The Akumalian

Akumal's Newsletter for its Extended Global Community
Quintana Roo, Mexico

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September A 2006 Issue 43


There is so much going on in September and October that I had a Board meeting, and I came to a unanimous Executive Decision that there had to be two issues of The Akumalian in September.  This is the first one, and it comes just about two weeks after the August issue, and the second one will come out about the "usual" date of mid-month.

As promised in August, this issue has an extensive Trip Report on Isla Holbox and swimming with the whale sharks.  It probably is the longest single story in the history of The Akumalian, but it answers a lot of questions relative to a trip to Holbox to swim with the whale sharks, and the story has been complimented by a number of photos.  There is still time to "swim with the whale sharks".


full moonFull Harvest Moon - September 7  This is the full Moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox.  In two years out of three, the Harvest Moon comes in September, but in some years it occurs in October.  At the peak of harvest, farmers can work late into the night by the light of this Moon.  Usually the full Moon rises an average of 50 minutes later each night, but for the few nights around the Harvest Moon, the Moon seems to rise at nearly the same time each night.



The impetus for a National Grandparents Day originated with Marian McQuade, a housewife in Fayette County, West Virginia.  Her primary motivation was to champion the cause of lonely elderly in nursing homes.  She also hoped to persuade grand children to tap the wisdom and heritage their grandparents could provide.

President Jimmy Carter, in 1978, proclaimed that National Grandparents Day would be celebrated every year on the first Sunday after Labor Day. 


Labor Day is a United States federal holiday that takes place on the first Monday of September; i.e. September 3rd.

The origins of the American Labor Day can be traced back to the Knights of Labor in the United States and a parade organized by them on September 5, 1882 in New York City.  They were inspired by an annual labor parade held in Toronto, Canada.  In 1884 another parade was held, and the Knights passed resolutions to make this an annual event.  Other labor organizations (and there were many), but notably the affiliates of the International Workingmen's Association favored a May 1 holiday.  With the event of Chicago's Haymarket riots in early May of 1886, president Grover Cleveland believed that a May 1 holiday could become an opportunity to commemorate the riots - May 1st is also the high holy day of communism or Marxism.  Thus, fearing that it might strengthen the socialist movement, he quickly moved in 1887 to support the position of the Knights of Labor and their date for Labor Day.

Labor Day has been celebrated on the first Monday in September in the United States since the 1880s.  The September date has remained unchanged, even though the government was encouraged to adopt May 1 as Labor Day, the date celebrated by the majority of the world.  Moving the holiday, in addition to breaking with tradition, could have been viewed as aligning the U.S. labor movements with internationalist sympathies.

Labor Day is generally regarded simply as a day of rest and, unlike May Day, political demonstrations are rare.  Forms of celebration include picnics, barbecues, fireworks displays, water activities, and public art events.  Families with school-age children take it as the last chance to travel before the end of summer.  Some teenagers and young adults view it as the last weekend for surfing parties before returning to school.



Rene Wingrove
Bobbi Leslie has reported that Rene Wingrove, a long time owner of a condominium in Aventuras Akumal, passed away back in July, after a four year battle with cancer.

 Ricardo Schieber
Karen Jenkins has reported, via Marcy Essy, that Ricardo Schieber, "The Mayor", died Friday morning, August 18th, in Tulum, where he resided.  His body was discovered by Karen Jenkins.  No cause of death was reported.  A Memorial Service was held Sunday Morning August 20, in Tulum.












            Since there was a limited time between the last issue and this one, the list of "Comings and Goings" is a bit on the short side.


  • Kathy Farrell Sonheim was back for a brief spell.
  • Jissou Vander Elst is back in South Akumal.
  • Oveta Vardell is also back in South Akumal.
  • Denny & Diane Mahan are returning to South Akumal next week, after their extensive vacation in Ohio and the Atlanta area.
  • Susan & Macon Gravlee are also returning to South Akumal next week.


  • Didier Jackson has returned to the states to be with his son.
  • Mary Henderson and Linda Tate have gone on a shopping spree in Las Vegas.
  • El Moreland is returning to New Jersey for a short trip.



By Cheryl & Patrick Ragan

 In our quest to find something "different" to do for our 15th wedding anniversary, we decided upon Isla Holbox, where we would get up close and personal with the whale sharks. 

 Day 1

We departed from Akumal on Sunday morning for Isla Holbox by way of Tulum, then through Coba, and then North to the town of Chiquilla, where the ferry takes you to Holbox.  The drive was much shorter and more pleasant than we had expected, and with two short "bathroom" stops, we reached Chiquilla in 2 hours, 50 minutes.  There were several towns and "topes" along the way, but the road itself was in good condition. 

In Chiquilla, there are plenty of parking areas, and most seem to be in someone's back yard.  We picked the one closest to the ferry, the one with the hand painted sign which read "Pancho's Parking."  We didn't ask the cost, as the ferry was getting ready to leave.  A 2 minute ride by "bicycle taxi" to the ferry and we were off. 

Cost of the ferry was $8 per person, and depending on who you ask, or which sign you read, it goes between Chiquilla and Holbox either every hour, or every two hours.  We were the last four on the ferry, so our seating was not the best; we were on the upper level, sitting on boxes.  During the 25 minute ferry ride, our "seating area" received 20 minutes of tidal waves from the boat, so although we couldn't help but laugh about it, we arrived at Holbox completely soaked.  It is recommended that you arrive a little early, in order to sit inside!

We were taken by golf cart taxi (lots of them ready and waiting at the dock) to our hotel.  There was lots of rain for two days before we arrived, so the streets were full of fairly deep "mud puddles" and some debris.  There is a marked difference in the areas where the locals live and where the tourists stay.  After a 10 minute ride from one side of the island to the other, we were deposited at our hotel, the Villas Paraiso del Mar.  Not being a fan of mosquitoes or horse flies (which we were told to expect), we chose this hotel because of the air conditioned rooms, which are not common on the island. 

We reserved a Junior Suite, which included a room with a king bed and a double bed, large bath area with great shower, a small mini fridge, a safe for valuables and satellite TV.  Each room had a nice, shaded terrace with comfortable outdoor seating.  The grounds and pool area are beautiful and the hotel employees are some of the friendliest, most accommodating that we’ve seen.

Our Jr. Suite, which included a great breakfast buffet, was $293.33 for two nights (2 persons.).  I should note that Villas Paraiso del Mar is the most expensive hotel on the island, but in August, I HAD to have that air conditioning!  Also remember that since the whale sharks are "in residence" only during the months of July and August, this was their "holiday" season.  Other nice features of the hotel are a currency exchange, internet cafe, laundry service (extra), telephones in the rooms, and a great on-site restaurant.  Paraiso del Mar also sits on a large, beautiful beach with lots of outdoor lounges, shady palms and has millions of tiny sea shells, which compose most of the island itself.  For more info on the hotel, their website is (or try ); telephone is 011-52-984-875-2062; email is  

Liliana and Alba run the front desk and they are great!  After checking in and changing into dry clothes, we explored the beach, rested awhile, and then had a great dinner at the hotel restaurant, "La Palapa."  Before turning in for the night, we confirmed our reservation for the next morning for the whale shark tour, which Liliana or Alba can handle all of the arrangements for, receive payment for, and then finalize everything for you.

 Day 2

At 7 a.m. sharp, our boat captain, Manual, arrived at the lobby and escorted us down the beach to his boat, where several others were also boarding.  The boat was probably 25 feet, with a canopied top and would hold about 12 people; there were 10 of us total, so it was very comfortable.  We motored down the beach a short way to a good sized dock, where Manuel and his crew provided everyone with another fresh cup of coffee, and then we were on our way out to the Gulf.

The boat ride itself was approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes out to where the whale sharks were waiting.  We saw lots of dolphin along the way, so Manuel would slow the boat down to allow us to watch them for a few minutes.  We saw probably 4 or 5 groups of them, some with babies swimming together, very close to the boat and just fabulous to see! 

Once we reached "whale shark" territory, there were about 5 or 6 other boats there, all about ¼ mile apart.  Manuel began trolling around, and there were whale sharks everywhere!  At one point, we were completely surrounded by them.  The biggest surprise was that the water was completely and totally calm and as flat as glass.  There were no waves, and the plankton sparkled in that beautiful emerald green water, like something out of a movie; just awesome! 

Each person on the boat who wants to swim with the whale sharks gets 3 chances to do so while the boat is out there.  No more than 2 people at a time, along with Manuel's first mate, Avando.  The boat has snorkel gear and life jackets, so you can bring your own or use the ones on the boat.  The boat was also fitted with an easy access ladder, so getting in and out was not a problem, especially in those calm waters.  Only one person in our group of 4 actually swam with these giants, and he claimed it to be the experience of a lifetime, which I'm sure it was.  However, yours truly opted to watch them from the boat, which still got me within a foot or two of them, enough to see them clearly with all their beautiful markings, etc. and take some truly amazing pictures.  For those who choose not to get in the water with them, it's not a huge issue, as they swim on top of the water, not submerged, so seeing them up close and clearly is easy to do.

Before leaving the whale sharks behind, Manuel provided everyone with a nice lunch of ham sandwiches, cold drinks and a Snickers bar.  Once everyone had completed their swim or taken all their photos, the boat headed back to the hotel, and we arrived at around 1:30 in the afternoon.  Again, we saw more dolphins all along the ride back to the hotel. 

The cost for this excursion was $90 per person and was arranged by the hotel.  I'm told that you can find people, who will take you out in smaller boats - individuals - for less, but we would highly recommend the hotel's choice of Manuel; he was great!

After a brief rest and some cold drinks, we again were picked up on the beach by Manuel (in a smaller boat) for the "Tres Islas Tour."  This tour left the beach at 3 p.m. and our first stop was Bird Island.  On the way to Bird Island, we again saw lots of dolphins and two large flocks of pink flamingos.  The flamingos are in such shallow water that it's not possible to get as close as we'd have liked, but impressive nonetheless.  Bird Island was less than we'd expected.  Evidently, since the hurricane came through, the birds are "somewhere else." We saw several frigates and cormorants, but nothing too exciting there. 

The second island (Yalahao Lagoon) had a long wooden dock that provided us a place to tie up, and we departed from the boat along a long walkway made of wooden planks over and through a small mangrove area which opened to a good sized fresh water cenote and a 3 story (but very rickety) observation tower.  There was also a small hut there which sold cold drinks and offered a shady place to sit for a while. 

Then back onto the boat for the last stop at Isla Pasion, which contained a long beach that was completely covered in all sizes of shells.  We departed the boat, walked along the beach and found shells that we'd never seen in Mexico before, so if "shelling" is your thing, this would definitely be the place!  Then back onto the boat for return to the beach at our hotel.  The trip lasted 3 1/2 hours and the cost was $28.00 US per person.  This particular trip we would probably not do again, but might just consider having a boat take us back to the last island (Isla Pasion) with the shells.  We were told that there was also a river which ran through this island if we wanted to walk further inland from the beach, but it had been a long day, so…

We arrived back at the hotel at 6:30 p.m., in time for a shower and a little rest, then to the hotel restaurant for dinner at around 8 p.m.  We probably could have done a little more exploring, but after a full day on the water, we didn't have much desire to board a golf cart taxi in search of another restaurant.  "La Palapa" at the hotel is great, and we were tired and hungry.  

Day 3

We had a nice, leisurely breakfast at the buffet and then made arrangements for a taxi, packed up, checked out, and headed back to the dock to catch the next ferry.  We arrived a little earlier and insured ourselves of those inside seats for the trip back to Chiquilla.  The short ferry ride was pleasant, but I was once again reminded of the warnings about mosquitoes and horse flies.  We used repellant just as we would in  Akumal - nothing special, no long sleeves, etc. and had no problems whatsoever - didn't even SEE a horsefly, and noticed no mosquitoes.  However, on the ferry ride back to Chiquilla, we sat across from an understandably "grumpy" woman who was entirely covered with mosquito bites!  I didn't ask where she had stayed, but was again glad that we had chosen the hotel that we had.

The ferry deposited us at the dock, and once again I rode the bicycle taxi with the same little boy who had taken me there two days earlier.  The others in my party walked, and I arrived back at Pancho's Parking about 1 minute before they did.  No one in or around Pancho's back yard spoke English, so determining the rate for two day's parking took a few minutes.  It was finally decided that we owed 300 pesos (about $30 U.S.) which was probably way too much to pay, but Mrs. Pancho was so cute we couldn't resist.  She seemed thrilled that we didn't argue the price, so she proceeded to take us around back to show us a small pig that was in a pen behind her house.  She was beaming and rambling in very fast Spanish, so we still aren't sure if she was simply proud of her pig, or if possibly our 300 pesos might have actually bought the pig, as well.  Having no room for the pig at Casa Maleno, we waved goodbye and got back on the road again for Akumal.

All in all, it was one of our most enjoyable visits, and one that we'll probably do again sometime.  After all, we probably SHOULD go back sometime and get our pig.



Sprinter Justin Gatlin, who failed a doping test in April, agreed to an eight-year ban and will cooperate with doping officials. He also gives up his world record in the 100, which he shared with Asafa Powell.U.S. sprinter Justin Gatlin receives 8-year ban in doping case, forfeits world record. 

Sprinter Justin Gatlin, who failed a doping test in April, agreed to an eight-year ban and will cooperate with doping officials.  He also gives up his world record in the 100, which he shared with Asafa Powell.

Sprinter Justin Gatlin received an eight-year ban from track and field Tuesday, avoiding a lifetime penalty in exchange for his cooperation with doping authorities and because his first positive drug test was deemed an honest mistake.  He will forfeit the world record he tied in May, when he ran the 100 meters in 9.77 seconds.  At age 24, the lengthy ban is less than the maximum penalty, but could still knock Gatlin out of competition the rest of his life.

Gatlin tested positive in April for testosterone or other steroids, five years after his first positive test, which was for medicine to control attention-deficit disorder.  Since that first test, Gatlin has positioned himself as a champion of drug-free competition in a sport dogged by scandal.  Under the World Anti-Doping Agency code, a second doping offense calls for a lifetime ban.  But Gatlin reached a compromise with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which levies doping penalties in America.  Under terms of the compromise, he can still appeal to an arbitration panel in the next six months to have the term reduced.

            He cannot, however, argue that the test was faulty.


            On Sunday, August 27th, Patricia "Pato" De la Sierra, realized one of her long time dreams, when she, supported by El Moreland, hosted the grand opening of her restaurant, La Cosa Nostra, on the main square in Bacalar.  It was a wonderful evening and meal, attended by numerous notables who traveled down from Akumal.

            For openers/appetizers, Pato started with an antipasto which consisted of several varieties of cheese, salami and ham, complemented by a refreshing mixed salad and fresh baguettes.  This was enough to be a delicious meal unto itself, but there was more to come.

            There were two main dishes, with the primary one being lasagna with shrimp.  The author cannot complement on the taste, but the presentation and smell were very tempting.  The second entree was pork loin with a wonderful sauce.

            Coffee and ice cream brought a fitting finish to a wonderful "Grand Opening" at La Cosa Nostra, where a very good time was had by all present.

            Good Luck, Pato.







            Laura reports, "We decided to keep the Lol Ha Restaurant open for September, and we shall be closed from October 1st to November 15th."

Bart reports, "At Turtle Bay Cafe, we are done with dinners until sometime in October.  We shall be closed for Breakfast and Lunch on September 16, and we shall shut down for three days sometime in late September for some kitchen maintenance.  When I get those dates firmed up, I will let you know." 

            Annette reports, "I have not planned anything yet for La Lunita.  The basic idea is to not close at all this September and October, but if we need to, it will only be for one week in the second half of September."


            On Wednesday, August 16, we went to Zamas for dinner with Lisa Combs.  Besides visiting with Lisa, we wanted to have the famous Zamas thin-crusted pizza, which has not been available on Sunday afternoon for a long time, and a whole Boquinete, which had been out of season for a few months.

            We were a bit on the early side, but after awhile the band, BANDIKORO, started to set up their instruments on the stage.  A bit later, more and more customers began arriving, and by the time Bandikoro started playing, the restaurant was full; it was quite a sight, with the candles on the tables.  The pizza and Boquinete were as good, if not better, as they have been on Sunday afternoon.  The company, conversation, and atmosphere were just right too.

            BANDIKORO is quite good, but the only down side is that that music - a lot of drums and a marimba - made conversation a bit tedious and difficult.  Daniel says, "BANDIKORO has been playing with us for 2 years.  During high season we have had various groups 7 nights per week, but this year I may try to hold to 5 nights."





            Are you ready?  Can you even get it?  We just renewed our house insurance with ING via Luis Lobo, and here is some of what we experienced.

If you are scheduled to be visited by your insurance agent to renew your policy, be prepared for a few surprises and increases.  For example, our premium increased 88 percent over last year!!!

            Not only that, the deductibles increased too.  The deductible for the house, as well as the deductible for interior contents, went from 2 percent to 5 percent, a 150 percent increase!

            The deductible for "Property Insured by Means of Express Agreement" - like a swimming pool or exterior structure - went from 5 percent to 15 percent, an unbelievable 200 percent increase!

There has been an increase in the rate for hurricane coverage for all beach front properties.  The previous rate was $3.5USD for every $1,000USD coverage, and now it is $6.0USD for every $1,000USD, and they are not offering any discounts for any protection (hurricane shutters or plywood/plastic panels) you add to your property.  This increase happened with all insurance companies by contract with the reinsurance companies.

            And for some of you, it gets even worse - if that is possible - because companies like ING are NOT issuing any new policies, and they are NOT renewing policies for houses that have a palapa roof; i.e. there is no cement or wood or other material under the palapa on the interior.

            A key feature of selling a house this year could be the willingness to transfer the house insurance over to the new buyer.

            Reportedly, all of this is because of the losses the company suffered last hurricane season in The Americas, coupled with the earlier forecast for a "worse than usual hurricane season in 2006".  As a result of this, Quintana Roo is now rated with the Caribbean Islands with regards to insurance, even though we are on the mainland and live in cement block constructed buildings. 



Home pageING Groep N.V. (ING), headquartered in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, is a global financial services company that provides a range of banking, insurance and asset management services in over 50 countries.  The Company operates through six business lines: Insurance Europe, Insurance Americas, Insurance Asia/Pacific (IAP), Wholesale Banking, Retail Banking and ING Direct.  ING's six business lines operate in seven main geographical areas, Netherlands, Belgium, rest of Europe, North America, Latin America, Asia and Australia.  Its customer base includes individuals, corporations, institutions and governments.

 2005 FACTS:

 2005 Revenue (USD): 90.99Billion

   Net Profit Margin: 10.92%

*   Operating Margin: 13.35%

       Return on Average Assets: 0.70%

   Return on Average Equity: 21.50%

   2005 Employees: 119,409     

Some 2006 'food for thought'.

ING posts 28.7% increase in underlying net profit in 1st quarter
ING's 2nd-quarter underlying net profit rises 38.8% to EUR 2,023 million
It doesn't look like the company is hurting that much, does it?



Pluto is a frigid ball of ice and rock that orbits far from the Sun on the frozen fringes of our Solar System, and it has been officially demoted from its status as a planet.  The International Astronomical Union (IAU), at a meeting in August 2006, voted on their first "official" definition of a planet.  Based on this new definition, Pluto is no longer a planet.  According to the IAU's definition, our Solar System has eight planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.  In the new scheme, Pluto will be one of several "dwarf planets" in the Solar System; but "dwarf planets" are not considered true planets.

The controversy over Pluto's status as a planet has been brewing for years.  Astronomers  have long hypothesized the existence of a large class of icy objects, called Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs), on the fringes of our Solar System.  The first KBO was discovered in the early 1990s.  Scientists recognized that Pluto, which was discovered in 1930, was really "just" one of many KBOs.  In terms of its composition and its orbit, Pluto is unlike the other eight planets; but is quite similar to other objects in the Kuiper Belt.  Until 2003 Pluto was still the largest of the KBOs yet discovered.  However, the discovery of 2003 UB313 in that year further called into question Pluto's status as a full-fledged planet.

There is still some controversy and disagreement amongst astronomers about the new definition of a "planet".  We will have to wait and see whether the new definition "sticks" or not.  For now, there are three official classes of objects in our Solar System: planets, dwarf planets, and small solar system bodies.  Planets include the eight traditional planets from Mercury to Neptune, but no longer Pluto.  Pluto is joined amongst the dwarf planets by 2003 UB313 and the large asteroid Ceres.  Several other Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs) will likely join the ranks of the dwarf planets, including Sedna and Quaoar.  Small solar system bodies include most asteroids, comets, and meteoroids.


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