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Old 12-17-2002   #1 (permalink)
very sparkly
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Playa del Carmen
Posts: 29
Pueblo Sacbe

After a little lag, the moderators are finally on board here to give more information on the Pueblo Sacbe project. If anyone has questions it is best to first check our website at for general info.

Since Pueblo Sacbe is as much about a vital developing community as a real estate project, we hope this forum will be useful for an exchange of ideas on all aspects of the village – breeding ostriches, solar power, tours, cenotecture, permaculture, bee farms, traditional Chinese medicine clinic, wellness retreat, recreational area for local school children– whatever is happening or will be happening in the village. Our development team and our growing family of residents are talented (mostly) and very diversified so if there are comments or questions that need discussion we will hunt down the right people for the response.

Solar power is the first choice for electricity supply in the village. We have been working with BP Solar for home and community power supply. They have a very informative website at with a few good links. Especially useful if you’re interested in alternatives to our exploding electrical costs and avoiding being “cortatoed” when you miss paying your bill by a few hours.

One update – Escapes Tours will be starting a jungle tour to the village in the next few weeks. The tour is called “Sacbe - Retreat to the Future”. It is a combination of nature hikes in the jungle learning about the native flora and fauna, a cenote swim and an introduction to an eco-village in development. They can be reached at 011-52-984-87 31842 when calling from outside Mexico or 87-31842 when calling locally or found at better tour booths everywhere on 5th Ave.
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Old 02-03-2003   #2 (permalink)
into ruins
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: New Bruswick, Canada
Posts: 70
Sacbe update?

Geoff, James,

How 'bout a Pueblo Sacbe update. What's going on down there? Are things developing?

I'm coming down next month...but I'm very curious to hear how things are moving along. Are the roads in? Are people building houses?

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Old 02-24-2003   #3 (permalink)
very sparkly
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Playa del Carmen
Posts: 29
February Update

We have been trying to write an update for some time but rather than wait for a formal newsletter to be emailed to the community or posted on our website ( , here's a quick summary for now:

A new architect from Uruguay has joined our team and is working on designs for 3 model homes to be built very soon in the first 11 hectare parcel. His name is Fernando Cassini and he has an interesting vision that fits well with the organic themes of the village.

Andrei Bannikov and Rosi Tovi (see their websites at and ) have finally relocated to Playa and are contributing their skills to the website revisions and some direct marketing focusing on eco and sustainable development communities. The updated website is designed to offer expansion into more informative areas such as a noticeboard, architects/designers’ info and ideas, nature and technology pages and links, opportunities to assist etc.

Escapes Tours are now operating a daily visit to the site entitled “Retreat to the Future”. It offers an introduction to the nature, geography and history of the area then highlights the village and its vision of “off the grid” technologies and alternative housing options in the Mayan Riviera. Like most of the tours in this area, they focus on the natural aspects of the area. The tours include a walk through the main Tohocu cenote park and back caves, and the Virgin of Guadeloupe cenote but exclude the Emerald and Cathederal cenotes.

Quite a few of the roads in the first 44 hectares have been cut and leveled and sascab is being laid over the next few months. There are a number of homes under construction at the moment including Hari’s which is sure to be an interesting creation. All homes at this stage are considered “model” homes.

Jesus and Chloe have moved to the village (staying in Tom and Joanne’s treehouse) fresh from development work in the Sian Khan Bioshphere Reserve. They add some valued experience in construction of composting toilets, grey and black water systems and in facilitation of networking and team building for ecological projects. They are also fast-tracking our WWOOFER program (see for an intro). We had a number of international participants last year and are looking to expand our involvement this year.

A model grey water treatment wetland has been constructed near the Tohocu cenote park. It is presently being used by the project workers for showers, laundry and dishwashing and can be connected to a number of the nearby homes. The banana plants that grow in the stone bed are already growing rapidly. It demonstrates the simple, functional and attractive features of this type of water treatment. Smaller units can be built for individual homes using the same techniques.

The project continues to develop ties with companies such as BP Solar to provide information to buyers and to bring the latest technology to serve our power requirements. A number of solar powered pumps are being purchased now for drilled wells to service homes in the village.

A wider sales initiative is beginning as well with our new office in the SacBe Condominium with a presence on 5th Ave. As always, our goal is to “sort” potential buyers to ensure that the project and the people are right for each other.

Through this forum and on our website, we hope to expand and pass out more info and ideas. A forthcoming article will be a review of the new ferry service from Tampa to Progresso. More and more people are arriving here with their vehicles as this valuable service gains popularity. This service offers a great combo with ownership in Pueblo SacBe because with mobility you can get the benefits of the Mayan Riviera while still living in our less costly and much quieter haven near Playa.
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Old 02-26-2003   #4 (permalink)
into ruins
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: New Bruswick, Canada
Posts: 70
Pueblo bound - thanks

Thanks very much for the update Geoff. We haven't been able to visit since last summer and are very curious as to how our future neighbors are making out at the village.

Lisa and I will be heading down to Playa this weekend, so we'll stop by and check out Pueblo Sacbe while we're there...maybe we'll get to meet you.

Again, thanks for the update.

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Old 03-12-2003   #5 (permalink)
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Illinois
Posts: 6

I would like more info on this project and about your wwwoofer program. My husband is retiring soon and we are looking to make a move to that part of the world. We love the area and have considered CZ as well but we really like PDC. Last were there in December 2002. This project sounds like something we might really be interested in. We live on a farm now and I have an extensive background working with animals, not just farm animals, as I have been an animal handler at a zoo as well. I would be really interested in joining the wwwoofer org. and coming down and really getting the feel of the place. Living on a farm and working at a zoo, I'm no stranger to hard work. I am a massage therapist with my own business now, and that can be pretty physically demanding too, (as well as rewarding.) I went to the wwwoofer website referred to in your posting but was not sure which Mexico host this project was listed under. If you could provide me with more info I would really appreciate it. You can e-mail me directly if you like @:

Thanks so much, looking forward to hearing from you!
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Old 04-18-2003   #6 (permalink)
very sparkly
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Playa del Carmen
Posts: 29
Pueblo SacBe update in April

Now Easter weekend in Playa and while sidestepping the holiday crowds on the beaches and la Quinta, finally got a chance to put together a little update on activities in and around the Pueblo SacBe project.

Firstly, the Playa performance of Jesus Christ Superstar which opened April 14 for 5 nights marks the beginning of theatre in Playa. The first night brought out a sellout crowd of most of Playa’s familiar faces. Thanking the crowd after a 5 minute standing ovation, Shane of Media Luna, the show’s producer, noted that he never thought he would see Playa going to the theatre. It was a powerful and moving performance strengthened more so by the fact that all of the cast and crew are from our small but growing community. SacBe’s development team was well represented in the show with Alicia Gomez in the role of Annas and Rosy Farias and Karen Clark singing in the chorus. Karen was also director of photography. Rosy’s 15 year old daughter Iris was the rising superstar herself as Mary Magdalene.

Back in the SacBe jungle where culture is a little less glitzy, a group of Huichol indians have been conducting ritual ceremonies around some of the cenotes for the past few weeks. Both locals and visitors to Playa have taken part in the ceremonies which include music, meditation and a temescal (a Mayan sweatlodge). It is an odd site to pass one of these happy fellows in full traditional garb when hicking on a distant jungle path.

For visible progress there is the ongoing clearing of trees for the roads and gradual laying of sascab giving access to the current block of lots we are promoting for sale. Four new wells have been drilled for water service to some of the existing homes. New bench seating and tables made from polished zapote have been constructed in the Tohocu park providing seating around the cenote and an exotic place for picknicking.

After about 3 weeks of transplanting, most of El Jardin de los Aluxes has been moved from the old 5th ave location north to the jungle. Tohocu, Cathedral and V. of Guadalupe cenotes and the gardens around the Orientation Centre are now plush with exotic plants and various woodwork creations. More installations are underway around the ruin and Pixan park.

Robert, one of our directors, is finalizing design with our in-house architect, Fernando Cassini from Uruguay. He and his partner will be building 2 model homes in Block A of Phase 1. The homes will be an evolution from the unique SacBe condos on 5th Ave, Playa. The design and material use will have the same organic feel but will share more of a Mexican west coast approach and include some unique features like a built-in fish tank. A 1 and a 2 bedroom home will be built. Both are designed so that they can be enlarged later. These are the first in a series of homes to be constructed that use space and materials and alternative home services creatively and still keep the building costs to a minimum.

We would also like to welcome Bill and Jim-Anne who purchased a stunning cenote lot (Cenote Venado) in Phase 2 a few months ago. They are planning to move here completely in the very near future and build a home overlooking their cenote. The cenote was named Venado (deer) a few years ago after a white tailed deer was released there. The deer returned for a long while to drink from the cenote. Bill is here now getting his feet wet, every chance he gets. He is also interested in sharing is expertise in the area of wireless technologies.

Dat’s it for now – we will be more diligent and post updates a little more frequently.
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Old 06-19-2003   #7 (permalink)
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I need a job!

Hey all!

My name is Carie and I am currentlya senior at Clarion University of Pennsylvania in the United States. I am working on obtaining a business degree in Marketing. I am very interested in learning how to speak Spanish fluently and working in Mexico after I graduate in May 2004. I want the experience more than anything. I would greatly appreciate it if anyone could help me out with any information that might help me out!

Thank you so much!

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Old 06-25-2003   #8 (permalink)
very sparkly
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Playa del Carmen
Posts: 29
Hola Carie,

The SacBe team is interested in hiring additional people in the marketing and sales group primarily to be ready for the coming high season. We are talking to a couple of prospective managers at this moment.

You should do your research on working in Mexico before you make any long term commitments. There is plenty of info on this forum and elsewhere on the web about all the rules, regs and practices.

Most importantly you will need an FM3 to work here legally. That costs a few bucks and some time. Also, it takes some time to get set up and to have a dependable income so make sure you have back up cash stowed away.

If you would like to send me more info on your interests and background my email is I can also describe some of the details of the sales/mark. position with SacBe.

Buena suerte!
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Old 07-13-2003   #9 (permalink)
toe in water
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Batesville, Arkansas
Posts: 51
Some questions about Sacbe....

Please tell me whether my impression from the postings is correct, that Pueblo Sacbe will not be served by electricity, telephone, gas or sewage utility services.

Your recent mention of well drilling which has already taken place seems to answer question as to whether the property will be connected to a central water system. As to the wells:

1. What is the depth of each of those which have been drilled by owners in Puelbo Sacbe?
2. Cost of the drilling?
3. Cost of pumps, if any?
4. Results of health testing of the water?
5. Means by which the water sources are protected from contamination by the affluent (sewage) to be generated by the occupants?
When I was a child we used "toilets" which consisted of digging a hole in the ground and building a small building above it. The waste composted by the passage of time. Then we advanced to indoor toilets with septic tanks and buried perforated pipes spread across a leach field so that the overflow from the septic tanks would be able to soak into the ground. Of course this wouldn't work in a place where the surface consists primarily of limestone with a shallow covering of soil. My interests concerning Pueblo Sacbe is the relationship between the water in the cenotes which I assume is to be the source of water for drinking, cooking and bathing on the one hand, and on the other hand the water being disposed of by the toilets, showers, baths, kitchens and laundering which will be taking place on the same lot.

The many references to alternative energy sources leads to questions about electricity availability:

1. Is the development served by electric power utilities?
2. Cost of obtaining electricity for a typical home in Sacbe?
3. Will a resident be able to have a sufficient amount of electric lights, radio, television, computer equipment, power for vacuuming, laundering, cooking, blending, mixing, power-tooling and other conveniences to which we have become accustomed, or will it be more like my hunting cabin in the woods where we run a loud gasoline-powered electricity generator which will provide us with enough electricity to burn lights and watch tv which both have to be turned off when we want to operate Mr. Coffee. Or are figures available which will tell us how much it would cost to have solar panels to produce enough electricity to power the typical electrical needs of a modest dwelling, including the operation of an electric pump to get water from the wells? And of course I wonder whether it would be at all reasonable to think that I could have at least the bedroom airconditioned during these hot summer months.

Are there/will there be standard telephone line service in the development?

These are some of the questions which I need to explore in order to know whether this development would enable me to enjoy the conveniences which a would want to have. If the answers are already available online, then please just post the URL so that we can read it.

Thank you.
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Old 07-14-2003   #10 (permalink)
very sparkly
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Playa del Carmen
Posts: 29
Infrastructure Queries


I don't remember seeing these detailed questions on infrastructure before.

All are pretty straightforward. I will pull together and post a clear summary as soon as possible. Our website ( has some of the basic info in the meantime.

Also, to get a quick summary on solar equip. see: and

These are 2 good info sites. You can size your system to do whatever you want but simple systems that pump water, light the place, run tvs and computers etc. will run you about $4,000. If you want to add standard AC it will cost a lot more. Or you can use gas AC that is available here or simply use fans and build smartly to catch breezes and use the tree canopy for shade.

Living off the grid safely here in Mexico is a way of life. Most of the hotels along the Tulum coast and all of the Sian Kahn Bioshphere are using one or more of: solar/wind power, biodigesters and/or humidals for waste water, satellite for phone, internet and TV, and drilled wells with solar pumps.

More info shortly.
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Old 07-15-2003   #11 (permalink)
toe in water
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Batesville, Arkansas
Posts: 51
Still wanting to know...

In December when you wrote about your growing family of residents you indicated that some real information was going to be presented. And in April you renewed the assurance that information would be forthcoming. I have been to Playa del Carmen twice in the past 6 months and will be coming again soon. If you would be kind enough to answer my questions it would help me to decide whether to ask for a tour of the property.

My questions which were recently posted here have not been answered, nor has reading all of what has been posted in the past 7 months been very informative. And it is disconcerting to be told in effect that you have more important things to do and that you will respond when you get the time. It's been a long time since December.

Surely you can appreciate that my inquiry asks only for the most basic of information about the property and its suitability for the purpose for which it is being advertised and sold.

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Old 07-17-2003   #12 (permalink)
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Location: Mexico
Posts: 152

You wrote: "I have been to Playa del Carmen twice in the past 6 months and will be coming again soon." I respectfully suggest that during your next visit to PdC, you take the tour 8) and I can assure you that your thirst for the "most basic of information about the property and its suitability for the purpose for which it is being advertised and sold", will finally be quenched. I agree with you, it must be disconcerting waiting for answers. Take my word for it though, the tour will only take a few hours out of your vacation time and unless you're a real city slicker, you'll find it's well worth the effort and relaxing too!! :wink:

Best regards,

auntieninny :P
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Old 07-18-2003   #13 (permalink)
toe in water
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Batesville, Arkansas
Posts: 51
taking the tour

During the tour do you learn about electricity, water, sewage disposal and the other things?
Is there a way to find out about electricity, water, sewage disposal and the other things without waiting for the tour? The postings and the websites don't seem to have the information.

There was a mention of 4 wells being dug which serve 2 existing houses and I wrote to ask about the depth of the wells and whether the water had been tested to see if it was suitable for drinking, but I haven't received an answer. And I also haven't been able to learn how or whether these residents have a sewage disposal system which keeps the sewage from contaminating the wells. For example, I don't know if the fecal and urinary waste has to be collected in buckets and hauled off or if it is just buried on the property or just runs out into the yard. As best I can find out a lot of about 1/4 acre in size sells for around $35,000 and is intended to be used for building a home. But all of the information I have found so far would indicate that it is suitable only for camping out.

Maybe the developers will publish some information on here or tell us where to find it.
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Old 07-20-2003   #14 (permalink)
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Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Pueblo SacBe, Playa del Carmen
Posts: 166
Pueblo Sacbe

Greetings Leroy,

Ted Rhodes, our founder, asked me to review and post this reply to your questions about our village. You can also expect to hear more from me on the technical topics in this forum as I become more involved with the daily business of the project. I hope this clarifies some of your concerns, and we hope you can pay us a visit when you are in the area!

Bill Barton


>> Water Source <<

The depth of the fresh water in the Pueblo SacBe region is between 7 and 13 meters. Below the fresh water is usually a limestone shelf, and below the shelf is salt water.

The cost of drilling is about $300 US and is paid by the developers of Pueblo Sacbe. The cost of the pump depends on the amount of water required by the owner of the lot. We are promoting solar powered pumps with capacities appropriate for the height and volume of the destination. To raise water to 20 meters from the water source, the cost has been between $1,300 and $2,000 US, including solar panels. We recommend submersible pumps as they require less power than ground level pumps. If more water for gardening, pools, etc. is needed, the costs of the pump and solar panels will be higher. The cost of the pump system and water storage is the owner's responsibility.

As we have no human population upstream from the community, our water is crystaline clean, but high in minerals - mostly calcium carbonate. It is not recommended for drinking without a filter, which removes the minerals. There is abundant fresh water year round, although we promote rainwater catchment for drinking. Bottled water is also available for about 15 pesos, roughly $1.50 US for 5 gallons.

>> Waste Treatment <<

We are utilizing three methods of black and grey water treatment.

1. Composting toilets for blackwater - these separate the fluid from the solids, and are complimented by an artificial wetland system for grey water.

2. Bio-digestion systems for blackwater - these utilize bacteria to consume harmful toxins, and are complimented by an artificial wetland system for grey water. The bio-digestor is supplied to each lot by the developer, and the land purchaser must build the artificial wetland to the specifications of our biologists.

3. Aerobic solar aquatic systems - these transform black and grey water into fresh water which then can be used for irrigation. This system is only being used in cluster developments and smaller lots to minimize piping and trenching.

All of these systems are approved by the government registered biologists who have prepared the environmental impact study for Pueblo Sacbe. We have performed extensive research for the preservation of the cenotes. The cenotes are part of an underground river system which flows to the ocean. Contamination of the fresh water, in turn, contaminates the sealife and reefs. Our goal is to be a model of conscious living, enhancing Mother Nature. The water and air quality is of utmost importance to the developers of Pueblo Sacbe.

An artificial wetland system or 'Humidal' is an enclosed garden utilizing carbon, sand, gravel and dirt, where water passes through a series of canals from which large leaf plants such as bananas, elephant ears, as well as iris, lemon grass, papyrus and birds of paradise thrive. Recently, biologists from Cuba toured our systems and were impressed by how green everything was in the humidals. They also offered some great advice which all goes to improve the maintenace of our planet. All of our information concerning composting toilets, bio digestors and artificial wetlands is freely available to anyone, anywhere, who wants it, and it is mandatory to use these methods within the village. If someone comes in with a better or equivalent system, which is approved by the biologists, we are all ears. Information on the solar aquatic system can be found by contacting Kim Rink at EcoTek Industries in Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

>> Power <<

We have decided not to connect to the electric grid. Although Pueblo Sacbe is only two kilometers from the Cancun highway where the high tension lines are, our concept is sustainability - economically and ecologically. We have about 300 days of sunshine here and ten months of the year we have great breezes and can easily produce enough power to run our houses. A power system of a cabin will cost about $3,500 and will run a pump, TV, lights and a fan. A person's needs determine the amount of power he or she needs to produce. The more appliances you use, the more power you use, and a bigger and more expensive system is needed to meet your requirements.

Geoff has been extremely busy working on planning with the biologists and engineers and organizing all the studies we need to do. He is overwhelmed with things to accomplish, so our beloved friend, Bill Barton will be monitoring the forums and updating our website along with Geoff. Bill and his partner Jim Ann bought a beautiful cenote lot and will be pearheading alternative energy sales and service as well as providing wireless communication for telephone and internet. They are also planning a community carpentry workshop in a commercial zone powered by a large wind generator. There you will be able to exchange batteries for those that have been recharged by the wind at a reasonable cost to the energy consumer. Welcome aboard Bill and Jim Ann!

Gasoline and diesel generators must be baffled, and only used as a secondary system. Our noise by-laws are clear that we cannot disturb our neighbours with loud music or generators. Power tools may only be used between 10 AM and 4 PM and we recommend using the community workshop for portable projects.

Air conditioning can be run by propane or electricity. They consume a lot of energy, so it would cost more for more solar panels. Bill will give advice on which way to go on this. I would recommend the use of fans, and if you are able to tap into the abundant cenote breather holes, you can suck cool air up from below, with ventilation holes up high for the warm air to exit. I run my home on this principal and my family stays cool.

>> Telephone <<

Bill is investigating satellite telephone systems using VOIP. At this moment we are not considering the use of standard telephone lines.

I hope this answers your questions Leroy, and please feel free to call me when you are in Playa del Carmen, at 52-984-206-1296

All the best, Ted Rhodes

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Old 07-21-2003   #15 (permalink)
into ruins
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: New Bruswick, Canada
Posts: 70
Bill and Ted,

Thanks for posting this info. I'd been thinking about trying to post an answer to some of Leroy's questions, but I knew I didn't have the technical background to do them justice. This was an excellent overview.

I hadn't thought of tapping that cool cenote air for cooling. That's an interesting concept. I also love the communal carpentry workshop..first I'd heard of that idea. The battery recharge exchange caught my eye as well. Until we build our little casa, I'd been thinking of camping on our lot from time to time, but a little fan would really make life more pleasant. The battery exchange idea might be just the answer.

Now I just need to solve the storage problem. I'd love to find a place to store a tent and a couple of chairs in the village so that I could come down pick up my gear and set up camp. Perhaps someone would like to start a little rental business for that kind of stuff? Sure there will be others like Lisa and I who aren't ready to build, but would like to spend a night or two in the jungle on their Playa vacations.

When I hear the creative solutions to everyday problems that are arising, it's really quite inspiring. Makes me wonder what I'm doing living up here in New Brunswick...dreaming of our little as yet undeveloped lot in Pueblo Sacbe.

Look forward to seeing you all when I'm down in November. Can't wait to see the progress since my last visit. I'm bringing my folks down and hoping the roads at the far end of Avenue Los Ninos in Phase I are driveable...they're a little past prime bushwhacking age.

Good luck.
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