Thursday, March 9, 2023

Isla Mujeres News & Events Thursday, March 9




    Aquakan announced a leak had been detected in the undersea line that runs from Punta Sam to Isla Mujeres. This problem is affecting the water supply to Isla Mujeres, where clients may experience low pressure or a lack of water.


Aguakan announced that they are working to restore normal service to the island, and meanwhile they've sent trucks out to provide water. Yesterday afternoon, they detected a leak in the undersea line that runs from Punta Sam to Isla Mujeres. An Oceanographers and a team of divers have been inspecting 4 kilometers of the pipe, in order to detect the tear. Aguakan has also been working to generate additional resources to bring water to the island and avoid a lack of supply.


    Aguakan says they have brought in a brigade of divers to repair a leak in the undersea line, and meanwhile they have dispatched trucks to the island to provide water service during this outage. The City government says they are monitoring Aguakan's efforts and Monday morning at 8a, the vehicle ferry brought five water trucks to the island. They each have a capacity of 10,000 liters (2640 gallons) and proceeded to supply the most affected areas, which are Punta Sur and the colonias of Miraflores, Caridad del Cobre, Cañotal, Lol-Be, and Salina Grande. Aguakan advised residents seeking truck service to send them a message.

The leak and interruption of service was announced on Sunday afternoon.


In this update from the Mayor, (FB VIDEO)  she explains a meeting is scheduled between Aguakan and municipal and state officials at the Palacio Municipal at 1:30p today. Aguakan officials explained on Sunday that the island's lack of water was caused by a leak in the underwater line. The Mayor emphasized the importance of providing this vital liquid to the islanders, and that Aguakan needs to answer the question of when water service will resume. She said 60% of the island's businesses have been affected, and lack of water service is affecting tourism, as well as families.
She also addressed issues about Aguakan's service overall, and whether they are meeting the terms of their contract; that money made from water must also be invested in infrastructure. She talks about taking legal steps on that issue. She says trucks are needed to supply water to the island now.

At this press conference, the reporters tried repeatedly to obtain an answer from Aguakan officials regarding when water service to the island will be reestablished. Their reply was "en brevidad" and "en cortos plazos", which mean soon/shortly. When reporters asked, "How long? In 15 days?", the reply was "Oh no! Soon." When they asked, "How soon? Today? Tomorrow? Day after tomorrow?", the official replied, "Soon....a couple days". 
The officials said they have been bringing five water trucks over twice daily since Monday morning, and admitted that this is an insufficient supply. The reporters said the people need to know the routes and times of the trucks and complained about a lack of information on Aguakan's social media and at their office. They were told that clients should call Aguakan's customer service number, 079, to make their requests and obtain an order number. 
The Aguakan officials explained that water delivery is being coordinated with the municipal officials, giving priority to the schools and hospitals. The municipal General Director, Hugo Sanchez Montalvo, said the trucks are unable to refill people's water storage tanks because of the limited supply, so they will be filling their containers. (Each truck carries about 2600 gallons.)
The Aguakan officials explained that this problem began on Sunday afternoon, caused by a leak in the undersea line. They said specialized divers are working hard to get it repaired and that it is complicated. They said the leak was caused by an accident, not by a lack of maintenance or because the line is in poor condition. 
The reporters said residents also want answers about water problems that existed before that, complaining that some areas of the island have been suffering ongoing issues with intermittent lack of pressure or interruptions in supply, which need to be addressed. 
Another (state?)) official spoke to the Aguakan officials, emphasizing the importance of communication, and the need for the company to inform the public and the government, step by step, about what is being done. It was agreed that this is a serious situation, that water is a universal human right, and not only is this interruption affecting residents and tourists, it negatively impacts the island's tourism-based economy.




This notice is from the Quintana Roo state government page regarding the island's lack of water supply due to a leak in the undersea supply line. They "buried the lede" in the last line where it says, "We (Aguakan) are working with the intention to finish today and to have normal service reestablished by noon on Wednesday, March 8."
It states that this notice explains what's going on with the tap water line that connects the Punta Sam water tank with Isla Mujeres. On Sunday afternoon, March 5, Aguakan techs noticed a decrease in the levels of square meters of water coming to the island, although the Punta Sam tank on the mainland was functioning correctly.
Therefore, the emergency protocols were activated, and Aguakan contacted an oceanographer and team of divers to inspect the line that afternoon. As a result, around 7p, the location of a leak was found in the line, but the couldn't proceed due to a lack of light. Aguakan arranged for 5 water trucks to cross on the cargo ferry and arrive by sunrise.
On Monday, materials were prepared to repair the leak, with sacks of sand to place around the line to shore it up. The affected section of the line has a series of marks on it, caused by the passage of a boat, which may have caused the break. During Monday's work, the affected section was modified three times, but the force of the tides did not facilitate the work and on the third attempt they managed to reduce the leak without closing it completely. Meanwhile, trucks delivered water to island tinacos and cisterns.
Today, work resumed early in the morning with the preparation of more materials to re-enforce the line and prop it up more firmly on the sea floor. Trucks continued to deliver water, and Aguakan will be providing water normally from the Mundaca tank on the island, for distribution to the colonias of La Gloria, Miraflores and the lower part of the island. The notice concludes by saying that Aguakan is working with the intention of finishing today and having totally normal service re-established by noon tomorrow, Wednesday, March 8th. 

Repairs to the undersea water line that supplies the island were completed yesterday (Tuesday) around 5p, after various pressure and capacity tests were carried out. (When we checked our outside tap around 7:30p, water was flowing, and our rooftop tank was full this morning.) Aguakan said low pressures could occur during the next 24 hours after the repair was completed.
In accordance with commitments made by the company, water trucks were scheduled to be brought to the island last night to supply the most critical areas of the island. As of yesterday afternoon, service levels had increased downtown, and would do so later in the rest of the island. Clients needing more information are invited to contact Aguakan's customer service department by phone at 073 or via their social networks.



From Saturday.... 

Today Isla Mujeres commemorates the 506th Anniversary of the arrival of the expedition of Francisco Hernández de Córdoba. Before they landed here in 1517, they thought they were going to die in a 'norte' storm. They were flabbergasted by the sophisticated buildings they saw along the coast, which they compared to the fine architecture of Seville, Spain. The expedition, which sailed from Cuba in three boats, is credited with discovering the Yucatan and what is now Mexico, after landing on this uninhabited isle. They named it for the icons of women they found in a temple, left in honor of the Mayan goddess of fertility, Ixchel. The half-garbed statues were replaced with an icon of Mary and they took the items made with gold or copper.
The 110 Spaniards sailed north up the coast to have their first encounter with the Maya at Cape Catoche, "Where the Conquest of Mexico Began". They took more relics and captured two natives, who received the first baptism in Mexico and were taken to Cuba to be trained as translators. 
The expedition was plagued by a lack of drinking water as they navigated around the Yucatan coast, where rivers run underground and hostile Maya were concentrated around the fresh water sources. After a particularly bloody battle that left 50 of the Spaniards dead and the rest injured, except one, they decided it was time to leave. The sole uninjured sailor disappeared while they briefly visited Florida on their way back to Cuba, where Cordoba died a couple weeks later.
Although in modern times, Cuban refugees have frequently landed on the eastern shores of Isla Mujeres in tiny makeshift boats, these Spanish explorers didn't cross the ~100 miles of open sea until a quarter century after Cuba was discovered.
 There are discrepancies among the various accounts of the voyage, all written by non-participants, except one who penned his version nearly fifty years later, but it's generally accepted that the expedition was motivated by a need for slave labor in Cuba, as well as a desire for claiming land & sovereignty, and gold.
Although the Spanish lacked awareness of the sophistication of the Mayan culture, which differed considerably from the other indigenous people in the Caribbean who lived in huts, this wasn't their first encounter with them. In 1502, Christopher Columbus came across a large Mayan canoe in the Bay Islands of the Gulf of Honduras, full of trade goods and presumably from the Yucatan. Its ~40 passengers included well dressed merchants, their families, and about 25 oarsmen. It was eight feet wide, 'as long as a galley' (~50ft), with a covered area in the middle that protected the women, children, and goods. He compared it a Venetian gondola and was impressed with their seamanship. Mayan murals portray boats with raised, curved bows and sterns.
Columbus considered these Mayans to be more civilized because they were clothed, unlike natives of the Caribbean islands. He described their fine textiles, weapons made of flint (probably actually obsidian), and copper goods including cups, bells and hatchets, which ended up in his possession. The Mayan merchants carried a type of beer made from fermented corn, which young Fernando Columbus enjoyed.
The Maya also had first-hand knowledge of the Spanish in 1511, when they captured survivors from the "Valdivia", which wrecked somewhere between Isla Mujeres and Cozumel. Originally, there had been about 15 people aboard (one account says 16 men and 2 women) traveling from Panama to Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic). They drifted in a lifeboat until currents brought them to the coast of what is now Quintana Roo, where the Maya sacrificed some and put others in cages.
Therefore, it is likely that the arrival of the Europeans was not unexpected when Hernandez landed in early March of 1517. Ten months later, the Pope ordered a church be built near Cabo Catoche, to establish the Yucatan diocese. The Boca Iglesia church was built just up the coast in what is now the municipality of Isla Mujeres (formerly the Mayan district of "Ekab"). It was presumably constructed using stones from the Mayan temple that conquistadors had looted on their first visit. Its status as the first church in Mexico is tarnished by the fact that it lacked a priest, since the one the Pope assigned went elsewhere, purportedly due to the isolation of the site. 
When Columbus first encountered the Mayan merchants in the Bay of Honduras, Antón de Alaminos was among the crew as a cabin boy. Fifteen years later, he was the main pilot on the Hernandez expedition that 'discovered' Isla Mujeres. The following year, 1518, Alaminos piloted another expedition to Yucatan and named the peninsula "Isla Rica", thinking it was an island, before joining Hernán Cortés on a trip that culminated in the Conquest of Mexico.
When the Cortes expedition came to Yucatan in 1519, they learned there were two bearded men living among the Maya, Spanish survivors of the Valdivia, which had wrecked somewhere between Isla Mujeres and Cozumel in 1511. Eight years had passed since the wreck and only two survivors remained.
Gonzalo Guerrero, had "gone native", becoming a military leader, married to a Mayan princess named Zazil Ha, daughter of a Mayan official. Guerrero fathered the first mestizo children of Mexico. It's said that his expertise was instrumental to the Maya in the bloody battle of Champoton in 1517, where Hernandez received his fatal wound and many of his soldiers died. The extensively tattooed Guerrero expressed a preference for his current life and stayed with his family, declining to join Cortes and his army. He died fighting against the Spanish with Mayan troops he'd helped train.
Cortes rescued the other survivor, Jeronimo de Aguilar, a priest who'd escaped his first captors to become the slave of a rival Mayan leader. Some say that his life was spared because he carried a "Book of Hours" (Horarium) which were only possessed by priests and nobles in those days before printing presses. It's said the Maya had high regard for those who carried books. Aguilar accepted Cortes' offer and became his personal translator, playing an important role in his campaign.
The Spanish encountered many challenges attempting to control and settle the region; the terrain was difficult, the inhabitants hostile, and the seas were "infested with pirates", according to a Spanish report in 1537. There were only six coastal towns in the mid 1500's, which were poor Mayan pueblos, between what is now Holbox & Chetumal, of which two were located on the island of Cozumel. The few people of these settlements were mostly Mayan, who in their state of abandonment by the government, often allied themselves with the pirates to save their lives. Out of fear of reprisals, they usually failed to report the abuses they suffered.
During the colonial era, the Yucatan peninsula was not really part of New Spain, and was administrated separately as a "General Captaincy", which included Belize, Honduras, and parts of Chiapas and Tabasco. It was a vast, difficult to control area, lacking in means of communication or transportation by land.

Pirates found strategic shelter on the islands of Cozumel, Contoy, and Mujeres, and in Ascension and Espiritu Santo Bays. They were periodically expelled by the Yucatan government, who sent expeditions for this purpose every five or ten years. However, the outlaws blatantly returned after the military left.
Pirates were eventually ejected from the region, and the island remained uninhabited except for fishermen who left behind a few thatch huts and visited intermittently seeking salt, turtles, and other sea creatures. Refugees from the Caste War settled the island in 1848, and it was founded as "Dolores" on August 17, 1850. A former pirate and slave trader, Spaniard Fermin Mundaca, owned about 40% of the isle. The base of a second Mayan temple was recently discovered on his hacienda, whose stones were presumably used in the construction of his walls, wells, and buildings.
There will be an event at Punta Sur today at 5p to celebrate this anniversary. Residents and tourists are invited to attend and to wear white.
Photos of Francisco Hernández de Córdoba and the ruins of Boca Inglesias near Cabo Catoche in the municipality of Isla Mujeres.


 LINK to Mexico National Weather Service (Spanish)
 LINK to satellite images for the Mexico National Weather Service
 LINK to GOES East Band 16 GIF (animation)
LINK to a private weather station on Isla Mujeres 

LINK to US National Hurricane Center

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Isla Mujeres News & Events Saturday, March 4



    Today is the 506th anniversary of Europeans discovering the island, who'd sailed here from Cuba. This will be commemorated at 5p at Punta Sur. You're invited to join the celebration, and encouraged to wear white.
     The graphic shows the head of the expedition, Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba, as well as a statue of Ixchel and the temple dedicated to her at the south end of the island. (The foundation of another temple was discovered on the Mundaca Hacienda.)
     In pre-Hispanic times, the island was dedicated to the Mayan goddess of the moon, love and fertility, Ixchel, whose followers left offerings of feminine forms on the beaches of the island (and at its temples). When the Spanish conquistadors arrived and observed these figures, they named it "Isla Mujeres", the Island of Women.


    Isla Mujeres has been nominated for the 2023 Magic Excellence Awards in the category "Nature" / "Naturaleza". The public can vote thru Wednesday, March 8th at this link (on the third page, click on "Siguiente"):
The awards will be announced on the last day of the national Tianguis Turistico in Mexico, which takes place March 26-29th in Mexico City. This event promotes tourism products and services offered by the 132 Pueblos Magicos of Mexico.


Islanders are invited to apply for tourism projects for the "Premios Magicos por Excelencia" / Magic Awards for Excellence, which will be presented on March 29th at the Tianguis Touristico / Tourism Convention in Mexico City. The deadline for applications is March 14, which can be submitted from 9a to 5p weekdays at the municipal Tourism Department offices.
Proposed tourism projects can be in the topics of nature, sustainability, gastronomy, wine, religion, accessibility, paleontology, social topics, cultural topics and heritage. The Excellence Awards are part of the national Tianguis Touristico, which will be held in Mexico City March 26-29.

 You're invited to cheer on the home team tomorrow, Sunday, at 1p at the El Pescador baseball field (in front of Chedraui). The Isla Mujeres "Langosteros" will play the Cancun "Sports Club Tabasco" and the entry fee is 20 pesos.


    City Council members made a supervisory tour with representatives of Aguakan and CAPA to verify that work is being done to improve the delivery of tap water and wastewater services.
     They visited Zazil-Ha street at Carlos Lazo where work is in progress on the Convention Center cárcamo (tank with pump) to improve wastewater drainage, which affects the northern point of the island due to a large number of tourism services located there, including hotels, beach clubs, restaurants, markets, shops, clinics and residential areas. The municipal General Director, Hugo Sanchez Montalvo said this work will prevent spillage of wastewater into the sea. The work involves modern technology and is estimated to be completed by May 31st.
    They visited the runway area where an area was donated by the municipal government to CAPA (Commission of Potable Water & Sewage) for construction of a cárcamo along prolongation Rueda Medina Ave, to solve an old problem of wastewater drainage.
They visited the cárcamo on Coral St. in the Punta Sur area, which will be interconnected with another cárcamo to be built soon along that same street. Sr. Sanchez said the completion of these works is important because it offers a solution for an extensive area that has not had basic service. It is estimated that this will be completed in June.
    They also visited the cárcamo at the FOVISSSTE apartment building in colonia La Gloria, because there is a drainage service problem, which has caused serious underground pollution with bad odors, endangering the health of the residents and neighborhood.

 In this video, Aguakan explains how tap water is provided for the island. It depends on hydraulic infrastructure, and the supply comes from extraction wells in a catchment area of Cancun. From there it is pumped to tanks, where it is disinfected before being distributed. A great deal of infrastructure is required to get the water to your house, along with the work of hundreds of people behind the scenes.

This infrastructure includes a submarine line that runes more than 16 kilometers, which was installed 25 years ago. It is maintained annually by a special team of divers who verify every meter from the coast of Cancun to the island. (Technically, it connects to the coast by Punta Sam, in the municipality of Isla Mujeres.)
Aguakan says: Throughout our operations in Isla Mujeres, we have invested in renewal of the tap water network, as well as the sanitary drainage (wastewater) system. (Wastewater is processed on the island.) In 2023, the construction of a re-pumping well is planned, as well as the introduction of drainage to other parts of the island, seeking to improve the quality of life of the islanders with our services.
In another video, municipal Director General Hugo Sanchez, and CAPA advisor Juan Buenfil conduct a tour around the island with other officials and Aguakan managers, discussing solutions to benefit the islanders. They review the sites where four carcamos (tanks with pumps) will be constructed, and say this will provide coverage for sanitary drainage service for 96% of this island.
Yesterday's planned water outage was caused by electrical work being done in relation to the Mayan Train construction. The ICA company completed their work in the early hours of this morning, and water service was promptly resumed. However, low pressure may be experienced, which should normalize as the day progresses.


     The island remains in Green status on the Sargasso report for today and the forecast expects very little to arrive to Isla Mujeres in the next 24 hours. However, ~22 tons are expected to arrive to the municipalities of Benito Juarez (Cancun) and Puerto Morelos by tomorrow. It says that 25,653 tons have arrived to the Mexican Caribbean since Friday.

On the graphic, "Escaso" means scarce, "Bajo" is low and "Moderado" is moderate.

 LINK to Facebook video of Carnaval scenes from the nightly events. Caption: Carnaval 2023 "Soy Caribe / I'm Caribbean" was full of joy, fun and family bonding. The Mayor shares these memories of the talented people who entertained us night after night in the grand, colorful fiesta isleña.


 LINK to Mexico National Weather Service (Spanish)
 LINK to satellite images for the Mexico National Weather Service
 LINK to GOES East Band 16 GIF (animation)
LINK to a private weather station on Isla Mujeres 

LINK to US National Hurricane Center


Sunday, February 26, 2023

Isla Mujeres News & Events Sunday, February 26



LOW PRESSURE OR NO TAP WATER TOMORROW, Mon., Feb 27, affecting the entire island, due to construction of the Mayan Train causing electrical work in Capacitation Zone #3, on the mainland. This work by the ICA company was originally scheduled last week and cancelled. Most island residences and businesses have tanks as part of their water system, which help carry them through outages like this. However, parts of the island have recently been experiencing ongoing problems with pressure and outages.

MAYOR ADDRESSES WATER SUPPLY PROBLEMS by requesting an audit by CAPA (Tap Water and Sewage Commission) regarding water shortages and Aguakan's failure to comply with its responsibilities to keep the island community supplied with water. She said if Aguakan is not complying with its contract, legal procedures will be taken to request rescinding its concession to provide water service to the island. She said prompt attention needs to be given to the lack of tap water, as well as to discharges of wastewater, otherwise these problems may generate serious environmental impacts to the island.

DISCOUNTED DRIVER'S LICENSES FOR WOMEN during the month of March, as part of the commemoration of International Women's Day, which is on March 8th. A 50% discount will be available for the processing of women's driving licenses throughout the month. The Mayor announced a wide program of activities aimed at women will be scheduled in March.

NEW FEMALE FIRE CHIEF, Josefa Castellanos Granda is now the Directora of Civil Protection & the Firefighters. There's also a new Director of Catastro (Deeds), a new Director of Asuntos Consultivos (Advisory Matters) and a new Directora of Communiciation (not pictured).

FIRE AT CEMETERY EXTINGUISHED yesterday by personnel with the municipal Department of Civil Protection & Firefighters, in a timely manner. The trash fire occurred at the cemetery in colonia La Gloria, and residents are reminded to avoid burning rubbish, which can get out of control and cause damage.

FIFTY COUPLES WED AT BEAUTIFUL PUNTA SUR as part of the statewide program of "Collective Weddings". The most senior islander couple participating had been together for 26 years and the youngest were marrying after a three-year relationship. The "Bodas Colectivas" usually occur around Valentine's Day, and the municipality generally offers free or discounted processing of the paperwork. Mayor Atenea Gomez Ricalde congratulated the couples, wishing them the best and reminding them that love and respect must prevail in the new life they are starting together.

TWELVE DRILL TEAMS COMPETED to commemorate Flag Day on Friday, Feb. 24th at the Bicentennial Dome in La Gloria, in three categories. The primary school category had six teams competing and was won by Julio Sauri Espinosa's evening shift. The middle school competition included three teams, with the winning team from Benito Juarez Technical School. The high school/preparatory category also had three teams and was won by Jean Piaget Liceo del Caribe.

OUTSTANDING PARTICIPATION AT TOURISM CONVENTION in Bogota, Colombia at the 2023 ANATO (National Association of Travel Agencies and Tour Operators) event, which brought together more than 120 travel agents and wholesalers. Colombia represents the second most important market for tourism in Quintana Roo, after the North American market. "Last year, 772,000 Columbian tourists arrived in the state, of whom 420,000 stayed in Quintana Roo," said Jose Castillo Magana, municipal Director of Economic Development & Tourism. He noted that excellent connectivity by air exists between our state and Columbia, and the Mexican Caribbean Pavilion at the tourism showcase promoted a range of the natural attractions and tourist infrastructure found in Isla Mujeres.

SCARCITY OF SARGASSO arriving to the island's beaches according to yesterday's graphic, where "encaso" means scarce, "muy bajo" means very low, "moderado" is moderate, and "muy alto" is very high.

SUCCESSFUL CARNAVAL CELEBRATION, whose theme was "Soy Carbbean / I'm Caribbean". The Mayor announced that occupancy was 94% and a little over $4 million dollars were generated, which is a major economic success achieved thanks to efforts and participation by island families and municipal departments.

LOBSTER CATCHING SEASON ENDS TUESDAY for four months, resuming on July 1st. The two month ban on catching grouper continues until April 1st. Catching octopus has been illegal since mid-December, which ends August 1st.




 Photos from Monday's Children's Carnaval event on the Town Square.

Sunday's Carnaval parade photos by Bruce Roberts, below.


Photos below from the City's Facebook page, of Sunday evening...

 Saturday's "Night of Fantasy" was full of memories for the islanders, because it featured former Carnaval Kings & Queens. There were also performances by comparsas (dance troupes), a comedy show and dancing to live music by Junior Klan.

 At Saturday's "Night of Fantasy", the Carnaval Kings & Queens and their comparsas (dance troupes) delighted the audience of islanders and visitors with their talents.

 As Saturday's parade began, a small shower dampened downtown, but not the spirits of the participants, who included the many Kings & Queens, as well as the Mayor. Photos below by Bruce Roberts.


 The first couple, in orange, are the 'overall' King & Queen of Carnaval, Gabriel I & Margarita I. The photo below them is Mariana I, the Queen of Diversity, who was crowned last evening. At upper right, are celebrities Carlos Arenas & Lorena Herrera.

Tuesday was the Negrada, celebrating the Afro-Caribbean roots of Carnaval. That evening on the Town Square, there was a contest between the Comparsas (dance troupes) in the Open Category, and the Comparsa of the Carnaval King & Queen performed. There was a comedy show by Chino Fernandez. The evening's theme was "The Burning of Juan Carnaval", with the traditional reading of his Will & Testament. Events are scheduled to begin at 8:30 and that was the last night of Carnaval. Photos by Bruce Roberts.


 LINK to Mexico National Weather Service (Spanish)
 LINK to satellite images for the Mexico National Weather Service
 LINK to GOES East Band 16 GIF (animation)
LINK to a private weather station on Isla Mujeres 

LINK to US National Hurricane Center