"On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...."

This beloved traditional holiday song is the inspiration for our seasonal blog series, "12 Days/12 Ways", a promotional effort of goodwill we started last year to draw attention to 12 not-for-profit groups or charitable organizations in Playa del Carmen and along the Riviera Maya. So many people from around the world travel to the Riviera Maya during the holiday season. Many reach out to us via regional message boards and Facebook looking for a way to give back to the less fortunate residents in our local communities. 12 Days/12 Ways was started to help these generous, kind-hearted visitors find legitimate and worthy charitable organizations to support, addressing their particular needs for this holiday season.

For each of the 12 days of Christmas, the BuyPlaya Blog, better known as "Life's a Beach", will spotlight a charitable organization or giving opportunity. Some may already be familiar to locals and frequent travelers to this area. Others, perhaps those most in need of recognition and support, may be new to our readers. It is our hope to do this every year, with updated information and wish lists.

The "12 Day/12 Ways" list has not yet been completed for 2011. If you have a favorite charity that you feel belongs on this list, collect all of the information you can and I will be happy to consider your group for inclusion.


CEA AkumalCentro Ecologico Akumal is a non-profit conservation organization working on the Mexican Caribbean to monitor the impact of development on the regional ecosystems and culture; to report findings and their significance to the public through education; and, through education, to influence public policy. CEA is celebrating 15 years of research, education and advocacy in Akumal, working to understand better the natural elements that make this place so beautiful, to raise awareness about how to protect it and to invite others to join us in our efforts.

Centro Ecologico Akumal has a number of ongoing programs:

Marine and Coastal Program and Reef Monitoring and Research subprogram were established to promote the protection and conservation of the coastal ecosystems. With a focus on an integrated coastal system, the Marine Ecosystems Program collects comprehensive data on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef in the region of Akumal and promotes the implementation of a management policy based on the understanding and study of the marine ecosystem and its services.

CEA AkumalSea Turtle Program is charged with the protection, conservation, research and management of sea turtles. During the nesting season CEA turtle staff and volunteers patrol the beaches of Akumal in search of nesting female turtles, turtle nests, and recent hatchlings. Their duties include protecting and tagging females, collecting scientific data, relocating eggs (in extremely cases) to more favorable locations on the beach, and releasing hatchlings to the sea. The data that the turtle team collects are then used to determine turtle hatching success, behavior, distribution, and abundance. Raising awareness among tourist and residents on sea turtle biology and conservation issues is of the utmost importance. CEA holds Turtle Talks to give information to the people who visit the Riviera Maya.

CEA AkumalWater Quality Program works to reduce pollution of our watershed; promoting between the sector public and private the good managing of the solid and liquid tailing; as well as the utilization of technological alternatives that promote a sustainable development in the zone. This is achieved by monitoring the bays, lagoons and Akumal's artificial wetlands, training and application of technological alternatives for sustainable development (solar power, rain water catch, artificial wetlands, composting toilets and waste management) and coordinating activities with the program of Environmental Education to promote the care and managing of the water within the populations of Akumal and Chemuyil.

Sustainable Development Program aims to influence development and lessen its impact on the local environment. Sustainable development is development that satisfies present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to satisfy their own needs. By maintaining constant consideration of the environmental benefits that the ecosystems of the region offer and understanding the interconnections among the environment, the economy and society

CEA AkumalEnvironmental Education is an ongoing educational program to teach both visitors and local people to preserve and respect our environment. Focusing primarily on local children, CEA organizers, volunteers and social service students visit the schools in the Pueblo of Akumal to teach the children how Mother Nature works and how to protect their local ecosystem. The CEA Information Center has been providing this education for the past fifteen years and recently, the tourist and community sectors of the Environmental Education Program have been expanded to include hotels, restaurants and dive shops outside Akumal.

Communications focuses its efforts with tourists, residents and hotels to help accomplish CEA’s mission by visually displaying and distributing the research findings and information. CEA has publications and presentations designed to inform CEA visitors about the research programs, problems and solutions at Akumal. There are displays, visually explaining the various research studies in which CEA is involved. With this compelling graphic and informational program, CEA strives to influence public opinion, shape public policy and to help preserve our coastal environment.

How can YOU help?

CEA AkumalBecome a CEA Member!
Memberships and donations charged through the CEA website are processed by CEA's U.S. fiscal sponsor, the Yucatan Environmental Foundation (YEF), and are tax deductible in the U.S. You will first receive an order confirmation and then, when your order is processed, a YEF receipt, which you should print out for your tax records.

If you would prefer to pay by check, rather than by credit card, please make your payment to:

c/o Alex Bradley
PO Box 1813
Port Townsend, WA

Please note what level of CEA Membership you are requesting. Please include your e-mail address. Your tax receipt will be sent to you electronically.

CEA AkumalVolunteer!
Each of the CEA programs is dependent on volunteers for its success. There is a recuperation cost for the basic expenses related with your stay, such as the kitchen, cleaning, water, gas, internet, electric, repairs and maintenance. The volunteer fees for the Marine Ecosystems Program are $200 usd/month and $1,500 usd for the Reef Monitoring Subprogram (Grants are available for Mexican Citizens). The monthly fee for other programs is $200 usd (Foreigners) and $100 usd (Mexican citizens). These fees are not tax deductible.

CEA AkumalAdopt a Turtle!
You can sponsor your very own Akumal turtle! Included in your "adoption" will be an official, personalized Certificate of Adoption, mailed from the U.S. Please send us the name you want on the certificate, and the address you would like it mailed to, if different than your own. The tax-deductible proceeds help support the CEA Turtle Program.

Make a Donation in kind!
Please refer to CEA's comprehensive wishlist of needed items and supplies.

Buy a 2012 CEA Calendar!
Centro Ecologico Akumal, with the support of Ah Cacao and DHB Diseno, had produced its second 100% ecological calendar! You can purchase a calendar in CEA's office in Akumal, Ah Cacao stores, and DHB Diseno in Playa del Carmen and Tulum. This is a limited-edition purchase, so buy yours early to be sure to have one!

A small shipment of calendars is being sent to the US to be available to be ordered online through PayPal for $12 usd (shipping included). Click here http://www.ceakumal.org/html_en/want_to_help/donations.php , then the "Donate" button, and enter $12 per calendar under "Donation amount." Please click on the "Message" field to enter any additional information, and be aware that deliveries to Canada take longer than within the U.S. Calendar purchases are not tax deductible.


For further information: