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JULY 2012: Getting away from rip currents

A/C MALFUNCTIONING? See CST on Services Page, story below
NEED HURRICANE INSURANCE? See Service Providers page
COOL OFF! Dive Aventuras in safety
TOO HOT TO COOK – Eat out locally and al fresco



Loss of neighbor a lesson in caution

We received an email from reader Mary Ellen Vidar recently wanting to know exactly where PA resident David Riley of Condos Esmeralda drowned after being swept up by a rip current. Vidar said her family swims often at X-Pu-Ha and wondered if that was the location.

The best information we have from contacts in PA is that Riley was either snorkeling or body surfing near the Sirinis Resort and Spa just south of Akumal with a friend when he was swept seaward by the current. An attempt at rescue was unsuccessful in preventing death. We are also told red warning flags were out that day and fairly heavy wind was kicking up the surf.
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 yousideways, 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.


     A program of earth paintings “and recycled stuff” is being offered at the Cultural Center on Bahia Akumal where participants will be taught how to make their own paper, create a piece of art, produce decorative panels for the cultural center and, oh yes, have fun doing it.
Workshops will be held three times a week for three hours at a modest fee of 600 pesos. First meeting with teacher Ayub Barquet is at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 3. Call Lucia at 984-745-3493 for more information.


Alleged Zeta boss breaches PA security

Press plays incident up, Colonos plays it down,

urges care by brokers, owners in choosing tenants

     An alleged local “Los Zetas” boss reportedly escaped a raid on a condo unit in Puerto Aventuras last week that the media reported he was using as a base of operations for extortion, kidnapping and theft of SUVs, two of which were reportedly found with two guns outside the condo parking lot bordering the golf course on Bahia Xaac.
At least that was the version published by local media that also reported army elements came to the Puerto Aventuras resort to capture a 32-year-old male identified as Miguel Angel Morales Chain a/k/a “The Speaker” but that he escaped from the Condominios Turquesa unit after being warned by private security guards.
But Colonos General Manager Armando Rincon characterized some of the media’s version of events as overstated, noting that an army vehicle with a kidnap suspect and member of the alleged criminal cell in the back seat of the vehicle came to the resort so the suspect could show them the condo unit the extortionists were using. He said private guards were not complicit in any warnings.
While the press report said two stolen SUVs were recovered, the Colonos administration, which oversees PA Security, said the vehicles were rentals that were probably used in the criminal activities. And while the media report also made it seem the Puerto Aventuras condo was a “base” of criminal operations, Rincon said the unit was a rental that the alleged Zeta boss was allowed to borrow for a two- or three-week period  reportedly by a friend of a friend. “That’s the way they operate, from one place to another,” he said.
Media and Colonos reports did agree that police and army troops captured a suspect in Coba following an attempted kidnapping in the Tulum area. The suspect said he was part of a “Los Zetas” cell that worked out of Puerto Aventuras. He was one of three reportedly involved in the kidnapping attempt.
The news report came as a shock to stakeholders in the exclusive community storied for its relative safety and peace as did the murder several weeks ago of a Playa del Carmen hotelier and extortion victim who reportedly had a child attending a Puerto Aventuras school. The victim, shot in the head, was found in his car near the Las Americas Mall, which is frequented by many innocent locals and Anglos.
These and other recent crimes on the Riviera Maya – particularly Playa del Carmen and Cancun -are being perpetrated with impunity, said Hernan Cordero Galindo, a representative of Angel City, because of widespread corruption in the “entire judicial system.” He said restaurant owners and varied entrepreneurs and businesses are reporting extortion attempts at a rate of about two a day and are more susceptible to them in Q. Roo because of the abysmal judicial response.  He said only 10 percent of those crimes are reported in Q. Roo and of those only 0.2 percent – below the 2 percent national average – of cases are solved.
In response to these local events, Rincon said the Colonos was drafting a letter to real estate agents suggesting they vet potential renters with more zest to avoid inadvertently inviting trouble to a community that is touted as the safest on the Riviera.
While the army was involved in flushing the alleged Zeta chief out of the PA resort, the outcome of the July 1 presidential election could modify, reduce or eliminate the military from battling the cartels, which each candidate has said to some degree.

Beat the heat with “mini splits” maintenance

Ductless split air conditioners (Splits) are perfect for residential, commercial, and institutional building applications. They are used as single zone air conditioning and one thing they need to work property is maintenance, particularly at this time of year.
There are two types of splits of which the “mini-split” is the most prevalent in homes and condos here and consists of an outside unit which is a refrigerant-gas operated condenser and an inside wall mounted air evaporator.

The other type is the “fan and coil” system that consists of an outside unit which is a refrigerant-gas operated condenser and an inside mounted evaporator – not visible – which requires cold air exhaust conduits and grills plus a return air grill.
What both these systems have in common is that they both need a high voltage (220V) power source to feed the system; an insulated copper piping connection – two tubes – between condenser and evaporator; low (24V) and high Voltage (220V) wiring to connect electronics and motors between condenser and evaporator and a drain outlet for evacuation of condensed water.
Split air conditioners need regular inspection and maintenance if they are expected to operate as they should at all times. A clean-up inspection is suggested every six months to verify operating conditions for amperage in electronic components, refrigerant gas conditions, cleanup of filters, adequate status of pipe insulation, wash up and lubrication of exterior (condenser) unit to aid in corrosion prevention.

A thorough yearly maintenance, which is recommended and can save headaches and money later, consists of the following: Total disassembly of moving parts for the condenser and the evaporator; power washing all parts including coils, turbine, vent, cases, filters, plastic parts and condenser cabinet; hand wash the evaporator coils and inside casing; lubrication of all moving parts; disinfection with bio-degradable products of evaporator unit to inhibit mold buildup; apply anti-corrosion paint on the condenser case; verify refrigerant gas pressure, amperage flow and temperature sensors; reassemble and verify that all parts are operating and replace remote control batteries.
The annual maintenance includes a list of electronic and non-electronic parts
that should be replaced, including the evaporator’s turbine bearings, capacitor and sensor.
Recommended replacements for the condenser include the capacitors for the electric vent motor and compressor, vent bearings and relay transformer for remain electronic control panel. Also recommended is insulation replacement for gas pipes and replenishment of gas refrigerant.
Consumers are reminded that split air conditioner failures require specialized repair and more than likely replacement parts. These equipment failures are due to lack of maintenance, power surges, gas leaks and improper operation such as working the unit to its limit (lowest cooling setting) for too along or, conversely, not running the unit for long periods of time.
Depending on the diagnosis, small parts could solve the problem, but serious damage would require more expensive parts and labor, including electronic motherboard replacement, the evaporator’s turbine and or motor replacement, or condenser’s vent motor and compressor replacement.

Phrase a week … By Gloria Contreras, state certified interpreter
You are away from Mexico for the summer and worried about losing what you learned in Spanish classes and think you had better study or your teacher will be disappointed. Say‘Tengo que estudiar lecciones españolas o mi profesor estará decepcionado’

(Ms. Contreras teaches Spanish classes from 3 to 4 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays at Tiramisu Restaurant and all are welcomed to attend. The fee is $150 pesos. Please call her first to make arrangements at 984-108-3517

What’s Playing…

See for yourself what’s showing at the local movie houses in Playa del Carmen at the links below.

Briefly Noted…

Compiled from staff, contributors and media reports


CREPE SHOP REOPENS with different owners and different fare, serving breakfast, lunch, pastries, ice cream, a small selection of fruits and vegetables. Observer Doe Stowell notes the multi-lingual Korean owners also have opened an Asian fare restaurant at the former Shushi Mi site…NINE DOLPHIN births expected between August and September…FULL HOUSE and equally full patrons made for a happy marriage at the 2 p.m. grand opening of Latitude 20 Restaurant’s new site. Hal Harper reports it was such a crowd that the place ran out of beer and food by 6 p.m … CRUISE TO HAVANA – Adriana cruise vessel with 300 capacity is reportedly launching a service from Puerto Morelos to Havana, a 4-day trip costing around $250 plus whatever extras. More information at www.tropicanacruises.com … ATTENTION PET-LOVING SNOWBIRDS – Reader Stan Glab alerts all that some airlines are evidently no longer allowing pets in the cabin for trips to Mexico. Be certain to check your airline before planning a trip to Mexico with a pet. More info at http://jaltembabaylife.com/blog/2012/06/new-no-pets-in-cabin-policy-for-mexico/ … PHOTO BOOK ON RIVIERA MAYA by Heins Reinhard of Playa del Carmen earned the National Prize of Graphic Arts 2012 … HYATT HOTELS planning three new facilities in Riviera Maya over the long term … LONGER PIER is under way in Playa del Carmen where the ferries run to Cozumel. It is being extended 30 meters to allow the vessels to dock alongside without grounding in the shallows. Environmentalists aren’t happy about it. …SLOPPY HANDLING OF CRIMINAL RECORDS is criticized as three credit card “cloners” allegedly belonging to organized crime are released from the judicial system … PLAYA BUSINESSES are expressing regret that agencies responsible for work on 10th Avenue have yet to complete the project while the business doldrums are in season … OCCUPANCY RATES of playa hotels, large and small, indicate an uptick in business as the big players in Playacar registered 79.7 occupancy … THE BREATHALYZER TEST has arrived and being implemented in Cancun, at least for now, without regard for race, color, creed, local or tourist. Word to the wise: Don’t drink (too much) and drive. Inebriated drivers will be detained until they can pay a penalty within 26-30 hours of administrative arrest … FIVE ARRESTED suspects in shooting of a local police officer in Playa del Carmen two weeks ago not far from his house in the Colosio are said by authorities to belong to a criminal element known as “The Pelones.” They are being questioned also concerning the murder of a Playa hotel owner a few weeks ago (see story above) … CROCODILES have kept swimmers off the beach on two occasions in Cozumel lately … NAVAL ELEMENTS have joined local police patrolling the streets of Playa del Carmen and checking out bars, suspicious drivers and pedestrians … ARMY RETURNS – 350 members of the Army based in Chetumal have returned to cheers after serving three months in the state of Tamaulipas drug wars … FIFTEEN PERCENT, or 6,000 of an estimated 42,000 workers in the Q. Roo Confederation of Workers are hooked on alcohol or drugs or both, it was reported at the annual Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking … IT’S THE ECONOMY – Mexicans work long hours, often at several jobs, without progressing. Census figures show that 57 percent of the Mexican labor force earns less than $13.50 — not in an hour, but in a day. The economy, not the drug violence, weighed heavier on the middle class during presidential voting July 1 …

END THIS POSTJust kidding

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