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January 25, 2017

And they’re off..!

RUNNERS EXPLODE from the starting line at this year’s 10th anniversary road race in Puerto Aventuras resort, a premier event attracting runners all along the Mayan Riviera and elsewhere. (Staff Photo)

Annual race attracts record 560
runners for 1, 5 and 10k events 

By Staff
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, it did!

The 10th annual Puerto Aventuras Road race broke its decade old record with 560 participants burning up the streets with expended energy Sunday morning, attracting nearly 100 more runners than it did at last year’s event.

Noteworthy was an apparent uptick in participation by the x-pat and snowbird community in the resort. Residents of the poblado also took part, particularly children, some of whose registration fees were paid by donors to a Dreams Hotel project to interest the youth in running.

IT RUNS IN THE FAMILY – A race is the place for the Sandholm family of Puerto Aventuras and Montana, who all ran well in Sunday’s event. From left, back row, Tiffany, husband Jeff, his father, Gayle, and front, his grandchildren Parker, left, and Aiden. (Staff Photo)

“That’s what it’s all about,” beamed a busy Guillermo Lobo, director/manager of Dolphin Discover, which sponsored the event again this year, offering liberal use of its huge palapa for post-run massages and food tables serving protein bars, water and fresh fruit to help avoid cramping and replace energy spent in the race.

The weather also cooperated  by showering the course and its runners with cool Caribbean breezes under a slightly overcast sky that dimmed the intensity of the sun’s rays.

Early arrivals could be seen joking and jogging and loosening up along Bahia Xcacel in front of the packed Dolphin Discovery store waiting for the 8 a.m. start.

Scores of family photographers using cell phones, i-pads and the old-fashioned camera  milled along the sidelines, shifting to and fro in search of prime vantage points from which to capture the action for posterity.

When it was over, Carlos Quinones, race coordinator from the Colonos administrative office, said 110,000 pesos ($5,128 USD or $6,850 Canadian) was donated to Transformar Educando, a government certified educational and social services agency serving the neediest families in he poblado.

Children from the poblado wait patiently for their turn to run at Sunday’s event.

Last week’s shootings trigger
demands for added protection

Sixth person dies at hospital

Memorial outside Blue Parrot shooting scene.

By Staff
The day after Playa del Carmen reported the deaths of five people and injuries to 15 more in a chaotic nightclub shootout on Jan.16, more than a dozen heavily armed men on motorcycles stormed the headquarters of the Municipal Secretariat of Public Safety in Cancun, about 50 miles away.

They fired weapons including grenades from launchers in a rampage that spread to nearby areas of the city, causing chaos in their path.  In the end, five people were killed, four wounded and five suspects captured. A sixth victim of the shooting died Monday, Jan. 23.

On the same day, messages crudely painted on four blankets were hung in Playa del Carmen by a purportedly resurgent drug gang warning their competitors they were taking over the territory and that anyone in their way would be decapitated. Local police acted quickly to remove the blankets hung in four different areas of the city.

Consular agents from Australia, the US, Canada and Europe were quick to warn their travelers to obey Mexican officials and take precautions.

Degree of protection criticized

Keeping guard after the fact

The Mexican Caribbean has thus far managed to escape the degree of cartel carnage that has crippled business morale and the tourist industry in popular Pacific Coast destinations. Last week’s events, if news reports of cartel involvement are accurate, may signal a spike in pending violence for control of the region, say news reports.

Locally, there are unconfirmed rumors that extortionists have begun to approach small-business owners in the growing Puerto Aventuras poblado. In addition, there was a published report in a local newspaper last week that armed men attempted to exert control over an irregular colony of about 50 families there until told to leave peacefully by municipal police…Meanwhile, a police patrol in the poblado last weekend found a man in a field whose hands were tied and who had been severely beaten about the head. Police said the motive could have been a personal feud or gang connected.

The fallout from the sudden violence continued last week as critics assailed the fledgling municipal government of Mayor Cristina Torres over alleged mishandling of the police department and lack of oversight in issuing various permits detrimental to the destination’s image.

Future festivals here doomed

Business groups demanded an end to the 10-year reign of the BPM Electronic Music Festival that one local newspaper alleges is a vehicle for drug sales and money laundering  in this growing market.

Four people detained by police in the aftermath of the shooting in Playa have been released, but the investigation continues to ascertain a motive and the shooter’s identity.

Wondering what happened on the night of the shooting.

A witness to the Playa shootout was quoted in the New York Times saying: “We were all vulnerable people, having fun, getting drunk, many also doing drugs, and then this happened.”

Meanwhile, State Secretary Francisco Lopez Mena denied that Quintana Roo is becoming a narco-state but does believe the Cancun attack was carried out by organized criminal groups in response, he claimed, to government actions implemented to battle crime. “We are not going to let ourselves be intimidated by these criminal groups,” he vowed. Federal troops have since been assigned to extra patrols in Playa, Cancun and Chetumal…

Carnival of games at 3 p.m. Saturday..
…Such as ring toss, water balloon toss and trivia among 12 game booths will get underway at 3 p.m. Jan. 28 at Latitude 20 Restaurant. It’s an event for all ages best enjoyed with teams of four to maximize points for prizes that include 250 pesos per person per winning team donated by Jim Stubbs of Latitude 20, a donated liter of Jessie’s Gelato for second place and return of registration fees for third place winners.

Sign up with team name and number of players by Jan. 28 with Jill Schneden at jillleigh@aol.com. Tickets are 50 pesos per person and all proceeds are donated to the poblado Community Center, home of Transformar Educando and Friends of Puerto Aventuras (FOPA) offering basic education and English classes, teaching work skills such as sewing and providing social services to the neediest families in Puerto Aventuras, Akumal and Chemuyil…

Paamul Annual Charity Auction will be held at the Paamul Restaurant  Saturday, Feb. 4.   Silent auction from10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and the live auction at 7 p.m. It is the main fund-raising event for the ‘Paamul Service to Others Committee”.  Early reservations recommended for a restaurant table. Two-for-one happy hour 6 to 7 p.m. All menu items available. Call Kalu at 984-134-2324 or Christina at 984-130-9670 for reservations…


Spanish classes
taught with expertise and humor by Maestra and certified translator Gloria Contreras, who has been teaching informal groups here for quite a few years, are under way at the Latitude 20 Restaurant. Beginners class from 9 to 10 a.m. and advanced class from 11 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Cost per one-hour class is 130 pesos ($6.29 USD). The maestra asks that 10 classes be paid in advance to incentivize attendance and learning. Contact her at gloriatraducciones@hotmail.com or call cel 984-108-3517 for more information…

The Roundup

Crime victims faultedPolice in Playa del Carmen, which includes Puerto Aventuras, say only two of every 10 arrests they make result in court appearances while the other eight detainees have to be freed because victims fail to file complaints with the proper authorities….?

Van operators between Cancun and Tulum reported a 30 percent drop in business and a loss of about 20,000 pesos in fares last week in the aftermath of shootings in Playa del Carmen and Cancun that left nine dead and 20 people injured. Van service was also interrupted for about two hours as providers and passengers acted on the side of caution…

Menu prices went up 5 percent in Playa del Carmen’s tourist area restaurants  this week on the heels of price increases in gasoline, LP, basic foods and the peso’s near record decrease against the dollar…

Mexico deported 91 Cuban nationals last week in the wake of the US change in residency rules toward Cubans seeking asylum. Cubans now have to follow the same rules as any other immigrants to remain in the US or Mexico. The Cuban government was in favor of the new rules regarding its citizens…

Canadians on their way to protest at the inauguration in Washington, D.C., were turned away at the border and not allowed entry. J. Decunha, 20, a university student and some friends were asked by border patrol if they were anti-Trump and they replied they were. The border patrol said they don’t respond to inquiries regarding individual cases as a matter of policy….

Police activated traffic filters in Cancun, Chetumal and Playa del Carmen in the wake of the Cancun shooting spree and in the process checked about 300 motorcycles, which was what assailants used in carrying out and escaping from the shooting sites. The four people killed in the Cancun attacks included one policeman and three of the assailants…    

Extortionists are reported operating in the Playa del Carmen (Carmen Beach) area. Municipal authorities listed numbers being used in attempts to extort money on fake kidnappings. They advise not answering calls from 222-754-7333; 899-319-8860 and 984-115-6688 and reporting any call to 911. If similar calls are received from other numbers, hang up and call 911 to report it…

It appears  that Playa del Carmen has seen the last of the BPM Electronic Music Festival after a 10 year run that ended in a violent shootout that killed five people and injured 15 last week on the final night of the 10-day event. The municipal government has found fault with permitting and security measures taken by the promoters…

The shootings in Playa played a supporting role in the closing of another electronic music festival, this time in Tulum. Because of the shootings in Playa, the lack of an alcohol license and noise complaints, the hotel bar Zulum on the beach was ordered closed last week..

Drug boss ‘El Chapo’  pleaded not guilty to a series of charges in the New York City federal court through his lawyer last week shortly after being extradited from Mexico to face US charges. No bail was sought. Whatever the outcome of proceedings, he can’t be sentenced to death, which was a condition of his extradition…

Health Watch…

How to avoid drowning
in a potent rip current

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.

Swim sideways away from the current, parallel to the beach.

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.

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 their energy swimming. To survive a rip current, or any crisis in the water, you must remain calm, and you have to conserve your energy. If you don’t think you can swim 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 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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