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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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Now displaying: Category: travel
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

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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

May 9, 2017

My guest on the podcast today grew up as a traveler. When she was a young girl, her father told her traveling was the best investment she could make, and her money was best spent on summer excursions. Maria Azanza made the decision to travel from Guadalajara to the Riviera Maya, and has lived here for the past 11 years. She shares with us her favorite places in Mexico, why she stays in the Riviera Maya, and where she goes when she wants to get lost for a few days.

 

Maria and her boyfriend, now husband, heard about the beauty of the Caribbean and Playa del Carmen. They wanted to see it for themselves, so they set out to make a new life in the area. Shortly after arriving, Maria got a job in a bikini shop to pay the bills, and followed her dreams to become a writer, working for the Caribbean News magazine. After a year on staff at the magazine, Maria started renting real estate through the Core company.

 

Maria’s advice to visitors to the Riviera Maya region is to get out of the touristic places, and visit the other side. She says it’s amazing, and your travel dollars will go a lot further.

 

Maria Recommends Visiting:

Bacalar — For the jungle and the sacred cenotes.

La Ruta de Cenotes — Puerto Morelos — Over 20 different cenotes to explore.

Oaxaca — La Costa Alegre — A beautiful town on the Pacific side of Mexico.

Copper Canyon — Chihuahua — A must see while 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

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

Wizard Riviera Maya

Wizard Riviera Maya on Facebook

@AzanzaMaria on Twitter

Carmen Brewing Co.

May 2, 2017

Born and raised in Akumal, my guest, Gerardo Orozco has been working at his family’s diving business for over 12 years. He has seen the growth of the Riviera Maya from the ground up. Gerardo says the area grew so fast, people were not able to make the necessary adjustments to preserve the environment and plan for future development.

 

As the operations manager for the Akumal Dive Center, Gerardo contacted the ecological center in Akumal and works with universities such as University of Texas, UNAM and Politechnico Cancun, to preserve the natural beauty of his hometown. He says many people complain about the issues, but never take action to repair the environment, and he wants to change all that.

 

Gerardo says many visitors come with a list of marine life they would like to see, but they are often afraid to dive. Many people think diving is a hard activity, but Gerardo and team take the stress out it. We change people’s lives when they see the magical world of the reef. Diving is relaxing, if you follow the rules and respect everything.

 

Gerardo loves all of Mexico. When he was a semi-professional basketball player, he was able to see much of the large country. His favorites are the different types of tequila and the fresh pescado (fish).

Geraldo’s Secret Places:

Oaxaca — The food and the culture are very different from the Riviera Maya.

Merida — The people are amazing.

Chiapas — Discover something new in the jungle.

Puntarena — South of Punta Allen, it’s like Akumal 25 years ago.

El Julio — A quaint fishing village and a sought-after kite surfing spot.

Rio Lagartos — Los Coloradas is a peach-colored, salt lagoon.

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

Akumal Dive Center 

dive@akumaldivecenter.com 

Hotel Caribe Akumal 

Apr 25, 2017

My guest on today’s podcast, Cristobal Tamariz, is the owner of Riviera Maya Food Tours. Cristobal believes the best way to preserve a country's culture is through sharing and experiencing local traditions. And, his way of sharing is through authentic, regional cuisine.

Born in Central Mexico, Cristobal grew up surrounded by his grandmother’s and his mother’s flavorful cooking. He thought he might become an engineer and study chemistry, but soon realized he could create chemical reactions through food, so he spent five years studying the culinary arts. Cristobal traveled to different parts of the world before his love of his culture, his food, and his family, drew him back to Mexico.

While planning a vacation to the Riviera Maya,  Cristobal received a call  offering him a job in a cooking school in the area. He accepted the position of instructor to teach cooking classes to visitors.

Cristobal loves working with locally available foods, including peppers. He says each region of Mexico uses a different type of pepper which gives each region its own distinct flavor. Mexicans have over 500 years of cooking traditions to preserve, and they consider their foods part of their identities.

 

Cristobal’s Secret Places:

● Puerto Morelos Square The Best Churros Ever!

Rincón de Archon — Puerto Morelos — Take a Food Tour.

Bacalar — The Lagoon Has Seven Different Colors of Blue.

 

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

Riviera Maya Food Tours

Riviera Maya Food Tours on Facebook

Apr 18, 2017

Ael Enciso was ‘made’ in Cozumel, and delivered in her grandmother’s living room in Mexico City. For the past 17 years, she has been in Playa del Carmen, working in just about every aspect of the tourism industry.

Ael says the Riviera Maya is best seen off the beaten track. When a visitor ‘acts like a local,’ and enjoys the laid-back atmosphere of the area, is when they have the best time.

When Ael travels within Mexico she visits the cenotes, rides her bike through trails in the jungle, and visits the colonial inland cities. She wants to travel throughout Mexico and re-visit Chiapas and Guanajuato.

Ael works in the growing industry of destination weddings in the Riviera Maya. She recommends the area because there is so much for wedding guests to do. Guests can experience a wedding and a vacation in a single trip. Brides will appreciate the wedding planners, the backdrop, the flowers, and the photography options. Brides can also include a community service component, which gives back to the community.

 

Ael’s Favorite Eateries:

Taqueria El Arbolito Puerto Aventuras — Try the Pozole.

Chamicos Bahia Soliman — For the Best Ceviche Ever!

 

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, ebook

Concierge@locogringo.com

Email Kay: Askkay@locogringo.com

@locogringocom on Twitter

@locogringo_mexico on Instagram

Coco’s Animal Welfare

@encissimo on Instagram

Beckerael@gmail.com

Apr 11, 2017

My guest today, Tamara Adame, was born and raised Puerto Morelos, here in the Riviera Maya. After studying in Merida, Tamara spent 10 years in Europe, devoting most of her time to Brussels, Belgium. It was there she rekindled her love of diving and the ocean.

When she returned to Mexico, she met up with a friend who also grew up in Puerto Morelos and who, like her, wanted to educate people about environmental protections, sustainability of the reef environment, and take them underwater to experience the unrivaled beauty. So the two friends created the environmentally responsible, educational, dive company, Manatus Mexico.

Tamara remarks that the Riviera Maya area has grown so much in a short period of time. It's up to people to balance what is getting out of balance. The entire Yucatan peninsula is linked together. The reef is a complex system of life — you are looking at thousands of organisms at once.

Tamara loves the cenotes, walks in the jungle, and the colonial inland cities of the past. She recommends visitors ask as many questions, and learn as much as possible while they are in the area.

 

4 Tips from Tamara:

Go inland. It will change the way you think about Mexico.

Visit a Mayan ruin with a local guide. The structures are hand-carved and astrologically connected.

Visit the coral reef. Snorkel or dive to see the amazing fish.

Visit the Botanical Garden in Puerto Morelos.

 

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

 

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

Loco Gringo

Loco Gringo Directory

Loco Gringo on Facebook

From Sea to Cenotes ebook

concierge@locogringo.com

Email Kay: Askkay@locogringo.com

@locogringocom on Twitter

@locogringo_mexico on Instagram

Manatus Mexico

info@manatusmexico.com

Manatus Mexico on Facebook

@ManatusMexico on Twitter

Apr 4, 2017

My guest today puts his heart and soul into everything he does.
Ken Brownlee is the Founder and primary shooter of Visual Media Productions in Playa del Carmen. Today he shares funny stories about shooting weddings, tips for brides and his favorite food joints.

When Ken was a teenager, his parents would drive from Canada to Florida, to get away from the harsh winters. Ken loved spending a month in the water, and didn’t want to return to the cold. He decided, after college, to become a scuba instructor and travel the world.

Ken visited eight countries in four years, but once he came to Mexico he found himself in a place that instantly felt like home. He worked as a scuba instructor for tourists, and that turned into underwater photography and video, and then it morphed into weddings and landscapes.

Ken says shooting weddings appealed to his nature, because he grew up surrounded by love. He loves capturing the special moments between couples, and he feels privileged to be able to share in the couple’s special day. Ken says he has had a Bridezilla or two, but the majority of brides are walking 3 feet off the ground.

 

Ken’s Tips for Brides

● The first dance is better when you and your groom move around.

● Smile and look up when you are first announced, bride and groom.

● Take a breath and get out of your own head. Everything will be fine.

For Ken, the Mexican people are what keep him in the Riviera Maya. They are warm and friendly. He also loves the climate with its blue skies and cool nights, the delicious food, and the natural beauty.

 

Ken’s Favorite Spots:

Bacalar The lagoon of 7 colors.

El Pirata Ken’s go-to spot for ceviche in Playa del Carmen.

Las Hijas de la Tostada Great spot for lunch.

La Rana Cansada A hotel/bar that feels like home.

 

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

Loco Gringo

Loco Gringo Directory

Loco Gringo on Facebook

Email Kay: Askkay@locogringo.com

@locogringocom on Twitter

@locogringo_mexico on Instagram

Visual Media Productions

visualmediaproductions@hotmail.com

Ken’s YouTube Channel

Cancun Wedding Videos

Mar 28, 2017

My guest today has a history of assisting animals in need. As a little girl growing up in Wales, Laura Raikes would rescue and adopt cats and dogs to bring them to her family’s farm. She first came to Playa del Carmen 14 years ago on a holiday, and loved it so much she ended up staying. Her love for animals has made a big impact in the Riviera Maya community.

Laura’s Animal Welfare organization is named after a kitten she named Coco. Coco was hit by a car on the road and much to Laura’s surprise people joked about the travesty. It was then Laura decided she wanted to change the way people saw animals, and to keep them off the roads. Her first project was to trap cats, have them spayed or neutered, and then released.

As many as 7 local veterinarians started donating two surgeries a week. As the need grew, Laura hired her first vet, Edgar, who helped to spay and neuter thousands of animals. To complete the idea of animal welfare, Laura realized educating the local community about animal care would also go a long way in helping local animals.

In May of 2016, Cocos was able to build a state-of-the-art facility, which features a multipurpose room to function as a classroom for education, a training room for volunteers, and on Saturday mornings, there is even yoga with cats!

 

Tips for Travelers

If you are visiting the Riviera Maya, and would like to help the animals of the area:

● Make sure the animal you are trying to help isn’t already someone’s pet.

● Remember, cats here are much slimmer than cats where you may be from.

● Contact Cocos while you are still in the Riviera Maya, if you want to take the animal home with you.

● If you rescue an animal, take responsibility for the rescue. If you can’t take it home, then help it find a home here.

 

Volunteer Activities

● Kitten cuddling from 12-2 p.m. on Saturday’s.

● Adoption fair — 1st Saturday of every month.

● Second-hand sale to raise money for programs.

● Salsa dancing to raise funds.

● Help with surgery prep or around the center (two-week training course required).

Tepoztlán — special, magical place — the market. Playa is her favorite.

 

Laura’s Favorite Spots:

Tepoztlán - A special place with a magical market.

Cenote Cristalino — Beautifully clear waters.

Yal Ku Lagoon in Akumal — Unique snorkeling in the place of the turtles.

Playacar Beach - Picnic at the when the crowds are at home.

Xpu Ha Beach - A quiet beach on weekdays.

Don Chendo - The best pizza!

 

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

Loco Gringo

Loco Gringo Directory

Loco Gringo on Facebook

Email Kay: Askkay@locogringo.com

@locogringocom on Twitter

@locogringo_mexico on Instagram

Cocos Animal Welfare

Cocos Animal Welfare on Facebook

info@cocosanimalwelfare.org

Whatsapp/Phone - 984-120-0572

Mar 21, 2017

My guest today fondly remembers his hometown of Mazatlan, a Pacific coastal town, for its amazing seafood. Daveed Placencia now lives in the Riviera Maya, where he owns a private chef service and in-home cooking course. His business is so popular, he has hired four other chefs to help him keep up with all the new business.

Daveed moved to Puebla in Central Mexico to study biology, but found himself spending all day, every day, in a lab. He quickly tired of being inside, so when a friend invited him to Cancun, he accepted without hesitation. Once in Cancun, Daveed accepted an opportunity to volunteer for Global Vision International (GVI). He says his life changed the moment he submerged himself underwater for the first time. He knew he wanted to study marine biology and do field work.

When he returned to school he had to change his focus. Daveed had a scholarship but it left very little money left for food. He made an arrangement with his friends to cook if they bought the food. He got permission from a professor to bring his food to school to sell and soon got paid to cook private dinners for parties.

In 2008, Daveed moved to Puerto Morelos, and got a job with Centro Ecologico Akumal (CEA), monitoring the bay to make sure tourism activities were sustainable. Hotel and tour operators paid his salary by way of donations.

Daveed decided to open his chef service company while continuing to work his day job. He would go to the rental houses of tourists or snowbirds, and cook traditional Mexican recipes passed down from his mother. Today, people are requesting different menus. Daveed still has his favorite, such as his mother’s chicken with mushroom cream and chipotle, fish tacos, and his favorite dessert, zucchini chocolate cake (a recipe a Canadian volunteer shared with him). Daveed and staff also provide in-home cooking lessons, which he says are fun for both adults and children.

It’s obvious Daveed loves Mexican gastronomy and biology, but he says making happy moments is the best thing in his life. He fondly recalls the friends he made in Puebla, the town in Central Mexico where he discovered himself, started his studies and lived on his own for the very first time.

 

Daveed’s Favorite Spots in the Riviera Maya:

Banco Chinchorro — Off the coast of Mahahual. The coral reef is amazing.

Xcacel Beach — The entrance fee goes directly to the turtle protection program.

 

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

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Daveed Chef Services

Daveed Chef Services on Facebook

Daveedchefservice@gmail.com

Global Vision International

Centro Ecologico Akumal

Mar 14, 2017

Liliana Cruz joins me on today’s podcast. Originally from Mexico City, Liliana moved to the Riviera Maya in 2003. After living and working in Cancun and Tulum, she now calls Playa del Carmen her home. Liliana has a passion for spa and wellness. So much so, that she now runs a mobile spa service, and sponsors an annual Alternative Health Fair.

Her background in business administration offered her an opportunity to run a spa in Tulum. She drifted from the business side to the practice of alternative therapies. Liliana studied massage, cosmetology, acupuncture, and yoga, and it has created a new life for her. She created SpaMobil Tulum in 2007. She and her team take their therapeutic practices on-the-road to perform yoga classes, set up sweat lodges, and perform massages, including the ancient practice of Mayan massage.

In 2014, Liliana split her company into 22:11 Spa & Salon and Love for Love. Love for Love provides ceremonies for weddings, renewal of vows, and birthdays.

Living near the ocean and the jungle provides Liliana the energy and peace she loves. She enjoys taking long weekends to discover little towns around the Yucatan peninsula.

Living in Tulum made her appreciate the people of the area. In an effort to give back to the community, she and her team created an Alternative Health Fair. They offer low-cost services everyone can afford. 22:11 Spa & Salon will also participate in the Alternative Health Fair in Cancun on March 22-23rd and in Playa del Carmen on April 22-23rd. Services include a therapist, team activities, organic products for purchase, and food stands.

Liliana loves the cuisine in the Riviera Maya. She recommends Panuchos, Papadzules, Lima soup, Cuernavaca, Chicharrones, and Gorditas.

 

Liliana’s Favorite Places:

Valladolid — Walking the Beautiful Streets and Visiting Cenotes.

Merida — The Energy is Beautiful.

Sacred Art Museum of Merida — Artifacts from History.

Boca Paila — A Place Between the Beach and the Ocean.

Tankah — A Bay Next to Tulum.

Soliman Bay — A Bay Near Akumal.

El Doctorcito — Delicious Ceviches.

Ah Cacao — Chocolate Brownies and Coffees.

Bio-Orgánicos — Vegan, Yucatán-Style of Food.

 

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

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Valladolid City Guide

SpaMobil

SpaMobil on Facebook

Love for Love

22.11spa@gmail.com

Mar 7, 2017

My guest on today’s podcast is a doctor who practices integrative healing in Playa del Carmen. Dr. Luis Suarez describes his health services as a blend of scientific medicine and complementary natural therapies. His holistic approach integrates nutrition, acupuncture,  phytotherapy, and more to ensure patients receive total health care during their visits.

Originally from Mexico City, Dr. Suarez is a pioneer in neural therapy and regenerative injection therapy, which includes platelet rich plasma and adipose tissue stem cells. Locals and travelers are eager to visit Dr. Suarez’s SANAR Center for anti-aging therapy, ozone therapy, hydrotherapy and detoxification.

Dr. Suarez finds people living in and visiting the Riviera Maya are interested in a holistic approach to health care and integrative therapies, which are not widely available in the U.S. and Canada. Ozone therapy is one such practice. It is a versatile gas which elicits a reaction from the body’s antioxidant system and boosts oxygen levels. Medical tourism is on the rise in the Riviera Maya and many repeat patients are snowbirds who are interested in pain management.

The Riviera Maya is a small place with a wide array of mindful oriented options, says Dr. Suarez. He enjoys the dynamic mix of people and believes the area is growing economically. He also loves the beach and the opportunity to scuba dive.

 

Dr. Suarez’s Secret Spots:

Xpu ha — A Beautiful Beach.

Sian Ka’an — For Camping in Wilderness.

La Pepita — Seafood Restaurant in Puerto Morelos.

Cocina Economica Marisol — Local Eatery with Prices You Won’t Believe.

 

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

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SANAR

(984) 803-2039 - SANAR

Feb 28, 2017

What does a happy dog look like? My guest, Veterinarian Erika Flores, offers advice to visitors of the Riviera Maya area about the local dog and cat populations.

Erika trained in Mexico City, where she worked for the Mexican Government Wildlife Division. The stress of the city was getting to her, and she welcomed the opportunity to move to Quintana Roo with her partner. For the last six years, she has worked for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), focusing on humane management of the dog and cat population in the Riviera Maya. The IFAW partners with local veterinarians and animal protection groups, including Coco’s Animal Welfare.

 

Travelers Take Note

The culture regarding dogs and cats is different in Mexico. If an animal is roaming the streets it doesn’t mean they need to be rescued.

Dogs have a different life than dogs in other places but they can still be happy. An animal needs exercise and social interaction.

Going to a vet can be expensive for the average Mexican worker. It can even be more costly than human care.

There is no shelter big enough to hold all the street dogs.

 

How Travelers Can Help

Find a local organization that works with needy animals and see if they need a donation for food or someone to walk the animals.

 

Coco’s Animal Welfare — They sterilize community animals and is nearly free for those who cannot afford it.

S.O.S. el Arca — Visitors can volunteer to work at a shelter and play with the animals.

Become a Sponsor — Sponsor an animal or the cost of a surgery.

Don’t Put Wild Animals at Risk by Taking Pictures.

 

*If you complain to the government about street dogs they may try to clear the streets, and it may not be in the best interest of the dogs.

 

Erika’s Favorite Places:

Isla Holbox The Best Place to Recharge Your Batteries.

Isla Mujeres — A Little Island with a Lot to Do.

El Cuyo — A Fishing Town with Flamingos.

Puerto Morelos — Great Fish!

 

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

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Coco’s Animal Welfare

eflores@ifaw.org

SOS el Arca

IFAW

Feb 21, 2017

Head Chef and Instructor at Los Dos Cooking School, Mario Canul joins me on the podcast to share his favorite places to eat in Mexico, what makes the Yucatan version of pico de gallo so amazing, and information about David Sterling’s new cookbook.

I have taken cooking classes at Los Dos Cooking School in Mérida several times. I am always amazed at how wonderful food is, and I love learning traditional Mayan recipes. Mario has roots in the Mayan community. In 2003, when David Sterling conceived the idea for the Los Dos cooking school, he passed all of his knowledge to Mario. In fact, one of the reasons Mario still teaches today, is because it honors David and the culinary education he shared.

David’s book, Yucatan: Recipes from a Culinary Expedition, is considered the bible of Yucatan cuisine. Mario was traveling with David to gather information for his second book, which is 5 years in the making. The second book includes small magical towns outside of the Yucatan, as David was interested in preserving all of the cooking histories from as many Mexican States as possible.

During their travels, two pueblos stood out for their amazing food the Oaxaca town: Teotitlán del Valle and Michoacán. In Oaxaca, there are tortillas in every color of the rainbow, due to the many varieties of corn. Mario still fondly recalls a pumpkin flower soup made by chef Abigail Mendoza. Michoacán also has amazing cuisine, with a distinct mix of sweet, spicy and seafood.

While these places offer savory tastes, Mario believes Yucatan cuisine is different from anywhere else in Mexico.

Mario describes the many specialty foods of the area, including the pico de gallo. He says the sauce made in Central Mexico is a common sauce made from Roma tomatoes, white onions, cilantro, lime and serrano chili but the Yucatan version adds habanero chili and sour orange. The taste is so distinct it has a different name, which is a Mayan word for dog nose, because after you eat it your nose runs.

 

Mario’s Special Places:

Hacienda Teya A beautifully refurbished hacienda, which serves quality, traditional Yucatan cuisine.

Manjarblanco For fantastic food.

Taquería Wayan'e They started with 2 recipes, and now have 25 different recipes.

Hunucmá The best cochinita in the world. For the best flavor, they slow cook cochinita underground, with a specific type of wood.

Temozon For the best smoked salty or spicy meat. It is THE spot to have lunch outside of Valladolid.

 

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Los Dos Cooking School

Los Dos Cooking School on Facebook

mcanul@los-dos.com

Yucatán: Recipes from a Culinary Expedition, by David Sterling

Feb 14, 2017

Steve Moen had a stressful job working in Seattle for Microsoft, before coming to the Riviera Maya. After being hospitalized for stress and anxiety, Steve realized he needed a vacation. He had always wanted to visit the Cancun area, but feared the “Spring Break” crowds. It was then a co-worker told him about Playa del Carmen.

The first thing Steve did after arriving in the laid back, stunningly beautiful Playa was to throw back a shot of tequila, and jump in the ocean. He started feeling like himself again.

It changed Steve’s life. He went back to Seattle, sold all of his belongings, bought a van and headed to Mexico. After a few not-profitable but interesting business ventures, Steve started providing web design services to real estate agencies and dive shops. He now supports the Loco Gringo site.

Steve is passionate about the beauty of the area, and the friends he has made here. During his time off he runs, travels to central Mexico, and watches football and futbol with friends.

 

Steve’s Special Places:

Rio Lagartos The area has 400 species of birds and great fishing.

Laguna Chunyaxche Boat Billed Herons abound on Bird Island.

Punta Laguna Near Coba, a spiral staircase leads to an amazing cenote.

 

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

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Email Kay: Askkay@locogringo.com

@locogringocom on Twitter

@locogringo_mexico on Instagram

support@locogringo.com

Feb 7, 2017

Originally from Veracruz, Paulina arrived in the Riviera Maya in 2007. She was required to do a college internship with a hotel to complete her tourism certification. Paulina finds that working in tourism gives her an opportunity to meet travelers and to learn different languages.

Paulina says the Riviera Maya offers everything to travelers and to people working in tourism. There are beautiful beaches, interesting people, and delicious food. During her time off, she takes short trips to Tulum, Cancun, and Merida, but she always returns to her home in the Riviera Maya. Her home has become a foster house for dogs who need rescuing. Locals and travelers alike take part in animal welfare and rescue efforts.

As the concierge for Loco Gringo, Paulina is able to experience fun activities like snorkeling in the cenotes. She isn’t exactly comfortable in the water yet, but she is enrolling in the Discover Scuba program.

 

Paulina’s Favorite Spots:

Xpu-ha Snorkeling in a Beautiful Cenote.

Captain Quickie’s Scuba, Snorkel, Sail, and More.

Señor Visit a Mayan Village for an Educational Experience.

Tankah Bay A Private Beach near Tulum.

Ruta de Los Cenotes 20 km of Cenotes on Both Sides of the Route.

Siete Bocas Seven Different Entrances to an Amazing Cenote.

Valladolid Chocolate Factory Make Your Own Chocolate.

Folk Art Museum The Magic of Mexico’s Art.

Convent San Bernardino See the Catacombs, Hear the History.

La Senda In Akumal, for Raw and Vegan Food.

Turtle Bay Cafe In Akumal, for Homemade Ice Cream.

La Buena Vida In Akumal, Vegan Quesadillas.

Charly’s Vegan Tacos In Tulum, for Chicharron Verde Tacos.

 

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

Loco Gringo

Loco Gringo Directory

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Email Kay: Askkay@locogringo.com

@locogringocom on Twitter

@locogringo_mexico on Instagram

concierge@locogringo.com

984-192-1049 If calling from Mexico

512 782-9878 If calling from outside Mexico

Discover Scuba

Captain Quicky

Coco's Animal Welfare

Tierra de Animales

Jan 24, 2017

Loco Gringo welcomes Craig Zabransky, the writer and photographer behind the Stay Adventurous travel blog. Craig was working as a consultant on Wall Street, back in 2004, when he yearned to see the world. Mexico wasn’t one of the first places he visited on his sabbatical but, after being lured to Mexico City for a consulting gig, his passion for exploring the country began.

Mexico City is one of the world’s most populated cities, with over 20 million people living in it. Craig notes that it can be an intimidating place to visit for the first time, but the experience is a must. Craig has chosen it as one of his favorite places in the world and calls it the heartbeat of the country. Craig takes an annual trip to his favorite place, with a group tour he facilitates, called Stay AdvenTours Mexico City. He tries to catch the Michoacán Monarch Migration, which he calls the most amazing thing he has ever seen.

When Craig explores other parts of the country, he relishes the ruins and cenotes. His favorite ruin is Coba, because he loves the sense of discovery, walking through the jungle to climb an ancient pyramid. He loves ease of traveling to and through Cancun, and visiting the Casa de Corazón at Soliman Bay.

Catch up with Craig and all things Mexico on Twitter #mexchat.

 

Craig’s Secret Spots:

Xpu-ha The Perfect Beach Off the Beaten Path.

Cenote Multun-ha Where the water is clear as gin.

 

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

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Email Kay: Askkay@locogringo.com

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http://www.stayadventurous.com/

Staying Adventurous Podcast

Email: craig@stayadventuorus.com

Instagram: @StayAdventurous

Twitter: @stayadventurous

Stay Adventurous on Facebook

Mexchat on Facebook

 

Staying Adventurous Podcasts:

EP02 - The State of Yucatan

EP15 - Playing in Playa del Carmen

Jan 17, 2017

Today’s Loco Gringo guest, Matt Adcock, is an innovative, award-winning photojournalist, who picked up the love of photography from watching his grandfather take photos. American Photo magazine calls him one of the top-10 wedding photographers in the world, and the Huffington Post calls him a trailblazer for his innovations in the trash-the-dress theme. Listening to Matt’s love and enthusiasm for the Riviera Maya is pure gold. It will bring a smile to your heart.

Matt came to Mexico from Atlanta, Georgia in 2005, after a friend recommended he visit. He has since co-founded Del Sol Photography with Sol Tamargo. Matt loves to travel, but frequently finds himself missing the Riviera Maya while he is away. He says, as a photographer he lets his eyes guide him, and the area pushes his senses into hyperdrive.

Matt likes to adventure off the beaten track. He is in awe of the kindness and likeability of the Mayan people and their legends of ancient civilizations. One of his favorite lores is the relationship of the ancient Mayans with the cenotes and the Ceiba trees.

One of Matt’s escapes is free driving in the cenotes. He has found a treasure trove of goodies at the bottom of the water, including a GoPro camera with a family’s entire vacation recorded in it. He is using every opportunity to find the owners who lost their camera on January 4th, 2013. Watch the video and see if you know the owner so they can reclaim their vacation footage.

 

Matt’s Favorite Spots:

Chiapas The colonial town of San Miguel de Allende; you can spend an entire month, and still not take it all in.

Ruta de Cenotes — Kin Ha in Puerto Morelos; it’s also known as the Mayan underworld.

 

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

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Loco Gringo Directory

Loco Gringo on Facebook

Email Kay: Askkay@locogringo.com

@locogringocom on Twitter

@locogringo_mexico on Instagram

Del Sol Photography

Matton Productions

Matt Adcock on Facebook

Matt Adcock on Google +

Matt Adcock on Instagram

Matt Adcock on Youtube

@cleric20 on Twitter

Find the Owner of the GoPro and on Facebook and the video on Youtube

Jan 10, 2017

Today’s guest, Michael Stewart, is a friend of mine from the Akumal yoga community. Michael, who is originally from Chicago, shares his journey, as well as his parent’s special journey, from the windy North to the sunny Caribbean beaches of the Riviera Maya.

Michael has always loved traveling the world, but in 2005, while he was in Laos, he realized how long it would take him to respond to his aging parents, should they need him. He knew he had to find a place for them that had top-notch medical care, as well as an environment that promoted well-being. He resorted to googling yoga + Caribbean. He found a job offer to be a yoga teacher in Akumal, and even though it wasn’t a good fit, it did place him in contact with a different, better-fit opportunity.

Shortly after arriving, Hurricane Emily hit. He was amazed at the bonding that occurred within the community after such a devastating natural disaster. He knew he wanted this to be his home, and after researching the patient care available to his parents, he brought them to live in Akumal, also.

Michael says he appreciates that physicians take the time to talk with people as individuals in Mexico, and that the cost of similar services is much less. And, with most doctors and nurses speaking both English and Spanish, bringing his parents to live in Mexico seemed the obvious choice.

Michael has a passion for yoga. He has celebrated his 20th year teaching his own style of yoga, Shanta Vira. He also practices Kirtan devotional chants. His Mantrika album features vibrational music designed to wake up qualities within humans, which may uncover deep spiritual questions, as well as assist in resolving physical issues.

Michael’s love of Mexico is vast. He enjoys visiting beaches of the Pacific, which are still untouched by most people, and the low mountainous regions near Mexico City. He says travelers or locals can always just get on a bus and find a place to stay, good food, and nice people.

 

Michael’s Secret Spots:

Muyil Mayan Ruins — A Ritual Spot Still Used Today.

X'cacel — Cenote on the Beach by a Turtle Sanctuary.

Puerto Morelos — A Beautiful Mix of Mexicans and North Americans.

 

Use these Resources to Continue Your Journey:

Loco Gringo

Loco Gringo Directory

Loco Gringo on Facebook

Email Kay: Askkay@locogringo.com

@locogringocom on Twitter

@locogringo_mexico on Instagram

Shanta Vira Yoga

Mantrika Album

Yoga en Akumal

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