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Posts Tagged ‘fundraising’

Coco’s Cat Rescue Fundraiser at the Luna Blue Bar

Posted by Tony & Cheri on June 5, 2009

Update January 14, 2011. As of today the Luna Blue Hotel no longer supports Coco’s Cat Rescue. It has come to light that they along with others have acted in what we consider to be an unethical manner, attempting to undermine and destroy another local charity. We are saddened by this, as we believe all of the charities in Playa have a place and do good work in our community. We are therefore no longer supporting Coco’s Cat Rescue with our contributions, and we suggest our friends and followers of this blog take similar action. We hope in the future that they may learn to work more fully with the entire community.

We are sorry we haven’t blogged for a while…we have been traveling in southern California visiting our son and doing some very serious research on tourism (see photo below). :)

Now we’re back in Playa del Carmen, and tomorrow night–Saturday June 6, 2009–we will be hosting a fundraiser at the Luna Blue Bar for Coco’s Cat Rescue. Coco’s Cat Rescue is a relatively new organization here in Playa del Carmen dedicated to rescuing some of the many lost, abandoned and feral cats that live in the area. The good people at Coco’s Cat Rescue find adult feral cats, trap them, have them spayed or neutered with the assistance of local veterinarians and then release them. When kittens are found or captured, they are cared for by Coco’s until they can be adopted by someone who wants them. There are many, many stray cats in this area, so the work that Coco’s does is truly needed to control the feline population.

We know first hand the good work by the Coco’s Cat Rescue volunteers. The garden at the Luna Blue Hotel is not only home to our own cats Frankie & Osso (Bear, in English), but is an attraction to many of the feral cats, especially pregnant females who are looking for a quiet place to have a litter. Sadly, many of the adult cats are not strong enough to deliver healthy babies, and litters often don’t survive. But recently we discovered a mama and her five babies shortly after their birth and were able to feed mama and protect and tame the kittens until they were old enough to be weaned. Then Laura from Coco’s came and collected the kittens and made sure that they received food and medical care. She is taking care of them until someone comes along to adopt them. With their assistance, we’ve also trapped and neutred/spayed four other adult cats, including the mama of this litter.

Coco’s Cat Rescue is completely nonprofit and supported entirely by donations. Tomorrow, Saturday June 6 will be their first ever fundraiser, a party at the Luna Blue with music, food, drinks, kittens (for adoption or just cuddling) and best of all, a HUGE raffle of some amazing prizes, all donated by local businesses and generous supporters of Coco’s Cat Rescue.

Here are some of the great prizes a $50 peso raffle ticket might win:

  • Two trips on the Fat Cat catamaran (donated by Maureen)
  • Two Rio Secreto excursions (donated by Marissa)
  • $50 US gift certificate to Spa Itza (donated by Vanessa)
  • Three-night stay in a Tropical Hideaway room (a $270 US value) at the Luna Blue Hotel & Garden (donated by Tony & Cheri)
  • A $250 peso bar tab at the Luna Blue Bar (donated by Tony & Cheri)
  • Another $250 peso bar tab at the Luna Blue Bar (donated by Tony & Cheri)
  • A hand beaded necklace (donated by SPAY)
  • A second beaded necklace (donated by SPAY)
  • $50.00USD Barnes & Noble Gift Card to be used in any store or online (donated by Maureen)
  • $500 Peso Bar Tab at the Beer Bucket (donated by the Beer Bucket)
  • A Tote le Monde Duffel Bag (donated by Maureen)
  • Vintage (1948) Jomar Seed Pearl Lariat Style Necklace–60 inches…can be worn as a belt (donated by Maureen)
  • One night in a superior junior suite at La Tortuga from june 6th to dec.23rd, depending on availability (donated by Laura and Ana)
  • A $500 peso restaurant tab at El Bistro (donated by Laura and Ana)
  • Another $500 peso restaurant tab at El Bistro (donated by Laura and Ana)
  • Two Peanut Pet Shelter beer koozies (donated by Maureen)
  • Two free yoga classes at Yoga by the Way (donated by Ellen de Jonge)
  • Horseback riding for two people at Punto Venado (donated by Lisa)
  • Dinner for two at Babe’s Noodles & Bar (donated by Babes)
  • Gift certificate for breakfast or lunch for two people at Turtle Bay Café in Akumal (donated by Jen Smith)
  • One month of English classes at Harmon Hall in Playa del Carmen. The winner will have to pay for books, but the course has a value of 1600 pesos!!! (donated by Mark of Harmon Hall)
  • Two Catamaya catamaran sailing/snorkel trips (value $184 US!) (donated by Fabio of Catamaya)
  • One bottle of Gran Centenario Anejo Tequila, 695ml (donated by Libby of InTheRoo)
  • Lunch for two and day pass at Shangri La Caribe Hotel (donated by Shangri La Caribe)
  • $500 pesos gift certificate at Carboncitos restaurant (donated by Russell at Carboncito’s)
  • Two ATV rides with Yucatan Explorer(donated by Yucatan Explorer)
  • If you’re going to be in town, stop by tomorrow night, or stop by the Luna Blue Hotel or Bar on Calle 26 between 5th and 10th Avenues beforehand to buy tickets. If you’re not able to make it down to Playa, you can buy tickets online. Click here for information. YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE PRESENT TO WIN!!! Unclaimed ticket numbers will be posted online here, and the organizers will arrange for pickup or delivery of any prizes won.

    Tomorrow night should be quite an event. Come hungry, as we will be selling Papa T’s famous Cheeseburgers in Playadise. The burgers and all the fixings have been donated by Rob & Michele of Buy Playa and Life’s a Beach blog, so 100% of the $50 peso sales price will go directly to Coco’s Cat Rescue.

    And in honor of the evening, the Luna Blue Bar will be offering a new coconut rum drink we call Coco’s Catini. Every Coco’s Catini will come with a souvenir kitty cat drink ornament, compliments of Coco’s supporter Vanessa. Thirty pesos from each drink sold will be donated to Coco’s.

    And starting around 9 pm, Playa’s own Bad Brad Ryan will be playing and singing for everyone’s enjoyment.

    In addition to the fundraiser, tomorrow evening is also a Tripadvisor member Meet-Up! If you are a regular member, poster or just reader of Tripadvisor’s Playa Del Carmen Forum, please stop by and say hello.

    On a personal note, it’s good to be home in Playa. And for those of you who are still asking (amazingly)…YES, Playa is still open. YES, the weather is beautiful. YES, it’s a great time of year to visit. And NO there is no danger (banditos, swine flu, drug cartels, pirates, etc.) It’s paradise down here. Hope to see you tomorrow night.

    And, as promised, here’s a picture of us in deep conversation with our business consultant back in the States.
    Cheri, Mickey Mouse & Tony at Disneyland, the Happiest Place on Earth

    Visit our new Facebook page and become a fan of Luna Blue Hotel & Bar!

    Posted in Activities, Events & Happenings, Friends, The Hotel & Bar | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

    Fundraising: It’s Not a Competition

    Posted by Tony & Cheri on September 4, 2007

    There’s an old sarcastic saying that “no good deed goes unpunished.” We’ve recently learned how true that is. When we started working with the other volunteers in Playa del Carmen to help the people of Mahahual after Hurricane Dean, members of our group, as far as we knew, were the only ones raising money and driving supplies to the area. In the days that followed, we discovered other people and private organizations were soliciting funds for help in Mahahual. We applauded everybody’s efforts and welcomed any and all volunteers, donations, or efforts to get the word out and the supplies in.

    One of those organizations that began to solicit funds was a travel site based out of Akumal, Mexico called locogringo.com. They set up a fundraising campaign. One of their members even created a website, helpafterdean.org, which took people to their fundraising webpage.

    Our thought was: the more the merrier, or at least the better. So, when we were posting on TripAdvisor we made sure to mention locogringo’s efforts. The link was also publicized on playa.info, which had already become home base for the Playa Pals to raise money. Again, nobody (at least in our little group) saw any issues of competition or conflict. We thought the more people raising money and helping, the better it would be for Mahahual.

    That’s why we’re pretty surprised to find ourselves under attack on the locogringo forum. It started out simply enough from our point of view. We learned that locogringo had deleted a posting by one of its members which told about the Playa Pals’ efforts. We were confused by this. We were directing people to their website. Why were they not allowing reference to ours? After all, it’s all about Mahahual, right? The more money raised, regardless of the source or the site, the better. So we posted what we thought was a pretty reasonable comment. We explained who we were, who the Playa Pals were, and the work that we were doing for Mahahual. And we asked a simple question: why was the previous post deleted? In our comments, we praised locogringo and its forum members for their efforts on behalf of Mahahual and said that they should keep up the good work. And we meant it.

    One of the moderators of that forum responded in a way that we thought was pretty unsatisfactory. There was no apology, no reaching out. References to our effort had been deleted, he said, because they had a policy of no solicitations. The reason for the policy, we were told, was to protect their members from con artists and unscrupulous people. We were a little taken back by that. We have never been perfect, and over the years we might have been called a name or two, some of them maybe even deserved. :) But to be lumped in with con men and “unscrupulous people” not only took us by surprise but frankly insulted us.

    When we wrote again explaining how the legitimacy of Playa Pals was a simple matter to confirm, all hell seemed to break loose. Some members of the locogringo forum then began to post that we were jealous, ugly, seeking publicity, and trying to denigrate their great efforts. They said we were trying to demean and attack the owners of the forum (who we have never met and whose names we didn’t even know). And the best one of all: we were attempting to stop their fundraising!

    We were pretty shocked. For trying to spread the word about the problems in Mahahual and give people an additional place to contribute or offer help, we were personally attacked and condemned. Not by everybody. Some people on that website offered their opinion that what we were doing was good and that we were not bad people. But they appeared to be in the minority. Some members of that website wrote us privately, asking us to just wait, that when the owners of the website returned from a visit to Mahahual, they would reach out to us and explain to their members who we were and what we were doing. However, that didn’t happen. Instead, when the owners returned, they praised the forum members for defending them against personal attacks!

    We have not posted on that forum since, and we will never post on it again. However, our name continues to be abused—unmoderated—in forum postings there. This whole episode has saddened us deeply. To be called names, even by strangers, is never pleasant. To have the efforts of the Playa Pal volunteers (Claudia, Heather, Kevin, Alex, Jessica, Willem, Soraya, Michael, Jimmy, Doug, Luis, the other Luis, Laura of the Hotel La Tortuga, Andrea of the Bomberos, the Il Barreto restaurant, the people and owners of playa.info, and many many more, not to mention all the people who have donated money and material) demeaned by people living comfortably thousands of miles away is unfair and undeserved. And to turn fundraising into a competition is the worse offense of all, because it turns people’s focus away from the real issue, which is the need for help in Mahahual.

    We’re also concerned that this same website is talking about how there is now a relief program in effect for the area. This is simply not true for Mahahual. The state government of Quintana Roo–to whom locogringo gave the majority of its funds–has been trying to help as many people as it can, but there is damage and people in need everywhere in the southern Yucatan. Their resources are stretched thin. They’re doing all they can. In Mahahual, the government restored power in an unbelievable three or four days. They sent in the Army for a few days to try and stabilize the area and clear roads so people like Playa Pals can get in. They have sent in Fonatur with heavy earth-moving equipment and trucks to remove debris. They have set up chemical toilets and brought in potable water in some areas. They are doing what they can and doing it well. However, Mahahual has not yet received food, water, medical supplies or assistance for rebuilding from any official, corporate or humanitarian entity. It is still relying upon private donations and private volunteers.

    We raise these issues because we don’t want people who have been directed to locogringo to walk away with either a doubt about the continued need for donations, volunteers and work in the Mahahual area or a question as to the validity of the Playa Pals and the work they are doing.

    The locogringo website has collected a lot of money, and we are sure they have spent it in the way they feel is most effective. We applaud the generosity and effort of their members. However, fundraising efforts should not be handled in such a way that other legitimate efforts are demeaned.

    Thanks to our blog readers for letting us get this off our chest.

    Note: Subsequent to the posting of this blog entry, and the posting of blogs by others who were treated similarly on the same website, the owners of the locogringo forum have decided to “delete any negative comments” related to this topic. Seems that since the most negative commentary came from a single poster who apparently cannot be reined in because of her volunteer work for the board, the entire thread in question was deleted, avoiding the need to admonish her or others. At least with the written evidence of this horrible exchange now gone, the only people who will remain affected are those who were involved and who read the thread, and that’s probably best for everyone, although the damage has been done to our feelings and to our reputation. We’ll take away our own lessons from this experience.

    Posted in Friends, Hurricane Dean, Weather | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

    Hurricane Dean: Playa Pals for Mahahual

    Posted by Tony & Cheri on August 31, 2007

    The finished construction kitsThe relief effort goes on in Mahahual. So far, the “Playa Pals for Mahahual” (being the volunteers from Playa del Carmen who have been donating and fundraising through our paypal account, posting on the playa.info thread, and hauling items to Mahahual several times a week) have raised over $16,000.

    Yesterday, we went down with four other trucks and many volunteers. The items we took were:

  • 150 construction kits (shovel, hammer, machete & sharpener, gloves, nails, face mask)
  • 216 hygiene kits (soap, toothpaste, TP, toothbrushes, razors, candle & matches, deodorant, sanitary napkins, baby wipes, insect repellent)
  • 12,500 liters of water (collected by the Hotel La Tortuga)
  • Clothing
  • Towels donated by local hotels
  • Food
  • Unfortunately, in some ways the situation in Mahahual remains unchanged in the week since Hurricane Dean turned the lives of the Mahahualense upside down. As of yesterday, there were no professional relief agencies present. The Red Cross had indicated previously that it would start raising money and provide assistance in Mahahaul. So far that has not happened. The only assistance and relief Mahahual is receiving is from private donations and volunteers such as our little group.

    It is good to see that the Mexican government is present with earthmoving machines to clear debris and haul it away. They have also brought in a number of chemical toilets.

    We continue to raise money for Mahahual and ask everyone reading this to donate through our paypal account. On Saturday another convoy will be headed to Mahahual to take more materials and supplies.

    Some of the adorably cute & grateful kidsOn yesterday’s trip, after delivering the relief supplies, we made a couple of personal journeys through the devastated area along with our friend Heather. One was to deliver a bottle of tequila to Francisco, the volunteer chef at the community kitchen. Feeding a couple hundred familes each day, he has been working without rest since the hurricane passed through. He’s also working without pay. He was most appreciative.

    We also took a large quantity of candy down and passed it out to the local children. We were rewarded with incredible smiles and laughter.

    One example of the sad situation in Mahahual: A couple of days ago, our friend Claudia spent the night after making the trip down. There is one room in the Hotel Mahahual that is habitable, and it was offered to her. She protested, but the local family making the offer said that crocodiles have been coming out of the mangroves at night since the hurricane, and it was unsafe for her to sleep outside. She asked where they (a family of seven) would sleep. They told her, “Don’t worry, we’re used to it.” (!!!). This is one of the many reasons we continue to try and help this community.

    Another convoy is going down on Saturday. We won’t be able to make that trip due to work at the hotel. However, we will returning to Mahahual early next week and will provide more information then, if not sooner. In the meantime, we continue to ask for any assistance that anyone can give us at this time.

    Posted in Friends, Hurricane Dean, Weather | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    Hurricane Dean: How to Donate to the Playa Pals for Mahahual Relief Effort

    Posted by Tony & Cheri on August 31, 2007

    Here is the information on how to donate to the people of Mahahual who were devastated by Hurricane Dean. All money is being administered by the Playa Pals for Mahahual, a small group of mostly ex-pat volunteers based in Playa del Carmen, who are making trips to the Mahahual area once or twice a week to bring and distribute the items needed most at the time.

    To donate money via paypal, go to www.paypal.com and click on the “Send Money” tab. The paypal email account to use is: helpthechicas@lunabluehotel.com. One hundred percent of all donations will be spent by the Playa Pals for Mahahual on the most immediate needs and taken by volunteers directly to Mahahual and the surrounding areas hit by Hurricane Dean. NO MONEY IS BEING SPENT ON ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS, including gasoline & other volunteer expenses, all of which are being donated.

    If you are in or near the Playa del Carmen area, you can drop off donations in kind at the Luna Blue Hotel & Garden, Calle 26 between 5th and 10th Avenue, between 7:30 am and 10 pm every day. If you plan on donating items and want a specific list of what items are most urgently needed, please send us an email and we’ll let you know.

    As needs in the area change almost daily, we prefer monetary donations at this time. This way we can be assured that we can provide exactly what the people need when they need it.

    This blog contains an ongoing report of the trips we have made to the Mahahual area. For more information, including pictures posted by the volunteers, you can also click here to read the thread on playa.info.

    Thank you to everyone who has donated and continues to donate. Your donations are making a HUGE difference to the people in this area.

    Posted in Friends, Hurricane Dean, Weather | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    Hurricane Dean: The Mahahual Relief Effort

    Posted by Tony & Cheri on August 27, 2007

    Mahahual residents waiting in line for food, water and clothingWe’re sorry we haven’t posted in the last day or so, but we’ve been a little busy. After our first trip to Mahahual to take relief supplies, the response from this blog, the playa.info website, and TripAdvisor was overwhelming. The word got out across the internet, and money began to come in. As of this evening, we have raised over $10,000 in private donations from this paypal account alone. That does not count individual donations of volunteers and others that have been immediately spent to buy supplies.

    After the first trip down with all the volunteers from Playa, our friend Claudia Hurtado Valenzuela, an EMT volunteer for Cruz Roja and the instigator of this relief project, convinced the local state Red Cross to reevaluate the situation and send her back as an official representative with medical supplies. Part of her duties was to do a detailed evaluation of what specific aid was most needed. The Red Cross also agreed to open up its own paypal account for donations but specifically asked that private donations such as this one continue to operate.

    With this in mind, we began to prepare for a return trip to Mahahual two days after the first. With our friend Heather and an empty Big Bastard, we went on a shopping spree. We cleaned out Sam’s Club, purchasing giant bags of rice and beans, a pallet of over 300 bottles of water, 50 dozen eggs, and bulk amounts of toilet paper, baby wipes, sanitary napkins, diapers, milk, cooking oil, soup, pasta, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, Clorox…the list goes on and on. We & some of the other volunteers also bought machetes, hammers, hand axes, shovels, tarps and hundreds of shoes & gloves. The Big Bastard was filled front to back and top to bottom and sunk pretty low on the wheels.

    While we were shopping to fill the Big Bastard, other volunteers (Jessica & Alex, Michael, Luis, Willem and others) were also filling trucks. The Hotel La Tortuga also sent a truck and a trailer filled with mattresses. We helped coordinate pickup donations from the Barcelo Maya resort of 100 kilos of clothing that had been left behind by vacationing guests. And, all the time, locals and visitors alike were dropping off food and clothing donations at the Luna Blue Hotel & Garden, which were packed into the trucks.

    Some of the donation money was also used to purchase medicine and medical supplies at a huge discount from the Red Cross pharmacy.

    From the Luna Blue, we donated about 9 giant bags of towels, sheets, pillows & blankets as well as a few folding beds (one for the volunteer civilian doctor and one for Francisco, the volunteer chef—both of whom had been sleeping on the floor.). We’ll be encouraging other hotels to do the same. Locals also contributed toys, and we bought some soccer balls, to hand out to the children.

    Claudia had all the trucks (7 in all) and volunteers meet at Cruz Roja in Playa del Carmen at 8 am Saturday morning. Claudia made sure to tell us all that this was the REAL 8:00, not 8:00 am Mexican time (which could translate into 10 or 11). There was a last minute scramble to buy a couple things we needed and spend more last minute donation money. Then we were all off and running. We drove the Big Bastard and took our friend Heather with us. Not only is Heather a nonstop workaholic volunteer, she is fall down laugh hysterically funny AND she made sandwiches and brought food for the trip—all in all the perfect traveling companion.

    It took about four and a half hours to get to Mahahual again. Our route took us down highway 307 (the only main road through the Yucatan). We went from Playa to Tulum, on to Felipe Carrillo Puerto, through the little town of Limones and finally left to Mahahual. The road from 307 to the ocean and Mahahual had finally been cleared of the large tree trunks and branches that had partially blocked it on our first visit.

    When we got to Mahahual, not much had changed. There is still no power, no fresh drinking water, no potable water, no phone and no internet. People are using the remains of broken houses to burn for cooking fires and for light in the evening. As we neared Mahahual, we were tremendously cheered to see that CFE—Mexico’s electric company—had already made giant strides in restringing power lines to Mahahual. However, they had not yet, when we were there, been able to make a collection to supply lights or electricity. Of course, once electricity is restored, its use will be limited. People’s houses are gone; there are few electrical outlets or sources for electricity. And of course, the houses in which people had wiring, electricity and lights are now so damaged as to need major repair before they can make use of electricity.

    Our plan was to meet with a local Mahahual real estate resident and businessman, Kevin Graham, whose initial SOS to Claudia had started the entire relief effort. We had tried to hook up with Kevin on our first trip down, but the incredible chaos amid the destruction made it impossible for us to find each other. This time he was waiting for the convoy at the lighthouse, which is miraculously the only building still standing undamaged in Mahahual.

    Meeting with Kevin provided us a pretty good shock. When we had visited last, we had been stunned by the destruction of central Mahahual. However, this morning Kevin sadly informed us that this was only part of the area that needed help. There were at least three other sections where people lived and desperately needed food, water and supplies. Access to some of them had just been opened by the Army, and others were only accessible by walking in. The volunteers divided into four groups to take supplies to each of these areas. The Big Bastard was assigned the central Mahahual area that we had visited last, primarily since we had brought bulk good specifically for the community kitchen which was operating there.

    Kevin is our point person in Mahahual. Despite having lost his own home and office, he has been working tirelessly to help us coordinate the donations so that they reach the most people in the area. Kevin, if you read this blog, THANK YOU!! And, BTW, did anyone ever tell you that you look like Jimmy Buffet? :)

    We drove through the town, again our hearts breaking at the devastation there. The people of Mahahual were everywhere, piling up debris, digging out sand and trying to find a place to get out of the elements. As we went we handed out drinking water and supplies. Without fail, everyone thanked us profusely and gave us a smile.

    In the middle of town is a single story concrete building that had been the schoolhouse. It is now the center for the Army and the community kitchen. When we got there, we were very pleased to see that the Army had not pulled out and had received instructions to stay in Mahahual. It seems our efforts and news had finally reached Mexico City. As we pulled up, soldiers began to come forward to help us carry things into the schoolhouse. Francisco, the volunteer civilian chef who appears to have been working 24/7 nonstop since the kitchen opened, came rushing out. He remembered us and our promise to return, and he was obviously thrilled. For some reason, Cheri got more hugs than Tony did. We explained that some of the goods were in other trucks being distributed throughout other hard hit areas in Mahahual. He completely understood.

    After unloading the bulk food for the kitchen, we drove through the central part of down, distributing water, cookies, baby wipes and other supplies. We also wanted to get the news out to every person in town that there was food, clothing, and other items being distributed at the school. We drove as far south as we could before the road was too bad for the Big Bastard to handle. We have no spare for the van, and we have been extremely paranoid that we were going to get a flat tire each time we drove down and back to Mahahual. So far we have been very lucky.

    As we drove around town, we also stopped whenever we would see a group of dogs. There are many pets wandering lost around the town. We had purchased a big bag of dog food, and each time we spotted some, we’d get out and offer them a meal. They looked pretty happy to get something. When we found families who obviously had pets, we dropped off bags of dog food to them.

    After we distributed all the supplies we had, we drove back through town past the school and army post. We saw the army placing some of the food items, clothing and water that we had delivered into army trucks. We immediately went to investigate. The one thing we did not want to happen was to have our donations for Mahahual shipped back to Mexico City or other areas of Mexico.

    Heather, who speaks pretty good Spanish, had struck up a friendship with a comandante (major) of the army who seemed to be in charge at the school. It was pretty obvious he thought she was something special. Heather went to the comandante and asked him what was happening to the supplies, and he assured her they were being loaded onto the trucks to be taken to another area in Mahahual that had been badly hit. That was good enough for us.

    With the work done, we started back on the four hour return drive to Playa del Carmen. Claudia stayed behind to set up a medical tent with the Cruz Roja supplies we had purchased. She was also going to work on her list of needed supplies and return to Playa del Carmen either Monday or Tuesday. Once we have that list of supplies, we’ll go out on another shopping spree, again loading as many trucks as we can, and then heading back to Mahahual.

    At this point, private donations and some small help from the Red Cross seem to be the only relief being offered to Mahahual. The Red Cross will be notifying the government of Mexico, and hopefully bigger, more organized relief, including construction machinery, will still be on the scene. However, we have received numerous emails and questions from people asking if we still need donations next week or even next month. The answer is YES, with absolute certainty. An entire town has been wiped out. The people there have nothing left. Right now we are simply trying to provide basics, i.e., food, water, medicine and hope. As people reestablish themselves, they will turn next to trying to rebuild. They will continue to need the basics but also will need tools and construction materials. Until power is turned back on, they will need to operate by generators. It is going to be a slow, painful process which will take months upon months to complete.

    We are trying to fill the internet with pleas for more help. If you’re reading this, we ask you to help. We are not professional fundraisers or relief workers. We and our fellow volunteers from Playa del Carmen simply want to help our neighbors. Every penny that anyone contributes from our paypal site will be spent on buying supplies for Mahahual. No one is taking a penny to reimburse themselves for gas, food, or any kind of personal cost. When you give a dollar, you can rest assured that within a few days the items bought with that dollar will be in the hands of a family in Mahahual.

    Once again, here is the information on how to donate:

    To donate money via paypal, go to www.paypal.com and click on the “Send Money” tab. The paypal email account to use is: helpthechicas@lunabluehotel.com.

    If you are in or near the Playa del Carmen area, you can drop off items such as utilitarian clothing, non perishable food, candles, flashlights, roofing material, plastic tarps, tents, diapers, powdered milk, rice, beans, cooking oil, spaghetti, cookies/crackers, sanitary napkins, and anything else you think might be helpful in a hurricane zone at the Luna Blue Hotel & Garden, Calle 26 between 5th and 10th Avenue, between 7:30 am and 10 pm every day.

    If you want to help via check, Laura the “Map Chick” is accepting checks in the US which she will forward to Claudia down here. 100% of those funds will be used by the Red Cross in Mahahual. For more information, check out Hurricane Dean Assistance.

    Because the needs of this area are changing almost daily, monetary donations are preferred at this point. This way we can buy exactly what is needed and deliver it as quickly as possible.

    We will do a new report after we return from the next convoy or Wednesday, or sooner if we have news to report. And don’t worry, we will continue to provide information and reports on the pleasures of living in and visiting Playa del Carmen in the near future. First things first.

    Posted in Friends, Hurricane Dean, Weather | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 12 Comments »

    Hurricane Dean: A Visit to Mahahual

    Posted by Tony & Cheri on August 24, 2007

    Destruction in Mahahual from Hurricane DeanWe’re pretty tired. We left at 8:00 am this morning, and it is now almost midnight. It was a round trip of about 350 miles from here to Mahahual. But before we went to bed tonight, people needed to hear and see what happened down there.

    For those that don’t know, Mahahual is a small village on the Costa Maya about 175 miles south of Playa del Carmen. A beautiful little pueblo, it has been hailed as the perfect Caribbean paradise. Unfortunately, it is also where one of the strongest hurricanes in history, Hurricane Dean, came ashore three days ago. It has been isolated since then. The information that has come out of Mahahual has been very bad. Locals here in Mexico decided it was time to find out how bad and to offer what help we could.

    This morning, a varied group of Playa del Carmen locals (Mexican, American, Israeli, Dutch and English) headed down the coast in a convoy with five truckloads of relief supplies for Mahahual. We weren’t sure what to expect, so we loaded our best guesses: water, rice, toilet paper, sanitary napkins, diapers, milk, clothing, etc. The entire thing was organized by the incredible Claudia, a volunteer EMT for Cruz Roja and long-time Playa resident.

    When we got to Mahahual, we were stunned. Most of the buildings in this small village had been destroyed. Those that are still standing are incredibly damaged. This was, after, the third strongest hurricane in history, and the little pueblo of Mahahual was right on the beach. We were incredibly surprised that no relief effort had yet reached them. We were the first. The Mexican Army was there and had set up a great soup kitchen, but their primary task was to open the roads and clear debris from public areas. The Army was itself isolated, and we ended up offering food and water to them, which they graciously accepted.

    The people of Mahahual are an incredible inspiration. They thanked us profusely for the assistance we brought. They calmly lined up to accept our donations. No one tried to take more than they needed; no one tried to hoard materials. When people had received food, water and clothing sufficient for their needs, they always stepped aside for the next person.

    We are talking about families, children, even babies living in shattered homes which no longer provide shelter, with no power, fresh water, plumbing, food or access to the outside world.

    The Army unfortunately is being pulled out on Saturday to go to other areas hit hard by Hurricane Dean. Mahahual will be left to its own devices and to the generosity of other people. The incredible Claudia is doing her best to get Red Cross to come into the area as quickly as possible, but resources are strained.

    Waiting in line for milkPlaya del Carmen locals, visitors and hotels are donating as much as they can. On the paypal account we’ve set up for Mahahual relief, we’ve currently received $2324 US.. Tomorrow 100% of that money will be spent purchasing more supplies in Playa del Carmen to take down to Mahahual. In addition, our friends at the Hotel La Tortuga in Playa del Carmen have amassed an incredible amount of goods and will be convoying them down by truck on Saturday. We will be joining that convoy with many others, trying to get supplies as quickly as possible to the needy. Any contribution that any of you can make to paypal will go directly to purchasing supplies that will go directly into the hands of displaced families within the next few days.

    How badly are things needed? One man asked if we had a shirt, since he had only one shirt left after the hurricane, and he had already worn it nonstop for four days. We stopped people from filling water bottles with rancid swamp water and offered them fresh water in bottles. Francisco, the chef at the soup kitchen, thanked us profusely when we gave him what we had and said they could really use some eggs, rice, beans, cooking oil, and large pots and spoons, as he was trying to feed 200 people at every meal with little or no supplies. Men with hands bleeding from hauling debris thankfully accepted the gloves that we brought. Mothers asked for milk and diapers, and we gave what we could until we ran out. The doctor who came down to work for free with no help and no end in sight simply asked if we had something to sleep on besides the floor. We found a sleeping bag. When we go back on Saturday, we’ll bring him a cot. And it was impossible to miss the babies and children playing in the rubble.

    Anything you can offer: $5, $10…whatever…will put food and supplies directly in thd hands of someone who needs it. And it is not just Mahahual. The nearby town of Limones and the surrounding area have many people who need food, water and shelter supplies as soon as possible. As we take our next convoy down on Saturday, we will be stopping in as many places and as many homes as we can.

    We took a lot of pictures today, and you can take a look at some of them at Hurricane Dean Photos. You can also find more pictures taken by more volunteers at Help Mahahual.

    Thanks to all of you who have helped and will help in this time of need. Muchas gracias a todo. When you get to Playa del Carmen, the Luna Blue owes you many thanks…and a margarita. We’re going to get some sleep. If we have a chance, we’ll post tomorrow. Otherwise, we’ll post a blog entry when we return from Mahahual on Saturday.

    Posted in Friends, Hurricane Dean, Weather | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

    Hurricane Dean: The Aftermath…Helping our Neighbors

    Posted by Tony & Cheri on August 23, 2007

    Yesterday we promised a wrap up blog on Hurricane Dean today. We’re afraid that’s going to have to wait, because it’s not over for some people. Our friend Claudia, who works as a volunteer EMT for Cruz Roja (the Red Cross) today asked Playa locals to help gather, contribute and convoy supplies down the coast to the area just north of Chetumal that was hit so hard when Hurricane Dean made landfall. Early tomorrow morning, we will be joining the convoy with the Big Bastard Chevy Express van filled with clothing, rice, diapers, toilet paper, tents, bottled water and much more, all contributed by the people of Playa del Carmen.

    There are many people trying to help in this area. The Mexican government and Army and international relief, including people from the United States, are all assisting. However, resources are strained because Hurricane Dean swept across the entire Yucatan peninsula, doing damage to both coasts, and then continued on to Mexico’s mainland. The people of Playa are going to try and do what they can to help their neighbors to the south. When we get back, we’ll do a new blog entry either Thursday night or Friday morning reporting back to you on how things look in the hurricane zone.

    It could have so easily been us.

    If you would like to help and you are in or near the Playa del Carmen area, you can drop off items such as utilitarian clothing, non perishable food, candles, flashlights, roofing material, plastic tarps, tents, diapers, powdered milk, rice, beans, cooking oil, spaghetti, cookies/crackers, sanitary napkins, and anything else you think might be helpful in a hurricane zone. Generators are especially needed. Donations will gladly be accepted at the Luna Blue Hotel & Garden, Calle 26 between 5th and 10th Avenue, between 7:30 am and 10 pm. Or, you can bring them to Cruz Roja (Red Cross) at the corner of Juarez and 25th Avenue. After tomorrow, there will be other vehicles headed down south as more items are collected.

    Or, if you would like to donate money, which will without doubt be put to very good use in this area, we will be accepting paypal donations (or cash at the hotel). One hundred percent of the money collected will go to help hurricane victims in the southern part of Quintana Roo, either directly or through Cruz Roja.

    To donate money via paypal, go to www.paypal.com and click on the “Send Money” tab. The paypal email account to use is:
    helpthechicas@lunabluehotel.com. (We are using the same paypal account we used for the Bloody Chicas’ accident, since it’s already set up).

    If you want to help via check, Laura the “Map Chick” is accepting checks in the US which she will forward to Claudia down here. 100% of these donations will be used by the Red Cross specifically in Mahahual. For more information, check out Hurricane Dean Assistance.

    On a personal note, we want to report that Mama Cat had not one but two kittens during the storm. We’re going to call them both Dean. Mama and babies are doing just fine.

    Many thanks to all of you,

    Tony & Cheri

    Posted in Friends, Hurricane Dean, Weather | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

     
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