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Loco Gringo Mexico

LocoGringo Mexico gives you local insights, vacation tips and stories from people who live and work in the Riviera Maya and Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. Our host Kay Walten, will introduce you to people in Mexico who tell of their journey to the Yucatan, their local scoop on the people, the Mexico and Mayan culture, places not to miss on your next vacation, food and more. LocoGringo gives you travel info that you won’t find in a travel guidebook. Discover Mexico for your next vacation on a more intimate level than a typical tourist. As an expat, Kay has been working in vacation and tourism in Mexico since 1992. She is also co-founder of the vacation rental site LocoGringo.com.
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Nov 21, 2017

My guest this week is a New York Times award-winning journalist, former Director of Communications for a presidential candidate, a contributor to the Loco Gringo blog and a complete and utter Foodie. Kerra Bolton left North Carolina after she said goodbye to her lover, her mother and her high-powered career. Does she miss it? No, and yes. Kerra says the Riviera Maya is her home now but visits the U.S. every three months because she just can’t seem to quit it.

 

When Kerra’s transition to living in Mexico wasn’t all sunsets and rainbows she felt lucky to have a community of expats to lean on when she needed help. Her new circle of friends helped her deal with all the things that were not easy to navigate, especially when they were in Spanish. Another community Kerra has embraced are the creatives at the Akumal International Artist Residency. She had a photography show at the residency and promotes the idea of a more active artist community in the area.

 

Kerra is a self-proclaimed foodie. Her love of food has inspired her to visit local restaurants who have an international menu. She has even started her own food blog, Love in the Time of Collards, where she shares her favorite places to eat and celebrates pork ribs. While Mexican food isn’t her favorite she is looking forward to exploring the expanse of the country through its eateries.

 

Riviera Maya Restaurants Kerra recommends are:

 

 

Kerra’s advice to those who are visiting the area is to stay fluid and come with the spirit of openness.

 

Thank you to Buy Playa for sponsoring this episode. They are buyer’s agents and only sell titled properties. They are truly experts in their field!

 

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

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Kerra Bolton

Love in the Time of Collards

@KerraBolton on Twitter

@KerraBolton on Instagram

Kerra Bolton on Facebook

Nov 14, 2017

Ellen de Jonge and her friend needed a break from the hustle and bustle of city life in Amsterdam. They decided they would take a year-long break to Mexico and boarded a plane without knowing exactly where they were going. During the flight, they used a Lonely Planet guide to help them decide where to go. They made it to Isla Mujeres in the Caribbean and enjoyed life so much they decided to stay.

 

Ellen has lived in Playa del Carmen for the past 17 years. To make ends meet she has tended bar, set up a fitness group, had her own yoga studio and now leads yoga and meditation classes and trains yoga instructors. Her favorite style of yoga is wise progression where beautiful postures are integrated with meditation for healing purposes.

 

Ellen is a vegetarian. She recommends the following restaurants:

 

Eazy to Go on Avenida 10 for handmade pasta noodles mixed with fresh veggies.

Ah, Cacao for great coffee with great service.

Ciao Ciao Cafe for oven- fired pizza.

Ellen will be facilitating a Yoga teacher training and workshop in 2018 in the UK and Amsterdam.

Thank you to Buy Playa for sponsoring this episode. They are buyer’s agents and only sell titled properties. They are truly experts in their field!

 

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

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Ellen de Jonge

Ellen de Jonge on Facebook

Nov 7, 2017

Before moving to the Riviera Maya, Kai Kirk lived in Texas with his wife. Both were putting in long hours for ungrateful companies. When they decided it was time to have children, they knew their existing lifestyle wouldn’t do. Kai says the decision to move to Akumal in the Riviera Maya changed their lives for the better.

 

Now with two children, Kai says he is surprised by the number of low-cost, high-quality private schools there are near Playa del Carmen and Akumal. There are both Waldorf and Montessori schools who accept all nationalities. The classes are taught 50% in English and 50% in Spanish, which has made his young son completely bilingual.

 

The move was made easier by the fact that Kai is familiar with the Akumal area. His family owned a condo in Akumal when he was young. His mother was an avid cave diver who appreciated the underground rivers in the cenotes.

 

Kai and his wife have had very few challenges moving to and living in Mexico. Kai recalls one challenge when obtaining a birth certificate for his son due to the difference in the North American tradition of the wife taking the husband’s name at marriage. He didn’t want his son to have the same two last names so he was forced to jump through some hoops at a time when his Spanish was still its infancy. And even then, the U.S. required more documentation to verify the birth than Mexico did.

 

For those who may have safety concerns about raising children in Mexico, Kai says you can certainly look for danger but danger doesn’t seem to hit innocent bystanders.

 

For enjoyment Kai and his family visit:

 

  • The colonial town of Merida.
  • Turtle Bay Bakery for comfort food.
  • Xpuha for long stretches of beautiful beach.
  • Xcacel, to swim in a crystal clear cenote.
  • A snorkeling spot in Akumal.

 

Thank you to Buy Playa for sponsoring this episode. They are buyer’s agents and only sell titled properties. They are truly experts in their field!

 

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

Loco Gringo

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Concierge@locogringo.com — Ask Paulina

Email Kay: Askkay@locogringo.com

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LocoGringo Mexico Vacation Free E-books

Akumal Now

Oct 31, 2017

You may have seen my guest today on cooking shows such as Beat Bobby Flay, The Taste, TLC Discovery or from her online syndicated cooking show, Chef Dimeo. She has also been written up in the New York Times, NY Magazine, the LA Times and more. Chef Diane Dimeo is on the show with me today because she is also the heart and soul behind the Tulum Food, Spirits & Wine Festival which starts November 9th, 2017.

Diane came to the Riviera Maya area to visit a friend who was living in Playa del Carmen. After returning to the Big Apple, Diane found herself at a crossroads. She thought “I can sit here in New York and struggle or I can say screw it and live comfortably in Playa del Carmen.” She came soul-searching and eventually found herself in the magical town of Tulum.

While in Mexico City, Diane saw a different side of Mexico. After experiencing the fresh seafood, handmade salami, and other artisanal delights, she set out to let other people know Mexico was more than the traditional ‘spring-break’ destination. She contacted TLC Discovery about helping her to initiate a food festival there.

Her current event is the Tulum Food, Spirits & Wine Festival taking place November 9th at various restaurants and hotels throughout Tulum. The well-known Chefs who are attending will be buying all their supplies from local vendors and creating unique menus from only locally available ingredients. You can see a list of the A-List Chefs at TulumFSWF.com.

 

Highlights of the Tulum Food, Spirits and Wine Festivals are:

● The Grand Opening Ceremony — Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, from 7-9 pm. 

○ It includes street food, artisanal craft, freebies from sponsors, and live mariachi music.

● Liquid Love & Pool Party — Friday and Saturday from 1-4pm.

○ Music, swimming, and tasting at Hacienda CoCo.

● 10-Course Taco & Mezcal Tasting — Friday from 6-10pm. 

○ At Safari Chef Mike Bagale and Chef Luis Aguilar cook in an Airstream.

 

The festival is for all people, not just Foodies. There will be vegetarian options and locals (including Expats) get a 45% discount off their ticket! All proceeds go to victims of the 2017 earthquake in Mexico.

Thank you to Buy Playa for sponsoring this episode. They are buyer’s agents and only sell titled properties. They are truly experts in their field!

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

Loco Gringo

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Email Kay: Askkay@locogringo.com

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Tulum Food, Spirits & Wine Festival

 

Oct 24, 2017

My guest this week is an authentic Mexican Chef who shares family recipes with visitors who attend her personalized cooking classes. By opening up her kitchen, Lina is able to live out her passion for cooking while sharing her special gift with others.

Lina says that many visitors are confused as to which foods are authentically Mexican. When people ask for fajitas, chili con carne, or chimichangas Lina must politely tell them the foods they are asking for are Tex-Mex. When Lina makes a meal passed down from her grandmother it almost always includes a mole sauce which can include chilis and other sumptuous spices. Lina’s personal favorite is her black mole.

When Lina has a day off she visits one of the crystal clear cenotes around Tulum or she works on her hobby of creating her own bags. She reminds visitors that using a reusable bag is a great way to show their love for the environment and biodegradable sunscreen is a must for preserving the pristine cenotes.

When Lina has the opportunity to visit a local restaurant, her favorites are: 

 

Hartwood

Cetli

La Zebra

Mezzanine

Posada Margherita

Antojitos La Chiapaneca

 

Thank you to Buy Playa for sponsoring this episode. They are buyer’s agents and only sell titled properties. They are truly experts in their field!

 

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

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Lina’s Mexican Kitchen on Facebook

 

Oct 10, 2017

My guest today, Lorenzo Ancona Diaz de Leon, and his father are the visionaries behind the Aktun-Chen Natural Park located just South of Akumal in the Riviera Maya. In the Mayan language, Aktun means cave and Chen means underground river. Both natural wonders are featured in the luscious green park.

Lorenzo studied Hotel and Business Management at a University in Cancun.  His father purchased the land which is now the park — over 400 acres of pristine jungle — 25 years ago. His father’s mission was to share the magic of the jungle with visitors. The park has recently been named the #3 attraction in the area, due to its cave tour, ziplines, baby wild animals, and the underground river. The family-friendly park offers guided tours and snorkeling in a cenote.

Lorenzo has made agreements with local schools and communities, which offer special pricing for locals who want to have fun and learn about their environment. He says he also has a soft spot for guests who are visiting for the second or third time.

No matter where you are from in the world, Mexican people welcome you with open arms. The Cancun area is a fun and safe spot to bring your family. Lorenzo recommends renting a car so you don’t miss out on any of the wonderful sites that his country has to offer.

 

Thank you to Buy Playa for sponsoring this episode. They are buyer’s agents and only sell titled properties. They are truly experts in their field!

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

Loco Gringo

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Email Kay: Askkay@locogringo.com

@locogringocom on Twitter

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LocoGringo Mexico Vacation Free E-books

Aktun-Chen Natural Park

Email Lorenzo: ancona71@hotmail.com

Aktun-Chen Tripadvisor Reviews

 

Oct 3, 2017

When Ricardo Arellanos’ family moved to Cozumel, the Riviera Maya was a very different place. Cancun only had two hotels and Playa del Carmen was just a small town. Today the area is abundant with visitors and many of those visitors are drawn to the Akumal Monkey Sanctuary where Ricardo works.

Working at the Monkey Sanctuary allows Ricardo to live out one of his missions in life, which is to give people an experience an unforgettable experience by sharing the treasures of the Riviera Maya.

The six-hectare sanctuary cares for injured, displaced and unwanted wild animals. They rehabilitate the animals, introduce animals back into their native habitat, and educate humans. They have four different types of monkeys, snakes, exotic lemurs, zebras, goats, and more. Visitors learn about how the animal ended up at the Sanctuary, why the animals behave the way they do, and interact with the snakes and birds.

A partner of the Sanctuary, VEA Tours offers rides on ATVs to a beautiful cenote for swimming and then an underground cavern tour which has stalactites and stalagmites.

 

Ricardo Recommends Visiting These Authentic Local Places:

● Cenotes — Cristalina and Azul are two of Ricardo’s favorites.

El Alux — An underground restaurant in Playa del Carmen.

Un Taco Mas — The name says it all— in Playa del Carmen.

Los Aguachiles — Great seafood platters.

La Cueva del Chango — A nice place for breakfast.

El Pescador — For fried oyster ceviche in Cozumel.

La Cocay — International dishes in Cozumel.

 

Thank you to Buy Playa for sponsoring this episode. They are buyer’s agents and only sell titled properties. They are truly experts in their field!

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

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Akumal Monkey Sanctuary

Akumal Money Sanctuary on Facebook

VEA Trips and Tours

 

Sep 26, 2017

Originally from the cold white north in Saskatchewan, Canada, Parrish Konda worked in sales. He now lives in the capital city of Yucatan, Merida. Parrish can’t imagine ever going back to his previous life. He, along with his business partner, is building a residential condo development that sits on the emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico in a little town named Progreso.

During today’s episode, Parrish shares the story of his first trip to Mexico, why he stays and his favorite places in Mahahual, the first pueblo he called home here.

Parrish came to Mahahual two years ago based on a friend’s recommendation.  He loves the beaches, the views, and the adventurous beach road. When his friends make their annual visit they always go to Mahahual.

 

Things to do in Mahahual:

● Diving

● Visit the Costa Maya Water Park

● Birding — Over 200 species of birds frequent the area.

● Drive to Bacalar’s Lagoon of 7 Colors.

● Drink margaritas on the beach.

 

Parrish lives in Merida, also known as the White City.  It’s a colonial town with new boutique shops and wine bars popping up along its cobblestone streets. Parrish loves the laid-back lifestyle in Mexico, the people, and their culture. His only regret, he says, is not making the move sooner.

Merida’s Mercado 60 is a unique food truck park that features live music and dancing in the evenings.

The condo development Parrish is working to create is in Progreso.

 

Things to do near Progreso:

● Visit the Dzibilchaltun Ruins.

● Visit the Uxmal Ruins.

● See the flamingos at Celestun Biosphere Reserve (Nov-Dec).

 

Thank you to Buy Playa for sponsoring this episode. They are buyer’s agents and only sell titled properties. They are truly experts in their field!

 

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

Loco Gringo

Loco Gringo on Facebook

Concierge@locogringo.com — Ask Paulina

Email Kay: Askkay@locogringo.com

@locogringocom on Twitter

@locogringo_mexico on Instagram

LocoGringo Mexico Vacation Free E-books

Regal Property Developments

Regal Property Developments on Facebook

Regal Property Developments on Instagram

Parrish@regalproperty.net

 

Sep 19, 2017

Margo Guenther is back for another installment of “Things to Do in Tulum.” During today’s episode, she shares all the places on the jungle side of the beach road. Since Margo moved to Tulum in 2006, she says the jungle side has exploded with great places to eat, drink, and shop.

So open up a map of Tulum and follow along, so when you visit you won’t miss any of these great places.

 

La Eufemia — One of the hippest places on the beach. The Argentinian owner’s motto is “Relax and Eat Some F*ing Tacos.” That should tell you everything you need to know.

Hartwood — Big marketing dollars helped this place reach out to New Yorkers visiting the Riviera Maya for the food. It’s a bit pricey but the chef is known by name.

Cortázar Bar — Named after the Argentinian author, Julio Cortázar this bar offers high-level cocktails and is the perfect place to spend your time while waiting for your reservation at Hartwood.

Cenzontle: Jardin Secreto — One of Margo’s favorites. There is a beautiful garden out back with twinkly lights and all the drinks are named after 1920’s film stars.

Clan-Destinos — A new, hidden spot that serves up some great burgers and their own hand-crafted beers. There is a beautiful cenote to marvel at as well.

El Cangrejo Mudo — It’s a small taco cart in front of Clan-Destinos that has really good ceviche.

Casa Jaguar  — High-end food and drinks and techno music a few nights a week for their party in the mangroves.

Gitano  — A little bit of New York, New York in Tulum. Features live music during dinner.

BOLAS de Postre  — Has alcohol with ice cream. What’s not to like about that combo? It turns into quite the party scene.

Tunich  — Margo’s favorite place for breakfast and brunch. They recently introduced Boozy Smoothies.

Kitchen Table — A jungle kitchen. Check out the people camping in the old limestone mine next door.

Ahau Beach Club — When Margo goes to the beach she goes to Ahau. Food and drinks are delivered to you right on the beach and some evenings feature music.

 

Thank you to Buy Playa for sponsoring this episode. They are buyer’s agents and only sell titled properties. They are truly experts in their field!

 

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

Loco Gringo

Loco Gringo on Facebook

Concierge@locogringo.com — Ask Paulina

Email Kay: Askkay@locogringo.com

@locogringocom on Twitter

@locogringo_mexico on Instagram

LocoGringo Mexico Vacation Free E-books

My Feel Good Way

 

Sep 12, 2017

Margo Guenther is back for her third installment of Things to Do in Tulum. During today’s episode, she shares all the happening spots that feature live music. Margo is not sure how it happened but she says she somehow became the token gringa that hung out with all the musicians. She also says that the amazing music is one of the reasons she still lives in Tulum.

 

Live Music Can Be Found At:

Batey Bar — Located downtown on the new hip street in Tulum.  It features a VW bus parked in front that has been transformed into a sugar cane press. During high-season, they have people playing music early in the front, and in the back, there is live music every night, year-round. Margo recommends the mojitos.

Curandero — Features a DJ and late-night parties.

WAYE — The music STARTS at 1 a.m. here.

La Palapa del Indio — Live Salsa dancing, a Mexican smorgasbord, and a fiesta-type atmosphere.

Infinyto — A great place to hang with locals in the upstairs bar.

Todos Santos — Popular with the younger crowd. It’s hopping on the weekends.

Encanto Cantina — A 3-man band who play classic rock near the street. Great food.

Terraza Nawal — High-quality Mescal bar exclusively for LGBT crowd.

ZAMAS — Beachfront bar with great food and amazing musicians. It’s Margo’s home away from home.

Puro Corazon — A favorite place for musicians who can sing for their supper. Visit the Ciel Rose Sunset Bar on top of the 4-story tower.

Le Bistro — You can find great specials at this quaint French restaurant.

La Malquerida Cantina — Typical Mexican food.

La Querida — Margo’s favorite flan & good prices for pizza.

Ki’Bok — A cool place to get coffee, cupcakes, and hamburgers.

Mateo’s — Mexican fare with a sunset bar.

La Luna — Features live music with BBQ every Wednesday.

La Zebra — Great live music during the DAY, the beach is super close and on Sunday nights there is salsa on the beach.

Papaya Playa — Famous for their full moon parties in which hundreds of people attend.

 

If you are planning your visit to Tulum mark all these places on the map and try and visit them all! Just make sure to follow Margo’s recommendation and take a disco nap in the afternoon.

 

Thank you to Buy Playa for sponsoring this episode. They are buyer’s agents and only sell titled properties. They are truly experts in their field!

 

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

Loco Gringo

Loco Gringo on Facebook

Concierge@locogringo.com — Ask Paulina

Email Kay: Askkay@locogringo.com

@locogringocom on Twitter

@locogringo_mexico on Instagram

LocoGringo Mexico Vacation Free E-books

My Feel Good Way

My Feel Good Way on Facebook

Margoinmexico@hotmail.com

Loco Gringo Podcast featuring Margo Guenther #1

Loco Gringo Podcast featuring Margo Guenther #2

Sep 5, 2017

Today’s  guest, Margo Guenther, is a long-time resident of Tulum. When Margo moved to Tulum there were only about 3,000 people. Today the town is estimated to have 30-40K people and is still growing. Margo is a fan of both the established staple restaurants and the newer progressive eateries.

 

Margo’s Favorite Traditional Places:

Antojitos la Chiapaneco Tulum  — Order the El Pastor!

Doña Tina’s — Try the Caldo. Doña Tina cooks it up fresh every day.

El Camellos Jr. — Fish at its finest. You must try the Shrimp Diablo.

Los Aguachiles — Tacos, Tostadas and Ceviche served in a Northern Mexican style.

Margo’s advice has been featured in popular publications and her list is a must-do for New Yorkers visiting the area.

 

Margo’s Favorite New Eatery:

Primitivo — Located behind the Agua Viva hotel which features an unrivaled bamboo building technique and sweat lodge, Primitivo offers two distinctly different menus. One is from Raw Love, a raw vegan local restaurant and Primitivo’s own menu which includes ribeye tacos on handmade tortillas.

Juanita Diavola in Coco’s — Fresh pizza and homemade pasta on the beach road.

Thank you to Buy Playa for sponsoring this episode. They are buyer’s agents and only sell titled properties. They are truly experts in their field!

 

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

Loco Gringo

Loco Gringo on Facebook

Concierge@locogringo.com — Ask Paulina

Email Kay: Askkay@locogringo.com

@locogringocom on Twitter

@locogringo_mexico on Instagram

LocoGringo Mexico Vacation Free E-books

My Feel Good Way

My Feel Good Way on Facebook

Margoinmexico@hotmail.com

Loco Gringo Podcast featuring Margo Guenther #1

Aug 29, 2017

Today’s  guest, Ilse Diamant, is in the business of love. As a Luxury Romance Ambassador, Ilse has perfected the romance industry by providing couples with magical, destination weddings in the Riviera Maya and beyond.

Born in Merida, Ilse realized 99% of the economy in the area was driven by tourism. Both her mother and father worked in the hotel and tourism industry, and helped to make the resorts in Cancun successful. Isle studied hotel and restaurant management in Mexico, and went to Spain on a scholarship. She fell in love with weddings, and made the decision to return to the Riviera Maya to start her career in the romance industry.

In 2005, Ilse started contacting hotels with the new concept of releasing butterflies during a wedding, and as her reputation grew, more and more people were asking her what other services she could provide them. After earning her wedding planner certification, she went on to become certified in LGBT, Jewish, and Green wedding services.

Ilse currently has a network of top-quality vendors, or ‘friend-ors’ as she refers to them, and wows people with her inspirational ideas and high-quality wedding planning services. Ilse understands that it’s the people involved in the process that makes the Riviera Maya such a sought-after location for destination weddings.

In an effort to give back to an industry that has given so much to her, Ilse started the Signature Love Wedding Foundation. The foundation assists couples to have a wedding they may not have otherwise been able to have.

 

Ilse’s Favorite Places:

● Puerto Morelos — A fisherman’s town which offers visitors the ability to eat fresh ceviche on a boat in the middle of the ocean.

● Chichen Itza — In December, there is a grand fiesta near the main pyramid.

● Merida — A culturally rich colonial town with a Sacred Art museum.

 

Thank you to Buy Playa for sponsoring this episode. They are buyer’s agents, and only sell titled properties. They are truly experts in their field!

 

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

Loco Gringo

Loco Gringo on Facebook

Concierge@locogringo.com — Ask Paulina

Email Kay: Askkay@locogringo.com

@locogringocom on Twitter

@locogringo_mexico on Instagram

Luxury Romance Ambassador

Diamant Events and Weddings on Facebook

@Diamantevents on Instagram

Aug 22, 2017

My guest this week, Jorie Maloney, finds the family-friendly atmosphere in Puerto Morelos a great place to live and raise her son. Jorie’s art, entrepreneurial spirit, and big heart have also been major factors in building a fulfilling life in the local community.

As a child, Jorie lived in the dramatically different landscape of Baja on Mexico’s western coast. When she came to the Riviera Maya, she was pregnant with her first child, and uncertain of how her new life would play out.  After only four short years of living in Puerto Morelos, she created the thriving Puerto Morelos Market, which includes 60 vendors who sell their food and designs to visitors who want to buy custom made crafts, a prosperous art business, Xuperb Designs, and has become the Acting Director of Riviera Rescue, an animal sanctuary dedicated to rehabilitating dogs in distress.

 

To make the most out of your trip to the Riviera Maya Jorie recommends:

● Visiting one of the 40 accessible dive sites that are a part of the Marine Parks in Puerto Morelos. There are many opportunities for first time, and experienced, divers to discover a sunken military ship, and to become surrounded by eagle rays that frequently swarm the area. Jorie says it’s also incredibly easy to hire a panga (a small boat), and snorkel spot for the day.

● Visiting the Cenotes where you can swim in a magical, fresh water pool in a hidden spot in the jungle. Jorie’s favorite is at Kin-Ha, which is part of the Ruta de Cenotes route near Puerto Morelos.

● Eating breakfast at El Nicho. El Nicho is one of the only restaurants in the area to offer Eggs Benedict. Jorie attributes the meal as being a driving factor in her moving to Puerto Morelos. The owners also support local artists by displaying art on the walls inside.

● Visiting the family friendly town and beaches of Puerto Morelos. The reef along the coast keeps the waves small for swimming with youngsters, and the playgrounds surrounding town square make the day enjoyable for the entire family.

Thank you to Buy Playa for sponsoring this episode. They are buyer’s agents, and only sell titled properties. They are truly experts in their field!

 

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

Loco Gringo

Loco Gringo on Facebook

Concierge@locogringo.com — Ask Paulina

Email Kay: Askkay@locogringo.com

@locogringocom on Twitter

@locogringo_mexico on Instagram

Xuperb Design

Puerto Morelos Market on Facebook

Riviera Rescue on Facebook

Moms de Puerto Morelos on Facebook

Aug 15, 2017

My guest this week is Rebecca Page. Rebecca is the General Director and Editor of the newspaper, The Playa Times. Based out of Playa del Carmen, Rebecca describes The Playa Times as a local conversation tourists are welcome to listen in on.

Originally from New England, Rebecca visited the Riviera Maya for the first time on vacation, and immediately fell in love with the area. After moving here permanently, Rebecca started looking for work teaching English but never imagined she would be the head of the local English-language newspaper.

Rebecca is dedicated to including stories about the local community, the local projects and debunking myths foreigners may have about the Riviera Maya. She says her goal is to educate people without preaching.

Some of the myths Rebecca would like to abolish include the common belief that there is a stereotypical Mexican person, and that crime runs rampant in the area. She enjoys telling readers about ‘real’ Mexicans and of the important community projects such as the work of Blue Corps, KKIS, and Reforest Playa del Carmen.

Rebecca feels a deep connection with Mexico and its people. She has made her experience richer by speaking Spanish, knowing you can’t force things here, and that everything always works out in the end. Working for The Playa Times affords Rebecca the opportunity to travel throughout the region, including frequent visits to Yucatan, Rio Lagartos, Valladolid and the many of the magic towns.

Rebecca truly enjoys tasting and preparing the many different foods which make up traditional Mexican cuisine. Mexican food varies by region so visiting a new part of Mexico also means a new menu of flavors to try.

 

Rebecca Recommends:

1. El Castillo for Pozole soup with meat, hominy and more, in Playa del Carmen.

2. Rivera Kitchen Tulum, to learn to make authentic tortillas with Lily in her home in Tulum.

 

And, if you want a more authentic experience when traveling to the Riviera Maya, Rebecca recommends:

 

1. Renting a car and driving down the highway (with proper insurance!).

2. Sign up for a community-based tour in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve.

3. Taking a Mayan Village Eco-tour.

 

Thank you to Buy Playa for sponsoring this episode. They are buyer’s agents, and only sell titled properties. They are truly experts in their field!

 

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

Loco Gringo

Loco Gringo on Facebook

Concierge@locogringo.com

Email Kay: Askkay@locogringo.com

@locogringocom on Twitter

@locogringo_mexico on Instagram

Playa Times 

Playa Times on Facebook 

Blue Core A.C. 

KKIS

 

Aug 8, 2017

My guest this week is credited with a long list of accomplishments, including being a Fellow of the Explorer’s Club, a National Geographic Society Grantee, National Geographic Adventure Magazine’s Best of Adventure Honoree, a NASA Space Grant Fellow, a PADI & GUE Cave Technical Diver. He has appeared in numerous documentaries filmed by the BBC, PBS, National Geographic and CNN International. But what I like the most about
Sam Meacham, is that he is a great person and a long-time, close friend of mine.

Sam arrived in the Riviera Maya in 1994, and started diving in the underwater caves beneath the cenotes. He wanted to be sure the immense cave system and pure water was preserved and appreciated,  so he started the nonprofit, CINDAQ, to raise awareness about the aquifer and the cultural and natural resources associated with it, through exploration, science, and education.

Sam is still fascinated by the cave diving in the area and calls it a complex jigsaw puzzle. His and other organizations are putting the puzzle together piece by piece. He would love to complete the puzzle in his lifetime. Sam understands that by providing core samples and continuing to explore the area he is helping science move forward and has a direct impact on conserving the area.

Sam recommends going off the beaten path to find a cenote. He says you have to just get a car and drive. There is magic in finding a secluded cenote. 

He appreciates the area around Valladolid and the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve.

 

Thank you to Buy Playa for sponsoring this episode. They are buyer’s agents, and only sell titled properties. They are truly experts in their field!

 

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

Loco Gringo

Loco Gringo on Facebook

Concierge@locogringo.com

Email Kay: Askkay@locogringo.com

@locogringocom on Twitter

@locogringo_mexico on Instagram

Meacham Diving

CINDAQ.org

Meacham on Facebook

info@CINDAQ.org

 

Aug 1, 2017

My guest this week is the Founder of Ah Cacao in Playa Del Carmen, Monica Tello. Monica’s passion for chocolate led her to the Riviera Maya from Mexico City. Since starting Ah Cacao, the business has grown to three stores and an online international marketplace. Monica shares the history of the cacao tree, the value of cacao within the Mayan culture, and some of the delectable chocolate products she produces today.

During a tour of a cacao plantation, Monica discovered that there is so much more to chocolate than she previously thought. The Mayan people who lived in the Riviera Maya long ago were some of the first to use cacao. The Mayan Royals planted the sacred cacao trees next to cenotes and used them as currency because, at the time, everybody wanted some.

The cacao used by Ah Cacao is still harvested in the traditional way hand-picked, fermented, and dried in the sun to preserve its healthy components, and for the flavor and aroma. And in addition to the much-loved chocolate mousse, the cacao bar, and the warmed Maya chocolate drink with chili, Ah Cacao provides beauty products made from cacao butter, which is a byproduct created during the chocolate making process.

Monica says she loves the multi-cultural community in Playa del Carmen. When she travels, she visits the cacao plantation and museum in Merida, she loves the natural Mexican beauty of Palenque in Chiapas, and the great food and chocolate-making in Oaxaca.

 

Thank you to Buy Playa for sponsoring this episode. They are buyer’s agents, and only sell titled properties. They are truly experts in their field!

 

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

Loco Gringo

Loco Gringo on Facebook

Concierge@locogringo.com

Email Kay: Askkay@locogringo.com

@locogringocom on Twitter

@locogringo_mexico on Instagram

History of Cacao

Ah Cacao

Ah Cacao Stores

Ah Cacao Online Store

Ah Cacao on Facebook

 

Jul 25, 2017

My guest this week, Kenneth Johnson, is an American-born Mexican who studied Marine Biology in Mexico City before moving to the Riviera Maya to start his passion project, EcoColors, an eco-travel company dedicated to educating visitors about the amazing wildlife of the area.

Kenneth says he decided on the Mexican Caribbean because it has the second largest coral reef in the world, amazing jungles, wetlands and, in 1997,  about four million visitors. Along with his passion of sharing information,  he also wanted to enhance the environmental values with interesting facts about the wildlife, while offering a unique experience to his clients.

He says, if you are swimming with whale sharks, observing snakes dropping from a cave ceiling to eat bats or visiting a Mayan community, you have to have a knowledgeable guide. People are more excited about the wildlife they are seeing if they understand the natural adaptation species must make to survive.

In 1997, Mexico had only 70 protected areas, but now there are 172. So, in 20 years, Mexico has doubled the amount of protected land.  This means there is a shift towards understanding that we need to protect the wildlife we are blessed with.

Kenneth’s 40-hour course for other local tour operators promotes the idea that following the rules and environmentally-driven practices helps the tourism business and the wildlife.

When visiting the area, Kenneth recommends swimming with the whale sharks and marine turtles, enjoying the 550 different species of birds, exploring the cenotes, archeological sites, and visiting a Mayan community. He says visitors with disposable income are often pleasantly surprised about how rich the Mayans are, using happiness as their currency.

 

Thank you to Buy Playa for sponsoring this episode. They are buyer’s agents, and only sell titled properties. They are truly experts in their field!

 

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

Loco Gringo

Loco Gringo on Facebook

Concierge@locogringo.com

Email Kay: Askkay@locogringo.com

@locogringocom on Twitter

@locogringo_mexico on Instagram

Eco Travel Mexico

Eco Travel Mexico’s Snake, Bat, and Lizard Adventure

info@ecotravelmexico.com

 

Jul 18, 2017

My guest this week, Wendy Morrill, went on the adventure of a lifetime, with her father, along the Riviera Maya coastline. They completed a 600-mile walk from Puerto Morelos to the border of Belize. They endured hiking through grueling deep sand, dense jungle and rocky cliffs with only a machete, a backpack and a limited water supply.

Wendy and her father stopped in small towns to explore ruins and to enjoy the local culture. They found places like Xcacel, which was marked on the map as a town but was only a lean-to, and in Mahahual they had to go deep in the jungle to get around a huge security wall with armed gunmen.

When the terrain became too difficult to pass on foot they hired local fisherman to take them around rocky cliffs and even built a raft to cross a very deep inlet. They found rarely visited ruins, a boa constrictor and resort beach bars they couldn’t buy food or water from.

After returning from the experience, Wendy wrote a book and titled it The Found World of Quintana Roo, after reading Michel Peissel’s book, The Lost World of Quintana Roo, a book Wendy and her father used as a guide for their journey.

Wendy and her father are now personally sharing their experience with family by recreating their trip and visiting all the special places Wendy noted in her journal.

Thank you to Buy Playa for sponsoring this episode. They are buyer’s agents, and only sell titled properties. They are truly experts in their field!

 

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

Loco Gringo

Loco Gringo on Facebook

Concierge@locogringo.com

Email Kay: Askkay@locogringo.com

@locogringocom on Twitter

@locogringo_mexico on Instagram

Wendy’s email — Morrill@maine.edu

Wendy’s Blog — The Found World of Quintana Roo

The Found World of Quintana Roo Book

 

Jun 20, 2017

My guest this week, Otto von Bertrab, famously discovered Rio Secreto in 2006. Originally from Mexico City, a short trip to Akumal left him in love with the Riviera Maya and the Mayan people. Otto is the published author of four books and has 11 more in various stages of completion.  He joins me today to tell us more about his Rio Secreto project and conservation within the community.

17 years ago, Otto helped to get the Alltournative eco-tourism project off the ground in the Coba area near the Pac Chen cenote. He has always had the goal of preserving the area in pristine condition. After finding Rio Secreto, a series of underground pools, he recognized that if Playa del Carmen kept growing, the natural wonders and the clean water supply would be in danger, if there wasn’t someone guarding it.

So, Otto helped to form the Centinelas del Agua, a non-profit group who maintains strict regulations for visitors and are requesting the cenotes and underground rivers be considered biological corridors. Otto believes protecting the fresh water cenotes from sea level rise caused by global warming to be an emergency. People with children should become active participants in protecting the life-giving water sources.

Scientists are also studying the geology of the area and uncovering secrets of the Mayan culture throughout history.  Otto says the Mayan people and their culture is the true treasure of the area, and he recommends visitors rent a car, and visit the small Mayan towns which make up the Riviera Maya.

 

Thank you to Buy Playa for sponsoring this episode. They are buyer’s agents, and only sell titled properties. They are truly experts in their field!

 

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

Loco Gringo

The Riviera Maya Green Guide 

Loco Gringo on Facebook

Concierge@locogringo.com

Email Kay: Askkay@locogringo.com

@locogringocom on Twitter

@locogringo_mexico on Instagram

Rio Secreto

Rio Secreto on Facebook 

Rio Secreto Contact Numbers:

Toll Free US & CA: 1(800) 935-8352 

Toll Free Mexico: 01-800-845-0529 

Main Office: +52 (984) 147-60-50

Alltournative

 

Jun 13, 2017

For this week’s episode, I step out of the office and into the jungle. My guest Michael Maurus has lived in an off-grid treehouse in the deep jungle since the beginning of this year. He even has to start a fire before he can make his morning coffee.

Michael is originally from Bavaria, Germany. He made his way to the Riviera Maya by way of Munich, New York, Miami, and finally Cancun. He has lived in Mexico for 20 years, and much of that time was in Puerto Morelos. In an attempt to live the most authentic experience possible, he moved into the jungle, and provides visitors with personalized photography workshops along with a cultural journey.

Michael’s early fascination with photography began when his uncle would show him slideshows of his travel photography. Little Michael never imagined he would be working as a photographer in Mexico. Now, he knows this is where he is meant to be, and hopes his photos one day will help him to preserve and share his wonderful experiences.

For an authentic Mexican experience, Michael recommends visiting Colonia, in Puerto Morelos. The street food is amazing, and he says, interact with the local people as much as possible. Even if you don’t know any Spanish,  a smile is a great communication tool.

Thank you to Buy Playa for sponsoring this episode. They are buyer’s agents, and only sell titled properties. They are truly experts in their field!

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

Loco Gringo

Loco Gringo Directory

Loco Gringo on Facebook

Concierge@locogringo.com

Email Kay: Askkay@locogringo.com

@locogringocom on Twitter

@locogringo_mexico on Instagram

MMaurus.com

Michael Maurus on Facebook

 

Jun 9, 2017

Rob Kinnon and his wife moved to the Riviera Maya 13 years ago from upstate New York. They have seen Playa del Carmen grow from a sleepy fishing village into what it is today. Rob has extensive real estate experience in the Riviera Maya. He and his wife started Buy Playa to be a representative for and an advocate to buyers, after their first land purchase left them underwhelmed.

During this introductory episode, he answers the most common questions he receives from people looking to buy property in the Riviera Maya.

 

Q. Is it legal for foreigners to own property in Mexico?

A. Yes, but not in the restricted zones.

 

Q. What vehicles are available to me in order to purchase property in the Riviera Maya?

A. Many people open a Mexican Corporation which will hold the title to the property. The most popular way for foreigners to own property in the restricted zone is to own in Fideicomiso (akin to a bank trust). There are no additional risks to having a Fideicomiso.

 

All of the expats in the Riviera Maya were first-time buyers at one point. It can be scary, but not when you have a team of experts on your side.

 

Send Rob your questions directly and he’ll answer them on a future podcast!

 

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

Loco Gringo

Loco Gringo Directory

Loco Gringo on Facebook

Concierge@locogringo.com

Email Kay: Askkay@locogringo.com

@locogringocom on Twitter

@locogringo_mexico on Instagram

Buy Playa

Rob@buyplaya.com

 

Jun 6, 2017

My guest on the podcast today is a diver from Playa del Carmen. In 2000, Vicente Fito came to the Riviera Maya, from Majorca Spain, for a one-year work assignment in a dive shop and has happily lived in Playa del Carmen ever since.

In 2004, Vicente opened the Playa Diving Center in Playa del Carmen to assist the booming cave diving market to explore cenotes.

He has a wife and 2 kids. Families can take the kids to the cenotes. They learn to swim safely in the fresh water. His dive center offers high-quality, entry-level scuba courses. He says people who aren’t interested in certification can get a 3-hour course to try it out. This way they can visit controlled areas within the cenotes, for a natural experience.

5 Family Friendly Cenotes You Shouldn’t Miss

1. Ponderosa

2. Crystalina

3. Cenote Azul

4. Cenote Manatee

5. Dos Ojos

For an Authentic Mayan Experience During Your Visit

1. Visit the Chacchoben Ruins.

2. Go to Merida City.

3. Relax on the Caribbean beaches South of Tulum.  

Vicente also details his recent trip to the pristine waters near Mahahual on Chinchorro Island. He was filming a  spot for a TV show which shows the life of local lobster fishermen. There are many animals living there that you don’t see often plus a lot of crocodiles.  He says you can snorkel with the crocodiles, stay overnight with the fisherman and they even have wifi! 

Vicente’s Favorite Places in the Riviera Maya:

Bacalar— Quiet, calm snorkeling along the  60 km long lagoon.

● El Cuyo & Isla Holbox — Los Colorados — Amazing beaches, no people only turtles and flamingos.

Sian Ka’an — Camping on the beach.

Thank you to Buy Playa for sponsoring this episode. They are buyer’s agents, and only sell titled properties. They are truly experts in their field!

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

Loco Gringo

Loco Gringo Directory

Loco Gringo on Facebook

Concierge@locogringo.com

Email Kay: Askkay@locogringo.com

@locogringocom on Twitter

@locogringo_mexico on Instagram

Playa Diving Center

INFO@PlayaDivingCenter.com

+52 9842673601

May 30, 2017

My guest on the podcast today is a self-proclaimed citizen of the world. She runs an oasis of the arts, Le Lotus Rouge,  in Playa del Carmen. Natasha Alban was born in Germany to parents who didn’t want her to study the arts.

In 2010, Natasha became an international teacher trainer of the arts of the five continents. She fell in love with Mexico and searched the Pacific Coast for a place to settle. But since she was already familiar with the Mayan culture of Quintana Roo and she wanted to live by the water, she chose the energetic Playa del Carmen to start her art program.

Her continually evolving Le Lotus Rouge allows students to immerse themselves in, and produce, freeform art based on art from other countries. Natasha says when people want to separate citizens it is art which unites us.

She enjoys observing visitors from different places in the world spontaneously make music together, eat meals together and communicate through art.

“Arts reflect the soul of the culture. Arts commit us to understand what people are thinking and feeling in other parts of the world. Arts allow you to go into other dimensions. Arts appeal to our 5 senses and to our emotional intelligence.” — Natasha Alban

If you are visiting Playa del Carmen, be sure to visit the fairy tale land which is Le Lotus Rouge.

 

Natasha  Recommends Visiting:

Chiapas

Centro Cultura Playa del Carmen

Parque La Ceiba

Centro Cultura Marino Caracol

Murals of Playa del Carmen

Thank you to Buy Playa for sponsoring this episode. They are buyer’s agents, and only sell titled properties. They are truly experts in their field!

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

Loco Gringo

Loco Gringo Directory

Loco Gringo on Facebook

Concierge@locogringo.com

Email Kay: Askkay@locogringo.com

@locogringocom on Twitter

@locogringo_mexico on Instagram

Le Lotus Rouge

natachaalban@yahoo.fr

May 23, 2017

My guest on the podcast today, Amber Pierce, writes the very popular Puerto Morelos Blog, plus she raises her children and works as a certified real estate agent in the area. When Amber first visited Puerto Morelos she appreciated the “Mexican-ness” of the place, as compared to cities like Cancun.

Amber says she accidentally became a property manager, after many snowbirds and friends asked her to take care of monthly bills and to help them find someone to watch over their homes. She knew a lot about the area, and when people started coming to her to see what properties were available in Mexico, she decided to become a real estate agent and opened an office. Then in 2006, when a certification became available, Amber became federally certified to sell real estate.

Amber’s children are bilingual, and have gone to top-notch private schools which are affordable. She says they wouldn’t have had the same opportunities in the U.S., and feels there are absolutely no drawbacks to raising children in Puerto Morelos.

 

3 Tips for Travelers Visiting Puerto Morelos

1. Snorkel or dive the reef — The area is designated as a Marine Sanctuary and has National Park status.

2. Visit every taco stand you see.

3. Go to the cenotes.

Outside of Puerto Morelos, Amber Recommends Visiting:

Chiapas — An ecotourism destination.

Copper Canyon — It’s bigger than the Grand Canyon.

Uruapan — Visit during Easter week for the Mexican Folk Art Festival.

Thank you to Buy Playa for sponsoring this episode. They are buyer’s agents, and only sell titled properties. They are truly experts in their field!

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

Loco Gringo

Loco Gringo Directory

Loco Gringo on Facebook

Concierge@locogringo.com

Email Kay: Askkay@locogringo.com

@locogringocom on Twitter

@locogringo_mexico on Instagram

Puerto Morelos Marine Park 

Mayan Riviera Properties

Puerto Morelos Blog

Amber@MayanRivieraProperties.com

Ruta de Cenotes

Uruapan Folk Art Festival

May 16, 2017

My guest on the podcast today is originally from Normandy, France.  Gilles Denis has been traveling to the Riviera Maya for 20 years, but it wasn’t until 2007 that he made the decision to pick up his family and move to where the sun was, Playa del Carmen. His children now speak Spanish as their first language.

 

Gilles says he loves Playa del Carmen because it still has a village-type ambiance. Everyone seems to know each other. He says if someone were to give him the opportunity, and money, to do it all over again or to live somewhere else, he would still choose Playa in the Riviera Maya.

 

After owning an ice cream shop and a dive center, Gilles decided he was not the management type, and developed individualized tours for visitors to the Riviera Maya.  He enjoys providing unique experiences to dive sites, cenotes, archeological sites, snorkeling, and just about anything else a visitor can dream up. Gilles loves his work, because he gets to do something different every day. He says the hardest part of his job is proving he is working.

 

Gilles doesn’t get to travel through Mexico as often as he likes. His vacations are reserved for visiting family in France. He says after only 10 days in France, he starts craving Mexican foods. His favorites are Relleno Negro and Pollo Pibil and Poc Chuc.

 

3 Tips for an Authentic Riviera Maya Experience

1. Get out of the hotel.

2. Speak with the locals.

3. Rent a car and see the country.

 

Gilles Recommends Visiting:

Rio Sagrado — near the Coba Ruins — You can still get close to the pyramid.

Chiapas — for a drastically different landscape.

Mexico City — A great city to tour.

Taqueria Honorio — Playa del Carmen — A great local place to get some eats!

Thank you to Buy Playa for sponsoring this episode. They are buyer’s agents and only sell titled properties. They are truly experts in their field!

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

Loco Gringo

Loco Gringo Directory

Loco Gringo on Facebook

From Sea to Cenotes, by Kay Walten

Concierge@locogringo.com

Email Kay: Askkay@locogringo.com

@locogringocom on Twitter

@locogringo_mexico on Instagram

Playa Private Tours

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