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May 2008 Issue 65

INTRODUCTION

It's hard to explain or understand, but it seems like April just absolutely flew by, and for whatever reason, there was quite a large influx of visitors.  As a result that and some last minute "things", this issue of The Akumalian may seem a tad on the long side. 

Regardless, there's something in this issue for everyone, including a couple of "Events" which created additional Photo Galleries.  One of the real BIG EVENTS was Ryan Fredette's return to Akumal and Casa Colibri after an absence of more than 12 months.  Check out the Photo Gallery at Ryan's 2008 Akumal Vacation.
 

IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM THE STAFF

We have spent a considerable amount of time during the last month with this large issue of The Akumalian, as well as updating the Akumal Telephone Books, Birthdays and Anniversaries, People of Akumal Photo Gallery, and the Akumal Council section; be sure to check them out and send any and all corrections to the attention of The Staff.  We also added a very extensive Photo Gallery on Ryan Fredette's visit to Akumal (see the URL in INTRODUCTION) and another on our sunset sail on the catamaran, Kantaris.

We have mentioned doing a Survey a number of times in the past, and now it looks like we have The Staff whereby we might actually do it around the middle of May.  Watch for it.

 The distribution list for The Akumalian is very, very important to The Staff, and you can be assured that your name is not being sold or used in another capacity.  Despite the message we delivered in the March issue (see http://theakumalian.com/Archives/2008/63march.shtml ) we still have some issues with e-mail addresses and recipients who delete themselves.  After the April distribution, we deleted 14 addresses that were “non-deliverable”, and these included:

turquesa@mail.caribe.net.mx
goconnell123@comcast.com
gina_austin@prodigy.net.mx
mary.fredericksen@yahaoo.com
suttoncontracting@comcast.net
tonygacg@verizon.com
msguynes@houston.rr.com
green006@maroon.tc.umn.edu
green006@umn.edu
irene.ebersole@emdchemicals.com
henni52@hotmail.com
exw@att.net
stanley@jhu.eduress
catchall@pinnacleconstruction.net

Do you recognize any of these e-mail addresses?

Thanks goes out to Arlene Pargot for The Staff's T-Shirt.
 

IMPORTANT MAY FACTS

Several stories are passed around to show how the month of May was named.  The most widely accepted explanation is that it was named for Maia, the Roman goddess of spring and growth.  Her name related to a Latin word that means increase or growth.

Taurus: April 21 – May 21
Gemini   May 22 - June 21 

May Birthstone:  Emerald
May's birthstone is the emerald.  Emerald is the green version of the mineral Beryl.  It was considered to be the talisman of the goddess Venus, and to represent faith, goodness and kindness.  Emeralds vary in color from light to deep green.  It is commonly thought that an emerald's green color derives from the presence of chromium and or vanadium replacing some of the aluminum in the mineral's structure.  The stone can, however, lose its color when heated strongly.  The emerald's name is indirectly derived from the Greek word "smaragdos," a term ambiguously applied to several kinds of green stones.  

May Flower:  Lily of the Valley
The May flower, Lily of the Valley has the botanical name of Convallaria magalis and originated in Europe.  Today it is distributed widely throughout North America and North Asia, but in England it is still found as commonly as wild flowers.  It is a small, bell shaped flower that gives off a large scent that attracts not only people, but bee's who like to collect the pollen that the flower produces.
 

MAY BIRTHDAYS

Birthdays and Anniversaries
2          Sandra Titze
5          Susan & Macon Gravlee Anniversary
7          Steve & Ingrid Clouther Anniversary
12        Chris Firth
14        Lucas Kai Schober Thai
16        Dave Bliss
17        Greg Franta
18        Derek Firth
18        Bob & Sherwood Anders Anniversary
20        Jissou VanderElst
21        Monika Titze
27        Creighton Walker
27        Nance & Creighton Walker’s Anniversary
31        Terry Fredette 

There must be more than this.  Let’s hear about YOUR birthday.

Missed April Birthdays

4          Maggie McKown
11        Judy James
12        Didiere Jackson hit the BIG one.
17        Chris Haas’ dad, Lonie, was 96; he recently gave up flying.
 

Missed March Birthday
27                Christian Li Schober Thai

            Hui & Stefan Schober, along with Lucas, are pleased to announce that Christian Li Schober Thai, was born in Cancun on Thursday, March 27th, 8:10pm, after a complication-free delivery.  And yes, they did make it to the hospital on time.  Definitely learned their lesson after Lucas was born.

            Hui reports, "I got wheeled into the delivery room at 7:40pm, and lo and behold, half an hour later, we found out that we were proud parents once again of a baby boy.  Lucas was thrilled to have a "baby brother", and he's been SO good with Christian.  What a surprise!  I think the baby's gotten more kisses from him than from me!"
 

AKUMAL COUNCIL NEWS

On April 26, the Akumal Council sent out a letter with regards to the Tulum Municipality, and this letter is available at Akumal Council Tulum Municipality Report.

With regards to the "new" Municipality, there is a meeting on Thursday, May 15 for anyone who has questions about the current situation with the new municipality.  It will be in the new Akumal Council Office, upstairs in the Old Fidecaribe building at 10:00.

There will be a General Assembly Meeting held on Friday, June 27 at 10:00 at the same location.  Agenda to be defined.
 

TOXIC LIGHT BULBS

Have you heard this story yet?

 When the compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulb Brandy Bridges was installing in a ceiling fixture of her 7-year-old daughter's bedroom crashed to the floor and broke into the shag carpet, she wasn't sure what to do.  Knowing about the danger of mercury, she called Home Depot, the retail outlet that sold her the bulbs.  According to the Ellison American, the store warned her not to vacuum the carpet and directed her to call the poison control hotline in Prospect, Maine.  Poison control staffers suggested she call the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.  The latter sent over a specialist to test the air in her house for mercury levels.  While the rest of the house was clear, the area of the accident was contaminated above the level considered safe.  The specialist warned Bridges not to clean up the bulb and mercury powder by herself – recommending a local environmental cleanup firm.

That company estimated the cleanup cost, conservatively, at $2,000.  And, no, her homeowners insurance won't cover the damage.  Since she could not afford the cleanup, Bridges has been forced to seal off her daughter's bedroom with plastic to avoid any dust blowing around.  Not even the family pets are permitted in to the bedroom.  Her daughter is forced to sleep downstairs in an overcrowded household.

She has continued to call public officials for help – her two U.S. senators included.  So far, no one is beating down Bridges' door to help – not even Al Gore, whose Academy Award-winning movie, "An Inconvenient Truth," urges everyone to change to CFLs to save the planet from global warming.

 CFL Bulbs Have One Hitch: Toxic Mercury
The Environmental Protection Agency and some large business, including Wal-Mart, are aggressively promoting the sale of CFL bulbs as a way to save energy and fight global warming.  They want Americans to buy many millions of them over the coming years. 

But the bulbs contain small amounts of mercury, a neurotoxin, and the companies and federal government haven't come up with effective ways to get Americans to recycle them.

<---What's inside CFL!!!

 The problem with the bulbs is that they'll break before they get to the landfill.  They'll break in containers, or they'll break in a dumpster or they'll break in the trucks.  Workers may be exposed to very high levels of mercury when that happens.  When bulbs break near homes, they can contaminate the soil.

Mercury is a potent neurotoxin, and it's especially dangerous for children and fetuses.  Most exposure to mercury comes from eating fish contaminated with mercury. Some states, cities and counties have outlawed putting CFL bulbs in the trash, but in most states the practice is legal.

Experts agree that it's not easy for most people to recycle these bulbs.  Even cities that have curbside recycling won't take the bulbs.  So people have to take them to a hazardous-waste collection day or a special facility.

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency program concedes that not enough has been done to urge people to recycle CFL bulbs and make it easier for them to do so.  It appears to be as bad as the "alarmists" said.  Here are the helpful guidelines for what to do when your new, "green-certified" compact fluorescent bulb cracks.

·        Keep people and pets away.  Open windows, and leave the area for 15 minutes before beginning the cleanup.

·        Do not use a vacuum cleaner, even on a carpet.  This will spread the mercury vapor and dust and potentially contaminate the vacuum.

·        Wear rubber gloves.

·        Carefully remove the larger pieces and place them in a secure closed container, preferably a glass jar with a metal screw top lid and seal like a canning jar.

·        Next, scoop up the smaller pieces and dust using two stiff pieces of paper such as index cards or playing cards.

·        Pick up fine particles with duct tape, packing tape, or masking tape, and then use a wet wipe or damp paper towel.

·        Put all waste into the glass container, including all material used in the cleanup.  Remove the container from your home and call your local solid waste district or municipality for disposal instructions.

·        Continue ventilating the room for several hours.

·        Wash your hands and face.

·        As a precaution, consider discarding throw rugs or the area of carpet where the breakage occurred, particularly if the rug is in an area frequented by infants, small children or pregnant women.  Otherwise, open windows during the next several times you vacuum the carpet to provide good ventilation.

 http://sound.westhost.com/articles/incandescent.htm  contains a lot more information on CFLs.  Read the part about dimmers.

 

6M POUNDS OF TRASH FOUND ON WORLD'S BEACHES

The world's beaches and shores are anything but pristine.

See http://www.oceanconservancy.org/site/PageServer?pagename=abt_aboutus

Organized by Ocean Conservancy, on September 20th, 2007, volunteers scoured 33,000 miles of shoreline worldwide and found 6 million pounds of debris from cigarette butts and food wrappers to abandoned fishing lines and plastic bags that threaten seabirds and marine mammals.  A report by the Ocean Conservancy catalogues nearly 7.2 million items that were collected by volunteers on a single day last September as they combed beaches and rocky shorelines in 76 countries from Bahrain to Bangladesh and in 45 states from southern California to the rocky coast of Maine.

This is a snapshot of one day, one moment in time, but it serves as a powerful reminder of our carelessness and how our disparate and random actions actually have a collective and global impact.

On average, the 378,000 volunteers collected 182 pounds of trash for every mile of shoreline, both ocean coastlines and beaches on inland lakes and streams, providing a "global snapshot of the ocean trash problem."  The most extensive cleanup was in the United States where 190,000 volunteers covered 10,110 miles — about a third of the worldwide total — and picked up 3.9 million pounds of debris on a single Saturday last September, according to the report.

That's 390 pounds of trash per mile, among the highest rates of any country, although the high number also reflects the large number of U.S. volunteers who took part.  By comparison, volunteers in neighboring Canada collected 74 pounds per mile, and those in Mexico, 157 pounds per mile, said the report.  About 65 pounds of trash were collected per mile in China and 46 pounds per mile in New Zealand.  Volunteers covered one mile in Bahrain and found 300 pounds of trash.

The volume of trash collected tells only part of the story.  It's the items that are found that tells us about the behavior of people enjoying the beaches and coastlines of the world.  It represents a general carelessness we have.  We're the bad guys.  Trash doesn't fall from the sky. It actually falls from our hands.

The debris ranges from the relatively harmless, although annoying and an eyesore, to items that annually result in the death of hundreds of thousands of seabirds and marine mammals caught in abandoned fishing lines and netting.  A third of the items found came from smokers.

The volunteers collected and cataloged nearly 2.3 million cigarette butts, filters and cigar tips.  And, they found 587,827 bags; more than 1.7 million food wrappers, containers, lids, cups, plates and eating utensils; and nearly 1.2 million bottles and beverage cans.

Divers also scoured waters offshore, collecting about 160,000 pounds of debris from cigarette waste and food containers to more threatening items: abandoned fishing lines, plastic bags, rope, fishing nets and abandoned crab and lobster traps.

 The International Coastal Cleanup also focused attention on the damage these items can do.  The volunteers came across 81 birds, 63 fish, 49 invertebrates, 30 mammals and 11 reptiles and one amphibian that all had become entangled in various debris, most often discarded fishing line, rope or plastic bags, according to the report.  Among other items that entangle animals and birds were balloon ribbons and strings, building material, vehicle tires, wire, and beverage six-pack holders.

In all, 57 percent of the trash was related to shoreline recreational activities, 33 percent from smoking-related activities, 6.3 percent from fishing or waterway activities, 2 percent from dumping, and less than 1 percent from medical and personal hygiene activities, said the report.
 

SUNSET SAIL ON KANTARIS

“We Should Do This More Often”

 The sky was bright and clear.  The sea was a rolling carpet of dark, navy blue, and the gentle winds of the Caribbean Sea filled the sails of the catamaran Kantaris as we headed north out of Akumal Bay on a sunset sail and the highlight of a wonderful vacation for Stefanie and Ryan, our daughter and grandson.  They are motor boat people from Massachusetts and Cape Cod, and this was to be an unusual experience for them in more ways than one.

            The trip was booked with the Akumal Dive Shop, and Captain Angel was at the helm, and first mate Perfidio adjusted and trimmed the sails as we "rounded the bend" off the point of Akumal Bay.

            As we motored out of Akumal Bay we saw turtles swimming in the shallow, clear water, and now that we were out in deeper water, we had a small group of sailfish jumping high into the air.  This was a first-time experience for our small group of passengers, and we all settled into our respective positions on board.  Ingrid had her seat just to the left of the main mast; Ryan was seated on the other side, and Stefanie moved forward onto the netting just over the left bow.  SteveC, remained standing, or maybe rolling (with the sway of the boat) is a better word, in order to capture those "Kodak moments".

            Once we were all settled, and Captain Angel had his course plotted, First Mate Perfidio, broke open the ice chest filled with ice cold beer, water and soda.  Ingrid went to her personal ice chest, and SteveC opened the Henkell.  We were sailing off the coast of North Akumal pointing out the various houses and landmarks; "there's the bungalows, Miramar, Half Moon Bay, Lal Lunita, Kathy’s house, and Yal-ku Lagoon."  Captain Angel helped name some of the larger "landmarks" as we went further north; Sirenas and the Palladium.

            There were some good size swells out there, and periodically the right bow would dig deep into the trough and send a wave of water splashing through the netting.  Needless to say, Stefanie usually got the worst, or, depending how you look at it, the best, of the warm dousing. 

            It was about here when Ingrid's catch phrase started to kick into high gear; i.e. "We should to do this more often."  And she is right, we should do this more often.

            Nobody was keeping track of time except Captain Angel, but we realized that he and First Mate Perfidio had swung the catamaran around, and we were now heading back towards Akumal, even though the sun was still quite high in the western sky.  Did this have to end so soon?

            "We should do this more often", said Ingrid.

We had really settled into the dips and rises of the boat as it sailed south, and now we were seeing groups of flying fish "flying" across the waves all around us.  They are small little devils and hard to see, but once you recognize the pattern and form, they tend to be quite easy to spot.  Another "first" for Ryan and Stefanie.

            To our surprise, we sailed past the entrance to Akumal Bay, and went past Jade Bay, South Akumal – "There's our house, Casa Colibri", OASIS Akumal, Aventuras Akumal, and up to the middle part of the very expansive Bahia Principe complex.  At this point, a very experience sailor (learned later this was Gonzalo) with a Hobbie Cat sailed out to greet us, and then he swung it around and was off in the other direction.  Closer to shore there was an experienced kite surfer zipping back and forth in front of the hotel.

            The sun was sinking lower to wards the horizon, and Captain Angel swung the Kantaris around and headed home towards Akumal.  Have you ever really watched a sunset and been awed at how fast the sun seems to sink once it get closer to the horizon.  You really appreciate this if you want to get to a certain spot to photograph the sunset.

            As we headed north towards Akumal, we saw more sailfish jumping out of the water, and these seemed like they were a fairly good size; maybe seven or eight feet long.

            Captain Angel is very experienced with these sunset sails, because he timed our arrival at the mouth of Akumal Bay just as the sun was setting behind the Hotel Akumal Caribe, but at this point in time, Ryan was more interested in how soon he could get to the beach bar banos.

            As we exited the Kantaris to the motor launch that would take us ashore, the unanimous chorus was, "We should do this more often."

            "Thank you Captain Angel and First Mate Portfilio.  We really should do this more often."

Go to Kantaris Sunset Sail for a lot more photos.
 

OPEN LETTER FROM MARY (RAINALDI) JUKICH

I am taking the liberty of publishing a letter Mary (Rainaldi) Jukich sent to The Akumalian after the distribution of the April issue.  Many of you don't know Mary and her husband, Jeff, but Mary is one of those very special people who come to Akumal whenever they have the chance.  Once you see two of the pictures below, you'll know what I mean.

 Dear Steve and Ingrid,

Hello from Minnesota!  Jeff and I love getting your newsletter and getting a glimpse of what you guys are up to down in paradise!  We were so sorry to see the destruction from the storms this year.  But, we were thankful things weren't worse and that no one was hurt physically. 

Love the pictures on the web site. Speaking of,...sending a few from our last trip to our favorite Mexican watering hole.  The hospitality and friendship everyone extended to us "estraneros" sure made a memorable night for us.  Hopefully we'll be down again after our next Iraq tour.  We'll be back after the holidays, which we think is a perfect time to hit Tulum and Akumal.  We'll definitely stop in for a drink and hopefully see you all there.

 Besides sending along the pictures and our thanks, I have also written to you for another reason.  I am going to New York on the 9th of April and wanted to give Karen Kantor a call.  She had asked me to get in touch with her if I made it out that way, but, I can't find her card.  Would it be possible for you to e-mail her my address and see if she would like to contact me?  We formed a curly-haired-people bond, and I sure enjoyed her conversation.  Please let her know my mother and I are making our trek to the Mecca of Curly Hair for a cut by the Guru of Curls herself.  We are soooper excited!

I have sent along some pics from our trip to Akumal and our desert trip last year.  The one is a picture of the jet I fly while we were refueling over Iraq.  The other is getting ready to launch at dusk.

Thanks again for the laughter, conversation and fun back in April of last year.  Hope to see you in Feb '09!

V/R,

Mary (Rainaldi) Jukich

 

PRIMERO DE MAYO, MAY 1st

Primero de Mayo is the Mexican national holiday that is equivalent to the U.S. Labor Day.
  

FULL MOON, MAY 20th

The Full Flower Moon occurs on May 20th at 2:12 am.  In most areas,flowers are abundant everywhere during this time, thus, the name of this moon.  Other names include the Full Corn Planting Moon, or the Milk Moon.

 

ROBIN’S BEST SHIRT AWARD, MAY 2nd

Come one, come all, to the Beach Bar, where we’ll have a ball.

It’s time for yet another "Best Shirt Award", which is held on the first Friday of each month during Happy Hour at the Lol Ha Beach Bar.  This award is based on Robin’s penchant for good, classy Beach Bar shirts, and his sister, Mary Henderson, is ready to once again be the judge and jury as she selects the "Best Shirt" for May.  And, as we go to print the criteria are still somewhat nebulous, but it looks like "coolest", "neatest", and "most colorful" might garner a lot of brownie points.

 Last month, the "Best Shirt Award" went to Wendell Day in a hotly contested Event, and this gives Wendell the distinction of being the first person to win the "Best Shirt Award" twice.  Wendell won the award back in October, 2007.
  See more photos at April Best Shirt.
 

KENTUCKY DERBY, MAY 3rd

The 134th running of the Kentucky Derby will take place on May 3, 2008.

The Kentucky Derby is a Grade I stakes race for three-year-old thoroughbred horses, staged annually in Louisville, Kentucky on the first Saturday in May, capping the two-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival.  The race is over one and a quarter miles (2 km) at Churchill Downs.  Colts and geldings carry 126 pounds (57.2 kg) and fillies 121 pounds (54.9 kg).  The race is known in the United States as "The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports" for its approximate duration, and is also called "The Run for the Roses" for the blanket of roses draped over the winner.  It is the first leg of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing in the US and typically draws around 155,000 fans.

Horse racing in Kentucky has a rich history, dating back to 1789 when the first race course was laid out in Lexington.  However, it was almost 100 years later, in 1875, that Churchill Downs officially opened and began its tradition as "Home of the Kentucky Derby."

 Once again, Akumal's Derby festivities will be held at the Lol Ha Beach Bar, and there will be reserved seating for the locals wishing to be "up front and personal" with the 2008 "Run for the Roses".  The coverage for the 134th Run for the Roses and the Triple Crown on May 3, 2008 begins on NBC Television at 5PM (4PM AT), post time approximately 6PM ET (5PM AT). 
 

THE MINT JULEP

Early Times Mint Julep Cocktail is a ready-to-serve beverage that has been "The Official Drink of the Kentucky Derby" for 20 years.  Each year almost 120,000 Early Times Mint Juleps are served over the two-day period of the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby.  A feat that requires over 10,000 bottles of Early Times Mint Julep Ready-to-Serve Cocktail, 1,000 pounds of freshly harvested mint, and 60,000 pounds of ice.  Try one and you’ll understand why it has been a Kentucky Derby tradition for so long.

The Mint Julep has always been a symbol of Kentucky's rich heritage and hospitality. Perhaps General Simon Bolivar Buckner put it best when he wrote from the South Pacific during World War II: "A Mint Julep is not the product of a formula.  It is a ceremony that must be performed by one possessing a true sense of the artistic, a deep reverence for the ingredients and a proper appreciation of the occasion."

Many Kentuckians claim that when a Julep is done right, you can hear the angels sing.  One 19th-century jurist is said to have ruled, "Who has not tasted one has lived in vain."  Then again, newspaper editor Henry Watterson's recipe for the perfect Mint Julep is somewhat different, his recipe: "…throw the other ingredients away and drink the whisky - straight."  

Early Times Mint Julep Recipe
Ingredients:
2 oz. Early Times
1 tbsp. simple syrup (recipe below)
Mint sprigs
Crushed ice

Crush a few mint leaves in the bottom of an 8-oz. glass, then fill with crushed ice.  Add one tablespoon of simple syrup and one tablespoon of water.  Add 2 ounces Early Times.  Stir gently until glass frosts.  Garnish with a fresh mint sprig, sip and enjoy.

Simple Syrup with Mint Directions:
1 c. water
1 c. sugar
1 bunch fresh mint sprigs

Combine sugar and water.  Boil for 5 minutes without stirring.  Pour mix over a handful of mint leaves, and gently crush the mint with a spoon.  Refrigerate overnight in a closed jar.  Remove mint leaves, but continue to refrigerate.  Stays fresh for several weeks.
 

CINCO DE MAYO, MAY 5th

Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian            The holiday of Cinco De Mayo (The 5th Of May) commemorates the victory of the Mexican militia over the French army at The Battle Of Puebla in 1862.  It is primarily a regional holiday celebrated in the Mexican state capital city of Puebla and throughout the state of Puebla, with some limited recognition in other parts of Mexico, and especially in U.S. cities with a significant Mexican population.  It is not, as many people think, Mexico's Independence Day, which is actually September 16.

The battle at Puebla in 1862 happened at a violent and chaotic time in Mexico's history. Mexico had finally gained independence from Spain in 1821 after a difficult and bloody struggle, and a number of internal political takeovers and wars, including the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) and the Mexican Civil War of 1858, had ruined the national economy.  During this period of struggle Mexico had accumulated heavy debts to several nations, including Spain, England and France, who were demanding repayment.  Similar debt to the U.S. was previously settled after the Mexican-American War.  France was eager to add to its empire at that time, and used the debt issue to move forward with goals of establishing its own leadership in Mexico.  Realizing France's intent of empire expansion, Spain and England withdrew their support.  When Mexico finally stopped making any loan payments, France took action on it's own to install Napoleon's relative, Archduke Maximilian of Austria, as ruler of Mexico.

Map showing Veracruz, site of the French invasionFrance invaded at the gulf coast of Mexico along the state of Veracruz (see map) and began to march toward Mexico City, a distance today of less than 600 miles.  Although American President Abraham Lincoln was sympathetic to Mexico's cause, and for which he is honored in Mexico, the U.S. was involved in its own Civil War at the time and was unable to provide any direct assistance.

Marching on toward Mexico City, the French army encountered strong resistance at the Mexican forts of Loreto and Guadalupe.  Lead by Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin, a small, poorly armed militia estimated at 4,500 men was able to stop and defeat a well outfitted French army of 6,500 soldiers, which stopped the invasion of the country.  The victory was a glorious moment for Mexican patriots, which at the time helped to develop a needed sense of national unity, and is the cause for the historical date's celebration.

Unfortunately, the victory was short lived.  Upon hearing the bad news, Napoleon had found an excuse to send more troops overseas to try and invade Mexico again, even against the wishes of the French populace.  30,000 more troops and a full year later, the French were eventually able to depose the Mexican army, take over Mexico City and install Maximilian as the ruler of Mexico.

 Maximilian's bullet riddled shirt on displayMaximilian's rule of Mexico was also short lived, from 1864 to 1867.  With the American Civil War now over, the U.S. began to provide more political and military assistance to Mexico to expel the French, after which Maximilian was executed by the Mexicans - today his bullet riddled shirt is on display in the museum at Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City.  So despite the eventual French invasion of Mexico City, Cinco de Mayo honors the bravery and victory of General Zaragoza's small, outnumbered militia at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.
 

ETA AQUARIDS METEOR SHOWER, MAY 5th

 Eta Aquarids Metor Shower has a relatively broad maximum but is expected to peak shortly before dawn on May 5, which is also the date of the new moon.  That means the moon is absent from the night sky during this shower’s peak, and that makes 2008 a good year for the Eta Aquarids!  The radiant for this shower is in the east-southeast at about 4 a.m.  Before dawn is the preferred viewing time.  For the mid-northern latitudes, the rates for this shower are only about 10 to 15 per hour at maximum.  Farther south, the number of meteors increases dramatically.  The broad peak to this shower means that some meteors may be seen on the day before and after.  The best time to watch is May 5 before dawn.  But you’ll see some meteors before dawn on May 4 and May 6 as well.

The eta Aquarids are flakes of dust from Halley's Comet, which last visited Earth in 1986.  Although the comet is now far away, beyond the orbit of Uranus, it left behind a stream of dust.  Earth passes through the stream twice a year, in May and October.  In May, we have the eta Aquarid meteor shower, in October the Orionids.  Both are caused by Halley's Comet.

The eta Aquarids are named after a 4th-magnitude star in the constellation Aquarius.  The star has nothing to do with the meteor shower except that, coincidentally, meteors appear to emerge from a point nearby.  Eta Aquarii is 156 light years from Earth and 44 times more luminous than the Sun.
 

MEXICO BANS SMOKING IN ENCLOSED PUBLIC PLACES

On February 26, 2008, Mexican lawmakers voted to ban smoking in bars, restaurants and other enclosed public spaces across the country, which counts some 65,000 cigarette-related deaths each year.  Joining a string of newly smoke-free countries from Britain to Uruguay, Mexico will slap fines on establishments that breach the ban, and could subject recalcitrant smokers caught illicitly puffing to up to 36 hours in jail.

The bill, which extends a partial smoking ban in place in the capital since January, was approved by the Senate after being passed by the lower house late last year.  President Felipe Calderon signed the bill it into law.

Many Mexicans use cigarettes socially, filling bars and cantinas with clouds of smoke, and it is still viewed as acceptable for politicians and executives to light up during business meetings.

The nationwide law will ban smoking in indoor workplaces and enclosed public spaces such as offices, schools, hospitals and on public transport.  Smoking in bars and restaurants will only be permitted in separate rooms or on open-air terraces.  There must be well-defined, cut-off areas, so that nonsmokers are not continually breathing in tobacco smoke and so that smokers can find a space where they are not sharing the same air.

Establishments found breaching the law could be fined up to 500,000 pesos ($46,000), or double that for a repeat offense.  The law also calls for larger warnings on cigarette packets and images of damage to internal organs from inhaling tobacco.  It gives authorities the right to close shops that sell tobacco to children, and prohibits the sale of individual cigarettes, a common practice on street stalls in a country where many earn just a handful of dollars a day.

Mexico counts around 13 million smokers among its population of 105 million.

What are the chances of China, or even Beijing, following Mexico's lead?
 

BEIJING BANS SMOKING FOR THE OLYMPICS!

Wouldn’t you know it?  Once The Akumalian hit the streets, the Beijing government announced that the Chinese capital finally joins other major cities in cracking down on smoking in most public buildings, starting on Thursday, April 24th.  Now, Beijing is tackling the health threat from secondhand smoke, which kills more than 100,000 Chinese nationwide every year.

The anti-smoking drive dovetails with government efforts to improve citizens' behavior and present a modern image to the world for the Summer Games.  Compared with government campaigns against spitting, littering and cutting into line, this initiative promises major health benefits.  China has 320 million smokers, or 24.5 percent of the world's total.
 

MOTHER'S DAY IN MEXICO, MAY 10th

In Mexico, Mothers Day is celebrated on a fixed day of May 10.  Mothers Day in Mexico is celebrated in a colorful fashion.  Children honor their mothers and thank them for their efforts in bringing them up, and According to a custom in Mexico, sons and daughters make themselves present in the house on the eve of Mothers Day on May 9.

Mothers Day is celebrated with gusto as churches in Mexico organize special mass, and the highpoint of the event is the orchestra, which plays "las mananitas" and distribution of 'tamales' and 'atole', the traditional early-morning meal to all local mothers.

On Mother's Day, people in Mexico gift flowers and cards to their mothers.  There is also a tradition of giving gifts on Mothers Day.  While the older children buy gifts from the store, the younger ones prepare handmade gifts to honor their mothers.  In several schools, Mothers Day functions are organized where little ones present skits and songs to express their gratitude for their mothers and to entertain them.
 

MOTHER’S DAY IN U.S., MAY 11th

Mother's Day is a holiday honoring mothers, celebrated (on various days) in many places  around the world.  Mothers often receive gifts on this day.  Mothers Day is celebrated on the 2nd Sunday of May in the United States and Canada.

Different countries celebrate Mother's Day on various days of the year because the day has a number of different origins.  One school of thought claims this day emerged from a custom of mother worship in ancient Greece.  Mother worship — which kept a festival to Cybele, a great mother of gods, and (mythology), the wife of Cronus; was held around the Vernal Equinox around Asia Minor and eventually in Rome itself from the Ides of March (March 15 to March 18).  The Romans also had another holiday, Matronalia, that was dedicated to Juno, though mothers were usually given gifts on this day.

In the United States, Mother's Day was copied from England by social activist Julia Ward Howe after the American Civil War with a call to unite women against war.  She wrote the Mother's Day Proclamation.  In the UK, the day now simply celebrates motherhood, and thanks mothers.

According to the National Restaurant Association, Mother's Day is now the most popular day of the year to dine out at a restaurant in the United States.
 

ARMED FORCES DAY, MAY 17th

On August 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy and Air Force Days.  The single-day celebration stemmed from the unification of the Armed Forces within one department -- the Department of Defense.  Each of the military leagues and orders was asked to drop sponsorship of its specific service day in order to celebrate the newly announced Armed Forces Day.  The Army, Navy and Air Force leagues adopted the newly formed day.  The Marine Corps League declined to drop support for Marine Corps Day but supports Armed Forces Day, too.

In a speech announcing the formation of the day, President Truman praised the work of the military services at home and across the seas and said, "It is vital to the security of the nation and to the establishment of a desirable peace."

In an excerpt from the Presidential Proclamation of Feb. 27, 1950, Mr. Truman stated:

“Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 20, 1950, marks the first combined demonstration by America's defense team of its progress, under the National Security Act, towards the goal of readiness for any eventuality.  It is the first parade of preparedness by the unified forces of our land, sea, and air defense.

The theme of the first Armed Forces Day was "Teamed for Defense."  It was chosen as a means of expressing the unification of all the military forces under a single department of the government.  Although this was the theme for the day, there were several other purposes for holding Armed Forces Day.  It was a type of "educational program for civilians," one in which there would be an increased awareness of the Armed Forces.  It was designed to expand public understanding of what type of job is performed and the role of the military in civilian life.  It was a day for the military to show "state-of-the-art" equipment to the civilian population they were protecting.  And it was a day to honor and acknowledge the people of the Armed Forces of the United States.

The first Armed Forces Day was celebrated by parades, open houses, receptions, and air shows.  In Washington D.C., 10,000 troops of all branches of the military, cadets, and veterans marched pass the President and his party.  In Berlin, 1,000 U.S. troops paraded for the German citizens at Templehof Airfield.  In New York City, an estimated 33,000 participants initiated Armed Forces Day "under an air cover of 250 military planes of all types."  In the harbors across the country were the famed mothballed "battlewagons" of World War II, the Missouri, the New Jersey, the North Carolina, and the Iowa, all open for public inspection.  Precision flying teams dominated the skies as tracking radar was exhibited on the ground.  All across the country, the American people joined together to honor the Armed Forces.
 

MEMORIAL DAY, MAY 26th

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service.  There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day.  There is also evidence that organized women's groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War: a hymn published in 1867, "Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping" by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication "To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead". 

While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it's difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day.  It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860's tapped into the general human need to honor our dead, each contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in Gen Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868.  It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established.  Memorial Day is not about division.  It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.

Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.  The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873.  By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states.  The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war).  It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays, though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19 in Texas, April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10 in South Carolina; and June 3 (Jefferson Davis' birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.

Traditional observance of Memorial Day has diminished over the years.  Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day.  At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored, neglected.  Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day.  While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades.  Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country.

There are a few notable exceptions.  Since the late 50's on the Thursday before Memorial Day, the 1,200 soldiers of the 3d U.S. Infantry place small American flags at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery.  They then patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing.  In 1951, the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts of St. Louis began placing flags on the 150,000 graves at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery as an annual Good Turn, a practice that continues to this day.
 

COMINGS AND GOINGS

            The first week of April was Easter Week, so there was a number of Comings & Goings, but the pace seems to be slowing down as we head into May. 

Comings:

  • Tony, Joan, Cassie and Alex Gonzalez were back in Dos Jaguares for a brief stay
  • Terry & Lisa Turner made another trip back to South Akumal.
  • Frank & Lennie were back in Casa del Sol.
  • Tony & Judy James are back in town.
  • Jim Coke is back for a 2 month stay.
  • Don Eischen was back at The Reef in mid April.
  • Suzy Campbell and Patsy Tyler were back in The Reef Penthouse after Don moved out.
  • Bob & Loretta Flynn were back in Puerto Aventuras, where their daughter got married.
  • Ryan Fredette, along with his mother, Stefanie, returned to Casa Colibri for the latter part of April.
  • Gene & Mary Ellen Langan returned to South Akumal on April 16 for 2 weeks.
  • Dave & Nancy Poor were back in town for a quick visit.
  • David Richards was back in South Akumal for a very brief trip.
  • Gary & Oveta Vardell were back in South Akumal for one week.
  • Cheryl Dergis was seen at the Beach Bar one Friday night.
  • Bay & Chris Haas were back in Seven Seas with Chris’s dad, Lonie, who was celebrating his 96th birthday on April 17th.  They had their friends, Frank & Madeleine, with them.
  • Bente Palmer and Hannalore popped into town for a quick visit.
  • Paul & Gayle Rasmussen are back in Jade bay for two months.
  • Ron & Shari Stern are back in their N Akumal condo.
  • Jim & Kathy Farrell are also back, and Jim is sporting a new artificial knee.  That's it right there.
  • It was reported that Brab and Entwistle were also back in South Akumal.
  • Monica Meyer returns to Los Primos in South Akumal over Memorial Day
  • Red Beard is back for a short visit.
  • Phill & Lisa Combs are back in Tankah for a short spell; watch for Phill's shirt on Friday at Best Shirt night.

Goings:
·       
Alice Blatner left on April 15 to vote democratic in the PA primary.
·       
Bud Blatner followed a week later.
·       
Maggie McKowan has headed back to Texas for a couple of weeks.
 

WHAT’S NEW AROUND TOWN?

AKUMAL

Lol Ha Is Going “Green

The Hotel Akumal Caribe and Lol Ha Restaurant & Beach Bar are on the path to becoming a "green" property in an effort to help the environment, especially Akumal Bay.  To reach this goal, they, led by Mario, have implemented a number of important actions, including: 

  • Have eliminated bleach and other non-biodegradable cleaners.
  • Are using biodegradable hand soap and shampoos in the Hotel.
  • Have eliminated straws at the Restaurant & Beach Bar; using tea spoons to stir drinks: 
  • Have eliminated non-biodegradable and non-recyclable unicel used in the "To Go" containers for coffee and other drinks.
  • Using biodegradable containers for "To Go" coffee and drinks, and the containers for "To Go" food is made of recyclable plastic.
  • Participating with CEA in the recycling of glass, paper, cardboard, plastic, batteries, aluminum cans, and electronics.
  • Participating in the Mesoamerican Reef Tourism Initiative (MARTI) program to create awareness in all employees on saving water and energy, and using less non-recyclable products.  
  • Working to encourage tourists to use only biodegradable sun block; in the works.


No Smoking
Mexico has passed a law whereby it is illegal to smoke in enclosed places, and in Akumal, La Lunita is leading the charge with No Smoking signs posted in the restaurant, including the covered patio.  Smoking is allowed on the beach.

Bridge to Bridge
Actually, it's Pedestrian Overpass to Pedestrian Overpass, but why dwell on technicalities.  During the tour of Bahia Principe's development across the highway last month, Maria Oliveira took the opportunity to tell us of some of the "good things" Bahia Principe is doing for the community.  One of them is what they refer to as the "Bridge-to-Bridge Project".

            This is a clean-up project whereby workers from Bahia Princiipe walk along both sides of the highway between the pedestrian overpass in Akumal and the pedestrian overpass in Chemuyil, and they clean up along the highway, picking-up trash.  Periodically – don't know if there is a schedule – you will see these worker cleaning up the environment.

            Another project Maria mentioned is that Bahia Principe is also fixing/paving the roads in the Akumal and Chemuyil Peublos, but this has not been confirmed or validated.

Akumal Street Sign
Do you know where Akumal has a street sign on the ocean side of the highway?  There’s one at the new development referred to as “Akumal Point” between Aventuras Akumal and South Akumal.  That is a STOP sign on the left edge of the photo.

FIRE!!! At Hotel Akumal Beach Resort
This is a late breaking story, and all the reports are not in yet.  In the morning – around 5:30am – of Monday, April 28, a fire broke out in the kitchen of the Hotel Akumal Beach Resort, sending flames high into the sky, and the flames were visible to houses on the Yal-ku Lagoon.  Initial reports indicate the fire started in the kitchen and spread to the large restaurant, and apparently it was somehow well contained.  No injuries have been reported. 

While the photo to the left is not very well defined, it is a picture that Kathy Farrell Sonheim took from the roof of her house on the Lagoon at 5:30am.

 

 

Solar Halo
On Tuesday, April 29, a large solar halo was visible directly over Akumal from about 1:10pm to 2:10pm.  The halo is a ring of light surrounding the Sun.  Most halos appear as bright white rings but in some instances, the dispersion of light as it passes through ice crystals can cause a halo to have some color.  Halos form when light from the Sun is refracted by columnar ice crystals associated with thin, high-level clouds (like cirrus or cirrostratus clouds).

PLAYA DEL CARMEN
Telebodega is open!

CANCUN

Highway MX 307 Accidents
On Wednesday, April 30, we drove Ryan and Stefanie to the airport, and there was a fairly fierce rain storm between Puerto Morales and Cancun.  While this was not responsible for all of them, we saw FIVE accidents before we got to the airport.  While we usually see one on almost every trip to Cancun, this was the first time that we saw FIVE in one trip.

Road Being Surfaced
This is just a short-term thing, but on that same trip to the airport, we saw that the highway just south of the airport road is being black-topped, and they were doing the south-bound lane on Wednesday.  This results in one lane being closed and an extensive back-up of traffic.
  
When they decide to do the north-bound lane, this will create a substantial back-up going to Cancun and/or the airport.  Prepare for delays.

 

BAHIA PRINCIPE GOLF COURSE DEVELOPMENT

During the tour of Bahia Principe's development across the highway, the Akumalians had an opportunity to spend some time with Jack Lund, the person responsible for developing the golf course.  Needless to say, we are all concerned about the effect the over development of golf courses will have on the environment (especially the cenotes, water, mangroves, and reef), so there was a very high level of interest on what Jack had to say.  As it turns out, he said all the right things, and it does look like Bahia Principe is also concerned about the environment.

Rather than paraphrasing what Jack said, I asked Jack to e-mail a summary of what he and Bahia Principe are doing relative to the golf course.  Here’s what Jack wrote.

·        The course will be planted with the latest variety of Paspalum grass on the market (Platinum).  Like all of the Paspalum grasses, the Platinum has a very low demand for nitrates for healthy growth.

 ·        The sprinkler system offers computer control to each sprinkler head throughout the course.  As we will be applying fertilizers through the irrigation system, we can easily control the dosage and eliminate excess fertilizers, which is costly and environmentally effective.

·        Where possible, every effort is made to ensure that the products applied to the golf course are biodegradable.

 ·        The arc of the irrigation sprinklers is adjusted so that no irrigation water is thrown into the lakes.

·        There is no drainage running into the lakes - all lakeside drainage run into absorption wells.

 ·        Routine physical and chemical testing is undertaken on all of the lakes as part of an on-going monitoring process.

 ·        The recycled water used for irrigation passes through primary, secondary and tertiary treatments before being used on the course.

 ·        There is over 15,000m2 of nursery into which over nearly 500,000 trees, plants and shrubs have been transplanted and propagated since the clearing program began.  These trees and plants will be returned to the project once construction of the course has been completed.

 ·        Over 200 animals covering a wide range of species have been recovered and moved to a new habitat.
 

PHOTO CAPTION "CONTEST"

           

Every once in awhile, a photo comes along that captures the imagination and cries for a caption.  This is one of them.

"Take me to our leader, Walt Disney."

 The “Rest of the Story”.
Dozens of pensioners wore plastic Mickey Mouse masks -- and nothing else -- for an avant-garde staging of Giuseppe Verdi's A Masked Ball in what looks like the ruins of New York's World Trade Center.  Put on by a German opera house, the deliberately provocative 9/11-themed production was concocted by Austrian director Johann Kresnik, who said, "It will be a different, a provocative masked ball on the ruins of the World Trade Center.  The naked stand for people without means, the victims of capitalism, the underclass, who don't have anything any more."

The seniors were recruited by the opera house in Erfurt in eastern Germany.  They'd be totally nude if it weren't for their Mickey masks.  Some 60 amateurs were eager to show the full Monty for the premiere, but only 35 made it to the finals.
 

EVENTS

During the month of April, there were a couple of "Events", but The Akumalian was only in attendance at the "Best Shirt Award", Ryan Fredette's Vacation, and the Kantaris Sunset Sail, so Maggie McKowan's birthday at La Cueva del Pescador and Nayeli's surprise party for Paulo’s birthday went unrecorded (by The Akumalian).

 

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