Piñatas: a Colorful Tradition for the Holidays!

Piñatas are an important part of the Mexican culture, you see them everywhere, and they are a big part of birthday celebrations in Mexico. Made in a wide variety of shapes and forms, and with materials that vary according to the region, the Piñata is recognized everywhere as a Mexican staple.

Even though the origins of the piñata are unknown: some say they come from China, others from Italy… what we know is that they bring joy to everyone. From their bright colors, the process of breaking it and the shower of candies after, it all reminds us of our childhood.

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Piñatas:  Have them ready for the posadas, Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

As the holidays approach, piñatas are available in markets, sold by street vendors, and even in some supermarkets! They can be a beautiful element to decorate your deck or patio, but they can also be a big part of the holiday spirit.

The most traditional piñata is the star with 7 points, which refer to the 7 capital sins. There is a moral meaning behind the breaking of the piñata. The shiny colors and delicious treats represent the devil who draws man with superfluous pleasures. The blindfolded person would test his or her blind faith, and destroy temptation, with a stick that embodies the virtue. The piñata signifies overcoming temptation, to ultimately triumph over sin.

 photo 7PointPinata_zps20706519.pngPiñatas are an important part of the Posadas, a series of parties hosted before Christmas Eve. Traditionally the piñata is filled with: candy, peanuts and seasonal fruit: oranges, limes, tangerines, jicama, pieces of cane and others. An appropriate location is chosen to break the piñata, preferably a garden or patio, where it is tied with a strong rope and hung from the branch of a tree or a roof beam, where the piñata can be easily be pulled up and down.

Line the children from smallest to the tallest, older kids and adults must be blindfolded. The child take the stick and is turned three times in circle to lose his or her bearings, then tries to hit the piñata. The person holding the rope moves the piñata up and down, making it difficult to hit while everybody sings.

 photo Candy_zps231d633a.jpgIf you are considering hosting a Posada or holiday party this season, bring this beautiful tradition to your gathering; even adults enjoy hitting the piñata and the delicious treats that fall from the sky!

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Christmas Dinner with a Twist: Cochinita Pibil!

Christmas Dinner with a Twist: Yucatecan cuisine is the delicious result of a culinary mix that combines Mayan, European, Caribbean and Cuban influences. The culinary delights of the region are made of an exquisite blend of Mexican and European flavors, favoring the use of pork and chicken for their traditional recipes.

A bit of history will explain the strong European influence: the Yucatan Peninsula was considered inaccessible and far from the rest of Mexico, there were only a few roads and they were very dangerous.  Most of the commerce and transportation was made using ships with cultural and commercial dealings with Europe, New Orleans and Cuba; influencing the Yucatecan clothing, architecture and cuisine.

If you want to celebrate your Christmas dinner with a twist, why not prepare the most traditional dish in the Peninsula?

We present: Cochinita Pibil, a Yucatecan delight that requires very little prep and will surprise all your guests with the delicacy of the flavors and the juiciness of the meat.

Christmas Dinner with a Twist: Cochinita Pibil

Ingredients (servers 10 – 12):

– 2 leaves of banana, you need to roast them on the stove so they become softer (you can get      them in your local supermarket, they are big folded green leaves)

– 1 ½ kilo or 3.3 pounds of pork leg

– ½ kilo or 1 pound of pork loin with rib

– 200 grams or 7 ounces of achiote seasoning (sold in every supermarket, outside of Mexico buy it online or in Latin stores)

– 1 cup sour orange juice or mix half vinegar and half fresh orange juice

– ¼ teaspoon ground cumin

– 1 teaspoon dried oregano

– 1 teaspoon white pepper powder

– ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

– ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

– You might add coarsely ground allspice to taste

– 3 cloves garlic smashed

– ½ teaspoon chili powder

– Salt to taste

– 125 grams or 4.4 ounces of lard/ butter

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Sauce:

– 8 radishes well washed and finely chopped

– 1 small red onion, finely shredded

– 4 habanero peppers finely chopped

– ½ cup finely chopped cilantro

– 1 cup sour orange juice

– Salt to taste

Preparation:

  1. Get a baking dish big enough to hold the meat and cover it with the roasted banana leaves, leaving it long enough to wrap the meat.
  2. Place the meat pieces in the baking dish and use the leaves to cover everything well.
  3. Dissolve the achiote paste in the sour orange, then add the spices and pour this mix on the meat.
  4. Marinate the pork for at least eight hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
  5. Once you are ready to cook the pork, melt the lard or butter and make sure to cover all the meat, rewrap the banana leaves and cover with foil.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven at 175 °C or 350 °F for 1½ hours, the meat has to be so soft that almost falls apart.
  7. Shred the meat with a fork and serve with the sauce and plenty of tortillas!

Sauce:

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1.    Mix all the ingredients and let them marinate for at least three hours.

Presentation:

Use a piece of banana leave to cover the bottom of a serving dish, place the Cochinita on top and garnish with some red onion or cilantro leaves.

Hints and tips:

Remember that habanero is an extremely hot chili, you need to warn your guests and let them add the sauce to taste, accompanied by corn tortillas.

One of the beauties of Cochinita Pibil is that is not only a very popular dish, but also the leftovers can be eaten in tacos, tortas, fried tacos and so on.

Also, some people prefer to cook the Cochinita in the slow cooker, which is possible by lining the cooker with the banana leaves. Then you need to pour ½ cup water around the meat, fold up the banana leaves to roughly cover everything, then turn on the slow-cooker.  Slow-cook for 6 hours until the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender (the dish can be held on a slow-cooker’s “keep warm” function for an additional 4 hours).

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Christmas Celebrations in Mexico: Posadas, Guadalupe-Reyes and Others!

If you are visiting or live in the Playa del Carmen area, be ready to have a different Christmas experience. Many celebrations are still attached to religious dates and traditions, some of them are similar to other countries and some others are very unique.

We have listed some of the holiday celebrations you will find in Mexico, and the meanings of the celebrations; so if you get invited to a Posada, or get the “Mono” in the King’s day bread you know what people are talking about.

Guadalupe- Reyes:

This is the name given to the festivities that surround Christmas: starting on the 12th of December celebrating the Virgin of Guadalupe and including Christmas, King’s day (January 6th) and for some people even Candlemas (February 2nd).

The Virgin of Guadalupe:

Christmas Celebrations in Mexico start with the festivities offered to the Virgin of Guadalupe on December 12th. The Virgin of Guadalupe is the Patron Saint of Mexico, and has millions of devoted followers, every year in the Riviera Maya you can see guys running or biking on the roads carrying her image.

In the city, you might see groups of people marching in the streets carrying the image of the virgin, and using fireworks before arriving to the church to pray and hear mass. These celebrations go for many days previous and after the 12th of December.

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Posadas:

Mexico celebrates Christmas with a variety of religious events, to commemorate the birth of baby Jesus and one of the most traditional is the Posadas.

Posadas starts on December 16th, and it commemorate the 9 day journey Joseph and Mary took to Belem. According to the tradition, Joseph, accompanied by his wife Mary, walked from the town of Nazareth in Belem to meet their tax obligations. Upon arrival, the Virgin was about to give birth, and they went to inns and homes asking for shelter. After being rejected many times, they took refuge in a barn where baby Jesus was finally born.

Posadas can come in any shape, from traditional style with the figures of Joseph and Mary being carried away from home to home, the traditional song asking for shelter and finally praying the rosary; followed with a party with food, drinks and a pinata.

If you have human contact of any sort, expect to be invited to many posadas a week; they can be organized by work, school institutions, and so on. Not surprisingly, people put on some extra pounds in this period!!!

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Cena de Navidad (Dec 24th):

One of the things that confuse foreigners the most is the fact that Mexicans celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve: there is a big dinner with friends and family, then presents are opened and everyone stays up late!

For dinner, Mexicans have traditional offerings such as: turkey, pork tenderloin, ham or they go for Mexican Christmas dishes such as: Bacalao, Romeritos or traditional Tamales.

Dia de Reyes (King’s Day, Jan 6th):

According to the Gospel of Matthew, the three wise men found the divine child by following a star across the desert for twelve days to Bethlehem. Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar — representing Europe, Arabia, and Africa respectively– travelled by horse, camel, and elephant in order to present baby Jesus with gifts.

In Mexico, this festivity closes the Guadalupe- Reyes period and it is celebrated by joining friends and family and sharing some “Rosca de Reyes”, a traditional bread that has dried fruit on top and a hidden figure of baby Jesus is baked inside. If you get the baby Jesus figurine, prepare yourself to offer a party with Tamales on El dia de la Candelaria!

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Dia de la Candelaria (Candlemas, Feb 2nd):

If you haven’t eaten enough by now, Candlemas brings one last celebration. The people that got the baby figurine in the Rosca de Reyes has to offer a party with Tamales and Atole, and the festivities are finally over!

Celebrating Christmas in Mexico can be surprisingly different or familiar, depending of your country of origin. What is important is keeping an open mind to enjoy everything the festivities have to offer.

Here at Top Mexico Real Estate, we hope you have a wonderful time! Happy Holidays!

Christmas Dinner: Catering Options in the Riviera Maya

For many, Christmas dinner means a long day of slaving away in the kitchen in order to share a beautiful dinner with friends and family. However, if you are not a big fan of cooking or would rather enjoy the festivities in other ways, there are plenty of catering services willing to do the hard work for you.

Catering companies throughout the Riviera Maya are willing to help you organize the Christmas dinner of your dreams. Think of how you would rather spend your day and what you would like to offer your guests without doing it all yourself: Christmas breakfast, brunch, traditional dinner, Mexican Dinner, cocktails, or whatever you may want.

Whether you have a small family affair or a big party, there are many options available to fit your needs.

Catering Options in the Riviera Maya: Advantages of Hiring a Caterer

Having a caterer can take a lot of the stress off your back. You can plan your Christmas dinner to perfection and know that the professionals will offer:

  1. Menu options: They can adapt to any social event: breakfast, lunch or dinner. The caterer will have a variety of menus that you can taste and choose from, to fit your specific needs.
  2. Flexibility: A caterer will work with you to offer special options for vegetarian or vegan guests as well as options to suit people with diabetes, celiac disease, gluten free, lactose intolerant, etc.
  3. Personalized pricing: You can set a budget and the caterer will work to make your dinner within that budget. No surprises!
  4. Stress- free dinner: Catering professionals will take care of everything allowing you to enjoy the food, the festivities and your guests.

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Catering Options in the Riviera Maya:  Christmas Dinner Menus

It is still early for planning, so there are not many options out there yet, but if you are spending Christmas in the Riviera Maya, you need to know that prices increase in many restaurants. Good places get booked quite early and you could end up with expensive dinners that are not as tasty.

Exploring options ahead of time will help you pick and order your dinner with plenty of time, and having a dinner at home will allow you to share with friends and family while relaxing and enjoying far from the crowds on 5th Avenue.

Some of the available catering services are:

Turtle Bay Cafe: Akumal

Located in the Center of Akumal

Plaza Ukana 1

Mx Telephone: 984-875-9138

US Telephone: 270-854-5392

Email: turtlebaycafe@gmail.com

Email: turtlebaycafe@me.com

Turtle Bay Cafe is one of our favorites; locals and visitors alike go to the Bakery to enjoy their delicious food, pastries and coffee. There are long lines early in the morning to get their traditional scones, and the place is always packed.

Located in Akumal, Turtle Bay has prepared a traditional menu for Christmas. They have the option to buy a breakfast or dinner menu and to pick it up on Christmas Eve between 4:00 and 6:00 pm.

You can see their menu below:

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City Club: Playa del Carmen & Cancun

Playa del Carmen Cancun
Carretera Federal Chetumal-Cancún Km. 2.3 #2100, Ejidal, 77712 Playa del Carmen, QROO01 984 803 9901 Ave. Andrés Quintana Roo S/N Km 39 Manzana 10 Lote 1, 77500 Cancún, QROO01 998 849 2604

This wholesale store is offering an attractive traditional menu, with sides and dessert for a reasonable price.

Choose a main course:

  • Roasted Turkey – $900 pesos @ $62 USD
  • Stuffed pork tenderloin – $570 pesos @ $ 39USD
  • Baked ham – $820 pesos @ $56 USD

Included side dishes:

  • 2 pounds of spaghetti with a choice of Bolognese, vegetarian or Alfredo sauce.
  • 2 pounds of mashed potatoes with mushrooms, 4 cheeses or plain.
  • 2 pounds of gravy: available flavorings of apricot, mushrooms or herbs.
  • One dessert: Tiramisu, strawberry dessert or apple pie
  • The turkey dinner also includes 2 pounds of mince stuffing

If you decide to have an extra dessert, they are offering a Christmas cake for only $115 pesos – that’s less than 10 USD.

In order to have your dinner ready from City Club, you need to order way ahead of time. So get on your phone and start dialing!

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These are just two of the many options for catering your Christmas dinner. As more local businesses keep publishing their Christmas menus, we will be posting them here for you to know.

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Christmas Shopping in the Riviera Maya: Organic, Natural and Locally Made

Christmas shopping in the Riviera Maya can be done traditionally – there are plenty of department stores, shopping malls and local shops, all ready to wrap your presents and full up those stockings. But what if you want to do something different this year? What if you want to give something organic, natural and locally made?

As a local company, here at Top Mexico Real Estate, we pride ourselves on supporting local business and artisans. So here are some suggestions on where to find alternative presents for all your loved ones.

Tianguis Organico y Natural – Tulum
The initiative:
Tianguis Organico y Natural Tulum was started this year by Aldea Zama, promoting the use of organic and natural products in the Tulum area. Their main objective is to support local producers by allowing them to reach the community with their products. If you visit this market, you can expect to meet more than 20 local producers and purchase directly from them, benefiting their families and the regional development.
The products:
The local producers bring natural products such as organic honey, melipona honey, seeds, embroidery and various crafts.

You can give personalized bottles of honey as a present. All you need to do is order a few bottles of organic honey and some personalized stickers; be it a family photo, a Christmas message or a funny quote. For 30 pesos you get an amazing personalized favor that everyone loves!

When: December 14th & 28th from 10:00 AM- 3:00PM
Where: Commercial area of ALDEA ZAMA
Info: www.facebook.com/pages/Tianguis-Organico-y-Natural-Tulum/283174418528353

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Tianguis Organico – Valladolid
The initiative:
This market is held the first Sunday of each month, right by the magnificent Convento San Bernardino de Siena. Here you can find local producers and organic farmers from the area and buy their products without intermediaries, supporting the community.

The products:
Amongst the articles you can find here are seeds, books, plants and natural cosmetics. The December edition will have a workshop where kids can make Christmas crafts and will raffle off baskets full of goodies!

Walk a short distance to the central plaza and you will find more artisans selling crafts for a really low price. Some favorites are: honey products and sub products, leather sandals, sisal bags and a lot of embroidered items.

Valladolid is a worthy destination for a weekend getaway; make sure to visit the plaza, the tianguis and the nearby haciendas and cenotes.

When: December 7th from 10:00 AM- 2:00PM
Where: Convent of San Bernardino de Sisal, Valladolid, Yucatan.
Info: www.facebook.com/pages/Tianguis-Org%C3%A1nico-Valladolid/418232944863588

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Possima Natural Beauty Products & Spa – Playa del Carmen
The initiative:
Possima is a local company that offers beauty products and services in the Riviera Maya. They offer a wide variety of natural, organic and biodegradable products; forget about harsh chemicals.

One of the beauties of Possima is that all of their face and body products are 100% customized for your specific needs. Karla, the owner, will ask questions about your skin, lifestyle, and habits and formulate a cleanser, tonic, serum or cream to fit you!

There is also a spa where you can get a relaxing massage, facial or get a specific treatment for problems such as varicose veins, cellulite, acne and many more.

The products:
Possima offers over 30 products: organic and natural shampoo, soaps, scrubs, massage candles, bath bombs, hair conditioner, keratin treatments and many more. They also have a line of customized face and body products.

A great idea is to purchase a gift card for a massage or a facial treatment. Can you think of a better gift for a stressed friend or loved one?

When: Monday-Saturday 11:00- 2:00 and 4:00- 9:00 (It is better to make an appointment)
Where: 21 street between 110-A and 110-B Forjadores Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Info: www.facebook.com/BKBiokare?fref=ts

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These are only a few of the many options you can find in the Riviera Maya area. There are many more local hardworking people making handcrafted gifts for you and the people you love.

Playa del Carmen has many huge, commercial chains, both foreign and national; what better way to invest your money than purchasing products directly from local producers and businesses?

Happy shopping and Happy Holidays from Top Mexico Real Estate!

Awaken the New Year with Yoga in the Riviera Maya

Every year, hundreds of visitors arrive to the Riviera Maya looking for the perfect getaway: tropical weather, sandy beaches and beautiful turquoise waters!  But there are some that look for something else, a combination between a relaxing holiday and the opportunity to deepen their Yoga practice.

Yoga is very popular all over the Riviera Maya, and hotels and specialized retreats cater to the needs of a growing number of tourists that look for yoga classes, specialized yoga retreats or even teacher training courses.

10 reasons to have your yoga getaway in the Riviera Maya!

There are many Yoga destinations, but something that makes the Riviera Maya so unique is the opportunity to mix your practice with marvelous experiences, such as:

  1. Explore ancient Mayan ruins.
  2. Enjoy the many beautiful beaches throughout the area.
  3. Experience the awe of swimming in an underground river.
  4. Go snorkeling, fishing or diving… you know you want to!
  5. Connect with nature, visit the many nature reserves in the area: Isla Contoy and Sian Ka’an are excellent natural havens.
  6. Wake up early and enjoy the wonderful sunrise.
  7. Look up to the starry night.
  8. Experience the sacred cenotes of the region.
  9. Escape the cold winter back home.
  10. Meditate on the beach.

And above all, experience and learn more about Yoga!!!

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A New Year of Yoga Retreats:

New Year’s Hot Bikram Yoga Retreat

Casa Om in Cancun

December 28th–January 3rd, 2015

Ring in the New Year and cleanse the soul at this hot Bikram Yoga Retreat. This retreat is an excellent way to take care of the mind and body after the busy holiday season and celebrate the New Year. Siri Om, the retreat instructor and owner of Casa Om, has a love for yoga that is effervescent and will inspire you to new heights in your practice. Casa Om is located directly across from the turquoise blue water of the Caribbean Sea. It features a swimming pool, koi pond, ten luxury bedrooms and a gourmet vegetarian kitchen with gluten free and vegan options. The one thing Casa Om suggests that you bring to the retreat is a spirit of adventure and an appetite for fun! Are you ready to ring in the New Year at Casa Om?

PACKAGES INCLUDE:

  • Accommodation (6nights)
  • Breakfast buffet daily
  • Four Gourmet dinners prepared by the exquisite Casa Om’s chef
  • Two yoga classes per day(hot room Bikram and Yoga on the pier overlooking the beach)
  • On-site swimming pool
  • Fun day in Playa del Carmen
  • Transportation to and from the Cancun International Airport

More information:

www.casaom.com

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Revive Your Vibe: Reset Your Mind, Body and Goals

Yoga Adventures of Tulum

January 6th-11th, 2015

Treat yourself to a yoga and meditation retreat in front of the Caribbean Sea with Adesina Dowers. What a great way to start off the New Year! This retreat will help you recoup from the busy hustle and bustle of the holidays and reset your mind and body while focusing your goals for the New Year. Tulum is a yoga paradise with tranquil, crystal clear waters, powdery white sand beaches, amazing yoga, great food, Mayan ruins, and healing powers rooted deep inside the earth. Start the day with an invigorating morning practice, enjoy healthy fresh meals, followed by free time to relax by the Caribbean Sea or explore the wonders of the area. Indulge in a fabulous Mayan spa treatment, cover yourself in Mexican clay to detox and purify your skin, meditate in the sun and then wash it away in the sea. Afternoon practice is a yin or restorative to wind down the day. You will reconnect and rejuvenate yourself in this amazing Mayan land.  You know you deserve it!

PACKAGES INCLUDE:

  • Accommodations of your choice (5 nights)
  • Breakfast daily
  • Delicious and healthy lunch daily
  • Two yoga classes per day
  • 90 minute healing massage
  • Group Mexican mud meditation in the sun
  • Welcome cleansing circle with local shaman

More information:

www.yogaadventurestulum.com

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Hot Yoga Teacher Training

La Calma Resort in Tulum

January 5th–February 1st, 2015

New Years has always been a time for making new resolutions and bettering yourself. If becoming a hot yoga teacher has always been one of your dreams, now is the time to set that goal and accomplish it. You can complete your yoga teacher training in paradise. Spend four weeks at the ideally spiritual La Calma resort and get your yoga teacher training certificate in a picture perfect location. Evolation hot yoga teacher training is a 250hr course focused on teaching the hot yoga Primary Series, originally defined by Bikram Choudhury. You will explore the essentials of yoga philosophy, anatomy and mechanics that underpin this sequence – in an inclusive and intimate training environment. You will also deepen your own yoga practice through intimate posture mechanics workshops, a variety of yoga classes and individual feedback. Are you ready to immerse yourself in an intensive 4 week yoga experience that will change your life?

More information:

www.evolationyoga.com

Are you ready to trade in the cold weather and frozen tundra for balmy weather and a tropical paradise? Balance your chakra in the New Year in the Riviera Maya.

12th Annual Riviera Maya Jazz Festival

The Riviera Maya Jazz Festival graced Playa del Carmen once again. Providing three great nights of FREE jazz music, the massive stage and impressive lighting that lit up the Caribbean sky and rivaled any concert that I have ever been to. It was setup on world famous Mamitas Beach, right on the beach. You heard me right, this beautiful jazz concert was held right on the beach under the stars.

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We met up with some friends, laid out our beach towels and got ready for the concert to start. Oh, and did I mention the picnic basket that we brought filled with beer, wine and snacks for the evening? But if you forgot to bring snacks there were venders selling hotdogs, hamburgers, tacos and BBQ, and, of course, there was a bar setup.

The stage was graced by jazz musicians such as Take Six, Chick Corea & The Vigil, Pat Metheny Unity Group, Kenny Garrett and Colin Hunter to name a few.

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I have never seen anything like it before.  The music was enjoyed by the little ones and old ones alike, everyone was having a great time and as the night went on the crowd kept growing and growing.

There is nothing like laying on the beach with the sand between your toes, looking at the stars and listening to the live jazz music fill the Caribbean air. What a beautiful night! Great jazz music on the beach with about 5,000 of my closest friends.

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Now, if you missed the Riviera Maya Jazz festival, be sure to add it to your calendar for next year!  It is such a wonderful time of year to come to the Riviera Maya, due to the beautiful weather and the variety of events happening during November such as the Jazz Festival, OHL Golf Classic, The Cancun Challenge and of course celebrating Thanksgiving beachfront!

This is certainly an exciting time of year in Playa del Carmen. The Riviera Maya Jazz Festival is the start of snowbird season here in the Riviera Maya and many expats will remain here in paradise until the end of winter, escaping those cold winter months. So mark your calendar and join us next year in paradise.

Swimming with the Turtles in Akumal

Swimming with the turtles in Akumal is a once in a lifetime experience you cannot miss. For centuries or even millennia, turtles have nested in the rocky shores of Akumal where the eggs are left to hatch and re-start the cycle of life.

The presence of this magnificent creatures probably impressed the ancient Mayans, who called this area in the coast, Akumal; “The Place of the Turtle.”

There are seven known species of turtles in the world, and all of them are endangered species; three of them can be seen at the Akumal beaches and two of them nest on the beaches of Akumal.

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Swimming with the Turtles in Akumal: Species found in the area

LOGGERHEAD TURTLES (Caretta caretta):

Adults weigh from 100–200 kg and grow to 1.15 m in length; this species feed primarily on shellfish such as crabs and snails. Nesting season is between April and July, and females nest 3–7 times every season, with approximately 120 round, white eggs in each nest.

GREEN TURTLES (Chelonia mydas):

Adults weigh between 100–250 kg and grow to 1.2 m in length, this species feeds primarily on sea grass. Nesting season is between June and September, and female nests from 3–7 times a year and each nest contains 120–150 round, white eggs.

HAWKSBILL TURTLE (Eretmochelys imbricata):

Adult hawksbill sea turtles weigh around 80 kg and have been known to grow up to 1 m in length, and this turtle’s favorite treat is toxic jellyfish. Please note that this species doesn’t breed in this area, but some specimens can be seen swimming in Akumal.

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Swimming with the Turtles in Akumal: Participate in the conservation effort!

Since its foundation in 1993, Centro Ecológico Akumal (CEA) has had one mission:  protect nesting sea turtles. CEA runs several programs and preserve the natural environment on the Akumal coast.

Their program is operated through a government-authorized management plan for the protection, conservation, research and management of sea turtles on four local beaches. CEA staff and volunteers patrol the beaches nightly to identify and protect nesting females, their nests and hatchlings.

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VOLUNTEERING:

Volunteers are always welcome, keep in mind this is a physical job that might take a toll on your body. Also the nesting and hatching of the turtles happen mostly during after dusk, so prepare yourself for some sleepless nights.

Volunteers must be willing to cover other educational and promotional positions, and speaking at least two languages is a requirement. Prior knowledge is not required, the volunteers have to have an enthusiastic and adventurous personality and be willing to adjust to a different environment and culture.

General Requirements for Volunteers:

  • Must be 21 years of age or older.
  • There is a selection process, not all applicants are accepted.
  • There is a 2 months minimal commitment to the program.
  • There is a monthly fee that helps cover for the program expenses. The cost is $200 USD (foreigners) or $100 USD (Mexicans). The payment is due one month before the start of the program.
  • A valid passport and visa or FM3 for the length of your stay is required.
  • It is your responsibility to ensure that you have all the recommended vaccinations.
  • You should have valid insurance for medical services.

Swimming with turtles in Akumal is a dream for many, but helping preserving the species and the environment is a life changing experience.

Here at Top Mexico Real Estate we pride ourselves on promoting local organizations working to preserve the beauty of the Mayan Riviera. Visit the Centro Ecologico Akumal (CEA) website at ceakumal.org to learn more about their programs or to make a donation.

We would like to thank Quetzal for sponsoring this blog. Quetzal is a new development in Bahia Principe. To learn more about Quetzal, please click here.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Mayan Riviera is an extension of paradise…and we give thanks for being here.
Our winters are mild, free of ice and cold…and we give thanks for living in a warm place…with warm people…surrounded by nature and smiles.
We give thanks for the beauty that surrounds us, and for the wanders we see every day.
We love the ocean and we love the jungle…and we give thanks for the place that we live in.
We give thanks for the opportunity to work together, because it is YOUR trust that allows us to be here.
Happy Thanksgiving from Top Mexico Real Estate

The Hunt for Lionfish

Lionfish hunting has increasingly become a very popular activity in the Riviera Maya since awareness about its danger to the ecosystem has risen. Since their mysterious introduction into Caribbean waters (hurricanes, shipwrecks and bored aquarium owners are suspected), these beautiful animals have reproduced at astonishing rates and have invaded the reefs. With no natural predators in the Riviera Maya, only humans are able to eliminate them and end the damage that these fish are doing to the ecosystem.
Nothing embodies the beauty and danger of the ocean as well as the lionfish. They are hypnotizing to look at, mesmerizing divers with their calm and beauty. But beware; they are as venomous as they are beautiful. While fatalities are rare, being stung by a lionfish can cause strong burning pains, swollen body areas and ugly-crying adults. However, in case of a sting, immediate medical treatment is required because, as mentioned before, they can be fatal.

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The lionfish is originally from the Pacific and Indian Ocean and is known to corner their pray with their astonishingly beautiful pectoral fins and swallow them whole. They consume almost 500,000 fish per acre, per year, in the Caribbean.
Reproduction can occur every four days, year-round, with females releasing approximately 2 million eggs per year. Although efforts are being made to control the increasing population, thousands of them are still swimming out there breaking the balance of the reef harmony.
Lionfish hunting has become a sport in smaller areas of the Riviera Maya, such as Akumal and Tulum, where hunting groups go out daily to hunt the invasive species. A rebound of the native fish populations has been noted in areas where hunters have maintained the lionfish kingdom at a low.

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Eating Lionfish

Considered a delicacy, and very rare to find, lionfish can be eaten when cooked and prepared properly. Remember, these are venomous animals and can still sting if not handled with care. The important part is to fillet them after detoxifying the fish, as Gynna Sainz, who owns Gynn’AK, a lionfish specialty restaurant in Akumal, says.
Lionfish can be cooked in any way, because, as Gynna puts it, “fish is fish!” A favorite dish is lionfish ceviche, lionfish tacos and lionfish sushi.

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Hunting Lionfish

Are you interested in helping conserve the balance of the ecosystem? While not everyone is eligible for lionfish hunting – knowledge of spear hunting is a big plus – you can join in on a hunting dive just to watch. Just ask at any local dive shop and they will give you the options! There are usually only one or two hunting dives weekly, but whatever you catch is yours to eat. Caught lionfish will be handed to a chef at a restaurant to cook for you.
So there you go! You can add this to your bucket list of one-of-a-kind activities to do at the Riviera Maya, while helping conservation efforts reboot the ecosystem!
You can eat lionfish here!