll likely get 20 different answers, all of them deficient in one aspect of accuracy or another.

After recently going through the process without hiring a lawyer and for the sake of a story, we are tempted to compare part of the experience to water-board torture – without the water. Sometimes in any visa process anywhere you just plain think you’re gonna die of frustration.

We chose the ‘residente permanente” visa designed for retired folk who have enough cash to satisfy the Mexican government’s understandable preference that applicant(s) are and remain self-supporting over the long haul.

Beginning in Boston

We started the application last August relatively unprepared for it by virtue of limited skill in the Spanish language and woefully short of definitive information about the process, which later proved to be two of the more onerous aspects of the journey into the unknown.

First, we went to the nearest Mexican Consulate website, in our case Boston, MA, where we clicked on “visa” and found information about the visa we wanted and a simple form to fill out. The site was in Spanish but after clicking on “visa” there was a translation button in the upper right hand corner for “English.” Great!

There was a choice of five visas and we clicked on the one marked “permanent resident.” Here is the requisite information it contained, which may or may not be the same for every Mexican consulate in the US or any other country:

Permanent Resident Visa

  • Visa application (click here to download application).
  • Valid passport and copy of the main page.
  • One color passport photo, front view, with no eyeglasses and white background.
  • Original and a copy of the document that proves that the applicant is a foreign legal resident of the USA. (I-797, I-20 advance parole, etc) Only if you are NOT a US citizen
  • $36.00 dollars in cash, Visa, Master Card or Discover.
  • Cover at least one of the requirements listed below:
  • a)  Original and copy of proof of investments or bank accounts  during the previous 12 months proving a monthly minimum balance of $106,000.00 USD after taxes.

b)  Original and copy of documents showing that the applicant has a job or pension during the previous 6 months that yields a monthly income of $2,600.00 USD after taxes. This can be supported by a letter from the bank stating that your pension or monthly deposit have been made to your account for the last 6 months.

c)   If you own a property in Mexico, original and copy of the property deed, stating that the person requesting the visa is the owner. The property must be valued at 207,000 USD. (Ed. Note: Caution here: The rule is “if” you own property, not that you must own property.)

d)  If you have a Mexican son or daughter, original and copy of his/her birth certificate. (Ed. Note: Again, “if” not a requirement)

*The visa issued by the Mexican Consulate is valid for 6 months and one entry. That visa will allow you to enter with a resident status to Mexico. Once in Mexico you have 30 days to go to the nearest INM (Mexican Inmigration) office to process your resident card.”

Gather up records

We gathered up our bank records and income statements showing the monthly income AND the required savings or investment accounts just to be sure. Each of us, my wife and I, applied on our own so as not to confuse the issue and to show that we met the minimum requirements individually and independent of one another. We filled out the application forms and neatly packaged everything in folders.

Then, as instructed on the consular web site, we called the consulate in Boston and made an appointment for Sept. 14, 2015. What a great experience that was! The hardest part was finding a place to park in Boston’s busy financial district. Two parking garages we went to were already full. We ended up paying a hotel doorman $25 to watch our car parked in the drop zone in front of his hotel.

Model of efficiency

We waited about 15 minutes inside the consulate then were summoned to the teller’s cage by an English-speaking young man of pleasant, earnest and helpful demeanor. He took the applications, the bank statements and reviewed them briefly.

We volunteered information such as owning property in Mexico for six years and snow-birding there, none of which seemed to make a difference. We had already met the financial stipulations and that, apparently, was enough. He agreed that our manner of application was the least complicated to process.

The agent motioned us to a corner where a photo was taken and one fingerprint. (We didn’t know the other nine would be taken later in Mexico). We paid the required modest fee of $36 each with a credit card and were told to go to lunch, come back in an hour and our Mexican visa card affixed to our passports would be ready.

No wait in Cancun

In less than two hours, our temporary visa was there in our passport, ready to roll. It was good for six months and one entrance into Mexico to establish the fact that we had a pre-approved permanente residente visa application.

We were reminded by the Boston clerk that we had 30 days to continue the process once we arrived in Mexico and to be sure the visa affixed to our passport was stamped by immigration upon arrival in Mexico.

On Oct. 31, 2015, we landed in Cancun where, to our extreme delight, we were to experience our first perk of the new visa. We filled out the FMM (tourist visa given to flight passengers). While some three or four planeloads of arrivals were jammed up at immigration, we showed an airport guard our new visa and were directed to the “Mexican” line. There was only one person ahead of us. My wife and I looked at each other. We were smiling.

(Next Week: Part 2: The smile fades, the torture begins)

The Roundup…

Rare blaze damages home

By Staff
   

An alert condo administrator may have helped avoid personal injury and more damage when a fire broke out – a rare event here – Monday afternoon in a home at 112 Bahia Xaac.

Carlos Suarez was on his way to a condo complex on business when a woman ran out into Bahia Xaac frantically waving her arms and yelling “fire”! Suarez stopped, parked and ran to the house but stopped after opening the door when he was confronted by thick, black smoke and a woman of the house who was trying to get back in. He told her to stay outside.

Suarez immediately called Puerto Aventuras Security Chief Luis Espinosa at 1:06 p.m.. who in turn called firefighters. Meanwhile, Suarez located gas outlets and tanks along with electrical boxes and shut them down, including one at a house next door. Meanwhile, a maid who appeared hysterical, ran out with four dogs as flames licked at furniture inside.

Oddly, said Suarez, he was told the fire was started by a malfunction in a bedroom air conditioner that heated up some plastic fittings which melted and dropped onto a bed and set it ablaze. One of the gas tanks was outside that room, he said.

Firefighters from the Poblado responded swiftly, Suarez said, were in the house battling the fire by 1:29 and had it under control within about 10 minutes. Resort water trucks were standing by as well.

Before firefighters arrived, Suarez stopped traffic coming out of the nearby condo complex and enlisted the help of some construction workers to block the other direction as the fire apparatus was approaching.

Colonos GM Armando Rincon had dispatched the water trucks after receiving a call from Suarez, who is a member of the Colonos Vigilance Committee. Rincon, who has been general manager for some seven years, said he can’t recall a house fire of this magnitude.

Last year, a boat near the marina ramp caught fire and seriously injured a crewman. Fortunately, several guests at the nearby Aventuras Club, one of them a male nurse, took care of the crewman until an ambulance arrived after about 30 minutes.

The poor ambulance response time on that occasion energized local residents to press the Red Cross to return its ambulance to Puerto Aventuras and raised funds to pay for its and the crew’s upkeep.

 Give us lights – It is nice to see lights shining brightly on Highway 307 lately from Puerto Aventuras almost all the way to Playa. Problem is, they’re shining in the daytime when they aren’t needed and are partly unlit at night when they are. Night lights add greatly to safe driving and avoiding accidents. The municipality should endeavor to make sure they work when they are supposed to…

Pothole effort – The deep pothole at the Chedraui driveway was partially filled recently but the rains came and the hole is back to where it was…too deep and not very kind to cars. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again…

Money from the north – Of $2.5 billion in foreign investment expected in Mexico in 2016, $1.5 billion is from Ford Motor Co.’s proposed new plant in San Luis Potosi where 350,000 cars a year will be produced…

Smugglers going vegan – Border authorities acting on a citizen’s tip, stopped a truck in northern Sonora near the US border and found a load of fake, plastic coconuts containing 1,998 packets of marijuana. Previously, the same ruse was tried with fake carrots. So, what’s up doc?…

Faking it – Police arrested three people in Playa after they tried to get a room at the Blue Parrot bar and hotel in the tourist district with counterfeit money… Help for kelp – A pilot program in Puerto Morelos will attempt to corral sargassum before it reaches beaches and then find a use for the product. The containment aspect of keeping kelp off the beaches is said to be “unprecedented” by local officials…

Mexico’s electric company makes it a habit to collect damages from drivers who crash their cars into the company’s poles. In 2015, the company (CFE) reports collecting damages of about 300,000 pesos from motorists… A mysterious animal has been killing ducks and chickens at area farms and not eating them, discounting the possibility of a jaguar that would devour its prey, say officials…

Editorial…

Zeta Gas Co., ePura fail

customers over holidays

Zeta Gas Co. allowed multiple families who pay their bills to go without gas for a day and night last week, creating angst in one of the families that was preparing an open house for friends.

Likewise, ePura left multiple families high and dry over the holidays, missing three successive delivery days in some Puerto Aventuras neighborhoods, resulting in Christmas condo hallways decorated with empty bottles, attached pesos and a lingering aura of annoyance.

It is understood such oversights happen now and then and are usually no cause for alarm. Folks can survive without water deliveries by going to a local Oxxo or supermarket to buy some, which, of course, they shouldn’t have to do.

The Zeta Gas goof is more egregious for condo dwellers since they can’t go to Oxxo or Chedraui to purchase 50 pounds of gas then figure out a way to spoon it into the multiple  delivery systems that power stoves and hot water heaters.

But here’s the real rub, though. There would be no need for this hopefully constructive editorial criticism if Zeta Gas Co. answered its telephones. Multiple people calling multiple Zeta numbers multiple times over six or seven hours were unable to reach anyone on a working day.

One person reported getting an electronic answer: “We’re busy, call later.” No, the condo administrator didn’t have a special connection with Zeta either, which is something that ought to be arranged for future emergencies.

Folks went to bed after cold showers, rinsed unwashed dishes and left wet clothing in the dryer not knowing what the next day would bring. Are these customer service failures the result of sloppy management, pathetic production and delivery practices, indifferent employees who see nothing wrong in the failure to deliver and nothing virtuous in going the extra mile for the consumer?

These are the types of negative practices that invite competition, which could boost customer service here. Short of that, we call the attention of managers to an old naval maxim: “Shape up or ship out!”

P.S.- Somebody, somewhere, somehow got hold of Zeta. A truck showed up fairly early the next day .

The Learning Tree …

Torrential rain bares flaws

In Playa’s infrastructure

Shortfalls in Playa del Carmen’s tourist area infrastructure surfaced last week when drenching rain created pools of water more than a foot deep.

A simultaneous overflow of the sewage system generated considerable floating waste that in turn blocked drainage and spawned an odor found quite offensive by tourists in the area, the local press reported.

The flash situation mobilized municipal agencies and firefighters in an attempt to clear the drains and absorption pits. Firefighters sent a plea to residents and businesses not to throw rubbish into the streets that could in turn block drains. Workers reportedly collected 100 kilos of waste.

A sewer rupture on 12th Street floated sewage that domestic and foreign visitors had to pick their way through, said the local press.

Despite heavy rains here in Aventuras, there were no reports of excessive damage to the infrastructure.

Pelican visitors for last week:

 

Mon

Tues

Wed

Thur

Fri

Sat

Sun

Total

Avg

Pageloads

115

347

693

164

164

111

109

1,703

243

Unique Visits

100

287

626

149

115

90

101

1,468

210

First Time Visits

64

192

409

103

81

71

76

996

142

Returning Visits

36

95

217

46

34

19

25

472

67

 

PRODUCTION DEADLINES: The Pelican Free Press encourages and welcomes public announcements of free or charitable 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 issue below

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