In today’s episode, I chat with the dynamic Heather Froeming of Tulum. Heather first visited Akumal in 1998 on a diving trip with a college friend from California. She had plans to explore the world, but after falling in love with the area she let her love of adventure and passion for the environment guide her - so she put down roots.
Her first days were spent volunteering for Centro Ecologico Akumal (CEA), a non-profit organization which focuses on sea turtle protection and beach monitoring. She helped CEA to start their local recycling program through collection and education programs.
A Less Plastik Lifestyle
Heather spends most of her days in and around the ocean. Over the years, she has seen the trash problem grow and grow. She feels it’s her duty to maintain the health and integrity of the environment. She doesn’t mind seeing Tulum evolve and develop, as long the efforts are sustainable and protection oriented.
The lack of a recycling infrastructure and the on-again, off-again attempts at recycling programs led Heather to create No Mas Plastik. An organization which hopes to educate people about the problems of plastic and the contamination it causes.
Go Fly A Kite (in an Extremely Controlled Manner)
Today, Heather works with the Extreme Control Kiteboarding School. After her boyfriend Marco obtained his kiteboarding instructor status he needed somebody to practice his teaching skills on, a task Heather readily accepted.
Tulum is the perfect spot to open the Kiteboarding School even though the trade winds aren’t consistent. It has a spacious beach, warm water, and conditions which give a student a complete course by testing all of their skills. Plus, the surrounding area has ruins, cenotes, and reserves for the entire family to enjoy.
Why the Riviera Maya?
Variety is indeed the spice of life, and for Heather it’s what keeps her here in the Riviera Maya. She says “You meet people from everywhere around the world here. You kind of travel just being here.”
Secret Gems Only the Locals Know
Even though Heather loves everywhere she visits in Mexico, she has a soft spot for long weekend trips down to Muyil and Bacalar. She also enjoys exploring the Northern Coast the Yucatan Peninsula, near El Cuyo, because of its great conditions for kiteboarding. When she wants some quiet time she is drawn to the less populated beaches of Sian Ka’an.
For amazing cave diving, Heather appreciates the cenote El Jardin del Eden aka Ponderosa. When she is feeling adventurous she goes to a cenote near the Coba ruins which has a 30 foot tall tower you can jump off of into the water.
3 Ways Travelers Can Minimize Their Impact While Visiting the Riviera Maya
Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:
How did a Canadian end up in the Riviera Maya and start brewing beer?
This week I’m happy to interview local business owner, Jungle John of the Mundo Maya Brewing Company. John moved to Playa del Carmen in 1994. Having run a few small startups he eventually decided to move on. But in time, John combined his long-time hobby, the lack of good craft beer in the region, and the now craft brew craze sweeping North America to fuel his return to Playa del Carmen.
Of all the places in Mexico, why did John choose to start brewing beer in Playa del Carmen?
There are a number of markets in Mexico that would be receptive to craft beer. However, the great beaches, amazing weather, and the development of Playa del Carmen made returning to open his microbrewery an easy decision. As one of the pioneering Gringos of the area, John has seen a growth in not only expats and international residents, but an influx of Mexican nationals who appreciate the cultural diversity. This makes for a perfect small market for craft beer.
With now a steady customer base, and expanding locations offering his beers, John went from brewing his first batch in 2012 (the year of the Mayan prophecy), to forming an association of local brewers.
How easy is it to procure the equipment required to start a microbrewery in Mexico?
When John got his start, there were few resources available to set up a microbrewery. Though there are now companies in Northern Mexico that sell the equipment, ordering and shipping parts is still very much an arduous process. John skirted all of these obstacles when he took it upon himself to drive from Toronto to North Carolina to procure the parts required to get started. Having then assembled his equipment in Canada, he drove everything to Miami for shipment to its final destination of Puerto Morales, Mexico.
What are the varieties of beer that Mundo Maya is currently brewing?
John is now brewing four styles of beer; Vienna Lager, a malt-forward, sweeter beer, that’s very popular in Mexico, an IPA (Indian Pale Ale), an Oatmeal Stout, and finally an American-style Wheat beer.
Mundo Maya has recently opened a draft bar in Mateo’s Mexican Grill in Tulum. This provides an exciting chance to create small-batch, one-off, seasonal beers. This relationship with Mateo’s enables John the opportunity to showcase his abilities with their latest creation - an infused beer using the local fruit, mamey.
Though John does most of the work himself, he occasionally hires a bottle washer and helper with cleaning and other odd jobs. Aside from Roberta Satangelo, his partner and part owner who initially helped with sales and getting the business going, John is still largely a one-man operation.
John’s favorite parts of Mexico (other than Playa del Carmen!)
Playa del Carmen is by far John’s #1 place to be. Like his hometown of Toronto, he finds there is plenty of diversity in people, restaurants, and culture. John continues to enjoy simply having a cold beer on the beach and watching the people relax and have fun.
For a quick getaway, it’s easy for him to travel to Chiapas, Oaxaca by truck or plane.
John’s secret spot.
Chamico’s a great, quiet escape from Playa del Carmen. A rustic, Mayan family-run hut on the beach sporting a few plastic tables and chairs, Chamico’s a great place for some cold beers, ceviche with lobster, open hammocks and a chill vibe that reminds John of the Playa del Carmen, 20 years ago.
Where can you find a Mundo Maya beer?
Kay’s Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In today’s episode, I chat with Sara Moen, who is originally from Northern California, moved to Seattle in 1990 for school and met her soon to be husband. Steve and Sara were married in 1993. He worked for Microsoft for ten years and in 2001, they took a vacation to Playa del Carmen, as the story goes “Once you arrive there it’s hard to leave.” Steve and Sara ultimately met their business partner during that getaway; within six months, they sold their home and packed up their pets and moved to Playa. Armed with her Bachelor’s in Science for Cognitive Development in Children, Sara’s longtime dream was to start a school in Mexico. Steve and her opened America Maya in Playa del Carmen, with the language barrier and other unforeseen loopholes, unfortunately, the school had to close its doors after two years. As serial entrepreneurs they knew that wasn't going to stop them, so they decided to start the first English newspaper called Playa Maya News; Steve started Virtual Playa, a web design, SEO, e-commerce, and marketing company. Sara needed to find her calling so she went back to school to further her career in education, and unbeknownst to her, Sara ended up opening a jerky business called Ch’arki Jerky.
What is Ch’arki Jerky and how can I get my hands on one?
The concept of the jerky goes back to the Native South Americans who would preserve the meat for the winter months. The word jerky was named back in 1550 from the Quechua word ch’arki, which means dried, salted meat. It has become a popular snack food among athletes. Located in Playa del Carmen this jerky is high in protein, low in fat, and portable. Ch’arki jerky is made from the finest quality of meat and spices; it is a nutrient-filled delicious treat. Please check out our Facebook page to make your order or to find a place near you.
Sara’s Favorite Spots in Mexico
Cuernavaca is one of her favorite special spots to go to in Mexico for a day trip. Located southwest of Mexico City, it is the largest city in the state of Morelos, nicknamed “City of Eternal Springs”. Sara fell in love with this magical spot called Tepoztlan, also located in the state of Morelos, famous for the remains of El Tepozteco a temple built on top of the nearby Tepozteco Mountain. She also enjoys going to Tequesquitengo for water skiing. There are incredible spas, restaurants, and recreational centers there as well.
Sara’s Favorite Little Gems
Lake Bacalar in Quintana Roo is the kind of place you can relax and read. Also known as the Lagoon of seven colors, it stretches 50 miles from North to South. This turquoise body of water flows right through the jungle.
Isla Holbox also located in Quintana Roo on the North coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. The reason this place is a hidden gem is that there isn’t much tourist action here yet. Hoping to protect the environment, Holbox doesn’t allow vehicles. There are many sites to enjoy while here, including swimming with the whale sharks between June and September - an opportunity of a lifetime.
In today’s episode, I chat with Sherwood Anders, who was born and lived in Pittsburg until she was 32 years old. Sherwood lived in San Francisco before she and her husband Bob moved to Akumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico with their three rescue dogs “Beachmutts”. She spends a great chunk of her time volunteering with different organizations in Mexico, helping at spay/neutering clinics, animal welfare and helps find new homes for dogs and cats. Bob and Sherwood retired and sold their home in San Francisco in 2015 and are living in Akumal full-time. Tune in to hear about her volunteer work and where she and Bob’s secret spots are in Mexico.
What does your day consist of now that you are retired and living in Mexico?
Sherwood doesn’t get bored and finds tons of things to do. She loves hanging out with friends and spends the bulk of her time volunteering for animal welfare - not rescuing because her condo doesn’t have enough room. Sherwood is learning how to relax and take a step back from constantly going all the time.
Coco’s Animal Welfare
Coco’s mission is to prevent the birth of unwanted cats and dogs as well as raise awareness of guardianship. Coco’s provides free/low-cost spay/neuter for rescue animals in the local area. The clinic makes sure the dogs and cats are up to date on all their shots and given a health certificate. If you have any questions on how to take a pet home with you to the US, just contact Sherwood and she will gladly help walk you through the very simple process.
The Loco Gringo Nation has generously donated money to Coco’s new clinic, there is going to be a Loco Gringo Lovin’ Lounge in the clinic where you can meet all the pets and take them home with you, but if you can’t bring one of them back please leave a donation. The clinic still needs to raise an additional $30,000 for the completion. Please make your donations at www.cocosanimalwelfare.org.
Where is Sherwood’s Favorite Place?
The Sierra Occidental Mountain is a majestic mountain range that runs northwest/southwest through Mexico. She can’t take her eyes off of the Popocatepetl, which is a volcano located in the states of Puebla. Sherwood also loves to go to San Luis Potosi. There is a 50’s drive-in motel with simple rooms, Spanish language old-time TV, and 5-star service at the restaurant out in the middle of nowhere.
Sherwood’s Secret Spots
Sherwood says living in paradise does have its challenges because she lives in a rental condo where a lot of guests come in and out, and sometimes they just want to escape. Bob and Sherwood find that at the beach clubs in Tulum. She has been to the Chichen Itza probably at least ten times; she feels a special connection to that area since her uncle used to work there.
Paamul, started as a trailer park has now evolved into a very private and secluded community. There is a hotel with a beach that isn’t too crowded, and there is a restaurant with the best fish. If you turn right on the dirt road at the convenience store, take the dirt road that turns east on that path you will see a 3 to 4 story Pyramid. You can also take a boat along the coastline halfway between Paamul and Puerto Ventura there is another small Pyramid.