Urgent Care – Items Needed for Juluchuca Health Clinic

Teaming up with Pack for a Purpose, on-site volunteer and nurse from Denmark, Malene Jakobsen, has developed short list of critical items needed for the local health clinic. This just a list of supplies. We will also be raising funds to do some needed renovations in the coming weeks.

To see the list on Pack for a Purpose site – click here – and scroll down to “Project 2” or see list below:

Blood pressure cuff – Digital, Examination gloves, Manual resuscitator, both child and adult size, Pen-torches / flashlights, Scissors, Spacers for asthmatic patients, Tweezers and Urine dipsticks

We will be updating this list from time to time. Regardless of whether you are a health professional, your assistance in obtaining any of the items on this list and donating them to the local health clinic would be most appreciated.  Keep in mind the limitations allowed by customs, any items that have an aggregate value of over $300 are subject to import duties upon your arrival into Mexico (above and beyond your personal items packed). If you have any questions about what to bring or how to declare with customs, please feel free to email us at info @ PlayaViva.com.

Thank you for your support.


Playa Viva Enters Sal Viva for TIES Innovation Leadership in Sustainable Tourism Awards

Playa Viva Enters Sal Viva for TIES Innovation Leadership in Sustainable Tourism Awards. Below is our application entry.

Las Salinas – the salt flats – are 5 km from Playa Viva near the Pacific Coast of Mexico, about 45 minutes south of the resort of Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa.  120 families are members of a salt harvesting co-op.  Of these, eighty are actively harvesting salt. Of those, less than half are using traditional means to harvest the salt.  Playa Viva is a sustainable boutique hotel located nearby.  Playa Viva has been working in this area for the last for years with the goal to go beyond green (doing less damage) and sustainable (net neutral) to be a truly “regenerative” resort, improving the biodiversity and resilience of the ecology and community.

As part utilizing the regenerative method of development, Playa Viva developed a “History of Place” that included archeological records showing that salt from this area was given as tribute to Aztec kings.

Traditionally, the salt is harvested by the creation of handmade drying ponds, “eras”, which are reformed each year after raining season.  However, in recent years, many of these artisanal salt farmers have turned to less costly and time consuming means of harvesting their salt. These families are turning to plastic, black plastic, to line the drying ponds.  As a result, the plastic leaches into the salt and contaminates this pure, delicious and healthy mineral and food.  Likewise, the plastic is left after the rainy season and results in further contamination of the lagoon further harming the attempts of traditional harvesting to keep their product clean and sustainable.

Playa Viva has submitted the salt for quality testing. The results from the lab were astounding.  The salt is extremely high in minerals missing in our bodies and food as a result of soil erosion and modern farming techniques.  The salt is naturally high in iodine and low in sodium.

This lagoon salt is formed by rains washing over the Sierra Madre Mountains delivering valuable minerals to the lagoon. During rainy season, the lagoon water rise, eventually the sand bar that separates the lagoon from the ocean breaks through and salt water fuses with the mineral rich water.  As the rains fade, the heat evaporates the water, minerals and salt settle on the floor of the lagoon. The farmers then hand form clay drying ponds. They scrape this mineral rich solid from the lagoon and wash it with the remaining brine from the lagoon creating.. The resulting super-saturate brine is then poured into handmade drying ponds which absorb the calcium and minerals from the “eras”.  What remains at the end of 5-7 days is a white, crystalline flake of healthy mineral salt.

This salt is completely undervalued and sold for pennies a pound with the largest buyer being the locals who use this salt to make Queso Fresco – Fresh Cheese.  Since traditional salt farmers only earn barely enough to pay for the means of production, many are moving to cheaper plastic methods or just giving up harvesting salt.

Playa Viva’s innovation in supporting sustainable tourism is derived from leveraging its role as a tourism operator in the Juluchuca community, specifically working to identify opportunities where it can add value through access to resources – intellectual, financial and social capital – to improve the economic and environmental conditions of the members of its community. The goal of this endeavor is to create a higher value for the salt, providing a living wage for the 120 peasant farmer families that are part of the co-op and to bring a true market price to this undervalued product.  By focusing on improving market price, the goal was to have the local community realize the true commercial value of their local resources, rediscover the inherent value in the traditional means of harvest, understand the importance of not contaminating their natural resources and provide a mechanism towards achieving pride in their heritage – after all this is the Salt of Aztec Kings.

As a result, Playa Viva created the brand name “Sal Viva – the Salt of Life” as a brand extension to Playa Viva.  Each guest that stays at Playa Viva is provided with a sample package of the salt to take home. Sal Viva is the ONLY salt served. Sal Viva in larger gift packages is also sold on site.

Additionally, Playa Viva has started importing Sal Viva for sale in the US. Currently, it is on sale via online partner – CharitiesUSA.com.

Playa Viva has been working with top chef’s in restaurants starting in Los Angeles including famed Mexican restaurant Loteria Grill and owner Jimmy Shaw who added a new menu item using Sal Viva. Most recently Joseph Gillard of Napa Valley Grille in LA has been added to the chef’s using Sal Viva.

Sal Viva is part of Playa Viva’s general PR and marketing strategy.

As a result of Playa Viva’s efforts, the members of the co-op have already started branding their own salt, now using sacks that are printed with the name of the co-op and location of the salt.  This sense of pride in brand is new and is creating the sense of product differentiation. The price of “organic” salt, as it is now being called – that is salt made using traditional means and not plastic – is already obtaining a premium price, whereas it was once priced the same as non “organic” salt.

Playa Viva has leveraged its innovative strategy for creating a model for sustainable tourism across a variety of activities including the development of Sal Viva, Canasta Viva (a CSA – Community Supported Organic Agriculture – project with local farmers), Pack For a Purpose (non-profit to bring supplies to the local schools), mangrove and coastal forest restoration (Playa Viva Reserve) and the Tortuga Viva (turtle sanctuary for preserving marine turtles).  Sal Viva is just one initiative within an innovative strategy for leveraging tourism for building more resilient communities and ecosystems.

Local Elementary School Wish List

As school comes to an end and you start cleaning out those school supplies what better use than to pack and donate.  While Morgan, head of community relations, was working with the local schools during Earth Day on a clean up program of the local river and beach, she developed a deeper relationship with the teachers and administrators.  Through those conversations, they provided Morgan with a list of needs. Here is what Morgan sent us:

Local Elementary School Wish List
Giving back to the community you’ll be visiting is easy, and giving to the children is always one of the best ways.  The local elementary school in Juluchuca, the small village next to Playa Viva, would benefit greatly from any old books or children’s educational material that may be in your donation or throw away pile.  Instead, pack it in your suitcase and bring it to children who often do not have enough paper to do lessons with and very few books in their class rooms.  Suggested donations:
-children’s books (in English or Spanish, great English learning tools)
-colored paper
-colored pencils
-paint brushes for water colors
-old calculators
-any arts and crafts materials
-old text books (the teachers could use them)

Most recently we came across this wonderful organization – Pack for a Purpose – and hope you will support them and their mission,  so pack a little donation for the local school in need as you venture off on your summer travels.

Sal Viva Now Available for Purchase Online

Plastic salt production on left vs. Sal Viva organic salt production on right. Help preserve the heritage of healthy artisanal salt, buy Sal Viva.

Sal Viva, “the Salt of Life”, harvested in Juluchuca, right down the road from Playa Viva, is now available online for purchase through our partners at CharitiesUSA.com/GreaterGood.

Purchase an 8 oz package which is now available online for $9.95 and in the process preserve land, save animals and do good.

This is the best salt you can buy. High in minerals, low in sodium, high in iodine and the salt crystals melt seamlessly into your mouth or whatever concoction you are creating, enhancing the flavor of your food and beverages.

Beyond the health benefits and great flavor, purchasing Sal Viva contributes to social and economic justice as well as protects the environment. 120 families are members of the salt coop, supposedly 80 are currently working the salt flats and less than half are working it “organically”, that is, using the traditional means of hand crafting sand, clay and calcium into drying ponds. Unfortunately, due to the lack of a “fair market price”, many coop members are using cheaper plastic lined ponds that leach contaminates into the salt and eventually will pollute the lagoon.

By purchasing Sal Viva, you are promoting a cultural heritage that is centuries old and your purchase directly promotes environmental conservation by eliminating the use of contaminating plastics. Thank you for your support.

Restaurants, Home Chef’s and Specialty Stores interested in carrying Sal Viva should contact us via the Playa Viva website.

Akasha Restaurant hosts Turtle Fundraiser

Last week, Suzanne Biegel and Daniel Maskit held a fundraiser at Akasha Restaurant, the acclaimed organic eatery in LA, for the benefit of “La Tortuga Feliz” – the turtle sanctuary at Playa Viva.  A small group of friends of Suzanne, Daniel and Playa Viva gathered for a wonderful dinner and to talk turtles.  The group raised $1,400 in one night for the turtle sanctuary. This amount will be added to the funds already donated by The Norcross Wildlife Foundation, the World Turtle Trust, the Greater Good Network (through CharitiesUSA), The Ocean Foundation, Gente como Nosotros, WildCoast and the donations of individual donors. The amount is sufficient to fund the purchase of a 4×4 ATV vehicle for use by the volunteers in preserving more turtle eggs and baby turtles.  AkashaTFeliz

The turtle sanctuary, La Tortuga Feliz, located at Playa Viva, is staffed by 12-20 volunteers who donate their time to protect baby turtles from predators along an 8km stretch of beach near Juluchuca, Mexico.  The group releases close to 200,000 baby turtles per year including Golfina (Green or Olive Ridley), Laud (Leatherback Turtles) and Prieta turtles.  Playa Viva is supporting the volunteers by providing access to needed resources to allow them to continue their work as well as to develop eco-tourism volunteer programs to bring visitors to the area to work with the local volunteers.

While the only photo taken of the evening is somewhat dark and blurry, the evening was bright, cheerful and delicious.  Akasha executive chef, Akasha Richmond, personally created a menu for the event that included seasonal heirloom tomato salad, choice from three main dishes and two deserts including group favorite, chocolate with sea salt, combining sweet and savory in melt-in your-mouth, bite-size morsels.  Dinner guests inquired about Playa Viva and how it interacts with the turtle sanctuary and local volunteers in promoting eco-tourism. Guests received a parting gift of artisanal salt from Playa Viva as well as coconut macaroons made in the town of Juluchuca.

If you are interested in hosting a fundraising dinner for the turtle sanctuary, please let us know, we are happy to support with materials and, if schedules allow, travel to join you for the event.

The volunteers at the turtle sanctuary have been asking for assistance with a 4×4 ATV as well as funds for gas, food stipends to attract more volunteers and resources to attend training sessions.  The funds raised this evening will be added to those funds already collected and provide the needed cash to purchase the vehicle.

We at Playa Viva cannot thank Suzanne and Daniel enough for their efforts in organizing this event.  If in LA and near Culver City, we highly recommend a visit to Akasha Restaurant. The food is delicious, service attentive but not intrusive and the chocolate dessert is just plain divine. Oh, and did we say that it’s all organic?!  Thank you to all in attendance for their support.

Rainforest2Reef Honored

Rainforst2Reef.orgRainforest2Reef, a non-profit, founded by the folks behind Playa Viva was recently honored at the SalesForce.com Dreamforce Event in San Francisco.  See this video presentation where Rainforest2Reef is honored along with other non-profits worldwide using Salesforce.com products.  We are proud of the success this organization has had over the last 8 years in establishing a successful model for conservation by private individuals in Mexico.  This group has an agenda of accomplishing some extraordinary feats in the years to come including obtaining carbon credits for the owners of the land and setting up a permanent trust fund to insure the long term viability of its programs.  To see more about Rainforst2Reef, please visit their website.

In Support of a Good Cause

We are sometimes approached by organizations looking for Playa Viva to make a donation to their non-profit’s charity auction. In general, we like to support organizations that support environmental and social endeavors near to the area we serve, Mexico, Guerrero, Zihuatanejo, etc.  Most recently we supported an organization who’s mission is far away in Tibet, but during this Olympic Year, with much attention on human rights violations and the aspiration of Tibetans in diaspora, we decided to join forces and lend Playa Viva to this cause.  Please go visit the Tibetan Aid Project and please bid on the auction items to help raise funds for this worthy cause.