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During their first decade on Isla Mujeres, the war refugees who founded "Dolores" survived two hurricanes & rebuilt the town, while learning to earn their living from the sea. Meanwhile, the government sold nearly half of the isle to a slave trading Spanish pirate.
Isla celebrates her 169th anniversary this weekend with cultural events on the Town Square, in the Bay, & a run around the isle.
August 17, 1850: Founded as the Pueblo of Dolores
This weekend, Isla Mujeres is celebrating the anniversary of its foundation as the pueblo of Dolores 169 years ago. The isle was settled by refugees from the Caste War, who petitioned the government for permission to settle & were promised property deeds if they resided continuously for six years and grew crops. They were required to obtain permission to leave the isle and risked losing rights to their land if they were gone more than six months.
In the decades before the refugees arrived, the island was uninhabited except for a few visiting fishermen who camped in makeshift shacks. For centuries, it had been a refuge for pirates, until the Lafitte brothers were expelled in the early 1820's.
The approximately fifty families of Dolores were required to construct their own roads & infrastructure, to establish a police force & build a barracks, and to report any visiting foreigners. The Mexican government was concerned about the British in Belize, who had allied with the Mayan rebels and were taking advantage of the chaos from the war to increase their presence and smuggling along the Caribbean coast. Meanwhile, the Caste War raged across the peninsula, reducing the population by half, as those who survived the bloodshed sought safety elsewhere. Occupants of the new island settlement lacked protection from the government and feared attacks by Mayan rebels.
Within two years, the villagers had endured their first major hurricane, then the town was destroyed by a hurricane five years later, in 1857. Tropical diseases like cholera and yellow fever also took a toll.
Eight years after foundation, records first mention the presence of pirate-slave trader Fermin Mundaca, when he was 33 years old. He purchased 40% of the island and is credited with construction of the first permanent buildings, using stones from the Mayan temple ruins (which were actually the first permanent buildings).
Sixteen years after the town was founded, a census by the reigning French government of Mexico in 1866 revealed there were 468 residents. Nearly half of the inhabitants hadn't reached the age of twenty, and 130 were children below the age of ten. Of the 148 working males, more than a hundred earned their living from the sea. The rest were laborer-farmhands, except 4 carpenters, 2 cobblers, a tailor & a governmental employee.
The first photographs of Dolores were taken in 1876, when a fifty year-old eccentric archeologist visited with his 25 year-old British bride. Alice Le Plongeon described Mundaca as a strange character who lived an austere, isolated, selfish existence, and said his cattle roamed loose, spoiling the crops of the villagers. She also mentioned the towers left behind by the Lafitte brothers.
She described the lake in the middle of the isle which was nearly three miles long (at that time) where the villagers harvested salt, using large turtle shells as vats. The large lake was subject to tides & navigable by the fishermen's canoes, which is how the salt was transported, since the only 'roads' to that part of the isle were narrow, rocky pathways. She learned about the importance of catching turtles during the summer months & joined the families on a moon-lit night, hiding behind bushes along the beach.
She gave an account of her first sight of the isle: "The water of the bay was as unruffled and crystalline as a sheet of emerald; and the village of Dolores made a charming picture, with its thatched cottages, boats hauled up on the white beach, and tall palms waving like feathered canopies above the dwellings; while the perfect stillness made us almost imagine that we beheld an enchanted island awaiting the touch of a magic wand. That wand was the first golden sun-ray that shot from the east, calling every creature to life and action. Doors were thrown open, faint columns of smoke wreathed their way to the cloudless sky, children ran to the beach to float their toy ships; fishermen launched their boats; women passed to and fro, and feathered songsters warbled their sweetest lay."
The Le Plongeons took the first photograph of the Punta Sur ruin, and recorded the Mayan icon they dug up there, accidentally breaking it with a shovel. At that time, the temple consisted of two rooms, and its doorway lintels of zapote wood were still intact, where foreign visitors had carved their names.
Mundaca was 51 at the time of the Le Plongeon's visit in 1876 and caught up in the throes of his infatuation with Martiniana (Prisca) Gomez Pantoja, aka "La Trigueña", who turned 14 that year. She rejected his attentions, which included building gardens full of exotic plants, statuary and benches, with arched entrances dedicated to her. He carved himself a tombstone dated 1877 which says "As you are, I was...and as I am, you will be", that is presumed to be a message to her. His tomb on the isle is empty, and it's believed he died several years later in Merida from yellow fever....and a broken heart.
(#1-4 by the Le Plongeons, #5 of Mundaca's tomb & architecture is from Yank in Yucatan, Schell, 1963)
Happy 169th Birthday Isla Mujeres!!
Remember when Texas claimed the island?
And when there was nearly a "Yucatan, USA"?
Some pre-Dolores history . . . .
In honor of the 169th anniversary of the founding of Isla Mujeres as the pueblo of Dolores, yesterday I published an article about the first couple decades after settlement. This one is about events that preceded settlement, when Texans tried to claim the isle & helped Yucatan secede from Mexico.
In 1517, the first Spanish expedition to Mexico landed on Isla Mujeres & named the uninhabited isle for the female icons left in the temple by Mayan pilgrims. In the following centuries, the island was a refuge for pirates, and for fishermen who harvested turtles that come ashore to nest every summer.
In the 1820's Mexico became independent from Spain, and evicted the last pirates from the island, which was considered part of the Territory of Yucatan, Mexico, leaving the isle to the itinerant turtle fishermen.
Until the middle of the 20th century, the Yucatan Peninsula was isolated from Mexico by land, but united with the world by sea. Trade with Cuba, the US, Europe, and various Caribbean islands was more significant than commerce with Mexico. Railways & highways connecting the peninsula with the rest of Mexico weren't built until the 1950's & 60's, leaving the region with a history of rebelliousness & attempts at independence.
After Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821, inhabitants of the remote regions of Yucatan and Texas resented the political decisions forced upon them by the central government in far-away Mexico City, who demanded taxes and obedience, but offered few services in return.
In 1836, the Republic of Texas seceded from Mexico, starting a war. Texas promptly formed a four-ship Navy and captured a Mexican merchant ship just off the Yucatan coast, which was smuggling military supplies to Mexican President Santa Ana's troops in Texas. These supplies were turned over to Houston's troops, who used them at the decisive battle of San Jacinto, where Santa Ana surrendered. Although Texas won its independence, hostilities continued between the two countries.
In 1837, the Texas Navy was reduced to two ships, which President Houston ordered to cruise the Texas coasts, protecting the ports & shipping. However, Texan Naval officials believed the best defense was a good offense and they sailed off to the Yucatan without his consent. They split up in the Gulf of Mexico, agreeing to meet at Isla Mujeres.
The smaller 89-foot "Invincible" arrived first, and the "Brutus" joined it on July 8th, anchoring offshore in deep water to avoid the coral reefs. They claimed the island for Texas and their crews spent the next three days traveling to the isle and the mainland in small boats to replenish their water supplies. They also collected a large number of turtles, emptying the pens without paying the fishermen. Turtles were in great demand on ships because they could be kept alive for months below deck as a source of fresh meat.
The Texans sailed south to Cozumel, claiming possession in a ceremony that included a 23-gun salute. They enthusiastically described the island's deep harbor, healthy trade winds, good soil, and abundant supply of water and trees. One of the captains said it was "one of the most desirable places in all the circle of my travels", adding, "I am convinced that the island will be one of the greatest acquisitions to our beloved country that the Admiral aloft could ever have bestowed on us." (Meaning: "Cozumel is one of the best things God gave Texas" (!) )
They raised the Republic of Texas flag above the island, and Captain Boylan reported that the residents of the island had welcomed them and sworn allegiance to their cause. They sailed north past Isla Mujeres to Isla Contoy, where they found domestic animals & evidence that there had been people in the huts recently. They also found several pens of turtles, which they took.
They sailed to Cabo Catoche, looking for Boca Iglesia, but they didn't find anyone, so they took some clay images, noting they had seen similar images at the Mayan temple on Isla Mujeres. They continued up the coast, engaging with Mexican ships and cavalry, and burning two villages. After capturing six boats, they sailed back to Texas, where their luck ran out when they encountered superior Mexican ships and ran aground, putting an end to the First Texas Navy.
In 1841, Yucatan followed Texas's lead and seceded from Mexico, striking a deal with President Lamar of Texas to form an alliance against Mexico. Yucatán agreed to pay Texas $8000 a month for the services of three ships to defend its coast against Mexican blockades and raids, and the two upstart Republics would split the proceeds from any prizes seized. As long as Yucatán remained in rebellion, Mexico would be tied up there and unable to mount a fresh invasion of Texas. The agreement also promised an infusion of badly needed capital for the Texans.
However, Sam Houston had just been elected to another term as president, and it was feared he would countermand the deal as soon as he took office. On the day he was sworn in, half of the Texas Naval fleet sailed for Yucatán. Two days later, Houston issued an order recalling the ships, but it was too late.
The Texas Navy patrolled off Yucatan, capturing several commercial Mexican ships, until April 1842, when Yucatan negotiated a temporary truce with Mexico and suspended payments. The Texas-Yucatan alliance continued, with embassies in Merida and Austin. A year later, two Texas Naval ships returned to the Yucatan, battling with various Mexican vessels. However, Houston proclaimed the Texas Navy to be pirates & requested an friendly country to capture them and return the ships to him in Galveston. Upon hearing this, the Navy returned to Texas in July, 1843, which was the end of its operations. Texas became part of the US in 1845, which led to a war between the US & Mexico the following year.
In 1846, the government of the Republic of Yucatan was divided into two factions, and the US Navy was imposing coastal blockades as part of its war against Mexico. Yucatan President Mendez sent a delegation to Washington declaring his government's neutrality in the Mexican-American War, and seeking an end to the US Naval blockades.
In 1847, the Caste War broke out when Mayan rebels took up arms against the Yucatecan whites & mestizos, spreading terror across the peninsula and disrupting communications. In desperation, President Mendez offered sovereignty to Cuba, Jamaica, Spain, and the United Kingdom in exchange for military assistance, but they didn't respond to his pleas. The Yucatan delegation in Washington DC made a formal offer of annexation of Yucatan to the US, which pleased President Polk. The "Yucatan Bill", to provide military assistance and pave the way for annexation, passed the House, but not the Senate.
In 1848, Yucatan rejoined Mexico, seeking economic and military assistance with the Caste War. The US & Mexico ended their war with the Treaty of Hidalgo, in which Mexico ceded approximately 525,000 square miles (55% of its prewar territory) in exchange for a $15 million lump sum payment, and the assumption by the U.S. Government of ~$3 million in debts owed by Mexico to U.S. citizens.
The President of Mexico sent 150,000 pesos to Yucatan, along with arms and ammunition.
Thousands of Caste War refugees fled to Isla Mujeres and Cozumel, escaping the war-torn peninsula.
Fifty families were given permission to settle here, and the pueblo of Dolores was founded 169 years ago today. Last night, they and their descendants were honored on the Town Square, with the reading of the original Decree, and everyone's invited to join in the festivities that continue tonight and tomorrow.
#1 Republic of Yucatan Flag
#2 Republic of Texas Flag
#3 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo aka Mexican Cession
From the City....
Anniversary celebrations attract more tourists, despite it being the last week of holidays.
The Governor attended the City Council Public Special Session commemorating the 169th anniversary of the founding of Isla Mujeres LINK VIDEO
Two companies, Scandar Tour and Consorcio Empresarial del Sur TPE S.A de C.V,. are interested in competing for the 25 year concession to provide bus service on four routes in the municipality, which requires a registration fee of 50,000 pesos. They decided a follow-up meeting for clarifications wasn't necessary. The presentation meeting is scheduled for August 27, and the decision will be announced later that day at 3:30pm.
Isla Mujeres in the 90's--
From Por Esto :
Isla Mujeres news briefs
Breves de Isla Mujeres
The Cockteleros of Isla Mujeres will play in Puerto Morelos on Sunday at 1p, against the Chuchos of Playa del Carmen in the semifinals for the B Group of the Puerto Morelos League.
The companies Puritronic and Aguavera, who supply purified drinking water, say they don't plan to raise prices this year.
Hotel occupancy is beginning to decline
Coronation of the ambassador of the anniversary festivities
|View from the rooms.|
MaraVilla Caribe Bed & Beach Three rentals with large glass doors overlooking our white sand beach and the beautiful Caribbean sea, with kitchenettes & fast WIFI. In the coastal neighborhood of Bachilleres, among upscale villas & boutique hotelitos, convenient to downtown or the colonias, yet separate. Quiet & Private.
|Kitchen in a large studio. (Sur & Norte are identical)|
|Kitchenette in small room, Medio. There's a table & chairs across from it & a double bed.|
|A large slider opens from each of the 3 rooms onto the patio where each has a table & chairs, hammock & clotheslines. The BBQ is behind the pole, and the outdoor shower is outa the pic at left.|
|Large studio (Norte), I'm standing in the kitchen. A queen & single bed.|
Free amenities such as hammocks,bikes, BBQ grills, safes, portable beach chairs & beach towels, washer & dryer, loungers. Breathtaking panoramic views from the rooftop terrace. Large sliding doors open to a patio & our backyard-beach, overlooking the Caribbean sea. Upstairs room also available. Downtown is ~ a mile away; if you don't feel like walking, flag a $2 taxi. Parking. You can enjoy the music & crowds downtown, then come home our quiet neighborhood of Bachilleres where you'll sleep to the sounds of the sea.. $275/$325/$425 wk $40/50/$65nt Monthly Discounts
|Large studio (Sur) with Queen & Single bed. Slider door & view are behind me.|
Fine dining a few steps away at Da Luisa or try the neighborhood eateries a couple blocks farther. Within ten minutes walk are a variety of restaurants including Mango Cafe, Brisas, Manolitos, La Chatita, Green Verde, Kash Kechen Chuc, and the large department store-grocery , Chedraui. Visit marinas, bars, & beach clubs that are minutes away by bike or on foot. Attend Yoga classes a couple villas away at hotelito Casa Ixchel. Fresh juice, produce & tortillas a few blocks away in the village, as well as a variety of other stores and small local restaurants. It takes 20-30 minutes to walk downtown.```````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````
Full moon rising over the Caribbean
August 15 7:42
August 16 8:20
August 17 8:55
August 18 9:29
August 19 10:03
August 20 10:37
Painting by Pamela Haase
Sunset ~7:25-7:05p (start-end/mo)
Sunrise ~6:20-6:30-a (start-end/mo)
Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower thru August 23, peaked in late July Perseids peaks Aug. 12, but nearly full moon will interfere.
Provided by MaraVilla Caribe & Isla Mujeres Daily News & Events
Wednesday nights at 8:45p, the bicycling group "Isla en Bici" invite people to join them for healthy recreation, meeting at Juarez & Abasolo. Lights required, helmet recommended. LINK
In August, fishermen in this region are banned from catching Shrimp & Conch LINK
The baseball games at the El Pescador stadium in front of Chedraui are usually held on Sundays, starting around 1p, when there's a 'home' game.
The new date for the Women's Fishing Tournament "El Dorado del Caribe" hasn't been announced yet.
|Guests assisting Tortugranja worker collect from two nests on July 29th.|
Turtle nesting season continues throughout August. The turtles nest along the eastern beaches in the wee hours of the night and Tortugranja staff and volunteers gather the eggs and incubate them in a pen outside the facility. Three species nest annually in Isla Mujeres; Greens, Loggerheads, and Hawksbills. The sex of the turtles is determined by the temperature of the sand, which is common in reptiles.
|Photo by Tony Garcia Whale sharks are filter-feeders who eat plankton.|
Thursday-Sunday August 8-11: At the children's baseball field "Ariel Picho Magana" Players age 11 & 12 from the states of Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatan and of course Quintana Roo, including some from Isla Mujeres will compete. About 100 players and their families are expected.
Monday, August 12: Perseids Meteor Shower peaks, but the nearly full moon will interfere.
Events celebrating the 169th anniversary of the founding of the island as the town of Dolores:
Thursday, August 15
11am Photographic Exhibition at the lower level of the Town Hall "Isla Mujeres of Yesteryear"
1p Conference at the Naval Auditorium (in Spanish) "Isla Mujeres Yesterday & Today"
7p Night of the Assumption at the Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception
9p Special "Isla Fest 2019" Edition of Isla Mujeres Noches Magicas & the Coronation of the Foundation Ambassador with performances by the dance troupes Mestizas de Agua Salada & Ballet Tuumeen Kiin
Friday, August 16
6p Special City Council Session on the Town Square honoring the 169th Anniversary of the Founding of Isla Mujeres, recognizing the founding families and awarding the medals of Citizen Merit and Tourism Merit and the winners of the XXII Artisans Competition 2019, "Let my hands speak to you", will be announced
9p Special Edition of Isla Mujeres Noches Magicas "Bohemian Night with Nicho Hinojosa"
Saturday, August 17
8a Wreath ceremony for the Anniversary of the Cross in the Bay departing from the wooden pier
8p Special Edition of Isla Mujeres Noches Magicas featuring the Latin Dance, Dance Studio
Sunday August 18
7a Islanders 8K Run
8p Special Edition of Isla Mujeres Noches Magicas with performances by the dance troupes Al Son del Corazon, Senior Citizens Group, & El Corazon de Conchi
The City will hold an Art Fair ("Primera Feria del Arte") on the Town Square at 7:30p on Friday, Saturday & Sunday featuring more than a thousand pieces. There will be 29 local artists and 20 from other parts of the state. An invitation is extended to visitors & locals to attend & to become familiar with, appreciate, and acquire artisan products that preserve techniques learned from previous generations, which strengthen the economic, social, cultural and environmental sustainability of the island.
Friday, Aug. 30 The 7th Lion Fish Culinary Contest at 5p on the Town Square. The City invites residents, restaurateurs, independent chefs & fishermen to participate. Registration deadline is Monday, Aug. 26. The dishes can be prepared with filets or a whole fish, and participants can compete in both categories. Recipes must by provided. BYOLF. Booths can promote your business or yourself & may feature menus, drink samples, and decorations. Winners are given recognition, a pass for two to Dolphin Discover, and 5000, 3000, and 2000 pesos for the top three.
They are an invasive species who eat many young lobster, grouper, and other commercial seafood. They are caught by spearfishing, and are a mild-flavored white fish. Asia Caribe has won awards in this competition ,as well as recognition for featuring them on their menu (when available), and will prepare them a variety of ways.
The Circuito Maya race will probably be held in August in Isla Mujeres, and is one of a series of four races held annually in four Pueblos Magicos in Q.Roo and Yucatan, named after the four elements. The race in Isla Mujeres is the "Air" (Iik') and the others are Fire (K'aak'), Earth (Lu'um), and Water (Ha'), for the races held in Tulum, Bacalar, and Valladolid.
Sources for Weather Information:
LINK to Civil Protection Q Roo weather bulletin (Spanish)
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 NHC