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Mid-October, 2015

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More than 1,000 flee fire

at hotel in Playacar

By Staff
  More than 1,000 hotel guests were evacuated from the Iberostar Tucan Hotel in Playacar on Oct. 10 when fire set some five substantial palapas in the reception and restaurant areas ablaze.

No injuries were reported and the hotel will remain closed for about two months for reconstruction. There was 78 percent occupancy at the time of the fire and guests had to be transferred to other hotels and baggage sent directly home for some guests who were ending their vacation and about to leave for the airport.

The seven blazing palapas, which included several restaurants, a theater, reception area, spa and tops of condominiums posed an additional threat because they are located close to the hotel’s gas storage area, causing guests from the adjacent Riu Yucatan and Sandos on Xaman Ha – the main road – to also be evacuated as a precaution.

The fire, believed started by an electrical malfunction, broke out shortly after 11 a.m. Firefighters from Solidaridad’s Municipal Department of Civil Protection arrived in less than 10 minutes and battled the blaze for nearly two hours. Firefighters stood by for 15 hours to assure the ashes would not reignite and to investigate the cause. Firefighting units from Cancun and Tulum also responded.

Akumal to lose ambulance

Nov. 1 unless it can fund it

  By Staff
  Akumal will lose its Red Cross ambulance Nov. 1 unless the community provides dedicated funding to support the service long-term and with the possibility of a clinic to serve both sides of the highway.

Marieke Brown, who has been working to keep and improve Red Cross ambulance service in Akumal, is appealing to businesses and residential stakeholders there to dedicate some of their dollars to permanently fund the Red Cross presence in Akumal.

She notes – as part of the Tulum municipality – that it takes 30 minutes for an ambulance to reach Akumal from Tulum on a good day and 45 minutes to North Akumal. This is barely within the “golden hour” rule, which is the response-time limit between life and death in some emergency cases. “It was impossible to achieve this without the ambulance in Akumal,” she said.

Brown said local businesses are able to deduct payments to the Red Cross from their taxes and other stakeholders can make “easy” monthly payments via Pay Pal. Businesses such as hotels can also help by paying Red Cross to train lifeguards and teach CPR.

Puerto Aventuras was confronted with a similar problem last December – without any advance notice. It took about three months and considerable effort by volunteer fundraisers, the Colonos (the owner association) general manager, exemplary cooperation of local hotel managers and members of Rotary International to effect a return of the clinic and ambulance in the Poblado.

But even at that, the Red Cross is reportedly pressing for even more money from Puerto Aventuras to replace the aging ambulance there, which was not part of the agreement reached between the RC and Puerto Aventuras earlier this year says resident  Tim Howard, one of the volunteers who, with Colonos GM Armando Rincon, negotiated with the Red Cross.

It would appear that the Red Cross business model is in flux to meet demand by requiring payments above and beyond the annual fund drive donations in what it says it needs to do to reach budget needs. For specific information on how to help Akumal keep its Red Cross ambulance to care for the sick and injured, contact Brown directly at 984-105-8475.


Pumpkin Carving, a fun and creative activity directed by Cate Hauser for area youth will be held again on the terrace of Jessie’s Gelato in Centro at 4 p.m. Oct. 24. Ms. Hauser has carving tools for 20 participants who must bring their own pumpkins. If more than 20 youths wish to participate, she and Jessie’s will have a repeat event for others. Parents are invited and cautioned that the tools are rather sharp. It is suggested the event be limited to age-appropriate youth.

Annual Halloween Party at Latitude 20 restaurant – The “ever popular” costume bash begins at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31, with live music, dancing, special drinks and costume competition, says owner Jim Stubbs. “We are already taking bookings for this popular annual event,” he added. “As always, everybody is welcome, with or without costume, and we look forward to another great-fun Halloween celebration.” 

US daylight saving time ends Sunday, Nov. 1 when it reverts to Eastern Standard Time (EST). Since Quintana Roo changed its time zone last year to permanent EST, the time here will remain the same on Nov. 1 as the US “falls back” one hour to join Q. Roo in a timely manner.

Golf charity event – The Rotary Club of Tulum and the Tao Foundation will host their first Annual Charity Golf Tournament on Saturday October 31, 2015, at Bahia Principe Golf Course. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Tulum Rotary Club and the Tao Foundation. The tournament will be a four-person scramble format. Tournament day check-in begins at 7:00 a.m. and Tee Time is at 8:00 a.m. Registration fee is $130 US and includes greens fee, cart, lunch and drinks (water, soda and juice) and a goody bag.Prizes include 1st, 2nd and 3rd place plus longest drive and closet to pin.  We will also be having raffle ticket prizes. For more information or to register, please contact 984-100-5097. To register: [email protected]

Employee access cards must be confirmed with the Colonos by Friday (Oct. 16). Any employee without a confirmed access card will not be able to enter the resort main gate as of Saturday (Oct. 17) and until the card is confirmed, says the Colonos..

Residents asked to help

keep community clean

By Staff
  This is the time of year when condo and Colonos maintenance crews add finishing touches to sprucing up the flora and infrastructure of Puerto Aventuras as snowbirds begin arriving at their winter nests. The effort makes the annual homecoming much sweeter.

In line with that, the Colonos is asking owners of private homes, businesses and condo managers to properly dispose of vegetation waste by cutting it to one meter size and bagging it.

“We have to consider that nowadays we collect seven or eight trucks of gardening residue a day. It represents a big problem for the Colonos because its mulching capacity is less than two or three trucks a day…

“We had to rent a bigger brush chipper in order to mulch this material and free up space in the zone where the material is deposited. We are analyzing the purchase of a larger chipper to solve this problem next year,” the Colonos said.

The spokesman said gardening material is being collected three times a week – Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Residents are asked to bag it and place it out on the proper collection days.

Colonos personnel will not collect gardening refuse improperly dumped in adjacent empty lots. Meanwhile, reports trickling in from early snowbird arrivals note that sargassum is being kept at bay by an accommodating wind direction and that a “lot of construction” is ongoing.


Briefly Noted…

Two new PA restaurants will greet snowbirds along with the standard Centro group this season as snowbirds begin flying in. They are the Spanish-influenced Dos Aguas located by Papparazi and O’ Sole Mio, offering Italian cuisine and located by Jessie’s Gelato… 20 thefts have been reported from January through August this year in the PA resort community. There were four events in private homes and 16 in condominiums. Only July, so far, has been without incident. A computer was taken from a condo Aug. 3 and two laptops taken from a house on Bahia Chemuyil Aug. 8…

The Hard Rock Hotel next door to Puerto Aventuras is the site of taping a virtual TV show “Calendar Girls” who perform fitness feats to challenge their capabilities. The cast includes fitness champs from Spain, Mexico, Venezuela and Mexico… The Playa Rotary Club is doubling its efforts from 200 meals to 400 for distribution to the city’s needy… Despite the low incidence of breast cancer in Solidaridad, the general hospital in Playa del Carmen is offering free mammograms this month to women aged 40 to 59 as part of cancer awareness month…

Area workers are saying the latest increase in the minimum wage is insufficient to cover basic needs because prices are rising. Average pay has been 66 pesos per day and rose to 70.10 in October while basic living expenses average 125 pesos per day. Workers say one problem is that tourists can afford it but not workers whose tips aren’t filling the gap. The government will reportedly look at another wage increase for 2016……

Phone and TV providers generate 47 percent of complaints to the federal Consumer Protection Agency (Profeco). The agency has reported that the CFE came in third with 21 percent of complaints and water concessionaires second. Most complaints are on pricing and sub-standard cell phone service that tallied the most complaints… Speaking of that, internet and phone service was intermittently disrupted here and in three states for about seven hours in October when third-party construction crews accidentally severed a fiber optics wire in the Merida area…

More than 3,500 turtle nests along Solidaridad beaches were protected this year, an increase of 250 percent, noted the Committee for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles, despite the continuing invasion of the shoreline by sargassum… The NFL has Mexico in its sights as it contemplates playing more games internationally…

Bird watchers may be interested in the re-introduction of the scarlet macaw in Quintana Roo. Of 85 birds released recently to the wilds of the Ecological Reserve in Cancun, 72 have survived so far… Beach erosion – remains a problem along the Mayan Riviera as well as Pacific Coast resorts. Replenishment costs just for five beaches in Quintana Roo is estimated to cost a substantial amount to be shared by the federal and state governments and private corporate funds…Monarch butterflies have begun their annual migration from the US and Canada into Mexico via Texas. The trip can be as many as 3,400 miles as they seek the fir and pine forests of Central Mexico. Sadly, no butterfly lives to make a round trip…

Poaching of turtle eggs along the Riviera Maya coast has been reduced from 50 percent over the decade to only 5 percent in the last three years, reports a conservation group… Driver training for operators of taxis in the local union will be provided next week in handling handicapped fares and fares with pets in order to elevate the image of the drivers and improve the public service…  Reminder that Secrets Hotel in Akumal opens its 434 rooms to business on Nov. 1, creating some 800 jobs in the process and leaving area residents wondering what effect it will have on day visitors… Another traffic death  was reported on 307 earlier this week near the Sirenis Hotel… 

A spider monkey confiscated by authorities from a zoo in Los Cabos has been transported by commercial airline to Solidaridad’s “Kuki Kaax” wildlife management area to receive care from experts. The monkey – currently on the endangered species list -  is indigenous to this the area…

The Mail Bag…

Looking for movie times

Dear Editor:

Is there any chance that PFP could publish the movies playing in English at Cinemex in Centro Maya when high season resumes? You can get there by Colectivo for 25 pesos, and I think there is a 2 for 1 admission on Wednesdays.

This would be so helpful, kids could go and there is now a small casino in Centro Maya – Slots only. Not speaking Spanish, it is very hard to find out what is playing and the times.

Just a thought it might be helpful to others as well. Thanks

Signed/ L.M. Fletcher

(Ed. Note: Search Cinemex Playa del Carmen on Google and register to get the playbill and times. If that doesn’t work out for you, write to us again. Hope this helps.)

Where do we complain?

Dear editor:
I wrote in July regarding the traffic stop on the way to the airport and resultant tourist cash grab in which we had to pay a policeman for allegedly speeding if we wanted to make our flight.

I cannot thank you enough for publishing the comment. As I suspected, I am not the only one. I now see additional replies and believe this activity is detouring people from retiring in the area. I feel that once it happens to tourists (non-owners), they are far less likely to return.

I also wrote to the US Embassy and they were going to look into where I can submit a complaint – but they did not get back to me.

My wife and I are owners of a Condo in Puerto Aventuras. We spend quite a bit at local restaurants, shops, resorts, on tips and services. We are happy to support the economy in Mexico, but after our recent experience, we are reconsidering our investment.

This is complete extortion. People are not going to want to visit Mexico and spend their vacation dollars if we are targeted and extorted by the Policia.

I would like to know what to do if this happens again. Seems the Police have complete control and we are helpless. I guess he could have taken the license plate off the rental or thrown us in jail if we didn’t pay him. And I was obeying the speed limit. Was I going 81 instead of 80? Could have been, even though the car was showing 80, there is speedometer error, though typically that is on the low side, so I was likely only going 78 when this happened.

Can anything be done? Do we have any rights at all in Quintana Roo?"

Signed/Robert Rosania


Nature Watch 101…

Coral ‘bleaching’ explained

By Staff
  There has been some talk recently among Riviera Maya marine businesses concerning fears of “bleaching” along the area’s colorful coral reefs. What is “bleaching” and what causes it?

We offer excerpts from a report by scientists including those from the XL Catlin Seaview Service, that oceans could lose 4,500 square miles of coral this year alone due to “warming” and other occurrences such as “El Nino” and the so-called Pacific Blob. Here’s what the scientists say, in part:

‘Coral bleaching occurs when warm ocean waters — considerably warmer than corals (organisms) were evolved to live in for an extended period of time — leave the organisms stressed and cause them to banish the symbiotic algae that provide corals with both their color and nutrients. Without them, corals turn white, and become very vulnerable — thus, following bleaching, coral die-off can occur.

“How much coral death happens depends on how much temperature stress the corals actually experience, and how prolonged it is.

“Coral reefs comprise less than .1 percent of the ocean’s total area. But they’re vitally important to ecosystems and the people who depend on them (such as the local tourist marine and diving industry here in Puerto Aventuras and surroundings).

“One in every four species of fish live on a coral reef. There are over a million species on coral reefs. At least two-thirds of them are relatively unknown to science. Coral reefs provide food and livelihood to 500 million people,” say scientists.

Coral reefs are the underwater equivalent of rainforests, and by removing the corals, one removes the trees of that underwater world,” says Richard Vevers, head of the XL Catlin Seaview Survey. “Unfortunately, as the planet’s oceans continue to absorb the bulk of the extra heat that is being contributed by global warming, the outlook for corals isn’t good. Already half of the world’s reefs have already been lost due to causes ranging from bleaching to pollution in the last 50 years…

“And once corals die, the consequences are not easily reversible. At best, you’re talking about a recovery time of 10 to 20 years and most of these places are getting hit once every 5 years. Some of the corals killed off can be several hundred years old.

“One estimate valued the U.S.’s coral reefs alone at $ 2.4 billion per year, when taking into account the tourism and other economic benefits they provide.

“Local protection coupled with more serious efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions are needed if we want coral reefs to be part of our future,” said a spokesman for the Smithsonian Institution.

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