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!

Is it Legal to Catch Lobster and Conch in Mexico?

Wow. What a loaded question! When I started researching for this article I thought I would look around for a few minutes and have a clear answer for a short and informative article but I have been at it for quite some time and still don’t really have anything super clear to pass on. I am an avid diver/snorkeler, fisherman, spear fisherman, and all around waterman, so having the answer to this is very important for me.

I have been in Mahahual for around 2 years and during conversations with various people at various times I thought that I had answers only to find that what one person says is different from what another will tell me, leaving me very confused and conflicted. Supporting the environment and enjoying it sustainably is very important to my wife and I so we always try and make sure that we follow the rules that are in place wherever we go.  But like a lot of things down here, there is a lot of heresay. If you want to find the truth you have to go and find it yourself.

However, in this case, I can fully understand the confusion. During my time in Florida over the past 10 years, fishing up and down the coast and into the keys, my friends and I anxiously waited for lobster season to start every year. It has always been a special time for us to get a trip together and catch ourselves a delicious meal while enjoying the majesty of the natural environment. Finding the rules and regulations has always been easy and at the beginning of every season we go to walmart, pay for our fishing licenses and lobster tags, get the regulations book and everything is clear. Unfortunately in Quintana Roo, it isn’t that easy.

Around here some people in town will take conch and lobster out of the water with reckless abandon. Some people will tell you that there are seasons but when the season starts you can take what you want. Some people say that in the case of conch, you aren’t supposed to take any at all, the same as it is in Florida. But hardly a week goes by where I don’t see some kids walking down the street, dive gear in hand, with a lasso of lobster at their side, a smile on their face and no concern to hide the haul at all. The same wave of emotions washes over me every time I see it, starting with jealousy then excitement then anger to finally confusion.  Frequently the familiar ding-dong of a passing bike vendor reveals lobster and conch for sale for cheap. So what gives??

Here is what I found…

On the SAGARPA website, which seems to be the official government body in charge of fishing regulations in Mexico, is a short list of fishing rules that only has one mention of shellfish and crustaceans: “The sports fishing license only permits the capture of fish. It does not permit that capture of shellfish and mollusks and their capture is strictly prohibited”. That seems pretty cut and dry and I could live with that if that were the rule but how can it be if I see so many people openly enjoying conch and lobster? It also seems a little restrictive and absolute, especially for Mexico, so I dug further.

I asked local environmental champion Victor Rosales, founder of Project AAK Mahahual, an official non-profit organization involved in everything conservation, what he knew. I had seen him post a graphic on conch season and figured he had all of the information I needed. He passed along this other graphic with seasons for protected species which seemed to sum it up nicely…

seasons

This seems to clearly show that there are seasons so how could it be completely prohibited? Also notice that there is no seal from, or mention of, SAGARPA on this graphic. However there are seals from SEMARNAT (The Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources) and CONANP (National Commission for Protected Natural Areas) which only adds to the confusion. Who is in charge? Who makes the rules? I attempted to contact SAGARPA through their website to find some clarity but the message wouldn’t go through…SURPRISE!

Still searching for answers, I found a video from CONANP that seemed to throw a wrench into the whole thing…

Apparently in 2016 all of the waters off the coast of the state of Quintano Roo were declared a protected biosphere reserve! 5.7 million acres in total. I knew that certain areas like Banco Chincorro, Sian Ka’an, and Xcalak were biosphere reserves but the entire state?? What does that mean for fishing? Is it permitted at all? How do people not know this? How could this be true but the website for SAGARPA simultaneously reflects rules allowing for fishing?? Are there local state fishing regulations that are different? Where could I find that info?? It was all too confusing…

Upon further reading I saw an article from June 2nd this year stating that there was a plan in action regarding the biosphere reserve. For those of you who don’t speak spanish the article states that the area was declared a reserve almost 2 years ago but the elaborate plan on how to manage it has been going through the bureaurcratic approval process and should be finished by December of this year. So maybe then we will have some concrete answers.

The best thing that you can do until then as a responsible tourist is to buy conch and lobster only during their open season and only from local fishing co-operatives. I am not sure about catching them yourself but if you must, do not take conch under any circumstance as they are threatened, and do not take lobster out of season, under-sized, or if they are a female with eggs. If you absolutely must catch them yourselves, try and use the regulations from Florida, which have allowed for a sustainable fishing practice there, as a general guide and apply them when in the area until we find out what the new rules are under the biosphere reserve. If we respect nature and care for it, we can make sure that it will be around for us to enjoy for a long time to come.

I hope this helps. Stay tuned for updates on the rules as I find out more!

 

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!