Cleaning Crew Making Big Strides in Casitas

In as little as 3 months our cleaning crew has started to make a major difference in the neighborhood “Casitas” here in Mahahual. Not only does it look cleaner due to our weekly efforts, but it is now staying cleaner and the group is growing every week.

Recently the port owners pitched in, thanks to a popular petition organized by members of the group and signed by many locals, and finally installed some trash receptacles along the main walkway down the middle of the neighborhood that used to be riddled with trash. Credit is due to the port because there was no fight and they gladly acquiesced. Naysayers and negative nancies said it wouldn’t help, claiming the bags would blow away or no one would ever empty them, but they have been in place for about 2 weeks and the area is pretty much free of trash and the receptacles are regularly emptied!

1548437734840154843768968015484376341571548437665605

The port even recently donated wheel barrows, shovels and rakes to the group…

50539537_2247006085351273_8339477289280471040_n50767686_2247006232017925_7749633719530422272_n

We have also had an increase in volunteers from local organizations like the tour company Aviomar and its employees joining in, and volunteers from Takata Experience lending a hand.

49210821_2230821280303087_139714465800126464_n

And most recently funds were raised to buy some trash cans for locals that don’t have them and distribute them at no cost…

 

We are making big strides and Mahahual is even more beautiful today than ever for it! If you are a visitor and lover of our little town you can help by joining us, any given Sunday around 10am, and pitching in a hand. Or by donating so more trash cans can be bought and distributed.

Donate here!

Thank you for any support and we hope to see you soon!

Hayhu Beach Club in Mahahual

Incase you’ve had your head in the sand for the past year and haven’t heard of one of the best new establishments in Mahahual, I want to tell you about Hayhu Beach Club. The pronunciation can be tricky so the first thing I need to do is clear that up so that we can be on the same page. Phonetically in English it would be pronounced “high-who” but being that we all have different linguistic skill sets I have heard “hey-who”, “hey-ho”, “he-hu” and everything in-between.

The meaning, despite the confusion, is really quite beautiful.  It means “to know how to love” in Guarani, the tongue of the natives in Paraguay, where the dynamic trio of owners originate from. And know how to love they clearly do.

37487906_2003644759668628_8921697579842928640_n32104801_1902103969822708_1597021466610630656_n

Hayhu was a labor of love for years before finally opening its doors to international beach-goers on December 17th of 2017. The owners searched Caribbean coasts far and wide looking for the perfect home for their future endeavor before finally finding Mahahual. Once they hit the Costa Maya for the first time they, like many of us, knew they had found the perfect place.

Hayhu boasts the perfect mix of beautiful Caribbean sea, soft white sand, delicious cocktails, quality foods and relaxed vibes to make your visit here exactly how you had pictured it in your mind. Far from the hustle and bustle of the malecon, with its friendly yet ambitious vendors, over-saturation of tables and loungers from restaurants, and over-priced meals, Hayhu is a place where you can truly relax and take a deep breath of the salty-sweet sea air.

29595402_1854428631256909_8058872084625727050_n

47369612_2206169599416142_7882495221412397056_n

Hayhu represents a departure from the antiquated vision of vacation from generations past, who preferred all-inclusive giant Vegas-style resorts that don’t blend at all with the local environment and culture. We all know what Cancun looks like don’t we? Hayhu represents a newer idea and blends seamlessly with the surrounding jungle environment, seemingly born naturally from it rather than built.

They are also big on being eco-friendly, using solar panels to power the operation for the most part and naturally filtering and processing the waste water generated instead of sending it down the tube. As nice as that sounds there is no quality being sacrificed for the environment. The music is good, the drinks are cold, and the food is delicious.

47684753_2218062054893563_9132037955282534400_n

The menu boasts everything from lobster to a delicious South American cut of beef called “picana” that will leave even Texans impressed. The cuisine is a step above what you can find in most places in town and makes for a great afternoon out. There is something for everybody. Take a look at the menu on their website here.

Hayhu is located about 20 minutes south of town by car or taxi but the drive is totally worth it. That’s how you get all of the peace and tranquility that can be absent from the cruise-shippy part of the malecon. And there are no shortages of things to do while you are there. Take your snorkel gear for a great diving experience on vibrant reefs just out front, grab one of their paddle boards or kayaks and explore further, try your hand at kite boarding with on-site instructions, or relax into a nice book and chill.

Hayhu is the type of place that we locals like to see spring up in our community. A quality place by quality people trying to give a quality experience. They certainly do know how to love and it is evident from the minute you set foot in Hayhu. But don’t just take my word for it. Read some of the many glowing reviews of the place in trip advisor here.

So the next time you are in Mahahual, don’t miss one of the new gems of our coastline. Check them out on facebook for more pics and info!

What Time is it in Costa Maya?

Seems like a simple question doesn’t it? But like many things around here, the seemingly simple can be more complicated than you think. But that is part of the charm!

With Costa Maya being a popular cruise destination and destination for backpackers and tourists from all over the world, being on time is very important to make sure that you don’t get left behind when your ship pulls away, your plane flies out, or your bus takes off. My wife and I once spent 3 weeks here thinking we were in sync with the time only to find out we had constantly been an hour late!

The reason for the confusion is that our state, Quintano Roo, has experimented with different times and time zones in the past. It participated in daylight savings time, in sync with eastern standard time in the U.S.A., until 2016.

Since then, Quintana Roo has decided to drop daylight savings time so during half of the year the clock is the same as the east coast of the US, and half of the year it is an hour behind. This puts us chiming right along with eastern standard time during the busiest tourist months of late fall, winter, and early spring.

If you are in doubt or confused, nobody will blame you! Have a look at the website, timeanddate.com for this area at this link to be absolutely sure: https://www.timeanddate.com/time/zone/mexico/cancun

A New Crew is Cleaning Up Mahahual

Maybe you have seen us on Sunday mornings passing by with bulging black plastic bags, sun screen slathered on thick, scavenging the trash that lines the residential streets of “Casitas” here in Mahahual, ironically smiling and laughing while we do the dirtiest of dirty work. Maybe you have seen the posts that pop up in the two facebook groups that serve as the local newspaper here in Costa Maya, “Amigos Unidos Por Mahahual” and “Todos Somos Mahahual”, where we proudly pose by the week’s harvest of litter. Or maybe you have even participated, as our group welcomes all comers who want to throw in a little Sunday sweat to make our town more beautiful.

45886692_2139989862719563_5140219535617425408_n

 

47493477_2180419518676597_3719558784914292736_n

 

47382764_2170088693043013_1743772454641205248_n

 

47580305_2180415952010287_9214566232911511552_n

 

48084330_2180419482009934_7009497291199348736_n

 

46882014_2164380290280520_8377244491492360192_n

 

We have no group name or official affiliation with any political party, environmental or activist group. And we have no motivation other than doing our part to try and make Mahahual as beautiful as it should be, for ourselves just as much as anybody else. We aren’t paid or rewarded other than the strangely fulfilling feeling that you get from doing something nice for your community. It really is addictive. And the only thing we are looking to get out of it is more participation from the community and a better image of our town for ourselves and those that travel here from afar.

 

47495901_2170089219709627_5314561346312863744_n

 

47371765_2170088753043007_5251294695631355904_n

 

47201619_2170088953042987_3248314066959073280_n

 

46990508_2159940547391161_9118589729778958336_n

 

46879915_2164380226947193_2123107810219655168_n

 

46762508_2159940284057854_7533994101771862016_n

 

46752651_2159940170724532_135298165678014464_n

 

46654550_2159940667391149_2685090227768262656_n

 

46751222_2159939560724593_6735187140277174272_n

 

46068198_2139990006052882_692325492342128640_n

 

45415071_2130180923700457_3677882161735663616_n

 

45844646_2139989896052893_7840718203373223936_n

 

We want a clean and beautiful home and one of our main goals to help reduce trash in the streets and keep us from perpetually repeating this weekly ritual is to find ways to provide curbside trash cans for each house in Mahahual. A majority of the homes here in town simply bundle their trash in plastic bags and place them on the sidewalk for the trash truck to pick up. The problem is that this rings the dinner bell for dogs, cats, raccoons, monkeys, hippopotami…you name it, to come in and let the feast begin. They easily open the bags looking for food and the rest of the trash spills out into the street to scatter with the warm tropical wind.

47130922_2170233893028493_1208366736374497280_n

 

46059106_2139989112719638_8101965503322390528_n

 

Now some would say, “Isn’t it the responsibility of each homeowner to get their own trashcan? How much hassle could it be?” And if you don’t know the answer to that question then you haven’t spent enough time here. Things don’t always come down to reason on the Mayan coast. But, we want a clean Mahahual and if the homeowners without bins haven’t gotten one by now, they aren’t going to get one any time soon. So, we prefer to provide one for them just to make it easier on ourselves and achieve our goals of a clean green Mahahual.

This week, some members of our group scored a huge victory and were able to put together a letter to present to the Costa Maya Port, signed by members of the community, to ask for a donation of trash cans and they said they would be happy to help! So a big thank you goes out to them and they stand to benefit as much as any of us from clean streets if cruise ship tourists aren’t presented with a littered paradise.

In addition to that, other members started a Go Fund Me campaign to raise money to buy trash cans to distribute. If you love Mahahual, and chances are if you are reading this blog you do, and you feel the urge to constribute to its well-being but don’t know how, you can click the link here and kick in a few dollars, pesos, pounds, euros, whatever! We would be happy to have it. https://www.gofundme.com/cqm4j4-for-a-clean-mahahual?fbclid=IwAR1ZdC2_YhmrtdM2V9VgP3BQAliHP-T27gNmGQ8bABk6E7C3m67L9giLLUk

We are going to continue to do our part to keep this natural gem sparkling and hopefully inspire others to join us. With time, the efforts of ours as well as other groups in Mahahual dedicated to education and conservation will hopefully pay off and we won’t need to get together every week to clean up. Our Sunday reunions will be but a fond memory. But for now we will keep putting on the gloves, boots, and mosquito repellent and hitting the streets because we ARE making a difference.

When you are in town visiting be sure to check for our posts on the facebook groups and join us if you can! It is a very rewarding feeling and we don’t turn anybody away!

47376504_2170089429709606_8020820016184164352_n

 

46850119_2159939727391243_4181627069018406912_n

 

46381750_2150308255021057_2941539551031590912_n

 

45841849_2140010496050833_8270782955283021824_n

 

46106996_2139990219386194_2422472266315988992_n

 

46443306_2150308555021027_5861202162154995712_n

 

46091020_2139990299386186_1044568683843682304_n

 

 

How to be a Responsible Tourist While Visiting Mahahual

Keeping_track_of_ocean_plasticAs you may know, Mahahual is a tiny gem of a town that is nestled up to a beautiful Caribbean shoreline and reef. The ecological balance of such a place is very easy to tip the wrong way, even with the best of intentions. Aside from good intentions, there are those around us that just don’t care so those of us that do have to take extra precaution to make up for their part while we attempt to educate them.

The reef system here has been in decline for some time and it is easy to note the lack of public works of even minimal necesities, like a sufficient number of trash recepticles, in town. Despite this, there are groups of caring citizens who volunteer their time to cleaning up beaches and neighborhoods and fighting for basic needs of the community and keeping Mahahual clean.

As a tourist there are a few things you can do as well to help keep Mahahual a sparkling paradise. They aren’t difficult and wont stop you from enjoying your stay. Do these few things and it will go a long way in helping us with the struggle to keep our town great:

1. Ask for your drinks without a straw or “sin popote”. Straws and plastic bottle caps are some of the biggest polluters in the ocean. Choose to drink your drink straight from the cup or carry a reusable straw with you. There are many companies selling reusable straws made of metal or thick plastic that are easily found with a quick google search. Some people in town use biodegradable straws as well at their establishments so be sure and ask.

2. Make sure and use reef friendly natural sun screen. With all of the bodies coming from cruise ships, mid-term tourism and locals dipping themselves in the water everyday, you can bet the chemicals in most sunscreens are damaging the reef. Studies have shown that chemicals in sunscreens cause reef deformities and bleaching. Sadly this is not a local phenomenon. Hawaii and the pacific island of Palau have already banned chemical laden sunscreens due to their high volume of tourism and subsequent reef damage. Look for natural sunscreens that contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to block UV rays without damaging the reef.

3. Re-use your single use water bottles. Single use plastics are arguably the most damaging thing we produce as human beings. Experts agree that if we continue using them at the current trajectory there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050…that is soon. While you are out and about you will want to carry water, its hot. But try and refill your water bottle with the water in your hotel or rental and if you don’t have that, you can buy 3 gallon bottles at every store in town. Keep them in the fridge and use them to refill your bottles instead of buying numerous new ones.

4. Carry a container. If you have ever been here and love to eat at the local food carts and trucks, you will notice that everything is served on a styrofoam tray, wrapped in plastic, wrapped in plastic, and wrapped in yet more plastic. When you go to get your to-go food this vacation, cary a plate or container with you and have them prepare your food on that. Locals that care do it all the time and some will give you a small discount for it. You can even do this when you go out for a coffee and carry your own mug.

None of these things are difficult to do bit they will have a large impact on the local ecology if you choose to apply them when you come. It will actually add to your experience that you did your part to help care for such a magnificent place. Nobody wants to go on a snorkel tour to a dead reef covered in plastic…

 

Let Freedom Ring! Sargassum Update Winter 2018

Hear ye hear ye! The beaches are clear! Its time to put those travel plans back on the books and head to your favorite sunny Caribbean destination this winter season! No need to stay up north and freeze your bones off when you can have your toes in the sand (not the sargassum) and a fruity drink in your hand as you enjoy the mild and sweet tropical breezes once again.

IMG_20160306_122940810_HDR

Us locals are excited to finally have the beaches back to enjoy and be free of the smell of rotting seaweed.  In the end, I don’t believe that the sargassum was all bad as it seems to have brought an influx of nutrients to the area. My wife and I went out lionfish hunting yesterday and there seemed to be much more life under the water, flora and fauna. Lots of little fishies swimming around and brighter, more numerous corals heads as well as grass. Great for snorkeling! Just remember that when you come down make sure and bring sunscreen that is non-toxic to the reef. Each person makes a difference!

IMG_20160305_121200905

But again, as far as sargassum goes, we should be in the clear according to the Sargassum Early Advisory System developed by A&M Galveston.  We will see you soon!

Locals Spotlight #3

evan

This edition of Locals Spotlight we are reaching waaaaaay back in the bag of locals and Talking to Evan Mckenzie, the well-known and long established owner of Nacional Beach Club, a great hotel, restaurant, and all-around hang out spot on the malecon, to find out about himself, his lovely family, and his business. Evan is an “O.G.” of Mahahual, if you will, and has seen a lot of changes to our little community. Let’s dig in…

CML: Thanks for sitting down with me Evan. Let’s jump right in. How did you discover Mahahual and when did you come here for the first time?

Evan: It was the glorious year of 1998 the first time I visited Mahahual with my father.  A neighbor of ours in Playa del Carmen told him about a quiet little fishing village located in the South of Quintana Roo called Xcalak. He bought his first property there in 1997 but it didn’t take him long to decide that Mahahual would probably grow first as a tourist destination. So I came down with him in ’98 to check it out.

CML: What were your impressions of the town? What was it like?

Evan: I remember telling my father when he asked me what I thought about the town of Mahahual as we stood on one of our first 9x18meter lots in the center of Mahahual overlooking the ocean “ Well Dad it is certainly beautiful here but there is not much going on”. To which he replied “You will see that will change with time”. He was absolutely right.

CML: When did you decide to come live here? What was your plan and what did your friends and family think?

Evan: I decided to move to Mahahual in the fall of 2005 once I graduated from Arizona State University with a double degree in Hotel/Restaurant Management & Business Administration. My Family was really very supportive and happy to hear I would be moving to a country full of culture & wonderful people that we all  thoroughly enjoyed visiting throughout my youth.

CML: And at some point you met your wife Ana, who is heavily involved in conservation and recycling with her group “Menos Plastico es Fantastico en Mahahual“. Tell me about that.

Evan: I met my beautiful wife Ana on the beach in Mahahual where else haha? We met while I was having breakfast in the Spring of 2007. The moment I laid eyes on her I was absolutely in love. 

I had just started my first little bohemian restaurant “Cosas Naturales” which only served fresh juices, smoothies,  breakfast, salads & wraps while Ana was working on her first restaurant with one of her best friends which served typical Chilean dishes beach side. 

CML: And then some point later you guys opened Nacional Beach Club right?

Evan: Ana and I decided to develop Nacional Beach Club once FONATUR finished developing the first stage of the malecon in 2008. We started with very basic drawings using our imagination and before long found an architect in Chetumal for the finalized plans & licensing, right where “Cosas Naturales” stood. 

We started with 3 bungalows, a restaurant/bar and three locals to service the beach.  It did not take us long to figure out that there was demand for lodging in the sleepy little village as eager tourists arrived from all over Mexico and the world to visit these tranquil white sand beaches with glistening Caribbean water at is edges. And we’ve been growing ever since then!

CML: So you guys got married and have two beautiful daughters. What is it like raising a family here?

Evan: I have only raised one family and only in Mahahual but could not imagine doing so anywhere else on earth. Many guests at our establishment truly admire us for this as it is such a peaceful place to raise children. 

CML: What are the biggest changes you have seen here, good or bad? How would you like to see Mahahual grow in the future?

Evan: Growth is inevitable but I feel that the condo developments change the image of Mahahual. We should undoubtedly grow green with more emphasis on sustainable tourism, growth & education within our community. We must all agree that no one comes to Mahahual for large shopping plazas or to visit monstrosity hotel chains but simply to enjoy pristine beaches, coral reefs, and to support small business models. 

I strongly believe that Mahahual sells itself, simple as that, and that we the entrepreneurs need to preserve the natural beauty as much as possible.  Hence the less impact we make the more of a niche we will create for a eco-tourism that will vary from our neighbors to the north.  Though many of us complain about the Costa Maya Port we must also all thank this industry for providing us with a very steady supply of tourism throughout the year.  We should also be thankful to the National & International tourism that the highway brings us constantly thanks to the Chetumal & Cancun Airport.

CML: Well put. What is your favorite part about living in Mahahual? 

Evan: Definitely always looking at the Caribbean Sea and feeling a fresh clean breeze.

CML: Is this home? Are you planning on being here forever?

Evan: Forever and ever!

Stop by and see Evan and his family the next time you are in town at Nacional Beach Club!