Mahahual on HGTV!

For those of you who don’t know and want to get a better look at our little town, or for those who have been here and want a little reminder of the jewel that is Mahahual, our town was featured on and episode of HGTV’s Mexico Life! recently.

https://www.hgtv.com/shows/mexico-life/episodes/angling-toward-mahahual

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The lovely young couple, Brandon and Nia Lee, are a couple of expat locals who fell in love with Mahahual, bought a house, remodeled and now rent two different beautiful spaces on the property to vacationers, the main part of the house for families, and the villa for couples. They take a lot of pride in their property and have really created a unique and special place to stay. The remodel was only about halfway done when the show came through so to really see the place you can check out their airbnb links here…

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/18895282?s=51

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https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/19641383?s=51

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Check out the episode and if you are looking for a place to stay on your next Mahahual vacation, give them a shout! They would be happy to have you!1524247158048

How to get from Cancun to Costa Maya Mahahual Update 2018

Once your plane touches down in sunny Cancun on your way to Mahahual, your trip is only about halfway over. That isn’t to say that the rest of the voyage is arduous however. The ADO bus is more comfortable than most planes I have ever been on really. The only problem is that there aren’t as many departures as you would like. But I guess that is what keeps our little Mahahual a great secret. You only arrive here if you deserve it!

Once you land, go through customs and exit the airport you have two options: you can take a taxi to the main ADO terminal in Cancun and take the bus from there, or you can take the ADO bus that runs every half hour from Cancun to Playa del Carmen and wait for the bus to Mahahual there.

In the main Cancun station the bus runs to Mahahual at an eye scratching 6:45 am, and 4:45pm. The ticket per person is usually around 20 dollars which is a great deal for a 5 and a half hour trip. In Playa del Carmen the bus will scoop you up at the tourist terminal at the beach at 8am and and 5:55pm. From there the trip is only 4.5 hours.

The buses are comfortable with big reclining chairs, AC, TV and bathrooms. It also stops in Tulum and Felipe Carillo Puerto if you get hungry and need a snack. It is really the best bet unless you are in a huge hurry and just want to get here. You can weave together trips through local combis and the Mayab bus line but you really only end up saving an hour or two at the most that you would have spent waiting for the later ADO bus.

So there is the update for 2018. If anything changes I will post it promptly!

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Is it Safe to Eat Barracuda?

Barracuda is an oft caught fish in Costa Maya and can be really exciting due to their size and ferocity when they hit your line. They are also a really neat looking fish. But if you are like me, the fight that ensues when reeling in a creature from the deep blue is only a small portion of the excitement. I get REALLY excited when the fish that surfaces is not only big but something that I can feed to my friends and neighbors as I soak in the ooo’s and ahhh’s and tell the tall tale of how I landed the beasty leviathan.

Barracuda is a tough one and it seems that, like many things in life, there is no definitive and clear black and white answer to the question of whether or not they are safe to eat.  They are a predator fish and like most predators that are near the top of the food chain, they have a higher mercury content in their bodies than the fish they feed on. This alone puts then on the “consume less often” list along with Tuna, Swordfish, Grouper and Mackerel.

But they also can be infected with a toxin called ciguatera. Ciguatera is contracted from reef fish that consume it from contaminated coral, algae and seaweed and pass it up the food chain through biomagnification, the same process that the tops dogs get the mercury concentrations. Ciguatoxin is odorless and tasteless and cannot be cooked out of food with high heat. The symptoms of toxicity in humans include gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and neurological effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, muscle aches, numbness of the extremities, vertigo and hallucinations. The symptoms can last from weeks to years in some cases.

So with these two spooky possibilities lurking out there how do we know which of the fish are fine to eat and which will have us seeing little green men? Like we said earlier the world isn’t black and white so not all fish are going to be affected and you don’t want to miss out on a potentially tasty meal right? You would think someone would have come up with a good scientific test to see if your barracuda was poisonous but alas, all we have are good old folk tests like these to rely on…

One test is to cut off a piece of the flesh and lay it by an ant hill. If the ants eat it, it is fine to eat.

Another is to do the same with your cat. If your cat eats the flesh it should also be fine.

Another is to place a silver coin under the scales of the fish, an fish that is not good to eat would turn the coin black.

Some say not to eat a barracuda that is over 10 pounds because the bigger the fish, the older it is and the more other fish it has eaten.

And finally, some say not to eat barracuda during months that don’t have and “r” in the name. Basically May-August. Locals say this is the season where the barracuda dine on a particular seaweed to cleans their system and makes them more toxic to us.

So we may not have the most exact answer to the barracuda question but these folk tests have passed the test of time. I wouldn’t bet my mortgage on any one of them but I think that using them all together as a guide leaves you on the good side of safe. I have eaten barracuda and it is a lovely tasting fish. I would certainly hate for anyone else to lose out on it out of fear. Besides, what’s life without a little risk?

 

Local Knowledge #1

corona2If you don’t want to stand out as the stereotypical gringo in Mahahual, make sure and drink something other than corona every once in a while! The locals here almost never drink it. It is seen as the gringo beer. Instead, drink a cold Victoria, Bohemia, or Negra Modelo!

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And if you really want to get local, drink the Barrilito. That’s the one that never seems to make it to the trash cans…eh hem…

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Chacchoben Ruins Tour with Mayan Trips

Yesterday was a sleepy Sunday in Mahahual. The spring breeze was lightly blowing, sending up dust from the beach sand that collects in town and gives a light sugary coat to everything during the dry season. My wife and I headed out to a late morning coffee, sipping slowly and chatting easily with a few locals about how their week had gone. We usually have plenty to do surprisingly, but on this particular Sunday we really didn’t have anything on the agenda and the beach was out of the question because we had gone diving the day before and were already sun-kissed to the brink of a burn.

As we meandered lazily back towards our house trying to figure out how to spend our day we ran into a good friend of ours, Carlos, who runs a tour company, Mayan Trips, at the local corner store. He seemed awfully preoccupied with something, given the present vibe of the town, so we asked him what was going on. He told us the cruise ship for the day had just docked and he was stocking the supplies for his tour to the Chacchoben Ruins. Then he just casually asked, “do you want to go?”. We looked at each other and thought why not? Our Sunday was set. We were to meet the van on the corner in 40 minutes.

The comfy white van pulled up just at the moment that we arrived to the corner and when the door slid open and the cool air conditioner hit us it was the perfect antithesis to the blazing sun. We loaded in and spoke to two adventurous older women, who were the only other passengers that day, and the friendly guide. We were on our way.

The ruins rest about 50 minutes from town and on the way the guide spoke to the curious tourists about local flora, fauna, customs, income, you name it. he was a wealth of information and happy to do it. We sat back and enjoyed the ride and AC while they chatted. We had both been to the ruins before with some friends of ours but were unable to really take advantage of the experience because of a heavy stomach bug I had been fighting that left me too weak to walk far without stopping, let alone climb, so the excitement was building to get another crack at it and have a guide to fill us in on the goodies.

When we arrived the guide offered us waters from the icy cooler they had brought for the passengers and showed us to the gate. If you have never been, the ruins are very impressive. We have visited various ruins around the peninsula and other parts of Mexico and something about Chacchoben is very special. It hasn’t been packed like other ruins we have visited such as Tulum and Chichen Itza either time we have visited and a lot of the tall trees and jungle vegetation remain intact, giving you a nice shady canopy to protect you from the sun. It also somehow makes the experience feel more authentic when everything isn’t clear cut. You feel like you are really seeing the Mayan world as it was.

Entering the park and taking the nice trail the first thing you come to is a huge pyramid known as Templo 24. Not a lot is known about Chacchoben but experts date the settlement of the area to around 200AD and most of the major structures to around 700AD.

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Off to the right there is a little trail that leads to a small area of ruins that isn’t on the maps of the park. Being ever curious, I decided to Indiana Jones my way down the trail to see what was at the end and even though these ruins aren’t on the map and aren’t big compared to the others, something about the juxtaposition of them against the back ground of the surrounding ranch was sublime. It is a beautiful area and I enjoyed this section just as much as any other. Ask your Mayan Trips guide about it and if he has time he may take you!

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Getting back and course and traveling down the trail you pass through “Plaza B” where you get a nice view of the other side of Templo 24. Then you enter the area known as “Las Vasijas”. This is the area where most of the trading and commerce of the site was done. It is a long stretch of sunken earth bordered on both sides by steps that definitely make it seem like a good place to bargain shop.

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After leaving Las Vasijas and continuing on the trail you come to the side of a platform that is easily two stories high. You just get the feeling that it is holding something truly special on top. Once you come all the way around to the front you can see the only stelae that remains from Chacchoben sitting peacefully in front of the main staircase that takes you up to the “gran basamento” where the other two pyramids sit.

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As you arrive to the summit and get a glimpse at the majesty of “Templo 1” you suddenly forget about your profuse sweat and lack of breath. The beauty of this main platform and remoteness of the location make you feel like you have stepped through time and the owners are just out hunting and will be back soon.

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After wondering around the Gran Basamento for 30 minutes or so it was time to head back to the van. The tour is only about 4-5 hrs round trip so it is perfect for a cruise excursion. You can take more time if you are staying in Mahahual and have your own car but then you miss out on the info that the guide has to give.

There are some photos and information that I have purposefully left out of the article so I wouldn’t spoil your dinner if you ever decide to go. With the internet the way it is I try as often as I can to leave some things to wonder before that artform is lost to humanity! Taking the trip to these ruins is definitely worth your time and money and Mayan Trips was a great tour group to go with. For bookings you can e-mail mayantrips@gmail.com.