Edition 108 + Special Edition no. 2

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B i m o n t h l y · Ye a r 0 4 · N u m b e r 1 0 8 · 2 0 , 0 0 0 c o p i e s · 2 4 P a g e s · M ay 3 - 1 6 , 2 0 1 7


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Head north to the top of the Yucatan Peninsula to find white sand beaches and cotton candy pink water! >P. 7


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ENTERTAINMENT Ro of to p B ar s

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Photo: The Playa Times





Photo: Pixeles

Although the public is more aware of the cruelty of captive dolphins face, it is still a long road to end captivity.

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Photo: : Wikimedia Commons

May 3 - 16

It is now estimated that jaguars occupy only about 46% of their historic range and they are considered ‘Near Threatened’

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2017 Looking for something to do? Check out our What’s On section online at www.theplayatimes.com for a list of things to do including live music and dancing, yoga, markets and special events


May 3 - 16 2017

Editorial DIRECTORY Rebecca Page General Manager & Editor edition@meridianmedia.mx

Ian MacKenzie Copy Editor copyeditor@meridianmedia.mx

Efrén Velázquez

Photos: The Playa Times

Art & Design design@meridianmedia.mx

Ana Martínez Brand Manager Cell: 984 169 1637 marketing@meridianmedia.mx

Erika Serra Public Relations Cell: 984 119 1586 publicrelations@meridianmedia.mx

An Easy Day Trip to Valladolid



Cell: 984 -147 5597 & 147 5571 info@meridianmedia.mx


y sisters have been in town, and whenever people come to visit, it allows me the opportunity to get out and explore the region. On Sunday, we decided to head west to Valladolid in the state of Yucatan. If you have not been there before, Valladolid is a beautiful, small city located about an hour and 40 minutes from Playa del Carmen and an hour and a half from Tulum. From Playa del Carmen, you take the Merida Cuota (toll road) for $238 pesos. We headed to Valladolid mid-morning with our first stop planned – Casa de los Venados. If you are interested in Mexican folk art, you must make a trip to this private home that is open for tours. Owned by Americans John and Dorianne Venator, the house was under renovation

Omar Coral Distribution distribution@meridianmedia.mx

CONTACT US AT: 984 -147 5597 & 147 5571 info@meridianmedia.mx /theplayatimes

for 8 ½ years before they could live there. The home is filled with their collection of Mexican folk art and contemporary art, and they open their home every day to the public. The tours begin at 10:00 a.m. and are done in English and Spanish. This was a real treat for us to visit as the house is incredibly beautiful and when you walk through the front door, you would never know you are only steps from the city center. Everywhere you look there are incredible examples of Mexican folk art that captures the diversity and uniqueness of this beautiful country. The young man who gave the tour walked us through each room, pointing out some of the most significant pieces and the stories behind them. The tour lasted approximately 45 minutes to an hour, and at the end, you are asked to give a donation of $100 MXN ($5 USD). The money is then do-

nated to local charities. After the tour, we headed to our favorite restaurant – El Atrio del Mayab. This small, garden restaurant has delicious Yucatecan-style dishes with a gourmet twist to them. They also make really good basil margaritas (margaritas albahaca), perfect for the scorching heat. The garden setting is perfect for escaping the heat of Valladolid, and when we arrived on Sunday, we could hear the parishioners from the Cathedral of San Gervasio singing during mass. Sunday is a perfect day to visit Valladolid and yes, even though it is hot as we head into May, there are plenty of places to visit, like Casa de los Venados or the garden at El Atrio, to escape the heat. If you are interested in learning more about Casa de los Venados, visit their website at www.casadelosvenados.com.


Correction: playatimes

We incorrectly identified the photo credit in our article on vaquitas, On the Brink of Extinction, in the last edition. The photo credit should have been given to the artist Memuco ©. We apologize for this error.



Número de Certificado de Reserva otorgado por el Instituto Nacional de Derechos de Autor: (PENDIENTE). Número de Certificado de Licitud de Título: (en trámite). Número de Certificado de Licitud de Contenido: (en trámite). Domicilio de la publicación: Calle 2 entre 45 y Carretera Federal, Mza. 088 lote 003-1. Impreso en talleres Grupo Megamedia Prolongación de Montejo número 301, entre 40 y 42, fraccionamiento Campestre, Mérida, Yucatán. Distribuidor: Meridian Media, S.A. de C.V., Calle 2 entre 45 y Carretera Federal, Mza. 088 lote 003-1, Playa del Carmen, Solidaridad, Quintana Roo C.P. 77710.








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Dear Landscaper:

Grassy Gardens Greenway Landscaping gives their advice to a reader about grass sod options and maintenance

Since I am retired as a former CEO of a major design firm in NYC, I am just looking to entertain myself and others with my art. Photo: Karen Russo

Jack Russo CEO Turned Artist BY CRYSTAL MITCHELL Many of us have heard of, or even know some “snowbirds” here. The people who come here in the winter to escape the cold. But what do they do here all those months? Jack Russo is one of them, and his 11 years here have made him an artist. His canvas is objects he finds on his nature walks. Jack told me more about this conversion to artist in our interview. Playa Times: Where are you originally from and how did you find yourself in Playa del Carmen? How long have you been here? Jack: I am originally from New York, close to NYC and I stay in Playa for the winter months. I have been doing this for 11 years

Photo: Greenway Landscaping



ear Landscaper, We just bought a new home and want to put in new grass. Do they have different kinds of grass here? If so, what is the best one to get? Dear Reader, There are only two kinds of grass (sod) available here in Quintana Roo: St. Augustine and Chino. Both are warm-season grasses. St. Augustine • A wide-leafed grass. • Tolerates some shady periods. • Requires black topsoil. • Resistant to trampling, although it will not survive areas of high traffic. • Lower maintenance. • Much easier to add topsoil to. Chino • Thin-leafed grass, but more density than St. Augustine. • Tolerates a little bit of shade. • Best cut with pruners to keep it greener. • Will need to be cut twice a week and will turn yellow for a day or two until the sun turns it green again. • More difficult to add topsoil as the grass is thicker and hard to reach the roots where topsoil is needed. • Behaves well with salt air, so it is better on or near beachfront lawns. • Slow growing and uneven.

Do not allow your gardener to cut the grass shorter than three inches. • Better for high traffic areas and more disease resistant. Pointers • Do not allow your gardener to cut the grass shorter than three inches. Many do that here and it will cause the grass to burn. • Add black topsoil at least twice a year depending on your location and areas that need it. • Irrigation is always recommended for easiest maintenance and healthy lawn. It saves water also. • Water twice a day in hot months and once a day in cold months. • Aerate in the spring and fall. • Apply fertilizer after aerating. We recommend Triple17 and Urrea, to make it greener faster. Please send your questions to Greenway Landscaping. We are happy to help and advice is free: greenwaylandscaping@email.com

I understand you make unique art with local materials. Could you tell us a little bit more about it? Whatever I find on my daily walks that look interesting, I pick up; mostly things from trees like dried palms, large leaves and branches and sometimes a small coconut or other material. What inspires your work? How did you come to find yourself doing this?

I am inspired by the beautiful nature of this area. I have always had a major interest in art and being creative. I am a degreed architectural interior designer and I was looking for a hobby. Who do you feel is the audience for your art? Since I am retired as a former CEO of a major design firm in NYC, I am just looking to entertain myself and others with my art. What do you do on a day-to-day basis? What is the hardest part about being here? I take long walks exploring nature, visit my family, read, make some art and go out to dance and have nice dinners with my daughter who lives here. I also have occasion to help who I know around here with redesigning different aspects of their home. I also have a tendency to redesign my daughter’s home on a daily basis. The hard part is that I miss my brothers and sisters and grandchildren. What has been the most fun of starting this venture? The past eleven years here have been a great adventure, meeting so many kind people from all over the world and especially local people. I feel very fortunate to have such a nice life here.



May 3 - 16 2017

Moving to Mexico: What Happens When the Honeymoon Phase Ends? They came with the hopes of creating a life that was like a perpetual Caribbean vacation, but did reality live up to their expectations? Post-honeymoon Phase This is the point in the article where the more pessimistic readers are expecting me to admit that things are not as rosy as I thought they were the first year — sorry to disappoint. The fact is that our life in Mexico has exceeded our loftiest expectations of what we expected our new life to be like south of the border. Moving to Mexico has been one of the best decisions we ever made and we have no plans to move back to the United States. In many ways, the second year has been much better than the first. Now we’re well-established, have developed great friendships, and truly feel at home in Mexico.



or those of you who are not regular readers of the blog, allow me to give you some background here: In 2015, my wife and I disposed of 99% of our worldly belongings, packed the remainder into four suitcases and moved to Mexico. We came with the hopes of creating a life that was like a perpetual Caribbean vacation. We envisioned spending our days lounging on white sandy beaches and sipping margaritas at quaint little beach bars. We basically wanted to create a life that we didn’t need to take a vacation from, and we wanted it for a price that we could afford. Did I mention that we took a 67% cut to our yearly income by leaving our jobs in the U.S.? That’s why we didn’t keep a house back in the States as a backup – we needed to drastically cut expenses and eliminate debt. The Honeymoon Phase Your first year in a new country is a lot like the first year of marriage: both are life-changing events that most people face with optimism, excitement and enthusiasm. At the

Riviera Maya at Sunset / Photo: Paul QRoo

same time, there is always a little fear that things won’t work out as planned. Our first year turned out better than we had hoped. We purchased a condo in a tight-knit community that we absolutely love, we obtained our resident cards and developed friendships with expats and locals alike. We also spent every single day like it was the last day of va-

What is Your


Status in Mexico? According to a recent immigration census taken by the National Institute of Geography and Statistics and the US State Department, one million Americans are living in Mexico and many do not have legal status. BY MEXLAW The majority of Americans residing in Mexico are retired and simply come on a tourist permit and stay without applying for their residency. So far the penalties of overstaying your tourist permit have not been harsh, only small fines as you leave the country, but given the current situation in the US, some fear that Mexico may react and begin to enforce their immigration laws. It is safe to say there are also many people from all over the world living in Mexico without the proper documents. It is an easy process to apply for residency, holding it provides you with peace of mind while traveling in and out of the country, or encountering random immigration checkpoints. We recommend visitors wanting to live in Mexico apply for a Residence Visa.

cation – in other words, we made the most of our time here. Eight months after arriving in Mexico, I launched this blog and began sharing our experiences with thousands of strangers across the globe. I guess those early articles were a little too positive because they prompted some readers to write me and accuse

TEMPORARY RESIDENCY VISA Temporary residence is for foreigners who wish to stay in the country for more than 180 days and up to four years. If you wish to work, you need to apply for permission to work visa. A Few Benefits of a Temporary Residency Visa • Temporary Resident receives a registration number CURP (Clave Única de Registro de Población). • Open Mexican bank accounts and legally register an automobile. • Avoid traveling out of Mexico every 180 days. • Some private hospitals provide a discount to residents. • Enter and leave Mexico as you wish. PERMANENT RESIDENT VISA Permanent Resident Visas are issued to foreign nationals who intend to live in Mexico for extended periods of time and for people who wish to gain Mexican Citizenship. A Few Benefits of Permanent Residency • The right to work. • CURP. • Apply for free Health Insurance in Mexico. • The ease of a single application and a one-time fee. • It allows unlimited entries and exits. • A stepping stone to becoming a naturalized citizen. There are several types of visas: temporary resident, work permit, permanent resident visas and residency through investment. For more information, contact vela.a@mexlaw.ca.

me of “wearing rose-colored glasses” or “still being in the honeymoon phase”. One reader even encouraged me to wait another year and then write an article sharing my impressions of Mexico once I was more established. Well, a year has passed since I started the blog and I decided to take that reader’s suggestion.

Let’s Wrap This Up For those people thinking of making a life-changing move to Mexico, I have a little advice: don’t listen to the pessimistic people who try to rain on your parade, or dismiss your dreams as mere fantasy. The best approach is to just smile back at them and then prove them wrong. To read more of Paul´s blog ¨Two Expats Living in Mexico¨, go to www.qroo.us.



May 3 - 16 2017

Semana Santa Madness Approximately 122 million Mexicans are on holiday during Holy Week, filling up the beaches of the nation. BY FRANK VAN DER BURGH


y the time you read this, Semana Santa will be over and the Mexican population will be back to work. As Mexico does not stagger vacations, everyone has holidays at the same time. This means that there are approximately 122 million people on holiday during Holy Week. It is no secret that Mexicans love their beaches, and Cancun and Puerto Vallarta are two of the most visited places during Easter weekend. With over 90% of accommodation booked, prices rise by 200%, and even the simplest of places suddenly seems to have

valet parking to please the crowds. The greatest change, however, is on the beach. You can expect full parking lots and lines of people with big coolers, parasols, chairs, tables, blankets, towels and anything else they can fit in the car. Grandmas, grandpas, children and dogs all make their way to crowded places to spread out everything and hold down their piece of beach. You will see people selling parasols, tacos, shrimp-on-a-stick, sweetbread, massages and more. If you think once you sit down you can rest, think again! Electronic music blasts you from one side, and on the other side competing

During Semana Santa, expect full parking lots, and lines of people with big coolers, parasols, chairs, tables, blankets, towels and anything else they can fit in the car.

banda musicians fight fire with fire, playing even louder to compensate. In the middle of all this, you can’t but feel that you are experiencing a rare piece of Mexican culture. If you can handle the increased costs, the crowds, and the noise, I recommend that everyone experiences a Mexican Semana Santa at least once, and integrate a little bit more of Mexican life.

Ahhh...nothing like getting away from it all!! / Photo: Frank van der Burgh

Photos: Frank van der Burgh

The Perfect Gift for Living Abroad - Part Two BY FRANK VAN DER BURGH


n Part One, I wrote about the perfect gift that I had received from my brother, meant for someone living abroad. In case you missed it, you can read it here. I took advantage of a beautiful Saturday and decided to cash in our first envelope and head to the Vallarta Botanical Gardens.

Contrary to what the name suggests, it’s a good hour’s drive from Puerto Vallarta. Unlike its northern counterpart, the southern road runs parallel to the coast, providing some beautiful sea views along the way. Once on site I walked a short path and got a taste of the variety of sights, from nopales to vanilla, to the marigolds associated with the Day of the Dead. Past the initial

area, I arrived at a beautiful pavilion decorated with flowers, where I found a gift shop and restaurant. The second floor had an excellent view of the area and because of the fresh fruit placed on trays outside, I was able to do some birdwatching. If you love hummingbirds, now is your chance to see them here, as their season started this month. From this point, I took a tranquil

If you are with kids or feeling more adventurous, you can take a 45-minute hike through the jungle and end up at the River Horcones. walk around the premises. I followed various trails, each with different flower exhibitions. If you visit with

your kids or are feeling more adventurous, you can take a 45-minute hike through the jungle instead, and end up at the River Horcones. From here, visitors can stroll through the river, swim around and soak up some sunlight. There is a shortcut back to the pavilion. Alternatively, you can hang around on the beds in the garden or take a lunch in the restaurant. To be honest, this place deserves much more attention than it currently gets. While visiting on a Saturday, I found the place very quiet for most of the day. Don’t let the distance prevent you from visiting, buses go there every 30 minutes and cost around 20 pesos. A taxi there will set you back around 400 pesos.

May 3 - 16 2017

Pink Vibes



Only at

Las Coloradas!

Visit this Yucatan location to witness one of the most ngbjn^ lngl^ml rhn ee ^o^k l^^ BY MELISSA MÉNDEZ ORANTES


few hours from Playa del Carmen, you can find a paradise of pink waters that you will never forget: Las Coloradas, one of the best-kept secrets in Mexico! What are Las Coloradas? It is a salt mine region in Yucatan, which has a small fishing port with fewer than a thousand habitants. It is located in the Rio Lagartos Reserve, a biosphere full of mangroves, birds, and reptiles. Although many believe that Las Coloradas are lagoons, they really are reserves of salt water. Salt from here has been the flagship product of the area since Mayan times. But why is the water pink? The high salt concentration in these waters creates unicellular microorganisms called halobacterium. They stain the water with an incredible pink tone, thanks to their microscopic membranes. Here, instead of sand, you will find very thick grains of salt at the bottom of the water, and if you try to swim, it is possible that you float without effort as in the Dead Sea. However, it is not recommended, because the high salt content can cause skin irritation. Reasons to go? You will feel lost in a private paradise and have a very different experience from the classic tourist attractions in the Riviera

One of Mexico´s best-kept secrets! / Photo: Melissa Méndez Orantes

Maya. In addition to admiring the lovely pink waters and taking pictures and videos, the best recommendation is to take a picnic and wait for the sunset. Then you will have the opportunity to admire how the sky melts into the water. It is a unique show of incredible colors, just like a Monet painting!

It is located in the Rio Lagartos Reserve: a biosphere full of mangroves, birds, and reptiles. Recommendations You will not find hotels or restaurants in Las Coloradas, so if you want to spend the night you will have to go to the village of Rio Lagartos. The trip from Playa del Carmen is approximately three hours. If you are travelling by car you should take the Cancun-Kantunil road, then exit in Tizimín and take the road to Valladolid and then direct to Río Lagartos. If you want to go by bus, take one to Tizimin, and then another from Tizimin to Las Coloradas. Enjoy your trip!

Deforestation and fragmentation of forest habitat isolates jaguar populations and are more vulnerable to human persecution / Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A Big Cat in the American Continent BY FLORENCIA CERUTTI There are 42 known species of cat in the world, and the third largest cat (after the tiger and lion) is historically found in many countries of the Americas. The jaguar ranged from the southwestern US to the Rio Negro in Argentina. They seem to be strongly associated with the presence of water, and their habitat ranges from rainforest to seasonally flooded swamp areas and dry deciduous forest. Although jaguars are thought to be one single species, scientists have found evidence for somewhat isolated groups: Mexico and Guatemala, southern Central America, northern South America, and South America, south of the Amazon River. Jaguars can weigh between 56 – 96 kg, and body length varies from 1.12 to 1.85 m. They stand 63 to 76 cm tall at the shoulders. They have the shortest tail of any big cat. Their legs are also short but thick and powerful. Females reach sexual maturity at about two years of age, and males at three or four. The gestation period lasts 93 – 105 days and females give birth to two to four cubs who stay with their mother for one to two years. A jaguar´s estimated lifespan in the wild is at around 12–15 years. Deforestation and fragmentation of forest habitat isolate jaguar populations and are more vulnerable to human persecution. Commercial hunting for their pelts has de-

clined with anti-fur campaigns, but there is still demand for jaguar paws, teeth, and other products. Also, jaguars are often shot as rural human communities invade the forest and get closer to jaguar habitats. It is now estimated that jaguars occupy only about 46% of their historic range and are considered ‘Near Threatened’ by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

It is now estimated that jaguars occupy only about 46% of their historic range and are considered ‘Near Threatened’. Jaguars are a key species to look after in our forests; they are top predators and, like all cats, are a keystone species playing an important role in stabilizing ecosystems and regulating populations of its prey. Top predator felids maintain the structural integrity of forest systems. Culturally, jaguars have featured prominently in the mythology of many indigenous cultures of the Americas, including Mayas and Aztecs.



May 3 - 16 2017

Three Mujeres for Isla Mujeres BY ANDRÉS MENDOZA DEL VALLE III Isla Mujeres has a very participative community, with expats and locals working together to protect the island’s integrity. Among them are three women who are working hard to make Isla Mujeres a better place. Let’s find out who they are!

In April, they performed their second annual clean-up as part of the Earth Day celebrations.

Florida Atlantic University Research Professor, Brian Lapointe / Photos: oceancleaner.org

The Sargaboat

Action for Isla and Dive Life Isla Mujeres It all began four years ago when Shyla moved from Texas to become a dive instructor and met Kaulani. They’ve been friends ever since and now they work together in Dive Life Isla Mujeres, a five-star PADI shop that has just celebrated its first anniversary. The friends had great ideas to benefit the island, so they decided to act. First they mastered their Spanish in order to understand the community. Afterwards they started AFI (Action for Isla), a platform for all locals to come together and brainstorm, network, and

Meet the creators of the innovative boat that will tackle the seaweed problem of the Riviera Maya BY ANDRÉS MENDOZA DEL VALLE III


n a previous edition of The Playa Times, I introduced you to Denis and Christine Jimenez, residents of Puerto Morelos. In this edition they return with some news about innovations that have been designed to eradicate the seaweed problem here in the Riviera Maya. Denis and Christine tell us in their own words. We developed the subject in close collaboration with the world’s best sargassum seaweed specialist, Brian Lapointe. He has over 35 years’ experience in this field and declares that “sargassum strandings cause problems for tourism, and also impact biodiversity, biogeochemical cycling and the habitat of fisheries.” These can potentially form “dead zones” (hypoxic or anoxic conditions) in coastal ecosystems such as mangroves.” Removing the sargassum from beaches with heavy machinery destroys sea turtle nests and erodes beaches. It also unintentionally removes tons of sand. It must be refilled to prevent erosion that destroys the coastline. Sand is increasingly scarce, and there is real illegal trafficking of it. It is becoming more expensive than gold. We call it the Sand War. The most ecological way to deal with the invasion of sargassum is to harvest it at sea before its run aground and dies on the shore line. This produces hydrogen sulphide, which is a very harmful and corrosive gas.

Sand is becoming more expensive than gold. We call it the Sand War. Sargaboat After several months of research taking into account all parameters, we designed the Sargaboat and the Sargatrailer. It’s an innovative catamaran equipped with a treadmill and interchangeable trailers, capable of harvesting floating wastes and sargassum at sea. It is the only boat capable of working along a special blocking net that does not catch marine animals. Seaweed harvested at sea can be dropped farther into the ocean or recycled in various fields. I think biofuel is the best solution. Through theoceancleaner. org, we also propose an innovation to recycle plastic waste. We plan to launch the production of «green» artificial reefs, made of what specialists name “green concrete”. We are trying to introduce the notion of ecology to the nautical market, building a “green” pocket boat with an innovative design, equipped with an electric motor and above all, built largely with jute fiber (burlap). An eco-friendly boat for kids and adults under 5’6” and under 170 lbs, which is an innovation in this field.

Photos: Ran Mor

collaborate on ideas that will become actions for positive change on Isla Mujeres. In April, they performed their second annual clean-up as part of the Earth Day celebrations. It was an amazing effort with great results. The clean-up was not only on the beach, but underwater too, as marine debris pollution is one of their main concerns. Every volunteer got a free ticket at registration to win prizes donated by the event sponsors at the after party. Being a good neighbor really pays off. They know that doing the right thing can be fun too! Barracuda Board Co. The most recent member of AFI is Marrissa, who is the mind behind Barracuda Board Co. Isla Mujeres has great spots for skating, and now it has these Californian-made, bamboo/ sugar maple decks to do it properly. They held the Apex Skateboarding Festival a few months ago with fantastic longboard and skateboard exhibitions and live music. Action for Isla is open to anyone who wants to contribute to sharing some love for the island. Even if you are new in town or don’t speak Spanish, drop by and say hello! actionforisla.org divingisla.com Facebook/@skateBarracuda330

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Special Edition No.1 / The Playa Times Investing in Mexico | TopMexicoRealEstate.com

TopMexicoRealEstate.com | The Playa Times Investing in Mexico/ Special Edition No.1









TopMexicoRealEstate.com | The Playa Times Investing in Mexico/ Special Edition No.1

Special Edition No.1 / The Playa Times Investing in Mexico | TopMexicoRealEstate.com

May 3 - 16 2017



Sargassum: Desirable or Undesirable? OZg^llZ lihd^ pbma lhf^ eh\Ze ^qi^kml mh Û g] hnm fhk^ Z[hnm ma^ l^Zp^^] maZm pZla^l ni hg hnk lahk^l bg ma^ lnff^k fhgmal BY VANESSA NINI


love the beautiful white sandy beaches of Cozumel. However, every year an undesirable visitor called sargassum affects the postcard-perfect crystal waters of the Caribbean sea. What is sargassum? Do we have to remove it from the beach? I asked some local experts. Elsa M. Arcila Torres, Subdirector of Ecology Cozumel “Sargassum is a natural and healthy phenomenon which happens every year in the Caribbean sea. It is a brown, free-floating alga that grows

on water and does not stick to the ocean floor. The structure of the plant is made up of leafy appendages, branches, and berries. These berries are actually gas-filled structures, called pneumatocysts, which are filled mostly with oxygen. These thick masses of sargassum provide a food source, home, and shelter to an amazing variety of marine species (plants, shrimp, crabs, birds, fish, turtles and whales). When sargassum loses its buoyancy, it sinks to the seafloor, providing energy in the form of carbon to fishes and invertebrates in the deep sea. Too much sargassum on the beach - as occurred in 2015 - can make it complicated for nesting sea turtles to

These thick masses of sargassum provide a food source, home, and shelter to an amazing variety of marine species (plants, shrimp, crabs, birds, fish, turtles and whales).

arrive at the shore, and for hatchlings to reach the sea. For two years now, the quantity of sargassum has been normal on our shores, but it is still removed because it can affect tourism.” One week ago, a group of workers from Zofemat started to remove the sargassum from the beaches. Luz del Alba Polanco Trujillo Director of Zofemat ”We have been coordinating to remove sargassum from our beaches, particularly in the popular places. We put it to dry on the beach close to the road and it will become sand in a few weeks. The decomposition of sargassum in the water creates an unpleasant smell and affects our visitors.

Every day of the year, we are cleaning rubbish from the beaches too, in coordination with Ecology Cozumel and the schools. We have a nice program called “Adopta una Playa” (Adopt a Beach to Clean). Everybody is welcome to join.” Sargassum plays a role in beach nourishment and is an important element of shoreline stability. The only question is, are we ready to include this natural brown plant in our holiday pictures? Adopta una Playa: Facebook/@ AdoptaunaplayaCozumel

Too much sargassum on the beach can make it complicated for nesting sea turtles / Photo: Vanessa Nini

El Rincon de BY VANESSA NINI There are some lovely hiding places in Cozumel, such as this Garden of Eden in the middle of the town. Located on 25th Avenue and Calle 5, inside Florecita’s Vivero, is El Rincon de Addy, meaning “Addy’s Retreat.” It is an incredible open garden space with an art gallery, a shop and the opportunity to learn about medicinal plants. The owner Addy Bacelis is a painter from Merida and has been living in Cozumel for more than ten years. She shared with us her love for what she does and the special features of her place. Addy Bacelis I have three big passions: art, gardening and cooking. My place is an art gallery coffee shop, where you can also buy a plant or a tree. My husband Julian Xacur, who studied agriculture and farming, also shares my passion. We started with the nursery garden in the town, growing medicinal plants, local fruit, vegetables and flowers. Then, one year ago, with the help of my daughter Jimena, we opened El Rincon de Addy. As you can see, I love

Addy to paint on everything; wood, glass, oil painting.

I have three big passions: art, gardening, and cooking Addy Bacelis Owner of El Rincon de Addy All these tables have been painted by you and now we are having breakfast on one of them. Your guests are enjoying food, nature and art at the same time, all homemade or homegrown and natural. I like to offer authentic products directly from the garden, and give advice about the medicinal herbal teas that we make. We have so many medicinal plants in Mexico, so it is a pleasure to teach people about them. If you want a fresh rosemary tea from the garden, you will have it at El Rincon de Addy.

Photo: Vanessa Nini

Your menu is fresh and healthy, with a lot of original fruit waters. Local fruits like yaca, guanabana, papaya, seasonal fruits, all prepared freshly and without sugar. We invite you to drink a fresh water and learn

about new flavors and their medicinal properties. Is everything for sale here? Yes. We sell plants, plates, cups, tables, chairs. I also work upon request. The dog and the cats are not

for sale though! Open from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday, Sunday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Come live the experience of El Rincon de Addy, Calle 5 with Avenue 25. Instagram/@elrincondeaddy Facebook/El Rincon De Addy


May 3 - 16 2017


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veryone knows that including an exercise routine in our day is great for a healthy life. So, let me share some information with you about Sports Unit Independence, located in Calle 13 sur between Avenidas 50 and Felipe Angeles in Cozumel. They have soccer fields, a basketball court, tennis courts, an athletics track, a swimming pool and a gym. The facilities are for public use. You must only be a member to use the pool and gymnasium. For further information about the pool, visit Facebook/Alberca Municipal de Cozumel, or phone 8693045 The gym has an on-site instructor. Registration is $200 pesos and $100 pesos monthly to use the facilities, or pay $30 pesos per day. The tennis courts are open to all, but you must bring your equipment. Courts cannot be reserved and operate on a first-come, firstserved basis. We recommend the schedule from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Children and youths aged 8 to 20 years can attend free training in judo, boxing, ath-

Children and youths aged 8 to 20 years can attend free training in judo, boxing, athletics and may even be identified, tracked and developed as talent for the Olympics. letics and may even be identified, tracked and developed as talent for the Olympics. The athletics track is open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. from Monday to Friday and Saturdays from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. A trainer for triathlon preparation is available from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Photos: Raquel Garza

The Humane Society of Cozumel BY RAQUEL GARZA

The Humane Society of Cozumel Island is a 100% non-profit organization for the welfare of animals of Cozumel. Over the years it has received over 7000 animals, found homes for more than 1500, and spayed or neutered over 5000. They actively promote and run a permanent and free spay/neuter campaign, and work hard to find good homes for animals. The staff of the Humane Society consists of a vet and vet assistant, three kennel workers and volunteers. Their work is made possible by donations and sponsorship.

Photos: Raquel Garza

We offer free sterilization, we provide veterinary services, and with us you can adopt the next member of your family

The on-site clinic offers consultations and surgical services to the people of Cozumel at reasonable prices, which helps those who cannot afford to pay at all. Grooming services are also available, and they can provide travel certificates and vaccinations for people wishing to travel with their pets.

“We offer free sterilization, we provide veterinary services, and with us you can adopt the next member of your family. Please contact 987 112 3376 for more information on adoptions and sterilization, or send us a message through our website to find out how you can be part of the solution for these dogs and cats on the island and provide a service for your community”

Open seven days a week, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Vet attention and vaccination: 9 a.m. – 4:45 p.m. Sunday 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Adoption visits: 11a.m. – 4:45 p.m. Sunday 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Cleaning volunteers: 9 a.m. – 11a.m. Sunday 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Volunteers for dog walk: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. & 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. Sunday 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. For more information, find them at www.humanecozumel.org

May 3 - 16 2017

Three Rooftop Bars for Every Occasion Find Your Perfect Rooftop Paradise BY TILLY KYRIAKIDES


ere in the Riviera Maya, we’re pretty spoiled when it comes to beautiful beaches. But when you want a relaxing day of sun and sangria, there’s nothing more luxe than a rooftop pool. While Playa del Carmen has a good selection of rooftop bars, it is important to find the right crowd. From grown-up sophistication to hipster hangouts, there’s a rooftop in Playa to suit every taste. Visiting a rooftop bar in Playa is an essential part of any stay here, and with the variety available you’re sure to find your own perfect rooftop paradise. Here

are three to consider: 1. The Thompson This boutique hotel, located on Calle 8 between Fifth Avenue and Tenth Avenue, is known for its understated luxury. Their rooftop bar is 30,000 square feet of pure bliss. They have infinity pools with submerged sun loungers, a swim-up bar, and private cabanas with your own personal wait-staff. Of course, they also have an unbeatable panoramic of the crystalline Caribbean Sea that makes the Thompson truly Instagram-worthy. Catch restaurant, a NYC import that has an open-air dining room, kitchen, and sushi bar, serves fantastic food. A

Photo: Thompson Hotel

Papadiablo Full Moon Party BY GINGER M.


full moon occurs when the Earth is aligned directly between the sun and the moon, and the sun almost completely illuminates the moon’s hemisphere. The first Full Moon Party, on the other hand, was held on the island of Ko Pha Ngan in Thailand back in 1985. It was thrown to give thanks to the twenty to thirty travelers who were staying at Paradise Bungalows on the beach. In Playa del Carmen, we are gifted with the Papadiablo Full Moon Party at Canibal Royal every month. It was born on the Caribbean Sea on April 22, 2016, after a talk between friends that have long lived in Playa del Carmen. It was based on their nostalgia for the way the village of Playa used to be, with parties on the shore, lit by the moon. This motivated them to revive that tradition and create an event with supernatural energy and magical dance. Canibal Royal was the ideal place to throw a party like this. “We bring together all those people who lived in Playa at a different time or those who don’t come out so much,” says Alberto Martinez, one of the organizers. “We want to achieve a friendly, warm and cheerful atmosphere at least once a month. Let’s just say, it’s a way to remember what Playa used to be.” What the organizers want to give back to Playa del Carmen with these parties is a fusion of nationalities dancing in the sand with more organic music. The party’s first anniversary was highly entertaining, with over five DJs playing for the crowd. The night was literally alight with fire performances and fireworks. Drink tickets were implemented to avoid crowds at the bar and are very much appreciated by the guests. “It is a night where people don’t have preju-

Photo:Papadiablo/Canibal Royal

We want to achieve a friendly, warm and cheerful atmosphere at least once a month. Let’s just say, it’s a way to remember what Playa used to be Alberto Martinez Co-organizer of Papadiablo Full Moon Party dices,” continues Alberto. “They are free, without labels or ties. The idea is that this is the most comfortable moment of the month, where everyone can relax and dance under the moon.” Canibal Royal hosts between 500 to 900 people each month during the Full Moon Party. On the evening of April 14, more than 750 expats, locals and tourists were dancing and vibrating like never before on the magical night of the full moon. The Papadiablo Bazar brings people down early to see the work of the artisans of the area. Overall, it is a great concept and a great party.

DJ and creative cocktails take the party from day to night, making the Thompson one of the ultimate rooftop experiences in Playa.

Panoramic views of the Caribbean coast, good music and a wellstocked bar are exactly what you need to complete your time here in Playa del Carmen. 2. Deck 5 Skybar Deck 5 at The Carmen Hotel advertises itself as the only rooftop bar five stories above beach level. So, if a majestic view is what you’re look-



ing for, then Deck 5 might be for you. Located on Calle 8 and the beach, Deck 5 really does make you feel as though you are on a party boat looking out over the shimmering sea. Pool parties are hosted regularly featuring live DJ sets, with terraces for sunbathing and a pool perched right above the beach. 3. La Reina Roja Rooftop Garden La Reina Roja has the makings of a true hipster haven. Proof of this can be found at their rooftop garden on any given weekend. Sun loungers, a shallow pool with a bar serving food and drinks, metal cages and a dedicated DJ space attract the weird and wonderful people of Playa on a regular basis. La Reina Roja is unmissable, due to its red lighting, metal piping and mannequins looking down from the balconies. You can find it on Calle 20 between Fifth Avenue and Tenth Avenue.



May 3 - 16 2017

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Celebrating the Earth: Eco-Cultural Festival



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pril 30 is a very special day for children in Mexico. It is generally celebrated at school rather than at home, and kids look forward to going because they don’t have to attend classes or wear uniforms. Instead they enjoy a day of games, contests, and fun activities while receiving gifts of candy and drinks. There is also a lot of junk food, which they normally do not eat. On this day without their usual seriousness and authority, teachers and staff even appear more friendly. This is a good time to reflect on the opportunities and rights of children and our obligation to protect them. These days there are a lot of complaints from parents and teachers that authority is lost on kids. In my experience as a teacher, and having heard the com-

plaints of my colleagues, I agree. We no longer have the respect which was once given to adults. This is also true of parents, who have lost some control because they are working, allowing television, video games, and social media to act as babysitters. There is also the issue of protecting children, regardless of race, language or other factors. This was written in the Declaration of Children’s Rights, signed in 1959 by the member countries of the United Nations. Kids have the right to a childhood, without their physical, mental or emotional dignity being violated. The statistics in Mexico for child abuse, theft of infants, and sexual exploitation are alarming. We live in one of the leading destinations for sex tourism, including that of infants. It is abhorrent activity and requires us to “look and see” and to take specific and urgent action.

What better way to begin a day than with a festival! After months of planning and work, a ceremony of thanks was held at sunrise by the water as organizers and friends celebrated The International Day of Mother Earth, at Punta Esmeralda. It was a time to give thanks for all of the things that nature gives to us, and start the activities of the First Riviera Maya Eco-Cultural Festival. At eight in the morning, we began a cleanup at Punta Esmeralda. With help from ZOFEMAT, volunteers, sponsors, and people who responded to the media call spent two hours cleaning up the beach, mangroves, and cenote. Incredibly, in a short time, we managed to pick up 179 kilos (394 pounds) of garbage. It was a mixture of glass, plastic, cigarette butts, bottle caps, bags, and glass. Sadly, this usually ends up in the sea. The animals confuse it for food and are dying as a result. At four in the afternoon, the recycling workshop began, led by visual artist Yazhael Ville-

gas. Hours later the festival had its formal inauguration when biologist Roberto Rojo arrived. He works at Playa del Carmen’s Planetarium, and we appreciated the honor of his presence. People met at Quinta Alegria to enjoy an afternoon of art and culture. They enjoyed writers, singers, dancers, and extraordinary performances from Sandra González, Lina Olvera, Ceci “Cuentacuentos”, Gaby Guerrero, Operativo Silla Móvil, Lety Rioja, Ensamble “Lazos” and Naomi Piel. We also invited biologist Ma. Del Carmen García, Director of the National Commission for Protected Areas of Puerto Morelos. Seventh Art invited us to view a screening of the documentary film “Erosion,” directed by Sergio Santiago and Carlos Underwood. I would like to say thank you to the organizers, Leonard Escamilla, Edén Galindo, the sponsors, volunteers, filmmaker Miguel Gallardo and the artists who selflessly support art and culture in Playa del Carmen. Likewise, thanks to the media for the coverage of the activities of the Festival and, of course, to The Playa Times for their support.

In a short time, the team picked up 179 kilos of garbage! / Photo: Alejandro Campo

May 3 - 16 2017




Sweat It Out! Learn about the benefits of this centuries-old Finnish practice BY SARA JONES

Master’s take on negative karma Master Choa Kok Sui has explained the law of karma in the simplest way possible. In his teachings, Master has thoroughly and deeply shown that how by regulating and modifying our actions it is possible to generate


auna - meaning ‘bath’ or ‘bathhouse’- is the only Finnish word commonly used in the English language. Europeans have enjoyed saunas for thousands of years. Over time they have developed into the Finnish-style wooden saunas we are familiar with. Today, saunas are found across the globe, however they remain strongly associated with Scandinavia, and particularly with Finland, where they originated. Relaxes and soothes aches and pains in muscles and joints With the high heat of a sauna, the body releases endorphins that have an enjoyable and tranquilizing effect, diminishing pain from arthritis and other muscle soreness. Blood circulation increases and vessels dilate improving the body’s natural healing process, reducing muscle tension and eliminating lactic acid build-up. Aids weight loss Enjoying a sauna regularly is a great way to lose weight. During a sauna, heart rate increases due to the heat. A 20-minute session at around 170 degrees Fahrenheit can burn over 500 calories. Regular use of a sauna can also speed up the body’s metabolism, helping to maintain a healthy weight. Strengthens the immune system Sauna use helps to create a stronger immune system by helping the body produce white blood cells to attack infections and ailments. Regular sauna users have a higher white blood cell count and significantly fewer instances of cold and flu. Healthier skin The largest organ of the body is the skin. As we grow older, dead cells

“Just as you created your present condition through your past, you create your future condition through your present deeds.” -Grand Master Choa Kok Sui The philosophy of karma is based on the concept that what we give is what we will receive. If a person does something with intention, good or bad, the karmic effect will reach tenfold or more. If we plant a mango seed, we get a tree that produces many, many mangoes. In order to generate good karma, one must do good deeds. The law of karma is “self-determining” and “self-directing” which means “what goes around, comes around.” We cannot blame anyone for the problems and trouble that we are facing. We are responsible for our deeds, words, feelings, and thoughts. It is possible to reverse an adverse condition by learning our lessons and doing good deeds. When applied positively, the law of karma manifests as the yang golden rule: “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.” This rule can help us get what we want or desire. This means that if we want harmony in our life, we must be courteous to others. If applied as the yin golden rule: “Do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you,” the law of karma can be used to avoid undesirable events. For example, if we do not want to be cheated, we need to be fair and honest to others. If you want to be loved, you need to show love and kindness to the others around us.


Just as you created your present condition through your past, you create your future condition through your present deeds Grand Master Choa Kok Sui good karma for ourselves and also how we can neutralize the negative and bad karma from our past. We are in the habit of blaming our destiny for all our miseries, but as per our Master, those misfortunes and bad luck could be turned around, and we can make our lives happy and peaceful. Sources – Ancient Science and Art of Pranic Healing by Master Choa Kok Sui, The Advanced Pranic Healing by Master Choa Kok Sui, www. worldpranichealing.com The Center for Pranic Healing is located in Playacar Fase II, Paseo Tulum, Edificio Bugambilias. For more information visit Facebook/ Sanación Pránica Quintana Roo

Scale the Stairs BY SARA JONES

Sauna use helps to create a stronger immune system by helping the body produce white blood cells to attack infections and ailments. accumulate and skin becomes less elastic. Sauna use improves blood flow to the skin, encouraging the growth of new skin cells. The skin also experiences a deep cleanse as sweat cleans out the pores and bacteria are flushed away with the removal of any dead cells building up on the surface. And as if those reasons weren’t enough, it feels great!

Even if you’re not a fan of the gym and running is not your preferred cardio activity, you’re never too far away from a good workout if you have stairs in your home, building or nearby sports stadium. We are lucky there are so many of these facilities in Playa del Carmen open to the public! Here are few ways to incorporate stairs into your workout routine: Sprint Interval Training No time to exercise? Think again! Brief bursts of intense activity at maximum capacity followed by short rest periods to catch your breath. After a gentle warm up, try three 60-second bursts of activity over a 10-minute period interspersed with recovery periods, followed by a cool down. Create a Stair Routine Mix up the exercises to vary your routine.

Sara Jones Spa, Wellness & Lifestyle Expert, Spa Consultant and Founder of Spa & Wellness Mexico magazine www.spawellnessmexico.com

With the high heat of a sauna, the body releases endorphins that have an enjoyable and tranquilizing effect / Photo: Shutterstock

No time to exercise? Think again / Photo: Pexels

Choose any combination: regular stair runs, double stair runs (step on every other stair), double foot jump (single stair or double stair if you’re feeling energetic), side runs up and down, squat jumps (single stair or double stair), knee raises stair climb. Don’t Forget Static Exercises and Upper Body Running the stairs is a great workout for the legs and glutes, but don’t forget static exercises and the upper body in your workout. Stairs can be used for triceps dips, incline push ups (or decline push ups if you’re super strong), incline or decline plank, calf raises, split squats, leg raises and Russian twists. Sara Jones Spa, Wellness & Lifestyle Expert, Spa Consultant and Founder of Spa & Wellness Mexico magazine www.spawellnessmexico.com



May 3 - 16 2017

Not as Scary as I Look BY NASH Although he looks like one of the most dangerous animals on the planet, the tailless whip scorpion does not have the ability to sting nor is it venomous. Tailless whip scorpions do not carry diseases, and they are not considered to be pests, but they are deadly predators to insects and small vertebrates.

What could be more Dolphins in captivity suffer from severe stress and health issues / Photo: Pexels

Dolphin Captivity

A Worldwide Day of Protest to End Although the public is more aware of the cruelty of captive dolphins face, it is still a long road to end captivity. The movement to end swim with dolphin programs continues.

frightening than coming face-to-face with this creature in your bed? The amblypygid (blunt rump) is a shy, nocturnal creature that is rarely seen in the daylight. It lives in tropical areas, typically hiding under rocks, tree bark or in dark caves during the day. It resembles

a huge spider that has been crushed by a book, and it often makes its way into people’s homes. Its frightening appearance comes from a prehistoric armored body and four pairs of legs. The first set are two long whip-like appendages - twice the size of its body which flail and vibrate. They act as sensors for self-defense, finding prey and communication. The pedipalps have pincers tipped with barbs that are used to capture and crush their prey. There is little information about the tailless whip scorpion, but scientists have found that they are affectionate during mating. Females are affectionate with their young and siblings, while the males are territorial. Two males may fight for dominance, shoving each other until one surrenders, but rarely does one die. The fight is more of an elaborate dance with waving of the antennae and claws. Despite how they are depicted in the movies, TV shows and in local myths, the tailless whip scorpion is not dangerous. If you are able to catch one indoors release it outside, but be aware that this docile animal moves at lightening speed when it feels threatened.



ay 13th marks the 5th annual Empty The Tanks Worldwide march. Here in Playa del Carmen the event is hosted by Delfines En Libertad and supported by other local NGOs, Libros Libres, Colectivo Zona, Coexistence and Conciencia Viva. Each year the number of people participating in the walk has increased and this year organizers expect the crowd to double in size. This family event will include education for children, face painting, creating art by recycling garbage, a dance show, a surprise activity at the beach, a banner contest, decorating t-shirts, storytelling, and finally the main event, a peaceful march on Quinta Avenida. The goal is to end dolphin captivity by educating the public about the suffering dolphins endure during their capture and life in a tank. Capturing these animals is brutal and terrifying. Many dolphins are left injured or dead to catch just one dolphin for export. Separating one dolphin from its pod causes stress and drowning as others are trapped in the nets and fight to escape. Life in a tank entertaining humans consists of withholding food, bacteria-contaminated water or chlorine poisoning, loneliness, fighting, and depression, ending in an early death. It is reported that captive dolphins will attempt suicide by banging their head on the tanks or eating the concrete walls.

Dolphins do not have facial muscles; they are not smiling. Dolphins are highly intelligent social animals. They swim up to 100 miles a day in the wild. Dolphins swim and hunt together in family pods. Empty The Tanks is calling for an end to dolphin captivity, and dolphins already in captivity will be moved to a sanctuary and be rehabilitated. If they are not able to survive on their own, they will live at the sanctuary, but not as entertainment for humans. Delfines En Libertad is a nonprofit group with a desire to see an end to animal suffering. Join them Saturday, May 13 at Parque Fundadores, 3 pm till 9 pm. Find them on Facebook/Empty the Tanks Worldwide and Facebook/Delfines En Libertad. Its frightening appearance comes from a prehistoric armored body and four pairs of legs / Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Riviera Maya Rescue Riviera Rescue is a non-profit animal welfare organization dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming dogs and cats. We promote spay and neuter clinics, education and low-cost veterinary services. Based in Puerto Morelos in the Riviera Maya of Mexico. Riviera Rescue saves lives

almost every day, coming across the most desperate cases, rehabilitating them back to good health, and ensuring they are adopted into a loving home. Riviera Rescue sponsors free spay and neuter clinics in Puerto Morelos to ensure families without resources and street cats and dogs are ster-

ilized. Follow them on Facebook Riviera Rescue, and learn more about the amazing work they do. If you are able to donate, it only costs $250 pesos per sterilization; Donations can be made at Oxxo to the Bancomer card number: 4152 3132 1738 4663 Or via PayPal to rivierarescue@gmail.com