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Monthly Archives: February 2013

Pitfalls of health insurance explored

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WELCOME LATITUDE 20 RESTAURANT as a sponsor. See story below

 

COMING ATTRACTIONS…

 

 

BUSINESS EXCHANGE NIGHT is tonight, Feb. 28, from 6:30 to 11 p.m. at Colegio Ingles in Playa del Carmen. The first such night sponsored by “Negocios Unidos” (United Business) provides the opportunity for international and local business networking. All invited. Entrance fee of 150 pesos includes alcoholic drink, hors d’oeuvre and more.

COLONOS ASSEMBLY will tackle just one issue – beach replenishment and its funding – at9:30 a.m. (first call) Saturday (March 2) in the Colonos Meeting Room adjacent to the office. It is an opportunity for stakeholders to hear first-hand the technical plans for the reclamation of Omni Beach, its funding process and requested guaranteed beach access for stakeholders among other issues concerning the proposal. Developer Roman Rivera Torres will make the presentation with the assistance of technical experts.
A VIVA VOCE concert, 6 p.m., March 2, Oasis Tulum Hotel. Ensemble of area music teachers. Tickets 200 pesos at Hotel Akumal Caribe office in Akumal under the arch. Proceeds benefit Otach Paal Montessori School in Akumal Pueblo.

ALERT ISSUED:
 
The Colonos alerts residents in the wake of an attempt to steal a wallet from an elderly gentleman in a local restaurant last week, to be aware of their surroundings and secure their pocketbooks/wallets when shopping, dining out or walking in crowds. Use common sense precautions.

 

Health care talk attracts more than 60 

Problem is less about good care

and more about iffy insurance

 

 

     More than 60 Puerto Aventurans waded into the complexities of local health care and insurance coverage options at a meeting Tuesday in the Colonos Room that unveiled pleasant and not-so-pleasant information for expats and snowbirds.
While speakers, including U.S. consular agent Samantha Mason and others confidently lauded the level of health care providers here and in Playa del Carmen, insurance coverage was another matter. We learned that “free” Mexican health care for expats is “a myth” according to Mason. And while private insurers are offering health care coverage to expats and snowbirds for chunks of time – three months, six months – that coverage is NOT available to gringos 65 and over unless they are renewing a policy purchase before they turned 65.
Time and again in my line of work I have seen situations where the lack of proper medical coverage becomes both life threatening and financially devastating. My hope is that the folks present will take the time to analyze their current coverage  and see if there is anything they could do to improve it. You have no idea how many times I hear, ‘I just thought I was covered, if I had only known’”, Mason said after the meeting.
       Other coverage options were discussed, such as U.S. supplementary and/or travel insurance, something that individual buyers working with their primary insurers need to – and should – ferret out for themselves.

The good news is that the Mexican Red Cross established a clinic in the former police station building in the Puebla last September. It is offering top grade emergency ambulance service to all Puerto Aventurans, Akumalians and Paamulians  whether or not they can pay for the service along with drop-in clinic.
Dr.Nadine Rendon, who is on the clinic staff of three doctors and six paramedics,, and Teresa Jimenez Rodriguez, chair of the Lady Volunteers in Playa,  said the Red Cross handles an emergency by first stabilizing and delivering the patient to the hospital of his or her choice and then leaves it up to the patient to decide on a donation for the service.
At that point, one man in the audience who recently needed the ambulance lauded the service and asked where he could make a donation. This prompted several other testimonials to the Red Cross by those who have used it here. Chac Hal Al resident Doe Stowell, who also used the emergency service recently, emphatically noted, “The system works!” and offered with wit her presence as proof.

Without diminishing the level of service provided by other private or public clinics, hospitals and ambulance services, the speakers left a solid impression that the best choices for expats in emergencies here are the local Red Cross ambulance and Hospiten, which operates a modern, well-equipped hospital in Playa del Carmen and a more comprehensive one in Cancun.
The audience was told some fee-for-service ambulances here will take you to a hospital with which it has a pecuniary association rather than to one a patient would prefer. Further, people calling an ambulance other than Red Cross via the public emergency number –066 -are subject to being taken to the next hospital on the ambulance service rotation list and not necessarily the nearest one.
By calling the Red Cross emergency number directly – 065 – the patient is taken to the hospital of his or her choice. The Red Cross has six ambulances covering its regional district that stretches from Puerto Morelos to Akumal.
Hospiten was touted by speakers as the hospital of choice for expats because, aside from 24/7 staffing and modern facility, it is pleasantly bi-lingual, works well with the Red Cross ambulance staffs, documents all billing comprehensively to ease the way for reimbursements from U.S. and Canadian insurers and has a two-tier payment schedule with lower payments for residents ranging from 400 to 700 pesos per visit. A resident is described as one who owns property. In the case of Puerto Aventuras, the Colonos “propietario” card is sufficient proof for Hospiten.

Dalit Lava, representing the Hospital, did a yeoman’s job describing the complexities of international insurance coverage for expats. She underscored Consular Agent Mason’s goal to “…get local area expats to take a look at their particular medical insurance situation and identify any weaknesses or gaps that could devastate their health or pocketbook in the case of an unforeseen injury or illness as well as to introduce them to some of their options for medical care and insurance.”
Centro resident John Schwandke, who coordinated the speaking  program, noted after the meeting that some $3,400 from last year’s charity golf tournament was used to purchase equipment chosen by Red Cross doctors here to better serve the public on both sides of the highway. There will be a presentation ceremony at 10 a.m. Monday at the Red Cross in the Pueblo and all are invited. The Red Cross is not government subsidized and relies on donations to carry on its services.
The talks ran for more than two hours and were embellished by demonstrations  of the Red Cross ambulance and equipment outdoors. The Pelican Free Press will continue to present more detailed information on the subject as space permits in future editions.
If the intent of the meeting was to create confidence in the certified and constantly training staff of the Red Cross, the “fit” of Hospiten and expats and the pitfalls of unanalyzed health care insurance coverage, it certainly succeeded.

Oscar Night draws glamour to Puerto Aventuras

By Staff
It was unusual to see a large bus drive cautiously down Bahia Yalku Sunday evening and deposit more than 30 fashionably clad ladies and gentlemen on the red carpet in front of a tastefully decorated home where they joined other guests arriving by car.

That’s the home of David Vazquez, who for 13 years has been lavishly creating the Hollywood illusion of Oscar Night right here in Puerto Aventuras for invited guests. The event is not only a posh social but a charitable event as well to benefit the Tierra de Animales foundation.
Besides the red carpet and a nonchalant Spaniel named Gala sitting on it, guests, laughing, smiling, hugging and giddy in anticipation of watching the awards ceremony on large TV sets were also

greeted by this community’s version of paparazzi – a few professional photographers and lots of folks flashing their iPhones and iPads to capture the moment.
Adding to the glamour of the evening were sisters Paola, left, and Abril Allende (above left) of Cancun flashing abundant poise and style that proves that it isn’t all in Hollywood. “We’re just fans,” quipped Paola when they were mistaken for movie stars.  The Oscar statue that used to adorn the outside of the house in years past has moved inside the great room where it is cozier.

Columnist Esteban Torres once wrote about the party when it was in its infancy: (translated from Spanish) “It all started as an excuse to see the best of cinema awards among friends and gradually grew into a big party, whose code was and is so far to come dressed in tuxedo and gowns signed by some designer, jewelry, elaborate hairstyles and all production that characterizes Hollywood stars, keeping the right proportions…” And so it was Sunday evening.

Commerce Corner…

Latitude 20 owner personifies ‘community’

By Staff
     Jamaican-born, New York City-raised Peter Metrick has a penchant for doing extraordinary things. When he went into the Vietnam-era U.S. Army, regular infantry wasn’t enough, so he joined the Rangers.

After the Army. he attend the “RCA Institute for TV Production” in New York to satisfy his curiosity about theater arts, and studied with people from the popular “Sesame Street” children’s show. “I took to directing and wanted to see if that would be my calling,” he said said last week at his Latitude 20 Restaurant overlooking the dolphin-populated “Lagoon of Dreams.”
But the call of the cradle trumped city life and Metrick, an affable and attentive host often seen  trading wits with patrons, returned to Jamaica where he was born. He opened a casual restaurant where his family ran a small resort on a stretch of family-owned beach. Over the next 20 years the business grew into a beach bar and string of cabanas as divers and recreational sailors discovered a new paradise. He put his training at RCA to work and joined up with the iconic Bob Marley among others directing reggae performances, which he still does here at Latitude 20.

After 20 years of that and seeking a new adventure, Metrick came to the Riviera Maya and became an integral part of Puerto Aventuras’ development. “There were probably only 50 people here,” he said, when he opened his first PA restaurant 25 years ago. It was called the “Papaya Republic” and was situated in a stone house where Villa del Mar II now sits.       As development spread, Peter moved adjacent to the Dreams Hotel, across the bridge, and opened the first Latitude 20 Restaurant there. He accessorized the place with basketball and volleyball courts for that little extra Metrick touch.

Competing with the developing Centro area, he launched a free water taxi service to carry visitors from Centro to Latitude 20 and let the pull of his friendly personality, good service and decent prices create a loyal, local clientele.

There followed a two-year hiatus to Tulum, then a return here and the opening of Latitude 20 again adjacent to the boat ramp. Last summer he moved again to the lagoon area where he now operates what he likes to describe as a “community” restaurant aimed at residents, though he gets his share of visitors, he says.
The sense of community is expressed by his Friday morning cooking classes, having a local youth band, the “Salsa Kids,” appear intermittently to gain experience; meal delivery service at night and closing up to feed sailors in the recent regatta. Coming soon, he says, is a free golf cart shuttle service and a round-the-world cookbook along latitude 2o, which is the route followed by the restaurant’s cooking class. His goal is reminiscent of the Cheers TV theme song: “Sometimes you like to go where everybody knows your name.”
The eatery’s food, service and prices get constant high marks from travelers in TripAdvisor and other travel-guide reviews.
Latitude 20 Restaurant along with Peter’s banter and repartee are welcomed as a sponsor of the Pelican Free Press.

 

In Case You Want To Know…

LIONFISH: “Eat ‘em to beat ‘em”

By Staff
      CBS ran a feature last week on the colorful killer we all know around these parts as the “lionfish.” It has a reputation and voracious appetite for decimating coral fish populations along reefs, including our own here on the Riviera Maya.

There have been contests in this area for divers to capture as many lionfish as they can and they, like similar contests in the Florida Keyes, have yielded good results, but perhaps not enough to stem the spreading population of these interlopers from other seas.
Maintaining the indigenous fish populations in area reefs for recreational diving is an important part of the Rivera Maya’s revenue strategy,but a sustained economic incentive for capturing lionfish has been absent…until now. What the CBS show revealed is the reprise of an old Cuban tenet that says something like “if you can’t beat it, eat it.”
So the Key Largo, Fla. based Reef Environmental Education Foundation has published “The Lionfish Cookbook” which has 45 recipes for the mild flavored fish plus tips on how to handle them without getting injured from their venomous spines.Proceeds from the sale of the book go to support REEF’s marine conservation and lionfish research activities.

The mane-like assemblage of spines that give the fish its lion-like appearance are tipped in poison that can cause severe pain, swelling, nausea, headaches and convulsions in humans. However, the fish can be safely handled once the spines have been removed. Many people filet lionfish and cook them up just like any other fish. Several chefs in Puerto Aventuras say they have cooked the fish creatively for a delightful meal.
Observers in Florida, where many derbies have yielded hundreds of lionfish, say that if a local market for lionfish as food could be developed, the fish population could be locally controlled. Perhaps there is a message there for the Riviera Maya?

Meanwhile, students of Sustainable Tourism and Gastronomy of the University of the Caribbean talked to high school students on Isla Mujeres last week concerning the consumption and preparation of lionfish.
        Biologist José Ángel Cohuo Colli told the high school students that the project now being undertaken by the University of the Caribbean is to reduce the spread of lionfish since it is not native to the Caribbean.
He said activities and joint projects aim to promote consumption of lionfish as an important alternative to regulate their presence on the island coasts, as it is a serious threat to local wildlife.For more cookbook information, email reefhq@reef.org orhttp://www.reef.org/catalog/cookbook.

 Letters…

A note of appreciation to lecture helpers…

Dear Editor:
A great big hug and a heartfelt thank you for those who are really responsible for the success of the El Mirador Basin Project lecture by the eminent archeologist and director of this international project, Dr. Richard Hansen.
His determination, dedication, brilliance, vision, delightful unwavering manner, humanitarianism and the project are very compelling. This is a very caring community and I would like to thank : Debbie and Tim Howard, John Schwandke, Tara Belt, Lenore Dechtman, Paul Gauvin, Bob Hilton, Jan Paquette, Bev Porter, Dr. Richard Hansen, Jody Hansen, Weston Hansen. Without my dear friend, Claudia Munoz, and her support, details, picking up lots of pieces, this event would not have happened.  I am grateful to all of you.   Fondly,
Doe Stowell

…and a plea for return of a lost turquoise quilt…

Dear Editor:
     My son was driving my golf cart with clean laundry on board and a turquoise quilt that was given to me by a dear friend fell off the cart and he didn’t notice until he got home. He turned around and followed his route but someone had already picked it up. I’m not sure if you publish this sort of thing but if you do the finder could give me a call at 984 108 0873, It’s return would be greatly appreciated!

Signed/Joanie MacDonald

…and a call to stall wave runner bay use

Dear Editor:
     I have been a PA resident for 20 years. The understanding here has always been that boats or wave runners with motors are not allowed inside the reef and within the bay. That is a necessary and sensible safety and aesthetic prohibition. Colonos authorities need to make this policy clear to Skidoo operators and small craft boaters. If not, we are going to have a regrettable accident some day.

Signed/James Pavlakis

Church Services…

 

FELLOWSHIP CHURCH PAAMUL–    Non-denominational  English worship Service is at 9:00 a.m Sundays in Paamul at the Palapa Church and at 10:45 a.m. at the Hacienda Real Hotel, Avenida 10 and Calle10 in Playa del Carmen.
LIGHTHOUSE CHURCH TULUM – “Lighting the way to Life” English worship Service is non-denominational, 10:00 a.m. Sundays with continental breakfast at 9:30; located on Highway 307, 1.2 miles past San Francisco grocery, hospital and Subway, next door to fruit stand.

 

Phrase a week … By Gloria Contreras, state certified interpreter

Busy as a bee: “ocupado como una abeja” Anyone interested in learning the language can please contact Ms. Contreras by email at nanigloria@hotmail.com or Cel: 984-108-3517 so she can prepare materials in advance.
(Classes are from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at Tiramisu Restaurant and all are welcomed to attend. The fee is $150 pesos per session.

What’s Playing…

See for yourself what’s showing at the local movie houses in Playa del Carmen at the links below.
Centro Maya: http://cinemex.com/

Las Americas: http://www.cinepolis.com/_CARTELERA/cartelera.aspx?ic=70#Cine215

Briefly noted…

Compiled from staff, contributor and media reports

OWNER PROTEST closed the 1oth Avenue entrance to Playacar for an hour this week when the vigilance committee chair refused to listen to pleas for a change in management company. The move angered drivers that had to be re-routed but did get the vigilance committee chair to show up and promise some action on the request…JEAN MICHEL COUSTEAU, son of famed scuba diver Jacques Cousteau, will narrate a documentary to be shot in April along Cozumel reefs for distribution to the U.S.,   film festivals and theater tours…UNPLEASANT ODOR along 5th Avenue that engendered complaints from businesses is thought to be from stagnant cenote water that has somehow become blocked in the area…TWO CUBS , an albino tiger and a leopard, were confiscated by authorities from a site on 5th Avenue, Playa del Carmen between 1th and 16th Streets at around 2:30 a.m. Saturday. They were being used to pose for photos with tourists… HEALTH OFFICIALS worried about heat stroke  in Q. Roo are urging residents to reduce exposure to the sun and stay hydrated as expected hot weather begins to arrive…THE STATE reports there are 6,300 tax delinquents in the municipality of Solidaridad, which includes PA. The delinquents include professionals, businesses and individuals…A FATAL ACCIDENT on Route 307 between Puerto Aventuras and Playa del Carmen occurred last week when a dual-trailer truck blocked both lanes, helping cause a crash in which a representative of the public prosecutor died…MOST INSURED properties in Mexico are in Quintana Roo, which has suffered major losses in the past from hurricanes.  Of  28 million-plus occupied homes in Mexico, just 2% are insured against theft, fire or natural disasters and 50 percent of those are in Quintana Roo, reports the Mexican Association of Insurance and Bonds Cancun (AMASFAC)… 

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Expert(s) expected to detail beach project

32” SONY TV – more information on the For Sale page
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CLICK ON SPONSOR ICONS at left for more information
PELICAN WECOMES RICK’S SPORT FISHING as a sponsor (Story below)

 

COMING ATTRACTIONS…

BUSINESS EXCHANGE NIGHT Feb. 28, 6:30 to 11 p.m. at Colegio Ingles in Playa del Carmen. The first such night sponsored by “Negocios Unidos” (United Business) provides the opportunity for international and local business networking. All invited. Entrance fee 150 pesos includes alcoholic drink, hors d’oeuvre and more. (Scroll down to previous issue for more information)
A VIVA VOCE concert, 6 p.m., March 2, Oasis Tulum Hotel. Ensemble of area music teachers. Tickets 200 pesos at Hotel Akumal Caribe office in Akumal under the arch.  Proceeds benefit Otach Paal Montessori School in Akumal Pueblo.
HEALTH CARE TALK Feb. 26 , 10 A.M. in Colonos Meeting Room. This is an important event with updated information for expats, snowbirds, visitors. Area residents welcome.(See story below for details)

 

Project’s timing hangs on sales, loans

March 2 Assembly is only part
of phased-in beach restoration

    By Staff
    Tons of large boulders have been unearthed in the Phase 4 development project but funding and timing details linking them with the proposed Fatima Bay beach replenishment project are not yet written in stone.
But the devil remains in the details. The public hopes more light will shine on the concept when Puerto Aventuras developer Roman Rivera Torres and several hired tidal experts employ a visual presentation at the 9:30 a.m. March 2 Assembly in the Colonos Meeting Room . They will explain their scientific/engineering approach to reclaim, then control, the ebb and flow of beach sand for an expanded and  lasting beachfront.

Both entities – the Fideicomiso and Colonos – believe they have a win-win proposal borne of compromise and barter if it goes according to plan.
Colonos GM Armando Rincon said Rivera Torres will unveil not only the science behind his proposal  to replenish the beach, but also a financing method that involves some funding by the Colonos that exempts existing property owners.
Conceptually, barriers of cut stone taken from the Phase 4 project would stretch across the bay from existing north-south marina channel jetties (see photo) to manipulate tidal effects on the sand. That done, fill from Phase 4 and the sand that originally washed away from the Omni area to the southern jetty will be returned to replenish the Omni beach.
Rincon said Rivera Torres proposes that fees charged on property purchases in Phase 4 that would ordinarily be set aside for roads be dedicated to the beach reclamation project. In exchange, the developer will build and fund the roads and conduct site preparation for electricity that the Colonos would not have to do later. In that way, it was emphasized, current Colonos property owners would be exempt from payments.
The Colonos, in return, wants legally guaranteed access to the beach for residents of the resort and more specific information on when, how and at what point the developer would integrate Phase 4 into the existing Colonos structure. Rincon also said there was talk about the Fideicomiso and Colonos improving the existing physical access to the beach through the dive shop in a joint improvement project.

Rincon said a sufficient number of fee paying properties would have to exist before Phase 4 could be self-sufficient enough to integrate with the Colonos. He also said the Colonos wants to be involved with managing and disbursing fee revenue for beach reclamation, in other words, signatures of both parties on all checks for the sake of accountability.
Details of the beach reclamation budget are still sketchy as of this writing as is the chronology of events, both of which depend on sales of phase 4 properties and a host of other variables. Perhaps this also will be explained in further detail, if any, at the meeting.
What was made clear by Rincon is that there is no up-front money currently to begin the beach project. But there is a “rumor” that some waterfront property owners such as Chac Hal Al, have been hit hard with added federal taxes because erosion has placed them on federal property. It is said they may be willing to advance a loan in order to revoke the added taxation sooner rather than later.
And for clarification, Rincon said the intent of the Fideicomiso is to not only maintain the community as a private entity as originally intended but to “raise the bar” on access in order to enhance security. There have been several major thefts experienced in the last year.
The developer hired Oceanus, a company specializing in beach recovery and wave attenuation devices, to engineer the plan. The company says it has allied with other international groups to offer the most scientifically advanced technologies in the world today for coastal protection and beach reclamation.
In is hoped company president Pablo Besquin will be at the meeting, Rincon said. Dr. Ping Wang, Ph.D., an expert on near-shore sediment transport and barrier island depositional systems, also worked on the scientific end of project planning.
While many details are yet to be cast in stone, interested parties have 10 days from today to prepare their questions and clear their calendar to assure attendance at this very significant Assembly. 

 

In case you want to know…

Important health care talk here Feb. 26

Healthcare options for expats in Mexico have expanded in recent years and will be explained at a meeting at 10 a.m. Feb. 26 in the Colonos Meeting Room. In addition to a growing number of clinics/hospitals in Playa del Carmen, there is a new Red Cross Clinic across the highway in the Puerto Aventuras Pueblo with 24/7 ambulance service for all residents.

It provides 24/7 emergency medical care and a well-equipped ambulance manned by certified paramedics. To help educate expats and visitors living in and around Puerto Aventuras about these new options, representatives from area medical services have been “invited to come educate us,” said business consultant John Schwandke who is coordinating the event.
The meeting will be conducted in Englishand is open to the public. U.S. Consular Agent Samantha Mason will there to “meet and greet.” Presenters from the Red Cross will discuss it role in Mexico and emergency health care services among other aspects of their operation in the Poblado and nationally. Speakers from bi-lingual Hospiten will touch on medical services in Playa for expats to include preparation of insurance papers for reimbursement and special rates for expat residents.
Also on hand will be insurance company representatives to explain new short-term insurance available to expats and snowbirds.

Commerce Corner…

 

 

Capt. Rick’s a backbone of PA community

By Staff
      Any business with the depth and breadth of PA-based Capt. Rick’s Sport Fishing is a good catch for a community that relies on attracting and pleasing international clients. And attract it does: Its excellent and informative web site along with its 15 well-manned and stocked vessels from 23 to 48 feet in good constant repair log 4,500 to 5,000 charters annually from a loyal international clientele.
“You need that kind of response to keep 15 boats afloat and a workforce of 32 skippers, mates. mechanics and office crew ready to serve,” said owner Bob Uecker, who with his wife, Glenna, have owned and personally operated the 20-year-old business for the last 10 years.

In the process, the Ueckers, parents of four and grandparents to seven children, have become significant members of the community. They served on two recent charity golf tournament committees to partially fund a new, two-room high school building in the Poblado.
Uecker also initiated, along with with his boat crews, the development of a baseball field for Poblado youth. To this day, the effort continues to provide uniforms, bats, gloves, shoes, balls to support the junior league. “All the equipment is donated by friends, acquaintances and Capt. Rick’s clientele,” Uecker said. He and Glenna are also involved with helping to improve the building and expand the services offered by the Catholic Church in the Poblado. Glenna also takes an active interest in community affairs.
A former pharmacist in his native Ohio, Bob took to Puerto Aventuras during a vacation here and sold Glenna on the idea of a permanent move after she saw the house they would live in on Caleta Xel-Ha facing the sea, which they awaken to daily. “You can see why we know ocean conditions,”  he quipped.
Capt. Rick’s web site is among the more comprehensive for the industry, which may help explain why Capt. Rick’s is the lead charter company on the Riviera Maya. It utilizes photos, video and extensive specific information of interest to fishermen, such as a fishing season calendar that links particular fish to particular months or seasons and a forthright description of its vessels, crews and charter prices.
The Ueckers insist that at least one crew member of every vessel be bi-lingual and all be certified in CPR and first aid. No wonder Capt. Rick’s has doubled its fleet in 10 years and has been featured on ESPN, Fox Sports, Marlin and Sport Fishing Magazines,  and in Canadian and European TV shows.
Capt. Rick’s is welcomed as a sponsor of the Pelican Free Press.

BIZ BUZZ- The “Life’s a Beach” blog authored by Michelle Kinnon of Buy Playa and a Pelican sponsor is reportedly a finalist in the About.com readers’ choice awards…

Around Town…

 

An enchanting evening by the sea and…

By Staff
Oh, it was a fine Valentine party, alright. It was the fulfillment of ex-pat Pauline Harper’s dream to someday host her friends in the story-book ambience of the “House on the Caleta” before it succumbs to age or progress. For her husband, Hal, whose exuberant drawl insists there is no “g” in “darlin’,” it was elevating the dream to reality for his Valentine.

And for the 50 or so guests who arrived carting assorted aluminum-covered pans brimming with favored recipes to complement the spiral hams and smoked turkey provided by the Harpers, it was a gathering of chummy chatter, Valentine vows and gastronomic delight.
There were unexpected adventures for some drivers who entered the Phase 4 jungle lighted only by a quarter-moon and the intermittent reflection of tapes that marked the pitfalls of curving, unpolished roads. A few folks became delightfully lost in the night before arriving at the idyllic hacienda with its well-stocked bar, the seductive odor of exotic spices wafting in the great room’s food depository and the melodious assortment of background music offered up by DJ Jerry Fastrup out on the multi-level veranda that was fanned by a robust sea breeze.

The house is perceived by some as a relic of Mexican architecture. They believe it was built less for living and more for revelry. It squats, quite alone, on the periphery of Fatima Bay. In the distance is the Barcelo Resort whose specks of light are set in the black and cavernous solitude of the Caribbean like jewels in a crown.
Guests drifted though the manse, donated for the evening by PA developer Roman Rivera Torres, with oohs and aahs celebrating its antiquity and architecture. They armed themselves with a favorite beverage then went about with happy hugs as they shed their inhibitions, if any, in time for the post-dinner dance on the captivating seaside terraza where they could exhibit their Arthur Murrayan talents.
The Harpers and D’Hondts, the Moultons and the Silvers, Bentons and Cannons, and Karen and Jayne and Pat and Patti and Pamela from Paamul and Heidi and Ed and Andy and all the others who milled about talked animatedly as did those seated at outdoor tables in the cool of the evening. A fire roared in the brazier of the oval conversation pit, creating a scene that would grace the pages of any upscale travel magazine.

If Puerto Aventuras required a middle initial, it would be “G” – and it would stand for “Generosity.” There was a 120 pesos each collection to pay for live entertainment with the remainder going to the area “horse therapy” program for brain-damaged children, a favorite Harper program. Celebrating one’s good fortune while simultaneously responding to those in need has become a hallmark of the Puerto Aventuras society. All endeavors here, it seems, no matter how insignificant, contain a significant clause for giving.
And that’s how it was, take and give, until the party began slipping away in sweet surrender to pending slumber. Uncertain drivers waited in the wings to follow those with the navigational skills to course their way home.
Oh, it was a fine Valentine party, alright.

…An impassioned appeal to preserve antiquity…

 

     An estimated 150 people attended a lecture at the Cultural Center Sunday night to hear Prof. Richard D. Hansen describe more than 2000 years of history in 90 minutes and issue a plea to help preserve the Mayan Mirador Basin, its vegetation and wildlife, by declaring it a wilderness site.     

The area, rich in archeological discovery of the ancient Mayan Civilization that once thrived there, covers 837 square miles of jungle in Mexico and Guatemala.
Hansen’s plea is obviously being heard as representatives of the Mexican and Guatemalan governments met recently in Mexico City to consider the appeal.
Hansen’s lecture was arranged by longtime Puerto Aventuras resident Doe Stowell who had heard it in Minnesota. By all accounts, Hansen’s presentation, with vivid photography flashing on the screen about every 20 seconds, was accompanied by an informative lecture of homespun wit and meaningful wisdom that made the event “definitely worth attending,” said Gayle and Deanne Sandholm.
Stowell said, “I was totally thrilled with the response to Dr. Hansen and his presentations. El Mirador Basin Project is exciting and it is a part of the world where we live and/or visit. It is a glorious history.
“The more than eighty tour guides who heard him speak in Playa del Carmen on Friday night were fantastic sponges for the information and added an hour and one half to the lecture with their interest and excellent questions.
“The Sunday evening lecture in Puerto was so well attended and gave or expanded our knowledge of this treasured area. Without the very generous help I received from our good and caring community after a personal health crisis, there would never have been the details or arrangements that allowed success. I am so grateful to all,” Stowell said.
Just as the threat of progress in the Amazon has begun decimating the rain forest that serves the world’s appetite for oxygen, the Mirador Basin is a historical jewel as one of the ancient world’s five language/cultural centers. It is also a preserve of exotic vegetation and threatened animal species such as the jaguar.
The Sandholms agreed that Hansen’s delivery was “animated and engaging, It certainly fulfilled our expectations,” they said.

… And a fix for the bite of a blizzard…

        A new member of the Spanish language class showed up last week. Milan Chilla, from Connecticut, who was already pretty well versed in the language, flashed a great smile and told the Pelican about breaking a front tooth during the last blizzard up north just a few days before his flight to Cancun.
“I only had a few days and my dentist couldn’t see me,” Chilla said as he pondered with chagrin a two-month visit with a bwoken fwont toof.
     But he remembered the notice in the Pelican Free Press for Dr. Enrique Perez, Puerto’s affable and only local dentist. In all candor, Chilla said he was a bit reluctant because of a negative image presented of Mexican dentists up north. But he looked up the phone number in the Pelican and was rewarded.
“He did a great job in only 45 minutes,” Chilla said of Perez while exhibiting a display smile. “And it cost a fifth of what it would have cost me in the States. You can use this as a testimonial,” he said.
OK. Thanks.

Letters…

…More on keeping wave runners away from the shore

Dear Editor:
Wave runners are a pain in the neck! There are places around the coast in the UK that have been completely ruined by “wave runners.” They are becoming more numerous in Puerto and this will be a disaster for divers and peace and quiet. They should be banned.. trust me!

Signed/John Barton

Church Services…

Lighthouse Church Tulum – “Lighting the way to life”; English worship Service is non-denominational, 10:00 a.m. Sundays with continental breakfast at 9:30,located on Highway 307, 1.2 miles past San Francisco Grocery.Come all the way through town, past Subway, past the hospital about three blocks on the right next door to the fruit stand.

Phrase a week … By Gloria Contreras, state certified interpreter

Be sure to go the Colonos Assembly on March 2 “Asegúrese de ir a la Asamblea de Colonos el 2 de marzo ” Anyone interested in learning the language can please contact Ms. Contreras by email at Gloria Contreras nanigloria@hotmail.com or Cel: 984-108-3517 so she can prepare materials in advance.
(Classes are from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at Tiramisu Restaurant and all are welcomed to attend. The fee is $150 pesos per session.

What’s Playing…

See for yourself what’s showing at the local movie houses in Playa del Carmen at the links below.
Centro Maya: http://cinemex.com/

Las Americas: http://www.cinepolis.com/_CARTELERA/cartelera.aspx?ic=70#Cine215

Briefly noted…

Compiled from staff, contributor and media reports
THE PUBLIC’S FIRST BEACH for handicapped people opened in Playa del Carmen to the applause of many who attended the official eventENVIRONMENTAL OFFICIALS from the state and federal governments met on Cozumel and discussed the possibility of the island’s first wind farm, an idea whose time will someday come to Puerto Aventuras?…FEELING SAFE – A PA couple that ventured out to a French restaurant at 36th St. and 5th Ave.in Playa for a cozy Valentine’s Day dinner reported feeling very safe with all the police/military patrols out and about…THE STATE GOVERNMENT is suggesting residents get rid of stagnant water in bottles, buckets and various containers to avoid mosquitoes carrying dengue fever…FRIENDS OF THE SIAN KA’AN BIOSPHERE near Tulum are working on creating a new tourist destination around the biosphere…HI HONEY -The Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food ( SAGARPA ) wants to create a laboratory in Q. Roo to analyze organic honey produced by some 500 farmers in the state since demand for export to Europe is growing and the product needs to be analyzed before shipping….CLEAN THE CENOTES is a cry being heard along 5th Avenue from business people and the public in Playa who say fetid odors are harming the environment and business…


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