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March 2016, Week 4

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Assembly called to OK cost

of $87K main gate landscaping


First phase to improve look, efficiency

By Staff
The Colonos has called an extraordinary assembly for 9:30 a.m. April 16 in the meeting room to see if Colonos voters want to spend about $87,000 USD ($1.5M pesos) of surplus street funds already in the treasury to improve the look and efficiency of the main gate area.

The project, considered a first phase, would be mainly a site preparation, landscaping and road extension effort. The second phase, which will require a future assembly vote for a special assessment, will add more gate lanes, improve the security station and pedestrian lane at the gate itself to better handle expected rise in traffic as robust building activity continues in the community.

The first phase, expected to launch this spring, will add a lane on the one-way northbound road parallel to the highway overpass for cars turning into the main gate. Currently, at some peak hours, vehicles waiting to enter the gate are backed up onto the thru-road, bringing traffic there to a momentary halt.

There will be changes in the landscape islands outside the gate to yield improved traffic flow. New solar-powered LED lights similar to those installed in Phase 4 and the use of gardens employing boulders stacked high enough to veil a taxi station, are also planned. A new wait station for colectivos will also be built near the taxi park lot. This project has been on the back burner for several years.

Home, condo and vacant-lot owners who want to cast a vote at the assembly must register at the Colonos office between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. or 3 and 5 p.m. between April 11-13 (Mon.-Wed.) showing identification or a proxy valid for the assembly date. Hotel and condo managers must register on April 14 and show their authorization.


Condo gas-leak scare spurs

purchase of gas detectors

By Staff
Reports of a gas leak scare in a condo complex several weeks ago prompted the Batt and Suarez Condo Administration group to purchase three gas detecting devices for use by the company in responding to suspected gas leaks in any of the 10 complexes they manage.

Carlos Suarez, who heads the firm’s maintenance division, said the company bought the devices for use by its own company to fulfill what it sees as its first responder obligation to close the gas supply where suspected leaks are reported.

He reminds owners of condo units where leaks are indicated that, unless otherwise noted in the condo by-laws, they are financially responsible for finding the specific points of leaks in their unit and funding repairs. Detection and repairs can be procured independently or, in some cases, through condo management and its repair crews.

Part of the recent scare involved gas valves located inside clothes dryers and deterioration of elbows, connections and a reportedly illegal pipeline in one unit’s flooring. Building codes evidently prohibit imbedding gas lines where they cannot be readily accessed. Owners in various complexes may want to check with their managers concerning what to expect in the event of a gas leak.

For the record, owners of units where a gas leak is suspected can call Groupo Maxigas of 169 Norte 6th St., between 15-20 Avenues in Playa del Carmen at 984-873-0640 for general repairs and ServiPlus, also in Playa, at 984-109-3512 and cel 984-119-3255 for leaky-valve replacement in appliances.


Concert on April 15 to help

young sailors compete globally

Music lovers’ early alert – A concert of Cuban music featuring a 7-piece group and an intermission auction will be held beginning at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 15, at the Cultural Center. It is sponsored by the PA Youth Sailing Club that has produced individual and team champions in national and international competition.

Daniel Gracias, club commodore, said funds are needed to send the young sailors to various international competitions. “They are winning a lot,” Gracias said, “and bringing attention to Puerto Aventuras and its seafaring tradition as a destination.”

A female sailor in the club is already a world champion in her Laser class, Gracis said; two sailors are going into competition for the South American championship in the Optimist class; three are preparing for the North American Optimist championship and three more going to Italy in October for world championship windsurfing competition. “It requires a lot of money,” Gracis said. Information on the intermission/auction items later.

Trivial pursuits Sunday, April 3, at 4 p.m. at Latitude 20 Restaurant and Lounge with Shannon Rachynski. Proceeds go to the needy.

Capt. Rick’s Sportsfishing will again for the third year host Wounded Warriors for participation in the 12th Annual Dave Harris Memorial fishing tourney beginning on May 21.

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 [email protected] or call cel 984-108-3517 for more information…

Red Cross crew responds

to 47 Akumal incidents

But funds needed to sustain the service

By Staff
The Red Cross ambulance crew in Akumal responded to 47 incidents so far this year involving a variety of accidents and ailments, including car crashes, deep cuts, severe dehydration, falls, and near-drownings.

Six people were removed from the water in an unresponsive state this high season, and because of quick acting paramedics and life guards, five of these people were successfully resuscitated and survived, reports Marieke Brown, volunteer supporter of the Red Cross.

She said, “One key piece of equipment that has been contributing to this success rate is the defibrillator, which is used to restart the heart in the event of a heart attack or the heart stopping.” Puerto Aventuras has recently purchased one also that is kept at the community’s Security office at the main gate and at least one condo complex has several.

Brown cited Terry Richardson and Linda Mulgrew from North Akumal who have been working to increase the number of defibrillators in Akumal “so that we are never more than a few minutes away from one should we need it.”

Richardson notes that the survival rate from CPR alone is about 5%. However, with the use of the defibrillator, the rate is over 70%. Each security station in Akumal will have a defibrillator plus one at Hotel Akumal Caribe, and La Buena Vida Bar and Restaurant.

In addition, Brown noted that Frank and Jean Lyons, long time visitors to Akumal, have donated a defibrillator to the Akumal Red Cross Ambulance, which has been borrowing the one from Hotel Akumal Caribe. Richardson also donated a training unit so that the Red Cross can present training courses in Akumal to ensure that as many people as possible in our community know how to operate them.

“In terms of funds to keep the ambulance running, we have not hit the monthly number that we need to maintain the ambulance in our community long term,” Brown said. “A fundraising dinner held at Turtle Bay coupled with many donors of yearly donations in advance have helped us to cover the shortfall over the high season.But we need to continue fundraising to keep the bills and salaries paid throughout the year,” Brown added.For donation information call Marieke Brown at 984-105-8475.

In case of an Akumal medical emergency call the ambulance at Cruz Roja Tulum – 984 802 5521.

The Roundup…

Defibrillator for all – The defibrillator recently purchased for the Colonos is available for anyone in need of it. The board has voted to keep it at the Security office at the main gate for prompt 24/7 access. Call 984-873-5128 or 984-802-9078, and for English, cel 984-214-7589, which temporarily is operating only between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. A security guard will deliver the life-saving apparatus complete with instructions in English and Spanish. It is said the equipment is not difficult to use.

Widen 307? – Highway improvements being bandied about by the federal government include a plan to add another lane to Highway 307 from Cancun to Tulum because figures show the roadway has reached a saturation point. The feds say there are 80,000 vehicles a day using 307 from Cancun to Puerto Morelos and 40,000 from Morelos to the Mayan Riviera. Adding the extra lane would cost less than other plans being proposed, say officials. The idea is part of a 5-year projection.

Forget the wall – Samsung is inadvertently preparing for “Trumps Wall” by shipping its products from Mexico to the Port of Miami in a new all-water container service for distribution to the southeast US, avoiding cross-border trucking and cutting costs by a quarter…

Sargassum was back – Just as Playa del Carmen was preparing for the Easter high season last week, sargassum weed once again began to invade beaches there, creating a call from the business sector for a quick cleanup…Meanwhile, marine businesses catering to tourists were saying they would not increase prices for their services despite the exchange disparity…

Cuba competition – Another step forward was taken last weekend indicating expected tourism competition from Cuba as US President Obama visited the island. With regular airline flights already established, the Wall Street Journal reported that Marriot Hotel, AT&T and Starwood Hotels and Resorts are among US companies already knocking on Cuba’s door….

The Honda “Pilot”  finally will get a plane to fly in Mexico, which has certified the Honda HA-420 light jet for sales in Mexico. The business Jet arrived at the recent Mexico Aero Expo and paved the way for the start of deliveries. The US approved the plane several months ago. It comes as a new aerodrome reportedly capable of handling business jets takes shape in Puerto Aventuras. The plane seats 4-6 including 1 or 2 crew, has a cruising speed of 435 mph, a range of 1,161 miles, a service ceiling of 43,000 feet and a take-off distance of 3,120 feet…

Puerto Aventuras area beaches have been declared clean for water sports and beachgoers following the annual test sampling of waters in the nation’s tourist areas. In this immediate area, the samples were taken in Paamul by the federal health risks commission…Despite that, sargassum remained a moderate nuisance as workers along the beach in Akumal were seen raking up the stuff and carting it off on Sunday…

Fines on the way for area businesses that haven’t paid for their operating license by the end of March. The Municipal Treasurer reports his department will go after some 4000 businesses beginning in April with notifications and then fines… Private homes  and condos that are offered for rent without a proper license are being scrutinized by the municipal treasury department and urged to file for permits. It is estimated that there re 10,000 such units in Solidaridad, putting a huge dent in the profits of hotels large and small that require licenses and are complaining of unfair practices by unlicensed rentals…

Another fatality was recorded on Blvd. Playa del Carmen (Highway 307) over the weekend when an unidentified male who, the police say, was inebriated was hit by a truck whose driver ran away, leaving the body to be struck several more times by passing vehicles…

The Puerto Aventuras Library is observing holiday hours during spring break. It is open only on Wednesdays, March 23 and March 30, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m….

We may be a day or two late in publishing next week in order to meet a circumstance beyond our control. Thank you in advance for your patience. 



After-Life Cave, part 2 of 3

In Part 1, the author reveals an after-life experience following heart by-pass surgery, something he thinks he will never experience again, until…

…Large eagle ray leads him

to something familiar years later



By Jack Frankenthal

I am not much of a meat-eater, but having lived 15 years on my 36′ catamaran sailboat, I learned to enjoy the sea, its colorful coral reefs and the multitude of edible delights they offer. Now that I live year-round on the Riviera Maya coastline, I take my snorkeling gear and go out spearfishing when sea conditions allow – not so much for catching a delicious dinner, but more so for the physical activity involved, and to visually enjoy the sea-life in the numerous, near-shore coral gardens. I drive my golf-cart along the beach, frequently accompanied by my friend, Rusia, and my dog Fila, who find their own way of enjoying the beach, waiting to see my catch.

On a sunny but relatively cool afternoon some weeks ago, the water felt pleasantly warm on my skin when I entered. Visibility was far from best, so I paddled my fins gently further to the first coral garden. The normal array of small grunts, snappers, tangs, parrotfish and such, scurried away as I approached. But it was difficult to see beyond a very short distance and I ventured towards the next reef, in clearer water. About midway, in unobstructed water, my adrenalin level soared suddenly to the sight of an approaching huge, dark shadow. I placed my finger on the speargun’s trigger, ready to defend myself if necessary, but as it came closer, I lowered the gun and let out a wild scream into my scuba mask in reaction to the graceful, magnificent creature in front of me.

When traversing shallow white patches of sand along the YanTen bay, I frequently see the outline of a gray Southern Stingray, resting motionlessly on the bottom. But until that day I had not seen a Spotted Eagle Ray since my sailing days in the Bahamas. The top of the Spotted Eagle Ray’s body is black, with multiple white, snow-like spots, and a head resembling that of an eagle. It can reach a length of 16′ (5m) and a wingspan of 10′(3m). They are not commonly seen, and are listed as an endangered species – so you can imagine my excitement.

The one now in my presence was of an average size, gracefully and fearlessly swimming near me, as if soliciting companionship. My initial objective to spear a fish for dinner instantly evaporated, as I intended to enjoy every second with him before he vanished from my sight forever.

The fun we both enjoyed during the subsequent 30-40 minutes was far beyond, and in clear defiance of my experience with sea life. Yes, during one entire night I was once accompanied – to my astonishment – by a school of friendly dolphins, on a return trip from the Bahamas, between Key West and Fort Myers, Florida. But my time with this Spotted Ray was different, reminding me of similar times spent frolicking with my dog Fila, when she was young. This ray allowed me to come very close, but when I tried to touch him he would scat away to the side – waiting for me to get close again.

The sun was setting; Rusia and Fila were waiting on the beach. It was time to go back. I parted from him heavy-heartedly, and swam back. Rusia was at the water’s edge, obviously relieved to see me when I emerged.

– “Did you see that monster?” She asked.

– “What monster? What are you talking about?”

– “There was this huge something behind you all the way to the beach. I saw his shadow following you from way out there.”

I told her excitedly about my encounter, calling it a “once in a lifetime experience,” but she wasn’t very impressed, and asked:

– “And where is our dinner?”

Getting ready for my next spearfishing outing, a few days later, I seriously considered taking an underwater camera – just in case – but logic insisted that the odds against seeing him again were astronomical. I entered the water and roamed the shallow reef as usual. Soon I caught a glimpse of a good size grouper racing to hide under a rock. I gave chase, dove down after him, and as I bent my head to search for him, a large shadow slid by me from above. I let go the grouper to have a better look – and couldn’t believe my eyes. There was no doubt in my mind that it was “Spotty” again – my Spotted Eagle Ray pal. I feel sort of foolish now to verbally describe his demeanor as being “excited” to see me again.

“What is wrong with you…” I was thinking to myself “…it’s just another curious fish that took a liking to this reef – so stop profiling him with human traits and go about your business.”

It seemed as if he read my mind when he turned to swim away from me, but my heart stopped when I saw him approaching another majestic Spotted Eagle Ray a few yards away.

“What an incredible fluke,” I thought, “Two of them!”

Now both of them seemed to have an interest in my proximity, but when I tried touching their wings, they would quickly retreat. That seemed strange. When I was finally heading back to shore, empty-handed again, I remembered to look behind me. They both followed a few yards behind me until I was at the water’s edge.

Rusia was busy with her iPad, reclining in her folding chair, with Fila at her feet. This time, I decided to keep the experience to myself.

– “No fish dinner tonight,” I shouted to her from a distance.

Weather patterns and sea-conditions were not conducive for snorkeling activities during the following two weeks, allowing me to contemplate these strange events, and to place an order for an underwater camera for future such oceanic events – just in case. I spent hours searching the Internet for a possible explanation of the rays’ abnormal behavior, but to no avail. There was no reference to underwater dancing events with friendly Spotted Eagle Rays in the wild.

I waited anxiously till offshore winds finally returned to calm the breakers in the bay and to improve underwater visibility. This time, despite all logical reasons against another encounter, I left my spear gun behind. Rusia, her hand at her forehead shading the bright sun, asked me with a puzzled look on her face:

– “Aren’t you going fishing?”

– “I will explain to you later,” I responded, as I entered the water.

Half way to the first coral garden, the two rays were waiting for me – after two whole weeks!

The rebellious voice of my being rang out loud within me:

“I told you they would be here! I told you!!!”


Strangely, however, they didn’t seem willing to “play” this time. Instead, they swam gently forwards, one on each side of me, and seemed to be steering me in a particular direction. A few minutes later, I realized their determination to continue on – out of the bay, towards the horizon, and into the regularly-travelled traffic-lane of tourists’ boats and jet-skies.

“Too dangerous” I thought, and decided to turn back and let the two continue on their journey without me.

But they also turned, swung around me carefully and, without actually touching me, they coaxed me to join them as before. By then, my mental faculties were in sort of a daze. But, as I had done several times in my long adventurous life, I set logic aside and took a leap of faith.

– “Why not? Let’s just see what they have in mind.”

The depth kept increasing as we advanced, but a few hundred yards into the open water the bottom was rising at a gentle slope as we reached an exquisite, complex reef garden – not very deep and teaming with sea-life. I registered a mental reminder to come back there with scuba gear someday.

They led me to the southern edge of the coral group where one of them dove down to the bottom between two immense coral heads and waited there, with the other one behind me. My altered state of twisted apprehension interpreted the scenario as an invitation to go down there. My curiosity was beyond description, as I reasoned that so far my instincts about these awesome, uncanny creatures were correct. I raised my head to scan the area for vessel traffic before diving in, then took a deep breath, doubled over and dove energetically down to the bottom between the two massive coral-heads. The gap between the corals appeared to be an opening to a tunnel-like cave.

– “Interesting!” I reflected.

Owing to my Yoga-teaching days and free-diving experience, I am pretty good at holding my breath for relatively long periods. I grabbed a hold of a protrusion in a nearby rock, pulled myself further into the opening and peered through the long, cave-like passage. It was time to come up for air, but just then my eyes caught a glimpse of an unexplainable bluish light at the other end. I propelled myself upwards quickly, gasping for air at the surface. That bright blue opening just didn’t make any sense, because the entire “tunnel” area was buried under a massive layer of well-developed coral.

“Am I going crazy? I must take another look,” I decided.

I allowed myself a brief rest, scanned the surface again for speeding jet-skiers, and dove back in. This time, clearly knowing my destination, I had time to venture farther into the opening for a closer look. One of them followed my descend from behind, and when my body was almost completely within the entrance to the cave, I clearly saw the dark silhouette image of the other ray – against a bright, bluish background, much like a high-definition flat TV screen. It seemed – again – as if the two were extending me an invitation to visit the blue end of the cave. I shot back up for air, bewildered beyond my senses.

“What in the world could that be?” Curiosity was killing me.

“Should I get in there, or shouldn’t I?”

(Next week: Curiosity propels the adventurous author toward another brush with the blues…and a surprise conclusion.)

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.


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