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Hot Tips Archives
ABOVE, Niños enjoy the water at La Calitita around 9 AM on a Sunday morning in May. A fine day, as you can see.
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Hot Tip 1 for June 05

New LIfe for Old Teak

I have been trying to get my clients to bring down tungsten oil or teak oil for years to restore the luster to their hardwood teak and roble furniture. We have found that the good old aceite rojo returns old grayed out teak wood to an unbelievable gold finish. When applied once a week or even every other week, your teak furniture can look like new

Luh M. McDevitt

Hot Tip 2 for June 05

Our downstairs bathroom has screenless, glass-less openings in the shower and it's located down in the garden. Naturally, this makes mosquitos a problem in the wrong season. AJ theorized that if he kept the lid of the commode shut, less mosquitos would be attracted because they wouldn't detect a source of water here. His experiment has convinced him this is an excellent method for keeping the critters away.

Hot Tip 4 for June 05

Forcing Absent Neighbors to Behave

AJ and I have a vacant lot next door to us. It is unfenced and like other such places had become a trash dump for everything from sodden mattresses to construction fill to empty plastic bleach bottles. It's been driving us bananas so finally decided to take matters into our own hands, pay to have the trash removed, pay for a no dumping sign and even, if necessary, pay for a fence around the property. The owner of the property is supposed to do this, of course. Is legally required to do this. But we all know how that works around here.

Anyway, when AJ brought this up with our sharp lawyer, he informed him that there is most definitely a law in Mexico designed specifically to deal with this type of problem. We can pay to have this work done, including the fence. Then we register the bill with the city to prove we have paid for the work.

That way if and when the owner of the property comes along and decides to do something with the land -- sell it, build on it, etc -- he first must pay back the expenses we incurred. In short, we would then have a lien on the property which our neighbor would have to pay off before he could do anything to the property. It has to be a factura, of course (an official receipt that lists the business's tax ID number) and not a nota (more informal receipt).

Hot Tip 5 for June 05

Let's Eat on the Beach!

We all know that once you're living here full-time unless your work takes you down to the water, you don't go nearly as much as you thought you would when you first moved here. Shame on us. Here are some restaurant tips from southern beachfront dweller David Gaines on where and what to eat when you finally go stick your toes in the sand and pry out the pesos for a beachfront meal.

"I particularly like the fish tacos at Playa Palancar. Paradise Beach which has a good Chimichanga (among other things) and Playa San Francisco serves a great grilled fish filet for around $10. Palm Beach Bar and Grill has a little bit of everything including some of the best Fajitas I've ever had and some pretty darn good Sushi (crab rolls).




Hot Tip 1 for May 05

Sick of Mariachis?

David Anthony is back on the island. He's got a very fancy keyboard and sound system and plays just about anything from jazz to country and a whole lot in between. He'd be an excellent choice if you want live music for your next party. Don't know what he charges but I've heard him play and he's definitely got a fun sound. Pleasant guy, too.

For info, give David a call at 872-2089.

Hot Tip 2 for May 05

Don't Tote that Barge or Lift that Bale!

Keep your eye peeled for foldable, rolling carts. I found one at the mercado and one at a hokey store across from the bus station in Cancun. Pair them with bungee cords and you have a relatively painless way to haul home the loot from Sam's Club.

Hot Tip 3 for May 05

Great Place to Stay in Mérida
Luz en Yucatan

The location couldn't be better and American owner, Madeline, is a superb hostess. Her recommendations for shopping and restaurants were on the mark and invaluable in making our stay very nice. This place is a rambling series of rooms and apartments (Used to be part of a convent). Most rooms have fridges and all but one has AC. Rooms with AC are $40/night. Apartments with kitchens are $60 and I believe she has a deluxe apartment that's a bit more. The place has lovely gardens and some beautifully appointed indoor common areas. Antiques and collectibles all over the place. It's really fun to look at all the stuff she's accummulated. We stayed here 6 nights and couldn't have been more pleased. Give it a try next time you're heading for Mérida

Hot Tip 4 for May 05

Las Tortugas

This restaurant is a really hot one with local Mexicans. Like another favorite of everyone's, Conchita del Caribe, this restaurant on Avenida 30 between 17 and 19 was packed on Sunday at 3 PM. Always a good sign in my book. I also hear that if you go in the afternoon and order drinks or a beer they just keep the really good botana snacks acomin'. This place used to be downtown on Ave 10 but now they appear to have built a very enthusiastic following at their location back in town. The owner is another relative of the folks at Casa Denis. I believe he is a brother of Adrian of Especias fame. Correct me if I'm wrong, Adrian.

Hot Tip 5 for May 05

Pan y Cafe

Trish of Mesa 17 fame recommends a cute little restaurant right down on the waterfront that actually has reasonable prices. She says the food is good and they cater to her two-year-old with special meals made up with things like little faces on them. I haven't been in to try this place yet but tomorrow may be the day. It's a little hard to find. But it's between Calle 5 and Salas on the waterfront. Best way to find it is to walk across to the ocean side and look for a small, tasteful sign hanging above the shop fronts that says Terra Maya. Look to the right of this and you'll see a narrow staircase that leads up to our restaurant which is on the second story with a window on the waterfront.

Hot Tip 6 for May 05

Got a Ace Golfer in the Family?

Then look out for the Red Cross Golf Tournament Benefit next year. I got horn swaggled into volunteering to help with this event (which actually turned out to be very pleasant as they gave us our own golf cart, chairs in the shade and a cooler of iced drinks.) Anyway, to get to the point -- they hold this event every year at about the same time -- this year it was Saturday May 7. The two pertinent pieces of info you need to know are: #1. First prize is a free car #2. We didn't see any really outstanding golfers coming through the green WE were measuring. On our hole, of the 12 groups playing, only 6 people total even hit the green on the first shot and none got closer to the hole than about 35 ft. Meaning someone who was really good could possibly come down and ACE this baby and win the car. So tell your relatives. Costs $150 to enter.


Hot Tip 1 for March 05

Tip from Michelle Bradet-Tapper

Tio José

Dandy little loncheria that's open all day, is really good and extremely reasonably priced. Cute decor, too. Tio José is one half block east of the intersection of Avenida 65 and Calle 11 on the south side of the street.



Hot Tip 2 for March 05

Furniture Finds in Playa del Carmen

We've been trolling over on the board for info on decent furniture stores in Playa and got some good tips. There's evidentally a store called D'un Monde A l'Autre that has really nice Balinese furniture. It's on
Ave 30 Norte No 129 (Entre calles 2y4) Ocean-side of the street. (984) 803-2955. Referred to by one person as the "Pier One" of Playa. About this place my informant remarked "We bought a beautiful teak table and chairs. And serveral other single pieces. They will bargain some but not alot."

Another store, right across the street is also recommended and same informant says: "We purchased a red couch, love seat, & chair. It is italian suede. It is very comfortable and very nice.
We did order it. It took 4-6 weeks. Everything went as planned and the service was very good.
We also, purchased a couple of rugs."

Finally, there's also a brand new store on Highway 307 just north of Constituyentes on the west side of the roadway that is similar to the Pier One style store mentioned above only much larger. Name unknown.

Hot Tip 3 for March 05

Car License Plate Renewals (Placas)

If you renew your license in January or February, you won't have to wait in line. Wait until March with the deadline being March 31, and you will have a long wait. We arrived at 8 AM March 10, 2005 since the office doesn't open until 8:30. Already 20 people in front of us and it took two hours to get to the top of the queue. The Mexican gentlemen behind us in line, a salesman at the Reef Club Residencia, told us that if you wait until a couple of days before the deadline, the queue can be practically around the block .

Also don't forget--after you pay take your receipt to the window closest to the ocean (right by the ATM machine) and get your little sticker for your car. If you pay in January, they might not have the stickers available yet. So just swing by in March, present your receipt and they'll give you one. No waiting like everyone else. In short, you will be the envy of many who have nothing else to do as they stand there in line for hours on end.

Hot Tip 4 for March 05

Infinitum DSL Glitches Conquered by Group Effort

Yes, fans, we can take on Telmex/Prodigy Infinitum and win thanks to the vigilant assistance of PROFECO which is a federal consumer protection agency which has the power to make any business in the country --no matter how big -- tow the line and treat their customers fairly. (And, no, it doesn't work on the water and electric company as these are federal agencies as well whereas Telmex is not.)

Sick of 7 days of a very slow 256 kp dsl connection Carey recently spearheaded a group complaint signed by 14 of the friends she could reach that were having the same problem. Petition went to Telmex and, 24 hours later, to PROFECO. Within 4 hours of the complaint being filed, service was restored and each person who signed their names to the group complaint was receiving solicitious calls asking if everything was okay now.

Long and short here is not to brag. It's to tell people -- if you have a problem with your dsl connection that goes on for more than 24 hours, email me at If we're having the same problem on the 4 computers in our network, we know we have grounds for another group complaint.

This time Carey got the phone numbers and email of the internet supervisor for southeastern Mexico who appears very interested in making PROFECO complaints go away fast. So next time, we'll email him first and see if he can make our problems go away. Get in touch if you start having problems. Let's work together on this, guyz!

Hot Tip 6 for March 05

Island Clean-Up

We're hearing tell that there's a meeting every Thursday morning at 9 AM at Rock 'n Java where people gather to discuss environmental issues like cleaning up beach trash and the like. All are invited and welcome to attend. .

January 2005

Hot Tip 1 for January 05
Medicinal Use for Epozote

Martin de Valdez tells us that brewing a tea of epozote and drinking it is a wonderful way to deal with stomach cramps and diarrhea. He and his wife, Susan Welk, have been using it for several years and they say it works wonderfully. For new comers to island life who don't know where to buy it, El Mercado at the intersection of Salas and Avenida 25 is a good place to buy fresh epozote. We like the little tables at the back of the market outside, the ones that sell recado balls and spices. They always seem to have good looking epozote.

Hot Tip 2 for January 05

Good place for Tire Work

We asked our part-time taxista friend, Gabriel, where was the best place to take a car that needs tires replaced, mended or just pumped up a little and he recommended "Chicos". Corner of Avenida 35 and Calle 5. It's not called Chicos but you can't miss it. Large white, open garage than could shelter perhaps 12 cars. I had a leaky tire fixed for $60 pesos recently. The guys are very pleasant.


Hot Tip 3 for January 05

Illegal Burning

Old-time islanders already know this but for newbies, it's illegal to have open fires in the city. Sometimes they bother you. Sometimes they don't depending on what they're burning -- often something hellish like plastic to keep warm at night. If you have a problem with a neighbor doing this, try to catch them with the smoke plume still up. Call the Bomberos. Tell them its not an emergency but you'd like to report lots of smoke coming from -- and then give them the nearest coordinates you can figure out. We've done this 3 times and they responded to our request to "educate" the people within 10 minutes. Bomberos number is: 872-0800. No English spoken so figure out what you want to say in advance and practice up if smoking camp fires is a recurrent problem in your neighborhood.


Hot Tip 4 for January 05

Ultramar Changing Schedule for High Season :

According to Jim Wilson who got it from the horse's mouth, the director of Ultramar, the ferry services will be staggering their crossings this high season. So when the Mexico ferry leaves at, say 8 AM, the Ultramar will leave at 8:30 AM. Maybe that will put an end to the drag racing across the channel for awhile. Silly boys.

December 2004
Munching on the Cheap:

Julie's is a tiny little take-out-only place right downtown on Avenida 10 a couple of doors south of the church. Hard to see until you're almost on top of it so watch for the blue awning. They have 4-5 cassarole combos per day and all have been excellent. You get about a cup and a half for 20 pesos. But the best thing about this place is the desserts. They are freshly made every day and several cuts above everything available at the bakeries. For example, they don't pour sugar water over the cake to keep it moist. Doesn't need it. Also a lot of variety in the desserts. They have that real home-made look and taste.

Shop 'Til Your Fingers Ache:

Terri, owner of Coco's restaurant on the south wing of the plaza next to Banamex is the rep for 12 or so mail order catalog companies including Avon, several houseware outfits and a couple of linen catalogs. She keeps the catalogs on a rack on the counter at the back of the restaurant. Lot of interesting stuff and her delivery will be prompt -- and all there on arrival. When we were in last week a couple of young women were in the process of yanking themselves away from the counter "before we spend any more money !" Catelogs include: Avon (no, she can't get Skin So Soft either), Fuller Cosmetics, Arabela, Tupperware, Beauty Control, Betterware, Party Lite,Home Interiors, Richmont Industries, Princess House, Vianney (linens), Concord (linens) Andrea (shoes), Ilusion (lingerie)

Beating the Helmex System, Part 1:

The Prodigy DSL Modems they hand out when you sign up burn out fairly quickly here. And if you don't put them through a filter of some kind, they're likely to get spiked in the first direct hit thunderstorm that comes along. If you start having problems with your DSL connection suddenly when you haven't changed any settings on your computer, chances are, it may be your modem. If this is the case, try taking the modem along with a recent telephone bill and heading up to the Telmex work office. Explain your problem and ask very sweetly and humbly if they would consider giving you a replacement modem. Chances are they will and this will save you days of waiting for a Telmex techie to visit your home or office. The office is on 65 1.5 blocks past the orange navy compound at the south end of town. On the east side of the street. White one story building with hurricane fences around it.


Excellent Hair Dresser Who Also Does In-Home Pedicures, Manicures, Facials & More:

Yani Sanchez is a sweet, vivacious young mother of two. She's cut mine and my daughter's hair for awhile now and she appears to practice very good hygiene with her equipment. My daughter has straight hair, mine is curly. Both of us are always very pleased with our cuts and her prices are quite reasonable. She speaks perfect English and is interesting to talk to. She also really needs the business. Her son contracted a viral infection at age 2 and a local pediatrician didn't give the child the proper type of injection. As a result of this negligence, her son went into an hour long convulsion that left him unable to talk or have any other control over his motor skills. Now, 5 years later, the child is doing very well all things considered. But he has to go to a special school and needs a lot of additional therapy. So if you give Yani some business, you'll not only be getting an excellent haircut, perm, manicure and etc., but you'll be helping out a hard-working young woman who could use the assistance.

"Yani cuts and curls my hair with artistry.  Her massages are superb and as a person, she is a joy to be with.  Yani Sanchez is one of Cozumel's real treasures!" Jean Berg

Her numbers are: 872-7899, cell: 044 987 1122 708 or EMAIL HER



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