An Organic Market In Playa del Carmen From Humble Beginnings

Organic Market in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Organic Market in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

For those of us who are used to the organic options available to us back home, the lush tropics of Playa del Carmen can seem like a desert.  Most major grocery outlets do not carry organic products beyond in-the-box items like nuts, dairy, or cookies.  That’s why what Anja Schafer, Vicki Lyall, and Scott Lyall are doing at the Coco Beach Market is so important.

Started by Vicki Lyall and Anja Shafer as a means for locals to showcase their organic products between each other and to the public, The Coco Beach Market has grown over the last few months to include 6 regular vendors.  “We don’t want to be 100% organic, just because,” Schafer says.  “The philosophy is that food should be as natural or as organic as possible, it should be locally made, and we want to avoid repeating  products without making it ridiculously expensive.  Produce should be organic, of course, and actually we are spending a hard time to find those, but we don’t give up!”

The market isn’t only about food, either.  Several vendors offer handmade products such as jewelry, children’s toys, and soap.  Prices are fair and the quality is great.  Shafer and the Lyall’s efforts to maintain variety really pays off, too, as all products for sale are unique and within a separate niche.

The Coco Beach Market is open every Friday, from 9 am – 11 am, at the Los Alizes Condominium Complex.

October: Upcoming events…


#Holbox…Comer amar y Contemplar : Muestra gastronómica 

17th to 19th October, 2013


8th Anniversary of Diablito Cha Cha Cha in Playa del Carmen / 16th October 2013 With Jonathon MusicDesigners y DISQUE DJ


 #OtoñoCultural @ Cozumel Programa OCT 19 – 27, 2013


Dread Mar I @ Sr Frogs #PlayaDelCarmen October 20th, 2013 Reggae Latino


The Riviera Maya’s 11th annual Marine #TurtleFestival

17th to 20th  October, 2013 in Tulum, Akumal and Xcacel


October 19th, 2013 OperaMaya Chamber Series presents “Clasic Fussion” with metropolitan opera singers:

Tenor Randolph Locke and…
Carol Sparrow Mezzo Soprano in its production…. “Popera”


27th October,  2013 @ Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya
CATEGORIES: 5K: Open to anyone, 10K: Young Adults 15-17 years, Adults 18-39 years, Masters 40-49, Veterans 50+ years.
21K: Adults 18-39 years, Masters 40-49, Veteran 50+ years.


Miguel Campbell @ Canibal Royal October 20th, 2013 – Playa del Carmen


Xcaret Park brings you the celebration of the Day of the Dead or Hanal Pixán in its 8th edition of the Festival of Life and Death Traditions.



cacao collage

I have a cousin who is addicted to chocolate, instead of having a cup of coffee each morning, she has a piece of chocolate, chocolate is her coffee, it´s what helps her wake up in the morning. Although chocolate contains caffeine, a very small amount compared to coffee, psychologically she needs at least a piece of chocolate a day to function. I on the other hand use chocolate as comfort food, bad days, sad days, sick days, will have me eating a bar of chocolate, after all who can resist the creamy sensations of it melting in your mouth, it also makes me smile.  I love chocolate. It turns out that the Mayas loved chocolate also, which only helps confirm my theory that the Riviera Maya is the best place to live.

Chocolate comes from the Cacao bean, which originated somewhere in the Americas, what is now central Mexico, down through Central America.  The word Cacao originated from the Maya word Ka’kau’ and they believed that it was discovered by the gods in a mountain. Maya mythology says that the god Hunahpu gave cacao to the Maya after humans were created, from the maize plant, by the goddess Ixmucane. Each April the Mayas celebrated a festival to honor their cacao god Ek Chuah, in which they would sacrifice a dog with cacao colored markings. In fact The Associated Press just recently reported that archaeologists “found traces of a 2,500 year-old-chocolate on a plate in the Yucatan Peninsula,…” 

Historically experts believed that Cacao was used as a drink, such as the Aztec “xocoatl” made by crushing the beans and mixing them with liquids, but they have recently discovered that it was also used as a condiment. Years later, cacao is still used as a condiment, mole, a delicious sauce made with cacao and hot peppers, is a typical mouth-watering example of how my ancestors took advantage of the cacao bean.

It wasn´t until the Spanish came to Mexico that cacao became chocolate by adding sugar to it. Chocolate became very fashionable in Europe by the 17th century, only enjoyed by the rich until the late 1700’s when the invention of the steam engine finally made mass production possible.  It’s said that Casanova was a big fan of chocolate, given that it was rumored to be a good aphrodisiac, although that rumor still stands today.


Browsing through Facebook the other day, and I found a post that read “Save the Earth. It´s the only planet with chocolate.” Although I don´t need chocolate to convince me to take care of our planet, it still made me think that chocolate is in fact a very delicious treat, I have yet to meet anyone who dislikes chocolate. The Mayas were great inventors, scientists and architects, and apparently cooks, if not for their odd use of cacao, our world today might not have the advantage of enjoying mouthwatering chocolate. So please, I ask, Save the Earth. It´s the only planet with chocolate…that we know of!

Greetings from the tropical waters of the Riviera Maya!


Camila Pittman

Moskito Riviera Maya

Holbox: a refreshing piece of what a small Mexican beach town used to be…

Collage Holbox

The second time I went to Holbox, I was shocked to discover how developed the island was. It was exactly ten years after my initial visit. Upon arriving to the island, however I realized that not much had changed, yes, there was now a scheduled ferry from Chiquila to Holbox, and there are now many more hotels, however the island has maintained it’s secluded, quiet side. The hotels tend to be small and a bit far apart, so as not to have too many people crowding the beach, yet the roads are still mostly sand and the only transportation available are golf carts or bikes. The city center itself has grown, but not to much, and the 1,500 residents that live there full time all agree that the island should stay as quiet and serene as possible.

The first night I met a couple of people who lived on the island, they recommended going to Isla Passion, a tiny island, more like a big mound of dirt, right off of Holbox. I was told to drive my golf cart to the very west side of the island, and that I could just swim, or even walk across the lagoon, to Isla Passion, home to a bird watching tower and many extravagant birds. Adventurous as I am, the very next morning I took off, and after a few wrong turns which led me to kite boarding camps, I arrived to the west point. The lagoon wasn’t deep at all, and if not for the very damp mud that kept sucking me in I could have walked across, however swimming was easier, albeit longer. The complete calmness surrounding me was refreshing, just the occasional flap of a wing and the bluest of skies to keep me company. Once on Isla Passsion I sat and enjoyed the amazing view of the Golf of Mexico, I still couldn’t get over the different hues of greens and blues the water had. There were birds everywhere, talking to each other and singing out towards the ocean, everywhere I looked there were different colored seagulls, and pelicans, all enjoying, it seems the same mesmerizing view as me.

With the whole Riviera Maya growing and changing, Holbox is a refreshing piece of what a small Mexican beach town used to be, and although I would not call the center of the town beautiful, it is charming in the way that you can still see local basketball teams play in the city court at dusk. Many hotels have sprung up, but they all tend to follow the same guideline, of keeping Holbox as small and intact as possible. In fact most of the developed part is on the west part of the island, leaving the center and east side free of any construction.

On my last night I decided to take my golf cart as far east as I could go, I wanted to experience the same unforgettable sunset, I had seen the first time I had visited ten years prior, and I must say that mother nature did not disappoint. As the sun began to set, it also began to grow in size and its blaze turned into a dark orange, I could look directly into it without hurting my eyes. The surrounding clouds began to change, as if there was a rainbow hidden inside, from dark purple to dark pink, colors scattered the now darkening sky, and as if on a cue when the last of the sun had lowered into the horizon a dark ray of green jumped out from behind.

Greetings from the tropical water of the Riviera Maya!

Camila Pittman

Moskito Riviera Maya

Viva Mexico!

El grito

On Midnight of September 16 our “Grito” of Independence will resonate from every town square of every city in Mexico. Mexican Independence is celebrated on September 16, not on May 5 like many believe, when in 1810, the first Grito was given by Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla in Dolores, Guanajuato, when after ringing the church bells a loud proclamation was heard throughout the small town, “Long live our Independence! Death to bad government! Long live or Lady of Guadalupe!”

Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla was a priest in the town of Dolores, tired of inequality and a corrupt government, began a movement in hopes of becoming an independent country. Although the original grito was given in 1810, there wasn’t an organized army fighting, a few guerillas were formed in a few states, such as Vicente Guerrero in Oaxaca and Guadalupe Victoria in Puebla, yet the lack of unity and organization almost led the whole movement to collapse after 10 years of fighting. In 1820 Augustin de Iturbide, originally a Colonel in the Spanish army, was sent to Oaxaca to fight against Vicenete Guerrero’s rebel army, and in a strange twist of fate ended up joining the cause for independence. Augustin de Iturbide was able to convince his troops to fight for him by coming up with a peace treaty known as El Plan de Iguala, which outlined the establishment of Catholicism, social equality for all ethnic groups and the proclamation of independence. Finally in September 1821 Iturbide proclaimed the independence of Mexico as New Spain.

The Grito has changed since the original day, however the custom has not. Every year on September 15 the city and town government squares begin to fill as night falls. Food vendors and flag vendors stand around the squares, while waiting spectators wait until the clock strikes 12, at which point the town representative begins to ring a bell and yells out:



¡Vivan los héroes que nos dieron patria!

¡Víva Hidalgo!

¡Viva Morelos!

¡Viva Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez!

¡Viva Allende!

¡Vivan Aldama y Matamoros!

¡Viva la independencia nacional!

¡Viva México! ¡Viva México! ¡Viva México!




Long live the heroes that gave us the Fatherland!

Long live Hidalgo!

Long live Morelos!

Long live Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez!

Long live Allende!

Long live Aldama and Matamoros!

Long live National Independence!

Long live Mexico! Long live Mexico! Long live Mexico!


For those of you that are in the Riviera Maya this weekend, I urge you to go see the Grito, if you have not experienced before. I am proud to be Mexican and be a part of this amazing tradition. Through echoes of VIVA! and clapping it is a truly amazing experience. It reminds me that no matter how discontent or disappointed one can become with their country, that night all Mexicans come together to remember that we are the people, we are the essence, WE ARE MEXICO!


Greetings from the tropical waters of the Riviera Maya!

Moskito Riviera Maya

Playa del Carmen Grocery Stores

collage supermercados

Grocery stores are unique to each country, and Mexico, although just across the border from the U.S., is no exception. When I take friends, who are visiting, to the grocery store, they make comments about seemingly odd things, which have become normal to me. For instance ham, we do not have packaged ham, instead you go to the cold cuts area and tell a lady what type of ham you would like and how much. If you do not know any of the brands you can ask to taste different kinds until you like one, it is also important to remember that our measurements are in kilograms or grams.

Milk is another anomaly, our milk is found in Tetra Pak’s, a sort of carton case covered inside with aluminum, which does not have to be refrigerated until opened. This is because of the culture, not all Mexican families can afford a refrigerator, and the milk lasts for months unless it is opened.

Meats, chicken and seafood are displayed in refrigerated packs, however I recommend asking the person behind the counter to cut fresh pieces of meats and chicken for you, you can also ask them to cut it to your specific needs. 

There are many grocery stores in Playa del Carmen, however only four main ones are used by visitors and most locals: Walmart, Mega Comercial Mexicana, Soriana and Chedraui. 

Mega Comercial Mexicana is a great place for ripe, fresh fruits and vegetables, although they do not have many American imported foods, it is a clean, good quality supermarket.

Soriana and Chedraui have a lot of American imported foods, such as cereals, chips and pasta helpers, yet the fruits and vegetables are lacking in quality and tend to be days old.

Walmart sometimes has good fruits and vegetable and sometimes not, the same applies with imported foods. It’s a gamble each time you go and it’s always full of people, resembling more a street market than a grocery store.

Dac is an organic supermarket where you will find the best fruits and vegetables of the season available at a higher cost, however if you are a vegetarian or prefer high quality fruits and vegetables this is the place I recommend you go. 

Next time you are in a supermarket remember to take your time and look around first, given that not all products are the same as in other countries, also if you can’t find something or don’t know what brand to buy don’t be afraid to ask, I have helped many visitors in my 4 years, and I’m always happy to do so.

Greetings from the tropical waters of the Riviera Maya!

Camila Pittman

Moskito Riviera Maya

Riviera Maya Events – September 2013

PLAYA DEL CARMEN: September 12th, 2013 / Paul Van Dyk @ Palazzo Disco

PLAYA DEL CARMEN: September  13 – 14 – 15 @ Mamita´s Beach Club


PLAYA DEL CARMEN:  Every Friday Cine Club

PUNTA VENADO: September 14th, 2013 / Panteón Rococó in Concert


PLAYA DEL CARMEN: September 14th, 2013 / Mexican Fiesta @ Roof Club


PLAYA DEL CARMEN: September 14th, 2013 / Mr. C @ La Santanera


PLAYA DEL CARMEN: September 15th, 2013 @ Canibal Royal


CANCÚN: September 15th, 2013 – Viva Alive Festival @ Palazzo Cancun


COZUMEL: September 22nd, 2013 / MetLife IronMan 70.3


CANCÚN: September 29th, 2013 / Enactus World Cup 2013


Incredible Cenotes in Riviera Maya…


A few weeks ago a group of friends came to visit me in Playa del Carmen, as soon as they arrived they asked me to take them to a cenote during their stay.

Cenotes would best be described as sinkholes however they are much more impressive. Imagine crystal clear water, so clear in fact, that you can see the bottom, and although it’s 30 ft deep you get the impression that it’s much more shallow, a geological scenary that is still being formed from hundreds of years ago, to dancing light beams throughout the water.

Cenotes are a very important part of Maya history; major cities were built around cenotes given that they provided clean, potable water. Also some cenotes were considered sacred, such as the Sacred Chichen Itza cenote, given that they believed these underwater lakes were gateways to the afterlife. The Mayas also believed that in order to keep the god of rain “Chaac” happy they had to throw humans as well as sacrificial objects into the cenote. I should point out that not all cenotes were places of sacrifice, the Sacred Cenote of Chichen Itza is the only place they have found evidence to support this theory.

There is not certain explanation of how or why Cenotes were formed, given that the Yucatan Peninsula is the only place in the world you can find these natural wonders, however one of my favourite theories is the impact of the Chicxulub Meteor which, coincidently, also lead to the extinction of dinosaurs. This Meteor, named after the place it fell, impacted the north-western part of the Yucatan Peninsula, creating the lime-stone soil of the region to collapse into an already water filled subsoil. In fact it is said that the circumference of where the meteor hit is scattered with hundreds of cenotes, however they are also scattered throughout the whole Peninsula, including the Riviera Maya. All cenotes are connected to each other through a series of rivers that lead out into the ocean, and most exist point are located in the Riviera Maya as well.

Many people believe that cenotes are strictly for diving, but that cannot be farther from the truth. Yes, diving cenotes is an amazing experience, and the stalactite and stalagmite formations are amazing, and if you’re a diver I would highly recommend doing it, however some cenotes are just as amazing for snorkelling, swimming through a stalactite path, while looking below at the stalagmites with the help of a flashlight, cenote Dos Ojos is a great place to experience this. Other cenotes are fun to jump into, take cenote El Eden, with a 12 foot drop it’s the perfect place to practice all sorts of dives, and because it is open through all sides it looks more like a giant, natural swimming pool. Cenote water is very clean, and rich in minerals, given that the soil in the region is mostly lime stone, I expect this is the reason that after a nice, cool swim in a cenote one always feels refreshed and renewed, it’s the perfect place to go after a long night out or after getting to much sun. Most places ask that you not wear sunscreen so as to not contaminate the water with oils and chemicals, I recommend using a rash guard, and if diving or snorkelling a wetsuit.

The cenotes in the Riviera Maya are all easily accessible by car or a colectivo, a van that stops wherever you need along the highway. Given that these type of sinkholes only exist in the Yucatan Peninsula I highly recommend going to at least one, whether you’re visiting or living in the region it is an experience that cannot be missed.

Greeting from the tropical waters of the Riviera Maya!

Camila Pittman

Moskito Riviera Maya

My Favorite Restaurants in Playa del Carmen. Check the list!


One of the best joys I get when I arrive to a foreign country is eating out, and not just to try the typical regional food, but also to taste that countries take on other, international foods. Playa del Carmen, due to its eclectic mix of ex-patriots, has no shortage of international restaurants; from Japanese to Argentinean and French bistros a big part of the world’s cuisine is present along 5th avenue and its surrounding streets. Here is a small list of what I consider to be some of the yummiest places in Playa.

Diablito Cha Cha Cha or Almirante Pech, are great for dinner and drinks, both have a lively, pre-party atmosphere. Being from the same owner, you are guaranteed good service and a great time, the difference between them is that Diablito is located on 12th street, where all the nightclubs are located, and is an Asian fusion inspired cuisine; whereas Almirante Pech is located on 5th avenue and is more of a light seafood restaurant.

La Peñita de Jaltemba is a seafood restaurant with a great concept, and amazing food. The owners invented a fictitious town, which is supposed to be situated on the Pacific coast of Mexico, the restaurant is supposed to be that town. The decorations are spectacular each handmade craft representing a part of La Peñita de Jaltemba, there is even a wooden conoe hanging upside down on the ceiling, its range of colors representing the sky, from sunrise to sunset.

El Sur is an Argentinean steak house, and although a little bit more expensive than other steak houses, it’s worth the price. It serves very nice cuts of meat, and the service a great.

Kampai is a new Sushi place located on 5th avenue, originally from Monterrey, the owner decided to open in Playa as well. There are other sushi options, but the cuts of fresh tuna and salmon are the best in town. With its original Mexican inspired rolls, or even a typical sashimi, it will not disappoint.

Maiz de Mar is a new seafood restaurant located on 5th avenue, considered to be one of the best restaurants in Playa given it’s chefs, Enrique Olvera, reputation. Maiz de Mar offers great service and its Latin American inspired menu offers interesting yet very good choices of ceviche and tiraditos. If you are a seafood lover I would highly recommend this restaurant.

Chez Celine is a small French Bitro located on 5th avenue, with homemade bread and pastries this is the perfect place to have breakfast or a mid day coffee and snack, but make sure to arrive early, as there is always a 10 to 15 minute wait time for breakfast.

La Cueva del Chango is located on 34th street and is Mexican inspired cuisine. Originally it only opened for breakfast, and therefor serves amazing Mexican plates of Chilaquiles, huevos a la Mexicana, huevos Rancheros, etc. I have not tried it for lunch or dinner, but I do highly recommend it for breakfast, especially if you had a long night out.

Los Aguachiles is located on Av. Constituyentes and another on 34th street, seafood blends typical of the Pacific Coast. An Aguachile is basically shrimp, fish or both mixed with fresh veggies such as jicama, cucumber and carrots bathed in lime juice and a spicy sauce of your election. It also offers a wide variety of tacos and tostadas.

Don Sirloin is a hole in the wall taco joint, there are many in Playa del Carmen and although I haven’t tried much, I can say that the typical Mexican Tacos al Pastor are finger-licking delicious.

Greeting form the tropical waters of the Riviera Maya!

Moskito Riviera Maya

Fitness in Playa!!


Exercise is not my cup of tea. However about twice a year I vow to work out and actually stick to it, which I do, for about three months, until I conveniently forget to go to the gym everyday for 3 months. I now understand that just going to the gym doesn´t work for me, in my head 20 minutes of slow walking on the treadmill is more than enough exercise for the week, not to mention the walking back and forth from my house to the gym, therefore I hire trainers.  I’ve also taken tennis classes, yoga, spinning and zumba.

At the moment I am training with Aussie Rob, as he is known in the training world, a huge, young Australian who has a steady client list, and is highly in demand. He is as personalized as a personal trainer can be. The first day I met with him, I explained the results I wished to get from the torture I would put myself through, as I said exercise is truly not my thing. He listened and made notes, and that same night he sent me a meal plan, as well as a training plan.

Since he is independent from all the gyms, we train anywhere I want, the beach, my back yard, the Mario Villanueva Stadium, any outdoor space is an option, apparently the point is for you to feel comfortable. My first day with Aussie Rob was pure torture, I was right, death by training, maybe he wasn’t for me, however after he actually saw how bad in shape I really was, he began to use it to his advantage.

I have always enjoyed contact sports, in my younger years I trained with a boxer and realized that I actually had a lot of fun, this Aussie Rob found out within the first hour of our training session, when I finally got to kick him and punch at him I began to relax and have fun, I even smiled! It helps to have a personal trainer that is actually concerned about your wants and needs, I have come across many that just don’t listen and treat you more like a person they have to put up with an hour.

Although private training is not the only effective way to stay in shape. Thanks to the concious health people that live in Playa there are so many options ranging from free, to expensive.

Most Yoga studios offer their first class for free, because there are many types of yoga and many studios , the point is to find the right fit for you.

The Palapa in the Mario Villanueva stadium offer free classes, ranging from yoga to world drumming dances.

You can also find great special at gyms, the two main gyms being Evolve and The Gym, also a wide variety of classes are offered with your membership. Both gyms offer spinning, yoga, zumba, core, abds and buns, bootcamp, to name a few.

Tennis is another great way to work out, and there are many instructors in Playa as well as free courts, there is even a tennis school in Playacar for people of all ages and levels.

Cross fit is also very popular in the Riviera Maya, a core strength and conditioning program which started in police academies and tactical operations teams. This intense workout is sure to get you in shape in the least time, however it is reccomended that you are somewhat in shape before going to a class.

If non of these options are for you, than you can always take advantage of the two free sports centers, one is the Mario Villanueva Stadium and the other is La Unidad Deportiva on Juarez, right before av.115. Both offer free basketball and tennis courts as well as a running track and a soccer field.

With all these options available it’s hard to come up with a good excuse to not workout, but if you need any, let me know!

Greetings from the tropical waters of the Riviera Maya!

Some Yoga Studios:

Yoga By The Way:

Yoga By The Sea:

Ananda, Yoga desde el Corazon:

Jardin Shangri-La:

Bikram Yoga Riviera Maya:

Yoga private lessons



The Gym:


Tennis Academy:

Cross Fit:


Ricky FFit Alvarez, cross fit trainer:

Camila Pittman

Moskito Riviera Maya