Tony & Cheri's PlayaZone

Adventures in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

  • Subscribe

  • Top Posts & Pages

  • Playa del Carmen Weather

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Blog Stats

    • 843,506 hits
  • Pages

  • Networked Blogs

Posts Tagged ‘mayan’

Best of Playa Raffle & Fundraiser May 27 for the Peanut Pet Shelter

Posted by Tony & Cheri on April 24, 2011

Our friends at the Peanut Pet Shelter here in Playa del Carmen have had a rough year. A local competing charity and various individuals with personal agendas tried in a malicious and underhanded way to discredit and close them down. It was an ugly campaign that caused rifts between various individuals and businesses. Fortunately this small group was unsuccessful in their endeavor. However, the result of their effort was a reduction in donations to the Peanut Pet Shelter, which has since then been struggling to make ends meet.

We are big supporters of the Peanut Pet Shelter. Because of them, we have our dog Roxie (the star of the poster) and, indirectly, our dog Gypsy, both of whom entertain us and make us happy on a daily basis. Many of our friends here in Mexico and also in the US and Canada have adopted dogs that were rescued by the PPS. We have seen first hand the amazing work they do in rescuing and caring for the many, many abandoned animals of Playa.

As a result, we’ve decided to join together with other local business owners and sponsor a kick ass raffle and fundraiser to not only raise a boatload of cash for the Peanut Pet Shelter but to show them that the people of Playa del Carmen and the nearby communities care about them and see them as a valuable part of life here south of the border.

We’re calling it the “Best of Playa,” because most of Playa del Carmen’s best businesses (as well as several businesses from the surrounding communities) are donating prizes to this worthy cause.

Raffle Details

From now until the Best of Playa Raffle Party on Friday May 27, 2011, for every $10 donation to the Peanut Pet Shelter, you will receive one raffle ticket for the Best of Playa Raffle, where Playa’s best businesses have donated dozens of cool prizes to support this worthy cause. Tickets may be purchased via the link below until 4 pm the day of the event.

Before the event, tickets will also be available at the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar and at the Peanut Pet Shelter dog & puppy washes on Saturdays & Sundays. Tickets will also be available at the event up until the drawing.

You need not be present to win…but you do need to go to paradise to redeem. 🙂

Every 10 kilos of dog food donated to the Peanut Pet Shelter will earn the donor another raffle ticket. Food may be delivered to the Peanut Pet Shelter or the Luna Blue Hotel or brought to the event.

The drawing for prizes will be at the Best of Playa Raffle party at the Luna Blue Bar on May 27. We will have live music, drink specials and some fun surprises. AND 50% of the bar proceeds will go to the Peanut Pet Shelter!

Click Here to Make a Donation/Purchase Raffle Tickets

Click here to see a list of the dozens of raffle prizes available, including a private sunset cruise on the Catamaya for up to 80 people(!!), a seven night stay at the Royal Oasis condos, and a five night stay at our own Luna Blue Hotel! Prizes will be added daily up until the date of the event, so check back often.

And please patronize the many Friends of the Peanut Pet Shelter who have so generously donated prizes:

“Like” the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar on Facebook to keep up with the latest news of Playa del Carmen, life in paradise & our version of “living the dream.”


Posted in Activities, Dining in Playa, Events & Happenings, Friends, Living the Dream, The Hotel & Bar, What's New | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Blueprints for Adventure

Posted by Tony & Cheri on June 2, 2008

Adventure can be lived or it can be read about. In the best of times, you can do both. We have always loved reading about people who made their own path through the world. It was stories by and about such people that inspired us to set out on our own adventure and move to Caribbean Mexico.

Now we want to share some of our favorite books about travel and life in foreign lands with the readers of this blog. Whether fiction, autobiography or a mixture of both, these books are about people with a love of travel and a willingness to be immersed in the culture of whatever far flung country they might land in.

The stories share a common theme: the awareness that travel isn’t just about seeing someplace new…it is about experiencing a different way of life. We hope others will enjoy them as much as we have. Click on any picture below to go to to read more about the book.

Incidents of Travel in the Yucatan by John L. Stephens.  Click here to view it on Incidents of Travel in the Yucatan by John L. Stephens (1843, but available in modern reprints). If there ever was a true life Indiana Jones, Stephens would fit the bill. A lawyer, explorer and amateur archeologist, he visited the Yucatan peninsula in the early 1800s supposedly as a travel writer but also possibly as a spy for the newly formed Republic of Texas. Stephens and his crew hacked their way through the jungle with machetes and pack mules to be among the first non-Mexicans to see the Mayan ruins. The older style of writing holds up well as Stephens’ sense of humor and humanity shine through. It is a perfect example of the lure of adventure in far away places.
Tales from Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffett.  Click here to view it on Tales from Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffett (1989). Buffett, the Caribbean troubadour and barefoot CEO of an entertainment and restaurant empire, has written a number of best selling books. This one is his first and our favorite. It is a volume of semi-related short stories where the main characters all have a yearning to run away to the tropics, whether it be Key West, the Caribbean islands, New Orleans, Mexico or Mississippi. Reading these stories will make you want to quit your job and head south.
Don’t Stop the Carnival by Herman Wouk.  Click here to view it on Don’t Stop the Carnival by Herman Wouk (1965). When we first told our friends about moving to Mexico to run a small hotel many responded by asking “Have you read “Don’t Stop the Carnival?” We had, and we still wanted to go. Wouk is famous for his novels The Caine Mutiny and Winds of War. However in the mid-1950s he decided to leave it all behind and run a small hotel in the Caribbean. His adventures, or rather his misadventures, formed the basis for this novel. Funny, sad and puzzling, it shows the difficulties for an American to adapt to life in the third world where the pain of living is countered with a never ending party.
On Mexican Time by Tony Cohan.  Click here to view it on On Mexican Time by Tony Cohan (2000). Tony Cohan and his wife abandoned life in the fast lane of Los Angeles to set up housekeeping in the expat artist retreat of San Miguel de Allende, MĂ©xico. He relates with great humor that difficult task that each gringo experiences in adjusting to a country that seems to stand still a great part of the time. He appreciates the beauty of a culture that puts family and friendship above earning money but suffers the aggravation of a society that puts no emphasis on efficiency or responsibility. The duality of Mexico is wonderfully portrayed in this book.
The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost.  Click here to view it on The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific by J. Maarten Troost (2004). When his wife is given a job working on a tiny island in the South Pacific, Troost thinks he is moving to paradise. However, once there he is woefully out of his element: scornful of a way of life which dresses men in sarongs, considers an old recording of the Macarena as the best music ever and dissolves in panic when the weekly beer boat delivery is late. He is also bothered by the fact that the beautiful tropical beach near his house doubles as the public latrine. However, eventually he comes to understand the locals, then to love them and finally to join them by “going native.” This memoir is an entertaining and absorbing meeting of cultures story.
In Search of Captain Zero by Alan Weisbacker.  Click here to view it on In Search of Captain Zero by Alan Weisbacker (2002). Weisbacker has lived enough lives for several people: surf bum, big time drug smuggler, television and movie scriptwriter, creator of “Miami Vice” and best selling author. At the age of fifty he decided to go looking for his long lost surf buddy and smuggling partner, Captain Zero. In a camper with only his dog for company, Weisbacker starts south through Mexico and beyond heading for the tropical jungle where Captain Zero was last seen. Along the way he ponders the zen of surfing, the differences between tourists and travelers, life in the Third World and ultimately issues of age, friendship and the meaning of life.
A Pirate Looks at Fifty by Jimmy Buffett.  Click here to view it on A Pirate Looks at Fifty by Jimmy Buffett (1999). This nonfiction work is a combination autobiography and a journal of Jimmy’s trip around the edges of the Caribbean in a seaplane to celebrate his fiftieth birthday. Navigating through Central and South America, Jimmy heads from Florida to the Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Colombia and the Amazon River. He talks about a life which led him not only to become a successful author and performer, but also took him on an endless adventure through the tropics. Jimmy’s love for life and the places it can take you is infectious and fun.
Dirty Blonde and Half Cuban by Lisa Wixon.  Click here to view it on Dirty Blonde and Half Cuban by Lisa Wixon (2005). A novel about an upper class American girl who discovers in her early twenties that her real father is a Cuban man her mother loved long ago. Determined to meet him, she travels to Cuba where she becomes entranced by the heritage she never knew she had. As she searches Havana for her father, knowing only his first name, she ends up embracing the street life of young Cubans and, like many of her new friends, becomes a prostitute for rich Europeans visiting the island. The paradox of a country proud of its revolutionary leader and despising of its own corrupt and inefficient government is an eye opener for the main character and the reader alike.
The Fire Never Dies by Richard Sterling.  Click here to view it on The Fire Never Dies: One Man’s Raucous Romp Down the Road of Food, Passion and Adventure by Richard Sterling (2001). Travel can be about many things: cooking, eating, sex, adventure, love, sailing, flying, and discovery not only of new places but of ourselves. These stories by travel writer and food connoisseur Sterling touch on all of these things and more as he journeys from the tiny pueblo of Mulege in Mexico’s Baja Peninsula (one of our favorite “secret” places), to southeast Asia, Africa, India and Europe. The author dines on exotic meals and romances even more exotic women. The stories sometimes border on the fantastic, and are presented in a Hemingway-esque style of machismo, but always with tongue in cheek and an obvious enthusiasm for the next strange place or person the world might put in his path.
Please Write for Details by John D. MacDonald.  Click here to view it on Please Write for Details by John D. MacDonald (1959). The late John MacDonald was known as the creator of the Travis McGee mystery series and one of the giants of the mystery genre. However in the late 1950’s he wrote this little novel (long out of print and available only in used editions) about a summer art school in Mexico. The plot takes a back seat to the character studies of the local Mexicans, the expats who run the school and the visiting American students who react to Mexico in many different ways. The interplay of personalities and cultures make for great reading and the portrayal of the different types of people drawn to visit or live in Mexico is right on target. We even saw a lot of similarities between MacDonald’s characters and people we have met south of the border…but we’re not naming names.

That’s our list. Please let us know if you enjoy any of the books we have recommended, and feel free to send us your own suggestions for good travel reading.

Posted in Living the Dream, Recommendations, The Love of Travel | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

The Art of the Luna Blue

Posted by Tony & Cheri on April 12, 2008

Cheri's favorite piece by Barry LauniusWhen we finally made our dream come true by buying the Luna Blue Hotel & Garden, we wanted to decorate it with things we enjoyed and with art we found interesting and unique. Over the last couple of years we have collected the works of various artists with local connections and placed them in the rooms and around the grounds. Here are some of the artists that have helped make the Luna Blue Hotel & Garden such a special part of Playa Del Carmen.

Our favorite artist is our friend Barry Launius, an award-winning artist specializing in paintings of the Caribbean, its islands and its coastal areas. Like most visitors here, Barry fell in love with the physical beauty of Playa del Carmen and the surrounding coastline. With amazing skill, he began to reproduce the extraordinary seascapes that he saw here. Painting in oil and watercolor, his vivid colors perfectly capture the beautiful joining of sea and sky. He often shows the sea as if the viewer were walking up and discovering it through palm trees and tropical flowers, being drawn down onto the beach and into that clear blue water. We have many of Barry’s oils and watercolors hanging in our home here in Playa, and are currently adding several watercolors to rooms at the Luna Blue. In fact, every time Barry and his wife Phyllis come to visit, we joke that we’re going to have to add on to our house to create more wall space for the paintings that we can’t stop ourselves from buying! In addition we have a number of Barry’s paintings reproduced on ceramic tiles that have been set into the walls around our hotel and bar. We’re also happy to announce that Barry’s artwork will be decorating the cover of the May 19 issue of Travel Weekly magazine, featuring “the Best of the Caribbean.” If you’d like to see more of Barry’s work, check out his website at

A piece of artwork by Henry Valdez CeballosWe also enjoy the work of Henry Valdez Ceballos. Henry is a local Playa del Carmen artist with a growing reputation. He specializes in art of the Taino culture, a pre-Hispanic Caribbean society. Henry fuses ancient symbols with bright Caribbean colors and tactile materials of many sorts into large canvases. There is a feeling of space surrounding primitive symbols. Some creations are abstract, others more realistic, and all touch the viewer with a sense of timelessness. We have one of Henry’s pieces hanging in our house as well as several in the rooms at the Luna Blue Hotel & Garden. You can find Henry’s art at the gallery directly across the street from Hotel Lunata on Fifth Avenue between Calles 6 and 8.

The mural in the garden at the Luna Blue....Xtabay, the Mayan goddessIn our treetop terrace rooms we also have two wonderful large oil paintings that our guests seem to enjoy. One is of a beautiful bikini-clad woman rising out of a sea of red, and the other is of a golden haired beauty sleeping on a cloudy, star-filled night sky. Both were done by an Italian ex-pat artist, Lallian. We thought the ethereal mood created by these portraits fit perfectly with the ambiance of our rooms above the trees.

Of course art is not limited to a framed picture you can hang on the wall. Inspired by the work of legendary fantasy artist Frank Frazetta, and by the Mayan legends of a beautiful jungle goddess Xtabay (Eesh-ta-buy) we asked local artist Omar Gonzalez D’Leon to paint a mural on the wall of our cenote garden. Omar had previously created the three-dimensional Luna Blue logo on the wall of our bar. He did such an amazing job on that project we felt confident he would design something special for us. We were not disappointed. Within a few days Omar had painted a gorgeous rendition of a beautiful girl standing beneath a blue moon waiting to lure people into the magic of the tropical night.

The stone terrace in the Luna Blue gardenAlso in our garden you will find the unique stone terrace we designed. The terrace is in the shape of a circle, the ancient symbol for the sky and the universe. It is made entirely of stone taken from the quarries near the Mayan temple in Cobá, the same source used by Mayan builders centuries ago. Within the circle are seven black stones set in the pattern of the constellation Pleiades, or the Seven Sisters. The design is an homage to the Mayan people who believed that their ancestors descended from those stars to start their people’s history back before recorded time.

Of course art can also be useful, as we discovered when we asked a young local carpenter, Benjamin Aguilar, to design and build some handmade furniture for us. He built some hardwood cabinets in our bar and some larger storage units for our bodega (storeroom). He did such a great job we asked if he could make some chairs for the deck area. We showed him some pictures of traditional Adirondack chairs and he brought us back his own version. They are comfortable, interesting to look at, and painted in various shades of the same blues and greens we see each morning on the Caribbean Sea. We decided Benjamin is not just a carpenter, he is an artist.

Some of the colorful chairs handmade by Benjamin AguilarAnother bit of functional art at the Luna Blue are the gourd lamps that serve as the light fixtures in the reception area and outside many of the rooms. Of course, everybody has gourd lamps in Playa del Carmen. When you walk down Fifth Avenue, practically every other store offers them for sale. But we had some of ours specially made by our friend Domingo Rodriguez. Domingo is the owner of Bone Art Place, located on Calle 8 between 5th Avenue and 10th Avenue (across from Yax-che), where he sells jewelry that he designs and carves out of stone and bone. For many years, when we were visitors to Playa del Carmen, some of our favorite gifts for friends back home were jewelry pieces created by Domingo. He and his wife also design and create gourd lamps. When we decided to add some new gourd lamps to the hotel, we gave some designs and ideas to Domingo who promptly turned them into works of art. Whether he’s working carving bone or hollowing out a gourd, he is one of Playa’s premier artists.

One of the quotes in the rooms at the Luna Blue Hotel & GardenFinally, one of our most recent decorative additions is our own idea and work. We were thumbing through a magazine on a recent airplane flight and saw an ad for stencils of various words—peace, love, etc.—that could be painted on walls for decoration. That inspired us to paint quotations on the walls of our hotel rooms. We have always felt that our guests were a special breed of tourist…travelers who enjoyed the spirit and adventure of a journey. We wanted our hotel to reflect that feeling. We chose 18 special quotes about the love of travel from such diverse sources as Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne; Douglas Adams, the author of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; nineteenth century philosopher Henry David Thoreau and many others. We had stencils created back in the US and then used them here in Playa del Carmen to paint these inspirational sayings onto the walls of our rooms. We love how they turned out and the spirit they invoke.

We think of the Luna Blue Hotel & Garden not just as a business but also as an extension of ourselves, our view of the world and our feelings about life. We’ve chosen art that makes us feel good and that we hope is pleasing to our guests and friends. Next time you’re in Playa, please stop by to take a look at the Luna Blue Hotel, Garden and art gallery. 🙂

Here is some more of our favorite artists’ work:

More paintings by our friend Barry Launius:
Another of our favorite Barry Launius paintings

A favorite oil seascape by Barry Launius

Another Caribbean beauty by our friend Barry Launius

Yet another gorgeous Barry Launius painting

A necklace carved of stone by Domingo Rodriguez, owner of the Bone Art Place:

One of Domingo's more intricate bone pieces

Red bikini girl in Treetop Terrace room #9:
The painting in Treetop Terrace room number 9

The Luna Blue logo, carved in cement by Omar Gonzalez D’Leon

The Luna Blue logo, carved by Omar

Posted in Living the Dream, The Hotel & Bar | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »