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!

Taxis in Revolt in Costa Maya!

If you’ve ever spent any time in any of the various Mahahual groups on facebook you are bound to have come across regular complaints against the taxis here, especially on cruise ship days.  Some of the more common complaints are that the taxis don’t stop for locals on ship days because they charge the tourists 4-8 times what they can charge locals, driving too fast and reckless in the neighborhoods, too many taxis in town, and running over pets of all kinds. They definitely don’t have the best reputation and when people have a complaint the taxi drivers flipantly reply “go register an official complaint” because they know nothing will come of it. They have a monopoly on taxi service in this state leaving the population with no other options…until recently.

A few weeks ago a law was passed opening up the doors for competition to other services like Uber or Lyft, putting the “sindicato” into upheaval and sparking massive celebrations in the facebook groups by locals. It seemed the day had finally come for the yellow bullies, but they haven’t taken it lying down.

A week later the taxi drivers organized one morning statewide, from Cancun to Chetumal, to block the streets and highways in various locations with big groups of taxis, letting nobody through for a few hours at a time. In Mahuahual they blocked the cafetal, the main road into town coming from 307 and Limones, for a few hours one afternoon. I heard that this ugly tactic was taken advantage of by a few opportunistic and putrid taxistas by offering rides from Limones to Mahahual to unsuspecting travelers and then charging the passengers extra to take them back to Limones once they encountered the block. Repugnant behavior that was the reason for the passing of the law in the first place.

Things have been relatively quiet the last few weeks until Monday, when the taxi drivers employed their favorite blocking tactic at the entrance to the port to protest the fact that cruise ship passengers get shuttled to and from the port by the Costa Maya trailers and not the taxis. An online report stated that the port manager came out to speak with them but left after a few minutes because they were throwing threats his way.

The taxistas were only able to block the port for a few minutes in the morning and the afternoon but the uproar couldn’t have left a good taste in the mouths of tourists or locals. If they are looking for support, they won’t find it with the same ugly behaviors that earned them their bad reputations in the first place.

If they want to survive they have to learn that in a free market the best wins. If they wan’t to survive they are going to have to improve their service and standing in the community and let the bullying go. The monopoly has ended and the clock is ticking for them to clean up their act. Running over animals, over-charging tourists and foreigners, driving too fast through neigborhoods, it all has to stop.

If you find yourself in Mahahual and you need a ride from a taxi know these two things:

  1. Not all taxi drivers are bad so don’t automatically think you are getting into the car with the enemy, but…
  2. If you are not Mexican, especially if you are coming out of the port, a normal ride should only cost 1-2 dollars (or 20-40 pesos at MOST). And that is not per person. Don’t let them extort you. Don’t pay it. Somebody else will be happy to give you a ride.

Either way, Costa Maya Mahahual is a great place and we continue our march towards changing for the better. The fall of the taxi sindicato monopoly is just one more step on the road!

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.

 

 

 

 

Spring breakers reportedly chant ‘build that wall’ during Cancun cruise

I never thought I would see the Fox News quote a publication I write for, but Fox News recently quoted the Yucatan Times as a source.  I came across this today from the editor of the Yucatan Times on Facebook, and I thought some of you might find this interesting.

“Thank you to The San Francisco Chronicle and Fox News for using The Yucatan Times as a source of local news!!!”

Spring breakers reportedly chant ‘

build that wall’ during Cancun cruise

A Mexican newspaper on Monday criticized a group of tourists from the U.S. on spring break who reportedly chanted “build that wall” during a cruise off Cancun, The San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The chanting occurred on a “Pirate Ship” attraction. The Yucatan Times called the chant an act of “xenophobia and discrimination against Mexicans within their own country.”

The paper described the cruise as an entertainment excursion allows attendees to witness sword fights and drinking. The paper reported, “This situation is far from being an isolated incident, and it adds to the growing number of complaints from tourism sector workers, who point out that in recent days many Spring Breakers have been offensive, rude and haughty towards Mexican people.”

The Mexican paper referred to a social media post by a Peruvian man who was on board the ship.

“Today I was with Suly, my wife (who is a native of Mexico), watching an entertainment show off the coast of Cancun aboard a boat, and at the end of the show, a flock of Americans (maybe under the influence of alcohol, or maybe not), began to sing the infamous ‘Build that wall’ chant louder and louder’.”

source:http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/03/21/spring-breakers-reportedly-chant-build-that-wall-during-cancun-cruise.html

That is the Fox News report, now here is the editorial that Fox News I think was referring to from the Yucatan Times.

EDITORIAL: Spring Breakers chanting “Build That Wall” in Cancun is unacceptable

CANCUN — What would be a dream night for Suly and Anaximandro Amable, a newly married couple who went to Cancun for their honeymoon, became a bitter experience on Monday March 13.

During a family show on the high seas, young American spring breakers began to sing the controversial “Build That Wall” chant, which shocked Mexican national tourists and workers.

This is just one of the many blameworthy behaviors that young spring breakers have shown recently in Cancun and that are described as acts of xenophobia and discrimination against Mexicans within their own country, which is (or should be) totally unacceptable.

Anaximandro, from Perú, made the following statement on social networks: “Today I was with Suly, my wife (who is a native of Mexico), watching an entertainment show off the coast of Cancun aboard a boat, and at the end of the show, a flock of Americans (maybe under the influence of alcohol, or maybe not), began to sing the infamous “Build that wall” chant louder and louder”.

This chant became popular across the US in the wake of Trump’s Election Day victory. And it went viral on social networks, when students at a Michigan middle school began chanting Build the wall!” during lunch on the day after Trump’s election, November 17, 2016.


The “Pirate Ship” sails out from Puerto Juárez, and the show takes place in the middle of the ocean, where attendees can witness the clashing of swords and the explosion of cannons along with a constant flow of drinks.

Several Mexican tourists on board the ship expressed their annoyance, but the Americans did not stop at all and continued singing the racist hymn.

This situation is far from being an isolated incident, and it adds to the growing number of complaints from tourism sector workers, who point out that in recent days many Spring Breakers have been offensive, rude and haughty towards Mexican people.

pirate ship 2

American Tourists at Pirate Ship Cancún (Photo: Google)


post anaximandro

Anaximandro Amable Facebook post (Source; Facebook)

TYT Newsroom with information from:

source:http://www.theyucatantimes.com/2017/03/editorial-spring-breakers-chanting-build-that-wall-in-cancun-is-unacceptable/

Thanks for reading,

Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina

Yemaya Beach Club and Resort, Mahahual

First of all I would like to apologize to Robert Gruber, owner of Yemaya Beach, for taking so long to get this article out.  I went to a birthday party about a month ago, took some photos, at Yemaya Beach, and I told Robert I would put them on this blog with his information and website.  Well I had to leave the birthday party early, and kind of forgot about the article until I found photos this morning.  So again sorry, I have been a little behind schedule.

Like I said, Yemaya Beach is owned and operated by Robert Gruber, originally from Germany.  I have seen Robert around Mahahual since I have been here, so he has been here quite a while. Well he has opened a beach club south of town on the coastal road to Xcalak.

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His place is about 4.5 kilometers south of town.

Entrance to Yemaya.

It is a great little spot on the beach, and you can see the port and Mahahual from the beach there.

Beach at Yemaya.

Robert has a swing bar, a restaurant, and all the other beach club amenities. You can hang out on the beach, snorkel, get a massage and there are also kayaks.

Cool swing bar.

Birthday party I was at.

They also have rooms, or cabanas I should say, you can stay in.  Here is their ad off of booking.com.

“Offering a barbecue and views of the sea, Yemaya Beachclub & Resort – Mahahual is set in Mahahual. The resort has a sun terrace and a private beach area, and guests can enjoy a meal at the restaurant. Free WiFi is offered throughout the property and free private parking is available on site.

The rooms have a private bathroom.

You will find concierge service at the property.

A range of activities are offered in the area, such as snorkelling, windsurfing and diving. The nearest airport is Chetumal International Airport, 68 km from Yemaya Beachclub & Resort – Mahahual.

We speak your language!”

Also I got this off of their website.

“Our secluded, private beach club offers an authentic “off the beaten path” experience, while our friendly staff, full service bar & restaurant provide all the necessary comforts. Kayaks are available for guests as well as massages (upon request).

Whether you are looking for an exclusive beach location where to kick back for the day, a serene spot where to settle for a camping vacation in the Caribbean, a gorgeous setting where to celebrate a special occasion, or just a place where you can enjoy doing nothing, Yemayá Beach Club & Resort is waiting for you!”

So if you are here on a cruise ship, or on vacation, or an expat looking for a different place to go for the day or night, check out Yemaya Beach Club and Resort.

If you are interested in visiting or booking a room at Yemaya Beach Club and Resort, I am enclosing their website below, so you can check them out for yourself.

http://www.yemaya.com.mx/

Thanks for reading,

Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina

Spring Breakers in Mahahual

It is that time of year again, spring break in Mahahual.  This week, and for the next two weeks, there will be a lot of cruise ships stopping here loaded with college students from the USA on spring break.  This is one of my favorite times of the year here in Mahahual. There are college students from universities and colleges all over the southern part of the USA.  There are also students from northern states as well, but the majority of the spring breakers we get are from the deep south part of the USA.

They get off the cruise ships ready to party.  I remember when I worked for Shark Tours at the port, we had a special all you could drink package, and we used to sell that out during spring break.  It was like $35.00 usd for an open bar at the Senor Frogs on the beach.   It has a pool, and a swim up bar, which the college students love.

Bar at old Senor Frogs on the beach. It is now run by Groupo Cancun, and they now sell these open bar excursions on the ships.

When I was working at the port I would meet college students from all over the USA, and I was surprised at how many college students take cruises on spring break now. When I was in college, Fort Lauderdale and Daytona Beach were big college spring break destinations.  In those days that is where you went, we never even considered booking a cruise, nor could we afford it.

My buddies and I in college would usually pool our money together, load up a car and head for Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  We would sleep 5 or 6 to a room, and party for a week in Myrtle Beach.  We would meet other college and university students from other schools like North Carolina State, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Georgia, and other schools in the southeast part of the USA.

Now college students show up here with lots of money, credit cards, and are ready to cut loose.  Different times, we could barely put $10 together in my college days.  But I have to admit it, these young college students know how to have a good time.

College students at swim up bar having a good time.

Pool full of spring breakers.

And like every year before, as soon as the party gets started the young female college students start dancing on the bar.  I see it every year, and it is a sight to see.

Well this year I just happened to look over, and at that moment I saw a woman fall off the bar while she was dancing, right on her back on the ground.  I thought to myself, this does not look good.  Well the music stopped, all the woman’s friends ran up to her to see if she was all right.  She laid there for a while, then jumped up, and the crowd went wild, and then they all just went back to partying.  She seemed all right, and went back to drinking, I bet she was sore the next day.

Also like every year since I have been here, I always meet pretty little female co-eds from the University of South Carolina, my alma mater.  This year was no exception.  I met some yesterday, and I found them a place for lunch.  There were some South Carolina and Virginia Tech students here together.  I got them a table at the Blue Kay, and chatted with them a while.

South Carolina and Va.Tech college students at lunch.

Jessica Watts from Myrtle Beach, SC in black top, Casey Cleffi from Manasquan, NJ with me yesterday. They are both University of South Carolina co-eds.

So next week there will be even more college students here, because the majority of the colleges and universities in the USA start spring break next week.  So it should be an interesting two weeks ahead for Mahahual.  And trust me, every Mexican man in town loves spring break, just as much as I do.  There is nothing quite like seeing hundreds of young female college students in bikinis running around the malecon.

Thanks for reading,

Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina

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