Laughs Had by All, the Akumal Comedy Festival

For the fourth consecutive year Akumal hosted the Akumal Comedy Festival. The event was started by Dan Schlissel founder of Stand Up! Records and Grammy award winning producer and the late Gus Lynch a former celebrity comedian and actor. They started the festival to showcase rising stand-up comedy stars outside of the U.S. as well as the people, restaurants, and businesses of the area.

The Akumal Comedy Festival, 10 show, 7 venues in three city’s over 5 days. All for a good cause.

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The Akumal Comedy Festival supports the Red Cross of Mexico. The Red Cross in Mexico different than in other countries, they operate without any financial assistance from the government. Each chapter is responsible for its own fundraising, and relies entirely on the generosity of donors and the dedication of their volunteers. They operate without charge, offering lifesaving medical treatment to anyone who needs it, and are a lifeline to many of the local poor communities.  All of the proceeds from the festival go to the Red Cross Playa del Carmen and Tulum chapters.

I happen to attend the Friday night show in Akumal Center at the Grateful Dead Stage. At the beginning of the show the host announced that they had already surpassed their fundraisers goal of 150,000 MXN, which was double last year’s efforts. He stated that before tonight show started the Akumal Comedy Festival had already raised 165,000 MXN and that they were only halfway through the festivals events.

The beautiful evening started out with a musical comedy duo. The couple set the stage for the evenings event, singing funny songs about their significant others, work and the area.

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The night was hosted by local Craig Norton. Craig was one of the founding members of Comedy Below Sea Level, a local comedy troop that keeps the community laughing year round. Craig, an expat from Canada joked about what it was like to live in Mexico and how different it is from Canada.

Next to take the stage was Colleen Doyle Justice. Colleen has a unique perspective on the ordinary. This was her first debut at the Akumal Comedy Festival. Colleen was a riot telling somewhat inappropriate jokes about her family. Justice also shared with the audience that her mother was worried about her traveling to “lawless Mexico” alone, making her text every day that she hadn’t been murdered yet. The other day she text her mother that she had been murdered. I know that you are thinking but don’t worry, later that day she text that she was only kidding.

The evening ended with headliner Tommy Ryman. Tommy was a semifinalist on NBC’s Last Comic Standing and was very funny. Tommy a some-what needy gentlemen, told jokes about how he brought 19 bottle of 3oz. sunscreen (legal allowed by airport security) and how Mexico doesn’t need to sell oil, they have high priced sunscreen for sale. He also told the audience that he knows everything about being married because he has been married for two years now and if you need any advice he’s here to help.

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I evening was enjoyed by all. Everybody who attended had some laughs for a good cause.

If you missed the comedy festival this year don’t worry there is always next year. But if you are look for something to do this month remember the Riviera Maya film Festival starts this week April 23rd – 29th in Playa del Carmen. The Riviera Maya Film Festival is completely free, showing films in English and Spanish on gorgeous locations like the white sandy beaches, and in the movie theaters. Additional, there are several awards ceremonies during the week with Hollywood celebrity’s in attendance.

Tipping in Mexico: 5 Things You Need to Know!

Mexico is a beautiful country full of diverse landscapes, a rich cultural heritage and prideful people. One of the things that stand out to many visitors is the joy by which Mexicans live their day to day lives, always with a smile on their face. This is evident when it comes to the staff working in customer service. You will often receive excellent service in Mexico that exceeds your expectations and that is when the question arises…

When and how much should I tip in Mexico?

There are the traditional tips we all give to waiters, bartenders and hotel maids, but there are also many other situations unique to Mexico where a tips are welcome, and it’s important for travelers or foreigners living in Mexico to know about these customs.

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  1. Restaurants and Bars: If you eating at a taco cart where one person is serving, cooking and charging you for the food it is not necessary to tip. If you are dining at a small business and there is a person who brings food to your table and takes care of you, you should leave at least a10% tip based on consumption. If you are dining in a fine dining establishment the tip should be at least 15% and if you receive exceptional service you might want to leave a 20% tip. Many restaurants in Mexico pay their server’s minimum wage and the server share their tips with the other staff members such as the bartenders, kitchen and cleaning crew. Tipping really makes the difference for these people and their families.

2.    Gas Station Attendant: In Mexico, all gas stations have full service attendants, meaning you will never have to pump your own gas again. Many of the attendants work on a voluntary basis and they depend on your tips to survive. For a regular service of filling your car with gas and cleaning your windshield, you can tip 5 pesos, if you need additional services such as checking the oil or the air in your tires, or vacuuming out the inside of your car, a 15 – 20 pesos tip is adequate.

3.    Groceries Bagger: This is another example of voluntary work, where school child or elderly people bag your groceries. If you are buying just a few items it is normal to leave a couple pesos. If you’re doing your weekly shopping you should tip between 5 and 10 pesos and if you need help carrying stuff to your car or to load something, you should tip between 20 – 50 pesos; depending on the size and weight of items.

4.    Musicians: While this is not mandatory to tip musicians at a bar or restaurant, you can leave a tip to show them that you appreciate them and enjoyed their music! Again many of the musicians survive only on the tips they are given.

5.    Outstanding Job: If someone exceeds your expectations and they were particularly helpful or just made your day, it is important to recognize their service and offer a tip. Many times they will insists on not taking your money, you can always say: para tu refresco, which means for a soda, this usually shuts the discussion down and the person graciously accepts the money.

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Mexico is very different from other parts of the world and many foreigners are not aware of the costumes and ways here. We hope this has answered all of your tipping questions and helps you get around in Mexico.

Cost of living Riviera Maya -vs- other popular retirement destinations in America.

People from all over the world are choosing Mexico as a retirement destination. More than a million foreigners live permanently in Mexico, and about 50,000 snowbirds spend part of the year in this beautiful country.

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We have covered in other blogs the many benefits that Mexico offers its expats: easy straightforward immigration policies, cheap medical bills, warm weather and beautiful settings. But there is also another reason, the lower cost of living in Mexico.

Living in Mexico can reduce your bills dramatically, but do not take our word on it; let the numbers speak for themselves. We have selected three top retirement spots in America and two cities in the Yucatan Peninsula, to do a cost of living comparison on everyday items and services.

*The Lowest values are marked in gree

Phoenix, AZ Miami, FL Tampa, FL Playa del Carmen Merida, Yucatan
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant 11.50 13.00 10.00 4.10 5.29
Meal for 2, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-course 43.50 60.00 50.00 32.42 20.48
McMeal at McDonalds (or Equivalent Combo Meal) 6.00 6.62 7.00 4.61 5.46
Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught) 3.25 3.72 3.50 1.71 1.37
Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle) 5.00 4.48 5.00 2.73 2.25
Cappuccino (regular) 3.61 3.34 3.66 2.18 2.44
Coke/Pepsi (0.33 liter bottle) 1.48 1.61 1.59 1.02 0.74
Water (0.33 liter bottle) 1.23 1.32 1.10 1.15 0.55
Milk (regular), (1 liter) 0.75 1.03 1.05 0.96 0.98
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g) 2.29 2.59 2.40 1.73 1.54
Rice (white), (1kg) 3.18 2.44 2.83 0.68 1.06
Eggs (12) 2.20 2.63 2.28 1.17 1.59
Local Cheese (1kg) 7.80 9.96 11.83 4.44 6.37
Chicken Breasts (Boneless, Skinless), (1kg) 5.84 8.49 7.38 5.12 6.46
Apples (1kg) 3.43 4.03 4.00 2.01 2.00
Oranges (1kg) 4.41 3.13 4.05 0.78 3.04
Tomato (1kg) 3.20 3.73 3.90 0.78 1.06
Potato (1kg) 2.46 2.70 2.40 1.13 1.18
Lettuce (1 head) 1.21 1.63 1.80 0.96 0.61
Water (1.5 liter bottle) 1.82 2.13 1.64 0.92 0.75
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) 12.00 12.00 11.00 7.17 6.14
Domestic Beer (0.5 liter bottle) 2.50 3.80 2.13 0.80 1.16
Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle) 2.08 4.62 3.07 1.54 1.18
Pack of Cigarettes (Marlboro) 7.50 7.00 6.38 3.41 3.41
One-way Ticket (Local Transport) 2.12 2.25 2.00 0.48 0.48
Monthly Pass (Regular Price) 64.00 113.75 60.00 N/A N/A
Taxi Start (Normal Tariff) 3.00 2.50 2.50 1.88 1.37
Taxi 1km (Normal Tariff) 1.38 1.49 1.00 1.37 0.55
Taxi 1hour Waiting (Normal Tariff) 32.50 20.00 25.00 10.24 10.24
Gasoline (1 liter) 0.91 0.97 0.92 0.85 0.85
Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline (Or Equivalent New Car) 20,000.00 19,000.00 21,500.00 13,310.31 12,969.02
Utilities (Monthly)
Basic (Electricity, Heating, Water, Garbage) for 85m2 Apartment 173.60 173.54 150.31 91.30 133.10
1 min. of Prepaid Mobile Tariff Local (No Discounts or Plans) 0.12 0.25 0.13 0.11 0.24
Internet (6 Mbps, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL) 49.38 48.42 47.22 22.17 25.04
Sports And Leisure
Fitness Club, Monthly Fee for 1 Adult 35.83 38.89 36.00 47.10 22.75
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend) 10.00 19.50 16.67 17.06 11.95
Cinema, International Release, 1 Seat 9.88 12.00 11.00 3.92 4.78
Clothing And Shoes
1 Pair of Jeans (Levis 501 Or Similar) 39.17 37.00 39.00 56.31 43.69
1 Summer Dress in a Chain Store (Zara, H&M, …) 21.33 57.86 33.71 20.48 59.16
1 Pair of Nike Shoes 67.00 78.33 75.44 75.08 64.85
1 Pair of Men Leather Shoes 70.00 80.83 79.25 40.95 52.33
Rent Per Month
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre 833.33 1,609.29 885.00 477.81 204.77
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre 723.89 1,050.00 693.18 196.24 153.58
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre 1,334.00 2,850.00 1,466.67 1,185.98 420.92
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre 1,156.75 1,819.50 1,186.36 477.81 477.81
Buy Apartment Price
Price per Square Meter to Buy Apartment in City Centre 1,829.86 3,632.82 1,345.49 728.09 648.45
Price per Square Meter to Buy Apartment Outside of Centre 1,453.13 1,795.49 1,184.03 750.84 614.32
Salaries And Financing
Average Monthly Disposable Salary (After Tax) 2,767.86 3,151.83 2,834.99 739.46 418.65
Mortgage Interest Rate in Percentages (%), Yearly 4.35 4.35 4.89 9.00 11.50
Source: Numbeo

As you can see in this cost of living comparison, the cost of living in Mexico is much lower. Even if you decide to spend only part of the year in Mexico, your pension or savings will surely stretch further!

If you have ever dreamed of retiring in Mexico, please feel free to browse our beautiful properties! We have modern condos, retirement communities, beachfront homes, jungle cabanas…. whatever you can dream of!

Our professional and certified real estate agents have the expertise and credentials to help you become a homeowner in Mexico.

And remember, here at Top Mexico Real Estate…

We make it happen!

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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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 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.

ViDAS Gives Back In Playa Del Carmen

ViDAS held its Annual Sterilization Campaign in Playa del Carmen this week. ViDAS the Spanish word for lives, is a non-profit organization made up of Veterinarians, veterinary students and other animal lovers dedicated to improving the lives of animals and people through veterinary medicine and education.

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ViDAS conducted its first clinic in 2002 with only six veterinary students and two veterinarians. The five day clinic managed to safely sterilize 100 cats and dogs. ViDAS founding members were veterinary students of Colorado State University. Through Dr. Ruth Parkin, one of the founding member’s tireless efforts, ViDAS has grown since that very first clinic in 2002. ViDAS has sterilized over 11,500 animals in over eight different cities around the Yucatan Peninsula.

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The six day Annual ViDAS clinic in Playa del Carmen boasted almost 100 volunteers, and around 30 of those volunteers traveled all the way from the United States to aid this great cause. The contribution of many organizations like IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) and local Coco’s Cat Rescue helped to make this week long event a success. It was a record breaking week, ViDAS sterilized around 1,600 cats and dogs.

At the clinic cats and dogs are kept separate to not add stress to the cats. The surgery takes about 15 minutes and then the animal are moved into the first recovery room where they recover from the anesthesia. Then the cat or dog is moved into the second recovery room were their family can join them to provide comfort and aid in their recovery.

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The ViDAS clinic is so important to Playa del Carmen because not only does it aid in decreasing the overpopulation of cats and dogs through sterilization but ViDAS also provides much needed education to the community.
ViDAS is constantly working toward their goal: to become more productive and effective at each clinic, to educate locals about the problems and solutions to pet overpopulation and to work with local veterinarians and municipalities on sustainable and humane solutions to overpopulation.
Coco’s Cat Rescue is a local non-profit organization with a no kill policy and is dedicated to reducing the population of unwanted pets in Playa del Carmen. Coco’s Cat Rescue has many project such as offering low cost or free sterilization on a daily basis to pets, street and rescued animals. NETWORK; “Mexico’s Leading Network of Specialists for Finding and Purchasing Mexican Properties Safely!”

Mexico Preconstruction Condo Kit

Life around Xel-Ha Park – Being Part of an Eco-Friendly Community Pays Off!

It’s no secret that Riviera Maya is the closest thing to Paradise! There’s no doubt or question of that, and there’s also no room for doubt that we, as its inhabitants are the ones with the power to change it for better or for the worse. Having said that, I am very happy to say that I am particularly aware of the nature and special environment that my family and I live in and  do my best to keep my mind and actions as eco-friendly as possible.

I’ve never disguise my preference for this park (as well as all the other parks belonging to the Experiencias Xcaret group) for different reasons. I love the fact that you can spend all day enjoying the inlet with many water activities, eat delicious food, learn about the delicate eco-system existing within the area and snorkeling in the water’s larger natural aquarium.

Xel-Ha De Oro; environmental sustainability for visitors and the community!

Last Saturday was an exceptionally special day for Xel-Ha Park as well as the Tulum and Chemuyil community.

We were invited to the press conference in which the park was being awarded with the EarthCheck Gold Certification for its environmental policies and efforts in this natural reserve.  There we we also learned about the work that they have been doing with the neighborhood community of Chemuyil.

It is necessary and worth mentioning that Xel Ha first attained the EarthCheck Silver Certification in 2009, being the first park in the world to have ever to gotten this kind of recognition.  They have steadily maintained this status for 5 years which has driven them to achieve this new level of Gold Certification.

The most valuable asset to this event was not only the scenery (which of course is to die for) but the tour around the village of Chemuyil, to the parks recycling center and the plant nursery.

In Chemuyil, the outstanding efforts include a baseball field, a library and a clean façade program in which Xel-Ha gives away the painting materials and colors, and Chemuyil’s residents make a compromise to keeping their homes clean and spotless façades.

For me, the library was one of the biggest hits because as a result of the educational efforts, all of the community residents are alphabetized. Isn’t it wonderful?!

Keeping it clean and green!

The recycling center was a revelation to everyone on the tour because basically, about a 75% of the disposable waste generated within the park is actually recyclable (they call it “Valuable Material”). The entire Xel Ha family and the Chemuyil community are involved in these programs as well. At the plant nursery, about 50,000 plants are planted every month and then transported to different places around the country.

Maintaining this beautiful place is not a business, it is a true labor of love for the beauty and nature surrounding us. There are generations of families working at the park for more than 15 years now, from fathers to sons and nieces and nephews; everyone’s involved.

Why is this so cool?

Xel-Ha Park is located between two of the most tight and eco-friendly communities in Riviera Maya, which are Akumal to the north and Tulum to the southern end. Both are strong and its residents are pretty much hands-on with environmental issues, whether is with the different sea turtle conservation programs or community wellness centers.

So, if you happen to be living in Tulum and want to watch the programs and community efforts done by Xel-Ha nearby, just do your homework and research and get in touch with any of the non-profit organizations they support or look for others within the area. Let´s keep our home as the natural wonder that it is!

-By Bea Lozano

Beach Thursday in Riviera Maya– We are all Xcacel Lovers!

The Riviera Maya is a place best known for its incredibly clear waters; in some places it is almost impossible to determine how many shades of blue are visible! The Riviera Maya sand is so soft and powdery that it stirs through your toes almost like water.

One of those Riviera Maya beaches is Xcacel; which is not only breathtakingly beautiful but also one of the most important nesting spots for sea turtles.

I can’t help but go almost every I time can, after some 35 minutes driving south from Playa del Carmen, in a kind of “hidden” entrance between mangroves. After entering you drive for about 3 more minutes until you reach a security stand where the keepers will come and meet you and tell you some basic facts about Xcacel.

TOP Facts you need to know about Xcacel-Xcacelito!

In case you didn´t know, these are the TOP 4 facts you will learn as soon as you enter Xcacel-Xcacelito Sanctuary:

  1. It was designated as the Xcacel-Xcacelito Sea Turtle Sanctuary in 1998.
  2. Its total area is about 365 hectares that combine 3 different ecosystems; which are beach, mangrove and cenote (sinkhole).
  3. The Xcacel-Xcacelito sanctuary has a wide and long beach, sand dunes, an open cenote, mangroves and great wildlife diversity.
  4. There´s a “Turtle Camp” with volunteers run by the ecological organization Flora, Fauna y Cultura that´s been operating for the last 10 years on site.

Once you pass the entrance and park your car, take a walk on top a sand dune and what you will find will astound you; everywhere you look is a wide and white sandy beach, filled vegetation, indescribable shades of turquoise and blue, a few families or groups of young people setting up their umbrellas or looking for a shade underneath a palm tree, walking along the beach, swimming, jumping from wave to wave, taking pictures… and many endless and wonderful beach scenes.

The purity of diving in a Cenote next to the beach

After you set your camp and go for a swim, it is worth to take a short walk to the cenote; you will cross a wooden bridge and pass throughout the mangrove until you get to the cool and clear waters of this sinkhole. For those who are not fond of that salty sticky feeling on the skin, take a dip here to cool off, these waters will make your skin feel softer than ever, trust me!

There are also a few spots within the cenote where you can just sit on a mangrove branch or the wooden dock and let the fish do their job, a way of pedicure which you can find at spas in Playa del Carmen and other cities of the world but in its natural environment! If you are the kind of person who is very ticklish, then try to stay out the fishes way, if not, you´re in for a treat and it won´t cost you a thing!

I wish I could stay longer but sometimes it’s just time to leave!

After a long day of sun bathing, swimming, taking long walks to explore, having fun with the kids and taking pictures with your waterproof camera, around 4:30 to 5 in the afternoon it is time to leave! The beach closes around 5:30 to public and all that remains is a few keepers and the Sea Turtle Conservation program volunteers.

It is extremely important that you bring with you the following items: organic sunscreen and mosquito repellent, enough water, snacks, fruits or sandwiches, and last but not least, garbage bags so you can leave the place as clean as you found it; remember, this is a place where for a few months every year, 2 species of sea turtles come to lay their eggs; so let´s keep it safe for these amazing creatures.

So, if you –like me- live close enough, take a short drive from Playa del Carmen or Tulum and you are ready for a full day of pure fun, feeling blessed and thankful for the life you´ve got, come on over and become a Xcacel Lover yourself.

-By Bea Lozano

Xcaret Turtle Release and Conservation Program – A Community Effort with Outstanding Rewards!

The Riviera Maya is invested in nature and ecology!  Residents and local organizations work hard every day to help protect the natural environment and amazing wildlife surrounding us.  After all, conservation and care is contributes to preserving the beauty that we all love about the Riviera Maya.

One of the biggest efforts that takes place all throughout the Riviera Maya is the protection of the sea turtles.  This past Monday Xcaret Park held its first sea turtle release of the season sending off the baby turtles to arrive into their natural habitat in the beautiful Caribbean Sea.

We were very excited to be a part of this event which takes place at different points throughout the year! These beautiful marine turtles are truly exceptional creatures!

Who came to witness the Sea turtle release at Xcaret?

There was an incredible turn out of attendance to witness or volunteer for the Xcaret Sea turtle release. Xcaret encourages locals and nearby Playa del Carmen neighborhoods to get involved, volunteer, and help support these efforts of conserving sea life.

The children from the “Ninos del Mar” school were invited to watch the release and also learn about how being eco-conscious, recycling and conservation help to save the life of the sea turtles and all their natural surroundings.  Great lesson if you ask me!  If you see firsthand how your actions make an impression you are much more likely to remain conscious of it now and in the future.

Some Facts about the Sea turtle release and conservation in the Riviera Maya

Xcaret released two sea turtle species which arrived from Xcacel beach to Xcaret! The two particular species, the green turtle and loggerhead turtle, are two of the four specials that arrive to Quintana Roo each year.  There seven different species of sea turtles around the world and six of them make way to the coast of Mexico.

As part of the Marine Turtle Conservation Program in the Riviera Maya, turtles are rescued, rehabilitated and then released into their natural environment in the wide open sea.

The time of the release is carefully planned to take place in the late morning-mid day hours to make way for the turtles to have a safe return to the ocean.  Since the biggest sea predator for the turtles are sharks the operation is done way before dawn before the sharks feed in the evening.

What happens to the Sea turtles after they are released from Xcaret?

Unfortunately, despite incredible efforts made to protect these wonderful beings, only one out of every 1000 sea turtles will reach adulthood.  This is due to various reasons including sea predators or human interference.

But the good news is that these efforts do contribute to a beautiful life for the surviving turtles.  Since the turtles are tagged at release, the Xcaret released Sea turtles have been identified all over the Caribbean in places like Miami, The Bahamas and Cuba.  These amazing creatures make their way far beyond what we can imagine and live a beautiful life.

Interestingly enough the females which were released will find their way back home in 15 years when they are ready to nest.  Pretty cool huh?

Saving the turtles is a combined community effort in the Riviera Maya

I would like to stress a major point about the Xcaret Sea turtle release program.  This is a wide community effort.  Xcaret asks the entire community to get involved and become an active part of saving the wildlife and preserving natural life in the Riviera Maya.

In 2012 Xcaret was the first private park ever to be featured in National Geographic Magazine for their efforts in protecting, caring for and releasing the sea turtles giving an even bigger visibility!

If you are living in Playa del Carmen or are thinking about moving to the Playa del Carmen neighborhood discover all the ways you can get involved.  It truly doesn’t take much to save a life!

-By Bea Lozano

Living in Akumal – Make a Child Smile this Holiday Season!

Do you love to get into the holiday spirit by giving?  If you are living in Akumal or traveling to the Riviera Maya area this holiday season, you might be interested to hear about a great opportunity to spread some love and cheer for children in Akumal this Christmas!

We got a lot of questions from clients and visitors who ask about how they can contribute or volunteer in the local Mexican communities.  There are constant initiatives and ways to get involved including special efforts like this one to make sure all children have a little something for Christmas!

Among the many volunteer organizations in the Riviera Maya, who are working hard this season to create lasting Christmas memories for children living in the Riviera Maya, we would like to highlight the efforts of those at the Hekab Be Biblioteca (library) in Akumal!

This year, you can purchase a special Christmas ornament with a child’s name on it for 20 US dollars or 200 pesos!  The money that you use to purchase the ornament will ultimately be used to sponsor a Christmas gift, for the child whose name you have chosen!

Participating is beyond easy!

If you are living in Akumal, you can purchase your ornament in person at the Turtle Bay Bakery and Café.  If you are not in town yet, don’t worry, you can make your sponsorship online anytime, from anywhere!

Santa Clause is coming to town!

The most exciting part for the kids, is that each gift will be hand delivered by Santa at a special Christmas party being held on December 21st at the Hakab Be Library.  The event is open to all who wants to join and see the smiling shining faces on the children receiving gifts!

This is truly a rewarding gesture to partake in!  There are numerous organizations, such as this one, all over the world making children’s holiday wishes come true!  Most times we look to contribute in places that are close to our hearts!

There are many Canadians and Americans living in Akumal, and in the whole Riviera Maya, that feel just as much as home here, as in their countries of origin; therefore they look to help and be a part of the community in any way they can.

There are numerous ways to stay active and involved in the community.  Follow our blog for updates and news on volunteering throughout the year!

-By Bea Lozano

Cenotes Are a Natural Wonder – So Let’s Protect Them!

If you’ve ever been to a cenote here in the Yucatan Peninsula, you won’t hesitate to call these beautiful, natural pools of water a natural wonder.  I have no idea if they have that distinction “officially,” but they sure should.

In case you don’t know about them, cenotes are naturally-occuring pools of water which form in sink-holes opening up to the water table; they connect to the area’s vast network of underground caves and rivers.  They are wonderful for snorkeling, swimming and even diving.

One point about cenotes that many people don’t know about is that they are also a sensitive eco-system; besides the plant and animal life within them, water from cenotes can also make its way to the Caribbean Sea and impact the equally sensitive coral reef ecosystem.
Many parks have rules posted, like no using sunscreen or insect repellant because these can harm the life inside the cenote.

Thankfully, the effort to protect these beautiful phenomena is going to the next level with Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) now producing a document and education program to teach property owners what steps to take to protect themselves and the cenote’s ecosystem.

Here’s an excerpt from an article on INAH’s website:

“In order to strengthen the protection and conservation of the region’s cultural, archaeological, historical and paleontological heritage specialists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) created a statutory provision for the proper use of the cenotes, caves and underground of the Yucatan Peninsula.

“Archaeologist Antonio Huitron, director of INAH Site Operations, said the document will serve to educate the owners and users of caves and cenotes.  It will present the actions to be followed to safeguard and care for them, as well as legal restrictions from various levels of government.”

(Source, in Spanish)
The article also notes that there will be obligatory registration of cenotes so that they can be recorded in the Public Registry of Monuments and Archaeological Sites for protection.

While the article does not specify exactly which rules will be in the document and education program, let’s hope that the program helps to improve the protection of this natural wonder!

For more information on eco-friendly areas and activities click here!

-by Thomas Lloyd
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