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Running Paradise on $1 million USD

 

It’s New Year, time to ponder once again the ‘days gone by’ or, as poet Robert Burns wrote it, “Auld Lang Syne.” The old days, years and friends ought not be forgotten but fondly remembered. Similarly, 2015 should be whatever you want it to be, a bounty of fresh friends comingled with fond memories and new promise.

“Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? Should old acquaintance be forgot, and the days of old lang syne.

We all have paddled in the stream, from noon ‘til dinner time; while seas between us broad have roared, since times of old lang syne.

And here is a hand, my trusty friend, and give us a hand of yours; and we will take a good will drink, for times of old lang syne.

And surely you will pay your pint, and surely I will pay mine; and we’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for the days of old lang syne.”

 

Quieres aprender Espanol?

(Want to learn Spanish?)

Teachers, Latitude 20 team up

to help gringos speak Spanish

By Staff

   Informal, enjoyable Spanish classes – food for the brain – are being offered this season with some new twists that ought to please older students serious about getting by in Spanish and then some.

Gloria Contreras, certified teacher and translator, told the Pelican Free Press she will begin two classes on Monday, Jan. 5. There will be a basic class for newcomers from 11 a.m. to noon followed by an intermediate class from noon to 1 p.m. The twice-weekly sessions will also be held at the same times on Wednesdays at the Latitude 20 Restaurant by the Lagoon of Dreams.

Alberto Andres de la Fuentes, a popular instructor and teacher at the colegio, is also planning conversational “coffee klatch’-type sessions later in the day also at Latitude 20 although a precise time and schedule has not yet been announced. “We choose a conversation topic to do in Spanish and my job is to help around with vocabulary and pronunciation. I’m already doing it in English and it has been great,” he said. Interested parties can reach Andres at 984-140-3976 for further information. 

Aside from the quite practical usefulness of gringos learning to speak at least some basic phrases in Spanish here in PA, a rudimentary knowledge is also helpful to travelers since – in case you didn’t know – Spanish is spoken in 21 nations, most, but not all, in Central and South America with the exception of Belize (English) and Brazil (Portuguese).

And if you travel or live in the U.S. West and Southwest, you probably already know that Spanish is spoken by 41 million U.S. residents. Population wise, Mexico is the largest Spanish speaking country in the world with 111 million population, although Argentina is the largest Spanish speaking nation land-wise. Equatorial Guinea in southwest Africa is the smallest Spanish nation with about 500,000 population. (Spanish is so popular that it is even spoken in Spain.)

As to learning simple but helpful phrases, consider if it would be helpful for you to know, or paste on your refrigerator, the following.

Red Cross Ambulance Service: Dial 065. A Spanish-speaking EMT answers. Short phrases that might be helpful: Send an ambulance please –Por favor, mande una ambulancia; My name is- Mi nombre es; My address is – Mi domicilio es; My phone number is – Mi numero de telefono es; I am very sick – Estoy muy enferma; My wife/husband had a heart attack – Mi esposa tuvo un ataque cardiac!; I fell and I am hurt – Me cai y estoy herido!

Ms. Contreras’ classes will be limited to 10 students. Each class will be closed to new students after two sessions to avoid repetition. New classes will be started if enough students sign up.

Cost is 100 pesos ($6.79 USD) ($7.89 CAN) payable in advance for 10 classes (or five weeks). That’s 1,000 pesos total or ($78.89 CAN) ($67.88 USD) total for the five weeks, materials included. Just bring a pen/pencil and notebook. Sign up by calling Ms.Contreras at cel.984-108-3517 or show up at the first class of your choice.

 

COOKING CLASS DAY CHANGE – Latitude 20, now under new ownership, will switch to 10 a.m Saturday, Jan. 3, for this week and resume on Fridays beginning Jan. 9… THE PUBLIC LIBRARY at the Colegio will be open during the holiday season from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. on Tuesday Dec. 30 and Tuesday Jan. 6… CENTRO COMERCIAL annual assembly is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 10…THE 7th  ANNUAL Puerto Aventuras road race this year is Sunday, Jan. 25, and will begin at 7 a.m. at Porto Bello, same place as last year, but end at the large palapa in Centro’s Dolphin Discovery, which is the major race sponsor this year. Local runners can register at the Colonos office during working hours. For more information on registration and costs (200 pesos for adults, 150 for children) click on the Colonos site in the right-hand column …ART SHOWS are held each Thursday evening at the Information and Art Center…

 

 

Commerce Corner…

Poblado delegate reports

40 percent hike in sales

   New street paving in the Poblado this year has had an inviting and beneficial effect on the local business community, driving holiday season sales some 40 percent higher than in recent years.

Municipal delegate Olivia Zamudio Escobar told the local press that people visiting the Puerto Aventuras resort section have ventured into the Poblado in larger numbers this season, enticed perhaps by the new streets and other beautification projects.

Those who have not been in the Poblado for a while will notice the difference new, blacktopped streets have made vs. the dusty, rutted roads prevalent just over a year ago. There also appears to have been a resurgence of pride in the bright, happy colors of some newly painted houses.

Locals working in the area service industry and in construction also contributed to the holiday sales picture for retailers and restaurants because they have prospered more this year than last. In addition, many Pobladans work locally hrough the holidays and remained here to shop and celebrate , according to the delegate.

Wage hike called ‘insult’

One indication of wage improvement for workers locally was a wage adjustment to avert a potential strike last January by the CROC union members who were assuaged by “harmonizing” salaries at a Colonos cost of 2,000 pesos a month in the monthly payroll and one-time payment of 35,000 pesos. The strike threat was withdrawn in May of 2014, according to the Colonos.

But for what it’s worth, the National Commission on Minimum Wages has just announced a 4.2 percent increase in the country’s minimum wage in two geographic areas. The increase on the West Coast raises the daily minimum wage to 70.10 Mexican pesos (currently about $4.80 USD) while the East Coast hike is only 2 pesos and 68 cents, or 66.45 pesos daily wage (around $4.55 USD),which Q. Roo CROC officials have labeled “an insult” to labor. 

CROC is the acronym for the Revolutionary Confederation of Workers and Farmers (Confederacion Revolucionaria de Obreros y Campesinos).

 

No such thing as a free lunch, but…..

 

Blowout sends car swerving

off 307 into Paamul woods

Puerto Aventuras Red Cross responds

   The staff of Pelican Free Press witnessed its third car accident on Highway 307 this year when a car apparently had a tire blow out and, in the process of swerving to avoid other cars speeding along, went off the road near the Paamul entrance and crashed into the woods, wounding two persons, one with possible serious injury.

The Red Cross ambulance out of Puerto Aventuras was first to arrive at the scene shortly after 11:30 a.m. Saturday and raced one of the injured with a neck brace on a gurney to a medical facility in Playa del Carmen as police began an investigation at the scene. The car was soon removed by a tow truck.

Meanwhile, the Red Cross in Playa del Carmen reported 40 calls from the colonies for an ambulance during the hours of Christmas eve and Christmas day, tying a record set last year. Horcio Moreno, managing director of the Red Cross unit in Playa, said family quarrels spurred by too many alcoholic drinks doubled the 2012 number of Christmas incidents.

The unit reported 25 people were treated as the result of physical family quarrels and the remainder of cases brought on by diabetic and hypertension reactions.

(Puerto Aventuras has a quiet but active group – some members engaged in International Rotary – supporting the Red Cross in Puerto Aventuras and Playa del Carmen. Read more about what they are doing by clicking on the Red Cross button at the top of this page.)

 

Colonos Assembly 3: The cost

Getting a general feel

for the Colonos budget

What 2015 spending plan totals in dollars

By Staff

Residents who are not part of the budget process as presented at the annual assembly might be somewhat confused by what running the Colonos costs in U.S. and Canadian dollars over a year.

A quick glimpse of the proposed budget chart provided in the Dec. 13 assembly’s annual report shows a proposed budget of 1,302,000 (in pesos). If one bothers to check what that is in USD at the current favorable exchange rate of around 14.7 pesos to the dollar, it represents the relatively tiny amount of about $88,000 USD or $102,718 CAN, certainly not enough to run the Colonos operation for a year.

That’s because, as presented in the chart, the 2015 budget of 1,302,000 is a monthly figure, not the yearly amount usually cited in most budgets. So for 12 months, the total budget figure would be 15,624,000 pesos, or around $1,061,000 USD and $1,232,000 CAN at the current exchange rate.

There is a reason for the monthly budget model.  Historically, Colonos’ fiscal year has begun in February and run through the following January.  (This will change in 2015, when the fiscal year will be from January to December.)  At the time of the December assembly only nine months of the current fiscal year have been completed, so using monthly average budget figures makes it easier for laymen to compare the current year’s income and spending with what’s being proposed for the coming year, notes a member of the Vigilance Committee.

Aside from employee wages, insurance, rent and other household–type fixed costs, the Colonos budget in 2014 funded repairs to the cultural center palapa, painting projects, new stamped concrete pavement along a missing strip on Yanten and the west lane of the main boulevard heading toward the main gate.

Also, the uncomfortable cobblestone entrance at the main gate was smoothed out, to the delight of local drivers and other general road maintenance such as filling in potholes completed. The Punta Celis roadway was widened to better accommodate traffic.

The budget also includes funding the security force, purchasing video cameras that have proven a big help in identifying and in some cases capturing felons, purchasing motorized and other equipment for the public works and security departments, repairs to infrastructure such as main gate barriers, adding topes and vados to roadways where requested or deemed necessary to slow traffic and general safety projects such as building the new pedestrian path on Bahia Chemuyil.

The budget also supports the administrative staff to oversee the work, take payment of fees, issue permits, I.D. and gate passes; listen to and act upon general community complaints and keep an open line of communication with the various municipal departments such as rubbish collection and animal rescue of the municipality of Solidaridad in Playa del Carmen. The administration also provides oversight and coordination with the private infrastructure such as water and sewer supply.

The Colonos administrator is general manager Armando Rincon. He reports to the elected Colonos board, which includes Jorge Kaufer, president; Guillermo Lobo, secretary and Irma I. Ramos, treasurer and two voting members, Gerardo Diego and Daniele Gracis.

Representing another layer of financial and administrative oversight is the Vigilance Committee that includes Carlos Suarez, co-owner of a property management company; PA developer and Arq. Roman Rivera Torres, and retired U.S. mortgage finance executive Tim Howard, all of whom have significant financial and administrative expertise.

 

Nature Watch…

Argentine court frees zoo ape

under a writ of habeas corpus

Joins life similar to free-roving spider monkeys of PA

  

The tendency of some people to “humanize animal behavior”, particularly with canine pets, has been characterized by Adrian Sestelo, an Argentinian zoo biologist, as one of man’s “most common mistakes.”

His studied comment of animal vs. human life stems from a recent, pioneering legal opinion in Argentina that freed a 28-year-old orangutan ape from a zoo on a “habeas corpus” petition.

The court decision referred to the ape as a “non-human person” and ordered it released from captivity into a wild-life sanctuary to roam free.

A habeas corpus is a petition with the power of a court order to a jailer, for example, to present a prisoner before the court to determine if the jailer, or custodian, has the legal right to detain the prisoner, or, in this case, the “non-human person.”

It’s a landmark ruling in view of the fact that previous similar U.S. petitions to free orca whales and a privately owned chimp in New York rejected the notion the whales and monkey were “persons” enti

tled under the law to the human rights and protections of habeas corpus.

An animal rights group filed the Argentine petition to free “Sandra,” 29, who was described as being, by nature, a calm, solitary animal born in captivity in Germany and sent to the Argentine zoo 20 years ago.

Orangutan, incidentally, is a Malaysian word meaning “forest man.” Observers say the decision, if it survives an appeal, would open the door to many more such petitions to free captive animals. Dolphins, who appear to exhibit some human-like learning abilities, gives readers in this area something to ponder.

Puerto Aventuras is way ahead of Argentina, though. It already allows its resident spider monkeys, that is, “non-human persons,” to roam free and comingle (at a safe distance) with the cosmopolitan population of Mexicans, Canadians, Italians, Americans, Russians, Poles, Spaniards etc. that inhabit and share what many here label “Paradise.”

 

 

Briefly Noted…

Work on the sports complex that was postponed earlier has resumed in the Puerto Maya neighborhood of Puerto Aventuras … An estimated 12,000 people per day crossed the channel in ferries to Cozumel during the holiday period while businesses and beaches on both sides of the channel were reported at near full occupancy…The New Year begins with a prediction of continued cold fronts until sometime in mid-February, bringing cooler evenings and more rain than usual for this time of year…Playa del Carmen, which usually has about 21,000 vehicles in the city that jumps to about 40,000 during the holiday season, surpassed that this year with a record 56,000 vehicles using and/or passing through the city…The Mexican government laments that the case of 43 missing students in Iguala has obscured the good news that crime in general has been significantly reduced in the country with homicides down 15 percent, robberies down 11 percent and other crimes reduced by similar percentages…The body of a Catholic priest who had been shot and killed near Guerrero was found in a nearby municipality on Christmas day. Guerrero state is where 43 students remain missing and believed murdered… Turkey plot – Police were summoned in Playa’s tourist area last week by passersby who smelled a foul odor from the trunk of a parked car. When police opened the trunk, it turned out to be more of a “fowl” odor of a Christmas turkey the owner forgot to remove from the trunk…The Tulum Ruins attracted a daily average of about 4,500 visitors equaling 80 percent of hotel and restaurant occupation…

The Mail Bag…

Dear Editor:

Thank you to Sr. Roman Rivera Torres for speaking to us at our annual meeting. We were happy to hear that if you do not have a buyer for the golf course by April 2015, you will immediately lay the water lines and complete the other infrastructure necessary to finish the remaining 9 holes. Bravo, this is good news!

I thank the members for the opportunity to speak at this forum. The golf course completion is not only important for adjacent property owners, but for all of Puerto Aventurans who play golf.

Especially to the Hotels and Restaurants that attract thousands of people a year. It would be nice to keep the revenue of the golfers here at our local restaurants and hotels. We look forward to April and the improvements to come.

Signed/David Perry

Some Mexican New Year traditions

Here are some traditions in Mexico for the celebration of New Year’s eve or locally known as Año Nuevo. One is downing a grape with each of the twelve chimes of the bell during the midnight countdown, while making a wish with each one.

It is said that Mexican families decorate homes and parties, during New Year’s, with colors such as red, to encourage an overall improvement of lifestyle and love,;yellow to encourage blessings of improved employment conditions; green to improve financial circumstances and white to improve health.

Mexican sweet bread is baked with a coin or charm hidden in the dough. When the bread is served, the recipient whose slice contains the coin or charm is believed to be blessed with good luck in the new year.

Another tradition is making a list of all the bad or unhappy events from the current year; before midnight, this list is thrown into a fire, symbolizing the removal of negative energy from the new year. At the same time, appreciation is expressed for all the good things had during the year that is coming to its end so that they will continue to be had in the new year.[2]

Some traditions include a family dinner at 1:00am , the traditional meal being turkey and mole, a tradition which has now spanned worldwide. Those who want to party generally go out afterwards, to local parties or night clubs.

If you’re in Mexico, you can still enjoy festivities in the street. In Mexico City there is a huge street festival on New Year’s Eve; celebrations center around the Zocalo, the city’s main square. You can expect a lot of firecrackers, fireworks and sparklers. At midnight there is a lot of noise and everyone shouts: "Feliz año nuevo!" People embrace, make noise, set off firecrackers, and sing Auld Lang Syne. Sounds like Times Square, yes?

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