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
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Now displaying: June, 2016
Jun 28, 2016

Today it is my pleasure to interview a wonderful woman who has traveled all over the world and who now proudly calls Playa del Carmen in the Riviera Maya her home. Years ago, Regina Puentes and I met in a yoga class and have been friends ever since.


A Passport Full of Stamps

Regina knew from a young age her life’s goal would be to travel the world. She first visited Europe and after living for several years in London she moved to the U.S., where she fell in love with the country. It was in San Francisco that she earned her license in Cosmetology.

After applying for residency in the U.S., Immigration officials told her she must return to Mexico and await their decision. She didn’t know it at the time but fate had brought her back to Mexico for a reason. She says “looking back it was one of the best things which could have happened to me”. A friend’s recommendation led her to Playa del Carmen in the Riviera Maya.


The Ego Boost

A friend asked Regina to help open the new Bahia Principe resort, in 1999, and then to run the hotel spa. She thoroughly enjoyed her job and eventually said yes to opening three additional spas, including one in the Dominican Republic. A few years later, the resort went through a change in management and Regina decided to go visit her mother in the U.S. It was there she was ordained as a non-denominational minister. 


Performing Wedding Ceremonies in the Riviera Maya

Regina believes that when two people promise their love for one another it is the most wonderful time in their lives and she enjoys being a part of it. Her spiritual ceremonies are neither legal nor religious and she can perform vows in English, French, Italian and Spanish. Often, she does a renewal of vows for those who have already had a religious or legal marriage in another country. She says sometimes people want to come to the beautiful Riviera Maya to exchange vows with a sand ceremony or near the fascinating natural cenotes of the Yucatan.


Mexico or Cuba

Regina has visited Cuba enough times to be considered an expert on the country. Her Grandmother is Cuban and she fell in love with a Cuban man. She returned to Mexico because she believes that even if the Cuban government assures the people of a better future, things will continue to be the same for those living under the country’s 50-year-old regime.

She prefers Mexico because of its rich culture and diverse population. She says she doesn’t like it when outsiders speak ill of her native country and hopes people will visit the Riviera Maya to see for themselves how safe the area is and how welcoming the people of the Caribbean side of Mexico can be.


Regina’s Favorite Places in Mexico

  1. Mexico City - A safe city, where there is never a dull moment.
  2. Chiapas - A true gem.
  3. Cenotes - Nature’s magical swimming pools.
  4. Turtle Bay - A home-cooking restaurant in Akumal.
  5. Ana Y José Charming Hotel and Spa - Tulum.
  6. Casa Sofia - Playa del Carmen


Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

Loco Gringo

Bahia Principe in the Riviera Maya

Turtle Bay Cafe and Bakery

Ana Y José

Casa Sofia of Playa del Carmen on Facebook

Jun 21, 2016

Today we welcome a long time friend and fellow cave diver, Steve Gerrard. Steve was the first ever full-time cave diving instructor. He has been cave diving for over 30 years, has been the President of the National Association of Cave Diving (NACD) since 1979, has been featured in magazine articles and television programs and is the author of five books.


The New Frontier

Steve started out cave diving in the deep caverns of Florida and eventually moved to the Riviera Maya where he could enjoy the underwater beauty of the area. The very first filming of cave diving in the world started at Little Dismal Sink in Tallahassee, Florida and finished in the basement of The Room of Tears in the Riviera Maya. It  was filmed by Steve and his friend Parker. Steve is also partially responsible for my moving to the Riviera Maya. He met Gary cave diving and the two have been friends since the 1980’s.

Back in the early 1990’s Steve called the Riviera Maya the new frontier. He is quick to point out that today it is a whole new world. Tiny fishing villages have turned into major tourists destinations and it’s impossible to count the number of dive shops in the area now.

As Steve shares the story of how he ended up as a cave diving instructor in one of the most popular cave diving destinations in the world, he recalls his early days with great respect. He remembers when Highway #307 was only a jungle road with no shoulder and when Tulum was only 4 blocks long. Steve has seen the cenotes and the Riviera Maya’s amazing underwater landscapes in their purest days.


What Can People Expect to Learn About in His Latest Books?

Steve says his new books Cenotes of the Riviera Maya 2016 and If You Don’t Go You Won’t Know, which is due out later this year, is for all people who want to visit the cenotes, not just cave divers. He writes about the history of the area and the history of the Mayan land owners. Steve created these books because people should be aware of the natural resources which are deteriorating and to educate visitors on how to appreciate the area responsibly.


Steve’s List of Beautiful Cenotes 

  1. Dos Ojos
  2. Gran Cenote
  3. Chac Mool
  4. Xtaby

Steve stresses the importance of preserving these naturally beautiful places.


Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

Loco Gringo

Cenotes of the Riviera Maya 2016

All of Steve Gerrard’s Books

Steve on:





Jun 14, 2016

Today my guest is Marcia Bales of the Mayan Beach Garden, a boutique inn located south of the Riviera Maya in Costa Maya. It is approximately 4 ½ hours away from the airport. 

A New Way of Doing Things

Marcia used to work in the software industry in Seattle. She loved her job but she loved traveling more. She and her husband would travel to Mexico whenever the opportunity presented itself. They loved it so much they started planning their next vacation as soon as they would return to the US. Marcia says they preferred the ‘out of the way places’ and when they arrived in Mexico they would make sure to get away from Cancun as quickly as possible.

They started having conversations about getting their own place. They both liked the idea of the quiet, tranquil destination of Mahahual. Her husband had a dream to build a hotel. He came down early and they officially opened the Mayan Beach Garden in 2002.  Marcia recalls those days before the reality of Mexico hit. She says, “like most Americans I thought I would change the world and run my business like an American business”. What she really needed to do was relax and embrace all the beauty Mexico had to offer.


What Activities are there in Mahahual and the Costa Maya?

For Foodies - There are 42 modest restaurants in Mahahual, including the restaurant in the Mayan Beach Garden Inn. The traditional, Caribbean cuisine features dishes that can take all day to achieve the savory flavor. Marcia posts their menu online daily.


For Diving and Snorkeling - There are amazing shore snorkels within walking distance of the Mayan Beach Garden and Mahahual the reef is still pristine with living corals. Local dive shops and boats can be arranged. 


For Fishing - The area is laden with lagoons full of tarpon and snook. Bonefishing is close by in Chetumal. Spearfishing near the border of Sian Ka'an is also available. Local guides can help visitors get their Grand Slam. 


For Ruins and Museums - An Indiana Jones jungle type experience can be had at Kohunlich and the Dzibanche ruins, which is a huge and active archeological site. The Cultural Museum in Chetumal is a must see. 


Marcia’s 3 Secret Places

  • ● The shipwreck and beach in Tumpalan
  • ● Rio Indio Fresh Catch Restaurant
  • ● Mayan Garden Beach Restaurant


Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

Loco Gringo

Learn More About Mahahual

Mayan Beach Garden Inn

Mayan Beach Garden - Tripadvisor