Linda and I often return to the old country for Christmas — that’s what we call the U.S. since moving to Mexico a few years ago — but this year we decided to stay put and spend the holidays in the Riviera Maya. That gave us the opportunity to attend an annual Christmas event hosted by one of our favorite local restaurants, Gilly’s Tequilaville in Akumal.
Akumal is a small town of less than 2,000 residents located approximately 25 minutes south of Playa del Carmen. The area is popular with tourists because large numbers of sea turtles can be found swimming in the area year-round.
Akumal actually means place of turtles in Mayan, an indigenous language still spoken by a large number of people in the area.
I know from experience that some of our readers are geographically challenged, so I decided to include an interactive map showing the location of Akumal and Gilly’s Tequilaville:
Gilly’s Annual Toy Drive
Every year beginning around mid October, the owner of Gilly’s Tequilaville quietly begins to collect toys for the children of Akumal and other nearby communities. Gilly’s Tequilaville is very popular with American and Canadian expats in the area and the majority of the donations come from them.
The gifts are distributed on the morning of December 24th without any fanfare or media attention.
We stopped by to see hundreds of people patiently waiting in line for the chance to go into the small restaurant to choose a toy and take a picture with Santa Claus. It was very heart-warming to see all of the happy, smiling children.
This year, 492 presents were given out to local children.
You might be wondering if they had enough presents for all of the children that showed up — I know I was wondering that, so I asked –the good news is that they did. In fact, they had 10 presents left over that they plan to save for next year’s toy drive.
Let’s Wrap This Up
If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you already know that I don’t write many posts recommending particular restaurants, but I did write one about Gilly’s Tequilaville back in 2016. They have the best breaded fish fillet around and I have literally eaten hundreds of them over the years.
If you ever have the opportunity to visit the Akumal area, I recommend that you take the time to stop by Gilly’s Tequilaville to grab a bite or have a couple of drinks. And, if you stop by anytime between October and December, feel free to bring a toy along with you.