Will Mahahual’s Growth Affect the Mangroves.

I got this question the other day from a blog reader and I thought I would answer today.

” One question I would have is, as the popularity of Mahahual increases, Mahahual will have to expand. Visiting Mahahual shows the village is almost surrounded by mangroves which are protected so how do you see reasonable expansion to the city, electric and water services happening? I do not want to see another Cancun or Riviera Maya but Mahahual will need to grow especially with the Water Park coming in and possible golf course?”

Mangroves around Mahahual

Mangroves around Mahahual

The Mexican Government designated the area of Mahahual  Beach as a “Low Impact Zone”; to preserve and protect nature and to avoid turning Costa Maya into a mass tourism destination, like Cancun and Playa del Carmen.

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A lot of Iguanas around mangroves.

A lot of Iguanas around mangroves.

Mangroves good nesting for bee hives and other insects.

Mangroves good nesting for bee hives and other insects.

Mahahual must protect nature, and no hotel, restaurant, or home can built here unless they can comply with the rules and regulations in our area.
An Environmental Impact Study must be made before building, and buildings cannot be higher than the palm trees (2 story buildings).

The great beaches and the pristine local jungle/ocean eco-system in Mahahual is also being protected with environmental impact growth regulations.

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The second largest barrier reef in the world named is “The Meso-American Barrier Reef“. This complex reef system extends from the northern Yucatan Peninsula to the Bay Islands in Honduras. The area is home to a great number of ecosystems, such as mangroves, lagoons, cenotes and sea grass beds. All these systems, including the reef, are linked by water that flows between them. All ecosystems have their own unique attributes but also are dependent upon each other. They provide a breathing place and shelter for all kinds of juvenile fish.

Most of the areas outside of Majahual’s fisherman’s village, including Xcalak, have been targeted for “low impact eco development”. This in order to preserve and protect nature and to avoid turning Costa Maya into a mass tourism destination.

I hope this answers your question, and I think you can rest assured that Mahahual will not turn into another Cancun or Playa del Carmen.

Thanks for reading.
Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina

Latest News from around Mahahual

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Once a week I like to post some articles from the local websites and publications to keep readers of the blog informed of the latest news concerning Mahahual and Costa Maya. I came across these two articles this week, and I thought I would share. Remember they are translated from Spanish to English, so they is somethings lost in translation. I got these two articles from http://www.costamayamagazine.com.

Mahahual, a safe destination
Monday, 25 August 2014 5:22

Mahahual is a safe tourist destination for visitors, said the president of the Hotel Association of this coastal town in the municipality of Othon P. Blanco, Luciano Consoli, including hosting centers have incorporated surveillance cameras for added protection of your guests .

Last weekend, a group of criminals stole two ATMs maritime terminal port Costa Maya, with approximately 650 thousand pesos plunder case being investigated by the appropriate authorities.

The representative of the hotel described the event as atypical which is already under investigation by the authorities; however, does not affect reiterated Mahahual image as a safe destination.

In fact, the community has at least three agents of the judicial police and a detachment of the State Preventive Police with six elements. All hotels that make up the Association in Mahahual also have security cameras and private security to protect the integrity of those who come to visit this destination in the south.

Additionally, he said, there is constant communication between the members of this association, service providers, among others, to act immediately and to report to the authorities if any problems registering.

“We have a well-organized social network, an injury to one injury to all, and immediately give notice, have the phone numbers of all, we are friends, we go fishing, eat together,” he added. Juan Palma (quequi.com.mx)

 

Carnival Legend, senior citizen ship, and Majesty rocker ship side by side.

Carnival Legend, senior citizen ship, and Majesty rocker ship side by side.

COZUMEL AND PORTS OF COSTA MAYA, FAVORITE FOR CRUISERS

The Governor stressed that both ports have received about 100 thousand cruise so far this year, representing 25 percent increase over 2013 in the same period * Clarifies that this year are scheduled 1000 270 warehouses with more than 4 million passengers, with 033 cruises 1000 409 000 847 3 million tourists last year * Stresses that Quintana Roo, with the support of President Enrique Peña Nieto and the federal secretary of Tourism, Claudia Ruiz Massieu Salinas, bet you have better infrastructure, services and connectivity to remain the leading tourist destination in the Caribbean and Latin America * Cozumel Announces 2015 Summit will host the Florida-Carribbean Cruise Association, which includes representatives from the ports of Latin America and Caribbean governor Roberto Borge Angulo reported that as a result of tourism promotion conducted during the Mexico tourism Tianguis held in Cancun last May, international tourism fairs and the full support of President Enrique Peña Nieto, Cozumel and Puerto Costa Maya, Mahahual, remain as leaders in receiving cruise ships in the country. -Cozumel And Puerto Costa Maya, in the municipality of Othon P. Blanco, received about 100 thousand cruises so far this year, 25 percent more than in the same period of 2013 -manifestó-. Both ports are still the most popular destinations for cruise passengers to enjoy the sun, beach, adventure and shopping. In that regard, he said that according to statistics from the Port Authority of Quintana Roo (Apiqroo) in 2013 reached 1 000 033 cruises 3 million 409 thousand 847 passengers, 4.11 percent more than in 2012 This year they are scheduled 1000 270 warehouses with more than 4 million tourists aboard. ‘In Quintana Roo, with the support of President Enrique Peña Nieto and the federal Secretary of Tourism, Claudia Ruiz Massieu Salinas, we bet you have better infrastructure, services and connectivity to remain the leading tourist destination in the Caribbean and Latin America – he said. The Chief Executive acknowledged that cruises are a major supplier of visitors to Cozumel, besides contributing to the creation and maintenance of jobs for the islanders. If Cozumel would not bet on cruise ship docks have more and better infrastructure, maybe we would not be getting the amount of boats arriving and the island would not be one of the ports that this year will grow arrivals, according to data from the Florida -Caribbean -refirió Cruise Association. There weeks when, only two days reach Cozumel in June cruises thousands of tourists on board who spend between 80 and 100 dollars each, mainly in handicrafts, perfume and jewelry pointed. Said Cozumel is a favorite among the various routes of the Western Caribbean for its diversification of tourism services, entertainment and natural beauty destination. The strengthening of the industry led to the Carnival Corporation to invest this year more than 255 million in the expansion of the Puerta Maya pier, where you can dock three vessels simultaneously generation. Finally, he recalled that Cozumel next year will host the Summit of the Florida-Carribbean Cruise Association, in which representatives of ports in Latin America and the Caribbean. In that event, Quintana Roo advance in the consolidation of the cruise industry. Ramon Aguilar (covadonganoticias.com)

Thanks for reading,
Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina

Cost of Renting in Mahahual

Map of New Mahahual and water park.

Map of New Mahahual and water park.

I have getting a lot of good and interesting questions lately on this blog. Instead of just replying I thought I would share some of the better questions and answer them here on the blog, because I figure some other readers might be having the same thoughts.

” I am thinking of retiring somewhere in Costa Maya. Are there small, inexpensive apartments on the outskirts of Majahual? I will probably have to find part-time work to supplement my social security. Any advice or suggestions for an aging hippie?”

Good question, in Mahahual there are plenty of housing options for folks on a budget. Most of the expats and people who work in Mahahaul live in New Mahahual, near the port. Living on the beach in Mahahual is kind of expensive for the average retiree. There are very nice condos on the malecon that start around $100,000 USD and go up from there. A lot of these are used for investment and the owners rent them out a lot when they are not in town.

So I am going to concentrate on housing in New Mahahual and the surrounding area. In New Mahahual there are houses and apartments. You can rent a small unfurnished house 1BR house for around 2,000 pesos a month. These houses are all in safe neighborhoods and have small front and back yards. They are usually 1 bath with a kitchen, and some storage. 2BR houses start at around 3,000 pesos a month and can go higher, it depends on features and fixtures.

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Example of average 2BR house for rent in New Mahahual.

Example of average 2BR house for rent in New Mahahual.

There are also several apartments for rent, and it depends on where you live and the services you get that determines the cost. I know several that for 4,000 pesos a month you get furnished apartment with air conditioning, internet, and cable TV. But there are others that run around 3,000 pesos a month that are nice too. Sometimes the prices vary on these between high and low season, but if you agree to a year lease you can usually get a good deal. Apartments, like houses, usually start around 2,000 pesos a month and go up from there.

Also in Mahahual a lot of the time you can rent a room or a part of a house from a local or another expat to share expenses. A lot of the people who work at the port do this. And sometimes expats house sit for some of the other expats who are away in their home country.

So as you can see you can live pretty well in Mahahual with rent there starting at around 2,000 pesos a month and going up from there.
Living expenses are also very cheap in Mahahual.

As far as working part-time, it would have to depend on what your experience is and what you want to do. There are not enough English speaking individuals in Mahahual now to handle the tourists , so you might could do some thing there. If you have food experience I am sure you could find something or even start a business of your own. I know private nurses will be needed in the future, to help with some expat retirees. Teachers I am sure could tutor children, and there are numerous other things someone could do in Mahahual in the future to supplement their income, it all depends on their skills and talents.

As far as being an “aging hippie”, I am sure you can earn some money selling beads, jewelry, and other trinkets on the beach, or face painting, or any other of the activities that the European hippies in town do now. In fact you will feel right at home, there are a bunch “aging hippies” in Mahahual. I have even thought of opening an “aging hippie” commune in Mahahaul, I think it would go over well, hippies love Mahahual, and a lot sleep on the beach here when they are in town.

Thanks for reading and keep the questions coming, Steve Heide, I will get to your question tomorrow.
Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina

What Impact do Cruise Ships Have on Mahahual’s Beaches

Mahahual ligbhthouse and crusie ship pier in background.

Mahahual ligbhthouse and crusie ship pier in background.

I have been getting a lot of good questions and comments lately, so I thought I would start answering some of these on the blog.

I got this follow up question after a post I did last week. Good question, and I will answer.

“Have you and/or other residents noticed any change in the quality of the water and beaches over the years? I know that Mahahual is an ecologically protected area, but it’s hard to believe that the thousands of tourists who come abroad from the ships don’t have some kind of negative impact on the area (besides taking up all the best seats in the bars and restaurants!).”

This is a very good question, and I can say in the four years I have been in Mahahual, I have not seen a big impact to Mahahual’s ecosystem with the cruise ship tourists. In fact the beaches in Mahahual have only gotten better since I have been in Mahahual because of the concentrated effort by the town and the people to keep the beaches clean.

Most of the restaurants and businesses on the malecon do a great job of keeping the beaches clean and free of trash, debris, and sea grass. Because of this, the malecon is kept clean and the beaches and water are free of trash and remain pristine. I ride my bike everyday along the beach and the malecon, and to me Mahahual is still as beautiful as it was when I first arrived.

Malecon on non ship day.

Malecon on non ship day.

Also once a year there is a massive clean up day of the beaches (Limpia Mahahual), which involves the Navy, local school children and the whole community. There are also monthly clean up days in Mahahual, where the local citizens get together to help clean the streets and beaches. I have wrote articles about this in the past on this blog, and you can go back and read them to give you a better idea of how it is done.

"El Pez" fish sculpture out of plastic bottles off of Mahahual. beaches, done by Sabrina Coco.

“El Pez” fish sculpture out of plastic bottles off of Mahahual. beaches, done by Sabrina Coco.

As far as impact by cruise ship tourists on Mahahual and the environment, this is basically very minimal. The cruise ships usually dock at 7 or 8am and the tourists go on excursions, Mayan ruins, or other activities in Mahahual. A lot of the tourists go into town, eat lunch, snorkel, go to one of the beach clubs and other activities, and then go back to their ships between 1pm and 4pm. So the most tourists are in Mahahual is 6 or 7 hours, and you have to remember this is only six months a year, and during low season only 4 times a month. Studies have shown that cruise ship tourism is the best for the local envirionment and the respective ecosytems because of the low impact and time tourists spend ashore.

But what a lot of people do not realize is, cruise ships and their passengers are not the biggest problem facing Mahahual’s ecosystem, but all the plastic bottles that wash up on the beaches from Mahahual to Xcalak. Mahahual yearly has thousands and thousands of plastic bottles and refuse wash up on the beaches. These are not from cruise ships or tourists, but from locations hundreds and thousands of miles away.

There is a strong ocean current that comes down from the north that naturally pushes and brings refuse and garbage from North America, Europe, and all over the world to Mahahual. That is a problem that has to addressed daily around Mahahual and the surrounding beaches. This is garbage and plastic bottles not related to tourism in Mahahual at all, but dumped into oceans from some other source.

South of Mahahual towards Xcalak in some remote places that are not occupied, the beaches get full of trash, and it would amaze you how far some of this stuff travels. I have found stuff as far away as France, and there are flip flops, and shoes all the time washing up. But in Mahahual there is a concentrated effort to keep the beaches clean, so you will never see this.

Naval cadets picking up trash on the beach.

Naval cadets picking up trash on the beach.

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Collecting trash on beach in Mahahual on bikes.

Collecting trash on beach in Mahahual on bikes.

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Costa Maya Port has only been open for a little over 12 years, so there is not a long history of ships coming to Mahahual. The Navy also patrols the beaches of Mahahual to ensure the reef is being protected and the fauna and wildlife is preserved. Also all the scuba and snorkeling guides remind tourists to stay off the coral and this helps preserve the area. So as you can see, there is a concentrated effort by the cruise ship industry and the Mahahual community to preserve the ecosystem in Mahahual. There are also stiff fines and penalties in place for anyone damaging the environment or taking lobster and conch out of season. In fact you will probably get more jail time in Mahahual for smuggling lobster and conch, then you will get for smuggling drugs.

So to answer the question, No, there is not any damage to Mahahual’s beaches from cruise ship tourists that I can see that has taken place since I have been there. Also there are only about 1,000 full time, year round residents in Mahahual so this helps also.

Thanks for reading, and keep the questions coming,
Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina

How Often Do Cruise Ships Stop in Mahahual?

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I get a lot of questions and interest about Mahahual lately, and I am going to try to be more interactive in the future and respond to some of these questions with a post instead of just doing a reply on the comment. I have realized that some other people that read this may also be interested in the same topic. One question or topic I get from folks inquring about living or retiring in Mahahual is the one I am going to answer below. This question was on a post I did earlier this week.

” Mahahual seems like a nice place, because Tulum and Playa are becoming too developed for me. About tourists, how often do the cruise ships stop in Mahahual, and how big are they?”

This question is a big concern for a lot of expats from USA and Canada because a lot of them don’t want to retire or live in a big tourist area. They want their peace and quiet in their Caribbean Paradise, and you can’t blame them.

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A lot of expats that have been in Playa del Carmen for a long time that I have met recently , moved here before the recent tourist boom there. They say Playa del Carmen has become noisy and overun with tourists, and all the other things that come along with that.

Costa Maya is able to accommodate three ships at once, with the capability to dock Oasis and Epic sized ships. Every major cruise line at one time or another stops in Costa Maya.

During low season like now, there are only 4 or 5 ships a month. The low season in Mahahual runs from the first of May to November. During that time of year, there a lot of cruise lines go to Europe or Alaska and don’t do the Caribbean.

During the low season, Thursday is the usual cruise ship day. Because of it’s location, Mahahual is sometimes the last stop before the ship goes back to dock in the USA. So Thursday is most of the time the only day that ships stop during low season. Also during this time several ships dock at 6am and leave at 2pm, so it is more a less a half day in Costa Maya. Sometimes a ship will stay on a Thursday to 4 or 5pm, but most are gone by late afternoon.

Mahahual after the cruise ships leave.

Mahahual after the cruise ships leave.

During high season, ships mainly come on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and occasionally on Friday. Very rarely will there be a weekend ship, and these usually are small ships with older retired people, and they very rarely go into town much. Because of the location of Costa Maya, it is usually the stop before or after Belize and Cozumel.

These ships dock at 7 or 8am, and usually depart at 4 or 5pm. During this time the malecon is full, and there is a lot of activity at the port, and the surrounding beaches and jungle, with tours and tourists. But starting at around 3pm, usually on a cruise ship day, the tourists head back to the port and their ships, and Mahahual turns back into a quiet sleepy village on the Caribbean

That is a big attraction to a lot of Mahahual’s residents, myself included. Also the cruise ships and their tourists do not stay long, only 6 or 8 hours, so the impact on the environment is not as great as say a bunch of resort hotels on a beach. Also with Mahahual being classified as an ecotourism destination by the Mexican government, there will never be a bunch of large resorts or hotels on the beaches of Mahahual.

Cruise ship tourists enjoying pool in Costa Maya Port.

Cruise ship tourists enjoying pool in Costa Maya Port.

So basically Mahahual during the winter months gets most of it’s tourist activity from the cruise ships on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and for the rest of the week it is a quiet little paradise on the Mexican Caribbean.

In fact a lot of the local expats here joke about not going down to the malecon when a cruise ship is in town over fear of being trampled by tourists, because of the vast difference between when ships are in town and not.

There are about 2,000 residents in Mahahual during high season, but on some 3 cruise ship days it can swell to 8,000 to 10,000 with all the tourists. But like I said before, the ships leave by dinner time, and leave and Mahahual cleans out.

So to basically if you are interested in living or retiring in Mahahual, it is a long way from becoming Playa del Carmen or Tulum, rest assured. And trust me if you live in Mahahual during the summer you will get all the peace and quiet you want in your little paradise

Thanks for reading, and any questions you may have in the future, I will try to answer as best I can. Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina

Summer Vacation Close to 68% Occupancy in Costa Maya

I know some of the people that read this blog are part time residents, or own property in Mahahual and Costa Maya, and they like to keep up on the news and events that are going on in Mahahual while they are away. So I try to keep up on the latest news by reading several websites and newspapers to keep myself abreast of what is going on in our area.

Most of the news I get is in Spanish and I have to translate to English. It is difficult sometimes because the writing done here in publications and newspapers is a more creative form of reporting the news. There are a lot of words put in that some times do not translate well to English. I like to give the articles I share and translate intact, because that is the way I was taught in school, and I always give credit or a notation of where I obtained the article.

I came across this story on http://www.costamayamagazine.com and I thought those involved in the tourism in Costa Maya would like to know this information.

Costa Maya, which contains Bacalar, Chetumal, Xcalak, and Mahahual, and most of the southern part of the state of Quintana Roo, had for an average 68% room occupancy in the hotels during this past summer vacation in 2014. This includes all the hotels in Costa Maya.

The hotels on the beaches in Mahahual I have been told was over 80% occupancy, which is higher than the average in Costa Maya, and I am sure some places even had a higher occupancy than this.

So read the article below, and remember it is translated from Spanish, so keep that in mind.

Mexican Caribbean. Mahahual

Mexican Caribbean. Mahahual

Summer Vacation Close to 68% Occupancy in Costa Maya

Mahahual Bacalar and were the most visited and Chetumal reached 70%.

The president of the Association of Hotels and Motels in the center and south of the state, Georgina Marzuca said that on average expect to close in general with 68% occupancy in the summer vacation season 2014 This situation is not considered the best but that generated a significant economic benefit for service providers.

He indicated that this holiday season closing sites like: Mahahual Bacalar and were the favorite for walkers who arrived in this 2014 holiday season.

In this respect the hotel businesswoman explained that at certain times of the holiday season figures of 80-90% occupancy in beach destinations in the south of the state were obtained, however, in the case of the City of Chetumal reached a 60% 70%.

Costa Maya map, includes Bacalar, Chetumal. Mahahaul, and Xcalak.

Costa Maya map, includes Bacalar, Chetumal. Mahahaul, and Xcalak.

He noted that generally in these weeks is estimated that in the southern state figures of 68% occupancy were taken, which considered that is not bad, if you take into account the different economic situations that have arisen in the country.

Therefore considered that will have a difficult period in the months of August, September and November, with most of the hopes for the holiday season.

That is why we are preparing for coordination with tourist trusts campaigns that generate a steady stream of walkers that will maintain jobs that even today are taken by tourism in this part of the state.

At certain times of the holiday season figures of 80-90% were obtained on the beaches south of the state.

Georgina Marzuca and Eugenio Pacheco (quequi.com.mx)

Thanks for reading,
Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina

Mahahual lighthouse.

Mahahual lighthouse.

Belize versus Mahahual, Mexico Part 7 (cont.)

 

Mahahual ligbhthouse and crusie ship pier in background.

Mahahual ligbhthouse and crusie ship pier in background.

I have been doing a series of articles comparing life in Belize as opposed to retiring or living on the Mexican Caribbean,(Mahahual). As I stated earlier I took the top ten reasons to retire in Belize off of the belize.com website. Today I am going to pick where I left off last week with comparing the people and the laid back culture of both Belize and Mahahual, Mexico.

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I ran into a woman from the USA over the weekend that I know that has lived in Corozal, Belize and Caldaritas, Mexico, just like I have, and now she lives in Playa del Carmen. She lived in Corozal, Belize the same time I did, and because we were both expats from the USA we used to run into each other a lot at different functions and establishments. I think she left Belize soon after I did, and I ran into her a couple times in Caldaritas and Chetumal, Mexico, when I lived there. I also run into her all the time when I am in Playa del Carmen. In both Belize and Mexico there are usually in most nice sized towns a place where the local Gringo crowd hangs out. It is usually a bar or restaurant, and these are easy to find, just ask any local on the street where do the Gringos hang out, and they point you in the right direction.

In Corozal, Belize, one of the expat hangouts was Bumpers Chinese Restaurant, in Playa del Carmen a couple of the expat hangouts are Mom’s Bar and Grill and Bad Boys Beach Club. A lot of expats like to hang out and socialize with each other I have noticed in both Belize and Mexico. Eventhough a lot of expats work and own businesses down here, they still like to drink and socialize with people from the USA, or Canada. But they draw the line at tourists, for some reason expats hate tourists and do lot like to socialize with them, and they avoid all tourist bars or establishment. You will never see an expat go to Senor Frogs or Margaritaville.

So I asked this woman last time I saw her to read my blog and series on living in Belize, because I knew she had a lot of the same exact experiences I have had. So I asked her when I saw her this past weekend, if she had a chance to read the blog, and what did she think. She said she had read it, and she agreed with what I wrote. I asked her if she thought I was being hard on Belize, like some comments I have gotten suggest. She said no, she thought I was being fair. So I told her I was in the middle of an article comparing Belizeans people to people in Mexico, and I could not come with anything really negative to say about the Belizean people, and could she help me out. She thought for a minute and said no, Belizean people were on the whole good and friendly people.

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So today I am finishing comparing the people of Belize with Mexico.

Mexican People

The Mexican people are exceedingly warm and hospitable. Unlike North America, the Mexican culture is characterized for being very ‘touchy-feely’, similar to parts of Europe. Mexicans grow up with a group orientation and are primarily family and group directed. The nuclear family is the common household unit. Even though Mexican culture is diverse, there is also a strong identification with the nation-state; nationalism is vigorous.

Fiestas abound in Mexico. Every village of the nation’s larger towns and cities has a designated saint or virgin in whose honour civilians hold annual fiestas that have a religious content. Many religious celebrations have their roots in the pre-Hispanic era, while most civic holidays reflect modern historical events. Government offices, banks, schools and some businesses close across the nation for major national holidays. Such shut-downs may also occur during important religious celebrations in individual localities.

Mexicans are proud of their roots and traditions: it’s evident in the way they carry out their daily activities as well as in the way they celebrate important occasions.

The Mexican Caribbean (Mahahual) and Belize also both are on a different time clock. In Belize it is called “Belize Time”, In Mahahual it is called “Manana Tiempo” or “Mahahual Time”. Take it easy slow down is the key. I think it is because of the Caribbean and all the hot sunny weather that things run real slow in Mahahual sometimes, but trust me they run even slower in Belize. But it must work, because people on the average live longer here than other parts of the world.

So to sum up as best as I can. The people of Belize and Mexico have different traditions and cultures, but most people from both countries are warm and friendly. I have a lot of nice people in both Corazal, Belize and Mahahual, Mexico during my travels, and enjoyed my time with locals from both places. The expats in Corazal Belize are a little more hardcore,( for sense of a better word) than say the expats in Mahahual, but besides from that not much difference.

Thanks for reading,
Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina