Today one of the mainstays of Puerto Morelos, Casa Martin will close. Friday, January 18, 2019, is the last day of business for the little corner store.
Casa Martin has been a fixture in the community for over 37 years. If you do not know the store, it is located on the main town square just under the restaurant La Sirena, a stone’s throw from the pier and the famous leaning lighthouse.
The building is owned by Jesús “Pepe” Espinoza who came here with his family in 1981. For years Casa Martin was the largest mini super in the town.
Our best memory of the tienda was after Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Puerto Morelos had no electricity and was almost cut off from the outside world, but Casa Martin still managed to open, with a big generator, and provide locals with groceries and best of all, much needed cold beer!
Another nice service was enabling locals to sell their wares in the store. Dieter’s bread for example, was a popular staple, you can now buy his bread directly from him by contacting him through his website.
But as the town has grown, more options for groceries have become available to the people of Puerto Morelos. The need for Casa Martin has diminished. This combined with the fact that the owner can be more profitable by renting out the space, led to its closure.
Looking for a super cheap way to get to Cancun? (The closest airport to Puerto Morelos) Swoop, has just taken off.
Swoop is the budget arm of Canadian airline West Jet. It is touted as an “ultra-low cost carrier”. And it is cheap! Today when we punched in a flight from Hamilton, Ontario to Cancun, it gave us a rate of $261.83 CDN ($197 USD) RETURN!
The catch is they are currently only flying from Hamilton to Cancun. The other catch is that you have to add some fees. It costs more to pick your seat, but this can be as low as $16 CDN ($12USD). They also charge $36.40 CDN ($27.44 USD) for a carry-on and another $36.40 CDN ($27.44 USD) for a checked bag.
Plus there is an optional extra $10.40 CDN ($7.84 USD) if you want a boarding card and an extra $10.00 CDN ($7.54 USD) for priority seating. But even after adding all this, we still managed to get a flight for $363.83 CDN ($274 USD) with a checked bag, return.
This week’s SHOUT OUT goes out to the oh, so tastymarquesita. You may have witnessed the long lines of people stretched out in front of one particular stand in Puerto Morelos. This stand sells the treat known as marquesitas. You can often find them by following your nose, as the wonderful aroma is enough to draw you to the little cart that sells them.
We are lucky enough to have one of the best marquesita stands we have ever tried right here in Puerto Morelos. Marquesita Inri (named after their son) is a family-run stand that is set up most nights in the square on the port side. There is frequently a long line, but you know it is well worth the wait if you have ever had one. (Plus you can sniff that marquesita scent for free while you wait.)
A marquesita (pronounced: mar-kay-cee-ta) is a traditional Yucatecan dessert, you will not find them in other parts of Mexico, or if you do, it will be a Yucatecan running the show.
The story goes that this delicious creation originated in Merida in the late 1930s, when an ice cream vendor, Vicente Mena, hoping to extend his season, made warm cones and sold them without ice cream, as a less chilly alternative for the winter months. He then tried filling them with ground beef, like a taco, but that didn’t work so well. Finally, in the 1940’s he landed on the right mix crispy sweet cone crepes stuffed with shredded Edam cheese.
There were two girls in particular that liked the new sweet/salty treats, they were the daughters of a wealthy marquis living in Merida. They loved the desserts so much, Vincente named them “marquesitas” after the two little ladies.
Today, marquesitas are individually and freshly made to order. Marquesita Inri begins with a sweet batter made with condensed milk that is poured onto a hot metal plate. The batter is spread out over the plate and sandwiched between a second plate. The crepe is then cooked over an open flame, rotated halfway through. Marquesita Inri then fills the crepe with toppings of your choice. Traditionally the crepe would be stuffed with salty Edam cheese, but you can also add cajeta (goat caramel sauce), strawberry, chocolate, cream cheese or Nutella sauces to make your own yummy creation. The marquesita is something you don’t want to miss when you visit Puerto Morelos.
Children look forward to this day more than Christmas as it is the time when they receive gifts. Until recently Christmas and Santa were not the time to exchange gifts, King’s Day was. Now some lucky children get gifts on both days.
The other tradition on King’s Day is you get to eat cake. These cakes are called Rosca de Reyes and are eaten to commemorate the arrival of the three Magi or Wise Men. These cakes are everywhere in Mexico, they are stacked eight feet high in some stores, they are that popular.
When you sit down to enjoy your Rosca de Reyes, you may bite down on something hard and plastic. Buried inside the cake are little figurines of the baby Jesus. If you are lucky enough to bite into your piece of cake and find one of the babies, you are “blessed” with the responsibility of hosting a dinner of tamales on February 2 for the Candlemas Day or Día de la Candelaria. This stretching the holidays even further!
So today we hope you get to eat cake! Happy Dia de Reyes!
Here are the cash exchange rates for January 4, 2019 at CI Banco in Puerto Morelos. I post these rates on occasion so that you can compare these rates with the rate your bank or the ATM may offer. To see where the rates have been in the last couple of years, search “exchange rates” on our page at InPuertoMorelos.com
Cash Exchange Rates
US Dollar $
Canadian Dollar $
Pound Sterling £
I was in the neighbourhood, so I checked G Capital in the AKI Plaza as well. Their buy rates were 18.60, 13.80, 21.00 & 24.30 respectively.
We here at InPuertoMorelos.com and Casa de los Viajeros wish each and every one of you the very best in the upcoming year. We hope we will see you here in Puerto Morelos in 2019! All the best for a healthy, happy and prosperous new year. Salud! Rob & Joanne
October also saw the completion of much of the street construction which included the lighting of some of the new street lamps in Puerto Morelos.
Halloween was a huge event this year, with candy being given out to over 700 kids, thanks to donations from locals & visitors, all under the supervision of the uber-organized of Jorie at the mexiCAN Compassion Project.
November also saw the completion of the new palapas around the square, which provide more shade and more seating areas for the businesses.
December brought with it the north winds, which cleaned up our beaches making them beautiful.
And of course, in spite of what the Grinch wants, December always brings Christmas, even to the tropics. The town really went all-out on its light displays both on the port side and in La Colonia.
As the sun sets on 2018, we see that it was a year with lots of changes and growth in our little town. Here at InPuertoMorelos.com we try to keep you up to date on everything that goes one. This year more than 87,000 people visited our blog, reading our more than 65 posts.
We hope that you enjoyed them all! May you have a happy and prosperous 2019 and may it find you InPuertoMorelos.
2018 started off with this amazing sunrise. A sure sign of good things to come.
As it is every January, the town was in fine form with lots of visitors to our little village, including this guy.
In February, traditionally the town’s busiest month, La Sirena Restaurant and Lounge opened its rooftop bar giving us new views of the lighthouse, the town and of course the star of the show, our ocean.
In March the town began construction on a major renovation of the streets surrounding the square.
The plan was to bury the electrical cables and repave the streets surrounding the square and to the south.
As you can imagine, this was no small undertaking and the construction… well, let’s say it took some time. Check out the car in the photo above, which was parked as the road was torn up around it!
In April, we took a tour of La Colonia with Ana. It was a great way to get to know Puerto Morelos just a little better.
Also in April, a new cafe opened, called Aarom on Ninos Heroes
Meanwhile the construction carried on, making for rather interesting traffic routes through town as many roads were closed.
May brought about the official end of high season, as many of our visitors flew away until next year.
That left many of us locals with a little more free time on our hands to enjoy the summer months, and have some fun.
Maybe a little too much fun! But summer is a great time in Puerto Morelos. It is when the normally busy business people get a chance to reconnect. The restaurants aren’t too busy, so owners quite often have time to stop and share a drink or two. Here we’re sharing a laugh with Ian from La Sirena and Marco, the boy wonder genius behind I Wanna Pizza.
Will you be wearing red or yellow underwear when you ring in 2019?
If you haven’t noticed, even the Chedraui on the highway in Puerto Morelos sells red and yellow undergarments. It is a Mexican tradition to wear a pair of either colour when you start off the New Year. If you wear red panties, you are hoping for a year filled with romance and love. If you wear yellow panties you are hoping for a year of prosperity, luck and money. You can’t just wear any old pair of underwear, they must be a new pair, worn for the first time as you ring in the New Year. And my firends tell me they should be a gift!
There is nothing better than plucking a fresh pair of gonch off the Christmas tree to decide your fate for the upcoming year.
So what colour underwear will you be wearing as you ring in 2019?
This year, Christmas Day falls on our usual SHOUT OUT TUESDAY, so we decided to make this week’s SHOUT OUT to Christmas in Puerto Morelos! We dug into our voluminous archive and found some photos of past snow-freeNavidads spent here in Puerto Morelos. (Click any of the photos to view them full size)
This was 2002, our first Christmas in Puerto Morelos. We look so young! (Rob cannot explain his hair except that it was very windy!)
2002: We quickly learned that the kids sing Christmas carols in December to raise money for their Christmas party at school. Our shop on the square was a convenient stop to collect some coins from the cornered Canucks. Who could resist these faces though!
2002: This was our first time seeing a nativity scene in Mexico. We were quite surprised to see that the “baby Jesus” was a real live baby!
2002: And what would a nativity scene be without a big Christmas fish! (We still can’t quite figure that one out.)
In 2007, it was standing room only at a Mexican Christmas celebration at the church in the main town square.
2008: Puerto Morelos celebrated with two different Nativity scenes, one inflatable.
2009 featured a Posada where Mary, seen here on the back of a real donkey led by Joseph, went from business to business singing a song that asks for room at the inn. As per the Christmas Story, in response, the business owners turn them away. Eventually they are allowed in, and the celebration begins.
2010 brought us another Posada, even bigger than the year before.
In 2014 was memorable as we found a baby raccoon stuck in our garbage can at Christmas time. It was an unusual situation, and nobody was particularly pleased. We and the raccoon all agreed that he should not be there.
Unfortunately, we had no raccoon experience at that time, having grown up in Calgary, but a knowledgeable guest helped us (and the raccoon) out by sticking a palm frond in the can, giving the masked beast a ladder to escape. Despite this inauspicious start, the raccoons visit regularly now.
2015 Was the year of the many years when our Nativity scene was not quite to scale.
2017 Was the year that the baby Jesus never showed up. Mary and Joseph just kept waiting… right through into 2018, but still no baby.
UPDATE: We are happy to report that on December 27th, 2018 the baby Jesus did arrive, fashionably late.
One of our oldest memories of Christmas in Puerto Morelos is this garage on Rafael Melgar (near Chedraui) that hosts an annual elaborate Nativity Scene. The homeowners leave the garage door open so that any passerby can enjoy it. They have been doing it every year since we moved here. It is one of the beautiful sights we get to see during the Christmas season in Puerto Morelos.