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November 2009  Issue 83

Return to Home Page   2009 Index  

INTRODUCTION

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.
 

IMPORTANT NOVEMBER FACTS

 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.  
 

NOVEMBER BIRTHDAYS

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
25        Gary Vardell
27        Cami & Richard Mazzola, anniversary 

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?

AKUMAL HAPPY HOUR IN SAN MIGUEL

Early in October, Mary Henderson and Gabriella Herbert took a trip over to San Miguel de Allende, where they did some sightseeing, shopping, and connecting with other Akumalians, including some who live there in San Miguel.  One afternoon they took the opportunity for an unanticipated reunion for "hora feliz" at the Sunset Bar.  Here we have Paul Sanchez, Mary Henderson, Michelle Conner, Don Eischen, and Gabriella Herbert. 

 

Missing from the photo is Lorraine Garay, who lives in San Miguel, and Myrna Sparks, who was leading a tour group through the area.
 

HALLOWEEN AT LA BUENA VIDA

 

U.S. DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME (DST), NOVEMBER 1st

For the U.S., and only the U.S., DST ends on November 1.  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.

DAY OF THE DEAD, NOVEMBER 1 & 2

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.

The origins of the celebration of The Day of the Dead in Latin America can be traced back to the indigenous peoples of the Americas, such as the Zapotec, Aztec, Maya, Purepecha, Nahual and Totonac.

Rituals celebrating the lives of dead ancestors had been performed by these Mesoamerican civilizations for at least 3,000 years.  It was common practice to keep skulls as trophies and display them during rituals to symbolize death and rebirth. The festival which was to become Día de Muertos fell on the ninth month of the Aztec Solar Calendar, near the start of August, and was celebrated for the entire month.  Festivities were presided over by the goddess Mictecacihuatl, known as the "Lady of the Dead".  The festivities were dedicated to the celebration of children and the lives of dead relatives.  The Aztec tradition included the making of bread in the shape of a person which is perhaps the origin of the pan de muerte.

When the Spanish Conquistadors arrived in America in the 15th century they were appalled at the indigenous pagan practices, and in an attempt to convert the locals to Roman Catholicism moved the popular festival to the beginning of November to coincide with the Catholic All Saints Day (in which saints are honored) and All Souls Day (of observance and prayer for those who have died and those souls in purgatory).  All Saints' Day is the day after Halloween, which was in turn based on the earlier pagan ritual of Samhain, the Celtic day and feast of the dead.  The Spanish combined their custom of All Souls' Day with the similar Mesoamerican festival, creating the Día de lo Muertos, The Day of the Dead.  This is an example of syncretism or the blending of a significant event from two different cultural traditions.  Indigenous people of the Americas often would outwardly adopt the European rituals, while maintaining their original native beliefs.

The souls of children are believed to return first on November 1, with adult spirits following on November 2.
 

THE MELBOURNE CUP, NOVEMBER 3rd

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.

 

COMINGS AND GOINGS

          Comings:
·        
 The “Texas Contingent” was back in South Akumal in early October, and this included:

o   Terry & Lisa Turner

o   Gary & Oveta Vardell

o   Larry & Shari Jackson

o   Macon & Susan Gravlee

·       Ann & Jack Kennedy were back in town for a short trip in mid-October.
·        
John & Allyson Sheffield are back in town, making an “out of season” appearance.
·        
Richard & Arlene Pargot were back at La Vigas on the Lagoon for a couple of weeks.
·        
Creighton & Nancy Walker are reportedly in the Seven Seas.
·        
“Red Beard” and Tammy are back from their highland fling.
·        
Hurley Hackler is back from his quick trip to Disneyworld
·        
David & Nancy Poor are back on the lagoon.
·        
Marcy Essy is back in town for an extended stay through to next Spring.
·        
Tom & Judy Baxter have returned to South Akumal for a 5 month stay.
·        
Lydia Pontius has returned with her “Wellness” group.
·        
Paul Sanchez-Navarro’s sister came to celebrate Paul’s 50th birthday
·        
Harold & Suzi Halpern will be staying in Casa Solymar over Thanksgiving
·        
Larry & Karen Kantor arrive on November 21st
·        
Mike & Lynda, friends of Denny & Diane Mahan, will be coming to Casa Solymar later in the month, and they are getting married on October 31st.  In Akumal??

 Goings:
·        
Ron Stern has returned to San Francisco after an extended stay in Akumal
·        
Hurley Hackler is off again, this time for Xmas shopping in Miami and “Hamlet” in NY
·        
Jim Coke has returned to Ohio via Medi-Vac from Merida where he was hospitalized.  Go to the blog that Kay Walten has posted at http://locogringo.typepad.com/jimcoke/ to read all about Jim’s illness and now recovery
 

ROBIN’S BEST SHIRT, AWARD NOVEMBER 6th

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 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, and Mike Poper, here with wife Debbie, won out over all the other contestants.. 

The photos are located at Best Shirt Award.
 

FULL MOON, NOVEMBER 13th

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

This was the time to set beaver traps before the mangroves froze, 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.

 

WHAT’S NEW AROUND TOWN?

AKUMAL
La Lunita Now Open for Breakfast & Brunch
  
 Please  be advised that La Lunita is now open everyday/all day from 8:00am to 10:30pm serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Some of the breakfast & brunch 'specials' include

  • Salmon Crepes "La Lunita"
    Poached Eggs with Grilled Lobster
    Shrimp Rolls with Guacamole
    Quiche Lorraine
    Roasted Vegetable Quiche
    Lambe Burger with Potatoes
     

Day of the Dead Shrine at Lol Ha Beach Bar
   At the north end of the beach bar, Laura has installed a small shrine/altar for the Akumalians who have passed away over the years.  There are photos of all of those who have gone.

Lol-Ha To Be Open for Thanksgiving
    
It has been confirmed that the Lol-Ha restaurant will be open for Thanksgiving, and there will be the traditional Turkey Buffet.  A few other items from the menu will be available, including seafood, steaks  Mexican dishes, and a kids menu.  Reservations are being accepted. Please email laura@hotelakumalcaribe.com .

 Lol-Ha Local’s Discount Cards
      
Laura reports that a new system has been designed to reward YOU, the valued locals!

            Please ask the waiter for a form to fill out and leave it with them, so they can put your data into the system.  The collected information will help Lol-Ha with this program in rewarding frequent diners and show you our appreciation for your business!  Once you fill out the form, you can pick up your card on the following Wednesday, right at the snack bar cashier area.

            Keep you card with you, so that you can present it for your discount.  It must be presented in order to be able to apply the discount to your bill.  This is an automated system and the card must be swiped at the terminal.

You can request up to 2 free cards and if you need more, there will be a small charge involved, as well as for lost cards.

Is this BIG Brother finally reaching the remoteness of Akumal?

 TULUM
Hechizo to be Open for Thanksgiving Weekend
      
Stefan and Hui have announced that Hechizo will be open Thanksgiving weekend (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday) with seatings at 6:30, 7:30, and 8:30.  It is going to be an a la carte menu, but there will not be any turkey.

            After Thanksgiving, Hechizo will close until they re-open for the season, around December 15.

            Stefan & Hui are now managing the rental properties at Ranco San Eric, and they have a new web site at www.ranchosaneric.com and under “About Us” there is a link to Hechizo.

 PLAYA DEL CARMEN
MX307 Center Lanes Closed
      Be aware that the center lanes of MX307 are closed on the north and south sides of Av. Juarez, and at times, the by-pass might be the best option.  There is heavy duty construction/excavation on the north bound lanes before Av Juarez, and while this has not been confirmed, it almost looks like they may be putting in an overpass over Av. Juarez!!  That said, there is no construction/excavation north of Av. Juarez, so if this is to be an overpass, this traffic slowdown is going to be here for a long time.
 

magicjack

This is not an endorsement, only a public service for an alternative.

magicjack is an easy and inexpensive way to have FREE phone number, local & long distance calling, voicemail, and directory assistance using VoiP on your internet line.  There are NO contracts, No cancellation fees, NO credit card or billing info required.

The Staff purchased magicjack at RadioShack for $39.95, and there is a first year of FREE service; after that it is only $19.95 per year.  International calling rates seem to be comparable to Vonage.

Additional information about magicjack can be found at www.magicjack.com

While you are looking at the web site, do a Google search on “magicjack problems” and you will see that it is not a panacea with no problems.  Buyer Beware.

The Staff is using magicjack, and after a short period of time, the major annoyance is the call breaking up, and this bad enough that we will not sign on for the service next year.

The magicjack is small and handy, and it can be something worthwhile to have when traveling.
 

LEONID METEOR SHOWER, NOVEMBER 17-18th

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.

The predicted outburst, perhaps with rates of 100-500 Leonids per hour, strongly favors Asian observers, who should watch on the morning of November 18. North American observers should especially try to cover the morning of Tuesday, November 17 in case of unusual activity leading up to this peak. The Moon will be completely out of the picture and will not cause any problems. Just keep radiant elevation in mind wherever you're observing from. The radiant rises between 10pm and midnight for the bulk of the Northern Hemisphere. Leonid activity will be nonexistent before this time, and relatively very low for a couple of hours thereafter. Morning hours tend to produce the best rates, although the few earthgrazing Leonids seen around radiant-rise can be very impressive.

The Leonids are very fast meteors.  The shower is active at a low "background" level for about a week from November 14-21. Quite a few sporadic and minor-shower meteors join the cast, especially in the predawn hours.
 

AKUMAL COUNCIL GENERAL MEETING, NOV. 18th

The next scheduled meeting is on Wednesday, November 18 at 10:00 AM at CEA, and at that meeting, members will be formally accepted into the organization.  There has been some mention around the beach bar of this being a “new” formal organization now, so be there.
 

MEXICAN REVOLUTION DAY, NOVEMBER 20th

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 RIVIERA MAYA 2009 JAZZ FESTIVAL, NOV. 25 - 28

For four days Riviera Maya again becomes the host of the best national and international Jazz performers of all time!  The Riviera Maya 2009 Jazz Festival is a gathering of amazing and talented musicians in one of the most beautiful areas of the Riviera Maya.  As is now the custom in Playa del Carmen, the most important Jazz Festival of the Mexican Southeast will take place from November 25th to 28th, 2009.  What a fantastic opportunity to see Jazz superstars perform in paradise!

This year’s schedule will feature:
·        
November 25th - The Royal Band, Aguamala, Colin Hunter and Sacbe 
·        
November 26th -  Na’rimbo, Juan Alzate, Mark Aanderud, and Enrique Nery o
·        
November 27th - Jim Beard, Spyro Gyra and Sergio Mendes 
·        
November 28th - Pat Martino, Al Jarreau, and Herbie Hancock 

All concerts will take place at Mamita’s Beach starting at 7pm, and the best of all, entrance is free for all jazz lovers! 
 

THANKSGIVING DAY, NOVEMBER 26th

History
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 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.
 

EVENTS

Just the usual Robin’s Best Shirt Award.

 

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