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Monthly Archives: March 2016

April 1, 2016

 

 Nos puede leer en Español>>>>>>

Incidents here offer reminders

of need to stay alert, cautious

Another fugitive in PA extradited on US warrant

By Staff
Another North American fugitive from justice who reportedly used Puerto Aventuras as a place to live and “hide in plain sight” was recently apprehended on Playa del Carmen’s 5th Avenue and whisked to Cancun Airport for return to the United States to face criminal charges of fraud.

George W. Bowen III, 59, who was wanted on numerous charges in Colorado, reportedly had been living in a PA  condo while operating a crew of timeshare sales people in the Bamboo complex “using our community’s name and prestige to commit fraud,” said a Puerto Aventuras official familiar with the case.

Bowen reportedly passed himself off as a Mexican national using fraudulent papers to do business “selling air”, as one knowledgeable real estate person put it. Bowen was rumored to have a business partner with links to the area’s  political community. Among his allegedly forged documents were a passport, Mexican voting card – the nation’s most important form of identification – and birth certificate.

Facing multiple fraud counts

He was taken into custody by Mexican Army and immigration agents after Puerto Aventuras officials circulated wanted posters from Colorado’s 4th Judicial District, alerting the PA community about Bowen’s fugitive status. Bowen was detained in Playa shortly after the posters were disseminated  here.

Published reports note Bowen faces 16 counts of defrauding Colorado homeowners of thousands in insurance money for roof repairs that were never made, among other complaints concerning investment counseling, one of which was secretly captured on video by an investigative news crew and published in Colorado. Bowen moved from Virginia to Colorado after being released from federal prison in 2007 where he had been serving time for mail fraud, a federal offense.

Not the first

One Colorado victim of an alleged  Bowen scam said Bowen had “a southern accent like you wouldn’t believe, just dripping with honey.” Rumors here claim he also may have been involved with former fugitive “Bubba” Ballow around 2011, who spent time in PA bilking careless investors out of money on fraudulent land and timeshare sales.

Ballow, then 68, was described as a slick-tongued SiSiSi Restaurant operator in Centro and convicted swindler with many aliases. He was extradited to Houston to face charges and imprisoned. He too was ultimately escorted out of Mexico by U.S. Marshals after being on the run for six years.

In March of 2013, fugitive Douglas J. Bell, who had developed a small circle of friends here while living in an upscale waterfront condo, was taken into custody at his condo and extradited to Florida to answer to child pornography charges following repeated efforts by Playa del Carmen lawyer Teresa Rubi Mendiola and others who sought his deportation on a US fugitive warrant. Once extradited, fugitives are generally not allowed to return to Mexico. On other fronts:

Pickpocket active

In other events, Colonos Security reports that a pickpocket was active along the Dolphin Walk in Centro last week after a woman reported that her wallet was stolen from her pocketbook, which she had on her person, while she was distracted observing some of the entertaining activities in the area.

There were two incidents of house intrusions that turned out to be late-night ramblings by two separate and highly inebriated individuals staying at two different hotels. In both cases, there was slight damage and the perpetrators offered apologies and paid for damages, the Colonos Security reported. One incident involved the theft of about $50 from under a pillow in a Bahia Kantenah condo unit. Also reported was the theft of a safe-box containing an unspecified amount of cash from a house on Bahia Yanten. The attempted theft of a motor from a sailboat in the dry marina also was reported to Security.

These incidents have brought reminders by Colonos officials urging visitors and residents to remain aware in business dealings, secure their home and keep their pocketbooks and wallets where they can see them. There have also been three reports of stolen bicycles, one of which was recovered in the Centro area.

 

 

Showtime: – A show of dance, mime and acrobats with an intermission auction will be held beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 16 at the Cultural Center. It is sponsored by the PA Youth Sailing Club that has produced individual and team champions in national and international competition. Daniel Gracis, club commodore, said funds are needed to send the young sailors to various international competitions. “They are winning a lot,” Gracis said, “and bringing attention to Puerto Aventuras and its seafaring tradition as a destination.” (This replaces a previous announcement of a concert that had been scheduled for April 15.)

A Colonos assembly will be held at 9:30 a.m. April 16 to vote on spending about $87K on road extension, landscaping, site preparation for remodeling the main gate structure and adding several new traffic lanes. Home, condo and vacant-lot owners who want to cast a vote at the assembly must register at the Colonos office between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. or 3p.m. to 5 p.m. between April 11-13 (Mon.-Wed.) showing identification or a proxy valid for the assembly date. Hotel and condo managers must register on April 14 and show their authorization.

Trivial pursuits Sunday, April 10, at 4 p.m. at Latitude 20 Restaurant and Lounge with Shannon Rachynski. Proceeds go to the needy. The project, which has been attracting players every other Sunday this high season, has already raised 40,000 pesos for distribution to local charities.

 

Commerce Corner….

Capt. Rick’s primed for fishing

tournaments as season opens

 

To host wounded warriors for 3rd year

By Staff
Capt. Rick’s Sportfishing of Puerto Aventuras reported last week the landing of the new fishing season’s first white and blue marlins as the company and its 16 boats from 23- to 43-footers prepare for the coming influx of visiting fishermen and various tournaments.

Owner-manager Glenna Uecker, said the company, the largest experienced fleet in the area with English-speaking captains, is preparing to host its third annual Wounded Warriors group in conjunction with the 12th annual Dave Harris Memorial Fishing Tourney on May 21.

In addition, Uecker said, “anyone interested in fishing one of the local fishing tournaments can contact Captain Rick’s to get a boat. The Rodeo de Lanchas Mexicanas is in Cozumel May 14, 15 and 16 and Playa del Carmen’s tournament is May 27, 28 and 29.

Netherlands guests

“We are also going to host an IGFA sanctioned tournament, the Penn Challenge, from June 4- 8.  The participants are coming from the Netherlands. This is a not-for-profit tournament that will be making a donation to a local charity,” she said.

In addition, Capt. Rick’s, chosen last year to participate in a worldwide catch-and-release tagging program sponsored by Gray Taxidermy, will again participate in the program this year that builds a “research bridge between professional fishermen and science.” An estimated 10,000 boat captains and crew are participating worldwide.

Visiting fishermen looking for a productive day on the water are invited to arrange for a boat by calling the office at 984-873-5195 or, from the US, 888-449-3562. For lots of fishing information, click on Capt. Rick’s logo on this page to enter the website.

Sailing with humor

Capt. Rick’s is about landing fish and it isn’t done without humor, as a note of appreciation from visiting 16-year-old Michael Unger of Edmond, Oklahoma, attests after landing a blue marlin on one of Capt. Rick’s boats: “It’s hard to hook a blue marlin in Edmond, Oklahoma” where only 3.19 percent of the area is water, a lake that offers fishermen catfish and bass.

This is the season when “fish are flying” in the Mayan Riviera’s inviting Caribbean waters ,as the following chart attests:

Fish

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

July

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Sailfish

FA

FA

EX

EX

EX

EX

EX

VG

GO

FA

FA

FA

Blue Marlin

RA

RA

VG

EX

EX

EX

EX

EX

VG

FA

FA

FA

White Marlin

RA

RA

VG

VG

EX

EX

EX

VG

RA

RA

RA

RA

Wahoo

EX

VG

GO

GO

GO

VG

VG

VG

VG

VG

EX

EX

Dorado

FA

VG

VG

VG

EX

EX

EX

EX

FA

FA

FA

FA

Barracuda

EX

EX

EX

EX

EX

EX

EX

EX

EX

EX

EX

EX

Tuna

GO

GO

GO

GO

GO

GO

GO

GO

GO

GO

GO

GO

Shark

GO

GO

GO

GO

GO

GO

GO

GO

GO

GO

GO

GO

Snapper/Grouper

EX

EX

EX

EX

EX

EX

EX

EX

EX

EX

EX

EX

EX-cellent; GO-good; FA-fair; VG-very good; RA-rare

New cool at Liverpool…

 

The Roundup…

Doggie Park – A design for creation of a doggie park at the site of the former children’s park on Puerto Aventuras Blvd. has been presented to the Colonos by Karla Hinton, who proposed the idea at the December assembly. Colonos GM Armando Rincon met with Hinton on Monday for clarification of the design, which will then be presented to the Fideicomiso to assure there is agreement on the park’s parameters and development…

Resident activist Angelo Mouzouropoulos forwarded an FYI report to developer Roman Rivera Torres on the latest scientific developments concerning the battle against the Zica virus that is spread by local mosquitoes. While the science is in development, people here who have already noticed an uptick in mosquitoes as the rainy season approaches but still want sunset dinner al fresco, should know that WeRWater has a supply of citronella candles to help keep mosquitoes at bay…

Police filters –  If you’re wondering why the usual police filters on The 307 were unmanned this week it’s because a new plan creating impromptu filters – somewhat like roadblocks – were set up closer to the north, south and the connector road to Merida to search cars for contraband just before they enter or leave the city… 

Puerto Aventuras isn’t the only place generating mass complaints about loud music being played at night. Some hotel guests in Playa del Carmen were up in arms last week during the “Maya Madness” fest that produced loud all-night music, agitating hotel guests desirous of peace and quiet…

Star attractions – Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones and hubby Michael Douglas were spotted on the Tulum Beach over the holidays spending surf and sun time, reading and saluting passersby who recognized them…

Business boom was reported for the area over the holiday weekend with an estimated 98 percent hotel occupancy. Some visitors arriving by car were in the area for just the weekend, half of them from the domestic market. Meanwhile, Cancun airport reported a high number of flight operations during the holiday period…

Consumer protection head Ernesto Nemer Alvarez toured Playa de Carmen last week on a working trip spent visiting, and sometimes chastising businesses for improper practices. He announced to the local press a new program to check on the gasoline dispensing mechanisms at Pemex stations to assure the public receives the amount of gasoline it pays for…

Federal officials including the head of the country’s environmental protection agency visited Akumal Bay last week. They heard complaints from the local marine services cooperative concerning access to the beach and a plan to charge access fees. The agency designated a liaison to develop solutions to those problems within a month…

Tulum thrives – Easter week, up to Good Friday, recorded 36,000 visitors to the archeological site in Tulum. The site is the most visited area in the state of Quintana Roo and third in the country… Food for thought – Aside from promoting tourism between Italy and Mexico, Honorary Italian Consul Italo Sampablo of Playa del Carmen says Italy wants to promote investment in agriculture here noting that the peninsula consumes much but produces little in the way of foods…

Alleged chief money launderer Juan Manuel Alvarez who works for escape artist and Sinaloa cartel chief “El Chapo” Guzman, was apprehended by federal police “without firing a single shot” after letting his guard down for the holiday week. He was apprehended in Oaxaca state, the police said. Guzman is also back in prison after being recaptured following his second escape…

 

The Mail Bag…

The Honda flies higher 

Dear Editor:

Thanks for the informative newsletter. My wife and I live in PA and really appreciate the information updates that allow us to stay abreast of what’s happening. Just a small comment about the Honda Jet. I believe the 23,000- foot service ceiling is incorrect. It’s more likely 43,000. Once again thanks for the info.

Signed/ Pete Dominguez

(Ed. Note: Thanks for catching the typo. It was immediately corrected. Far be it from us to stop anyone from flying high, particularly in Colorado.)

Bad penny turns up again

Dear Editor:
Good Morning. Robert Rosania suggested I let you know about this. I got scammed by the police down here back on Feb. 10.  I was driving my two sisters-in-law and wife to the airport and got pulled over by a motorcycle cop about 100 yards before the exit for the airport off of 307. 

He was absolutely looking for a car that looked like it was being driven by tourists.  No baggage showing, just three gringas plus me in a rental car with a sticker in the window. He wanted $2,500 pesos on the spot, or, he takes my license, requiring that I to go into Cancun to pay a fine.  Even if I was speeding, which I don’t believe I was, I was definitely in the flow of traffic in the slower inside lane.

I paid the money.  I did not want to wait for whatever paperwork he would have needed to do.  I wanted to get my sisters-in-law to the airport on time.  He, of course, knew that. 

Signed/ Richard Homme

 

After-Life Cave; Part 3 of 3

(From Part 2: After following two stingrays to an underwater cave, the author succumbs to irresistible curiosity. He is drawn by the compelling blue light inside where a “date” with reality awaits.)

From the operating table

to a blue cave in the reef

By Jack Frankenthal

I was trying to estimate the time it may take to quickly dive to the opening, then swim through the cave to the other end, have a look at the brightly lit abyss, then turn around and hurry back up.

"That would mean suicide," I concluded, logically and decisively – "turn around and go home, amigo!"

I have long learned to respect and listen to that deep inner-voice within me when faced with complex situations – even against all principles of coherent reasoning. Now, everything in me (except my brain) was telling me to –

"Go down and check out the blue."

So I did.

I dove and swam past one ray and into the cave. As I was nearing the blue end of the cave I was running out of air-less time, realizing that even one more forward thrust with my fins will definitely mean drowning. For a split second there was eye-contact between me and the ray at the blue end. I turned quickly to go back but found that my way out was blocked by the other ray.

I was trapped.

With oblivion beginning to set in my oxygen-starved brain, I paddled frantically to swim past him, but he only backed away from me very slowly, and continued blocking my escape. I had never held my breath that long and with such effort, and didn’t know what to expect next. The desire to stay alive became horrifying. Passing seconds seemed like years, while the universe of my entire existence was about to explode in a big bang, in desperation for air.

As the need to inhale became unbearable, I couldn’t avoid taking in some seawater, but my lungs were too empty to react with a cough, and allowed the water to drench them. As I looked upwards, only half conscious, to see the sunlight for the last time, I saw the two rays coming closer and, to my surprise, they touched my arms gently with the edge of their wings – one on each side. A strange current now electrified every cell in my body. The urge to cough vanished, as did the need to breathe, and I found myself asking whether I was already dead – or perhaps entered into a distorted dimension of time. I couldn’t accept the idea of being dead, for the two rays now seemed to coax me back into the tunnel again. I lost any sense of urgency to surface and, feeling quite comfortable – with no air in my lungs – I headed toward the blue opening, with the two rays behind me.

I stopped at the entrance momentarily, weighing the odds against my ever coming back out, but when I crossed over into the blue, everything was familiar. I was instantly immersed into timeless, effortless, and pleasant euphoria. The physical form of both rays diminished into the blue, as did all my own physical features, but their presence – and the presence of other ancestral entities – was beyond dispute. I felt no boredom, no loneliness and no need for anything – just an exquisite feeling of peace and enlightenment.
In a way, I was back in the recovery-room’s state of existence, before crossing the partition line back into the “real” world. But this time, the worldly side was still visible. I would have been happy to remain in the blue realm beyond the cave, accepting my “after-death” state, but seeing groups of colorful grunts and snappers at the other end of the tunnel called for investigation:

“Can I go back to the ‘real world’? Or am I really, really dead now?

As my conscious entity stepped into the tunnel away from the blue, I immediately became "physical" again. I felt the need to breathe and the urgency to surface. I scrambled out of the cave and swam up quickly to get air.

It was past noon by then, and the Puerto Aventuras tourists’ catamarans were now traversing nearby.

"I’m OK, I’m back! – and all is normal again."

With my mental faculties intact now, curiosity returned as well. I had to assure myself that I did not imagine it all. I looked down. The rays were not around, but the reef was there – and the two large coral heads right below me.

"Will the blue still be there – without the presence of the rays?"

I inhaled deeply, dove down and took a peek into the cave.

That peaceful bright blueish world was still there at the cave’s end, inviting me to come back in whenever I so please.

"I must bring a camera!" I decided with incredible excitement.

Back on the surface, I mentally recorded the approximate triangulation between me and two points on shore, making certain I could find this reef again.

I then paddled carefully back to the YanTen beach, with a feeling I had never experienced before.

Rusia was waiting for me as usual.

– “Where in the world were you? I thought you were never coming back!”

– “Frankly,” I said, “so did I”

– “So what happened?”

– “Something, very, very special – it is really incredible, and I’m not sure I should share it with anybody."

– "Well, I’m not just anybody," she said eagerly, "so tell me, tell me."

– “You will never believe it."

– “Why not?"

– "Because today is April Fools’ Day!"….

PRODUCTION DEADLINES: The Pelican Free Press encourages and welcomes public announcements of events and activities. The deadline for publication in any given week is Monday at 5 p.m. for production mid-week, usually Wednesday. Thank you. Our next edition will be published on April 13.

The EndPrevious edition below

March 2016, Week 4

 Read us in Spanish, French>>>>>>>

Assembly called to OK cost

of $87K main gate landscaping

 

First phase to improve look, efficiency

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

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

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

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

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

 

Condo gas-leak scare spurs

purchase of gas detectors

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

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

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

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

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

 

Concert on April 15 to help

young sailors compete globally

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

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

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

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

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

Group Spanish lessons have returned to Puerto Aventuras this year with Maestra Gloria Contreras who has been teaching informal groups here for quite a few years. Classes are held Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:30 a.m. for beginners and 12:30 p.m. for advanced and intermediate. Contact her at gloriatraducciones@hotmail.com or call cel 984-108-3517 for more information…

Red Cross crew responds

to 47 Akumal incidents

But funds needed to sustain the service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Roundup…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

After-Life Cave, part 2 of 3

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

…Large eagle ray leads him

to something familiar years later

 

 

By Jack Frankenthal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– “And where is our dinner?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– “Aren’t you going fishing?”

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

– “Interesting!” I reflected.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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