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Costa Maya Newsletter > Costa Maya-Mahahual June 2013 Newsletter

******** Costa Maya-Mahahual Newsletter-June 2013 *******

Costa Maya Newsletter: of interest to visitors and property owners and anyone looking to learn more about the Costa Maya, Mahahual / Majahual - Rio Indio - Placer - Uvero - Punta Herrera - Xcalak and other points along Quintana Roo's Southern Coast

Editorial- Mahahual Silver lining

Hi Costa Maya Neighbors

Since it has been such a long time since I've sent a newsletter, I figured more updates into what's happening on the Costa Maya are far over due. Like most news, everything has a good and bad side, and every bad news item includes a silver lining. Since the last newsletter in February, we haven't had any rain. . . until yesterday. Prior to this rain, tourists have had near perfect weather, in the 82 degree range daily - but most cisterns were either living on trucked in water or were about dry. As a result, there have been many fires - similar to 2011. (See story below).

Marcia with Baracuda
As I traveled the road to Rio Indio this morning, as much as I was happy to see fire dousing rains, I'm sad to know that soon I will have to travel down a pothole infested road. The silver lining? Knowing you have good neighbors who care about chipping in to fix the road. Early in the dry season, one of our neighbors here in Placer decided he was tired of the condition of the road and took it upon himself the lofty task of patching some of the worst spots in the road. Because its been dry for so long - the road has stayed in pretty good shape and I praise his name every day, as well as all the neighbors who chipped in to pay for labor and Sascab.
Fires Quintana Roo 2013
In the last newsletter I announced the sad closing of 100% Agave. While that was a devastating closure to all of those who loved visiting with Fernando, he's now easier to find and talk to. He has a new liquor store and he still sells fabulous Tequila from his barrel by the liter. Now the good news for us is that Fernando is partnering with Mayan Beach Garden Restaurant for "Tequila and Tapas" night. The Tequila tasting allows you to taste 13 different tequilas (and find out why Jose Cuervo has given Tequila such a bad name). Interspersed with the tasting, Mayan Beach Garden serves up tapas. So far, Martin has not had to wheel anyone back to their room or car in a wheelbarrow. Fernando seems happy with less stress, and I get to see Fernando more often.

On a much larger "bad news" scale is the bankruptcy of Othon P Blanco, the municipio that residents south of Uvero are part of. This has resulted in less garbage pickup and fewer services. The unkempt look in Mahahual is evidence of the lack of funds. That is why when any of our neighbors takes it upon them selves to "do it themselves" it is such a pleasure. And that, my good friends and neighbors is the silver lining. The folks of Mahahual are banding together to "get things done" on their own. I wish I could understand all the nuances, but I can see town leaders emerging. With little financial help from the Municipio, even the Festival of Jats'a Ja is on its own. This may be the best silver lining of all! Business will have the opportunity to support their own activities and promote their business with activities. Mayan Beach Garden will continue to support the photo contest with some new additions (Read more in the newsletter. . .)

I could go on, but the point I would like to bring up is the fact that you can look at things from two angles - you can find fault in the things you experience, or you can be grateful for what life hands you. I meet a lot of people running a hotel, and one of the pleasures is seeing how many people who are world travelers fall into the 2nd category - they find the good in things. When people never get out of their home state, they don't get the chance to see how really fortunate they are. Those of us on the Costa Maya live in paradise but it takes some work to make it so. If you are in the area, Kim and I hope we'll see you at one of Fernando's Tequila tasting or at Jats'a Ja' and experience the silver lining.

Your Costa Maya Neighbor,

Marcia Bales. . .writing this from Placer and Mayan Beach Garden Inn - 20 km north of Mahahual.

Past newsletters can be found at NEWSLETTER ARCHIVES

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mahahual and Costa maya news

Calendar of events in Mahahual

  • El Dorado de Plata (Mahi Mahi) Fishing Tournament June 7, 8, 9 2013
  • Jatsa'-ja 2013 - 3rd weekend in August (start organizing your photos for the photo contest plus a new recycled art contest)

Fires on the Costa Maya

Its been a frightening May for many Palapa covered home in Mahahual. At least three homes were destroyed by fires and many others threatened. Kabanah reported many sleepless and smoke-filled nights, but luckily were spared by winds blowing in off the caribbean. The Xcalak road was obscured by smoke when fire burned on both sides of the road. Over 2 thousand hectares are under investigation for deliberate clearing by fire - banned during the dry months of April and May. According to news reports, these lands may be closed to development for 20 years - a stiff penalty if they find proof. The rains started yesterday, but we could get another dry spell during the months of July and August. But right now, our cisterns received sufficient rain to hopefully make it through those dates.

Jats' a-ja' 2013 August 16, 17, 18

The Festival of Jats'a-ja' will be held August 16, 17th and 18th. I've attended most of the planning meetings and unless there is a big change, the venue will be different this year. The planners are inviting the businesses of Xcalak, Bacalar, Chetumal and surrounding pueblos to participate to create a larger festival and help Mahahual celebrate the rebirth of Mahahual after Hurricane Dean.

Jats a ja
** The football field will be set up with artisan booths and activities.
** The Photo and art contest will be held in the building of the Taxi sindicado.
** Opening and closing festivities will be on the Malecon
** Sand sculptures, beach volleyball and iron man events will be on the Malecon
** Businesses will have the opportunity to sponsor an event. For example, Mayan Beach Garden will sponsor a recycled art contest (new).
** The Gastronomic will be on the football field

Jats'a-ja' 2013 Photo and Art contest - Trash to Treasures

Calling all recyclers, photographers, crafters and artists to submit your entry to Trash to Treasure 2013! Jats'a ja's first combined Photo and Recycled Art Competition, to be held on Saturday, June 17 to Sunday August 18.

Photographs and art should capture and convey one of the following 3 themes: 
* Re-Imagine * Re-Create * Re-Cycle*

Entries can exist in any of the following three categories:

  • Photographs
  • Sculptures
  • 2-D pictures using recycled materials (like the picture at the RIGHT by Edward Ledson that uses bottle caps found on the beach).
bottle cap art
All entries must reflect the themes and focus on ingenuity and use of recycled materials or photographs that represent items that have been recycled or reused. An example of a photo of re-create might be of a house made of wood that has been washed up on the beach or in nature, a bird using recycled items in a nest or a hermit crab that that uses a plastic lid as a shell, like the photo at the right taken by David Gerbetz. Hermit Crab

Prizes: Grand Prize - Samsung Galaxy tablet
1st , 2nd and 3rd Prizes will be donated by our amazing local business sponsors
Honorable Mention Awards for Originality, Creativity and Best representation of the art of Recycling using photographs or recycled art.

Entries will be judged on imagination and creativity in the use (or photos) of recycled materials.
Deadline for photo entries is Tuesday, August 13, 2013. Deadline for recycled artwork is August 16th, or opening day of the festival. Winners will be announced during closing ceremonies. No limit to the number of entries, but there is a 50 pesos fee for each entry or $200 pesos for unlimited entries. Photographs must be at least 2000 pixels at the longest length.

Photographs can be sent to

Payments for entries can be sent via PayPal to or paid in person to Marcia Bales at Mayan Beach Garden.

Those who have participated in the Photo Contest in past years will find this year's contest different.
For questions contact

Fishing Tournament June 7, 8 and 9th . . . If the Municipio is bankrupt, where are the prizes coming from?

I did not make up this question. The Hotel association members have told the municipal president that they would rather have clean streets than the fishing tournament. They feel the benefit they receive is far less than the detriment to dirty streets. Still, a fishing tournament with prizes such as trucks and motorcycles is much sexier than garbage. In my opinion, if they decided to stop the fishing tournament, it would not mean that Mahahual would get 80,000 additional pesos to clean up the streets, so they might as well keep the fishing tournament. Additionally, the loss of publicity would be detrimental. Watch what happens next year. .
El Dorado de Plata

More local car rental options

Mexican Car Rental Group
Mexico Car Rental Group.
You can reach them by phone in the US or Canada Toll Free 1 800 81 36 371. What that means is now you can travel here by bus (actually. . .bus to Limones and taxi to Mahahual) and rent a car only on the days you want to. The rates are decent and you can reserve in advance.
Continental Car Rental

Continental Rent a Car
Continental Rent a Car is located in the Holiday Inn, but they have a web site where you can rent directly. Their web site is in both English and Spanish and has the ability to book with your credit card. We have had Mexican customers say they would deliver a car here to Mahahual, but I am not sure how they accomplished that. They do say that they will deliver the car to the Chetumal Airport if you fly into Chetumal.

Europcar Rental Car

Europcar has an independent office in Chetumal. Located not far from Sam's club, this is a great option for renting a car in Chetumal, picking up in Cancun and dropping off in Chetumal.

ADO Continues direct to Cancun airport

The ADO bus returned to Mahahual on Dec. 12th. The Bus leaves the airport at 3:45 and arrives around 9:15 PM in Mahahual at Quinto Sol (next to Tequila Beach Club) after stopping in Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Carrillo Puerto. You can reserve in advance at Mini Super Bere's in the Casitas. Returning to Cancun, it leaves at 8:15 AM from Quinto Sol (next to Tequila beach) and arrives around 1:30 at the airport.

The route stops in Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Felipe Carrillo Puerto. You can buy advanced tickets at Mini Super Bere's up to a week in advance.

Mayan Beach Garden - News from MBG

Tequila & Tapas - Fernando & Mayan Beach Garden team up

Now that Fernando is no longer running a restaurant he is free to do what he loves. . . teaching about Tequila, its Culture and history. Tequila is as complex and interesting as wine. If you visit the Costa Maya, make sure you plan on a night of Tequila and Tapas at Mayan Beach Garden

Fernando pours 13 different Tequilas for you to try and Mayan Beach Garden serves up tapas throughout the night. You get the chance to try 7 different dishes from Mayan Beach Garden including dessert. At the end of the night, you'll know why Jose Cuervo has given tequila a bad name and why so many people associate the worst hangover of their life with Tequila.

Fernando 100% Agave

Fernando demonstrating one of his favorite Tequilas

TripAdvisor Award of Excellence 3 years in a row

Mayan Beach Garden is thankful to all the wonderful guests who took the time to write reviews of Mayan Beach Garden. This is the 3rd time Mayan Beach Garden has been awarded a Certificate of Excellence and we only have our wonderful guests to thank. Without them, we wouldn't have a business here on this tranquil stretch of beach.

Handicapped room at Mayan Beach Garden

We love our guests and this month we have featured some of their photos. added a new Handicapped ramp to access our Beachfront Suite - (for all of those bad knees!)

Handicapped ramp

I've been trying for a while to see what can be done with trash on the beach. About a year ago I discovered the joy of recycling beach flip-flops that have washed up onto the beach. Below is one of the "Beach trash" Mosaics at Mayan Beach Garden. There are currently 3 with a 4th in the works. Drop by and see what I'm working on.

Mosaic Flip Flop art

Memorable Guests at Mayan Beach Garden

In every hotel there are guests that stand out in your memory for one reason or another and are woven into the stories Kim tells around the nightly dinner table. One of the joys of having an Inn is getting to know the guests as friends. The following pictures were sent to me by four such guests (but there are many more - this is just a sample)..

Tom Butler is not just any old guest he is a great travel journalist. The time he was here, we were blessed with beautiful weather and daily he took his camera out snorkeling in front of Mayan Beach Garden and at the point. While many of his photos were exceptional, I especially liked this one of the octopus. Tom posted El Placer travel pictures on including a good selection of Xcalak photos.
Cindy and Rod Phipps were some of the first guests to stay at Mayan Beach Garden. After the February 2013 beach cleanup we had some "Limpiar Mahahual" hats left over. The organizers said I couldn't sell them but to give them away in exchange for 7 bags of trash. Cindy and Rod made a project of it and gathered 30 bags! We love you Cindy and Rod!
Cindy and Rod
One good Octopus picture deserves a second (there really are octopuses to be seen if you take your time. Mike Apol took this stunning picture of yet another octopus in front of Mayan Beach Garden. Where is this octopus when I'm snorkeling? Octopus
This picture of Stephanie and Tracy is one of my favorites. We built the handicapped ramp (pictured above) into the Beachfront Suite with Stephanie in mind. It was worth it to see her get around more easily. I LOVE this picture.
Photos of Mayan Beach Garden, Mahahual
This photo of Mayan Beach Garden is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Costa Maya Villas - Private Units now available for rent.

Costa Maya Villa Condominiums are now available for rent through Mayan Beach Garden Reservations. These luxury condos have A/C, granite countertops and both the best view and one of the largest pools and hot tub in Mahahual. Every Condo is beachfront. See more pictures. . .

Costa Maya Villas

Recycling ideas you can use here on the Costa Maya


Mosquitoes are usually not a problem here except during the dusk feeding hour, but Mahahual town seems to get its share on windless days. I haven't tried this yet, but my daughter said it worked. I will probably wait until September to make it, but I can guarantee we will be using it.

Materials needed:
1 cup of water
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1 gram of yeast
1 2-liter bottle

Mosquito trap

1. Cut the plastic bottle in half.
2. Mix brown sugar with hot water. Let cool. When cold, pour in the bottom half of the bottle.
3. Add the yeast. No need to mix. It creates carbon dioxide, which attracts mosquitoes.
4. Place the funnel part, upside down, into the other half of the bottle, taping them together if desired.
5. Wrap the bottle with something black, leaving the top uncovered, and place it outside in an area away from your normal gathering area. (Mosquitoes are also drawn to the color black.)

Solution is good for 2 weeks

YouTube link to video (a bit slow)

Five Year Moratorium on Caracol harvesting

"Better a Ceviche later, than never. . . "

Caracol Rosada (Queen Conch) has been an endangered species for a while. The numbers here, however have dropped so low that now there is a 5 year moratorium in place to protect them. This has created a black market and "conch" runners have rushed to fill that market. As you pass the military checkpoint, you may find that you have quite a wait as they look through coolers in search of contraband caracol. Last week, for the first time I happily saw Chetumal fish vendors with the protect the Caracol sign in their shops - a big thumbs up!

Please help the species and avoid purchasing conch/ Caracol from vendors selling them on the beach. Also, if you find them on a menu, speak up. With everyone's help, the species will recover and we will again be able to enjoy Conch Ceviche.

The ban started November 21 2013 and and will end February 28, 2017, ie four years and three months in which time they will return to shorter closures, in 2018 beginning May 1 and ending on November 30.


news around Mexico, Quintana Roo and the yucatan peninsula

Paying Othon P. Blanco Property Taxes on Line

I have not tried this yet, since we paid our taxes this year before I knew about this link. Without actually having experienced it, it appears that all you need is your Catastral number. I can't try this again until next November when they accept property tax payments for the upcoming year, but this should allow you to pay your own Costa Maya Property taxes from the US. It is possible if you have not paid your 2013 taxes, that you can do so now using that link. If someone is successful - please let me know your experience and we can pass it along.

Costa Maya Cruise Ship News

The Cruise ship industry in Quintana Roo is experiencing one of its worst runs in history. (A glut maybe?)

The port of Mahahual recorded a 15% drop in the number of berths in the first quarter of 2013, according to figures from the Directorate General of Ports and Merchant Marine of the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (SCT), while Cozumel has had one of the worst two week stretches since Wilma hit the shores of Quintana Roo.

Mahahual welcomed 73 cruises in 2013 compared to 86 in the same period of 2012, ie, a difference of 15% lower, which equates to a loss of 12,831 cruise passengers.

Isaac Hamui Lebanese businessman, owner of the cruise pier Mahahual warns it will not be until 2014 that the industry fully stabilize and will begin a sustained recovery noted.

It was announced that for 2014, the cruise ships are already offering tours to Ichkabal and later this year will begin the construction of a water park similar to Atlantis, Bahamas.

CIP Eco-tourism development plans for the Costa Maya

Andres Ruiz Morcillo, previous Othon P Blanco president and supporter of the Costa Maya has not forgotten the area, instead he is pushing . He spoke in late April about a new plan , Integrally Planned Center (CIP) in both Costa Maya and southern Quintana Roo. The new plan will look very different than the Fonatur plan which included golf courses and theme parks.

The idea is to be a concept of low-impact tourism, linking Mahahual to Chetumal population center and moving the economy in southern Quintana Roo. "It's the last stretch of the Caribbean and we are confident that people will have better employment conditions," Morcillo said.

"The Mangrove law is in place and we are not expecting a change, with the current conditions of the Costa Maya and Management Plan can carry out the project, obviously taking care all the regulations and respect for the environment and if there is a change the law could further benefit the project "he said.

"To respect and be more in touch with nature, not just sun and sand there. That can be articulated not only on the beach but linked to Chetumal, " he said.

Garbage for food in Quintana Roo

CANCUN, BJ, April 6. - Governor Roberto Borge Angulo oversaw the work of the day " Food for trash ", which took place in Cancun where more than 500 families exchanged 25 tons of reusable material for staples in the "Market Welfare". "This program will continue with welfare to every corner of the state, since every week has great call and acceptance among the public for the many benefits it offers, "he said.

During his tour the Governor greeted and chatted with neighbors, who thanked the Governor for the creation of this program, which supports the household economy, helping to keep the streets clean, prevents diseases and preserves the environment.

Latest Ferry News

Here is the latest update from Bruce Nierenberg from United Caribbean Lines with regard to the ferry service.

I appreciate that everyone who goes back and forth to the U.S. and Canada from the Yucatan will be very happy when we get the ferry started. Its taken much longer than I had hoped it would as a result of many thing International that are out of my control. But I feel we are getting to the finish line and will be establishing the start date soon. I know you all plan as far in advance as possible so while I wont have the start date for awhile let me give you and your friends down there some info as to what they should be planning.

1. The ferry will not start until 2014.

2. It is being targeted for a winter start hopefully by February.

3. If you all are planning to travel I would not delay any other travel arrangements in any way before these dates.

I have put together a list of all the people who have contacted us answering our questionnaires etc. That email list will be the first to know our specific plans when we announce them. Tell the others that if they have not contacted us to send me their email address and I will add them to the list for the latest information and special rates when we start. We also will have some special rates and deals for all of you that have been so patient.

You and your friends who live in the Yucatan and Q.R. will be our most important customers and be assured we will treat you all as special guests everyone you sail with us. We will have special rates for all of you that go frequently that will significantly reduce the cost of travel and of course make it safer as well.

I know you will all miss going to the airport to be abused!! Thanks again for being so helpful and patient. Feel free to share this info with you associates in the Yucatan and Q.R.

Best regards
Tamara Magnusson

Bruce Nierenberg
Chairman CEO
United Caribbean Lines
1369 Lexington Ave
Davenport, Fl 33837

Advise on Hurricane Preparedness from the United States Consulate General, Merida, Mexico

Dated May 31, 2013 Hurricane Season

The U.S. Consulate General in Merida reminds U.S. citizens that hurricane season is from June 1 to November 30.
Be Prepared

U.S. citizens planning to visit places that are vulnerable to hurricanes should be aware of the chance of storms and make a plan in case of emergency. Even inland areas far from the coast can experience destructive winds, tornadoes, and floods from tropical storms and hurricanes. In the event of a tropical storm or hurricane, the Consulate will monitor the storm and send email messages to U.S. citizens who have enrolled with us. The Department of State may also issue a Travel Alert or Travel Warning to apprise the public of the situation.

Please check your passport and those of your family members to assure that they are still valid. As you may need to travel to the United States (or elsewhere) on short notice, it is important to have valid travel documents so that your trip is not unnecessarily delayed. If you plan to travel to the United States, please also ensure that any non-U.S. citizen family members also have valid Lawful Permanent Resident cards or U.S. visas or visit our web site at for more information on applying for a visa.

Your Checklist:
  • Prior to leaving the United States, register your travel plans on the State Department’s travel enrollment website at ·
  • Check with your tour operator, airline, or charter flight company (as appropriate) regarding travel services back to the United States in the event of a hurricane, and the possibility of early return if a storm is forecasted for your region.
  • Obtain a cell phone that works internationally so that you can stay in regular contact with family and friends and advise them of your whereabouts.
  • Research the region you are visiting and become familiar with local emergency procedures (
  • · Pack an emergency supply kit ( Keep extra bottled water and non-perishable food items on hand.
  • Keep an up-to-date list of local emergency phone numbers, as well as contact numbers for the nearest U.S. Embassy, Consulate, or Consular Agency.
  • Protect your vital travel documents from potential water damage by placing them in a waterproof container.
  • Obtain travel insurance prior to your trip to cover unexpected expenses in the event of an emergency (
  • Ensure your medical insurance covers costs associated with emergency situations (
  • Consider what arrangements you will make for your pets. Please note that the Mexican authorities and the U.S. government do not make accommodations for the care or transportation of pets during storm-related emergencies or evacuations
  • Leave a detailed itinerary and your local contact information with a friend or family member in the United States.
  • Make two photocopies of the biographic identification page of your passport, airline tickets, driver’s license, and any credit cards you plan to take. Leave one copy of each with family or friends at home, and pack the other copies separately from the originals. You may also wish to scan these documents and store them electronically, such as on a flash drive or in an email account. If using traveler’s checks, leave a copy of the serial numbers of your traveler’s checks with a friend or relative at home
  • Monitor local websites for storm-related information. For Yucatan state, Quintana Roo (which includes the popular tourist areas of Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, and Tulum), Campeche,
  • Please also visit the following U.S. government websites for more information:

How to Contact Consulate Merida and the Consular Agencies in Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Cozumel: U.S. Consulate in Merida contact information is available here:

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Mexico enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. Embassy or nearest U.S. Consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you do not have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Regularly monitor the State Department’s website, where you can find current Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution. Read the Country Specific Information for Mexico. For additional information, refer to “A Safe Trip Abroad” on the State Department’s website.

Contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for up-to-date information on travel restrictions. You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and download our free Smart Traveler iPhone App to have travel information at your fingertips.
The U.S. Consulate General in Merida is located at Calle 60 No. 338-K x 29 y 31, Col. Alcala Martin, and is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., local time. The phone number is (999) 942-5700. If you are a U.S. citizen in need of urgent assistance, please call the number above to be connected with the duty officer.


I love you Xcalak

XCALAK POLLY What's New in Xcalak

Blue crab time, yes they are here with a vengeance!! They aren't my favorite "things" as they are so destructive, I don' t kill them in the garden as they really smell, but I am sorry to see so very many of them squashed on the road. They are feeding the young of so many things though so no waste, Mother Nature is wonderful.


I had to go to Mahahual a couple of days ago and before I set off I raise the bonnet, (hood) of my car to check the coolant level. A huge Blue crab raised it's self up to it's full hight and clicked a huge pincer at me from it's perch atop of the block. It backed off and I did my stuff and closed the bonnet and started out for Mahahual. Each time I had to stop at the junctions I could hear them scrabbling in the engine. I didn't manage to dislodge them on the 60 kilometer trip even though I was driving at a fair clip. I parked on the football field by Karlita's, when I came back they had disembarked! Should you see a couple of Blue Crabs acting as though they were drunk or half cooked or something. ~~~~~ well my driving was the something.

More crab tales, anybody know how I get a huge one out of my kitchen cupboard, I have 4 dogs that come inside and 2 cats, how come they let this crab into my house and kitchen cupboard? It's taken up residence in the cupboard with the glasses in, I got woken up with glasses falling, saw the big devil and tried to get it. It's still there! Any ideas, I am leaving the door open and hoping it's going to be hungry enough to go away!!!!

This little snake was in amongst my shrubs and flowers, when I got a good look it had had at least two inches clipped, bitten off of the end of it's tail. My cats have never bothered with snakes before so once again I am blaming the Blue crab


Classified Adds

Classified adds have moved to this link Classified Ads. If you have something you want included in the classifieds, please send it to Limit text to 100 words and pictures no larger than 600 pixels wide, but preferably 432, so that text can go side by side the photos. Include a contact email or phone number. It is a good idea to use an email address that is not your primary address to limit Junk mail coming your way. There is no charge, this is a community service for sale by owners. New this month is a boat with motor.

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Mayan Beach Garden Resort