Friday, April 24, 2020

Isla Mujeres Daily News & Events Friday, April 24

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A new case of Covid-19 in our municipality.

The Governor says~~
>>"The State Government will initiate a second round of food support for the month of May, in coordination with SEGALMEX of the federal government, to the municipalities of Cozumel, Benito Juárez, Solidaridad, Puerto Morelos, Isla Mujeres, and Tulum, which are the most affected by unemployment, for the benefit of 312,000 families." The state will continue supporting families with the most need in the other municipalities in May.
>>Vehicles with licenses plates from other states or provisional plates are prohibited from circulation.
>>Face masks are mandatory in public by state law and state police are handing them out for free at checkpoints to those without one. Failure to comply is a misdemeanor with a potential penalty of a fine or up to 36 hours in jail.
>> "It is time to take the next step against the pandemic." He said that fighting the pandemic by reducing contagion is the joint responsibility of everyone, therefore residents must comply with three necessary measures: Staying at home, strengthening hygiene measures, and maintaining distance of 1.5 meters between people. “Staying at home is without a doubt the most important measure; It is very easy to get Covid-19, the only way to cut the contagion is to isolate your bodies, because otherwise any contact, any closeness, any surface that has been touched by someone who has had the contagion can lead to a much more serious situation and aggravate all the security strategies that we are currently taking."
>>Surveillance on public roads has been increased to ensure the minimum transit of vehicles and people.
It's dry season in the Yucatan, when islanders once harvested salt. Here's an article I wrote about it a couple years ago.

Once upon a time, during these weeks of dry season, salt harvesting was an important activity on Isla Mujeres. Salt was highly prized by Mayans for its use in preserving seafood and meat, as well as for tanning hides. It was also used in medicines and for religious rituals, including honoring Ixchel. The Mayan merchants of the eastern coast of the Yucatan peninsula traded with their peers from the Gulf of Mexico down to the Gulf of Honduras, including Guatemala and Belize.
Salt was a valuable resource for the settlers of Isla Mujeres, who founded "Dolores" in 1850, and mined it from Salina Grande. The most infamous of the settlers, Fermin Mundaca, took advantage of the island's abundance of salt for tanning hides, not only from his herds of cattle and sheep, but also the skins of hunted animals. According to historian Fidel Villanueva Madrid, these included deer, lizards, and "tigres" (lit. means tigers, probably refers to jaguars, puma &/or margays), which he bought in bulk, tanned and sold, mostly in Havana, Cuba. (Mundaca was a former pirate & slave trader who owned forty percent of the isle from ~1850 to ~1880, where he created a hacienda. He was the Commercial Agent for Isla Mujeres with Cuba.)
In the late 1800's, Manuel Sierra Mendez, “colonizador de Isla Mujeres y Cozumel” had a good business marketing salt that was extracted, under a contract with the federal government. There were complaints from islanders who did not want to stand by while Mr. Sierra Mendez grabbed all the salt that was produced. This conflict ended when the federal government cancelled the contract, saying that Mr. Sierra Mendez had not completed the obligations required when the concession was granted.
Archeologist Alice le Plongeon describes her visit to the 'salt pits' in the middle of the isle in 1876, when there was just one lake:
"At the beginning of the fishing
season, men and women go to collect the salt
that is deposited by evaporation on the shore of
the pools. They seem to regard it as a kind of
picnic, though the work is laborious, especially for
the women, who stand up to their waists in muddy
water all day long, putting the salt into large turtle
shells that serve instead of vats. It would be
almost impossible to transport the salt by land to
village Dolores; the only roads are narrow pathways
through the thicket, and the soil is so rocky and
uneven that it is tiresome to walk, much more so to
carry a load. A great extent of the interior of
the island is taken up by a most picturesque lake
that opens on the south side of the bay by a narrow
channel through which the water of the ocean
enters. The lake is consequently subject to tides,
and it is navigable for the majority of the canoes
used by the fishermen.
The channel is crooked and scarcely more than
nine feet wide, having dense thickets of mangroves
on each side. It takes about half an hour to go
through it, then the lake suddenly opens to our
view, truly a charming scene ! It is surrounded by
banks twenty feet high, covered with verdure ; sea-
gulls soar overhead, filling the air with discordant
screams, while pelicans, herons and storks, are
perched here and there, half hidden among the foli-
age, motionless, wistfully watching the water, to
catch the unsuspicious fish that venture within
their reach.
The lake is nearly three miles long; its southern
end reaches to within a hundred yards of the salt
pit ; thus the labor of transporting the salt is made
comparatively easy."
Mr. Villanueva explained that after the creation of the Federal Territory of Quintana Roo in 1902, the islanders repeatedly tried to organize themselves to take advantage of this resource. The last attempt took place in 1939 when more than 30 heads of families formed the cooperative “Salineros del Caribe, S. C. L.”, which found no market for the product because they had to face the powerful regional monopoly in the salt industry that was established by the Roche family of the state of Yucatan.
The historian said that until several years ago, it was still possible to interview some of the island entrepreneurs who had once tried to commercially utilize the salt flats of the island, and they all agreed that it was a lack of market that ruined them.
Mr. Villanueva said, "Today, when walking along the path that borders the Salina Grande, we can not help but close our eyes to recreate those early midsummer days when the islanders of both sexes, and of all ages, entered the burning waters to collect salt. As the Mayans did, the natives of the island formed cones or pyramids of salt which they then burned with palm branches until a protective crust was formed against the rains, which began to arrive in May." He said they began working in the wee hours of the morning (la madrugada), and had to quit as the sun rose in the sky, when the work became very difficult and their skin could become ulcerated. He said their skin became tanned like leather from working to extract the salt.
Salt continued to be harvested and used by the islanders until the 1960's when electricity service became sufficient to supply a seafood freezer and an ice factory. A few years later, the lake's connection to the sea was cut off when the western perimeter road was built to provide better access for development and to the tourist attractions of Playa Lancheros, Playa Indios, and Garrafon Park.

A pink Isla de las Mujeres at dawn today


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Fine dining a few steps away at Da Luisa or try the neighborhood eateries a couple blocks farther. We provide a list of links & direction to over 20 eateries within ten minutes walk, including Mango Cafe,  Mike's Pizza, Brisas, Rosa Sirena, Coco Jaguar, Manolitos, La Chatita, Green Verde, Kash Kechen Chuc, and the large department store-grocery Chedraui & the local craft brewery.  Visit marinas, bars, & beach clubs that are minutes away by bike or on foot. Attend Yoga classes a couple villas away at Casa Ixchel. Fresh juice, produce & tortillas a few blocks away in the village, as well as a variety of other stores.
Full moon rising over the Caribbean 
 At Sunset--April 7  6:54p (sets 7:04p)
April 8     7:59  
April 9     9:04
 April 10   10:08
April 11    11:11

 Sunset  7:02-7:12pm (beginning vs end of month)
Sunrise  6:40--6:17am
Painting by Pamela Haase at MVC

     This year, the nearly new crescent moon won't interfere, and you may see as many as 18 meteors per hour, at the peak. Occasionally, this shower produces 'fireballs' (exceptionally bright meteors) and about a quarter of Lyrid meteors leave persistent trails of ionized gas that glow for a few seconds. 
       The "shooting stars" will be more frequent in the pre-dawn hours, when the radiant point is highest in the sky. Look over the Caribbean, toward the northeastern horizon, but don't worry if you don't identify the radiant point (near the star Vega)--they can be seen in all parts of the night sky. (The radiant point is where they appear to originate.)

    Watch in the pre-dawn hours of April 20, 21 & 22 (Mon-Wed).  They'll peak in the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday, April 22. There may be some early on Thursday. You can also see three planets in the pre-dawn sky--Jupiter, Saturn & Mars, in the southeast. 
    There are records of this shower that go back some 2700 years, when the Chinese are said to have observed the Lyrid meteors "falling like rain" in 687 BC. The Lyrids are known for their occasional "outbursts", and observers have seen around 100 per hour in the US (1982), Japan (1945), and Greece (1922), with no predictions for this occurring this year.  
   The meteors are the debris of a comet (Thatcher) that takes 415 years to orbit the sun. They burn up in our atmosphere, about 60 miles up, while the star Vega is just a reference point and unconnected--it's trillions of times farther away. 

 HERE is an interactive sky map showing the position of the radiant (where the meteors appear to originate) in the sky above Isla Mujeres throughout the night & predawn. (Scroll forward to 10p+ when the radiant & Vega begin rising here.) You can change the date & location.

The Events section will resume when there are public events scheduled.

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

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