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February 2014  Issue 134

Return to Home Page   2009 Index  2010 Index   2011 Index   2012 Index   2013 Index  2014 Index

LETTER FROM THE STAFF

This is going to be “One Wild and Crazy Month”, to paraphrase Steve Martin.

 The first week of the month is going to be one absolutely spectacular event after another, as February is kicked off with Groundhog Day, Candlemass, and the Super Bowl, all on the 2nd, and Robin’s Best Shirt Award night is on the 7th, and all these Events will be held at the Lol Ha Beach Bar.  Then, there’s Valentine’s Day on the 14th (and you need to see Charlene about buying some raffle tickets),

Moving into the latter part of February we have President’s Day, on the 20th, and the full moon on the 15th.   .

And while all this is going on in Akumal, Mexico takes time to celebrate two major holidays, Day of the Constitution on the 5th and Flag Day on the 24th.

Do not forget the other local publications, Sac-Be - The Costal Source for Travel in the Riviera Maya, the Pelican Free Press, and the CEA Newsletter

If you have not heard yet, Steve & Ingrid Clouther have sold Casa Colibri to Steve & Kathleen Cole, and they, Steve & Ingrid, are moving to Harwich, Massachusetts (Cape Cod) at the end of February.  With that move comes the end of The Akumalian as you know it today, and The Staff is looking for replacement staff who might continue the effort in some way, shape or form.  The Staff knows that no one would want to continue The Akumalian in its present form, because it is based on old, outdated, and unsupported software, Microsoft FrontPage.

While The Akumalian can be published from the remote office in Harwich, it loses it local flavor without eyes, ears, and legs here on the ground in Akumal.  There are three essential pieces to this, and they are Comings & Goings, What’s New Around Town, and the various events, especially Robin’s Best Shirt Award on the first Friday of every month. 

The Staff will maintain the domain, and The Akumalian will continue to be present and available on-line at www.theakumalian.com .  This means all the background information, like past issues of The Akumalian, the Photo Galleries, the Akumal Telephone Book, and Birthdays/Anniversaries will still be accessible, and available for updates.  Robin’s Best Shirt Award photos could continue to be published each month if the appropriate photos were taken and forwarded to The Staff in the Harwich office for publishing.

No decision has been made yet, but The Staff may publish the March issue.  After that, ................
 

IMPORTANT FEBRUARY FACTS

Aquarius:  January 20 - February 18

Pisces:  February 19 - March 20

 February Birthstone:  Amethyst
   
Amethyst is the purple variety of quartz and is a popular gemstone.  If it were not for its widespread availability, amethyst would be very expensive.  The name "amethyst" comes from the Greek and means "not drunken."  This was maybe due to a belief that amethyst would ward off the effects of alcohol, but most likely the Greeks were referring to the almost wine-like color of some stones that they may have encountered.  Its color is unparalleled, and even other, more expensive purple gemstones are often compared to its color and beauty.  Although it must always be purple to be amethyst, it can and does have a wide range of purple shades.

Amethyst can occur as long prismatic crystals that have a six sided pyramid at either end or can form as druzes that are crystalline crusts that only show the pointed terminations.  As a mineral specimen, amethyst is popular for its color and nice crystal shapes that produce a handsome, purple, sparkling cluster.

 February Flower:  Violet
   
Viola species typically have heart-shaped, scalloped leaves, though a number have palmate leaves or other shapes.  The vast majority of Viola species are herbaceous, however a substantial number are acaulescent in habit without any noticeable stems, while the others have short stems with flowers produced in the axils of the leaves.  The simple leaves of plants with either habit are arranged alternately; the acaulescent species produce basal rosettes.  Plants always have leaves with stipules that are often leaf-like.
  

FEBRUARY BIRTHDAYS

Birthdays and Anniversaries
1          Bill Brab
5          Sam Nejame
5          Bill McClendon
6          Jerry Radlinsky
6          Ken Sloan
6          Caryl Rosen
7          Hugo (Miramar chef)
8          Lyzz Kirk
9          Terry Turner
10        Gary Ness
10        Alex Gonzalez
11        Karen Kantor
12        Jock Horner
12        Katie Humphreys
14        Leonard Rappaport
15        George Alvarado
16        Claudia King
18        Marie Baxter
19        Myrna Sparks
20        Ken Anderson
22        Hagen Clements
23        Kate Robinhawk
23        Bob Anders
23        Chris McCasland
24        David Poor
25        Jim Farrell
26        Bobby Sapia
27        Shelley Cope
27        Julie Brenton
28        Judy Baxter
 

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

 Missed January Birthdays

 Looks like everyone is accounted for.
 

CHINESE NEW YEAR, JANUARY 31 

 Chinese New Year is the longest and most important celebration in the Chinese calendar. The Chinese year 4712, the Year of the Horse, begins on Jan. 31, 2014.

The Chinese calendar is a combined solar/lunar calendar and is somewhat similar to the Chinese calendar.  For the purpose of determining the dates of the Chinese New Year some astronomical calculations need to be taken care of.  Firstly, we need to determine the dates for the new moon.  The new moon is the black moon that is when the moon is in conjunction with the sun. The date of the new moon is taken as the first day of the new month. 

Secondly those dates are determined when the sun's longitude is the multiple of 30 degrees.  These dates are termed as Principal terms and are used for determining the number of each month.  The Principle term 1 takes place when the sun's longitude is 330 degrees, the 2nd Principle term occurs when the sun's longitude is about 0 degrees.  The principle term 3 takes place when the sun's longitude is 30 degrees, the principle term 11 occurs when the sun's longitude is 270 degrees and the principle term 12 occurs when the sun's longitude is 300 degrees.

The current 60-year cycle in the Chinese calendar started on 2nd February 1984.

Legend has it that in ancient times, Buddha asked all the animals to meet him on Chinese New Year.  Twelve came, and Buddha named a year after each one.  He announced that the people born in each animal's year would have some of that animal's personality.  One of the twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac, the Ox is a sign of stability and strength.  It also denotes prosperity through hard work, and people born in the Year of the Ox are said to be dependable, patient and intelligent, while possessing an innate ability to achieve great things.

At Chinese New Year celebrations people wear red clothes, decorate with poems on red paper, and give children "lucky money" in red envelopes.  Red symbolizes fire, which according to legend can drive away bad luck.  The fireworks that shower the festivities are rooted in a similar ancient custom.  Long ago, people in China lit bamboo stalks, believing that the crackling flames would frighten evil spirits.

In China, the New Year is a time of family reunion.  Family members gather at each other's homes for visits and shared meals, most significantly a feast on New Year's Eve.  In the United States, however, many early Chinese immigrants arrived without their families, and found a sense of community through neighborhood associations instead.  Today, many Chinese-American neighborhood associations host banquets and other New Year events.

In many areas the highlight of the lantern festival is the dragon dance. The dragon, which might stretch a hundred feet long, is typically made of silk, paper, and bamboo.  Traditionally the dragon is held aloft by young men who dance as they guide the colorful beast through the streets.  In the United States, where the New Year is celebrated with a shortened schedule, the dragon dance always takes place on a weekend.  In addition, many Chinese-American communities have added American parade elements such as marching bands and floats.

May you all have a happy and prosperous Year Of The Horse.  Will there be a Dragon Dance in Akumal?
 

GROUNDHOG DAY, FEBRUARY 2nd 

Groundhog Day is always on February 2, and it is a traditional festival celebrated in the United States and Canada on this date.  It is a cross-quarter day, midway between the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox.

Punxsutawney Phil is a groundhog and the most famous resident of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.  On Groundhog Day of each year, the town of Punxsutawney celebrates the beloved groundhog with a festive atmosphere of music and food.  During the ceremony, which begins well before the winter sunrise, Phil emerges from his temporary home on Gobbler's Knob, located in a rural area about 2 miles east of town.  According to the tradition, if Phil sees his shadow and returns to his hole, the United States will suffer six more weeks of winter.  If Phil does not see his shadow, spring will arrive early.  During the rest of the year, Phil lives in the town library with his "wife" Phyllis.

A club of Phil enthusiasts, known as the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, take care of the famed rodent year-round.  A select group called the Inner Circle plan the annual ceremony.  Members of the Inner Circle are recognizable by their top hats and tuxedos.

            Here in Akumal, we have our own Akumal Groundhog Club Inner Circle, comprised on Bud & Alice Blatner, and they too are recognizable by their top hats and tuxedos.  They are serving up their annual fare of groundhog jerky at the Lol Ha Beach Bar at 5:30.  Come early to get a good seat.
  

DIA DE LA CANDELARIA, FEBRUARY 2nd

Candlemas Day has numerous origins and meanings.

In modern life many people may not be aware that on February 2 we celebrate an ancient feast, common to the Church of both East and West, which is mentioned clearly in Leviticus and Luke.  February 2 is "Candlemas" in many churches and is the day for observing the ritual purification of Mary, forty days after the birth of Jesus, as well as the presentation of Jesus in the Temple in Jerusalem.  The day has pagan roots and was a Christian adaptation of the older practices for this midwinter festivity from which we get our "Groundhog Day."  Since the presentation was also the purification of Mary, the church developed ritual practices known as the "Churching of Women" or "Thanksgiving of Women after Childbirth."  The following is an explanation:

·       Seven days after Christmas, January 1, is the feast of our Lord's circumcision

·       Thirty three days after that, February 2 is the feast of his being offered in the Temple, the purification of the Virgin Mary.  So Candlemass is forty days after the birth of Jesus.

 This day also used to have great significance in the rural calendar, because the date lays half way between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, so it marks the day upon which winter is half over!  It is a time of the year which naturally forms a transition period in winter - there is a sense in which thank God we are moving on into brighter and better days.

Like many Christians festivals, including Christmas itself, Candlemas has roots which lay deep in pagan roots and an understanding of nature.

Like many Celtic festivals, the Imbolc celebrations centered around the lighting of fires.  Fire was perhaps more important for this festival than others, as it was also the holy day of Brigid (also known as Bride, Brigit, Brid), the Goddess of fire, healing and fertility.  The lighting of fires celebrated the increasing power of the Sun over the coming months.  For the Christian calendar, this holiday was reformed and renamed 'Candlemas' when candles are lit to remember the purification of the Virgin Mary.

As Candlemas traditions evolved, many people embraced the legend that if the sun shone on the second day of February, an animal would see its shadow and there would be at least six more weeks of winter.  Bears or badgers are watched in some European countries, but the German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania found an abundance of groundhogs, and late in the 19th century a few residents in Punxsutawney began celebrating the groundhog as weather prophet.  So we have Groundhog Day.

You may know the rhyme:

If Candlemas day be sunny and bright,
Winter again will show its might.
If Candlemas day be cloudy and grey,
Winter soon will pass away.

 In Mexico, Candlemas (Spanish: Día de La Candelaria) is celebrated with Tamales.  Tradition indicates that on January 5, the night before Three Kings Day (the Epiphany), whoever gets one or more of the few plastic or metal dolls (originally coins) buried within the Rosca de Reyes must throw a party on Candlemas.  In certain regions of Mexico, this is the day in which the baby Jesus of each household is taken up from the nativity scene and dressed up in various colorful, whimsical outfits.
 

SUPER BOWL XLVIII, FEBRUARY 2nd  

Super Bowl XLVIII is an upcoming American football game between the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Denver Broncos and National Football Conference (NFC) champion Seattle Seahawks to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 2013 season.  It is scheduled to be held on February 2, 2014, at MetLife Stadium at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey, with kickoff scheduled for 6:25pm EST (UTC−05:00).

This will be the first Super Bowl to be played outdoors in a cold weather environment, the first played on February 2, the first to be played outdoors on artificial turf (in this case FieldTurf) since Super Bowl X at the Miami Orange Bowl, and the first in which two US states (New York and New Jersey) will share hosting duties.  It is also the first time since Super Bowl XLIV, and just the second time in the past twenty seasons, that the #1 seeds from each conference will meet to decide the championship.  The game will feature the league's top offense (Denver) vs. the top defense (Seattle), which has not occurred since Super Bowl XXXVII.

The place to be: Lol Ha Beach Bar, Akumal Central, Quintana Roo, Mexico.  Get there early to buy a commerative T-shirt and make your entries on the Football Pool.  The procedes are going towards the Akumal Coral Transplanting Project, an initiative of the Hotel Akumal Caribe and Centro Ecologico Akumal.   
 

DAY OF THE CONSTITUTION, FEB 5th

Día de la Constitución, February 5, is an official holiday that commemorates Mexico's Constitution.

The Political Constitution of the United Mexican States of 1917 is the present constitution of Mexico.  It was drafted in Santiago de Queretaro by a Constitutional Convention during the Mexican Revolution.  It was approved by the Constitutional Congress on February 5, 1917, with Venustiano Carranza serving as the first president under its terms.

The Constitution of 1917 came to be the crystallization of the revolutionary ideals that were elevated to the category of constitutional norms.  On it, were included advanced principles of social reforms and rights in favor of peasants and workers, in addition, it was formulated to govern all the Mexicans without distinction of race, creed, social or political condition, since in it were elevated to the rank of constitutional norms the freedom of thought and of belief.

Nevertheless, many years were spent before consolidating a Constitution according to the times and circumstances of the Mexicans.  Throughout history, different fundamental laws were emanated of a Constituent Congress.

 

ROBIN’S BEST SHIRT AWARD, FEB 7th  

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 February.  Make sure the front panels line up.

The January competition was won by Margaret Wiedman.  The photos for the January competition are located at January Best Shirt Award.
 

WINTER OLYMPICS, FEB. 7th - 23rd

The 2014 Winter Olympics, officially the XXII Olympic Winter Games, or the 22nd Winter Olympics, are scheduled to take place from 7 to 23 February 2014, in Sochi, Russia, with some events held in the resort town of Krasnaya Polyana.

98 events in 15 winter sport disciplines will be held.  Both the Olympics and 2014 Winter Paralympics are being organized by the Sochi Organizing Committee (SOC).  Sochi was selected as the host city in July 2007, during the 119th IOC Session held in Guatemala City.  The Sochi Olympics will be the first Olympics in the Russian Federation since the breakup of the USSR in 1991.  The USSR was the host nation for the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.

The events of the 2014 Winter Olympics will be held around two clusters of new venues; an Olympic Park was constructed in the Imeretinsky Valley on the coast of the Black Sea, with Fisht Olympic Stadium and the Games' indoor venues located within walking distance, and snow events will be held at Krasnaya Polyana.  In preparation for the games, organizers focused on modernizing the telecommunications, electric power, and transportation infrastructures of the region.  While originally budgeted at US$12 billion, various factors caused the budget to expand to over US$51 billion, surpassing the estimated $44 billion cost of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing as the most expensive Olympics in history.

The lead-up to the 2014 Winter Olympics was marked by several major controversies, including allegations of corruption leading to the severe cost overruns, concerns from politicians and athletes over the effects of Russia's ban on "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations" on the Games, and various security concerns that Islamist Jihadist groups may attack Sochi.  Vladimir Putin has declared that the Olympic Games in Sochi will be "the safest Olympics in history".
 

VALENTINE’S DAY, FEBRUARY 14th

Every February, across the country, candy, flowers, and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine.  But who is this mysterious saint, and why do we celebrate this holiday?  The history of Valentine's Day -- and its patron saint -- is shrouded in mystery.  But we do know that February has long been a month of romance.  St. Valentine's Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition.  So, who was Saint Valentine and how did he become associated with this ancient rite?  Today, the Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred.

One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome.  When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men -- his crop of potential soldiers.  Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret.  When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured.

According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first 'valentine' greeting himself.  While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl -- who may have been his jailor's daughter -- who visited him during his confinement.  Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed 'From your Valentine,' an expression that is still in use today.  Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories certainly emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and, most importantly, romantic figure.  It's no surprise that by the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular saints in England and France.
  

VALENTINE’S DAY - DID YOU KNOW?

192 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine’s Day the second-most popular greeting-card-giving occasion.  (This total excludes packaged kids valentines for classroom exchanges.)

In addition to the United States, Valentine's Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, France, Australia, Denmark, and Italy.

Approximately one billion Valentines are sent out worldwide each year according to estimates by the U.S. Greeting Card Association. That's second only to Christmas.

Women purchase approximately 85 percent of all Valentines.

189 million stems of roses are sold in the U.S. on Valentine's Day.

Nearly 60 percent of all Valentine’s Day cards are purchased in the six days prior to the observance, making Valentine’s Day a procrastinator’s delight.
 

FULL MOON FEBRUARY 15th 

The Full Snow Moon will be on Friday, February 15, 2014, 11:53 pm AST.  Since the heaviest snow usually falls during this month, native tribes of north and west (hilly area) Akumal most often called February's full Moon the Full Snow Moon.  Some tribes also referred to this Moon as the Full Hunger Moon, since harsh weather conditions in their areas made hunting and fishing very difficult.  But then again, they did not have to deal with global warming.
 

COMINGS AND GOINGS

Comings: Here in January we had:
·      
Michael Lerner
·      
Roger & Denise Burton
·      
Hugh Maynard and Carolyn Harris
·      
Don Papa
·      
Dennis Burris and wife
·      
Ann Kennedy and a bunch of friends
·      
Jacque & Monique
·      
Garry & Oveta Vardell
·      
Nance & Creighton Walker
·      
Terry & Lisa Turner
·      
Bay & Chris Haas
·      
Janet Bouton
·      
Scott Smith
·      
Michael & Lunda Schwartz
·      
Mark & Maureen Miller
·      
Sharne Hampton
·      
Larry & Shari Jackson
·      
Michelle Connor
·      
Nancy was here with David Richards
·      
Marcy & Memo Essy
·      
Larry & Karen Kantor were back again with friends
·      
Leroy & Margaret Wiedman
·      
Tony & Judy James
·      
Jim & Jackie Power
*    Pat Reagan

 

Coming in February:

  • Denny & Diane Mahan arrive on the 21st
  • Lisa & Phill Combs arrive in Tankah on the 8th
  • Hollis Hines & George Plamondon have arrived

 Goings:

·       Steve & Ingrid Clouther did a quick trip to Cape Cod in mid-January.

·       Steve & Kathleen Cole did 2-week boating vacation out of Sarasota.

·        

PRESIDENT’S DAY FEBRUARY 17th  

President’s Day is the 3rd Monday in February, and this year it is the 17th

The original version of the holiday was in commemoration of George Washington's birthday in 1796 (the last full year of his presidency).  Washington, according to the calendar that has been used since at least the mid-18th century, was born on February 22, 1732.  According to the old style calendar in use back then, however, he was born on February 11.  At least in 1796, many Americans celebrated his birthday on the 22nd while others marked the occasion on the 11th instead.

By the early 19th century, Washington's Birthday had taken firm root in the American experience as a bona fide national holiday.  Its traditions included Birthnight Balls in various regions, speeches and receptions given by prominent public figures, and a lot of revelry in taverns throughout the land.  Then along came Abraham Lincoln, another revered president and fellow February baby (born on the 12th of the month).  The first formal observance of his birthday took place in 1865, the year after his assassination, when both houses of Congress gathered for a memorial address.  While Lincoln's Birthday did not become a federal holiday like George Washington's, it did become a legal holiday in several states.

In 1968, legislation was enacted that affected several federal holidays.  One of these was Washington's Birthday, the observation of which was shifted to the third Monday in February each year, whether or not it fell on the 22nd.  This act, which took effect in 1971, was designed to simplify the yearly calendar of holidays and give federal employees some standard three-day weekends in the process. 

Apparently, while the holiday in February is still officially known as Washington's Birthday (at least according to the Office of Personnel Management), it has become popularly (and, perhaps in some cases at the state level, legally) known as "President's Day."  This has made the third Monday in February a day for honoring both Washington and Lincoln, as well as all the other men who have served as president.
 

WHAT’S NEW AROUND TOWN?

AKUMAL

 The ‘New” Pharmacy Strikes Again
 
When the cold season was going around in January, one of our locals went to the ‘new’ pharmacy on the entrance road to Akumal to get some Amoxicillan.  Even though the box said ‘70’ the charge was $400 pesos, with no local discount.  As part of its investigative reporting, The Staff went to a XYZ Farmacia in Tulum and got twice as much (24 tablets) for $105 pesos.

 On another note, another of our senior local population went into the pharmacy for a look-around, and he was greeted at the door by a young woman with, “We have Viagra if you want some.”

 

News about CEA Property and Beach Access.
  
Paul Sánchez-Navarro, Director, Centro Ecológico Akumal, reports, “A portion of CEA’s dune property (810 m2) has been closed by the federal environmental authorities (PROFEPA) claiming environmental damage to the dune.  It is a federal issue, and CEA has not closed access to the beach.  Access is open via the main hall of CEA.  We appreciate everyone’s understanding in this matter.  Please contact me if you have any questions. Paul Sánchez-Navarro – 984-875-9095 or director@ceakumal.org

 

South Akumal’s Gabriella Way Access Is Closed
  
This could be very dangerous at night, so please be aware that the access to Gabriella’s Way from the south bound RETORNO is closed.  You now have to drive down to Bahia Principe to turn around and make the entrance to South Akumal from the north bound side of MX307.
 

PLAYA DEL CARMEN

Municipality Solidarity’s Population Grows 21.7%
 
The municipality of Solidarity, of which Puerto Aventuras is part, ended 2013 with193,805 inhabitants, representing a growth of about 21.7 percent compared to the population and housing census conducted in 2010 by the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI ) that tallied 159,310 people.

The new figures place Solidarity as the third most populous municipality in the State of Quintana Roo, behind Benito Juarez (Cancun) at 720,359 and Othon P. White at 238,015.  The three municipalities have a combined population of 1,152,179, or 77 percent of the state’s 1,484,746 population. 
 

MEXICAN FLAG DAY FEBRUARY 24th

February 24 is Mexican Flag Day, a national holiday that honors the Mexican flag

The national Día de la Bandera (Flag Day) celebration occurs on February 24.  On this day in 1821, all the factions fighting in the War of Independence joined together to form the Army of the Three Guarantees in response to the Plan de Iguala, which was signed by Vicente Guerrero and Agustín de Iturbide, officially declaring Mexico an independent country.  General Vicente Guerrero was the first military official who swore allegiance to the national flag.  Another flag tradition is that before every Olympics in which Mexico is a participant, the President hands a flag over to the flag bearer, chosen by their peers, to carry with them to the host city.

The Flag of Mexico is a vertical tricolor of green, white, and red with the national coat of arms charged in the center of the white stripe.  While the meaning of the colors has changed over time, these three colors were adopted by Mexico following independence from Spain during the country's War of Independence.  The current flag was adopted in 1968, but the overall design has been used since 1821 when the First National Flag was created.  The current law of national symbols that governs the use of the national flag has been in place since 1984.

Throughout history, the flag has changed eight times, as the design of the coat of arms and the length-width ratios of the flag have been modified.  However, the coat of arms has had the same features throughout: an eagle, holding a serpent in its talon, is perched on top of a prickly pear cactus; the cactus is situated on a rock that rises above a lake.  The coat of arms is derived from an Aztec legend that their gods told them to build a city where they spot an eagle and a serpent, which is now Mexico City.  The current national flag, the Fourth National Flag, is also used as the Mexican naval ensign by ships registered in Mexico.
 

CARNAVAL, FEBRUARY 26 – March 4  

Carnaval is an official Mexican holiday that kicks off a five-day celebration of the libido before the Catholic lent begins on Ash Wednesday (March 5).  Beginning the weekend before Lent, Carnaval is celebrated exuberantly with parades, floats, costumes, music and dancing in the streets.  Carnaval is equivalent to Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

The festival of Carnaval is celebrated as a last indulgence of carnal pleasures that Catholics must give up for 40 days of fasting during Lent, from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday.  In fact, the word Carnaval is derived from Latin, meaning take away or goodbye to flesh, and strict Catholics will give up meat eating during Lent.

Carnaval is officially celebrated for 5 days, leading up to Ash Wednesday, with the most vigorous celebration taking place over the one weekend in Mexico.  The wearing of masks during Carnaval is said to be a pagan practice as protection from evil spirits, but most likely evolved as a way to participate fully in the celebration with some anonymity.

In Mexico, many cities have Carnaval celebration ofvarious sizes, but the biggest events take place in the port cities, with the largest of all in Mazatlan.  Mazatlan's Carnaval is said to attract well over 300,000 people, making it the third largest such event behind Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans.  Port towns such as Ensenada, La Paz and Veracruz are also excellent places to watch Carnaval festivities.

People from all over the world come to Mazatlan to enjoy the festivities, and this is one of the few times that hotel reservations are both necessary and more expensive. If you plan to attend, make sure you have arrangements in place several months in advance.

During Carnaval, everyone participates in the many events and activities that make up the celebration.  Wherever Carnaval is celebrated the whole town parties during the day and into the night, dressed in their masquerade outfits, enjoying food and drink and liquor.  People of all ages throw and break cascarones, confetti filled eggshells, over each other.  There are many booths that offer food, drinks, snacks and games and crafts of every type.  Music of all sorts is played non-stop, by live bands, DJs or the boom box.

On Saturday evening, there is the coronation of the Carnaval Queen and the humorous El Rey Feo, or Ugly King.  There will also be the burning of an effigy, usually someone unpopular at the time, known as the Quema de Mal Humor, or Burning of Bad Humor.

Sunday is the biggest organized celebration of the weekend, and typically includes the big float parade, and lots of musicians playing on stages and dancing in the streets.  When Monday arrives, there is El Dia del Marido Oprimido, or the Day of the Oppressed Husband.  On this one day, for 23.5 hours, husbands have the freedom to do as they wish ... within the law and religious faith of course.

By the time Fat Tuesday rolls around, many people have to get back to work, and just about everyone has had their fill of revelry and indulgence, ready to accept the restrictions of Lent.

What is happening in Akumal?
  

EVENTS

Once again, Robin’s Best Shirt Award, was the only recorded “Event” for January, but February is bursting at the seams with events.

  

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