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If you have had the good fortune to see one or all of Explayarte's previous productions you know what kind of powerhouse talent to expect from the performers and the amazing team of directors, musicians, choreographers and designers. AIDA will be the 7th full-scale musical presentation by Explayarte whose previous successes include Jesus Christ Superstar, Pippin, Cats, Seussical, All Shook Up and Les Miserables. If you have enjoyed any or all of these productions, you won't want to miss AIDA!

In the spring of 2014, the Riviera Maya's premier music and performing arts school, Explayarte Escuela de Musica, will present Tim Rice and Elton John's AIDA. There will be three presentations in the Foro Abierto at Xcaret in Playa del Carmen, March 19, 20 and 23 and, or the first time, two additional shows have been added to the run to be performed at the Teatro de Cancun on April 4 & 5

This exciting production, directed by Fernando Gonzalez, will feature the talents of 30 young dancers, singers and musicians. Most are middle and high school students from local schools. The stylistically eclectic score will be conducted by Musical Director Aldo Sotomayor and performed live by Explayarte's orchestra.

AIDA Explayarte 2014 

AIDA is an adaptation of the classic 1871 opera by Giuseppe Verdi. The new rock-opera took Broadway by storm in 2000, going on to win five Tony Awards, including Best Original Music Score and Best Performance by a Leading Actress. AIDA is a rock-opera in every sense of the term. Elton John spans musical genres, going from pop, reggae, gospel and African sounds to contemporary love ballads. The music is quintessential Elton John and blends seamlessly with Tim Rice's sophisticated and soulful lyrics. The book by Linda Woolverton, Robert Falls and David Henry Hwang is contemporary and accessible to a modern musical theatre going audience while remaining fairly true to the original legend.

AIDA tells the story of three star-crossed lovers; two African princesses and an Egyptian military captain, in what may best be described as a "love pyramid." Aida, the princess of Nubia (Celia Domínguez), is captured by a group of Egyptians led by Captain Radames (Nestor Sánchez) and is enslaved. Aida is then given as a gift by Radames to his fiancee, the Egyptian princess, Amneris (Ana Rubio). A plot by Radames' father to kill the Pharaoh and elevate his son into power through a marriage to the princess begins to unravel when Aida and Radames become lovers. Together, they set a shining example of true devotion that ultimately transcends the vast cultural differences between their warring nations, heralding a time of unprecedented peace and prosperity. Torn between their desires for personal affection and doing what's right for their peoples, Aida and Radames go through a journey of duty, honor and ever-lasting love. The young lovers are finally forced to make the ultimate decision: face death or part forever.

The book and lyrics have been translated into Spanish for this production but English speakers unfamiliar with the plot can familiarize themselves with the synopsis, which will be printed in the playbill.

Discounted pre-sale tickets (180 mn) are available now at Explayarte and from members of the Playa del Carmen Seaside Rotary Club. Full price tickets (200 mn) will also be available on the dates of the performances from the box offices at Xcaret. Several ticketing options will be available at the Teatro de Cancun. Choose from Preferente 180mn, General 160mn or Mezzanine 140mn for seats purchased in advance. Ticket prices will be 200mn, 180mn and 160mn the day of the show. Please click here for the Teatro de Cancun seating chart.

A portion of all proceeds from all AIDA performances will go to support Seaside Rotary programs and charitable initiatives in the community. Group discounts are available. For more information call 984 668 0461.

 

Michele Kinnon
Michele Kinnon
and her husband Rob are the owners of BuyPlaya Real Estate Advisors and FurnitureMEX, both based in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Michele is a member of Rotary Club of Playa del Carmen Seaside, the organizer of Kick 4 Kids and participated on the founding committee for Taste of Playa, the Riviera Maya's largest and longest running culinary festival. She also supports numerous local non-profit organizations, blogs, writes local interest articles and administrates the Riviera Maya Events Calendar. Michele and Rob have lived in Playa del Carmen with their two children since 2004. Follow her updates on Google+.

 

After five fantastic and delicious events, the Executive Committee has decided that the 5th Anniversary year of Taste of Playa will be its last. Executive Chairperson, Monica Hartlief confirmed this decision to me last night by phone before making the public announcement this morning.

An official statement from the Executive Committee reads: "It has been an extremely rewarding experience and our pleasure to have supported the community with an event that promoted local restaurants and businesses. We are very proud of the success of Taste of Playa and we each look forward to pursuing new projects in the future."

Taste of Playa has celebrated five successful, consecutive years; each year drawing thousands of local and international visitors to Playa del Carmen's iconic Parque Fundadores. The event has provided an elegant showcase for as many as 40 restaurants and beverage purveyors annually, highlighting the unique culinary perspectives of local chefs and venues to the visiting public.

Taste of Playa - Playa del Carmen Food Festival

When Taste of Playa was conceived, the hope was that it would grow over the years to become a real destination event, something that travelers make their plans around in order to be able to attend. The intention was to shorten the usual "low season" by a week or two and put some much needed cash into the pockets of local businesses. And so it was. As Taste of Playa grew and became more well known, certainly the participants saw the benefits but so to did the local hotel owners, shop keeps, taxi drivers and tour guides. In the end, I think the whole city benefited from the event! The committee members have a lot to be proud of.

As a founding member of Taste of Playa and as a corporate sponsor for all five years, I know how much planning, organization and effort this event requires. It is an enormous commitment of time and energy that I think few people can accurately assess from the outside. While I was sad to hear the committee's decision, I can certainly empathize and I wish them all well in their future pursuits.

If for one have great memories of each event...all the delicious food and tasty cocktails from our restaurant and bar participants, the music, the crowds, our special guests and even the electrical malfunctions! Most importantly, I will look back fondly on my time as a committee member and the wonderful collaboration with a group of really smart people who I am proud to call my friends.

For most, the event will be all about the food. But for me, Taste of Playa will always be about the wonderful people I worked with and met along the way. This is what I will remember best about Taste of Playa.  

Taste of Playa - Playa del Carmen Food Festival 

Taste of Playa - Playa del Carmen Food Festival

Taste of Playa - Playa del Carmen Food Festival

Taste of Playa - Playa del Carmen Food Festival

Taste of Playa - Playa del Carmen Food Festival

Taste of Playa - Playa del Carmen Food Festival

Taste of Playa - Playa del Carmen Food Festival

Taste of Playa - Playa del Carmen Food Festival 

Taste of Playa - Playa del Carmen Food Festival

Taste of Playa - Playa del Carmen Food Festival

Taste of Playa - Playa del Carmen Food Festival 

 

Taste of Playa - Playa del Carmen Food Festival

Taste of Playa - Playa del Carmen Food Festival

Taste of Playa - Playa del Carmen Food Festival

Taste of Playa - Playa del Carmen Food Festival

Taste of Playa - Playa del Carmen Food Festival

Taste of Playa - Playa del Carmen Food Festival

Taste of Playa - Playa del Carmen Food Festival

Taste of Playa - Playa del Carmen Food Festival 

 

Taste of Playa - Playa del Carmen Food Festival

 

Taste of Playa - Playa del Carmen Food Festival 

Taste of Playa - Playa del Carmen Food Festival 

Taste of Playa - Playa del Carmen Food Festival

Taste of Playa - Playa del Carmen Food Festival

Taste of Playa - Playa del Carmen Food Festival 

Taste of Playa - Playa del Carmen Food Festival

Taste of Playa - Playa del Carmen Food Festival 

Taste of Playa - Playa del Carmen Food Festival 

Taste of Playa - Playa del Carmen Food Festival

Taste of Playa - Playa del Carmen Food Festival 

Taste of Playa - Playa del Carmen Food Festival 

Taste of Playa - Playa del Carmen Food Festival 

Taste of Playa - Playa del Carmen Food Festival 

Taste of Playa - Playa del Carmen Food Festival

Taste of Playa - Playa del Carmen Food Festival 

 

Michele Kinnon
Michele Kinnon
and her husband Rob are the owners of BuyPlaya Real Estate Advisors and FurnitureMEX, both based in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Michele is a member of Rotary Club of Playa del Carmen Seaside, the organizer of Kick 4 Kids and participated on the founding committee for Taste of Playa, the Riviera Maya's largest and longest running culinary festival. She also supports numerous local non-profit organizations, blogs, writes local interest articles and administrates the Riviera Maya Events Calendar. Michele and Rob have lived in Playa del Carmen with their two children since 2004. Follow her updates on Google+.

 

 

Recycle Playa del CarmenReduce! Reuse! Recycle! You know you should be doing it but without the regular pick-up service that many of us were accustomed to in the US and Canada, many people living in Playa del Carmen are unaware or confused about their options for recycling. The good news it there ARE some very good options offered for those looking to actively recycle on a regular basis....and that should include everyone! As the Municipality of Solidaridad creates approximately 450 tons of garbage every day, the time has come for action. It is obvious that the government recognizes the importance of recycling and is actively creating strategies to make it apart of everyone's daily life.

Depending on your neighborhood, you may be able to separate out your recyclable cans when you put out your trash and have them picked up by local workers who then turn in the aluminum for cash. Some gated communities and condominium complexes are particular about how and when waste is set out so be sure to check with your HOA or property manager to see what is allowed and expected.

Some of the more ecologically conscientious private schools in the region run their own ongoing recycling programs and this is a huge help to many families, ours included. If you have children in school, you should check with administrators to see if there is a recycling program in place. If not, encourage other parents to request that some sort of program, even on a limited level is initiated. Recycling bins can also be found now at some of not all of the supermarkets and big box stores.


Riviera Maya Recycling Programs 2014

On the first Friday of every month, the Municipality of Solidaridad accepts all recycled items including appliances and batteries at the "centro de acopio" in downtown Playa del Carmen. The collection center is set up in front of the Municipal Plaza and is well marked. Although vehicular traffic has now been prohibited on Av. 20 between calles 8 and 10, authorities will allow you to pass if you are unloading your monthly recycling.

These are the dates for 1st Friday Recycling 2014 in Solidaridad

Playa del Carmen Recycling 2014

This is the primary recycling drive for the Municipality of Solidaridad and the option that accepts the widest range of items. Alternative collection locations for Solidaridad are arranged monthly and announced in advance of the collection date. In Puerto Aventuras, you may leave your recyclable items in the "centro de acopio" at the skate park. Business owners will obtain a receipt for their contribution which can be presented to Municipal officials as proof of compliance.

Recyclable items include:

Plastics (PET) - clear plastics, water bottles etc.
Paper - must not have crayon on it or other oily substances
Newspaper
Cardboard - clean with no food oils or residue
Tetrapak (milk/juice cartons)
Batteries
Lighters
Old Electronics
Scrap Metal
Toner Cartridges
Aluminum - cans, clean foil etc.
Used Cooking Oil - in a sealed container
_________________________________________________________

Kilo Verde - Of the recycling options available to the residents of Playa del Carmen, Kilo Verde is my favorite. An initiative led by the Ayuntamiento de Solidaridad, Kilo Verde was established to promote recycling, environmental care and proper waste management. Kilo Verde encourages residents of the Riviera Maya to properly separate their household waste and, at the same time, contribute to the reforestation and beautification of their own neighborhoods.

This innovative social program began in 2008 and over the past few years, thanks to some new governmental recycling requirements, has steadily grown in popularity. Individuals and businesses in Playa del Carmen are welcomed to the Kilo Verde collection center where they may exchange their recycling for a lovely indigenous plant or tree. They have a variety of species available and the plants you can choose from depend on the amount of refuse you turn in. As long as you turn in at least one kilo of recyclable items, you can take a plant of your choice.

Kilo Verde does not yet have the ability to accept the range of products that the 1st Friday "Centro de Acopio" can. They do take paper, newspapers, magazines, clean cardboard, plastics #1, #2, #4 and #5, cans, glass bottles and jars and electronics. Everything should be sorted and will be weighed. This fantastic new recycling project is really gaining force! It is funded by the Mexico Environmental Protection Agency and is held in a different location every month in order to be able to service as may regions of the city as possible. The center will operate from 9:00 am - 1:00 pm. In order to support the needs of local business people trying to comply with the local government's new regulations, Kilo Verde is able to provide receipts valid for proof of participation.

These are the dates and locations for Kilo Verde 2014:

Kilo Verde Recycling Program 2014

It can be a bit tricky to find the exact location of the monthly Kilo Verde collection if you are unfamiliar with all the various neighborhoods. Generally, if you drive to the area and ask around, someone will know where they have set up. This has become a very popular recycling program. Come early to get the best choice of plants!

__________________________________________________________

 

Michele Kinnon
Michele Kinnon
and her husband Rob are the owners of BuyPlaya Real Estate Advisors and FurnitureMEX, both based in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Michele is a member of Rotary Club of Playa del Carmen Seaside, the organizer of Kick 4 Kids and participated on the founding committee for Taste of Playa, the Riviera Maya's largest and longest running culinary festival. She also supports numerous local non-profit organizations, blogs, writes local interest articles and administrates the Riviera Maya Events Calendar. Michele and Rob have lived in Playa del Carmen with their two children since 2004. Follow her updates on Google+.

 

One of our favorite charitable organizations, The KKiS Project (Keeping Kids in School) has one major fund raising event each year, an exciting live auction which his held in February.  The money raised at this fun event pays for all the curriculum used in the classrooms throughout the school year as well as the backpacks and supplies that are distributed to needy students in Solidaridad.

The live event will be February 20 at Playa del Carmen's favorite spot for family fun, Wah Wah Beach Bar at 11:00 am. Event tickets will be $250 pesos or $20 USD per person and include entry to the auction and a great lunch! This year, an ONLINE auction component has been added so organizers will have the ability to reach more people, sell more items and raise even more money. If enough smaller items are collected, there will be a silent auction at the event as well. 


The KKiS Project

This is an appeal to all of you to donate to the KKiS auction. Popular auctions items include:

  • Hotel Stays
  • Vacation Rentals 
  • Spa Services
  • Bar & Restaurant Gift Certificates
  • Tours & Excursions
  • Fishing Charters
  • Jewelery
  • Artwork
  • Home Furnishings - new or very gently used
  • Photo Sessions
  • Gym Memberships
  • Yoga Classes
  • Transport Services
If you or your business would like to contribute an item or service for the auction please contact Gayle Collins via email kkisproject@gmail.com. Items must be delivered by February 1 so the online auction can be set up on time. If you have items that require pick up, that can be easily arranged by contacting one of the event organizers listed below. If you know of anyone who might like to participate in or make a donation for this event, please point them toward this blog post.

The KKiS Project has challenged themselves to help at least 600 underprivileged Playa kids this year and that takes a lot of pesos.  So please, donate something if you can, attend the auction, have fun, spend some money, meet some new friends and help Keep Kids In School!

Gayle Collins, KKIS Co-Director       kkisproject@gmail.com      984-127-8881
Janet Lowe,  KKIS Co-Director       jlowepots@gmail.com          984-164-5043
Marilou Young, KKIS Board Member    marilouyoung@hotmail.com  984-116-1188
Marge Tancre, Volunteer Coordinator   gypsygringa1@gmail.com     984-145-2195

  

Michele Kinnon
Michele Kinnon
and her husband Rob are the owners of BuyPlaya Real Estate Advisors and FurnitureMEX, both based in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Michele is a member of Rotary Club of Playa del Carmen Seaside, the organizer of Kick 4 Kids and participated on the founding committee for Taste of Playa, the Riviera Maya's largest and longest running culinary festival. She also supports numerous local non-profit organizations, blogs, writes local interest articles and administrates the Riviera Maya Events Calendar. Michele and Rob have lived in Playa del Carmen with their two children since 2004. Follow her updates on Google+.

 

"Life's a Beach" readers already know that Christmas Dream Playa has done a wonderful job over the past few years raising awareness about disabled and disadvantaged children in this region with their annual toy drives and "Letters to Santa" campaigns. Via word of mouth, blogs and the local travel forums and more recently harnessing the power of social media, the organizers and supporters of Christmas Dreams have managed to provide gifts for thousands of children who might otherwise go without during the holidays. But this is just one segment of the community that Christmas Dreams supports. Funds that are donated to Christmas Dreams, not specifically designated to sponsor a particular child, go into a general charitable fund and used to purchase dispensas and warm blankets for the elderly. A dispensa is a box of non-perishable food items that will help to support a household and includes essential items such as dried beans, rice, cooking oil and sugar. For the past two years, organizer Gayle Collins has been able to negotiate a great discount from the manager at AKI Supermercado who made sure all 200 boxes were on pallets and ready for us to pick up.

This year, for the first time, Christmas Dreams was able to coordinate with DIF Solidaridad. DIF Director Yara and her staff helped us to identify elders in need who were not already receiving outside support and on January 3rd nearly 200 seniors in Puerto Aventuras pueblo received a much needed care package of food, clothes and a warm blanket to start off their new year. We also brought and served Rosca de Reyes to all of the seniors and their family members who came along to assist them.

Life's a Beach Playa del Carmen Blog - Christmas Dreams and DIF helping the elderly of Solidaridad 

Life's a Beach Playa del Carmen Blog - Christmas Dreams and DIF helping the elderly of Solidaridad 

Life's a Beach Playa del Carmen Blog - Christmas Dreams and DIF helping the elderly of Solidaridad 

Life's a Beach Playa del Carmen Blog - Christmas Dreams and DIF helping the elderly of Solidaridad 

Life's a Beach Playa del Carmen Blog - Christmas Dreams and DIF helping the elderly of Solidaridad 

Life's a Beach Playa del Carmen Blog - Christmas Dreams and DIF helping the elderly of Solidaridad 

Life's a Beach Playa del Carmen Blog - Christmas Dreams and DIF helping the elderly of Solidaridad 

Life's a Beach Playa del Carmen Blog - Christmas Dreams and DIF helping the elderly of Solidaridad 

Life's a Beach Playa del Carmen Blog - Christmas Dreams and DIF helping the elderly of Solidaridad 

Life's a Beach Playa del Carmen Blog - Christmas Dreams and DIF helping the elderly of Solidaridad 

Life's a Beach Playa del Carmen Blog - Christmas Dreams and DIF helping the elderly of Solidaridad 

Life's a Beach Playa del Carmen Blog - Christmas Dreams and DIF helping the elderly of Solidaridad

This is actually my favorite part of the Christmas Dreams campaign as we get to see two, three and sometimes four generations of residents...grandparents and parents, grandchildren and great-grandchildren... all together looking forward to a bit of help and holiday cheer. One by one, names were read off the list and the elders would come forward, some in wheelchairs, other supported by a son or daughter, some on their own. Once the gifts to registered elders were given out, the staff from DIF went about the process of organizing the many seniors who had shown up who were not already registered in the system. They took names and addresses, checked identification for those that had it and made sure that no one went home empty handed. There were also people who had come to report that a neighbor or family member was unable to attend the event either due to extreme age, lack of mobility or illness. Again, a list was made with names and addresses and a promise given that these residents would somehow receive the assistance their dispensa and blanket. In the end, there were almost 25 individuals unaccounted for or unable to come in person to receive their gifts.

Life's a Beach Playa del Carmen Blog - Christmas Dreams and DIF helping the elderly of Solidaridad 

Life's a Beach Playa del Carmen Blog - Christmas Dreams and DIF helping the elderly of Solidaridad 

Life's a Beach Playa del Carmen Blog - Christmas Dreams and DIF helping the elderly of Solidaridad 

Life's a Beach Playa del Carmen Blog - Christmas Dreams and DIF helping the elderly of Solidaridad

Life's a Beach Playa del Carmen Blog - Christmas Dreams and DIF helping the elderly of Solidaridad 

Life's a Beach Playa del Carmen Blog - Christmas Dreams and DIF helping the elderly of Solidaridad 

Life's a Beach Playa del Carmen Blog - Christmas Dreams and DIF helping the elderly of Solidaridad 

Life's a Beach Playa del Carmen Blog - Christmas Dreams and DIF helping the elderly of Solidaridad

Life's a Beach Playa del Carmen Blog - Christmas Dreams and DIF helping the elderly of Solidaridad 

Life's a Beach Playa del Carmen Blog - Christmas Dreams and DIF helping the elderly of Solidaridad 

Life's a Beach Playa del Carmen Blog - Christmas Dreams and DIF helping the elderly of Solidaridad 

Yesterday morning, Russell Granger (The Amigos Network) and I were asked to accompany staff from DIF Playa del Carmen, DIF Puerto Aventuras and a Municipal Diputado representing PA and deliver the remaining care packages to the 25 very elderly and infirm shut-ins who had not received them. We met at the new DIF office in the PA pueblo, loaded a DIF truck with dispensas, blanket and clothes in a variety of sizes and headed out with a local guide in hopes of finding everyone. Armed with our list and a map with all of the addresses carefully marked, we wound our way through the pueblo and the newer Porto Maya developments, knocking on doors, talking to neighbors, trying to track down the elders on the list.

Playa del Carmen Blog - DIF and Christmas Dreams helping the elderly in Solidaridad 

Playa del Carmen Blog - DIF and Christmas Dreams helping the elderly in Solidaridad

Playa del Carmen Blog - DIF and Christmas Dreams helping the elderly in Solidaridad

Playa del Carmen Blog - DIF and Christmas Dreams helping the elderly in Solidaridad

Playa del Carmen Blog - DIF and Christmas Dreams helping the elderly in Solidaridad

Playa del Carmen Blog - DIF and Christmas Dreams helping the elderly in Solidaridad

At many locations, there was no answer and no way to determine whether the elder was in the home. We were left to our own imaginations wondering if they were home alone and unable to reach the door. Did we have the correct location? Had they moved? Were they ill and removed from the home...or worse? It was painful to see how easy it would be for at-risk seniors to fall through the cracks and out of the system set up to support them. All along the way, Maricarmen and Luis Miguel from DIF were careful to explain who Russell and I were and where the dispensas had come from. They explained that the photos taken would be shown to the kind people who donated funds to Christmas Dreams to find additional supporters so that even more assistance could come in the future.They also inquired about who was the caregiver in the home, if any, whether the seniors were enrolled in seguro popular and in some cases made the determination that the household would be set up for a monthly dispensa alotment through DIF.

It was heartwarming and heartbreaking all at once but we came away feeling really good about the work being done. The interest and cooperation we have received from DIF throughout this holiday giving season has us really excited about working together on future projects in different segments of the community. There is a lot of need. So much, that it can be completely overwhelming when you think about trying to tackle all the issues. It's going to be essential that locally based charitable organizations like Christmas Dreams, Fundacion TAO, The Amigos Network, the Rotary Clubs of Solidaridad and even our own initiative, Kicks 4 Kids coordinate their efforts with DIF to make sure that their support is reaching those most in need and making a significant impact in the community. We are far stronger and more affective working together than we are going off on our own.

For everyone who has contributed to Christmas Dreams this year and in years past, Thank you. I hope that you can see how much your contributions mean to the less fortunate members of the Playa community. Those of us who have chosen to call the Riviera Maya "home", whether it be to retire comfortably or to make a living and raise a family, have a certain responsibility to help those in our community who are no longer able to help themselves. The disabled, the elderly and the infirm need our support and locally based private aid that comes from Christmas Dreams and similar charitable groups is essential to their health and well-being. Whether you donate your time or your money, your contribution WILL make a difference.

  

Michele Kinnon
Michele Kinnon
and her husband Rob are the owners of BuyPlaya Real Estate Advisors, Akumal Real Estate and FurnitureMEX, both based in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Michele is a member of Rotary Club of Playa del Carmen Seaside, the organizer of Kick 4 Kids and participated on the founding committee for Taste of Playa, the Riviera Maya's largest and longest running culinary festival. She also supports numerous local non-profit organizations, blogs, writes local interest articles and administrates the Riviera Maya Events Calendar. Michele and Rob have lived in Playa del Carmen with their two children since 2004. Follow her updates on Google+.

 

I don't care who you are or where you are in your life...when New Years rolls around, we ALL entertain the idea of New Year's resolutions. Should we make them? Should we keep them a secret or announce them to the world? Are they possible to keep?

Some people want to make small changes. Others may be considering a sweeping reform of their life and the path they are following. If you fall into the latter group, maybe this will be of interest to you!

__________________________________________________________________

Bar Manager Playa del Carmen 

Wah Wah Beach Bar, one of Playa del Carmen most popular beach destinations is looking for a GENERAL MANAGER.
The person who accepts this job would be someone who is looking for a true change in lifestyle. The office is located right on the beach overlooking the Mexican Caribbean. Life is a little slower down here and we love it! The pay is significantly lower than what a similar position outside of Mexico would pay, but living expenses are also much lower. We have onsite accommodations as an option as well. Experience in restaurant/bar is not mandatory but is a plus. Applicants must be completely fluent in English and Spanish. This job is based on common sense, organization, and responsibility. We will train this person to understand our internal systems in very short order. For more information including a complete job description please contact J.J. Johnston at 214 227 9946 or via email jjinplaya [@] yahoo.com.

Photographer Job Opening

Cast-A-Way Mexico is looking for PHOTOGRAPHERS!
Do you enjoy photography? Like to travel? Want to meet new people? Cast-A-Way is looking for friendly, outgoing individuals to join their team of photographers. Applicants must have a sound knowledge of the working of a Digital SLR camera, must clearly speak, read and write English fluently. Applicants must be prepared to be available 7 days a week on a 6-8 month contract. Applicants must be at least 21 years of age with excellent interpersonal skills and a willingness to be a part of a team. Only 30 Positions available.

Send your resume/CV/portfolio to rodrigo [@] cast-a-way.com. Interviews will be conducted in Cancun in February 2014. For more information, call 998 186 0004 or visit www.facebook.com/CASTAWAYMEXICO.


Mexico Travel Jobs

Journey Mexico, recently nominated by Luxury Travel Advisor Magazine for ‘Best Destination Management Company Worldwide Award‘ in their Awards of Excellence, is now hiring for the following positions:

TRAVEL PLANNER - DIRECT MARKET - Location: Cancun or Puerto Vallarta
Purpose of position: To sell, plan and design travel experiences for Journey Mexico´s direct client segment.
Principal duties include soliciting direct market business, handle inquires, present and manage pre-sale proposals, employ creative and selective selling techniques, follow the operations to ensure client satisfaction, assist Marketing Manager in researching and developing marketing opportunities and plans, develop and promote current and new products through Journey Mexico channels, scouting new itineraries, creating new travel experiences, meet sales financial objectives of Journey Mexico.

Requirements: Minimum 3 years experience in high-end travel industry and sales in luxury hospitality industry (or equivalent customer service), knowledge of Mexico and preferably Latin America, excellent interpersonal skills, ability to read, write, and speak Spanish and English fluently, strong sales and up-sell skills.


EXECUTIVE MARKETING ASSISTANT
- Location: Puerto Vallarta
Purpose of position: To support the CEO & Marketing Manager  by increasing effective communication between Journey Mexico and its clients, potential clients and travel intermediaries, generating qualified leads for the sales team resulting in an increase in business and an increase in awareness about Journey Mexico in the marketplace.
Principal duties include appointment scheduling an booking for marketing trips, send follow-up emails, manage general database, send client communication for important events, prepare marketing material for meetings, help manage content on website (photos), respond to client and administrative requests (photos, hotel descriptions, company profiles, etc), manage photo database, search for new clients (cold calling, free media outlets), manage Virtuoso network.

Requirements: Experience as executive assistant or equivalent, preferred experience in travel industry and sales/marketing background, excellent interpersonal skills, high level of customer service, ability to read, write, and speak Spanish and English fluently, strong initiative and  multitasking skills.
 

WEBMASTER - Location: Cancun or Puerto Vallarta
Purpose of position: Increase traffic to website, generating qualified leads resulting in an augmentation in direct business and an increase in awareness about Journey Mexico in the marketplace. Ensuring that the online performance and Google ads of the website are working at optimum potential.
Principal duties include  building and maintaining of websites, pages and applications,  ensure that servers remain up and running  and that webpages load quickly and effortlessly, measuring webpage speed and monitoring a website's up-time, managing Google AdWords and tracking conversions, correcting software bugs, tracking traffic, dealing with search engine optimization, programming of website features and functions, graphic design for marketing material as needed,

Requirements: Minimum 3 years experience in web marketing industry and graphic design, experience in travel industry and knowledge of Mexico, advanced level of PHP/HTML/CSS/XHTML/Javascipt/AJAX and WordPress skills, degree in computer science of software engineering is required, ability to read, write, and speak English and Spanish fluently.

 If interested in any of the above positions, please send your resume and cover letter to Susanne at susanne [@] journeymexico.com

Have you promised yourself to learn a new skill in 2014? Maybe you want to rekindle your creative passion? Are you new in town and looking for a fun group of new friends?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, Pop Choir Playa del Carmen may be for you!!

Pop Choir Playa del Carmen 

People who enjoy singing may hesitate to join a regular kind of choir or singing group for many reasons - usually it's because they think they have a 'bad' voice. Someone told them when they were little they 'couldn't sing' or they feel nervous of singing in front of others. Pop Choir Playa del Carmen is a community choir for adults who like singing! It is open to everyone, from beginners to more experienced singers. There's no need to to audition. You don't even have to be able to read music or have any experience. In short, if you read this and like to sing, you are qualified for Pop Choir Playa del Carmen!

Each session will start with a vocal warm-up. The group will then learn and work through two or three songs each week, learning some simple two or three part harmonies, as required. The repertoire will cover popular songs from the sixties to the present day.

Lyrics and some sheet music will be available online via a new Pop Choir Facebook group, so members can download and practice at home if they wish. You don't have to be able to read music and you WILL be able learn the songs mostly by ear. Some people find it helpful to follow the up and down of the dots/notes, so it's there if you want to use it or teach yourself to read sheet music.

Practice will be held weekly on Wednesdays 3:00 - 4:40pm, beginning January 8th 2014, at Le Lotus Rouge located on Calle 2 at Ave 35. The cost to participate is minimal, just $200 pesos for four weeks.


Elizabeth Ynez TulsenElizabeth Ynez Tulsen is a classically trained soprano and studied classical and jazz voice at Trinity College of Music in London. Her varied career has included singing with Monserrat Caballe at the Royal Albert Hall, opera at Covent Garden, touring with an ABBA tribute band, West End musical theatre, one woman shows, cabaret in Berlin, Jazz/Big Band on US cable and radio newsreader. She has busked her way around the world with Handel, Mozart and Puccini and is currently indulging her passion for Mexico and dipping her toes into the Blues. Elizabeth has been a professional singer for almost twenty years and has run various kinds of vocal groups in the UK. She is bringing Pop Choir to her new home, Playa del Carmen, to give people the opportunity to sing in an informal, relaxed setting....simply because they love singing and it feels great to sing with others!

For more information and to sign up, contact Elizabeth at 984 143 8716 or message via private message on Facebook.

Elizabeth Ynez Tulsen 

 

Barbara Anderson, finance columnist for the publication Milenio, speaks in her column "Nada personal solo negocios" ("Nothing Personal, Just Business") about the show center for the famous Cirque du Soleil that will be built in the Riviera Maya.

Grupo Vidanta, run by top Mexico hotelier Daniel Chavez Ruiz, is building the only Cirque du Soleil theater in Latin America. The famous show was created by Guy Laliberte, who is also partnering in this endeavor.

Cirque de Soleil Riviera Maya 

"I'm very happy about it, and we will do great things in Mexico," Chavez himself confirmed to the columnist.

The theater will be located in the Riviera Maya, within one of the properties of the Mayan brand, and will cost about 20 million dollars.

"It's 100% a Grupo Vidanta investment, and Cirque will do what it does best in the areas of talent and show development," Chavez pointed out.

The columnist notes that the theater will have a "capacity for 250 people with a unique added bonus: a dinner show with VIP seats for an additional 250 people."

It will also have the capability of adding another 500 seats in the future, giving it the potential for up to 1,000 people.

It's estimated that the performance center will be inaugurated in November 2014, and that the shows will be presented according to "public demand".

"And it won't be the only theater we'll make for Cirque du Soleil. In a few years, we plan to build a second space in Mexico for resident shows, although we're still debating between two locations to make the final decision," adds Daniel Chavez, according to the columnist.

Grupo Vidanta has various hotels and resorts in the Riviera Maya, including The Grand Luxxe, The Grand Bliss, The Bliss, Ocean Breeze, Mayan Palace and The Grand Mayan.

Cirque de Soleil Riviera Maya
 

See the original article in Spanish at La Verdad Noticias.

 

Every year, Riviera Maya music lovers are blessed with an extended visit from one North America's leading blues musicians, Brent Parkin. Brent is an industry veteran with 40 years on the Canadian blues scene and has shared the stage with such greats as B.B. King, Johnny Winter, Bo Diddley and John Prine. His awards and accolades include a Juno Award in 1993, Maple Blues Award Nominations from 1996 to 1999 and a M.B.S. Lifetime Membership in 1997.

A mix of Chicago style Blues, Jazz blues, Swing, and Roots Rock and Roll, Brent's music has a broad appeal that never fails to get people up on their feet and dancing. Such was the case when I dropped in to see Brent at his regular Tuesday night gig at the Luna Blue Hotel.

Brent Parkin at Luna Blue Hotel

Brent Parkin at Luna Blue Hotel

Brent Parkin at Luna Blue Hotel

Brent Parkin at Luna Blue Hotel 

Brent Parkin at Luna Blue Hotel

Interspersing songs with his own special brand of "humor", Brent kept the crowd at Luna Blue in the palm of his hand while Jorge manned the bar dishing out cold cervezas and dangerously tasty margaritas!

Brent should be with us here in Playa del Carmen through April, so if you are here or planning a trip the area, don't miss a chance to experience world class blues in some fun and intimate venues. If you would like to see Brent Parkin in Playa del Carmen, you can find him here:

Luna Blue Hotel - Tuesday nights  8:00 pm - 11:00 pm
Bad Boys Beach Bar - Friday nights 5:30 pm  - 9:00 pm
Playacar Golf Club - Saturday afternoons 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm  (Starting soon)

For a sneak peak at what you can expect from our friend Brent, check out this YouTube video!

 

Michele Kinnon
Michele Kinnon
and her husband Rob are the owners of BuyPlaya Real Estate Advisors and FurnitureMEX, both based in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Michele is a member of Rotary Club of Playa del Carmen Seaside and participated on the founding committee for Taste of Playa, the Riviera Maya's largest and longest running culinary festival. She also blogs, writes local interest articles and administrates the Riviera Maya Events Calendar. Michele and Rob have lived in Playa del Carmen with their two children since 2004. Follow her updates on Google+.

 

 

On Sunday November 24th, Taste of Playa was held once again in the beautiful Parque Fundadores on the shores of the Mexican Caribbean. Now in its 5th year, Taste of Playa has grown to be one of the most anticipated events of the year, drawing visitors to the city of Playa del Carmen to sample the cuisine of 40 or more international chefs who have come to the Riviera Maya from all across the globe. All year, Playa del Carmen foodies look forward to this culinary festival hoping to try the very best signature dishes from the regions very best chefs.

Taste of Playa 

Taste of Playa 

Taste of Playa 

Taste of Playa 

Taste of Playa 

Taste of Playa

Taste of Playa

 

Taste of Playa 

 

Taste of Playa 

Once again, Taste of Playa did not disappoint! The park filled right up at 3pm with hungry visitors all anxious to sample their favorite dishes and find some new ones. Tables were well laid out and organized in several areas to offer people a place to sample all the dishes. The beautiful VIP area was completely transformed this year in vibrantly colors to comfortably accommodate the lucky VIP pass-holders.

Taste of Playa

Taste of Playa

Taste of Playa 

Taste of Playa

Taste of Playa 

Taste of Playa 

There was a wide variety of cuisines represented: Thai, French, Alta Mexicana, Comida Corrida, Italian, Vegetarian, BBQ among many others. Guests could quench their thirst as numerous bar stations provided by iconic Playa watering holes like La Ranita, Tequila Barrel, Dirty Martini and Off the Vine. Whether you were looking for a cold cerveza, a fine wine or a good stiff martini, there was something for everyone!

Taste of Playa 

Taste of Playa 

Taste of Playa

Taste of Playa

 

Taste of Playa 

Taste of Playa 

Taste of Playa 

Taste of Playa 

As the day went on, the crowds even began to spill over into the neighboring beach area and children entertained themselves on the playground while their parents took a rest from the crowd and recharged their batteries. With its breathtaking location, nestled between 5th Avenue and the beach, Parque Fundadores provides the perfect environment with spectacular views over the ocean. This year we were treated to a magnificent sunset that got everyone's cameras snapping including mine.

Taste of Playa 

Taste of Playa

Taste of Playa 

Taste of Playa 

Taste of Playa 

Taste of Playa 

Taste of Playa

Playa del Carmen Mexico

As always, the Taste of Playa Executive Committee, the participating bars and restaurants and the volunteers all are to be congratulated for a job well done. Having served on the committee, I know exactly how much time and efforts goes into putting on an event of this size and caliber year after year. As local business owners, we feel like we have a responsibility to support events that promote the Riviera Maya as a destination and raise funds to help those less fortunate in our community. We are proud to have our companies, BuyPlaya and FurnitureMEX associated with an event that so many people attend and enjoy.

 

Michele Kinnon
Michele Kinnon
and her husband Rob are the owners of BuyPlaya Real Estate Advisors and FurnitureMEX, both based in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Michele is a member of Rotary Club of Playa del Carmen Seaside and participated on the founding committee for Taste of Playa, the Riviera Maya's largest and longest running culinary festival. She also blogs, writes local interest articles and administrates the Riviera Maya Events Calendar. Michele and Rob have lived in Playa del Carmen with their two children since 2004. Follow her updates on Google+.

 

Since 2000, a group of kind-hearted residents of Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya has helped local non-profits connect with those who need a little extra attention during the Holiday season. In years past, this group has helped organize the collection and distribution of thousands of Christmas presents for disadvantaged and special needs students as well as much needed dispensas (essential non-perishable food items) for families and elders in impoverished outlying villages. Two years ago, the group has struck out on their own and created Christmas Dreams Playa

This year, one of the Christmas Dreams projects is to answer these "toy wish" letters which were written by school children from the impoverished village of Nuevo Noh-Bec, which is in a rural area outside of Playa del Carmen. This is the same village BuyPlaya is supporting with the "Kicks 4 Kids" Holiday Sneaker Drive. Read the letters and see how simple these wishes are --these kids are not asking for Ipads or Xboxes. In fact, they live in a community without electricity or running water and will be over the moon about a soccer ball or a baby doll.

Christmas Dreams PlayaThe average cost of each gift to be 25 usd per child -- this means with just 100 usd you could give gifts to 4 children. For many (if not all) of these kids, this will be the only gift they will receive all year. The goal is to provide a present for each of the 219 school children in the village.

You can view all of the letters here in the album on the Christmas Dreams Facebook page. If you would like to sponsor one of these kids, simply choose "your" child by commenting under their letter in the Facebook album. If you live in Playa del Carmen, please purchase the item requested. Toys can be dropped off at one of the locations to be announced later or you can send an email to christmasdreamsplaya@gmail.com and the Christmas Dreams volunteers will arrange to pick it up from you.

If you are not in Playa, you can still choose a child and then send your donation via PayPal to christmasdreamsplaya@gmail.com and the volunteers will do the shopping on your behalf. If you would simply like to make a donation to support this project, ANY contribution, no matter how big or small will be greatly appreciated.

These humble, lovely kids will be just thrilled to receive a gift at their Three Kings Day party (which will be held on January 7) all thanks to your love, compassion, and kindness. The "Kicks 4 Kids" sneakers will be delivered at the same time!

Thank you for helping Christmas Dreams Playa put big smiles on little faces. 

Christmas Dreams Playa del Carmen 

Christmas Dreams Playa del Carmen  Christmas Dreams Playa del Carmen

Christmas Dreams

These annual toy drives require an enormous commitment of time and superb organizational skills. Special thanks to Heather Andersen for her ongoing and tireless support of this project! If You would like to volunteer your time to this heart-warming project, please contact Gayle Collins at christmasdreamsplaya@gmail.com.

 

By Maribel Correa

The language barrier faced by the English-speaking residents of Playa del Carmen tends to create a gap in local political activism and understanding. It can be a struggle to integrate into the cultural and political ambiance without a strong grasp of the political and legal terminology in any given language. In this series of interviews with some of our newly elected local government officials, we attempt to bridge that gap by detailing the positions they hold within the municipal infrastructure of Solidaridad and by putting a face on these public servants.  


Our first interview is with Luis Ernesto López, the new Director of Culture for Solidaridad

Luis Ernesto LopezWhere are you originally from, and how long have you been in Playa del Carmen?

I'm originally from Mexico City, and in February I'll have been in Playa for 14 years.

What brought you to Playa?

I had a project in Mexico City: a music group that was on the rise but fell apart due to conflict of interest from two of its members. My personal way of moving forward from an emotional setback is replacement. If something I care about ends, I look for something else to distract my mind and get to work. I came to Playa del Carmen on a friend's invitation. Even though I didn't know much about the city back then, I still decided to come on a day's notice. I arrived with my bass, an amplifier and a thousand pesos.

What do you love most about the Riviera Maya?

The quality of life is definitely what I like the most. I believe it's something that attracts everyone: the ability to commute to work in 5 minutes, to get around town by bike, the cultural diversity, etc. It's a melting pot. There are no well-defined economic or cultural classes. It's a city made by dreamers; we're people that are always looking to move forward, so we have many possibilities for growth. There are also many possibilities and opportunities to contribute because Playa is a relatively new city.

What are your favorite hobbies outside of work?

That's a tough question to answer because my hobby has become my work! Another is music and being with my family, conversation, I love communication.

I'd like to know about your professional career. What did you study and what made you choose it?

Music came to me when I was 6 years old, through my dad. My dad is one of the most passionate musicians I've met. In reality he's not in the music business; he's a physical therapist, but he has a collection of instruments that he loves. It was my dad who really gave me that love of music. From that moment I realized that I wanted to be a musician... but as we grow up there's a certain ingredient that destroys childhood and turns us into a ruined adult: that ingredient is fear. All the fears that came to me were the classic comments like "You can't make a living off of music" or "Artists starve to death", etc.

When I got out of high school I went in search of a music school, but I found out the maximum entry age was 15 years old, and I was 18. And so I was very disappointed and that's when I began to study journalism. One day, a friend invited me to a party, and on the way there I ran into a very large music school that had no age requirement, and I was accepted. That was what changed my life. I studied music, specializing in the electric bass.

What was your first job?

Working at MixUp, a music and record store.

On Explayarte:

Explayarte is my baby. It was my way of thanking this school that opened its doors to me without conditions like age. With some sacrifices but with no suffering. I'm still a part of Explayarte, but no longer in the operations area because I have a spectacular business partner who is doing excellent work. The school helped me to see the cultural needs of Playa del Carmen. This project is a great opportunity to contribute something to the city. David Sánchez is the new General Director at Explayarte. The activities I do today as the Director of Culture aren't so different from what I do at the school. The only thing that has changed is the magnitude: now I'm at a city level.

AguamalaOn Aguamala:

Aguamala was my education as a musician; it has very talented people and musical geniuses. The demands of the group are what have helped me to grow as a musician, but at both Explayarte and Aguamala I have completed my cycle in the operations area. However, they will never leave my mind or my heart.

What are the challenges you have seen in developing your career in Playa del Carmen?

I think the most difficult part of developing anything is being consistent. There are always so many stumbling blocks in the road, needs and things that can make you stray from your path. I've fallen, but that has made me value what I have and always turns me back toward the path.

What suggestions would you give to someone who wants a career like yours?

Consistency, and to not limit your goals. Considering your dream to be a given is the only way to make it a reality.

How do you go from being a musician to working for the government?

I've always been a part of the cultural scene in Playa del Carmen, but everything came together with the play Les Miserables, when the Municipal President was in the audience. The next day, he contacted me and my business partner. The first thing he asked was if the actors in the play were from Playa del Carmen. When we said yes, he was pleasantly surprised and couldn't believe there was so much talent in the city.

And that's where it all began: first with consulting, and next we presented a project for cultural development in Playa. He read it and loved it.


Luis Ernesto LopezHow has your family helped you to reach where you are today?

My family has been my foundation. Moral support is more important that anything. It's the drive that always pushes you forward. My immediate family, my parents, my siblings and my significant other. Also my son, who is 13. He has always been my motivation to set a good example.


What do you think sets you apart from other politicians?

Everyone has their own personality and goals. I don't think there's something that sets me apart from the rest.

What are your short term goals with your new position?

First I want to find out all the existing plans and try to improve them. I want to make the direction of culture a magnet for big players in Playa del Carmen's art and culture scene. Our project is called Ciudad de Artistas (City of Artists), focusing on what we can all do as artists regardless of our profession or job. We need to remind the population that it has a goal and a purpose in the evolution of society. Supporting our artists, getting their names out there and making them a source of pride for Playenses. We need to promote all of our artistic heritage to make it an outstanding example, stimulating art so that society's emotional intelligence can grow.

How will you achieve these goals?

First I need to get to know my team and explore their strengths. Listen to each of them. That's what we're here for. We're public servants. There will be an image change. We'll work on getting word out through all media so the people can see the fun and quality that's out there. Let everyone know their options and make it attractive for everybody.

How do you think these changes will affect Playa del Carmen society?

What interests me most is emotional health; that's where everything else begins. I would also like Playa del Carmen to appear on the list of the happiest cities in the world.

If you could choose again, what career path would you choose?

The same one. It's a question I've never asked myself because I love what I do.

How would you like to see Playa del Carmen in 5 years?

The Cultural Center full! More art schools. Society more involved with culture. Positive evolution in society's development at the same level as the city's commercial development. This project belongs to all of us, but there are so few of us compared to the total population. We need to spread the philosophy of emotional growth throughout the population, grow as a healthy society... we all create change. We want to be given the opportunity to approach you all and see that these changes can be made.


Maribel Correa BuyPlaya
Maribel Correa, originally from Torreón, northern Mexico, came to Playa del Carmen 6 years ago to learn more about hotel administration. She speaks 3 languages: English, French and Spanish. Maribel loves culture and art, and she's passionate about traveling and learning more about local culture. Maribel works for BuyPlaya Real Estate Advisors.

Arielle Newman, the owner of Yoga by the Sea is teaming up with best selling wellness author Sedena Cappannelli for a week-long yoga-wellness retreat.

The retreat is planned for Jan. 25 - 31 2014. Guests will be have accommodations in a luxurious private beachfront villa in Playa del Carmen.

Of course, there will be yoga but participants will also enjoy cooking classes, a trip to Tulum and empowering techniques to reinvigorate their life. All activities, lodging and food are included in the price.

Arielle has extended the Early Bird Rate just till Nov. 28th which is $1900 USD per person double occupancy.

***For anyone who books now and mentions my blog post, Arielle has agreed to donate 100 USD to the local Riviera Maya charity of your choice!****

To reserve, contact arielle@morethanyoga.com.

Yoga Retreat Playa del Carmen

 

On Wednesday evening, Taste of Playa celebrated its 5th anniversary with a spectacular wine and food pairing event hosted by La Casa del Agua. Of course, Rob and I were first in line for reservations! Hans and his staff did an amazing job. The food was excellent, the wines thoughtfully paired and the service was outstanding. The menu included a salad of Melon and Goat Cheese, Seabass in Romescu Sauce, a slow roasted Portabello Confit, sauteed Squid filled with Pancetta Mousse, Beer Marinated Short Ribs and finally a Triple Chocolate Cake. All six courses were timed perfectly, the food was served at the right temperature and the wines were poured on time.... no easy feat with a group of 50 discerning, well-traveled and in this case rowdy foodies. Everyone was there to have a good time and ramp up the excitement for the big event which takes place in just a few short hours.

TASTE OF PLAYA 2013

Taste of Playa 2013 

Taste of Paya 2013

La Casa del Agua 

Taste of Playa 2013 

Taste of Playa 

La Casa del Agua 

Rob and I are both so proud to be sponsors for this amazing community event. We can argue the monetary "ROI" of our sponsorship dollars all day long. In the end, the real reward is knowing that we are contributing to an event that helps to support and promote this beautiful region that we call home and the many local business owners we call friends. I was honored to sit on the committee for the first 2 years and I am equally honored to be a corporate sponsor. Kudos to the Executive Committee for all their hard work and dedication to keep Taste of Playa going and growing every year.

Taste of Playa 2013

Photos courtesy of Kat Carroll of Cat Eye Creations.

It's hard to believe until you see it for yourself but if you drive a few kilometers in any direction from the center of Playa del Carmen you will find tiny pueblos tucked away in the jungle with families eking out a meager existence and living without even the most basic services. Nuevo Noh Bec is one of these remote communities. Noh Bec is located on the NW side of Playa del Carmen...beyond Guadalupana, beyond Pueblo Sac Be...down a horrible road that you can't believe would lead to anywhere. A few weeks ago, I learned about this settlement from fellow Rotarian and KKiS organizer Gayle Collins who described the living conditions and the needs of its 1500 residents. I had seen some photos on the KKiS Project website but really wanted to see it for myself.

Nuevo Noh Bec Project 

Nuevo Noh Bec

nuevo Noh Bec Project

Nuevo Noh Bec 

Kicks 4 Kids Playa del Carmen

Nuevo Noh Bec Project 

On Monday, I took the long trip out to the village with Gayle Collins and Janet Lowe from The KKIS Project. They were scheduled to deliver school supplies to the secundaria classroom and distribute the lists for this year's Christmas Dreams toy drive. We were accompanied by my friend Cesar Lagunas Garcia of El Fundador 8m and a kind gentleman named Aniceto who helped with translation and prepared us a fantastic breakfast. Hipolito, the principal of the school, greeted us and introduced us to the students in his secundaria classroom. He spoke to the students about the KKiS Project, Christmas Dreams and finally our own Kicks 4 Kids Holiday Sneaker Drive. The kids were all very sweet and graciously accepted the donated school materials. We all got our photo taken together and stood witness as a visiting mission priest blessed, the classroom, the students and all of us. 

KKiS Nuevo Noh Bec

KKiS Nuevo Noh Bec 

Kicks 4 Kids Playa del Carmen

Kicks 4 Kids

Nuevo Noh Bec

Kicks 4 Kids 

The residents have slowly carved a small town out of the jungle over the past 5 years. There are a few concrete block structures in the village. Most are made with recycled materials, palettes, plywood, tar paper, old windows...whatever can be found or salvaged. Many of the structures are incomplete, abandoned left to fall into ruin. Water is obtained from hand pumps which are scattered throughout the settlement. A few families have been able to drill their own. There is no indoor plumbing. On a piece of borrowed land in what can be considered the town center, the parents have built classrooms for students. Some are open air, a few are almost fully enclosed, others are getting knee-walls to keep out snakes, insects and rodents. The buildings lack basic services like running water and electricity however the parents are proud of what they have accomplished and seem to enjoy the life they have made for themselves. Now a permanent home for a school has been donated and fundraising has begun to build a proper school for the village's 400 kinder, primary and secondary students.

Kicks 4 Kids

Kicks 4 Kids

Kicks 4 Kids Playa del Carmen 

Nuevo Noh Bec

Kicks 4 Kids

Kicks 4 Kids 

With no textbooks or teaching materials, teachers write all information and instructions on white boards. The students are expected to copy everything into their notebooks. The new municipal government has recently provided the classrooms with whiteboards to work on and KKiS is going to be able to to help them with school supplies, but the need goes so much further. There is no health care for this community of 1500 people. Should a health issue arise, no matter how serious, the closest medical care is located 9km away, down a very badly pot-holed road. It was an uncomfortable 30 minute trip in my car. A few of the mothers confirmed that their primary health concern for their children is snake bite, insect stings and other puncture wounds which, in this climate and without access to medical supplies, often infect. I told them about our Kicks 4 Kids sneaker drive and their faces lit right up!

Nuevo Noh Bec 

Kicks 4 Kids Playa del Carmen 

From there, Hipolito took us to see the piece of land that the new school is to be built on. It is about a 10 minute walk from the center of town but accessible. The land is very rough and heavy machinery will need to be brought in to clear and grade the land before anything can be planned or constructed. Municipal President Mauricio Gongora and his wife have visited the village and committed to assist in the building of the new school. Without support from the government, this project would not be possible but it will still require a lot of work from the parents and help from charitable groups.

To finish our morning, Aniceto invited us to the home of a friend where we were treated to a fantastic breakfast. We had pan fried tostadas with eggs and beans topped with a tomato sauce with peas and hot habanero salsa all cooked over a wood fire. We were joined by a group of young missionaries who had been sent to work in the village. It was delicious and a nice time to sit and reflect on our visit.

Nuevo Noh Bec Project 

Nuevo Noh Bec Project 

Nuevo Noh Bec Project

Kicks 4 Kids Playa del Carmen 

Nuevo Noh Bec 

Cesar Lagunas Garcia 

Nuevo Noh Bec Project

Kicks 4 Kids

This is just one of many tiny pueblos that have sprung up in response to the explosive growth that Playa del Carmen has experienced over the past 15 years. The people who live in these settlements are here because of the tourism boom and the need for labor to support an industry they will never have the chance to enjoy. As business owners in Playa del Carmen who have found great success in this region, Rob and I feel compelled to give back to the community and help those less fortunate than us. The needs of Nuevo Noh Bec, Cristo Rey and communities like them are many. If we all pitch in and help in whatever way we can, the lives of these disadvantaged residents can be made exponentially better. KKiS will bring school supplies and classroom support. Christmas Dreams will make their holidays a bit brighter with presents for Three Kings Day. Rob and I will help put shoes on their feet. What can you do?

 

Michele Kinnon
Michele Kinnon
and her husband Rob are the owners of BuyPlaya Real Estate Advisors and FurnitureMEX, both based in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Michele is a member of Rotary Club of Playa del Carmen Seaside and participated on the founding committee for Taste of Playa, the Riviera Maya's largest and longest running culinary festival. She also blogs, writes local interest articles and administrates the Riviera Maya Events Calendar. Michele and Rob have lived in Playa del Carmen with their two children since 2004. Follow her updates on Google+.