"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 2012. 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.


Hekab Be Library AkumalHekab Be Library promotes literacy and learning opportunities among children and adults in Quintana Roo, Mexico, in order to meet their educational goals. Serving as a tool for educational, social and economic progress, we provide individuals and families with resources for scholastic advancement, helping improve people’s language and literacy skills, while promoting cultural preservation and awakening the desire to understand other customs and ways of thinking.

The Hekab Be Library, started in 1995, acquaints young children with books, provides learning resources for school children and offers literacy and writing classes for adults. In addition, the library offers after-school activities and tutoring, reading and math programs, arts & crafts workshops and yoga classes for children. Adults can participate in classes in English, Spanish and Maya. The library also presents parenting and health seminars and hosts local AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meetings and secondhand clothing bazaars.

This year, Hekab Be said goodbye to beloved librarian Carlos Canul and "Hola" to new library director, Mariana Galindo Lando. Mariana, originally from Veracruz, has called Akumal home for the past six years. Mariana has a B.A. in primary education and is a certified elementary teacher. She has worked as a teacher at various schools in Veracruz and in the Riviera Maya, most recently as a teacher at Instituto Vittorio Monteverdi in Tulúm.

As the new library director, Mariana has many goals, the foremost being to create an educational atmosphere that is welcoming to people of all ages. She will be implementing new programs including classes in music, dance, and other arts and it is her desire to see HB become not just a center for education, but also a cultural hub for the Akumal community.

How can YOU help?

Hekab Be Library AkumalSupport the Hekab Be "Library Angels" Program!
The Hekab Be library is 100% donation driven. In 2011 Hekab Be inaugurated their "Library Angels" program to encourage people to become monthly sponsors of the library. The goal is to generate a steady, dependable monthly income to be supplemented by fundraising efforts. The money donated is used for the library's programs, supplies and teachers salaries which make up about 75% of the library's operating expenses. The amount given each month is entirely up to the sponsor and can be automatically deducted from the sponsor's account with the new "Subscription" button via Paypal. Those who use Bill Pay through their can also set up automatic donations. Email akumallibrary@gmail.com for the correct setup information. USD donations are tax deductible!

Each quarter, Library Updates will be sent out directly to all of the Library Angels so that they can be kept informed on the activities and goings on at the library. To make a one time donation or to become a "Library Angel", please visit the Hekab Be Blog and choose to either DONATE or SUBSCRIBE!

Buy a Hekab Be T-shirt:
Show your support of Hekab Be by buying and proudly wearing a t-shirt from the new Cafe Press Hekab Be T-shirt Store! T-shirts are available in men's and women's sizes. Cool tote bags are also available, perfect for hauling your beach reads and sunscreen! A variety of colorful and whimsical designs are offered.

Donate books and library supplies:

  • Books - All reading levels in SPANISH
  • A durable digital camera/memory card
  • Chess sets
  • Packs of solid colored craft foam sheets, used for arts and crafts projects
  • Double sided tape
  • Flat head thumbtacks
  • Colored pencils
  • Liquid white glue such as Elmer's
  • Water based/washable liquid paints such as Crayola kids paint (liter size or larger)
  • Construction paper
  • Laminating sheets, various sizes, but especially letter size
  • Child safe scissors with rounded points
  • 3 ring binders
  • Letter size clear plastic sleeves that can be used in a 3 ring binder
  • Thick or jumbo crayons
  • Play Doh (or generic brand)-- small size cans keep longer in this climate
  • Bead sets for making bracelets and necklaces
  • Popsicle sticks
  • White-out or any brand of liquid corrector
  • Poster board, white or any color. Sam's and City Club in Playa del Carmen sell this in packs of 100-200 sheets
  • Various kinds of paper to use in art projects: tissue paper, crepe paper & shiny/foil paper in assorted colors
  • Blank white paper (8-1/2 x 11) such as copy paper or any standard paper sold in bulk

Hekab Be Akumal
Photo from the Akumalian

Here is a list of gifts that children who frequent the library said they would like to receive for Christmas this year. These are the gifts most requested, and of course, the library welcomes any kind of toy donations and assistance to give these special children a very Merry Christmas!

Hot wheels race tracks
Back packs & messenger bags
Dolls, baby dolls & accessories
Doll houses
Skateboards or other thing with wheels you can ride
Toy cell phones
Soccer balls
Diaries that lock with a key
Wrist watches
"Connect 4" game
Roller skates
Stuffed animals
Remote control cars
Toy train sets
Max Steel action figures
Dinosaur figures
Toy instruments such as guitars, drums

If you are in Akumal, your donations can be left at the library during business hours Monday - Friday 9:30am - 5:30pm (closed from 1pm-2:30pm for lunch) and on Saturdays 9am - 1pm. Spanish language books for all reading levels are always welcomed! If you are not going to be in Akumal in time for Christmas but would like to send us some toys or books, email the library and they may be able to find someone who can bring it down: akumallibrary@gmail.com.

Your support is needed and appreciated in helping give the kids a Happy Holiday Party every year! If you would like to share in the joy of giving, please come to the Annual Hekab Be Christmas Party on Wednesday, December 19 at 3:00 pm. There will be singing by the kids, a pinata, food and of course, Santa will be on hand handing out the gifts! Please come if you are in town! For updates, you can also follow Hekab Be on Facebook!

Michele Kinnon

I moved to Mexico with my family in 2004 with the hope of offering our children a more global education and world view. Since then, we have traveled through Mexico, Belize and Guatemala, gathering friends and life experiences and learning a lot about ourselves along the way. When we are not out and about exploring, Rob and I own and operate BuyPlaya, a Playa del Carmen real estate company and FurnitureMex. "Life's a Beach" is a catch-all blog where you may find anything from restaurant reviews, to recipes, gardening tips, commentary about expat daily life, local events, information about moving to Mexico and educating children in Playa del Carmen. You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter and .