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SEPTEMBER, 2016

Around Town …

PA’s youth club sailors

shine in national Olympics

 

*Team wins five of 24 medals

  Young sailors from Quintana Roo have piloted the state to second place nationally in the 2016 Mexican National Olympiads. Five of the total 24 medals won at the recent event, or 21 percent, were brought home by members of the Puerto Aventuras Youth Sailing Club located in Phase 4, reports club founder and commodore Daniele Gracis.

The competition included four categories of vessels. Three categories from Puerto Aventuras were entered in the races.

The local club’s winning sailors, and their boat class, are Alex Torres and Rene Galicia in Optimist, Keyla Hernandez in Laser, Marcelo Melgarejo and Greece Hernandez in windsurfing. Also adding to state points were Ana Laura Rojas and Carlos Muniz of Club Puerto Cancun.

The Youth Sailing Club is made possible in part by donations to sponsor some of the sailors. The club has brought several major regattas off the shores of the community in the past several years that has helped the local economy.

*Colonos helping condos collect fee
  The Colonos has issued a notice that owners of condominiums who are in arrears in maintenance fees will be obliged to fess up before they will be able to get or renew 
their gate pass. As of August 22, 2016, any owner who wants a gate pass will have to present a “no-debt” letter from their condo administration to the Colonos before a pass will be issued. The non-payment of fees, although not a widespread practice, has for some time vexed condo managers and offended on-time owners who are considerate of their neighbors by assuring funds are sufficient monthly to pay debts to vendors and maintenance servicemen.

*Push for PA mayor continues

Solidaridad’s City Council was seeking a special council session if necessary to vote on a bid to create a mayoral position for the growing  Puerto Aventuras community and its delegation.  So far, the outgoing municipal president has sidestepped the move, said Councilor Emilio Tamargo, who sponsored the proposal.  Estimates of the Puerto Aventuras population ranges from 15,000 to 20,000 depending on who is counting.

The community on the west side of Highway 307 has been active recently, blockading the highway in a squabble over absent electrical service for several days causing major inconvenience to residents and more recently, complaining about poor medical service from the IMSS( Social Security System) over lack of services sufficient to keep up with the population growth. Complainants say the current level of medical services is the same as it was 20 years ago when the population was less than half what it is today. Hence the push to empower the delegation with a mayor to assure the delegation receives its fare share of tax dollars and services…

*That’s a lot of rubbish!

  One resort resident wrote to the Colonos complaining that trash had not been collected for seven consecutive days during August, while Poblado residents were demanding relief as garbage outside for collection went uncollected and rancid from the heat for as much as two weeks.

It wasn’t the only complaint being registered with the resort’s Colonos about the on-again, off-again collection situation directly attributable to the municipal government’s ultra-slow payments to the collection company. Others have complained in vain directly to the municipal government, the administration of which is about to change.

  Colonos General Manager Armando Rincon said even extra payment to the collection truck driver didn’t help the situation. With any luck and a new municipal administration, perhaps the situation will improve when the high season comes along. Meanwhile, the Colonos has been sending notices to residents about separating garbage from recyclables and not putting barrels out for collection on Sundays. Similar problems were reported even on touristy 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen, which has left restaurant owners there screaming for relief… *Recycle your stuff at the skate park between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. this Friday, Sept. 2, and help improve the rubbish collection situation…

*Ubiquitous ‘Frisbee’ dies

From Acapulco to Puerto Aventuras

By Staff
  We’re told his name was Alex Romy to some, or Alejandro Vega Oscoi, depending on who you asked. His age was reportedly somewhere in the 80s, and anyone who visited Puerto Aventuras resort for more than a day in the past several decades or so likely saw the bi-lingual thin man with the weatherworn face, known simply as “Frisbee”, roaming along the resort’s pathways cradling his beloved dog Daisy in his arms and often darting in and out of al fresco eateries for snap-chats with familiar faces, of which there were many.

To most ex-pats and snowbirds, he was an enigma, but some longtime residents managed to wheedle from him  selective bits of his past, such as being an Acapulco fishing boat captain to the Hollywood stars of the day , a skilled Frisbee flinger, thus earning his nickname, and water skier along Acapulco’s beaches. PA restaurateur Peter Metrick tells the Pelican that when he landed here in his sailboat 27 years ago, “Frisbee” was on the dock to handle the ropes saying “Welcome to Paradise,” thus beginning a quarter century friendship that sadly finds itself interrupted.

Metrick and others described Frisbee as a willing purveyor of homespun philosophy to any who would listen. “He will be missed for his always happy ‘yeah, yeah, everything is well’” said PA developer Roman Rivera Torres. Resident Hal Harper said Frisbee loved his aging dog more than anything and hoped some kind person would care for her. But as it happened, Metrick told the Pelican a few days after Frisbee’s death, Daisy followed him way over yonder.

Frisbee’s inevitable departure brought together numerous friends and acquaintances on August 26. They convened at Hippo’s Restaurant, then retired en masse to the Chac-Hal-Al jetty for memorial words, fireworks and reminiscences.  

Metrick said “Frisbee” shared a rhyming couplet with him years ago, and Metrick now passes it on to the community: “The spirit down here in man, and the spirit up there in the sun; In reality are only one spirit, and there is no other one.” 

For many, Frisbee was a welcome village fixture to the extent that his passing drew many in the community together to remember his being with eulogies, balloons, music, fireworks and – appropriately – Frisbees.

Scenes above from Frisbee’s commemoration. 

 

*Delegation combats zika

The political  delegation in the poblado reports that some 78 buildings in the poblado and Puerto Maya will be certified for the 4th consecutive year for assuring the properties have been cleaned and maintained to prevent the spread of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, carrier of zika, chikungunya and dengue. The group urges private property owners to do the same by removing standing water, pruning vegetation and getting rid of junk…    

UK warned citizens about Riviera

Maya “travelers disease” outbreak 

By Staff

About 270 UK visitors at luxury hotels in the Riviera Maya were allegedly infected with cyclosporiasis from June through August, 2016, prompting the UK Office of Public Health to urge its citizens to use extreme caution when dining in Riviera Maya eateries.. The affliction, also known as “traveler’s diarrhea,” was reported by visitors to the Maya Riviera from England and Scotland who stayed at various hotels.

The warning was issued after reports to UK health authorities by travelers who complained of frequent diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, flatulence, bloating, low fever, loss of appetite and weight, all symptoms of cyclosporiasis.

In a timely response, Mexican health officials investigating the complaints opined the route of infection may have been a fecal-oral pathway from previously contaminated food, even from the point of harvest. It is estimated that in 2015 that Riviera Maya hosted about 304.5 thousand visitors from the UK, a significant contribution to the local economy.

Now authorities are wondering why only British visitors were affected, since no Italians, Canadians, Spaniards, Americans or tourists from other markets reported any sickness. In addition, a handful of zika cases have been reported in Cozumel.

 

Added international flights hold

promise of competitive fares

By Staff

  An agreement hammered out in 2015 to allow more international flights between Mexico and the USA became effective August 21. Basically the agreement allows more flights between the two countries, a by-product of which is more competition and, if economic theory holds, more competitive fares.

Both countries hope to encourage and facilitate, they say, an international aviation system based on market competition in an effort to achieve fair consumer pricing through competitive rates. The agreement allows airlines of both countries to cooperate with one another on point-to-point routes and schedules.

The agreement also involves the rights of each country to impose taxes on users that are fair and reasonable. Meanwhile, airlines are readying additional seating and flights for the upcoming fall and winter high seasons.

 

Allegations of state corruption

slow bank loans to governments

Compiled by Staff 
  Tourist-rich Quintana Roo, the home state of Puerto Aventuras and environs, is among four Mexican states where recurring allegations of political corruption have prompted Mexican banks to curtail nationwide lending to the country’s indebted state governments.

The four culpable states – that also include Veracruz, Nuevo Leon and Chihuahua – have accounted for close to half of the 70 percent jump in local government liabilities between 2010 and 2015, which stood at 536 billion pesos ($28.52 billion) at the end of last December.

Ironically, voters in those four states were apparently convinced of the criminal allegations during the recent election process to oust the PRI party of President Enrique Pena Nieto after decades of control.

The reduction in loans to state governments has been significant in the first half of this year with commercial banks agreeing to only 11 loans to state and municipal governments totaling $451 million USD, less than during the same period in 2015, when 32 loans went out, according to finance ministry figures.

"We now have more cautious policies to avoid cases of over-indebtedness," said Armando Acevedo, in charge of local lending at Grupo Financiero Interacciones, (GFI) a major lender to states and municipalities whose rating was downgraded by Moody’s in June citing rising asset risks from the bank’s excessive exposures to Mexican regional and local governments."

Moody’s did the same to Veracruz and Chihuahua, while Quintana Roo, home to tourist hubs Cancun and Playa del Carmen, had its outlook lowered by Standard and Poor’s.

While the Mexican federal government denies the existence of a problem and that new laws have tightened lending rules, Luis Robles Miaja, board president of BBVA Bancomer in Mexico, said, “"What we have done is be much more careful about which states we’re lending to."

Governors of the four states accused of corruption by the opposition political party before the election campaign have denied the charges.m

The Round-up…

Pricing propane – Quintana Roo has the second most expensive propane gas in the nation, second only to Baja Sur. The price here was reported in the local press as 14.01 pesos per kilogram after a decrease of 2.55 pesos. Then the Ministry of Finance, which oversees LPG pricing, said the price is supposed to be 11.55 pesos. The Federation said it is now monitoring distributors to assure they are charging the set price. Meanwhile, we were told that Zeta Gas has initiated an automatic payment process with local banks for those who might be interested in the convenience of auto-pay. This can be checked out with Zeta office personnel located in Centro Maya near the Soriana supermarket…

Missing money – Solidaridad’s city council is demanding the outgoing municipal administration  explain what happened to 22.9 million pesos that the state congress found is missing from the 2015 city books. The demand is part of a council clamor for more transparency in Solidaridad’s municipal government…

High crime in Q. Roo – The regional military commander on the Yucatan reports that of the three states comprising the Yucatan Peninsula, Quinta Roo has the highest crime rate, most of it centered in the urbanized areas of Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum. The other two states are Campeche and Yucatan.

Aguacan water company fought back against complaints that it was responsible for recent sewer overflows on 5th Avenue. Aguakan inspection showed, it said, that cause was the failure of some restaurants to use and/or clean grease traps, causing blockage which caused the overflows onto the street…

Taxi driver union “Lazaro Cardenas del Rio” has been awarded the “T” distinctive service emblem from the state Tourism Secretariat for a 2-year initiative to improve the safety and service of taxis in the area and set new operating standards for tourists and locals alike…

Akumal shocker – Beachgoers here were reportedly discomfited when observing private armed guards apparently protecting the beach access area. There have been clashes this year over the beach access issue including blockades and property damage. The guards have a similar military appearance as those stationed at Sam’s Club in Playa del Carmen… Meanwhile talks are continuing to forge agreements on beach access and use between interested parties while also preserving the turtle population…

Hurricane Earl, the first of the Atlantic season to flirt with landfall in Puerto Aventuras, decided to woo Belize instead and spared touristy Mayan Rivera of potential economic loss from physical damage and an extended lull in the flow of tourist dollars. But Veracruz took a hit with damages and at least six deaths of 40 reported nationwide from mudslides caused by excessive rain… No major problems reported in Puerto Aventuras and its immediate environs…

Three killed in Tulum crash and two injured last week when a truck whose driver lost control of the truck sideswiped a car… Also, a 23-year old person and a one-year-old child were killed this week outride the Catalonia Hotel and Spa when the driver of a car fell asleep and crashed into parked vans on the 307…

Bicycle Club expresses concern in Playa del Carmen after a biker who tried to stop a thief from stealing his bicycle was stabbed to death on 30th Street as the month of August began. In a statement, the club said while bicycle theft is a daily event, murder during the theft is rare and beyond the pale… Another fatal stabbing was also reported on the same weekend in the Akumal puebla when an unidentified man was found outside a house with hands tied behind his back and 18 stab wounds…

Electric rate hikes by the Federal Electric Commission (CFE) have totaled 10 percent in just a month, causing complaints from business and the general public because the increases impact consumer costs so heavily, particularly the ability of the poor to make payments and buy food… This while the peso lost more ground, coming in at 19.15 pesos per $1 USD on August 2, increasing worries about inflation….

Big oil Exxon, Chevron and Hess have teamed up to bid on 10 crude oil drilling rights in Mexican gulf waters when bidding begins Dec. 5. Mexico hopes to raise $44 billion from the sale. Foreign producers haven’t drilled in Mexican waters since 1938. The Pena Nieto administration has ushered reforms in the nationalized oil industry that has opened Mexico to foreign oil investment…

Code of honor? A spike in the murder of entire families, mothers, fathers and children by warring drug gangs in several Mexican states created one newspaper headline that the gangs were “breaking the code of honor” – a suggestion that resurrects the real world view that there is no honor among thieves to begin with… Meanwhile, a young priest in the embattled metropolitan area of Monterrey is inviting troubled youth to join the “Gang of Christ” as a better alternative to criminal gangs…

The body of a former mayor of a town in Yucatan State was found decomposing on the shore of a Valladolid cenote last week after he had earlier been reported missing. The police say it appears that he had been tortured and assumed murdered in an act of “reckoning”.

Sargassum sickness? – As sargassum continues to pollute area beaches, particularly in Playa de Carmen, there are reports that, in addition to the putrid odor of the decaying weed, is a growing number of reports of fishermen and workers handling the weed and complaining about sores, rashes, skin infections and a type of mange… Meanwhile, with it’s economy caving in, Venezuelans entering the jungles to sift for gold in watery pits are returning to urban areas are spreading malaria to a degree not seen in many years…

Addiction and pregnancies are reported as the two main causes of school dropouts in Solidaridad… Use of moto-tricycles as taxis in the PA poblado has opened up a debate concerning their safety and liability coverage in an ongoing investigation of their unlicensed use as public transportation. There are also complaints the trikes are undercutting licensed taxis…

Colectivo rides to Tulum, Puerto Morelos and Cancun could increase by the time snowbirds arrive in the fall. The taxi unions say they already have permission to raise prices as the cost of gasoline remains comparatively high. A ride from Playa to Cancun is currently 34 pesos, according to reports…

 

Nature Watch…

Pioneer in dolphin ‘dialogue’

dies, leaves lasting legacy

Dolphin Discovery helps build on dolphin research

By Staff

Louis M. Herman died at 86 in early August. Now it’s up to organizations like Dolphin Discovery to continue his seminal work in furthering man’s understanding of and communication with dolphins.

Who was Herman? He was among the pioneering researchers to open a dialogue with dolphins in the belief dolphins had the ability to retain and respond to sight and sound signals, much like the ones displayed daily at Dolphin Discovery sites here in Puerto Aventuras and at other Caribbean locales.

Born in New York City, Herman earned a doctorate in behavioral psychology specializing in the decision-making process, then drifted into the study of animal language and oceanography, receiving sufficient support to create the Kewalo Basin Marine Mammal Laboratory in Hawaii where, after 20 years of research, proved that dolphins were cognitive cousins of chimpanzees and in one arguable way, even more advanced.

In 1997, his research took a severe blow when two disgruntled lab employees released the two dolphins, Puka and Kea, involved in his study of eight years. Ironically, the men said they did so in part because the dolphins deserved to be free. But Puka and Kea, who had come to understand short sentences like “fetch the ball,” were presumed to have starved or been eaten by sharks because they were unprepared in captivity for life in the wild.

Dr. Herman continued the research with two other dolphins and ultimately showed that dolphins, like some monkeys, could process language fundamentals, that is, grasp word meanings expressed by sounds or symbols. The research also discovered dolphins, like humans, display a short temper when they are wrong and strive mightily to be correct, particularly when being right is followed by reward.

The Encyclopedia of Linguistics reported, when Dr, Herman retired in 2006, that he and his team were responsible for “virtually all of what is currently known and accepted” about the ability of the dolphin to understand the basic semantics of artificial language.

The exploration of dolphin communication and understanding continues in universities, private research groups and at award winning Dolphin Discovery sites where the company opens its facilities to researchers continuing to expand the book of knowledge opened by Dr. Herman.

The End – Previous edition below

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