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Our beloved Riviera Maya is often referred to as Paradise. Although the Paradise we live in seems to be straight out of a dream: it is well and truly real.  Our delicate Paradise is fragile and must be protected; from us- by us.


Riviera Maya Sostenible along with the Fideicomiso de Promoción Turística (Tourism Board) and Banyan Tree Mayakoba invited BuyPlaya to attend a very special event in Chunyaxché (Muyil), a Mayan community located between Tulum and Felipe Carillo Puerto. (Oficially Muyil is an Ejido of the Felipe Carrillo Puerto Municipality that includes the biosphere reserve and many Mayan communities).

Riviera Maya Sostenible is an organization that promotes sustainable practices in our region. Their mission: fostering sustainable tourism as the main engine for local development, while preserving natural treasures, culture and local communities. They provide an intersecting platform that promotes seminars, conferences, process training and certification in sustainable strategies and solutions in the Riviera Maya.

Butterfly Conservatory, Community Tours Sian Kaan


Community Tours Sian Kaan, organizes activities and tours in Muyil and in the biosphere reserve of Sian Kaan.  They proudly introduced us to their latest project: a butterfly conservatory. This conservatory welcomes various species of whimsical butterflies as well as appropriate vegetation perfectly suited for their growth and reproduction. The Community Tours Sian Kaan's staff has been specially trained to take care of their new cohabitants and are ready to receive school groups and tourists for educational private tours at the Butterfly House.


As part of Greening Communities project, a Banyan Tree initiative, at least 12,000 trees are planted every year creating benefits to local communities, reducing the global warming impact. 25,395 trees have been planted since 2010.


Last week, Banyan Tree Mayakoba donated 2000 trees for the benefit of the Chunyaxché community, in order to contribute to the mitigation of human impact on the climate change in the Riviera Maya.


The Zona Maya; Solferino, Leona Vicario, Nuevo Durango, Chunyaxché and Coba, all traditional communities and natural paradises, has received a total of 12,000 fruit trees and trees for wood production from this community initiative. Each resident of these communities adopted a tree.  They were given the opportunity to choose the type of tree that was most suitable for the benefit of their land and their families.  These residents are now responsible for the care of these special trees in order to preserve the native species that promote the ecosystem's well-being.


A special selection of trees were chosen by experts in native flora for the donation: shade trees, fruit trees, flower trees and ornamental trees (Cedro, Zapote, Mamey, Guanabana, Cayumito, Maracuya, limon, flor de mayo, ramon, jabin etc.)



The conciliation of programs like Riviera Maya Sostenible, Banyan Tree Mayakoba, Unicaribe (University of Cancun) as well as Community Tours Sian Kaan are an important and critical support for the sustainability of the Riviera Maya and its communities.

BuyPlaya has been invited to go on a future familiarization trip to find out more about the impact these programs are making on our communities. 


We can't wait to witness the hidden treasures and beauties of our awe-inspiring paradise. Together, we as citizens of Paradise, can make a positive impact on our natural surroundings.






Andrea Ruiz Perron was born and raised in Montreal by a Mexican mother and a French Canadian father.  She studied cinema and photography in Argentina and Montreal, and has now been living in Playa del Carmen for a total of 6 years. Both her Mexican and Canadian roots are an important influence on her identity and how she perceives the world through her photography and writing as the content creator for BuyPlaya Real Estate Advisors www.buyplaya.com


Follow me on Instagram: http://instagram.com/andreita_ruiz/

On a hot day, under the sizzling Mexican Caribbean sun, facing one of the most sublime beaches of the world, local Playense-Canucks gathered to enjoy a very special event for Canada day, organized by the Playa Times and hosted/co-organized by the Blue Parrot.



A lovely set up of Canadian food including; Poutine, corn on the cob and Canadian sausages cooked on the grill was the perfect way to celebrate Canada and the Canadian locals here in Playa del Carmen. There was face painting for kids and adults along with other fun activities for the families. 


Poutine! A delicious Canadian tradition!  French Fries, cheese curds and special gravy!  Heaven in a dish!

Fun family activities for all the Playense-Canunks!

Tanya Papas, event and promotion coordinator for BPM

Many Canadian expats living in Playa del Carmen attended the well organized event where a networking session was set up for Canadian businesses to present their products and services. The Playa Times put together a number of kiosks where visitors could walk through and learn about the variety of Canadian owned companies located here in Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya.

Jason Waller and wife Sandra Perrier-Waller




This event was organized, in part, to raise funds for the local fire department.  Local fire fighters are mostly volunteers and the fire department receives very little government funding.  Huge thanks to the Blue Parrot and the Playa Times for reaching out to the local community and raising funds for this very necessary service!



Kudos to the Playa Times team who thought to get together the local Canadian community to commemorate Canada's 148th anniversary, in this paradise they now call home. The event was a wonderful success and hopefully this years event was the first annual of many, many more to come!


In traditional Canada Day fashion, this fun filled event ended on a high note with a live band, dancing and fireworks! Follow our events calendar to find out about more up coming events!








Andrea Ruiz Perron was born and raised in Montreal by a Mexican mother and a French Canadian father.  She studied cinema and photography in Argentina and Montreal, and has now been living in Playa del Carmen for a total of 6 years. Both her Mexican and Canadian roots are an important influence on her identity and how she perceives the world through her photography and writing as the Girl Friday for BuyPlaya Real Estate Advisors www.buyplaya.com


Follow me on Instagram: http://instagram.com/andreita_ruiz/


People often ask me what I miss the most from back home (Montreal, Canada).  I can truly say that I am happy here in this paradise called Playa del Carmen; however, a few things that I miss from the great white north come to my mind... I miss the snow at Christmas time and even more, I miss the Quebec tradition of spring: La Cabane à Sucre (Sugar Shack).


Source: www.bonjourquebec.com

During the springtime in Quebec, Canada people unite; families, group of friends, school children and work groups to visit various Cabane à Sucre all over the province and enjoy many traditional dishes complemented by natural maple syrup. Spring is the season, in Canada, when the sticky sweet sap is collected from maple trees and boiled into maple syrup. This traditional Canadian scene is white with snow and complete with horse-drawn sleighs, maple trees hanging shiny silver buckets, rustic cabins bursting with long wooden tables filled with people, laughter fills the air, children play and people celebrate the harvest of the maple with tons of food, drink and merriment


Source: www.lh5.ggpht.com

Mexlaw, a law firm owned and operated by licensed Canadian, American and Mexican lawyers here in Playa del Carmen, resolved to recreate this nostalgic moment, on our very own 5th Avenue in downtown Playa del Carmen. 




Metal containers filled with crushed ice were lined up and ready to receive some authentic and very hot maple syrup to simulate the maple taffy that is enjoyed during this celebration in Quebec.  The hot syrup is traditionally poured into bins of snow and children (and grown-up children too) roll the hot syrup around on the frozen snow with a stick until it turns into hard taffy. 






Many people, intrigued by the sound of the traditional Quebecois music and the sight of the succulent maple taffy, gathered near the tent, under the hot Caribbean sun to get a taste of this cold sweet treat.


It was an amazing and original idea to bring a little bit of Canadian springtime to Playa del Carmen!  Especially since the tourism Quebecois is particularly busy on our streets during the winter and spring months.  There will be more events like this that bring a little taste of Canada and Quebec to the Riviera Maya- stay tuned!


Andrea Ruiz Perron was born and raised in Montreal by a Mexican mother and a French Canadian father.  She studied cinema and photography in Argentina and Montreal, and has now been living in Playa del Carmen for a total of 6 years. Both her Mexican and Canadian roots are an important influence on her identity and how she perceives the world through her photography and writing as the Girl Friday for BuyPlaya Real Estate Advisors www.buyplaya.com


Follow me on Instagram: http://instagram.com/andreita_ruiz/



WAD (World Art Destinations) is an organization that was born in response to the growing need of new niches for the development of the art industry in the state of Quintana Roo, or anywhere else in Mexico that wishes to be recognized as an art destination. For the second year in a row, WAD is organizing the International Street Art Festival, which took place last year in Holbox and Isla Mujeres, and now hits the big city of Cancun from February 21 - 28, 2015.  


FIAP (Festival Internacional de Arte Publico) is an itinerant festival that uses a chosen environment to allow local artists and artists from around world to converge in the same space and interpret their vision of that environment through their own unique art.  The goal is to create a social identity and to help developing a growing art destination.


The Blue Parrot beach club in Playa del Carmen held a press conference last Friday February 6th to launch the 2nd edition of the FIAP.  The director of WAD, Jahaziel Soriano, presented the newest edition of this festival along with Ximena de Cordova PR for OVC (Cancun Convention & Visitors Bureau), Liz Rashell, art director for WAD, and Chikizz Ramone, local artist FIAP 2015.




This year, the festival welcomes 20 local Mexican artists and 10 international artists from various countries such as Japan (Yoh Nagao), New Zealand (Aaron Glasson), Canada (Jeremy Shantz, Jason Botkin, Kevin Ledo), Argentina (Lucas Parbo), Brazil (Narcelio Grud), Colombia (Ledania, Stinkfish), and USA (Spencer Keeton Cunningham).




The 30 artists will interpret their vision of the big city through murals (17), installations (14), graffiti (4) and urban public interventions (7). This amazing festival will take place in various locations throughout Cancun. You can access a map as well as the program on their website at http://www.wearewad.com/fiap-festival-internacional-de-arte-publico/





And of course, the BuyPlaya crew will happily be there to discover this wonderful and unique festival that will transform this city into colorful and amazing artwork!



Photo Credit: Andrea Ruiz Perron & WAD (World Art Destinations)






Andrea Ruiz Perron was born and raised in Montreal by a Mexican mother and a French Canadian father.  She studied cinema and photography in Argentina and Montreal, and has now been living in Playa del Carmen for a total of 6 years. Both her Mexican and Canadian roots are an important influence on her identity and how she perceives the world through her photography and writing as the Girl Friday for BuyPlaya Real Estate Advisors www.buyplaya.com


Follow me on Instagram: http://instagram.com/andreita_ruiz/

EZ Snorkel Akumal Bay Riviera Maya

Ez Snorkel has helped many people with limited mobility experience the wonders of the brightly colored sub-aquatic world here in the Mexican Caribbean.  The EZ Snorkel has also been used to inspire those who have tragically lost mobility and even a little girl that was about to undergo two years of surgeries to be able to walk for the first time in her 10 year-old-life.  This fantastic device has even been recently used to help local children lose their fear of the water and learn to swim in conjunction with the Hekab Be library in Akumal Bay.

EZ Snorkel Akumal Bay

Once again the EZ Snorkel has found yet another worthy application: conquering the fear of the water at Akumal Bay.  My parents have been coming to visit me in the Riviera Maya for years and have never been in the warm crystal waters of the Caribbean Sea past knee deep water. 

Snorkeling for EVERYONE

My mother never learned to swim (not for lack of trying) and my step-father has not spent much time in the ocean therefore I did not have the confidence the he could easily navigate the waves, possible undertow and the coral reef on his own.

EZ Snorkel Volunteer Team

Thanks to the EZ Snorkel team my family had an experience that opened their eyes to a whole new world!  My mother said, "I would have never ever been able to snorkel on my own, I saw things underwater that I had only ever seen on T.V.!"

EZ Snorkel Akumal Bay for everyone

The only payment that Guillermo, or Mister EZ Snorkel as I like to call him, asks is the priceless look of amazement, joy and awe that the peaceful sea turtles and other fascinating creatures of the underwater world inspire in those who use the EZ Snorkel.

EZ Snorkel making the impossible POSSIBLE

My step-father couldn't stop grinning as he told me about the many sea turtles, manta rays, and colorful fish he saw in the calm waters of Akumal Bay.

EZ Snorkel Riviera Maya

Akumal Bay EZ Snorkel

A true labor of love, the EZ Snorkel is still in the development stages and is working on getting a full time concession at Akumal Bay or Xpu-Ha Bay. 

EZ Snorkel for all ages and abilities

For now, the EZ Snorkel is available for use by appointment.  Since the concession is not fully established, the EZ Snorkel, as of yet, does not have a set price for it's use; it operates purely on the generous donations of those who appreciate the new found mobility and freedom to explore the turquoise water of the Mexican Caribbean Sea. 

EZ Snorkel Founder Guillermo

Guillermo, the founder of the EZ Snorkel has selflessly put his whole heart into this project.  He has spent countless hours working on the design of the EZ Snorkel, testing it, and making changes.  He has devoted himself to building programs in Xpu Ha Bay and Akumal Bay that focus on conservation and appreciation for nature.  His goal is to make programs that do not exclude anyone.  His focus on conquering mobility issues in the water is coupled with the sea turtle conservation programs he is working on in Akumal, Paa Muul, and Akumal.     

Akumal Dive Center

Thanks to the Akumal Dive Center, the EZ Snorkel has received the necessary support to open the underwater world to many grateful people who would have never had the opportunity without this device.  Akumal Dive Center has backed Gillermo and his marvelous invention since its inception.  Without their continued efforts to assist this project, the EZ Snorkel would not have inspired so many people and touched so many lives.

 Akumal BAY

The Akumal Dive Center and the many, many volunteers that give love, support and sweat to help carry, assemble and disassemble the EZ Snorkel equipment are integral.  Without their dedication and devotion, the EZ Snorkel would be beached.  This equipment was built with love and good intentions and these same ingredients allow it to operate on a donation only basis within Akumal and Xpu-Ha Bay.   

EZ Snorkel

Akumal is famous for the many sea turtles that come to graze the sea grass particular to this shallow bay area. 

Sea Turtles of Akumal

Akumal Bay Turtles

 Akumal Bay Riviera Maya

The easy to use design of the EZ Snorkel makes it perfect for use by people of all ages and abilities. 

Akumal Bay EZ Snorkel 

The EZ Snorkel has more applications to be explored and design features to streamline.  Guillermo is currently looking for investors to help get his product into mass production and to secure the concession licenses necessary to take the EZ Snorkel public.  If you are interested in taking this feel-good project to the next level or if you would like to try the EZ Snorkel, please email Guillermo directly at guillermo@ezsnorkel.com or check out the EZ Snorkel Facebook Page.

EZ Snorkel Akumal Bay Riviera Maya

Overcoming fear of the water, assistance for learning to swim, potential use in lifesaving, full mobility in the water for those with mobility issues; are just a few of the potential uses for this genius apparatus.  I eagerly look forward to the evolution of this device! 






Lisa Love JuliotLisa Love Juliot walked across the California, Mexico border with a backpack and the intent to travel all of Mexico and Central America.  Nine years later, her journeys continue throughout the Riviera Maya and Yucatan Peninsula.  She currently resides in Playa del Carmen and spends her time exploring this magical area.   She enjoys working for www.BuyPlaya.com, a local Playa del Carmen real estate company as the Social Media Community Manager.  A long time blogger and travel writer, sociologist at heart and amateur photographer she is enthusiastic about Mexico travel and culture.  Follow Lisa on Twitter, Facebook/BuyPlaya and Google+ to find out more about her adventures in the Mexican Caribbean and information about living in Playa del Carmen.



Around the holidays many of us, filled with the holiday spirit, are inspired to give.  We give presents to friends and family, bake for loved ones and neighbors, and even pass out trinkets to our office and classmates.  Some of us feel the holiday glow to the point of giving gifts to the mailman and garbage men.  Since we are already wrapped up in the spirit of giving it is easy to give to charities this time of year.  Some of us make donations to charities under the name of a loved one as a gift to them and some of us toss our pocket change into the red beat up bucket the Red Cross Santa clangs his rusty bell to call to our attention.  The holiday spirit invades all of us in some way, making it easy to give back to the community and share with the people around us. 

Ek Balam Pueblo Yucatan

Some amazing people carry this spirit of giving all year long.  Their hearts know no limits when it comes to helping others.  These are people for whom there is no season of giving.   

Ek Balam Entertainment

Welcome to the Mayan town of Ek Balam in the Mexican state of Yucatan.  It may be near impossible for you to imagine, as you read my words on your computer, tablet or smart phone, that this is the town's main source of entertainment.  A couple of dusty old counsel video games draw quite a crowd when one of the local children has a coin to play.  Maybe your children have Play Stations, Wii, Guitar Hero, Game Boys and who knows what other buzzing, beeping, chirping, noise making electronic games laying under beds, in the back seat of the car and constantly trapping your child's attention especially, when it's time to do chores or have family dinner.  I wonder if they could imagine what life is like in this small Mayan village.

Kids of Ek Balam Yucatan

Kids are kids, pretty much everywhere you go.  These children are carefree as they run and play with a soccer ball and kites made from plastic shopping bags and straws.  Peals of laughter echo through the town where children taunt each other, run, jump and yell. 

Children of Yucatan

It amazes me, how happy the children are to run and play when so many of them are hungry and burdened with hard work to help their families survive.  How can they be so light and carefree when they don't have shoes, or sufficient medical care, and there is never really enough to eat?  Being immersed in this quiet town gave me some time for introspection, how could I ever possibly be miserable in my life when I have food, shelter, a bed and luxuries such as a fabulous job, a computer, a car, a stove, a refrigerator, etc....

Ek Balam Pueblo

...and then it came to me; the joy is in the sharing.  These people in this village of 63 huts, some with dirt floors and some with cement walls, are a real community.  They pull together to share resources.  The men of the community pulled together to build the community school.   With the help of some wonderful local church groups and a high spirited group of missionaries from a church in Texas, money for building materials trickles in and the people of the town donate their sweat to adding on to the school little by little.  The Light House Church of Tulum and Playa del Carmen, in conjunction with their Texas sister church sends volunteers every few months to help with the construction project.

Ek Balam Mission Work

These people with no real connection to this town, or its people, give of their time, muscle and know how to make a brighter future for the children of Ek Balam. 

Ek Balam Mission Trip

Their spirit of giving is pure and simple. They see a need and without question they try to fill it.  Their joy is in sharing and giving.

Mission from Texas

This group of dedicated volunteers spends their vacation time identifying the needs of the town and doing what they can to help at least once a year.  I see many tourists out and about in my daily life here in the Riviera Maya, most of them are on their way to tour ancient Mayan ruins, go to eco-parks, and lounge with cocktails on the pristine white sand beaches of their all inclusive resorts.  This is what most of us identify as vacation. 


To these giving people, vacation is being eaten by mosquitoes while giving free health care to a village in the Yucatan.  They prefer to check children's coughs, teach the people of the village how to do regular blood checks to regulate diabetes, donate and organize medicines and maintain the small clinic they helped build on their previous vacations.

 Clinic Ek Balam

 Clinic Ek Balam

 Ek Balam Clinic

Some beautiful people have no season for giving, it is something they carry in their heart daily.  The joy of sharing with others and giving without expecting anything in return is a gift they give themselves.  They share the same secret smile to themselves as the carefree children of this small village.

  People Giving Back

 Big Hearts to Share

  People helping People

In this crazy world, where all of us are wrapped up in paying the bills, getting the kids to their activities, fixing the roof, fixing the car, buying groceries, getting the laundry done, getting to work on time, meeting project deadlines, and trying to find a space in between to just chillax... it is almost as amazing to me, that there are people that still find the time and generosity in their hearts to dedicate to the well being of others, as it is to witness people that have such an incredibly different style of life. 


How different would your life be if this were your family's only means of transportation?

Ek Balam Mission Trip


What would you lay awake at night worrying about if this is where you laid your head?

Ek Balam Yucatan

Ek Balam

 Could you count your blessings in your backyard?

Ek Balam


Can  you imagine cooking over a fire, the fruits of your land to feed your family?

 Ek Balam Pueblo


What would your hopes and dreams be for your future?  For the future of your children?  

Ek Balam Pueblo 


What "help" would you feel you needed?  Or would be willing to accept?

Yucatan Pueblos


The beautiful, strong and united people of the village of Ek Balam are a filled with smiles. 

Ek Balam Pueblo 

They live a life so different from ours that it is difficult for us to understand.

Ek Balam 

The women make hammocks to sell and the men tend to the community plot of land where corn and squash are planted.  A few of the villagers work at the nearby archeological site of Ek Balam, as guides, or as dancers, performing their modern interpretation of  ancient Mayan dances for the tourists that arrive on tour buses.

Ek Balam  

These people are not lazy. They work from sun up to sun down tending to gardens, chickens, turkeys and goats, hunting fire wood and the occasional rabbit, patching holes on the thatched roof of their homes and doing what they can to eek out a life for themselves and their families.

They do not have access to higher education.  They do not have skills to go to bigger cities and "get jobs".  They get very, very little help from their government. 

And yet these people have so much to share...

People of Ek Balam

The smiling people of this town spent hours to prepare a meal for those of us that came with the doctors that donated their services.   

 Ek Balam Tamales

The women milled corn the men had tended to for months and made a simple masa, which they then filled with chicken and vegetables from their own gardens.  They wrapped this mixture in banana leaves and passed them to the men.  Meanwhile, the men were busy digging a hole and filling it with a raging fire to be used as an underground oven.  

cooking in Ek Balam

The fire burned into hot embers and then the men carefully laid out the tamales and gourds to be cooked.  The fire pit is then covered with sticks and green brush wood to insulate the fire and keep it hot as long as possible.  

 Underground Oven

Then, it is covered with earth and left to cook for a couple of hours.

Underground Oven

When it is later uncovered. its steaming hot contents are carefully removed.

Working in Ek Balam


Ek Balam  

Cooking in Ek Balam 

Tamales en Ek Balam

I'll be honest, I sometimes can not be bothered to make a frozen pizza for guests, let alone spend the entire day and the majority of my resources to fill the stomachs of strangers who generally have better nutrition than I could imagine.  The ability these people have to share, and to receive strikes awe in me.  


This simple meal, shared; changed the way I see these towns as I drive through the Riviera Maya and the Yucatan.

Ek Balam  

I no longer see heartbreaking poverty in these towns, I see the riches they share and receive.  I see the richness of happy smiles, even in the face of adversity.  I see the strength of the families and the love that binds this community to strive for survival.  I see the poverty in my own rich life; the lack of sharing and heartfelt joy of helping.  I see so many ways that my own life could be enriched by following the example of the people in this village: not only the people that live in the small town of Ek Balam, but also the people that dedicate time, money, and skills to share in making a better future for this town.        

Flora y Fauna Ek Balam 

There is much knowledge to be gained in these Yucatan towns.  The elders of the communities are the proud guardians of a culture almost lost.  The beautiful melody of the Mayan language that is slowly being filled with more and more Spanish and English words, yet refuses to vanish completely.  The lost art of natural healing and living in harmony with the nature of the dense jungle that crowds in on these tiny towns, soon to be lost to modern ways.  This simple lifestyle, so far remote from our daily lives that it seems impossible,could easily fill us with pity for those that "suffer". 


I, instead, choose to be inspired by the incredible strength of the human spirit.  I choose to be utterly thankful for the conveniences that I am so fortunate to have in my life.  I am inspired to smile, in spite of whatever difficulty I may face, knowing that my difficulties in many ways are small in comparison to those that face hunger. 

I am truly inspired by those who spend their vacation helping a tiny jungle town.  And I am reminded, that life is about what I do. 


 Give Back

There is no season for giving and there is no season for need. 

Donations of used clothes, shoes, toys, money, school supplies medications, and our time and skills are always in demand.  There are many organizations that work tirelessly year round to collect for and help towns like Ek Balam throughout the Riviera Maya.

You can give yourself the gift of sharing, regardless of the season!  Contact Amigos Network, KISS, Christmas Dreams Playa, and The Light House Church to find out what you can do to help. 

You can also take advantage of your holiday giving spirit and participate in some of the many local holiday drives, like this one organized by FurnitureMex, BuyPlaya and Amigos Network.

 Kicks For Kids Shoe Drive








Lisa Love JuliotLisa Love Juliot walked across the California, Mexico border with a backpack and the intent to travel all of Mexico and Central America.  Nine years later, her journeys continue throughout the Riviera Maya and Yucatan Peninsula.  She currently resides in Playa del Carmen and spends her time exploring this magical area.   She enjoys working for www.BuyPlaya.com, a local Playa del Carmen real estate company as the Social Media Community Manager.  A long time blogger and travel writer, sociologist at heart and amateur photographer she is enthusiastic about Mexico travel and culture.  Follow Lisa on Twitter, Facebook/BuyPlaya and Google+ to find out more about her adventures in the Mexican Caribbean and information about living in Playa del Carmen.


The first and official end of season report for the Xpu Ha Turtle Monitoring Program has been released by project leader, Guillermo Camareno.  This year, Guillermo met with the President of the Quintana Roo Turtle Association and another state run turtle association group and made plans to maintain communication and updates on the turtle conservation efforts on the local, state, and federal levels so that all organizations will become informed about the statistics and well-being of turtle populations all over the country.


Guillermo reports that the government in Mexico are pushing to protect the turtles by enforcing strict laws and policies for operating turtle nurseries in Quintana Roo and eventually along all of Mexico's coasts.

Here are the final 2013 Marine Turtle numbers for Xpu Ha, Quintana Roo

Total nests: 277
Total eggs: 30,739
Turtles released: 27,338
Green turtles: 215
Loggerheads turtles: 62
Total eggs in nursery: 10,209
Nursery turtle hatch rate : 93%
Nursery turtle release: 90%


Mexico's Caribbean coast is making health a priority, even on the beach!

San Martin Beach, located on the pristine island of Cozumel, is the first beach in Mexico to be declared "tobacco-free".

The World Health Organization (WHO) was in charge of writing up the declaration making San Martin Beach the very first public Mexican beach to be free of cigarette smoke. Currently in Latin America, there are only three beaches with this smoking restriction, and only five in the entire world. This new Cozumel law means a huge step forward for Mexico and the Mexican Caribbean in public health and environmental preservation.

Cozumel sunset 

"Declaring San Martin Beach as the first tobacco smoke-free beach in the country parts the waters for public health and environmental preservation. We hope to establish an important role model for Mexico and the Americas to replicate their own version", stated Carlos Gamez Espinosa, WHO Consultant for Mexico.

With this Cozumel law, nearly one mile of beach will be 100% free of tobacco smoke, with 12 signs placed at the beach to inform tourists and make sure they follow the new law.

Cozumel received $64,000 pesos in funding as support for the certification and for preservation.


In 2007 a vision was made a reality by then, 9 year old Felix Finkbeiner in Germany after studying the effects of global warming on the planet at his school.  Felix immediately was interested in the subject and brainstormed with his friends on how they could help and make a difference. Inspired by Wangari Maathai, who was responsible for the planting of 30 million trees in Africa, Felix presented his peers the idea of Plant for the Planet, where kids could plant one million trees in each country of the world to create a CO2 balance worldwide. 

Presently, around 100,000 kids all over the world have jumped on board to pursue this goal, including the students of Escuela Comunitaria Cristo Rey, who gathered on Saturday with recently-elected municipal President Mauricio Gongora Escalente, to join in the cause and start planting on Playa del Carmen's Avenida Constituyentes. 


Hundreds of Playenses gathered on Saturday to support the cause and catch a glimpse of President Gongora in action with the community's children.  I had the priveledge of meeting founder Felix's father, Frithjof Finkbeiner, of the Foundation Council of Plant for the Planet.  His pride for the cause that his son created was obvious and he too has committed his time to helping his son carry out his dream while school is in session and he is unable to travel to each location.

He gave me a copy of the book that Felix and his friends wrote, Tree By Tree, that describes how the goal started and their vision for the future and how to carry out their plan to save the environment. Copies of the book can be purchased online in seven different languages on the Plant for the Planet website.

One student of Cristo Rey opened the event by welcoming President Gongora and showing his support of the cause with the now gone-viral, world-renowned slogan, "Stop talking. Start planting."


For more information about Plant for the Planet or how you or your organization can get involved or donate to the cause, please visit their website or email info@plant-for-the-planet.org.


Erin Eller, language teacher- turned Expat from Texas, moved to Playa del Carmen in 2010 to pursue her goal of studying abroad and immersion of another culture.  Now she works in social media and marketing for Buy Playa and spends her free time on the boat with her husband and their local fishing and snorkeling charter Pezcaribe Ocean Adventure Tours.  Along with her beloved adopted canine, Benji, she also writes about her experiences and adventures as an Expat in Playa del Carmen in her blog, Chronicles of a Street Dog. 


September 30 at 10 am, candidate Mauricio Góngora Escalante was sworn in as the new Municipal President of Solidaridad. The ceremony was held at Plaza 28 de Julio in the city of Playa del Carmen as Góngora began his 2013 - 2016 term.

Mauricio Gongora Solidaridad 

More than 5,000 citizens were present as Góngora was sworn in, including Roberto Borge Angulo (Governor of the state of Quintana Roo), José Luis Toledo (President of the State Congress Commission), and Fidel Villanueva Rivero (President of the Superior Tribunal of Justice). Gongora's wife, children, brothers and parents were also there to show their support.

Mauricio Gongora Solidaridad 

Mauricio Gongora Solidaridad 

 Góngora's speech included several promises to the Solidaridad community, including:

  • Resolve the recent trash collection problem
  • Increase lighting in public areas
  • Improvements in all Solidaridad schools
  • Support for women, education, health and sports

He finished his speech with, "I don't want to go down in Solidaridad history as the Municipal President who promised and didn't fulfill... it's time to transform Solidaridad."

Mauricio Gongora Solidaridad 

At the end of the ceremony, Solidaridad Municipal President Mauricio Góngora Escalante held his first private session where he presented his recommendations for several government positions (all of which were approved):

  • Secretary General: Juan Carlos Pereyra Escudero
  • Municipal Accountant: María Margarita Brito Segura
  • General Director of Public Safety, Transit and Firefighters: Rodolfo del Ángel Campos
  • Municipal Treasurer: Gabriel Castro Cárdenas
  • Director of Revenue: Horacio de Jesús Coral Aguilar
  • Director of Expenses: Felipe de Jesús Castillo Mezeta


No matter if Playa del Carmen is your vacation home, part-time residence or full-time residence.  If you are an expat, you are no stranger to frequent travel!

Here are 5 QUICK tips for expat travelers to not forget, especially for frequent flyers!

Playa del Carmen Expat Travel

1. Arrive early and don't push plane connection times. We've all been victim to hour and a half long lines through immigration and picking up luggage. It doesn't matter how many times you've flown back and forth, you can never anticipate waiting times at airports.


Playa del Carmen Travel Mexico 

2. Pack in advance and check the weight of your luggage before arriving at the airport. Baggage fees for overweight luggage of 50 pounds or more can be up to $200 per bag. Most homes don't have an industrial scale installed, of course, so a good way to check ahead is to stand on a scale while holding your bag and subtract your own weight from the scale.


Travel to Mexico 

3. Make sure your immigration info is up to date and you are aware of your status. Whether you are a "stay-cationer" or full-time Expat, living and working in Mexico, be sure you know the dates on your tourist or work visa. The last thing you want is a surprise trip into the Migra office at the airport!


Traveling to Mexico 

4. Be germ free!  Be sure to use wash your hands frequently while traveling.  Airplanes, airports and taxi cabs are filled with germs! 



Playa del Carmen Expat Travel 

5. Dress in layers. Be prepared for AC set at penguin friendly levels on the airplane and to get off the plane ready for shorts and tank tops. Don't forget that traveling during winter months usually means going from one extreme to the other where weather is concerned.

The breathtaking beaches of the Riviera Maya, Mexico call out to the camper in many of us! Even if you hated family camping trips as a kid, you might very well fall in love with beach camping here in the Mexican Caribbean. Spend a perfect day on the beach framed by the sun rising and setting!  Enjoy the changing palate of colors over the bright turquoise ocean and sparkling white sand beach that you can call home for the whole time you are camping!  


Check out the TOP FIVE PLACES TO CAMP IN THE RIVIERA MAYA, MEXICO and decide for yourself if camping has a new appeal for you!




  • Located only 15 minutes south of Playa del Carmen
  • Cost- $100 pesos a person per tent
  • 24 hour security
  • Bathrooms and Showers- good condition

Paa Mul Campground Riviera Maya

Paa Mul is well marked and very easy to find. Head South of from Playa del Carmen on the Federal Highway and you will see the sign for Paa Mul on your left!  You can even hitch a ride with one of the Combis or Colectivos that the locals use to get to travel the length of the Riviera Maya.

There is a small store at the entrance where you can pick up any supplies you may need.   Paa Mul also has cabañas for rent and a hotel, just in case you decide you can´t make it through the night in your tent!! 

Paa Mul Riviera Maya 

Paa Mul bay has great snorkeling!!  There is equipment rental available and snorkel tours and SCUBA tours are available as well. 

Riviera Maya Beach

Paa Mul is a beautiful bay area with rocky beach and lots of sandy spots.  It is usually quiet and is a wonderful place to spend the day.

Riviera Maya Mexico Beach Camping 

There is also a restaurant with a lovely swimming pool right on the bay- who says you have to eat yucky food you cooked yourself over a bad campfire!?  Live it up with delicious fresh seafood from the restaurant!!  



 #4- XPU-HA

  • Located 20 minutes South of Playa del Carmen
  • Public facilities, bathrooms and showers- fair/OK
  • $150 pesos per person per tent
  • 24 hour security

Xpu-Ha Riviera Maya Mexico

An easy drive from Playa del Carmen and easily accessible by bus or Colectivo, Xpu Ha bay is home to many some fabulous beach clubs and is famous for the Kite-Surfing School located on this gorgeous tranquil bay. 

Camping Xpu-Ha Riviera Maya Mexico 

Xpu Ha has a couple of beach clubs to choose from along with restaurants and plenty of water-sports and beach activities available.  Parasailing, Kite-Surfing, snorkeling, and SCUBA are some of the more popular activities available.

  Xpu-Ha Beach Riviera Maya Mexico

The wide beach and  powder soft  sand make Xpu Ha a haven for sea turtles.  If you are lucky enough to find yourself here for sea turtle season, you can volunteer to help the sea turtle conservation group of Xpu Ha on their nightly turtle walk and release baby sea turtles into the Caribbean Sea.  

Camping Mexican Riviera Maya

The calm water and powder soft sand make Xpu Ha bay the perfect beach for families to enjoy and make for excellent beach camping.




  • Location south of Akumal past Chan Chemuyil
  • Great for Gatherings
  • Cabañas, tent camping or rent the teepee- tent camping $100 pesos per camper per tent and cabañas start at $250 pesos a night.
  • Kitchen, bathrooms, showers- very well maintained 
  • Contact Don Renzo for more info cavelands@hotmail.com

Camping Riviera Maya Jungle 

Cavelands is located on the jungle side of the federal highway.  Just past Akumal, the turn off is the same as for Chan Chemuyil (a small residential community).  Cavelands is more challenging to find and is for campers who have a good sense of adventure and a car!!  You could take a colectivo or the Mayab bus line and get dropped off on the side of the highway but the hot trek to the campground is more than your average camper is up for, to say the least! 

Jungle Camping Riviera Maya Mexico 

Cavelands is located on a cenote route.  There are caves and water holes all along this jungle stretch of unpaved road.  Cavelands, true to its name has caves and even a cenote tucked away on the many acres of jungle land available for campers to wander freely. 

Jungle Camping Riviera Maya 

This is a fantastic place to have a major event!  There is plenty of space for parties with a huge campfire area and an enormous teepee for rent as well.  Looking for that perfect place to host a live band and have a serious camping fiesta?  Cavelands very well could be the place for you!!

Cavelands Campground

Jamie is the year ´round caretaker.  He is a wonderful, friendly little man!  Buddy up to him and he will help you with anything you may need to live it up in the jungle! 



  • WAY OFF the beaten path
  • Dubious Facilities
  • $100 pesos per person per tent per night
  • Located South of Akumal before Tulum
  • 24 hour security

Tankah Bay Riviera Maya  

Soliman bay is BY FAR the most breathtakingly gorgeous beach. This is camping for the truly hardcore.  It is not actually a campground, rather the end of the road, tiny beach restaurant palapa where the owner will let you camp if you wish to do so. 


Riviera Maya Mexico Beach Camping

To get there, go south of Akumal to Soliman bay.  Follow the signs on the Highway for Oscar and Lalo´s and head towards the ocean.  You will come to a gated residence.  Tell the guard at the entrance that you want to camp overnight at the restaurant at the end of the road.  He will certainly smile and wave you through, telling you that if you need anything during the night there is always a guard on duty.


Tankah Bay Camping 

If you want to live the experience of having the whole beach to yourself, Soliman Bay is for you!  There are a homes leading up to the restaurant, but the rest of the point is deserted.  There is sure to be no electricity and perhaps not even bathroom privileges after the restaurant closes for the day but if you are a TRUE lover of nature and wish to commune with the beach, then you will LOVE the solitary camping experience that Soliman Bay can provide.


 #1- Tulum 

  • Located just south of the Tulum Archeological Zone
  • Canbañas or tent camping available
  • $100 pesos per camper per tent
  • Cabañas start at $400 pesos a night
  • Bathrooms are passable

Tulum Camping Mexican Caribbean  

Tulum is the all around favorite place to camp in the Riviera Maya for ease, comfort, price and beach quality.  Campgrounds come and go along the road that follows the ocean to the Tulum Archeological zone, but this particular campground has been there for years and will continue for many more to come to be sure.  This campground area is referred to as Zazil Kin, and Playa Pescadores.  It is easy enough to find as it is just a hop skip before the back entrance to the ruins from the road that runs along the beach. 


Riviera Maya Tulum

Snorkeling tours and kite-surfing along with parasailing and many other water-sports are available on this gorgeous wide stretch of sparkling white beach at very reasonable prices.

Camping Tulum Mexico  

Tulum has all of the restaurants, grocery stores and conveniences that you could possibly need for your beach camping adventures.  Tulum is also a very laid-back, friendly, hippie-dippie, bike-riding and hitching rides kind of town.  There is a bus terminal in Tulum so transportation is simple.  There are also an ample supply of taxis and bicycles for rent to help you move about.

Tulum Beach Camping 

In Tulum you can enjoy chilaxin' on the beach, meeting new friends at one of the local watering holes in town, climbing ancient ruins, participating in water-sports or just taking it all in while contemplating the sunrise.


All in all, whether you choose to camp out, stay in a rustic cabaña, sleep in a hammock hung between two palm trees, live it up in an eco-chic boutique hotel cabaña, or stay at a sprawling all inclusive beach resort in the Riviera Maya-- 

There is no wrong way to beach it!! 






Lisa Love JuliotLisa Love Juliot walked across the California, Mexico border with a backpack and the intent to travel all of Mexico and Central America.  Eight years later, her journeys continue throughout the Riviera Maya and Yucatan Peninsula.  She currently resides in Playa del Carmen and spends her time exploring this magical area.   She enjoys working for BuyPlaya, a local Playa del Carmen real estate company as the Social Media Community Manager.  A long time blogger and travel writer, sociologist at heart and amateur photographer she is enthusiastic about Mexico travel and culture.  Follow Lisa on Twitter, Facebook/BuyPlaya and Google+ to find out more about her adventures, events in the Mexican Caribbean and information about living in Playa del Carmen.






Deep in the jungles of the state of Quintana Roo lies a lesser-known Mayan city: Cobá. While this archaeological site doesn't have the renown of Chichen Itzá or Tulum, it's one of the largest ancient Mayan cities yet discovered and has the tallest Mayan pyramid in the Yucatan Peninsula. Cobá is located about 25 miles inland from the city of Tulum, and once covered over 30 square miles.

Coba Nohoch Mul pyramid sacbe 

The city's original name remains unknown, but archaeologist Eric Thompson discovered that the city's name was Kinchil Cobá as of the 1930s. Cobá has several possible translations, including "place of the rough water", "abundant water" and "water of the chachalaca bird". The city was built around two lagoons, Cobá and Macanxoc. Sacbes (white Mayan pathways) once led residents between the city's different plazas. The site has two ball courts along with several of the largest ancient Mayan pyramids, including Nohoch Mul, the tallest Mayan pyramid in the Yucatan Peninsula at 137 feet high.

Coba Nohoch Mul pyramid 

Coba Nohoch Mul pyramid 

The history of Cobá dates all the way back to 200 BC or possibly earlier, although little evidence remains of this era because buildings were constructed of wood and palm atop small stone platforms. Most of what remains of Cobá today was built from 500 to 900 AD and still remains in beautiful condition. For many centuries, this city had control over immense lands with extensive farming land and impressive trade routes with about 60,000 residents, and didn't lose power until the rise of Chichen Itzá around 1000 AD. By the time the Spanish conquistadors reached the Yucatan Peninsula in the 1500s, Cobá was already uninhabited.

Coba Mayan ball court 

Coba pyramid 

Today, Cobá has become a popular site for day trips out of Cancun and the Riviera Maya. Visitors love exploring the vast city on rented bikes, and the 120 steps of Nohoch Mul pyramid are open for climbing.

Coba sacbe 

It looks like the Yucatan Peninsula's ancient Mayan cities have finally begun to catch up with the modern world. Two of the region's largest archaeological sites, Chichen Itza and Uxmal, have charged two separate entrance fees at each site, meaning that visitors had to wait in two different lines to pay before being allowed access into the ancient cities. The two fees covered:

  • Research and conservation costs of pre-Columbian cities for INAH, Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History.
  • Cultural preservation costs for the State Treasury

Now, Mexico officials say that Chichen Itza and Uxmal will both begin to charge both fees in a single line, increasing efficiency and speeding up the entry process for locals and tourists who wish to explore these popular Mayan ruins.

Today, the archaeological site of Chichen Itza stands as the most internationally famous piece of heritage from Mayan history due to its beautifully preserved structures, large city size and fascinating astronomical characteristics relating to the Mayan calendar. Dating back nearly 2,000 years, it receives about 1.2 million tourists every single year, especially during the Spring Equinox when thousands of travelers spend the day around El Castillo pyramid to see a shadow in the shape of a serpent slither down the main stairs.

Chichen Itza Mayan city 

The ancient city of Uxmal holds less fame than Chichen Itza, but many travelers claim it's a better site to visit. Its main attraction is the immense Magician's Pyramid at 115 feet tall, unique in the Mayan world due to its steep staircase and rounded design. Visitors are drawn to Uxmal for its eye-catching architecture and elaborate carvings, creating a beautiful place for a day exploring the jungles of Yucatan, Mexico.

Uxmal ancient Mayan city 

The changes to the entry process at Chichen Itza and Uxmal are most welcome as Mexico strives to become a more efficient travel destination.



Laura Winfree


Originally from Virginia, Laura Winfree moved south of the border in 2005 to major in tourism at La Salle University Cancun. Today, she works as a copy writer for a local travel agency in addition to freelance blogging, writing and translating. Laura writes about her life as an expat in Mexico at http://gringationcancun.com and http://www.facebook.com/gringationcancun. Nightclubs and weekly beach trips are her favorite part of living in Cancun!


FAST WALKING along the powder-soft white sands, in the dead of night, at a speed nearly impossible to keep up with, we meet, Guillermo the turtle Whisperer of Xpu-Ha.  Originally from Guadalajara, Mexico, Guillermo spent most of his life in the United States in California and Texas.  Thankfully for the turtles of the Riviera Maya, he returned to Mexico about 2 1/2 years ago looking to connect with his roots and help the community.

Turtle Whisperer Guillermo

Guillermo found himself in Akumal.  He saw the great work that CEA- Centro Ecologico Akumal was doing with sea turtle conservation and he asked to join them as a volunteer.  The rest is history. 

 Turtles in Xpu Ha Riviera Maya Mexico

About 3 months ago, Guillermo brought his conservation skills to Xpu-Ha sponsored in part by Animo A.C.  with the support of Armando Lorences-Camargo, president of the Turtle Association of Quintana Roo.  (Get more information about Animo HERE or follow them on facebook)

Their shared vision is simple, to work in harmony with others to educate and further improve the co-existence between humans and nature, with the two main goals being the conservation of marine turtles and bringing the EZ Snorkel system to Xpu-Ha to assist those who are disabled or have special needs get into the water and witness the incredibly rich sub-aquatic world of the Mexican Caribbean. 

Protected Turtle Nests Xpu Ha

With the help of a few dedicated volunteers, Guillermo has collected and protected the eggs from over 100 nests.  The land that Animo and Guillermo have set aside for relocating turtle nests is already so full that it needs to be expanded. 

Logger Head Turtles Xpu Ha Riviera Maya 

He and his few volunteers have been working steadily to educate the residents and business owners along the shores of Xpu-Ha about the conservation of the two magnificent species of turtles that nest here yearly. 

The Logger Head and Green Turtle, would be mothers, are easily confused by bright lights (for this reason only red lights are used by the volunteers) and if there are too many people around they can get scared off, back into the ocean.  Often these mothers are able to return to a different spot on the beach to lay, but sometimes they need extra help. 

This turtle season so far, Guillermo has already helped several, "Special Needs Turtles", those who are missing a part of a flipper or have other issues, to dig their nests and lay their eggs.  This has been an incredible experience for Guillermo, he explained, "it is as if the turtle is aware of our presence and is accepting of our assistance." 

Guillermo Turtle Whisperer 

The area locals now contact Guillermo and his helpers when a turtle is spotted nesting on the beach.  He and his team hurry out to the site to asses the situation.  If the turtle needs assistance they help it to dig or cover the eggs or reorient itself back to the ocean.

Xpu Ha Riviera Maya

If a turtle lays its eggs in a place that has too much tourist traffic or if the nest is not built properly, the eggs are collected and relocated to the protected nest site.

Turtle Whisperer Xpu Ha

Guillermo and his assistants collect the turtle eggs,

Building Turtle Nests in Xpu Ha Riviera Maya 

and build a nest as close to the depth and size that a mommy turtle would build as possible,

 Turtle Nest Xpu Ha

The nest is then marked with the date the nest wast built, the number of eggs in the nest, the type of turtles, and the expected hatching date.  

Turtle Nests Riviera Maya Mexico

The nests that do not require relocation are marked at the scene so they can be monitored.

Xpu Ha Turtles Riviera Maya Mexico 

As of now the program has no way of marking the turtles for study.  Guillermo photographs each turtle, measures it and makes notation as to any distinguishing marks it may have that will help him track these turtles in the years to come.

Xpu Ha Turtle Conservation

These beautiful  creatures, so gracefully soar in the ocean and on land are heavy and awkward.  It is absolutely awe-striking to watch these gentle giants lay their precious eggs.  It almost does not seem possible that they could dig a hole deep enough to fit 100 or so eggs, let alone bury it. 

Turtle Laying

This mother Logger Head turtle strained to lay her 115 eggs.  Watch this MIRACLE of new life begin HERE!!! 

Turtles Xpu Ha

The thick sound of, THUAP, THUAP, resounds in the air and sand sprays as the mother turtle, already exhausted from the monumental effort of the journey up the beach and digging the nest, begins the arduous task of covering the eggs. 

The mother turtle ventures back into the ocean and within approximately 60 days, baby turtles begin to emerge from their nest. 

 Baby Turtles!
Here we see the first baby turtle to hatch from one of the relocated nests this season. 

From this nest 83 eggs were relocated, 81 turtles were hatched and two eggs were left in the nest for possible hatching.  This relocated nest could very well have a 100% hatch rate- this is more than exciting news for turtle conservation programs!

These numbers are crucial to any relocation program.

It is estimated that nests left on site have a hatching rate of about 92% hatching.  Once the nest is relocated they have about an 85% hatching rate if all goes well.  For the Turtle Whisperer of Xpu-Ha to achieve a 100% hatching rate is downright AMAZING. 

Baby Turtles Heading to the Ocean

For this program to continue and to grow, it needs help from people like YOU! 

Volunteers Needed 

If you are interested in VOLUNTEERING TO PROTECT THE MARINE TURTLES OF XPU-HA please contact Guillermo Camarena <guillermo@ezsnorkel.com> or look for him on facebook

Even if you can't volunteer, you can still help! DONATIONS ARE NEEDED in the form of money, backpacks, permanent markers, note pads, red lights and stakes to mark the nests.   

You can make a donation right now at PayPal animo-oneworld@gmx.de or contact Guillermo to donate your time or durable goods.


"Be The Difference You Want To See In The World" ~ Mahatma Gandhi






Lisa Love JuliotLisa Love Juliot walked across the California, Mexico border with a backpack and the intent to travel all of Mexico and Central America.  Eight years later, her journeys continue throughout the Riviera Maya and Yucatan Peninsula.  She currently resides in Playa del Carmen and spends her time exploring this magical area.   She enjoys working for BuyPlaya, a local Playa del Carmen real estate company as the Social Media Community Manager.  A long time blogger and travel writer, sociologist at heart and amateur photographer she is enthusiastic about Mexico travel and culture.  Follow Lisa on Twitter, Facebook/BuyPlaya and Google+ to find out more about her adventures, events in the Mexican Caribbean and information about living in Playa del Carmen.



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