*********** Costa Maya-Mahahual Newsletter-Sept 2011 **********
Costa Maya Newsletter: of
interest to visitors and property owners and anyone interested in the Costa Maya, Mahahual /
Majahual - Rio Indio - Placer - Uvero - Punta Herrera - Xcalak and
other points along Quintana Roo South
Even though I have lived here year for 8 years, I never seem to get casual about it. In fact, as I walk along the beach, I not only pause to thank God I live in such a beautiful place, but often need to pinch myself to make sure I'm not living a dream. After all:
A) I live in an ever changing beach environment
B) I don't seem to get tired of it
C) I continually find new things that amaze and interest me.
This summer, my newsletters have been few and far between, because quite frankly, the weather was just too perfect not to snorkel every day and explore the Peninsula. And then of course there was my annual trip to the US, family visiting here, several trips to Merida, and Jatsa'-ja' and all of a sudden the summer is over and the nights are starting to cool down and still great snorkeling weather continues. Today - I would like to get this newsletter out, but I can see the water calling me and I'm afraid it will wait another day. One of the lovely things I did this summer was to swim with the whale sharks. It was one of those experiences you never forget - just the shear size of one is awe inspiring - better yet, it is something a novice can do - the picture below is of my 12 year old grand daughter.
In the past, you needed to go to Holbox to take the whale shark tour, but now you can do it from Isla Mujeres or Cancun. I opted for Isla based on a recommendation from guests. We stayed at the airport Courtyard Marriott and it was a quick drive to the ferry terminal to Isla Mujeres. We easily returned to the mainland the same day. Whale sharks are in the area from June through early September.
One of the charming cultural events in Mahahual/Majahual is Jatsa'-ja', which took place on the 3rd weekend in August. As if the opening ceremony of the blessing of the boats wasn't enough, the closing ceremony treated viewers to an hour long show of athletic dancers recreating the jaguar hunt, the sacrifice of the jaguar to the gods and the rebirth of the jaguar as it travels to the next world. It was beautifully done.
Still on my list is learning how to free dive (deep - not just 15 feet) and cave diving. May you all get the chance to spend time in Mahahual this year - not just for a cruise ship visit - but find the time to visit Mexico they way it was intended - slowly, leisurely, with time for snorkeling and a little Mexican culture.
There are several events worth noting in Mahahual and the Costa Maya, make sure you read the entire newsletter.. I've included a lot of pictures to help you remember how wonderful the Costa Maya is! --Until next month. . .
Your Costa Maya Neighbor,
Marcia Bales. . .writing this from Placer and Mayan Beach Garden Inn - 20 km north of Mahahual.
Jatsa'-ja' - 19, 29, 21 of August 2011 (Review below)
International Beach Clean-up day Sept 17 - in Mahahual Nov. 4-5
Spay and Neuter Clinic Sept 9th and 10th
Dentist in Mahahual on Tuesdays
Recycled bottle pickup on Wednesday mornings 9:00-1:00
Jatsa'-ja 2012 - 3rd weekend in August
Miss Earth Mexico Beauty Contest - in Mahahual.
Majahual/Mahahual - Thursday Sept 8, 2011. . . 32 Mexican participants (one from each state in the nation) arrived in Mahahual for the national beauty pageant Miss Earth 2011. The winner will represent Mexico in the international final in Thailand in December.
The contest takes place throughout southern Quintana Roo, but primarily, Mahahual will be the target of the semifinal stage in the swimsuit portion. The mayor of the community, Margarito Mayorga May, said the competition will not only promote the beauty of the Costa Maya but carries a message of preserving the environment. This is the first time that Mahahual has seen an event of this nature.
The 32 "environmental ambassadors" will visit Mahahual with the slogan "Beauty with a cause." Various activities include cleaning of the beaches (this I have to see!). You can view a photo-gallery of the event at: http://sipse.com/fotogalerias/89263-recibe-majahual-32-participantes-miss-earth-2011/ (link to photos)
Diving with President Calderón
It was rumored that PresidentoftheRepublic,FelipeCalderónandhisfamilyenjoyed the weekend of June 3 in the Costa Maya. It turned out that it wasn't just a rumor. Calderón dived with XTC diving and they have provided a very interesting report on his visit and insight into some great dives. The following is courtesy of Jules Page at XTC (Xcalak to Chinchorro Dive Center).
" On Saturday June 4th XTC Dive Center's staff were anxiously pacing the dock at Cayo Norte in Chinchorro Banks Biosphere Reserve. At 9.30am the second helicopter arrived carrying President Felipe Calderón, his wife Margarita and his three children Maria, Luis Felipe and Juan Pablo. We did our best to help the family relax on their holiday. Javier Salas, the owner of XTC Dive Center, was told 48 hours prior to this moment of the President's desire to dive. (more. . .)
(this is a repeat from June) Maureen and Flor, who work for Diamond's International are heading up the Green Team that will now be accepting recyclable plastic on a regular weekly basis from 9 to 12 every Wednesday. They are asking for only plastic bottles and aluminum. These need to be separated into separate bags and brought to Las Casitas at Calle Chinchorro entre Paseo del Puerto y Calle Manglar. It is the second last building from the end - a dark blue two story building at the end of the same block as Mobius. Any profits will be used for garbage cans and development of more sophisticated recycling system. In addition to this project, they have chosen several beaches to clean - focusing on those beaches where Turtles have been shown to next. Cleaning the beaches of the plastic makes it easier for the baby turtles to find their way back to the sea.
Diamonds International team cleaning a beach where turtles frequent.
Jatsa'- ja' - 19, 20, 21 of August 2011 (Report and pictures)
Despite some gloomy weather that kept many people away - Jatsa'- ja' was very nice with many improvements over previous years.
Held annually the 3rd weekend in August
As usual, the opening ceremonies were lovely and for the first time, there weren't enough boats for everyone to fit into the boats.
The main improvement was a spectacular closing ceremony that took everyone by surprise - even the planners (that would include me) were unaware of the closing (the Doctor kept saying "its a surprise!"
. Additionally the photo contest was moved indoors and thanks to a small donation of $15 pesos per picture, we were able to make 8x10 images this time.
The elementary school painted murals on the ugly stone and concrete wall that faces the malecon - make sure and pass by there when next you are in Mahahual.
More restaurants participated in the Lion Fish "bake-off" and despite the small crowds, those who showed up were rewarded with fond memories and lots of activities. Other activities included a Triathlon, Kayak race, sand castle building contest, recycling workshop and the annual Gastronomica which ran out of food in the first hour! I gave out 250 brochettes from Mayan Beach Garden - and only one or two restaurants that were more local could keep up with the crowd- everyone ran out of food. This was a great opportunity to showcase the restaurants.
Spay and Neuter clinic in Mahahual
Finally after several years of no Sterilization clinic in Mahahual, Bárbara Escaler
has done it. With the support of many businesses in Mahahual - Sept. 10th and 11th saw it's first clinic since January of 2008. In addition to sterilizing animals, the clinic managed to vaccinate 53 dogs on its first day. Bárbara is trying to make this a regular event and create a non-profit so that people can donate to this good cause. In the mean time, she is selling t-shirts, making raffles and other activities to raise money. I'll keep you posted on what I find out so that this great effort can continue in Mahahual. Her organization is named
International Beach clean-up in Mahahual
When: The International Coastal Cleanup will be held on Saturday, September 17, 2011. however, Mahahual's event sponsored by Sutenta has been moved to Nov. 5th because the last two years not only coincided with independence day time frame, but there were tropical storms in the vicinity during both years limiting turn out. That shouldn't stop all of us from cleaning any beach you may be near on the 17th in honor of this international effort.
Report from the Mahahualaneans
The following info is courtesy of Marilyn Marshall
School Construction: I'm sure many of you know that the little school at Km. 55 has been closed for the ensuing year and the children have been re-located to the Primary School in town. This is to allow the Education Secretary for the School System to build a larger new school on the property at km. 55 which will house the entire student population of Mahahual (including the student population in town).
School Supplies: We have a few people bringing school supplies and they will be monitored so that the schools receive exactly what is required as their needs arise. Supplies are on sale at this time of year and if you have space as you travel here please refer to the list below. School Supplies are still needed, please contact Marilyn Marshall for a complete list.
Silent Auction/Bingo: We will be asking for donations to be used at our annual Silent Auction and Bingo to be held in mid November - please consider how each of you can help out, perhaps by soliciting local businesses, or donating items on your own. This is our only fund raiser that we have to help us with our programs during the winter months. Please contact Marilyn for a list of items we will need for this purpose.
Sewing Machines: I will be bringing down two more sewing machines which I had hoped would benefit the single mom's group to provide a means of income to support their families. A location and sponsor will be needed and the Mahahualenas will be looking at how best to organize this program. They were kindly donated by Brenda Rintoul and Lourene Cork of Calgary. This is in addition to the one I brought last year and is in the safe-keeping of Violeta.
Children's Christmas Party: At this point we are in pretty good shape with so many donations of toys, etc. promised by many of you!!!!! I can see it now... a huge truckload of gifts for our local children. Wonderful!!!!!!! Contact Marilyn Marshall to find out what they are still in need of.
Dentist in Mahahual on Tuesdays
Mahahual has a dentist with office hours of 9:00 - 6:00 on Tuesdays. He is splitting the time in Chetumal, so if you like him and have an emergency, you can get treated in Chetumal. Dr. Mario Adrian Soto Diaz specialized in orthodontics, but he is getting pretty good reviews for a root canal and teeth cleaning. It is best to make an appointment but he will take drop ins. you can get your teeth cleaned for $500 pesos. cel 044-983-130-3877
The well equipped office is located across the street and North of Fernando's 100% agave. He speaks English for those who don't speak Spanish.
New Businesses in Mahahual
Senor Frog's restaurant is finally open in Mahahual on the malecon. After running into permitting problems, the Mexican franchise (yuck - I hate the thought of franchises in Mahahual) with it's swim up bar on the malecon is finally open. It is located north of Tequila Beach and Quinto Sol.
Quinto Sol (famous for brick oven pizza) has a new manager Jerry, who was the previous manager of Blue Bay. Blue Bay has new managers - Maria and Ronaldo Denegri, previously from Matan Ka'an restaurant.
Many of you will remember the building that Trans Caribbean occupied before Hurricane Dean. While we miss Trans Caribbean's presence on the Malecon, it is nice to have Value Drugstore opening up for several reasons - they carry Diet Mountain Dew, they are open all the time - even on non-cruise ship days, their set prices are reasonable, well stocked and the workers are pleasant. Their selection of tourist items is probably from China - the prices and quality are better than the normal tourist fare and they carry T-shirts that say both Costa Maya and Mahahual. This is a family of stores that dominate Playa del Carmen's 5th Avenue.
New Alcaldia in Mahahual
In July, Mahahual elected a new Alcaldia. The new Alcaldia is , Margarito Mayorga May, who was the Delgado of Mahahual during Hurricane Dean. We hope he will turn out as good as William and we wish William a fond farewell.
Electricity along the beach road (Rio Indio - Placer)
This is a repeat to make sure that everyone hears about this. The following information is specifically geared to the Rio Indio to Placer access, but is the method that all areas can use to get electricity in their area. Ted Garcia has already spent an extraordinary amount of time researching this project. In addition to making life easier, we all know that getting electricity to our lots increases the value. If you want your property to be included in the effort, please contact me directly and I will give you Ted's email and phone number in the U.S. Note: Ted often travels internationally, so email is the best method.
"For the past few weeks we have been working behind the scenes with CFE and other government agencies learning about what needs to be done to bring electricity to El Placer. We were all highly energized and motivated by the newly constructed 2 Km electrical line built by Mr. Luis Contreras beginning at the Rio Indio and ending at his property. Our goal is to have this same power line extended all the way to El Placer. Based on discussion with CFE, there is nothing stopping us from doing so if we follow the proper procedures and regulations. This has been a dream of many of us for a long time and while it will not be easy it is within our reach if we collaborate and work as a community.
The purpose of this email is to establish preliminary contact with property owners in the Rio Indio-EL Placer segment of the Costa Maya to assess whether there is sufficient interest in this initiative.
At lot of preliminary work has been done with CFE's Maintenance and Planning Departments in Chetumal, as well as several local contractors interested in building the line (including the company that built Mr. Contreras's). Below is information outlining in detail the procedure that has to be followed to petition for building a *private* line. NOTE: this may be of interest to everyone on the Costa Maya.
From studying this document and from multiple phone calls and one 1-1 meetings, it is evident that, while laborious and lengthy, extending the electrical lines to El Placer is *very much possible* and indeed within the procedural guidelines set forth by the CFE. I believe that the best option is to form a Property Owners Association (POA). The main purpose of this email is to find out who is interested and to give you a wide scope of what is involved.
If you are interested in forming a POA, please send me your contact information (email, phone for now) and location of your property.
Thank you. Ted Garcia (contact email@example.com for Ted's direct email)
Mayan Beach Garden - New at MBG
Mayan Beach Garden closing for two weeks in September.
We will be closed from Sept 13 - Sept 26th so my staff can take vacations. Unusual for us, we are letting everyone take vacations at once, leaving me, Kim and Jim Conrad to hold down the fort. If you need reservations during that time - Casa Porto Vino and Taj Majahual are taking reservations for individual rooms, so contact me and I can help you with a reservation.
Nature sessions with Jim Conrad continue only through end of October
Jim will continue to do nature walks and study the flora and fauna until the end of October when he must return to Hacienda Chichen. He will continue writing his backyardnature.net newsletter from Placer up until his departure. An excerpts from the past couple of newsletters are included below.
A couple of people have come to Mayan Beach Garden and consulted with Jim regarding native plants and trees that they can plant on their property. He has even accompanied some of them. If you are in the area through October - you might want to take the opportunity to learn what is available. An excerpt from his newsletter on Sand Wasps is below.
Those of you who may have wanted to learn how to spear fish with an expert - the time is now here. Mayan Beach Garden is partnering with Costa Maya Spear-fishing and Mike
Spear Fishing is the ultimate in sport fishing. The use of tanks for Spear fishing is illegal in Mexico, but free diving and snorkeling is completely legal. Mike has all the permits needed to take you either from shore or boat snorkel. With a few tips, you'll find you can stay down longer and even maybe spear fish.
Spear fishing is highly selective, uses no bait and has no by-catch meaning no turtles, Dolphins, Manatee, or other protected species are hurt . With education and proper regulations, spear fishing can be the most ecologically sustainable form of fishing.
(NOTE: the reason I have chosen Sand Wasps from Jim's newsletter is because so many people mistake these for something that will sting them. On the contrary, I've seen more than one grab a tabano off someone's leg and carry it away. They seem to be completely non-interested in humans, prefer hard packed sand like our walk-ways, and when they are around, there are fewer tabanos - the bane of our summer existence!).
Flitting above the sand on paths between buildings here you see a certain kind of wasp frequently landing and digging little pits. The wasp digs with such gung- ho obsessiveness that damp sand sprays several inches behind it. Typically the digging breaks off in a few seconds, though, the wasp returns to flying back and forth above the sand, then lands again and digs a few more seconds scattering more sand. This, again and again.
That's something you see nearly every day here, but lately there was a new twist. A wasp landed at a pit and instantly began moving very fast BACKWARD away from the hole. Then it'd fly around a bit, land, and move backward again. Several wasps were circulating in the area and anthropomorphically it seemed to me as if the digging wasp were trying to draw attention to the pit. You can see one just landed at its hole, moments before beginning its backward rush above.
You can almost guess the name volunteer identifier Bea in Ontario ferreted out for this sand-digging wasp:
Sand wasp. But of course there are jillions of kinds of sand wasp. Probably what's in the picture is a member of the Bembicini tribe of crabronid wasps, of which about 20 genera are recognized, and many species. Wasps in this group dig short, simple burrows in which they lay an egg, and provision the burrow with sting-stunned prey, which the wasp larva feed on when the egg hatches. The different wasp species vary in their preferences for kind of prey, kind of sand, etc.
Brilliant use of recycled plastic bottles - (I didn't know plastic could do that!)
Why didn't someone thing of this before? It's mind-boggling how simple solutions can be sometimes, although it looks like they may be using new plastic in this video as if there aren't enough used bottles laying around!
Book Review: What did I See? - Natural Wonders of the Caribbean
David A. Nuñez
We had the good fortune to have the author of "What did I See - Natural Wonder of the Caribbean" stop into Mayan Beach Garden for a walk with Jim Conrad. Little did I know that David Nuñez, had authored a book that included all the things we see every day on the Costa Maya in an easy to read format. I asked him if he would write a little bit about the book and he graciously accepted.
When I first moved here I kept telling my parents about all the amazing things I saw every morning when I went snorkeling. So they bought me an underwater digital camera for my birthday and changed my life. I've been obsessed with wildlife photography ever since.
The book came about for several reasons 1) people kept asking me "hey, you should know this, I saw this fish/bird/critter that was like this and had so and so....what was it?", (therefore the title) 2) a good friend came back from a trip to Costa Rica with a coffee table book she loved and said to me "You should write a book". And I thought "Yes, I should". And 3), my mom became extremely ill a couple of years ago and I moved back home with my parents to help out, and had plenty of time on my hands, so I was able to do the research and put it together.
I also have a non-profit environmental group (we're 5 years old tomorrow!!!) and you can find most of the species, and a few more, on our web site: www.mexiconservacion.org
Clicking on the book will open Amazon.com where you can purchase or take a look inside the book.
Explanation of the relationship between Cenotes and the Coral Reef
This YouTube video does a good job of explaining the water in the ground, the reef, the Mangroves and the relationships between both systems. It is specifically geared to Tulum, but we have a similar infrastructure here.
Quintana Roo news
Tampa to Progresso ferry news
Many of you may already have received an email about this from Tamara Magnusson - but this is for those who may not have received it.
"I know many of you are getting anxious to book flights and make plans for your trips to Mexico this fall and winter and were looking forward to the possibility of taking the ferry this year. It was hoped sales would begin this fall for launch early next year but unfortunately the ferry service will not be launched in 2011, however, it is proposed for sometime in 2012. The launch date announcement will be made once all the required agreements have been made. In the meantime United Caribbean Lines continue to meet with governments and officials in the US and Mexico in an attempt to facilitate a speedy launch. They are also working on an abbreviated web site for interested parties. As soon as I have a launch date or firm information I will forward another email. I know many of you will be disappointed by this news but unfortunately we will all have to keep waiting a little longer.
In the mean time I have been asked by United Caribbean Lines to collect more data and answer more questions allowing them to use the information to craft programs designed specifically for the expatriate and snow bird markets. I apologize if it seems like some of the questions are the same as the previous survey but this time we are looking for details and specifics, so please provide as much information as you feel comfortable sharing. Even if you never plan to use the ferry, please complete as much of the survey as possible, since we need you input as well.
If you live six or more months a year in Mexico or any other country in Central or South America please follow this link and complete the Survey entitled Expatriate Ferry Survey. If the link doesn't work please copy and paste it into your browser.
If you travel back and forth or live less than 6 months of each year in Mexico or any other country in Central or South America please follow this link and complete the Survey entitled Snow Bird Ferry Survey. If the link doesn't work please copy and paste it into your browser.
Both surveys will be open until September 16th so please respond as quickly as possible. Please feel free to forward this email to anyone else you think should complete the surveys. Thank you in advance for your participation. We look forward to your responses." - Tamara Magnusson
ADO ANNOUNCES SCHEDULE from BELIZE City to MERIDA & CANCUN
There is now a daily ADO bus ride from Belize City to Merida and Cancun, as of August 31. One bus is on schedule to leave from the bus terminal in Belize City to Merida at eight every night, arriving at its final destination at six fifteen the following morning. The second bus to Cancun leaves the bus terminal in Belize City at eight fifteen each night arriving at Cancun at seven the following morning. People can board the busses from Belize City, Orange Walk and Corozal only if their final destinations are Merida or Cancun in Mexico.
The ADO bus company has designated five buses and a total of ten experienced drivers to make the runs. The company signed a ninety day contract with the Belizean transport department last week and made the first run on August 31, 2011. So far runs have transported between sixteen to twenty passengers and the company expects the numbers to go up eventually. One way tickets from Belize to Cancun are for seventy-nine Belizean dollars; to Playa Del Carmen, sixty three Belizean dollars; Merida, seventy nine Belizean dollars; and Tulum, fifty-five Belizean dollars (US exchange 2 Belizean dollars to 1 US). Tickets can be bought directly from one of the company’s personnel at the bus terminal in Belize City. NOTE: I don't know if they will stop in Chetumal, it doesn't appear from this LOVE FM radio station announcement that they will, but I assume they will stop in Limones at the bus stop.
In 2012, products marketed in Cancun Dragon Mart will enter the country through a fiscal area that will minimize import costs and will make northern Quintana Roo a direct competitor of Miami as a hub exporter of goods from China to Central and South America. The other Dragon Mart is in Dubai. http://www.dragonmart.ae/
This is important to Mexican trade because at this time, goods from China carry a high tariff. China and Mexico are already within the World Trade Organization (WTO), and tariff policies are designed to make more dynamic exchange between nations, but also the Dragon Mart is designed to have its own fiscal area, which eliminates delays and storage at ports of entry.
The commercial dynamics generated by the Dragon Mart is designed to handle at least 100 containers loaded weekly, so it will be necessary in the medium term to enable a seaport in Puerto Morelos. There has been some problems environmentally because of fear of harm to the reef and the mangroves that that type of volume would create. The solution will be to build offshore structures such as those already operating in Puerto Progreso, Yucatan where goods and people are tendered to shore. Full story. . .
Tulum Airport News
Because of all the rumors that the Tulum Airport has been cancelled, Quintana Roo Governor, Roberto Borge Angulo made it clear that the aeropuerto de Riviera Maya has not been cancelled. Last week he met with the President of Mexico Transportation and the cancellation of the airport was not on the table. Further more, in a meeting two days before the interview, President of the Union Calderón visited Chetumal and there was no mention that the airport was not going forward.
So there it is. . . . the politician's word . . ..
NEWS FROM XCALAK
Xcalak Cruise Ship
Earlier this month we had this cruise ship arrive in Xcalak. We have no idea how many passengers were on this voyage or what their itinerary was except, we know it came from Cuba, we know there wasn't unlimited meals and drink provided, and there was no need to dress for the Captains dinner.
How lucky are we that we don't have to do desperate and dangerous things to get somewhere to live as we are, free. Imagine getting into that boat, (we are guessing at 10 souls) and setting off for ??? there was luggage left behind, plastic shopping bags of clothes! The captain navigated the cut in the reef, maybe the "million dollar" boat that was at that time stuck on it was a good marker buoy. They arrived in the night and nobody saw or heard anything.
I have just celebrated yet another birthday! now I know I'm older but really, stupider!! (is that a word, well it is now) I was having a very lovely time in Belize with my family, we were walking home after buying some fruit so I had a couple of bags in my hands.It was HOT and we were walking along the beach, so I had my best senior moment to date, I walked into the ocean after carefully putting the bags down. My camera was in one pocket of my shorts and my purse with money in another. Red backside from the die in the purse, No camera until I buy another. Feel stupid ..............................................you bet, don't do as I do, do as I say kids.
This last month has been butterfly month. When you drive along anywhere around here there are migrating butterflies in drifts and clouds crossing the road heading South. Its so sad but inevitable that hundreds, thousands, are splattered on the front of our cars and will never get to their destination. Every color and size the Swallowtails are also
out and about in numbers. My lime tree has a denuded appearance right now. The swallowtails laid their eggs and the birds poo caterpillars munched away on the leaves. Such a great way to not get eaten! What would want to eat that? As they get bigger their head looks like a snakes head. When they rest up laying along the branches the camouflage is incredible, I watched where they moved to turn into chrysalis. Missed the emergence though. Photo from Jim at Backyard Naturalist who also confirmed the butterfly that this birds poo caterpillar would be eventually.
Traveling to Belize- some info for travelers
FREE ZONE: There are some interesting shops in the Free Zone on the Mexican-Belizean border.
Should you want to visit, you only need to take your Passport and Mexican Visa, stop at the Mexican Immigration Booth on the right hand side before the bridge and show your Passport and Visa, say you are going into the Free Zone. Drive on over the bridge and bare to the left you get to the Free Zone entrance where you pay the princely sum of 10 pesos. Keep the ticket/receipt and let it show through the windscreen.
Take US Dollars/Pesos/Belizean Dollars and Plastic. Happy Shopping. Should you feel inclined, the casino's are supposedly fabulous. I must try that one day/night!
When you have spent out, finished shopping, whatever, drive back over the bridge, join the lines for the Red - Green Customs traffic lights and maybe the guards checking out what you have bought even when you did get the green GO light.
Entering Belize (not just shopping in the free zone)
My first trip driving my car into Belize was last year. I found the whole process very easy and stress free considering it's an International Border and have since done it twice more.
FILL your gas tank in Mexico, gas in Belize is/was, last week, 11.88 for Premium or 11.42 Regular. There is a new Pemex station on the Chetumal road just before the slip road off to Belize.
Drive slowly and keep to the right, stop and park at the Mexican Immigration booth immediately before the bridge. Your passport is recorded on the computer. You then cross the bridge over the river and immediately afterward on the right is a little booth for Atlantic insurance.The insurance costs 29 Belizean dollars or 14.5 US dollars a week and you are given a sticker that is displayed on your windscreen, drivers side.
Three hundred yards further on is a little shack where you get your car tires sprayed with insecticide, it costs 10 Belizean Dollars /5US dollars, you have to have the receipt for this to continue through the checkpoint. If you haven't had it done you will be sent back to get it done! Belizeans are worried about disease affecting their fruit, among their exports are bananas and sugar.
Next, Belizean customs and immigration. You will see the crossing point and control ahead of you and must pull over into a car park in front of the customs/immigration building. This is where you can change your US dollars for Belizean dollars. exchange rate always the same 2 Belizean dollars = 1 US dollar. The guys are the other side of the wire fence! With all the papers for the vehicle, passports and luggage you need to go through the furthest door where you get a temporary import paper for the vehicle (the driver cannot leave the country without it), the stamps for the passports and go through customs. The luggage and passengers go through to the other side and the driver (only the driver) returns to drive the vehicle to the check point where passport and paper for car are inspected. Then pick up the passengers and luggage in the other car park and you are through. There are luggage porters to help you go through should you need it, they are very helpful but do expect a good tip.
The roads are good, the signs in English. Steer clear of Belize City unless you need to go there. You can bypass it by going off at Burrell Broom and coming out at Ladyville.
When you leave the country, it will cost 37.5 Belizean dollars per person departure tax.
If you have an FM3 or FM2 it costs nothing for a visa. If you ask for a double entry visitors visa when you come into Mexico from the US then it will cost you nothing for another visa.
I am not sure what it costs for someone with just a single entry visa as they have to get a new Mexican one.
The good news is that you can now rent a car from Cancunrentalcar or Europacar and ask for and get a written permission to take the car to Belize. Remember the Atlantic Insurance is only 3rd party so be careful with the rental car.
I do hope this will dispel some or all of the misinformation that has been been getting back to both Marcia and myself. I had heard that it was 100US dollars for the car to be fumigated and it was compulsory inside and out!!!!! No wonder people were telling me it was too expensive for them to go.
Like Mexico, Belize is a beautiful country. Different, so when it's so close it's great to be able to take a couple or three days for a look see. Enjoy..
Smiles in Xcalak
The following is courtesy of Linda Zacaro in Xcalak:
Everyone in Xcalak is all SMILES ! You see, " International Smile Power" came to town! Dr. Barry, Judy, January and myself worked for 11 days servicing over 150 people. All the school children had their teeth checked and a cavity treatment. The group also did cleaning, cavity repairs and extractions.
As a community outreach component to the program, classes were held on dental care and each person attending received a tooth brush and cap.
Many thanks go to the women of Xcalak, who made delicious meals while we worked, yummmmm! A great big thank you to Tom and Judy Hagman for hosting our dental guests! Also a thank you to CONAP, The Marine National Park Office for providing the space to hold the clinic.
This was so successful that we are planning to sponsor the event yearly. A perfect example of it's success was---- today while shopping at a local tienda one of the students entered. He greeted me with a his great big white smile! Thanks to our new friends for International Smile Power
Diving with President Calderón . . .Continued from above. . .
It was an exciting, intense and immensely tiring preparation as we tried to plan for every eventuality while the majority of the staff were not aware who the important person was. After the Tzimn-ha was searched, gear sorted, the boats were boarded, briefings given, the diving day began. We expected the President Calderón to complete a dive maybe two, yet he surprised us all by completing three dives.
The first dive site visited was my personal favorite, Ginger Sku. It is a steamship wreck, laying in 5mtrs/15ft, rumored to have sunk in 50's. It was carrying a cargo of steel pipes and spread over at least a square kilometer. After a tour of the wreck, including its anchor, enormous engine components and overturned hull structure. we let the current drift us over the wreck past the schools of yellowtail snapper, schoolmasters and the largest cloud of blue tang I have seen in at least 10 years. The site is also popular with extra large rainbow and midnight parrotfish ,which are always fascinating to see.
We visited a deeper site called Shark Cave for our second dive. Once again the visibility at this dive site was absolutely amazing at 30mtrs/100ft. With a slight current which rivals some of the sites at Cozumel, we drifted over the reef laying at 21mtrs/70ft. With large sandy channels and great overhangs we explored the site, coming across plenty of rays although the sharks eluded me on this particular dive. A rather inquisitive President Calderón encouraged Javier and our photographer, Rodrigo Friscione of Solo Buceo out of Cancun, to kill the lionfish they found, just like they had said they do while chatting on the boat.
Our final dive of the day was to Cuarenta Canones which is the most famous of all the wrecks in Chinchorro. There is confusion to nationality of this wreck, perhaps a Spanish galleon or perhaps a pirate ship. It is hard to tell as all that is left are 20-30 of the Canyons as it sunk in the 17th century. Since it is a shallow dive of 6mtrs/18ft we had plenty of time to look around and tour past the gigantic anchor laying a short swim from the rest of the wreck.
To end our day we had ceviche with the President's family and friend. I spoke rather candidly about how an Australian girl ends up in Quintana Roo managing a dive shop and hotel. I did manage to share some information about my favorite dive site in the Caribbean, located right here in the Parque Natural Arrecifice de Xcalak, Lo Poza! I left the President with the images of a giant school of tarpon, some large than himself, casually circling. Hopefully on his next day off from running the Country!. . . "
Written by Jules Page from XTC Dive Center
Written by David Smith (Smitty in Xcalak - about a km N. of the big city)
I always enjoy the welcome parties of chachalacas--woodland pheasants of the Yucatan--- on the jungle road thru the cocos along the coast, from xcalak north to the various small hotels and homes. Most any day, you can hear them in the morning, calling back and forth from group to group.......
saying their name, LOUDLY.
Other than in the road, briefly, or calling from distance, like most of the birds around here, they somehow remain just out of sight. Fortunately, this year, I have been able to sit back, relax, and I have two exciting (I am easily entertained) observations.
One day, in the full heat of midmorning, I heard some light cackling, reminding me of chickens in social conversation. I grabbed up the binocs, and got full view of two chachalaca roosters in a real wrestling match just like two game roosters, or fighting tom turkeys.
they cackled, bit each other about the head and neck, rose up a few inches into the air, and spurred furiously at each other. Just like fighting game cocks! they did this three or four times over a couple of minutes, the smaller third bird (apparently female) just barely out of the way in the small clearing. When they unclenched the last time and fell in to the brush, they started calling CHA-CHA-LAC and were soon answered by at least four other troops that I could hear within 200-500m. I couldn't say who won, but somebody got the girl
A few mornings later, around 8:30 am, I was reading and enjoying rooftop coffee. Some other bird called, I picked up the binocs and happened to notice an ungainly, yet carefully balanced chachalaca in a low sprangley bush with nice little soft and lush leaves. In the magnified view, I could see it was actually cropping the leaves and eating bits of them. Then to my very pleasant surprise, I noticed it grab a leaf, reach down and feed the piece to a smaller, young bird setting lower,enveloped into the bush. It was obviously a youngster, from the downyish fuzz, the dark line thru the head( just like a baby quail, pheasant or turkey.....or chicken), and of course it's small size. A few seconds later, junior, mom and pop were all three scarfing down a salad .....I have named this plant "chachalaca bush" until I identify it or consult with Jim at Mayan Beach Garden.
Ah, life's simple pleasures....
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Lot for sale in Xahuayxol
"20 x 100 meter beautiful beach front lot in Xahuayxol. Deep accreting beach, high elevation, beautiful palm trees. This lot is perfectly located half way between Mahahual and Xcalak, where you are close enough to either town to take advantage of their amenities, yet far enough removed to experience your personal piece of paradise. The coastal road is behind the lot, making the entire area build able. No mangroves. Price reduced from $169,000 to $149,000! We will consider all offers. For more information, please visit www.costamayabeachlot.com or contact email@example.com or 1-512-922-9956."
House for Sale in Xcalak
This beautiful little house is perfect for someone wanting to open a restaurant as it is located in the center of town right on the beach. The home includes the federal zone a 16 x 24 meter lot and is owned by our dear Xcalak Polly.
The house comes furnished, is on the grid which means it includes water and power. Polly has always had internet via Satellite and the house includes satellite equipment.
i don't usually include this many photos when I do a free classified, but Polly has been so helpful writing her column that I couldn't help but let you all see what a beautiful home she lives in, even though all of us will be sad to see her go.
Side yard and entrance into back yard. By the way . . . the quad is SOLD.
Looking out over the bar into the large living room.
Bedroom with King size bed. Privacy wall separates dressing area and closet
Spacious front porch (large enough for outside restaurant style sitting) looks out onto the caribbean.
Email me directly for Polly's email address if you are interested.