The government of the state of Quintana Roo, home to tourist beaches like Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, Tulum, and Mahahual has been raging a war against the invasion of the seaweed sargassum in recent months and it appears they are winning. Through innovation and teamwork many weapons have been put in place and the beaches are much better. Check out this cool video to see one of the ways in which the sargassum is being stopped from inundating out beaches!
Well it was fun while it lasted! Today “el Tri”, the Mexican national soccer team, was eliminated in the first round of the knock out stage of the world up by Brasil.
For the past two weeks, early morning cheers, screams, horns and whistles have sounded out the emotion and passion of Mahahualenos as they cheered for the boys half a world away in Russia.
The tournament started out on a high note as El Tri scored a big win over defending champs Germany in the first game of the group stage. Then another victory over South Korea had our little town floating on air as the light tourist season allowed time to watch and revel and local bars and restaurants. The normally busy pedestrian streets were empty as locals gathered to watch.
The third match was something of a cardiac case as the national team took a 3-0 walloping from Sweden, putting Germany in the position to knock us out if they were to merely tie in their match with the much weaker South Korea. As the games were taking place simultaneously, Mahahual collectively held its breath as the clock wound closer to the 90th minute and the score remained 0-0 for the Germans and Koreans.
Then one minute into extra time Korea scored the first goal sending roars into our tiny collective atmosphere, but there were 5 minutes left to play and the German soccer machine is a titan not to be counted out. at 5:51 into extra time Korea sealed the deal, sending a wave of celebration across the lower portion of North America, local celebratory tequila shots, and sparking international displays of praise and gratitude for any Korean seen by a group of Mexicans (see some hilarious videos here).
But everybody knew today would be a tough ask of the boys in green as they faced the South American soccer juggernaut Brasil. Neymar, Brasil’s best player, or actor depending on who you ask, did what he does best and put on a Lebron’ing showcase that would make the Lakers’ newest acquisition proud.
Meanwhile Ochoa, Mexico’s revered goal keeper, put up a brick wall, blocking 8 attempts on goal and drawing the admiration of soccer fans for the second straight world cup in the 2-0 loss.
End the end El Tri did well. The win over Germany will not soon be forgotten in the minds of Mahahualenos and Mexicans everywhere and making it to the round of 16 is an accomplishment in and of itself. Maybe in 2022 we will finally see the team to the quarter final match that has eluded them since 1986. For now, Mahahual can return to normal.
There has been a rumor circulating in our small town for quite some time. A rumor about a sacred place that where goods are exchanged for money, bills are paid, money is wired, and the pueblo gathers under the glow of incandescent light. Late at night on the street you hear whispers of it. Once in a while you will see a flyer for it. One day Mahahual will become the chosen home of the newest Oxxo! Dum dum duuuuuummmm…
Oxxo, if you don’t know what it is, is probably the most popular chain of convenience stores in Mexico. Think of it as the Mexican 711. That might not get you very excited but no matter how you view it, will be good for our little town. It will bring some much needed services that aren’t available here under its own banner and may even attract a few other businesses that are sorely needed in this part of the world. We surely don’t necessarily need another place to buy cerveza and chicharones, but sending and receiving money and paying bills more easily would be a breath of fresh air.
The only thing is that, Mahahual being a tiny town, the rumor abounds but nobody seems to know quite where or when it will be. Judging by the lack of certainty I wouldn’t even be completely sold on the fact that it is actually coming if I hadn’t seen the flyer a few months ago looking to interview employees. That sold me, but I can’t for the life of me figure out the mystery.
Every new construction in town is assigned to Oxxo by one person or another. At the beginning it was going to be at the beach beside the Mahahual Cigar lounge but that didn’t make sense because that lot is huge and beach front. Way too much for a tiny Oxxo. One guy says it will be where they are building new condos on Calle Chacchoben in Casitas but I asked the contractor and he assured me that he was building condos. Everytime ground is broken, someone says it is Oxxo.
The only thing that we can do here is watch and wait. One day it is certain that a touch of modernity will land in our area but where and when we won’t know until they turn on the light! Which leads me to local knowledge #3…
Here in Mahahual there is a serious lack of first world comforts and conveniences. This is a big part of the charm but it can also be frustrating when you are looking for frozen raspberries or power sander papers. There aren’t any big box stores, not even a bank, and you are limited to what you can find in the various “mini supers” around town. Most of these charming little stores have the essentials…fried plantains, glass bottled coca-cola, bleach and a tomato or two. You get the idea.
Being from a more developed part of the world you can become frustrated from the urgency you feel when you need or want something you don’t have. Heck, you know the days of instant gratification are here when drones dropping things off at your house 3 hours after you order them online is not a thing of science fiction. But as time goes by and you begin to really settle in to the Mahahualense way of life you realize that, if you are patient, most of the things you need will just come to you!
One of the great things about Mahahual, and Mexico in general, is that the budding entrepreneurs of the area begin their businesses by piling their wares in the car, bike, or triciclo and peddling them down your street! Everything is available, from bread and water to plastic trash cans, even fresh made furniture, and all you have to do is wait for the sound of the bell or horn, look out your window, and see what is coming down your street!
So unless you have an emergency, take a breath and breathe in the beauty of waiting for the special day when the thing you need comes beeping down your street. It is like Christmas!
This month in the Locals Spotlight we were privileged to interview Miqueas Gomez Vasquez, a talented local builder who specializes in abanileria (masonry/structural building). He is a master of his craft, employing his talents to build anything from closets to entire houses, and his infectious smile and honest, easy-going personality are an extra topping, free of charge, with his work. Let’s dig in…
CML: Thanks for talking to us Miqueas. Tell me first where you are from and how did you come to Mahahual for the first time?
Miqueas: I am originally from Chiapas. I first came to Mahahual 15 years ago on a mission trip to teach people about the Bible. It was a very different place back then.
CML: I can imagine. Tell me what it was like…
Miqueas: Well it was a tiny blip on the map. No tourists, no lighthouse, no malecon, no casitas, nothing. The beach was completely virgin. There were no paved roads and the only way to get here was through the beach road. It took several bumpy hours from the next place. The highway that everybody uses to get here now didn’t exist. And nothing at the beach was there. Maybe two stores. It was really just a couple of huts and fishermen.
CML: Wow! So you came with a church group?
Miqueas: Yes there was a group of us and we stayed a few kilometers down the beach for a month in a little palapa owned by a foreign guy. I can’t remember his name now because it has been so long. But I think it is still there… We just wanted to educate people about the bible who had no other way of getting the education.
CML: Well that sounds like a great trip. So then you went back to Chiapas. When did you decide to move to Mahahual permanently?
Miqueas: I came back to Mahahual to live about six years ago.
CML: But now it was very different, right?
Miqueas: VERY different. They had built the malecon, casitas, the port, the lighthouse, hotels, restaurants, shops, everything. It was really surprising. Suddenly it was a little town with a lot more business and things to do.
CML: Well I imagine that was a good thing for you. Did you always work doing the same thing or did you do a little of this and a little of that like everybody else here?
Miqueas: Yes at the beginning I did a little of this and a little of that. I dedicated myself mostly to plumbing but I even sold bread for a little while! I did mostly plumbing with a little abanileria (structural work) here and there until the abanileria really picked up. Now I do almost exclusively abanileria.
CML: That’s great. How about your family. Were you already married when you came?
Miqueas: No my wife and I got married here about 5 years ago. In the mayor’s office there was a judge that would come from time to time and do marriages so we got married there and then we had a party on the beach.
CML: Very cool! So you guys had all of the family down from Chiapas and did a big party?
Miqueas: Well it wasn’t that big. We had family but not everybody came because we didn’t have the resources to bring everybody down. We had friends and a few family members at the beach and had a good time. Then we went to Chiapas and had another party so it was ok.
CML: And your kids? Were they born here?
Miqueas: Well none of the kids are born in Mahahual haha. They were born in Chetumal.
CML: Of course! but they are growing up here and are happy?
Miqueas: Yes they love it. We always take them to the beach to play and there are better schools here now and other kids to play with so it is good.
CML: So what is the biggest change you have seen in your time here in Mahahual?
Miqueas: Well the most interesting thing is that there isn’t a big distinction between the low season and the high season anymore. Before when I first came, during the high season there were lots of tourists coming from the cruise ships like normal but then during the low season it was practically deserted. Now there seem to be people all of the time.
CML: How do you feel about that? Do you think Mahahual is going to keep growing or do you think it will stay small.
Miqueas: I think Mahahual will grow but not to the size of Playa del Carmen or Cancun. And growth is good because there are still a lot of things we need. The only thing I worry about is public access to the beach. In Cancun they put up a lot of huge hotels that privatized the beaches so the public practically have no way to just go enjoy the beach. I worry about that happening here.
CML: Yeah I think as a community we all need to be on our toes about that to make sure there is always a nice public beach for us to enjoy.
CML: Ok my friend here is your last question: What is your favorite thing about Mahahual?
Miqueas: That’s easy…seeing the sunrise and the sunset. More the sunset. There is something indescribable about it. It is really magical here.
CML: I couldn’t agree more! Well thank you again for talking to us and giving us a little peak into your life!
Miqueas: Thank you!
You can find Miqueas around town riding his red scooter or working on a job site. For project inquiries you can use whatsap +5219831855247.
Everybody starts in Mahahual as a tiny tree trying to grow roots, but before you know it you are growing coconuts…