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