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November 2008  Issue 71

Return to Home Page    2008 Index


October was a fairly quiet month in Akumal, with Robin’s “Best Shirt Award” being the big highlight, but it looks like the November holidays will perk things up a bit.  There’s quite a lot of “Comings and Goings”

It was a bit wet here, and as one resident reported, “The rain continues!!  The potholes are bigger!  The mosquitoes are fiercer!  More tourists are showing up, but still it is slow!”

But, there were no Tropical Storms or Hurricanes to report, and that is good.
What, pray tell, is the significance of a map of Cape Cod here?



 Libra - September 23 - October 22
Scorpio - October 23 - November 21

 November Birthstone: Yellow Topaz
The topaz has been known for at least 2000 years and is one of the gemstones which form the foundations of the twelve gates to the Holy City of the New Jerusalem.  These so-called apocalyptic stones are intended to serve in protection against enemies and as a symbol of beauty and splendor.  It cannot be proved conclusively whether the name of the topaz comes from the Sanskrit or the Greek, though the Greek name 'topazos' means 'green gemstone'.  The Romans dedicated the topaz to Jupiter.
    The color in which the topaz is most commonly found is yellow, and that is the color in which it occurs in one of the major German gemstone rocks, the Schneckenstein (a topaz-bearing rock said to resemble a snail) in Saxony.

 November Birthday Flower: Chrysanthemum
Commonly called "mums" or "tansies," this popular perennial's name comes from the Greek "Chrysos" (gold) and "Anthos" (flower).  
   The chrysanthemum has been the focus of Oriental adulation for centuries. Mums were considered one of the four Chinese "noble plants", and were the official badge of the Old Chinese Army.  Since chrysanthemums were considered the flower of the Chinese noble class, they were prohibited in a lower-class person's garden.  The Chinese believe that a chrysanthemum given to one's beloved, after it’s being used to wipe one's month after drinking wine, will ensure undying love and fidelity.  


Birthdays and Anniversaries
2          Marilyn Fenton
3          Paul Sanchez Navarro
7          Christian Duraud
12        Beniko Scarlett Schober
13        Mike Pontius
15        Charlene
15        Monica Meyer
15        Elli Paige Clements
17        Sven Titze
23        Miguel Ángel Maldonado

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

 Missed October Birthdays / Anniversary
None that are known; got everybody, right?


Please post the following in all rental units and in all public places:


EMERGENCY: Any Cell Phone
EMERGENCIA: Teléfono celular

Municipality of Tulum
Police/Emergency Services



For the U.S., and only the U.S., DST ends on November 2.  Remember, on August 8, 2005, President George W. Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005.  This Act changed the time change dates for Daylight Saving Time in the U.S.  Beginning in 2007, DST begins on the second Sunday in March and ends the first Sunday in November.  The Secretary of Energy will report the impact of this change to Congress.  Congress retains the right to resume the 2005 Daylight Saving Time schedule once the Department of Energy study is complete.


This is an ancient festivity that has been much transformed through the years, but which was intended in prehispanic Mexico to celebrate children and the dead.  Hence, the best way to describe this Mexican holiday is to say that it is a time when Mexican families remember their dead, and the continuity of life.

Two important things to know about the Mexican Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) are:

  • It is a holiday with a complex history, and therefore its observance varies quite a bit by region and by degree of urbanization.
  • It is not a morbid occasion, but rather a festive time.

The original celebration can be traced to many Mesoamerican native traditions, such as the festivities held during the Aztec month of Miccailhuitontli, ritually presided by the "Lady of the Dead" (Mictecacihuatl), and dedicated to children and the dead.  In the Aztec calendar, this ritual fell roughly at the end of the Gregorian month of July and the beginning of August, but in the postconquest era it was moved by Spanish priests, so that it coincided with the Christian holiday of All Hallows Eve (in Spanish: "Día de Todos Santos").  This was a vain effort to transform the observance from a profane to a Christian celebration.  The result is that Mexicans now celebrate the day of the dead during the first two days of November, rather than at the beginning of summer.  But remember the dead they still do, and the modern festivity is characterized by the traditional Mexican blend of ancient aboriginal and introduced Christian features.

Generalizing broadly, the holiday's activities consist of families (1) welcoming their dead back into their homes, and (2) visiting the graves of their close kin.  At the cemetery, family members engage in sprucing up the gravesite, decorating it with flowers, setting out and enjoying a picnic, and interacting socially with other family and community members who gather there.  In both cases, celebrants believe that the souls of the dead return and are all around them.  Families remember the departed by telling stories about them.  The meals prepared for these picnics are sumptuous, usually featuring meat dishes in spicy sauces, chocolate beverages, cookies, sugary confections in a variety of animal or skull shapes, and a special egg-batter bread ("pan de muerto," or bread of the dead).  Gravesites and family altars are profusely decorated with flowers (primarily large, bright flowers such as marigolds and chrysanthemums), and adorned with religious amulets and with offerings of food, cigarettes and alcoholic beverages.  Because of this warm social environment, the colorful setting, and the abundance of food, drink and good company, this commemoration of the dead has pleasant overtones for the observers, in spite of the open fatalism exhibited by all participants, whose festive interaction with both the living and the dead in an important social ritual is a way of recognizing the cycle of life and death that is human existence.

In homes, observant families create an altar and decorate it with items that they believe are beautiful and attractive to the souls of their departed ones.  Such items include offerings of flowers and food, but also things that will remind the living of the departed (such as their photographs, a diploma, or an article of clothing), and the things that the dead prized and enjoyed while they lived.  This is done to entice the dead and assure that their souls actually return to take part in the remembrance.  In very traditional settings, typically found only in native communities, the path from the street to the altar is actually strewn with petals to guide the returning soul to its altar and the bosom of the family. 

The traditional observance calls for departed children to be remembered during the first day of the festivity (the Day of the Little Angels, "Día de los Angelitos"), and for adults to be remembered on the second day.  Traditionally, this is accompanied by a feast during the early morning hours of November the 2nd, the Day of the Dead proper, though modern urban Mexican families usually observe the Day of the Dead with only a special family supper featuring the bread of the dead.  In southern Mexico, for example in the city of Puebla, it is good luck to be the one who bites into the plastic toy skeleton hidden by the baker in each rounded loaf.  Friends and family members give one another gifts consisting of sugar skeletons or other items with a death motif, and the gift is more prized if the skull or skeleton is embossed with one's own name.  Another variation found in the state of Oaxaca is for bread to be molded into the shape of a body or burial wrap, and for a face to be embedded on one end of the loaf.  During the days leading up to and following the festivity, some bakeries in heavily aboriginal communities cease producing the wide range of breads that they typically sell so that they can focus on satisfying the demand for bread of the dead. 


On Election Day, the Tuesday after the first Monday of November, voters cast ballots for a slate of electors of the U.S. Electoral College, who in turn directly elect the President and Vice President.  The election is scheduled for November 4, 2008.  Be sure to vote!!!


The Melbourne Cup is Australia's major annual thoroughbred horse race.  Billed as “The race that stops a nation”, it is for three-year-olds and over, and covers a distance of 3,200 meters.  It is generally regarded as the most prestigious "two-mile" handicap in the world.  The event is held on the first Tuesday in November by the Victoria Racing Club, on the Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne.  This day was traditionally only a public holiday within metropolitan Melbourne, but is now also observed as a holiday in the entire state of Victoria, and even the ACT.

The race was originally held over two miles (about 3,218 meters) but following preparation for Australia's adoption of the metric system in the 1970s, the current race distance of 3,200 meters was established in 1972.  This reduced the distance by 61ft 6in, and Rain Lover's 1968 race record of 3min.19.1sec was accordingly adjusted to 3min.17.9sec.  The present record holder is the 1990 winner Kingston Rule with a time of 3min 16.3sec.

The 2007 winner was Efficient, ridden by Michael Rodd, trained by Graeme Rogerson and owned by Lloyd Williams.  Efficient became the first horse since Phar Lap to win the Victoria Derby, then the Melbourne Cup the following year.


            The Akumalian is working from a remote site in Chatham, Cape Cod, Massachusetts and is dependent on on-site reports from the Lol Ha Beach Bar for this month’s “Comings and Goings” section, so the verbiage may be a little dated once this issue is published.  Anyway, it’s a best effort, and BIG thanks go to Mary Henderson for her reports.


Mamo & Marcy Darcy returned to Aventuras Akumal in early October.
Denny & Diane Mahan returned to Casa Solymar for a week in early October.
Susan Meade and Blackberry were back to look at the renovations
Gary & Oveta Vardell returned to South Akumal for another brief vacation.
Terry & Lisa Turner were also seen on the beach.
Nancy Serwin and sister, Michelle, were back in Casa Magna.
Ron Stern was in town for a short stay, attending La Bahia's owners' meeting.
Lance Schober and his wife are in town, having returned with Isabel.
Bill & Otika Brab and Pat Murray are back at Casa San Francisco.
Leslie Brewer is back in Akumal for a month or so.
Kevin “Red Beard” McKee is also around and about for awhile.
Wendell & Linda Day have returned to Aventuras Akumal.
Margarita Herrera returned from one month in Roatan.
Thierry & Jissou Vander Elst are back in South Akumal.
Macon & Susan Gravlee are also back in South Akumal
Sherwood Anders has returned to the Iguana Condo
Donnie & Cheryl Hall are back at their Playa Blanca Condo
Especially for Halloween at La Buena Vida:
Katie and Joel Datica
Cori Pongracz, Jr. and girlfriend, Brittany
"Little" Stevie Pounder,
Carrie Lynn Distler,
Gary & Kathleen Dastin, along with Rachel and Alex Dastin (7 yr old twins), Benjamin Dastin (1 ½), and Lisa Cain will be in Playa Blanca for November 1 to 11.
Michael Stewart, the yoga teacher, returns in early Nov. for 5 months
Lydia Pontius is going to be in town from Nov 5 to 12 to “get a jump” on Sac-be
Lauren Dooley and friend Adam were in Playa Caribe for a week,
Richard Dooley and Kelly are Arriving Nov. 10
Tony, Joan, Cassie and Alex Gonzalez will be back for Thanksgiving Week.

Bud Blatner returned to Philly on Oct. 7th.
Hurley Hackler also returned to Philly, albeit a week later.
Laura Bush returned to Texas for a three week stint in mid October.
Nancy Poor’s mother, Betty, left after an extended stay in Akumal.
Linda Pongracz is on an extensive trip to Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong.
Mary Henderson goes to California for Thanksgiving holidays; returning Dec. 3.


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

It’s time for another “Best Shirt Award”, which is held on the first Friday of each month during Happy Hour at the Lol Ha Beach Bar.  This competition on November 7th could be REAL INTENSE as there seems to be a whole slew of viable contenders in town right now.

This award is based on Robin’s penchant for good, classy Beach Bar shirts, and his sister, Mary, is ready to once again be the judge and jury as she selects the “Best Shirt”  for November.  And, as we go to print the criteria are still somewhat nebulous, and they seem to be changing as we  move into the Fall.

The October competition drew a huge number of contestants from all over the world.  As it turned out, David Wolfe took top honors over an aggressive crowd that included a serious female contender.

The photos are located at October Best Shirt Award.

See All the Past Best Shirt Award Winners


The Full Beaver Moon occurs on November 13th at 12:17AM AST.

This is the time to set beaver traps before the mangroves freeze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs.  Another interpretation suggests that the name Full Beaver Moon comes from the fact that the beavers are now actively preparing for winter; it could also refer to the raccoons in North Akumal.  It is sometimes also referred to as the Frosty Moon.




Not much new around town.




This month brings us the return of the famous Leonid Meteor Shower, a meteor display that over the past several years has brought great anticipation and excitement to sky watchers around the world.  The Leonid meteors are debris shed into space by the Tempel-Tuttle comet, which swings through the inner solar system at intervals of 33 years.  With each visit the comet leaves behind a trail of dust in its wake.

In the Observers Handbook of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, meteor experts indicate that this year's peak activity should occur on the morning of November 17.  But while Leonid rates are unpredictable, it is unlikely that more than a dozen meteors per hour will be seen this year during peak activity, at least for viewers with dark skies away from cities.  Other meteor researchers, however, have examined Leonid prospects for this year and also suggest watching for some meteor activity on November 18.

The meteors will appear to emanate from out of the so-called "Sickle" of Leo, but prospective viewers should not concentrate on that area of the sky around Leo, but rather keep their eyes moving around to different parts of the sky.  Leo does not start coming fully into view until the hours after midnight, so that would be the best time to concentrate on looking for the Leonid meteors.

I wouldn't recommend the Leonids for casual observers this year.  Activity will probably be low, and if there are spurts or mini-outbursts the bright Moon will interfere.  The radiant is best placed from about 2am until the beginning of morning twilight; the radiant is below the horizon and the shower unobservable during the evening hours.  The Leonids are expected to be most active on the mornings of Monday, November 17 and Tuesday, November 18.


This official Mexican holiday celebrates the Mexican Revolution of 1910.

The Mexican Revolution was brought on by, among other factors, tremendous disagreement among the Mexican people over the dictatorship of President Porfirio Diaz, who, all told, stayed in office for thirty one years.  During that span, power was concentrated in the hands of a select few; the people had no power to express their opinions or select their public officials.  Wealth was likewise concentrated in the hands of the few, and injustice was everywhere, in the cities and the countryside alike.

Early in the 20th Century, a new generation of young leaders arose who wanted to  participate in the political life of their country, but they were denied the opportunity by the officials who were already entrenched in power and who were not about to give it up.  This group of young leaders believed that they could assume their proper role in Mexican politics once President Diaz announced publicly that Mexico was ready for democracy.  Although the Mexican Constitution called for public election and other institutions of democracy, Diaz and his supporters used their political and economic resources to stay in power indefinitely.

Francisco I. Madero was one of the strongest believers that President Diaz should renounce his power and not seek re-election.  Together with other young reformers, Madero created the ''Anti-reeleccionista'' Party, which he represented in subsequent presidential elections.  Between elections, Madero traveled throughout the country, campaigning for his ideas.

Francisco I. Madero was a firm supporter of democracy and of making government subject to the strict limits of the law, and the success of Madero's movement made him a threat in the eyes of President Diaz.  Shortly before the elections of 1910, Madero was apprehended in Monterrey and imprisoned in San Luis Potosi.  Learning of Diaz's re-election, Madero fled to the United States in October of 1910.  In exile, he issued the ''Plan of San Luis,'' a manifesto which declared that the elections had been a fraud and that he would not recognize Porfirio Diaz as the legitimate President of the Republic.

Instead, Madero made the daring move of declaring himself President Pro-Temp until new elections could be held.  Madero promised to return all land which had been confiscated from the peasants, and he called for universal voting rights and for a limit of one term for the president.  Madero's call for an uprising on November 20th, 1910, marked the beginning of the Mexican Revolution.

On November 14th, in Cuchillo Parado in the state of Chihuahua, Toribio Ortega and a small group of followers took up arms.  On the 18th in Puebla, Diaz's authorities uncovered preparations for an uprising in the home of the brothers Maximo and Aquiles Serdan, who where made to pay with their lives.  Back in Chihuahua, Madero was able to persuade Pascual Orozco and Francisco Villa to join the revolution.  Though they had no military experience, Orozco and Villa proved to be excellent strategists, and they earned the allegiance of the people of northern Mexico, who were particularly unhappy about the abusive ranchers and landlords who ran the North.

In March of 1911, Emiliano Zapata led the uprising of the peasants of Morelos to claim their rights over local land and water.  At the same time, armed revolt began in many other parts of the country.  The "Maderista" troops, and the national anger which inspired them, defeated the army of Diaz within six months.  The decisive victory of the Mexican Revolution was the capture of Ciudad Juarez, just across the river from El Paso, by Orozco and Villa.  Porfirio Diaz then resigned as President and fled to exile in France, where he died in 1915.

With the collapse of the Diaz regime, the Mexican Congress elected Francisco Leon De La Barra as President Pro-Temp and called for national popular elections, which resulted in the victory of Francisco I. Madero as President and Jose Maria Pino Suarez as Vice-President.



The Pilgrims who sailed to America were originally members of the English Separatist Church.  Before going to America they had fled to Holland to escape religious persecution.  Although, in Holland, they enjoyed more religious tolerance, but they eventually became disillusioned with the Dutch way of life.  In the hope of a better life in, they took the help of a London stock company to move out to America.  Most of those making this trip aboard the Mayflower were non-Separatists.  Only about one-third of the original colonists were Separatists.

They first landed on the tip of Cape Cod, what now is Provincetown.

They reached Plymouth in 1620.  There, they had to face a terrible winter.  Around 46 of the original 102 had died by the next fall.  But fortune turned in their favor and the harvest of the next year was bumper.  And the remaining colonists decided to celebrate with a feast -- including 91 Indians who had helped the Pilgrims survive their first year.  It is believed that the Pilgrims would not have made it through the year without the help of the natives.  The feast was more of a traditional English harvest festival than a true "thanksgiving" observance.  It lasted three days.  Governor William Bradford sent "four men fowling" after wild ducks and geese.  It is not certain that wild turkey was part of their feast.  However, it is certain that they had venison.  The term "turkey" was used by the Pilgrims to mean any sort of wild fowl.

Another modern staple at almost every Thanksgiving table is pumpkin pie.  But it is unlikely that the first feast included that treat.  The supply of flour had been long diminished, so there was no bread or pastries of any kind.  However, they did eat boiled pumpkin, and they produced a type of fried bread from their corn crop.  There was also no milk, cider, potatoes, or butter.  There was no domestic cattle for dairy products, and the newly-discovered potato was still considered by many Europeans to be poisonous.  But the feast did include fish, berries, watercress, lobster, dried fruit, clams, venison, and plums.  This "thanksgiving" feast was not repeated the following year.  But in 1623, during a severe drought, the pilgrims gathered in a prayer service, praying for rain.  When a long, steady rain followed the very next day, Governor Bradford proclaimed another day of Thanksgiving, again inviting their Indian friends.  It wasn't until June of 1676 that another Day of Thanksgiving was proclaimed.

On June 20, 1676, the governing council of Charlestown, Massachusetts, held a meeting to determine how best to express thanks for the good fortune that had seen their community securely established.  By unanimous vote they instructed Edward Rawson, the clerk, to proclaim June 29 as a day of thanksgiving.  It is notable that this thanksgiving celebration probably did not include the Indians, as the celebration was meant partly to be in recognition of the colonists' recent victory over the "heathen natives".  October of 1777 marked the first time that all 13 colonies joined in a thanksgiving celebration.  It also commemorated the patriotic victory over the British at Saratoga.  But it was a one-time affair.

George Washington proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving in 1789, although some were opposed to it.  There was discord among the colonies, many feeling the hardships of a few Pilgrims did not warrant a national holiday.  And later, President Thomas Jefferson scoffed at the idea of having a day of thanksgiving.  It was Sarah Josepha Hale, a magazine editor, whose efforts eventually led to what we recognize as Thanksgiving.  Hale wrote many editorials championing her cause in her Boston Ladies' Magazine, and later, in Godey's Lady's Book.  Finally, after a 40-year campaign of writing editorials and letters to governors and presidents, Hale's obsession became a reality when, in 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving was proclaimed by every president after Lincoln.  The date was changed a couple of times, most recently by Franklin Roosevelt, who set it up one week to the next-to-last Thursday in order to create a longer Christmas shopping season.  Public uproar against this decision caused the president to move Thanksgiving back to its original date two years later.  And in 1941, Thanksgiving was finally sanctioned by Congress as a legal holiday, as the fourth Thursday in November.


We just experienced the usual Robin’s “Best Shirt Award” in October. Of course there was the fantabulous Halloween Party at La Buena Vida, but that was happening as The Akumalian was being type-set.

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