In this issue:
Bookstore Open! New Hours 11am-2:30 & 3:30-8:00pm
7 days a week
Here we are, a virtual tropical breeze in your freezing-cold inbox. Beach Reads, now in its 10th (somewhat) proud year, is back with all the news from Puerto Morelos, PoMo to its friends, and the infamous Alma Libre Bookstore.
How was your summer? We spent ours in Calgary and lots of points in-between. This fall we took the ultimate road trip down the west (and sometimes wet) coast of Canada and the United States. We saw the Golden Gate and the Golden Nugget. Giant redwoods and dead desert. We saw snow, real @#$% snow in New Mexico. The only regret is that we needed more time! We will return.
More about our travels later, but let's get to the part YOU care about. Your town! After a long and quiet summer, the town is ready for another winter season.
There are a bunch of new restaurants for you to try, a few things moved around and there are some new things to do. What has not changed is the peaceful, laid-back hospitality and beauty of our town.
A few things have changed at the bookstore; we've changed our hours a little so that we are closed for less time in the afternoon. We are now open 11:00am to 2:30 and 3:30 to 8:00pm. Of course we brought several thousand books with us and more are on the way. We added some new lighting to the store so that it is easier to see our titles (and shows that we need to paint too).
We missed our town so much when we were away. We're betting you miss it too, so get yourself down here! ¡Vamanos!
Please send our newsletter and the bookstore website to your friends and family. PoMo can use some more friends!
Puerto Morelos is such a special place it is tempting to try to keep it all a secret, so it won't get ruined by too many people discovering it. I've seen that sentiment posted a few times on our Facebook group, Friends of Puerto Morelos. While I understand this feeling, it is not the way to go. A lot of people in Puerto Morelos rely on visitors for their livelihood. The fishermen, snorkel guys, the restaurants, the stores, the handymen, maids, waiters, dishwashers, everyone relies on visitors to keep the town going. When people don't come, they hurt.
This past summer was very slow for the people of Puerto Morelos. Last season was also tough. The town lost a couple of landmark restaurants that closed due to dwindling business. The international economic downturn has affected tourism and before that was the H1N1 Swine Flu over-reaction, crime fears and the hurricane back in 2005.
While we don't want PoMo to become Cancun or Playa del Carmen or Miami Beach, we do want to have the ability to support the people we have now, and have room for new small independent businesses and services that will keep us all busy.
So please, don't keep us a secret. Tell your friends. Tell the nice people in your life about Puerto Morelos. (Tell the grumpy ones about Cancun) There is room for more hammocks here!
Sivanda Hall has opened on Avenue Ninos Heroes. Several local yoga experts have teamed up to make this happen. This facility will offer daily yoga classes, plus special teaching events and retreats. Website Here. Look for the English button to translate the page.
Mina Wigueras teaches classes at above facility and is offering yoga on the beach. Her classes welcome beginners, even if you have never done yoga before. The beach location can't be beat and the cost is just 50 pesos. You'll see her in front of the PlayaSol condos on Saturdays at 8:45 and Sundays at 8:30. At 10:00 am she is holding a class for kids on the beach starting in January. Bring a mat and a towel.
Villas Shanti, a fixture in Puerto Morelos for decades, has classes Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 7:30am led by Jean & Jack Loew. Cost is 100 pesos per class, or 150 for both weekly classes. Website Here.
One Breath Of Yoga will hold their classes in the gazebo in the main town square once the Christmas nativity scene moves on. In the meantime they are at Casa Lalita. Classes are Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7:00 am. Cost is 100 pesos. They also offer a Yoga and Raw Food in the jungle day monthly. The next one is December 18. Website Here.
Casa de la Cultura has classes Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. After a 100 peso registration fee, cost is just 40 pesos a class or 300 pesos a month.
Taxi Rates-Updated for 2012
The taxistas have done a nice service for the town. They have posted all their rates on a great big sign beside the taxi stand in the square. This is a great move and should help to eliminate any misunderstandings. Check the sign, confirm the rate with the driver and there will be no surprises. Here are some highlights (fares from the square).
20 pesos - The highway, Villas Morelos, Amar Inn, PlayaSol, Casa de los Viajeros, Villa Shanti
40 pesos - Ceiba, Rancho Sak-Ol
45 pesos - UNAM
50 pesos - Jungle Market/Spa, Villas Morelos II, Crococun, Botanical Garden
130 pesos - Playa Secreto
150 pesos - Central Vallarta
300 pesos - Airport
600 pesos - Xel-Ha
2000 pesos - Merida/Chetumal
*We've updated the file. A few fares changed, mostly longer distances.
Click here to see all the rates.
Jungle Market / Jungle Spa
The Jungle Market will make its return in December. The first market and show will be December 18. The following week they will have a special Christmas market and show on December 25. The show will feature a real live burro plus Mary, Joseph the Three Kings and a baby boy. After the show there will be a piñata for the kids. What a special way to spend Christmas day!
The Jungle Spa has been so popular, they have expanded the days that it is open and are requesting that people make appointments either by telephone or email. This will ensure you don't waste any time waiting for your treatment.
To make an appointment, contact Sandra at (998) 208 9148 or Cell 044 998 180-5424 or by email through her website. Appointments are available Tuesday-Saturday and limited appointments may be available on Sunday. The spa is closed on Monday.
Many treatments are available, from manicures and pedicures to a luxurious aloe vera and banana leaf wrap and massage! (or a chocolate massage...does it get any better??) For men, there is the "Mayan Macho" massage. You've never had a massage like this! They even have special massages for young adults.
Spa prices are much lower than you will find at your resort and proceeds go directly to the Mayan families that work at the spa and Jungle Market.
It's easy to get out to the jungle by car, taxi or collectivo. It's on Calle Dos (kie-yay dose) in the Zona Urbana, which is right behind the Colonia. Here's a map you can print out. Taxi to the jungle from the town square is 50 pesos. A taxi from nearby hotels is 150 pesos or $12 US each way. Tell driver you want to go to: Jungle Spa - Sandra (important to mention her name) Zona Urbana.
Remember, when you pamper yourself at the Jungle Spa or buy a unique gift
at the Mayan Market, you are directly supporting Mayan families! This is a very
worthwhile venture and we hope you will support it.
New anti-money laundering laws here in Mexico require exchange houses to record your passport number to exchange US cash for pesos. You will need a copy of your passport to exchange cash at any exchange place in Mexico.
Just a reminder to visitors that there is no place to cash traveler's cheques in Puerto Morelos. The easiest way to get pesos is at the Santander ATM in front of the police station or the HSBC ATM beside the supermarket on the square. If they are out of money, there is another machine in the 7-11 by the gas station. There are also three ATMs in town that are not affiliated with banks. Two are at the mall across the square from the bookstore and another is at OXXO. Since these are not affiliated with a bank, the fees are much higher than the Santander and HSBC machines.
If you wish to cash a traveler's cheque, you can do it at the airport or in Cancun or Playa del Carmen. You will need your passport to cash a cheque.
Home and Condo Rentals
*By the way, it is not too early to start thinking about 2013. I am handling emails every day from people who waited too long to book Christmas and February!*
Owners! Contact us to get your FREE listing on our website.
Home and Condo Sales
If you have ever thought about owning a piece of paradise, this may be your opportunity. Some prices have actually come down, something we have not seen in ten years of living here. Properties are starting to sell now, several have moved in the last few months, so don't miss out.
Here are a few places we are featuring:
Find more places on the PoMo real estate section of our website: http://www.almalibrebooks.com/realestate.htm
Free Gift From Alma Libre - New Size! 1680x1050
For those of you still stuck up North, bring a small piece of Puerto Morelos to your home or office with our new Puerto Morelos Wallpaper.
We've dropped the calendars off of them, so they are now timeless. We'll have a large selection available soon. This month is a view of the beach just south of town.
Wallpaper is also available on our website at www.almalibrebooks.com.
Pick your wallpaper size:
Restaurant News: The hardest job in the world is not the President of the United States or a high school principal...it is trying to keep track of the restaurants in Puerto Morelos! Luckily we have a pile of new ones to discuss.
Rustika is a lovely looking restaurant located south of the square on the main road in Puerto Morelos. They are quite a way south of the square, beyond the Handicraft Market, so it is going to be a challenge for them to get any walk-by traffic. It is not a long walk though, and they are easy to find on the west side of the street. Their menu has mostly Italian food, pastas and grilled meat. They also have an art gallery and are promising live music on weekends.
Tulipanes will be of interest to guests at our place, Casa de los Viajeros as it is the closest place to get coffee. It is located on Rojo Gomez just north of the big vacant federal lot behind PlayaSol. It's a good looking place offering a variety of coffees, teas, matte and lots of baked goods. Wifi too! Looks like a good place to relax, get some caffeine and plan your day. It's open 7-1 & 4-10, closed Wednesday.
Tejones Locos (crazy Coatimundis) takes its name from the racoon relative that can be spotted in Puerto Morelos. The menu features pizza, Italian sandwiches, fish and pasta. The dessert menu features Tiramisu. They have a lovely open air brick kitchen and plenty of seating. Check out the Venetian mural, complete with Coatis in gondollas! The restaurant is located in the big building on the south side of the church. We had a chance to try their Italian-style pizza recently, and it was excellent.
Restaurant/Bar El Paraiso has opened on Avenue Ninos Heroes just north of John Gray's Kitchen. The menu is all about fish and shrimp.
PlayNet Cafe is the new name and business of the stationary store and internet cafe beside OXXO. It still has stationary and internet, but they have added coffee and snacks. They also have movies on the weekends. If you have a group of 10 or more, you can choose the movie from their library. Movies are free, but you must buy a beverage. It's like our own PoMo VIP Theatre!
Another cafe has opened nearby, just south of the square is the new Village Cafe. It has coffee and snacks and the owner obviously loves the Beatles, as their art leans on the fab four.
Siempre Sano is a new vegetarian place just south of the square where the hardware store was. Their menu offers vegan tacos for the low, low price of 10 pesos. (that is about 77 cents!)
Tuch-tlan is a small restaurant that has been open off and on in its small space across from the handicraft market. This year, it is on! Open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch and early dinner, the restaurant offers real local food. Empanadas, sopes, salbutes, tostadas, tortas and comida corrida. Inexpensive.
The quesadilla place beside the church appears to have changed its name to Ke-kekas they are advertising the low price of 15 pesos.
La Quinta de Morelos aka Cruzitas has yet another new name. It is now called Doña Cruzita. They have fish on the menu and they are on Avenue Ninos Heroes near the tortilla factory.
There are more food choices on the other side of the highway. We've long trumpeted the wonderful La Papa y Cafe and Pizza del Carmen among others...now there are more places. One we were really impressed with was La Luna LLena. It has baguettes, hamburgers, pasta, enchiladas, lasagne and more. Prices are very reasonable.
A new Michoacana ice cream store and cafe has opened on Avenue Rojo Gomez, just north of Tacos.com. That means you now have at least three choices for ice cream in Puerto Morelos! (Michoacán is a state in Mexico and their ice cream is different and delicious. Try it!)
Al Chimmichurri which is the local favourite for grilled meat and empanadas has added some tasty desserts to their menu.
Spaghettino has re-opened after an autumnal break.
John Gray's in Playa del Carmen has closed. Gray has just opened up a new restaurant in Cancun in Plaza Peninsula on Avenue Bonampak, a few blocks north of the intersection with Kabah (the Costco road). John Gray's Kitchen in Puerto Morelos is open daily. Gray's former Cancun restaurant Downtown continues to operate with other local owners on Avenida Xpuhil, near Plaza Los Americas mall.
If you hear a man calling "Tamales", wave him down. He makes real tamales
in banana leaves. He has vegetarian and other choices. He doesn't speak English,
but everyone speaks the language of fresh tamales!
The Casa de la Cultura will be holding their 7th annual Festival of Music on January 26, 27, 28 and February 2, 3 & 4. We're a proud sponsor of this event and they are looking for more sponsors. Please contact them through their website for details. This is a well organized and well received event for our town. The Casa de la Cultura offers many other learning opportunities. Here is their complete schedule.
The Men In Blues will be back in PoMo for another season. Catch them at David Lau's Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday from 7:00-10:00 starting in the new year. You are advised to make reservations with Valorie to guarantee a seat. They fill up fast. Sad to report that Jean "Bluesman" Prévost is not coming down this year, he's back in Quebec taking care of his health. He's promised to be back next year. We wish him a speedy recovery. We miss you Jean!
Jin of Abbey Del Sol has started his own transportation company. He is offering lower rates than we've seen before. Airport pickups are just $40, and you can add a quick grocery trip for an extra $15. Quite a deal and Jin lives here, so the driver will know Puerto Morelos well, unlike most of the Cancun-based drivers who get hopelessly lost in our tiny town! You can book online here.
They are doing some work on the road into town from the highway. Looks like they are widening it, which would be welcome news. Even better news would be a bike lane and a walking path! They are also doing some long-needed road repairs south of the square on the main road. Some of those potholes have been in town as long as we have! Meanwhile, the back road to Ceiba del Mar is starting to resemble Swiss cheese, making the speed bumps quite redundant!
There is a new ATM (aka ABM) in town, located conveniently right in front of the police station. Locals are loving it because they say the fees are lower than the HSBC one by the market. We recommend using your ATM card as the best way to get pesos in PoMo. Your exchange rate will make up for the fee the bank machine and your bank will charge.
They are some changes for shoppers too. There is a new "flea market" across from the Mayan Handicraft Centre. It has mostly the same stuff you will find all over Mexico, and the products are not locally made. The dress/silver and cigar store that used to be just south of the square is now just north of the square beside Dive In Puerto Morelos. You will find the A'ak store just south of there which has unusual items. The jewellery store right across from the dock is now a clothing store. Tesoros Mayas remains open close to the OXXO and has a wide selection. The gift shop on the corner beside El Pirata restaurant has closed.
A new shop has opened just down the road from the bookstore. Aquanauts Tour Boutique will sell dive equipment sales and handle tour bookings for just about any tour in the Riviera Maya. Eric of Ecab Explorer will be at the shop in the evenings talking about his popular tours. They are in the space that used to be the lower dining area of Hola Asia.
As we reported in April, Costco in Cancun has finally started charging for parking. Keep your parking stub and give it to your cashier at Costco and you will get free parking. A lot of restaurants have opened recently near Costco and were using their lot for their clients. The upside is that there are a lot more spots now!
Puerto Morelos Calendar: A group of local folks are putting together a PoMo calendar just in time for Christmas. It will feature pictures of Puerto Morelos women. Proceeds go to community projects. Calendars should be available as of today.
Tink "Tinkerbell" Serval is back! Tinkerbell was a fixture here in Puerto Morelos when we moved here, but moved back the Nether-Netherlands several years ago. Now she is back and she is offering her full body osteopathic-medical massage treatments. Contact her at 998-244-9321.
Homeowners: Pay your property taxes this month and save 15%. That is down from last year's 25% incentive, but hey, a tax discount is a tax discount. You can pay right at the town hall.
Ask A Reator: Mayan Riviera Properties will again be offering their weekly workshop outlining how to buy property in our area. Great chance to learn and ask your questions about living here full or part time. Workshops run each Tuesday at 5:00.
Free WiFi: It's getting even easier to stay connected in Puerto Morelos. Many of the restaurants and our bookstore will give you free access with a purchase, and Cablemas is now offering a free signal. Look for it around the town square.
Don't Fear The Dark: A tasty Christmas tradition here in Mexico is Noche
Buena, a delicious bock beer only available around the holidays. Look for it in
12 bottle boxes until early January. Then it will disappear like a snowman
Yucatan Ferry: I get asked about this several times a week, the dream of a ferry running from the US to the Yucatan. Not much progress to report on this however. The CEO of the company, United Caribbean Lines says the service will start in the latter part of 2012. Speculative price is $200 round trip. No word on how much it would cost to bring your car. I hope this happens, but there is no sign of the ferry starting yet that I have seen.
The Catholic Church on the square has a new priest. Padre Juan takes over from our friend Father Mario, who is now based at his large church in Cancun. Father Juan is from Spain, but has spent time in Mexico.
Bunch O' Booths: A lot of booths have sprung up around the square. Most of these booths are selling snorkel and fishing trips. Some are selling tours. Some are selling time-share or vacation clubs. Make sure you know the difference when you are talking to the person at these booths. If the price of a tour or trip seems too good to be true, there may be strings attached. Check out our Puerto Morelos Services page for good local businesses that will show you the sights right!
As we reported before, The Miami Herald Cancun Edition is no more. Look for a copy of the USA Today Cancun Edition at your hotel or convenience store. It's being put together by the same local staff. Check out the weekend edition for "Footprints" a special section devoted to the best in our area.
What did I miss? Let me know!
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Current Exchange Rates (At the exchange in Puerto
The real rate is closer to 14.00. You will get a better rate from the ATM.
Read all about it!
We love to keep you up to date with the town, but it's books that pay the bills. Have a look at some titles at Alma Libre bookstore...
Postcards! We've added a lot of new postcards to our collection, including more underwater shots by "Dive Diva." We have the largest selection of Puerto Morelos postcards, and they are all exclusive to Alma Libre. We know because we make 'em! We also have blank greeting cards to cover any occasion you may wish to celebrate while you are in paradise.
Gift Certificates! A nice gift idea for someone who lives here is an Alma Libre Gift certificate. Available in any amount and can be used for new or used merchandise. We can accept payments from up north via Paypal.
We love the open road and this year we took it to the extreme, covering more than 12,000 kilometres on our trip south alone!
From Calgary we drove straight west, eventually ending up in beautiful Victoria, BC. After that we rolled south in Washington state, stopping in Seattle and catching a Mariner game.
From there we spent some time in Portland and on the Oregon coast where we tried to set a personal record for most sampling at the Tillamook Cheese factory. We were stunned by the rugged beauty of the Oregon coast, around every corner was a postcard view.
Northern California was also beautiful and we got lost in the giant redwoods. Such a sight.
We spent a lot of time in San Francisco, wandering the hills and having as much sourdough as possible.
You may have heard they have a lot of wine in Napa Valley, California. Well...they used to have a lot more! The area is so beautiful, you could lose a lot of days here without wine tours. Highlight for us was visiting the famous Coppola winery and seeing some memorabilia from some of our favourite movies.
From there we figured we had better start heading east, as we were a long way from home! We spent a few days (but very few coins) in Las Vegas before heading for Austin, Texas.
Altering our route, we crossed the border at Eagle Pass/Piedras Negras and drove straight south on the good-quality Highway 57. We stayed in Saltillo the first night, then spent some time in Querétaro. We spent another night near Cordoba and then made the long run over some poor roads to Palenque. From there it was a day and a half to get home.
Pulling the trailer, we broke three springs and replaced two tires...all in the US!
We lost three special PoMo'ers since our last newsletter.
Just a reminder that we are open 7 days a week for the season. Our hours are 11:00am to 2:30pm & 3:30pm to 8:00pm EVERY DAY of the week. (Including Sunday) We are closed between 2:30pm and 3:30 for siesta.
Our hours are always posted on the front page of our website at www.almalibrebooks.com.
We take trades every day, so our selection is constantly changing. If you are planning a trip down, why not bring some recent bestsellers to trade and check out our store, or plan to buy all your reading material at Alma Libre. We got you covered!
We look forward to seeing you in Puerto Morelos!
Beach Reads is the official newsletter of Alma Libre Bookstore in Puerto Morelos Mexico. It is mailed directly to your mailbox if you request it. Beach Reads is published on a sporadic, seemingly random basis...but it is supposed to be approximately monthly during the season at Puerto Morelos. The season is November until after Easter. We do our best to publish it regularly...but we are easily distracted...
Our website is located at www.almalibrebooks.com Our store hours are always on the home page.
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This is Year #10, Issue #1. December 2011
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