The Akumalian

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

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May 2012  Issue 113

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The April showers have passed – actually it was kinda a dry month – and now we are ready for the May flowers and Mother’s Day, among many other special days.

This turns out to be a fairly long issue, because of a number of things that happened in April, and a number of things coming down the pike in May.  The BIG thing in April was the Akumal Comedy Festival, and we have a little piece on that from Marieke Brown, who did a fantabulous job bringing everything together.  We also have the early forecast for the 2012 hurricane season, and there is a report from Kate Robinhawk and Charles Shaw.

And, for additional information about Akumal and Puerto Aventuras, don’t forget to check out Sac-Be and the Pelican Free Press


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 northern Europe 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.


Birthdays and Anniversaries
1          Monica Estrada and Juan Antonio Huerta Anniversary
2          Sandra Titze
2          Steve & Heather DePaola Anniversary
2          Diane Daniell
4          Russ & Stephanie Motley, Anniversary
4          Dylan Vladimir Chan Tec; 2008, son of Miguel (head waiter) & Imelda
4          Kai Christopher Brown to Marieke and Scott
5          Michele Meyer Correa
5          Susan & Macon Gravlee Anniversary
5          Dean & Alison Keegan Anniversary
7          Steve & Ingrid Clouther Anniversary
10        Memo & Marcy Essy Anniversary
12        Chris Firth
14        Lucas Kai Schober Thai
16        Dave Bliss
16        Steve and Kathleen Cole, Anniversary
15        Karl & Dawn Shubert, Anniversary 
18        Derek Firth
18        Bob & Sherwood Anders Anniversary
20        Monika Titze
21        Jissou VanderElst
27        Crayton Walker
27        Nance & Crayton Walker’s Anniversary
31        Terry Fredette 

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

 Missed April Birthday  ok
1          Holly Sheffield
18        Jody Allen


By Marieke Brown- Akumal Comedy Festival Coordinator and Program Manager

 The 1st Annual Akumal Comedy Festival, brain child of Stand Up! Records owner Dan Schlissel and Actor/Comedian Gus Lynch, descended on our laid back Caribbean eco-community last week for 3 days of fun, sun, and lots of laughter!   18 professional comedians, including headliners Chad Daniels, Darlene Westgor, and Kjell Bjorgen, entertained crowds of up to 300 people in 4 venues throughout the village over 3 days.  The whole event was documented by the incredible talented Matt Olson and Token Media who not only documented the festival, but produced lots of area footage including a series of short comedy sketches on location throughout the village.  “Akumal Comedy Retrospective” was premiered at the Minneapolis St Paul International Film Festival on April 26, 2012! 

It turns out that the 1st Annual Akumal Comedy Festival is not only the first stand-up comedy festival ever to have been held in Akumal, but is also the first ever stand-up comedy festival to have been held in the country of Mexico, and very likely Central America!

Other key additions to the festival were Ian Rans, a journalist from the Minneapolis City Pages who has been blogging about the event online, Quinn Cannady from who has been broadcasting about the event over 12 radio stations in the USA, and Arturo Novelo and his film crew “Real Life in Merida”, who also documented the event.   Comedian Bill Young has also been posting hilarious blogs at

The event was a fundraiser to raise money to build a playground for the children of the Akumal Pueblo who currently have no public play facilities at all.   There are no slides, or swings for them to enjoy, or safe area away from the roads for them to play.   We are planning to change that.   The festival managed to raise US$4500 after festival expenses through the incredibly generous donations of local businesses and all who attended.   The fundraising will continue and we have some excellent auctions coming up which include stays in beachfront condos and luxury villas, plus the opportunity for a lucky winner to go to the Jack Canfield (author of Chicken Soup for the Soul) event at the beautiful Tao Wellness Center.   Watch this space for that!

The 1st Annual Akumal Comedy Festival was possible thanks to Dan Schlissel, Gus Lynch, Marieke Brown, and a massive community effort including the help and support of all of our sponsors who can be seen on the website   Special thanks the information and logistics team (you know who you are!), Don Melchor the Delegado of Akumal, the children of the local primary school, the Akumal jarana group, to the bands and entertainment, and all of the food and drink vendors who also contributed generously to the playground fund with their earnings.

Watch out for all of the online photos, blogs, and of course video footage that will follow this superb event over the next couple of weeks.

The 2nd Annual Akumal Comedy Festival is already in the planning stages and we will have a good representation of Mexican and Latin comics for 2013.

Thank you to everyone who made this year’s festival possible!   What a fantastic week!   Can’t wait for next year’s fest!   See you all there!

Best regards,
                   Marieke Brown 


 Philip J. Klotzbach1 and William M. Gray, Department of Atmospheric Science of Colorado State University, made their 2012 predictions in early April.

“We anticipate that the 2012 Atlantic basin hurricane season will have reduced activity compared with the 1981-2010 climatology.  The tropical Atlantic has anomalously cooled over the past several months, and it appears that the chances of an El Niño event this summer and fall are relatively high. We anticipate a below-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the United States coastline and in the Caribbean.

“Towards June/July of 2012, a weak El Niño is expected to develop.  Typically in El Niño years, wind shear increases across the tropical Atlantic Ocean, which is one of the factors that played into our 2012 hurricane projection.  Tropical systems cannot develop in areas of strong wind shear, and a strong system that pushes into an area of increased wind shear typically weakens.  In El Niño years, South Asia could experience drought conditions while parts of the western coast of South America could see an increase amounts of rainfall.

“The early forecast for the Atlantic hurricane season is for us to see a below average season with ten named storms, four hurricanes, and two major hurricanes.  The likelihood of seeing an El Niño and having cooler waters in the Atlantic Ocean could contribute to fewer storms developing during the 2012 season.  However, coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them, and they need to prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted.”


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

 May Day occurs on May 1 and refers to any of several public holidays. In many countries, May Day is synonymous with International Workers' Day, or Labor Day, which celebrates the social and economic achievements of the labor movement.  As a day of celebration the holiday has ancient origins, and it can relate to many customs that have survived into modern times.  Many of these customs are due to May Day being a cross-quarter day, meaning that (in the Northern Hemisphere where it is almost exclusively celebrated) it falls approximately halfway between the spring equinox and summer solstice.

May Day has become an international celebration of the social and economic achievements of the labor movement.  Although May Day received its inspiration from the United States, the U.S. Congress designated May 1 as Loyalty Day in 1958 due to the day's appropriation by the Soviet Union.  Alternatively, Labor Day traditionally occurs on the first Monday in September in the United States.  People often use May Day as a day for political protest, such as the million people who demonstrated against far-right candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen in France, or as a day for protest against government actions, such as pro-immigrant rallies across the United States.


On Thursday, May 3rd, the ISS (International Space Station) should be visible as it passes overhead, just south (WSW) of Akumal at 7:50-7:51pm, tracking in a NW – SSE direction.






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 Russ Motley in a close victory.  See the photos in the April Best Shirt Award Photo Gallery.


The 138th running of the Kentucky Derby will take place on May 5, 2012.

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 2012 “Run for the Roses”.  The coverage for the 138th Run for the Roses and the Triple Crown on May 5, 2012 begins on NBC Television at 5PM (4PM AT), post time approximately 6PM ET (5PM AT).  Come early and bet often.

100 pesos for a WIN ticket

50 pesos for PLCE ticket

20 pesos for a SHOW ticket

Come early, thirsty, and hungry.  It’s all going to be there at Lol Ha’s Derby Day.  And, Mary might organize a "Best Derby Hat Award".


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
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.


            April seems to be the transition month for most snowbirds, and the place is emptying out as we head into May.

Comings, and Were Here:

            The “Here in April” group:

  • Michelle Bliss was here for a week to check on the new house.
  • Ken Anderson has returned to Akumal and Tequilaville after a short stint in Jamaica.
  • Don Papa was back for a short visit to Puerto Aventuras.
  • Don and Dennis Burris came down to the beach bar one evening.
  • Hurley Hackler was also seen in Akumal one evening.
  • Kim was also in Akumal one Friday.
  • Michael Schwartz was spotted on the beach at South Akumal.
  • Michelle Connor was in town doing some work on Las Hamacas.
  • Gary & Oveta Vardell were back in South Akumal for a short spell.
  • Wally & Jan Koenst were back in Aventuras Akumal for two weeks.
  • Terry & Lisa Turner were also spotted on the beach at South Akumal.
  • Debby Entwistle was in town for the Comedy Festival.
  • Mark & Maureen Miller were here too.
  • Kathy Farrell is back.
  • Jim & Jackie Power are back in Jade Bay.
  • Adrian Wilkinson is in town for the Punta Sur HOM.
  • Lorraine is back in Aventuras Akumal.
  • Richard Dooley is back in Playa Caribe with his daughter.
  • Lucy James returned to celebrate her 50th birthday in Tankah on April 18th.
  • Beryl, Susanne, Lucas, and Nico VanLierop returned to Akumal on the 22nd.
  • Michelle Bliss is returning late in the month, maybe early May.

 The “Coming in May” group:

  • Myrna Sparks returns with friends for three weeks, and they will do the stop in Valladolid on the way to Chichen Itza.
  • Monica Meyer is going to be in Los Primos from May 12 – 26.
  • Cathy L  & Rudy Pérez are going to be here on May 22-26.
  • Michelle & Dave Bliss will return for a (new) Vodka tasting.

 Goings:  Snowbird evacuation in April and May:
Tom & Judy Baxter flew out for a month, and they return around May 19.
Dave Zucker and Dan Freeman are leaving for a vacation up north.
Don Papa and Dennis Burris have departed Puerto Aventuras.
Claudia King has left Akumal Investments, Puerto Aventuras, and Mexico.


            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.

France 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 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.


The Full Flower Moon occurs on Saturday, May 6 at 10:35p.m. AST.  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.

The moon will also be at perigee just 25 minutes after turning full, at 12:00 a.m. EDT on May 6, at a distance of 221,801 miles (356,955 kilometers) from Earth.  Very high ocean tides can be expected from the coincidence of perigee with the full moon.

This will be the BIGGEST full moon of 2012.


This shower has a relatively broad maximum but is expected to show the greatest number of meteors before dawn on May 5 or 6.  Unfortunately, the closest and largest full moon of the year will be out all night long, leaving no dark sky for this year’s Eta Aquarid show.  But die-hard meteor enthusiasts will be watching anyway, to see how many Lyrids can be seen in a moonlit sky.  At northerly latitudes – like in the northern states and Canada – the meteor numbers are few and far between. In the southern half of the US, 10 to 20 meteors per hour may be visible in a dark sky.  Farther south – like in the Akumal and the Southern Hemisphere – the meteor numbers increase dramatically, perhaps two to three times more Eta Aquarid meteors streaking the southern skies.  For the most part, this is a predawn shower.  The radiant for this shower appears in the east-southeast at about 4 a.m. and the hour or two before dawn offers the most meteors.  The broad peak to this shower means that some meteors may fly in the dark hour before dawn for a few days before and after the predicted optimal date.  Although the most meteors will probably rain down on May 5 or 6 before dawn, the full moon is sure to wash away all but the brightest Eta Aquarid meteors.

The point in the sky from which meteors in annual showers appear to radiate is called the meteor shower radiant.  You don’t have to locate the radiant to watch the Eta Aquarid meteors, but people always ask about them.  Although the Eta Aquarid meteors streak all over the sky, they appear to radiate from the Y-shaped group of stars called the Water Jar.  The Water Jar is part of the constellation Aquarius.

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.



 Cueva Vodka
Michelle & David Bliss report, “First batch of test vodka should be ready soon!”  However, there is no information on exactly when and where the tasting of the ‘test’ is going to be.

Elsy Bush - Sept. 15, 1930 – March 19, 2012
On March 19, 2012, Elsy Bush, the beloved wife of Don Pablo Bush, and mother of Myrna and Laura, passed away.

 Laura Bush remembers.

 “Elsy was a gracious, stylish lady. She was always thinking of others, and she enjoyed giving more than receiving.  She did her best to learn English, even taking courses throughout her adult life.  She remained very active, participating in an Aerobics dance competition when well into her 60’s.She went to Community College to learn the Internet, and Computers, and her hobby was reading history.  It was not until 5 years ago that she developed health issues that slowed her down.  This did not stop her from traveling to see her family in Mexico, and it was on one of those trips, after having spent a wonderful few weeks with all the family, that her accident happened.

 “There was never a day that went by that Elsy did not miss her husband, Pablo, who passed away 13 years ago.  She is finally able to join him and as she always loved to do; dance cheek to cheek with him again.” 

 What Ever Happened to Kate Robinhawk and Charles Shaw?
Kate and Charles were long time residents of, and contributors to, Akumal.  After nineteen years here, they packed up and headed for California in late April 2007. 

            Where are they now?  Here is the beginning of Kate’s report.

            “In our minds we remember ourselves as being young when we first came to live in Mexico in May, 1988. Kate had turned forty-one that year.  Charles was fifty-four.  Oh, come to think of it, we were young.

“Then it was 2007.  We had lived our dream and in the process changed our lives.  The tropical paradise we had come to live in was something very different.  Time passed, the world changed.  How extremely fortunate we feel to have seen and lived the life of the old, pre-development world on the Mexican Caribbean.”

Read ‘the rest of the story’ at Kate and Charles – Where Are They Now.

ONDARTE Exhibition
On Saturday, April 28th, ONDARTE International Artist Residency presented the work of the current artists in residence during an Exhibition & Cocktail Reception.  See more about it at April ONDARTE Exhibition.


Regional Spelling Bee and Pablo Bush Romero Scholarships
Laura Bush reports on the Regional Spelling Bee and Pablo Bush Romero Scholarships.  

“The regional Spelling Bee was held on April 26, and we were invited as guests of honor.  Paul was presented with a Recognition Certificate for CEA in gratitude.  Leticia and I were presented with one for the Akumal Council Education Committee that, thanks to Leticia's efforts, has been kept alive.

“We gave out the 10 Pablo Bush Romero Scholarships totaling $50,000 Pesos to the kids that won them from the Telesecundaria of Akumal Pueblo.  Leticia developed a program for the kids to follow and gain points upon completion that included, art, sports, reading, computer work to establish the winners of this year’s Scholarships.

“At the end the representative of the Education Commission expressed his desire to have more of these events at CEA; that it was a very good location for them.”

Due to some technical difficulties within The Akumalian’s photo lab, it is best to view Laura’s photos at Regional Spelling Bee and Pablo Bush Romero Scholarship.



Andres Somellera Ramirez reports that he is now the General Manager of Division gastronomy and hospitality at GRUPO INMOBILIARIO PARADIGMA: Ixtapan de la Sal, Edo de Mexico.  Check out Andres on Linkedin.

Andres says, “I am responsible for opening, handling, replicated and development of the 2 following projects, with responsibility and absolute authority in financial statements, business plan, and processes, development of employees and management of financial and human resources.  The development of the area and the creation of sources of employment is intended to position Ixtapan de la Sal as an eager place to visit for its cuisine offered.

“Hotel Boutique Villas del Paraíso (5 stars) has twenty-five villas and two restaurants of specialties, five forks and one of them focused on obtaining of Michelin stars, with the distinctive and highest awards within the foodservice and culinary industry in the world.

“The Design of a restaurant type Toks and seven gourmet fast food restaurants of our own creation within a shopping mall.”  


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 mañanitas" 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 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.


The Sacred Mayan Journey will take place at Xcaret for the 6th consecutive year.  This event recreates one of the most ancient traditions of the Mayan culture; the yearly pilgrimage of the Maya, who braved the ocean on their canoes and crossed to the island of Cozumel to worship the goddess Ixchel.

With the participation of 300 oarsmen on 30 canoes, the 6th edition of the Sacred Mayan Journey will take place from May 17th-19th, 2012.  This Journey has a special meaning this year, as it is part of the celebrations that will take place to bid farewell to the end of an Era, in accordance to the Mayan Calendar, and as a way of preparing for the beginning of a new cycle of 13 baktuns (a period of 5,125 years in the Gregorian calendar).  The main message of the 2012 Journey focuses on a New Beginning, on the unity of men and women living in harmony with their world and fully aware of their surroundings, with a new spirit lit by a new fire.

See Sacred Mayan Journey for more information.


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.


The Preakness Stakes is an American flat Thoroughbred horse race for three-year-olds held on the third Saturday in May each year at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland.  It is a Grade I race run over a distance of 9.5 furlongs on dirt.  Colts and geldings carry 126 pounds (57 kg); fillies 121 lb (55 kg).  It is the second leg of the US Triple Crown, with the Kentucky Derby preceding it and the Belmont Stakes following it.  The horse must win all three races to win the Triple Crown.

The Preakness Stakes has been termed "The Run for the Black-Eyed Susans" because a blanket of Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta, the state flower of Maryland) is traditionally placed around the winner's neck.  The attendance at the Preakness Stakes ranks second in North America and usually surpasses the attendance of all other stakes races including the Belmont Stakes, the Breeders' Cup and the Kentucky Oaks.  The attendance of the Preakness Stakes typically only trails the Kentucky Derby.

Created by Tiffany and Company in 1860 as a trophy for the now defunct Woodlawn Racing Association, the Woodlawn Vase is presented each year to the winning Preakness owner.  An assessment in 1983 of $1 million easily makes its silver design the most valuable trophy in American sports.  Until 1953, winners were awarded possession of the vase until the following Preakness.  That all changed when A. G. Vanderbilt’s Native Dancer won it but his wife did not want to take on the immense responsibility of the vase’s safekeeping.  Now the winning owner is awarded a $30,000 sterling replica on a permanent basis while the perpetual is on display at The Baltimore Museum of Art and brought to Pimlico under guard for the annual running of the Preakness. 


Unfortunately, not in Akumal.

The path of annularity for this eclipse starts over eastern China and sweeps northeast across southern and central Japan.  The path continues northeast then east, passing just south of Alaska's Aleutian Island chain.  The path then turns to the southeast, making landfall in the western United States along the California-Oregon coast.  It will pass over central Nevada, southern Utah, northern Arizona, the extreme southwest corner of Colorado and most of New Mexico before coming to an end over northern Texas.

The moon's penumbral shadow produces a partial eclipse visible from a much larger region covering East Asia, North Pacific, North America and Greenland.

Since the disk of the moon will appear smaller than the disk of the sun, it will create a "penny on nickel" effect, with a fiery ring of sunlight shining around the moon's dark silhouette.  Locations that will witness this eerie sight include Eureka and Reading, Calif.; Carson City, Reno and Ely, Nev.; Bryce Canyon in Utah; Arizona's Grand Canyon; Albuquerque and Santa Fe in New Mexico, and just prior to sunset for Lubbock, Tex.

A partial eclipse of the sun will be visible over a large swath of the United States and Canada, including Alaska and Hawaii, but no eclipse will be visible near and along the Atlantic Seaboard or in Akumal, Mexico.

Utah’s Canyon Country, one of the darkest places in North America, offers some of the best  eclipse viewing areas for the rare May 20, 2012 Annular, or “ring of fire,” eclipse.  The partial eclipse for this area begins at about 6:20 pm Mountain Standard Time and ends at 8 pm, while the annular eclipse (in which the moon lines up directly in front of the sun except for the outer edge of the sun) happens at about 7:30pm, lasting for more than two minutes.  Special events at both the Natural Bridges National Park and on the San Juan River are available.

If you are fortunate to be in the center of the path, this is what you can expect to see.


Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May.  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.



During the month of April, there were a couple of “Events” besides the “Best Shirt Award” and you can see them at:

·         ONDARTE Exhibition

·         Regional Spelling Bee and Pablo Bush Romero Scholarship.


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