Anona Drink- Healthy!

Anona fruit, lime, stevia and water

Anona Drink

by John Lamkin

The healthy anona fruit drink is made with anona fruit, lime, stevia and water. Scoop out and strain the meat of the fruit and blend together with the lime and stevia. Experiment with measurements as they will depend upon the strength of the stevia. In Bacalar we pick the anona and limes from our trees. We have to get stevia at the store. Although, there is a stevia farm a few kilometers down the road, but they don’t process the leaf there.


Anona Fruit



Posted in The Casa | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Anona Drink- Healthy!

Stromatolites, ancient life in Mexico’s Laguna Bacalar

Here’s another good reason to visit Laguna Bacalar and  our vacation rental, Casa Estrella de Bacalar.

Tour boat from Rancho Encantado a great way to see the stromatolites!

Tour boat from Rancho Encantado a great way to see the stromatolites!

Story and photos by Susanna Starr
First published in Examiner

We discovered the pristine waters of Laguna Bacalar in 1985 and fell in love with the serenity and the beauty of the water and the unspoiled village of Bacalar. That was the year we bought our home on it’s shores and a parcel of land a few meters north. Over a short time we added to the original parcel of land and began the building of Rancho Encantado, a small eco-resort that evolved over the following years until it was sold.

Guests were and still are enthralled by the beauty of Laguna Bacalar but no one, until recently, knew that just off the shores in front of the land the Rancho is built on, lies one of the most amazing discoveries ever made. Just a few short years ago, stromatolites, one of the most ancient life forms on Earth, were identified. And we thought they were just beautiful rock or coral formations found in Caribbean waters!

Our own home, located at the northernmost part of the land that was once part of the Rancho, is about where the 10 km. (6.2 miles) formation ends. It is thought to be the largest living fresh water formations on earth. They stretch south to what is referred to as “the rapids” where they are close to the surface of the shallow waters. Boat tours to this area are offered by Rancho Encantado. Not too far south in the Bay of Chetumal in Belize is another formation of 1.5 km.

For many of us who have lived in this area, we have thought of this 42 mile body of Laguna Bacalar to be sacred and it has often been referred to as having a “feminine spirit”, nurturing and completely self-replenishing, fed by the nine cenotes that constantly replenish the water, keeping it clean and clear.

It is thought that the ancient Maya used this area to launch their boats to follow their trade routes during the time of their highly developed civilization, since many of their major cities were inland. Later the Itzaes, from Bacalar, left for Chichen Itza where they became the last reigning Mayan dynasty.

In the 16th century Spanish pirates entered the Laguna for safe harbor. Later, when the Spanish conquered the area, a fort was built for protection against the marauding pirates. The fort, known as San Felipe de Bacalar, has been beautifully restored and is open to the public. It is situated directly across from a canal, the remains of the dyke built by the Spanish, still in evidence.

Although Bacalar has had a romantic past, the estimated 3.5 billion year old formations of stromatolites really places history in perspective. There is now a substantial body of information concerning these living organisms which can easily be accessed through various websites, including Most astounding is that this life form may be one of the oldest on earth, beginning the life cycle that has produced all that we know in nature today, including us.



Rancho Encantado Eco-Resort

Posted in The Casa | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Stromatolites, ancient life in Mexico’s Laguna Bacalar

Our Magical and Amazing Visits to Casa Estrella de Bacalar

Laguna in Front of Casa Estrella de Bacalar

Laguna in Front of Casa Estrella de Bacalar

Story and photos by Mari Pintkowski

Our first visit to Casa Estrella de Bacalar last April was magical,
but our second visit in July was even more amazing. When my husband
and I arrived at the house it was hard not to begin snapping pictures
immediately when we saw the garden full of colorful tropical plants
and terracotta pottery leading up to the carved wooden front door with
flowering vines hanging in front of it.

Once inside, fresh flower arrangements decorated each and every room.
The layout of the house is perfect for a couple or two couples. There
are two bedrooms separated by the colorful, fully furnished kitchen
and dining room with a large table looking out at the verdant backyard
and lake of seven colors. The master bedroom with a view of the lake
has air conditioning, a queen bed, chaise lounge and a huge bathroom
with a shower/tub that in itself is a work of art. Nature surrounds
you everywhere. There are fluffy towels galore, mirrors and bath
products so that no detail has gone unnoticed. The second bedroom has a
double futon, a chaise lounge, good reading light, air conditioning
and a charming bathroom with a walk-in shower.

The Mexican art, including: pottery, hand-woven rugs, textiles,
paintings and drawings and wood carvings let you know you are in the
home of people who treasure the handicrafts of indigenous people of
this country.

The house also has a small, comfortable living room that is
beautifully decorated that includes a DVD player, many interesting
books and magazines about Mayan history and local sites, wi-fi (It
works even better at the restaurant next door.)

We spent most of our time moving peacefully from the hammocks on the
outside deck, to the lounges on the grassy lawn at the edge of the
lake, to the beautiful dining set where we ate all our meals. The lake
is like bathwater in the summer, and a little cooler in the spring.
You can walk right into the water from the back yard and swim to your
hearts content. The big trees growing along the shore give you plenty
of privacy.

We ordered from the menu (20% discount for Casa Estrella guests) at
the Rancho Encantado Resort next door and the friendly staff delivered
our meals with a smile. If you prefer the resort has a lovely dining
room that overlooks the lake. The spa was offering a special and both
of us had a facial and salt-scrub combination with massage. Rinsing
off in the lake on the back side of the little spa was very
refreshing. There is also a large jacuzzi at the resort if you want to
tear yourself away from Casa Bacalar.

The morning sunrises were spectacular and drew us out of bed to go
kayaking on the lake when the water surface was like glass. As the
wind comes up in the afternoon it becomes a bit choppy.

Because we are B&B owner/operators in Tulum just two hours away, we
escaped to Bacalar to rest and regenerate.  Next time we may visit one
of the nearby Mayan ruins, the Cenote Azul or try the zip line at
BioMaya. There are many interesting tourist sites within an hour (and
some a little farther) if you want an adventure vacation. The town of
Bacalar, only five minutes away, has an assortment of small
restaurants, local shops, and ruins of a historical fort.  A ride or
walk through town will give you a glimpse of a developing Mexican

For us, we are already planning our next trip to return for more R&R
and maybe some local sight-seeing.

Mari and Louis



Casa Estrella de Bacalar is a vacation rental located on the shore of Laguna Bacalar (the Lake of Seven Colors) in Bacalar, Quintana Roo, Yucatan Peninsula MEXICO. Click here for more information or here to contact us regarding availability and reservations.

Posted in The Casa | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Our Magical and Amazing Visits to Casa Estrella de Bacalar

Meditating at Casa Estrella de Bacalar

View of the Laguna from the Terazza of Casa Estrella de Bacalar


by Susanna Starr

Although many of us certainly understand the concept of being here now, the mind still likes to travel and takes us on many trips, many to places that we’ve already visited. Being at Casa Estrella, on the shore of the magical Laguna Bacalar, is a place I often revisit in my mind. The astounding colors of the water, the pristine clarity and the gentle, soothing sound of the waves against the shoreline, is a never ending source of delight.


Landscaping - Casa Estrella de Bacalar, Bacalar MEXICO

Landscaping – Casa Estrella de Bacalar

But that’s not all…..each day brings new discoveries in the opening of various exotic flowers, the growth of the different plantings, the feeling of spaciousness in the lawn that extends to the water’s edge. Each day, on my morning walk, I gather the hibiscus, the bougainvillea and the amazing bird of paradise blossoms, which I add to the colorful arrangements of various leaves from the immense variety of plants, and place them in each room. At night, the delicious perfumes of jasmine, of Juan de la Noche, of gardenia and lime and orange blossoms fill the air with their subtle fragrances. There are plants in the master bathroom garden, more rare, that blossom only once or twice a year but when they do, their perfume is intense.


Bathtub and Bathroom Garden, Casa Estrella de Bacalar, Bacalar Mexico

Bathtub and Bathroom Garden, Casa Estrella de Bacalar

Each room has been designed to feature hand made furniture of exotic hardwoods, hand loomed textiles and all kinds of art to please the eye and the hand. The spacious main bedroom also acts as an office and being able to look out at the water, or watch the breeze blow the palm fronds, or just listen to the sounds of the birds, makes working at the computer almost as nice an experience as lying down on the chaise on the terraza. Is it only in my memory that the weather seems to be perfect always? Even when it’s windy, it’s so protected on the terraza, that the wind isn’t intrusive. So, I can just continue to read, and be part of the environment, with no intrusions from the outside world. This gives me the unique opportunity to go inward, to simply be quiet. Some might call it relaxing, which it is, but for me it’s something more – it’s my own form of meditation. Sometimes I see physical results of this time at the house, like the collection of small paintings I did that continue to give me pleasure.

Susanna's Art, Terazza of Casa Estrella de Bacalar

Susanna’s Art, Terazza of Casa Estrella de Bacalar

Another time of being there produced a couple of hundred pages of writing that will some day become part of a memoir. But I know that other things are going on as well, even when they have not yet made themselves manifest. When those times of occasional restlessness occur, I remind myself of this, that the quiet time is important, too. Having no agenda, waking up to each day satisfied to watch it unfold, without my overt direction, requires a shift, an “allowing.” For some people, travel means going to new places, having new experiences, meeting new people, tasting new foods, visiting different cultures, having adventures. Maybe it’s because I feel satisfied that I’ve already done much of this, that I appreciate the feeling I have in my “other” home. My particular need is to be plugged into the beauty of the natural environment. It’s a never-ending source of awe, giving me that sense of great appreciation and gratitude that provides the nourishment for my spirit.

Toucan, Laguna Bacalar

Toucan, Laguna Bacalar



Posted in The Casa | Comments Off on Meditating at Casa Estrella de Bacalar

Casa Estrella de Bacalar on YouTube

Mask at Kohunlich Maya Archaeological Site, near Bacalar MEXICO

Mask at Kohunlich Maya Archaeological Site, near Bacalar MEXICO

See us on YouTube here.

Posted in The Casa | Tagged , | Comments Off on Casa Estrella de Bacalar on YouTube

Around and About Bacalar, Yucatan Peninsula, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Casita on Laguna Bacalar

story and photos by Susanna Starr

Just a little more than half an hour away from the city of Chetumal and its airport, and about the same distance as the border with the country of Belize, is the small town of Bacalar, nestled on the shore of the pristine waters of Laguna Bacalar, one of Mexico’s hidden treasures.

This area, in the southernmost part of the Yucatan Peninsula, is just at the point of developing as a tourist destination for the eco-minded traveler who seeks escape from the larger, often over-developed areas of the northern part of the Peninsula. Just an hour away from the nearest seaport of Mahahual on the Caribbean coast, a stopping point for cruise ships, the laguna is virtually undiscovered by tourism. It has always been known for its spectacular colors, much as the waters of the Caribbean, with its range of hues from emerald greens to azure blues and the famous brilliant arrays of turquoise and aqua. It is commonly referred to as “la laguna de los siete colores” (lagoon of the seven colors).

Bacalar Wildlife - photo © Susanna Starr

Bacalar Wildlife – photo © Susanna Starr

Being sheltered from the ocean’s winds and salt sprays, the fresh waters of Laguna Bacalar provide a gentler, more nurturing feeling, making it ideal for swimming, kayaking, snorkeling and other water sports. Fishing, too, is more of a relaxing sport than the challenge of deep ocean water .For deep-sea fishing, the Caribbean coast is only an hour away, as is the famed nature reserve of Sian k’an.

Becan Mayan Ruins - photo © Susanna Starr

Becan Mayan Ruins – photo © Susanna Starr

Read more on Susanna Starr’s blog.

Posted in The Casa | Comments Off on Around and About Bacalar, Yucatan Peninsula, Quintana Roo, Mexico