Monday, 2 February, 2009. For Mexicans, La Candelaria, or Candlemas, celebrated on February 2, is the feast day of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. In ancient days, according to Mosaic law, this time marked the ceremony of Purification, a Jewish tradition which required Mary and Joseph to present the infant Jesus in the temple 40 days after his birth. Candlemas is a popular festival in Yucatán, La Candelaria Sanctuary in Merida (Calle 64 and Calle 67) has been recently restored and is one of the treasures of Merida. You can learn more about the cultural treasures of Mexico on Richard Perry's fascinating site click HERE. This month highlighting the colonial arts and monuments of the Yucatan Maya region. (The photo of the horse and owner was taken while we were doing school deliveries near Villa Morelos 1 January 30, 2009) Puerto Morelos is abuzz with high season filling the restaurants and bars with happy holidaying people (seen here Bodo's by night and beach in front of Carmen Morelos) . The new NH hotel to the South, on our beautiful South Beach, is well and truly open, however the beach retains its stunning beauty with only the odd tourist wandering out. Worth noting that the mangrove on the West side of NH appears to be gaining strength, seen here is a happy flock of American coot enjoying the waters. The mangrove adjacent to the hotel and opposite and around El Cid continues to fade. Many thanks go to Buffy, Ana and Bea for their extra effort in picking up the plastic flotsam and jetsam on South Beach. On that note we say farewell to Bea who is packing up her apartment to return to Spain to care for her ailing mother, we all hope to see you back soon Bea! In a recent meeting with our new delegado, Francisco Mendoza Reyna, I was trying to co-ordinate the government departments with the charity in order to service the needs of Puerto Morelos more efficiently. At the same meeting, I asked him about several things - possibility of encouraging the banks to come here, ditto for a Cablemas office, ditto for a Post office (he says that we have land put aside for this next to the little Police Station in the colonia and he is just waiting for Cancun), the roads (Cancun has promised to have them ALL completely done this year) , a policy on signage in PM and on the Ruta de Cenotes, harassment of Habaneros about streetside tables (a meeting is to be called for all restaurants to all agree on a policy) and is it Walmart up at the lights? (not certain but they have started work). We are meeting again next week to see if there are any further answers possible. As most people know last week at the Municipio in Cancun the government passed legislation that allows for 20,000 more houses to be built in Puerto Morelos (other side of the highway), estimated 100,000 more inhabitants over the next 10 years. Understandably, the residents of PM are up in arms about this blatant development greed implemented over the head of years of careful planning by the community with IMPLAN (the government's own urban planning department) and with total disregard of the environment and availability of community services. The community will be submitting objections as a group and as individuals to try and stop the building permits - there will be a form letter available shortly which will be forwarded to you with instructions. In the meantime, a few dollars are needed to assist with photocopying and paper if you can spare a couple of dollars for this please drop it into Amar Inn or to Adriana or Jody Hamilton as Ana Luisa is paying out of her own pocket at the moment. International journalists are needed to pick up the story that this type of development will eventually destroy the coral reef and our beautiful cenotes - a shame for the whole world. There is a wonderful little animation that succintly shows our dependence on the mangrove, to watch it please click HERE, it is very well done. Travelling back to November and December: We had a surprise visit by the dance school raising funds for a young man in need of help and then Christmas was celebrated in the Square with Santa giving out sweets and at the Polo club with a Christmas Students Tournament which 'my' team won. In the spirit of things everyone received a trophy. Then, poor me, I was forced to go to Australia. I had a wonderful Christmas lunch with my family in Melbourne and watched movies in the Gardens with friends from Houston. Flew up to Sydney for New Year's Eve watched the fireworks from a beautiful yacht on Sydney Harbour and enjoyed oyster shooters and a sleep over onboard. Was able to cuddle Dylan, one day old on January 1st, my son Marc's and my daughter in law Michelle's second child. Caught up with lots of wonderful friends in Sydney, went bushwalking, to the fish market, and to Palm Beach and watched the Palm Beach Surf Life Saving club having a bit of Aussie fun. I have included a photo of the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb in action at sunset and one of Bondi Beach.
Coming back to Puerto Morelos the charity, El Mundo para Puerto Morelos, was off to a kick start with lots of donations, left at Mama's Bakery and Alma Libre, for us to distribute. Jill Yeagar and I were able to deliver goods to three kindergartens, the high school, the primary school in the colonia, the medical clinic (you know it is free for foreigners too?), the ambulance service, the junior baseball team and next week we will be using cash donated to buy food and other urgently needed items requested by the schools. What was really satisfying this trip was that after 2 years of the charity seeming to be the only help for the schools the government has decidedly stepped forward. A new classroom has been built at the Kinder Cinco de Mayo and some delightful new paintings have enhanced that, and the kitchen that your donations paid for last year, which as you can see is well used and appreciated. The government has also built a wonderful new wall around the kinder next to Villas Morelos and they have also a great native garden and enhanced play area. The kinder at the beach in Puerto Morelos has received a new classroom courtesy of some volunteer Canadians. The 'Independant Grocers' group are currently here attending a franchise conference and the conference organisers included many hours of charity work in their schedule to the benefit of the kinder in PM. Josh Schultz, Shade and Gabriel (Itankan Constructions) contributed labour and materials to enable completion of the project. The kinder sorely needs shade from the searing beach sun and El Mundo para Puerto Morelos will soon be supplying palm trees for the school as shade for the children. Your donations have given us the ability to do this and more. The primary school in the colonia is always grateful for your assistance and invites everyone to come to the Mardi Gras in the Parque of PM at night on February 21st when the schools all celebrate Mardi Gras! The coming year will see other projects come to light for the charity, we continue to depend on your generosity. Ana, of the little English School House, is now also holding free English classes in the Library in the Colonia on Friday evenings for 4-6 year olds. Ann (998 232 8238) is running walking tours of the Colonia on Mondays (meet 0900 at Rosy's Juice bar) 100 p per person for 1.5 hours of visiting the locals shops and getting to know Mexican food and culture. She also has Mayan cooking classes available, jewellry making and even a dinner dance. Tours are also arranged to the Sunday Jungle Market - next Sunday meet at the Mayan Handicrafts market at 10am for a minibus to the market. Watch out for the large hole in the road in front of the Handicraft Market - saome say a shortcut to China! The next International Womens Committee (www.iwccancun.com) meeting is Feb 7th 0930 at Grand Oasis in Cancun. If you need a lift contact Martha Uscanda (998) 871-0162. Bar Ixchel was recently featured in the Travel Section of the New York Times, entitled 'What Mexico Once Was' click HERE to read the full text. It caused a flurry of activity in the tourist rental market and we hope it will flow into real estate too. Today the famous Ray is cooking a barbecue on the beach and next weekend there will be music and food on both Saturday and Sunday, weather permitting. Yodi's Eatery - Dieter and Martina (Ex Hotel Inglaterra) have moved across the street and are in the kitchen at Yodi's (the old Bodo's on Ninos Heroes) helping out the new owner and his charming wife Yolande. Last night they had a set menu - prime rib or fish. Lois said the prime rib was fabulous, I found the fish too salted for my taste. Good wine, attentive if confused service and delicious dessert. They have extended the eeating are to outdoors and the atmosphere was comfortable. At 500 pesos for 2 including the Italian wine it was very reasonaable. The Mayan Jungle Spa is alive and well too, Wed 10-4 and Fri 10-2 appointments 998 2089148 and the Jungle Market of course on Sunday mornings in Calle 2, Zona Urbana. The University of de la Salle is now offering a diploma in Drama, they have a teacher from Europe graduated from the London School of Speech and Drama for more information Amadeo: 9981356715, Veronica: 9981476351 o directamente a La Salle: 8862201 ext:157. Eric Guegan is now offering tours to Ek Balam and Coba in addition to his other eco tours, more information on his site http://ekaabts.spaces.live.com. The Annual Puerto Morelos Swimming Marathon, 2,5 and 5km Reef Route, will be on February 28th in the morning, if you want to be in it your applications need to be in by Feb 18th - more information from firstname.lastname@example.org. Open to all ages! Next Saturday (Feb 7th, 3pm) at the Polo Club is a small tournament, El Rey versus Hacienda Andalusia - just mention my name at the gate to gain entry, there will be a buffet lunch and drinks at the bar of course, it is a wonderful relaxing afternoon in the most unusual jungle setting and you get to watch a game of polo! You can even hire 4 wheelers and go to a cenote. (Pictured are Jim and Greg, visiting players from Saskatoon!) El Rey Polo Country Club is 11.5 kms down the Ruta de Cenotes road. Well that just about wraps it up for today, next issue we will have breaking news about a Cancun - Texas company set to pay for service of our ambulance and fire truck, what to do about everything development wise, more news from the delegado and all sorts of PM tidbits. Betcha can't wait!