Monday, December 9, 2019

Isla Mujeres Daily News & Events Monday, December 9

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Yesterday, a post by a resident was shared on FB 400 times, saying the taxistas are planning to block the buses access to Sac Bajo and Punta Sur today, (which weren't included on the previously published route). His post objects to this sort of attitude & activity by the taxi drivers.
Por Esto says the City Council is meeting at 10am, before the bus inauguration ceremony at noon, according to the minority-party (MORENA) Council member, Gil Chalé. His opinion is that the plan to charge tourists two dollars and state residents fewer pesos is unconstitutional. He claims no rate has been approved. There have been complaints that the differentiated rates seek to protect the taxi union.
There have also been complaints from some workers that 10 pesos is too high for the short distance, and the fee should be 7 pesos. PE notes for a family of three, it is cheaper to take a taxi for 20 pesos, although they generally prefer tourists during high season.
Por Esto also says the frequency of the buses is unknown, but they expect that all ten vehicles will be in service at the same time, which could be every ten minutes in the colonias. It isn't known whether there will be service to Sac Bajo & Punta Sur. (Por Esto previously published a map of the route going from N Guerrero west, S on Medina, E on Peces, N on Perimetral, N on Medina, but apparently have doubts about that now.)
When the Turicun buses arrived in 2001, the taxistas blocked them in the parking lot. That original contract included routes into the tourist areas, which was changed, presumably in response to objections from the taxi union and the families supported by that income. This time, the route that was published several weeks ago avoids the tourist areas, looping around on the main perimeter road of the island, cutting from west to east at the edge of La Gloria on Peces.

The taxi union responded with an official statement...
The Union of Taxi Drivers of Isla Mujeres " LIC. Gustavo Diaz Ordaz ", informs the island community that in regard to the entry into operation of urban transport, a ongoing dialogue is being maintained with the municipal authorities within which it is sought first to maintain social peace, and that by the via negotiation, obtaining agreements for the benefit of the taxi community in this island.
It is reaffirmed that at no time has this union incited its members to perform demonstrations, nor have they been given conditions or threatened with sanctions for refusal to participate in demonstrations that at no time have been convened, and we categorically deny organizing any demonstration. We reiterate that we are totally open to a dialogue to reach agreements that benefit our taxi family.

Cabalgata photos by Bruce
  After the procession, which went thru downtown and thru La Gloria, they gathered on the lot next to Madera Food & Art where horses danced and performed on stage, a large band played, the riders had tacos, and the horses had water.

Public Transportation on Isla Mujeres for Visitors & Residents
Rates are for up to four people traveling together OR fare per those traveling together
Centro-Colonias ~45p/$2.50 (V) 20-22p (R-Isla)*
Punta Sur/Sac Bajo ~100p/$5.50
Higher rates for trunk, late night, calling it
*Colonia-Centro zone/resident rate changes at Secundaria on Medina & Salina Chica on east side.
Technically, the official rate protocol involves seven zones & a dozen different fares with the highest at 98 pesos. The taxistas don't seem to be charging the 22p rate, and for tourists the seem to charge 40-50p between Colonias and el Centro.
Rates per person 38p/$2 (V) 10p (R-state) 5p (R-seniors etc)
All Day Pass-175p/$9
Up to 4 passengers, licensed driver 18+
9a-5p ~1000 pesos ($55)
24hrs ~1200 pesos ($65)
hourly ~250-300 pesos (~$15)
>Residents have been complaining of no longer being served effectively by the taxis, who gain higher fares from tourists, leaving islanders waiting up to an hour to travel to work or school. Most have been clamoring for bus service (which we had 2001-2016, tho marginally its last couple years) and opinions have been expressed concerning the size & routes in relation to potential effects on traffic & the income of families of taxistas. At 20p one-way, paying for taxis is challenging on daily wages of 100-200p. Concerns have been raised about the number and size of the new buses, particularly concerning downtown during 'rush hours', but most are adapting a "wait & see" attitude & grateful for a more economic option that may offer quicker service.They've announced they won't be going to Sac Bajo or Punta Sur at this time.

>RESIDENTS- On the bus, a lone rider saves 50%+, a senior saves 75%+ , and a student saves 45%. A couple pays 20p on the bus & 20p in a cab. For a family of four, a taxi costs ~50% less, but requires waiting for an empty cab whose driver is willing to fill it for half the fee s/he'd make picking up a tourist or two different locals. Students only receive the 9p discounted taxi rate when directly enroute to/from school. They MAY qualify on the buses w. their credential, any time, (that wasn't clear).
>VISITORS*-In general, cabs are cheaper than the bus, except for lone travelers who pay similar rates on both. The exception is tourists taking advantage of the All Day Pass, which has the additional benefit of potentially reducing alcohol-related accidents. Buses won't go to Punta Sur & Sac Bajo, but they'll provide an opportunity to loop around the rest of the isle for 38 pesos/$2 per person.
*Visiting state residents qualify for the 10p bus rate, but the Colonia-Centro taxi rate of 20-22p is only for Island residents.
Carts allow visitors to explore the entire island independently at their own pace & convenience. They are generally the most expensive choice, except hiring a cab tour by the hour or adding a cart driver can be more costly. Drivers are restricted from drinking and may be held responsible for costs not covered by insurance when involved in an accident, which is more likely to occur in a cart vs taxis & buses. Single-vehicle accidents occur when carts tip over from being driven up on curbs or turned too rapidly, due to their high center of gravity, which accommodates the speed bumps. Other common cart accident scenarios are making a left or U turn without noticing/yielding to passing motorcycles, drifting while spectating, hitting parked vehicles/objects while picture taking/spectating, stopping unexpectedly (same reasons) & going the wrong way or driving off-road. The lack of brake lights & turn signals leaves other drivers guessing, a lack of side mirrors & sometimes inadequate rearview mirrors limits visibility, and poor brakes or surging accelerators can challenge the most cautious of drivers. (Carts with defects can be exchanged.) Carts can only be rented from authorized agents who obtain special plates & insurance. Private carts are uninsured and subject to confiscation by the Mobility Institute when driven by non-residents.
SCOOTERS (AKA "Mopeds" "Motos")
Motorcycle license, 18+, Driver & 1 passenger
9a-5p ~$25
24 hrs~$30
From the City....

Come and pay your property to the special module and take advantage of 25 % discounts. You can come from 9:00a to 3:30p

Crews with the Department of Parks & Gardens and been doing maintenance work, cleaning and trimming in the green areas all around the island, ensuring a good appearance for the high season visitors.

From  Por Esto :

Cabalgata horse procession for final phase of patron saint festivities  

Cabalgata engalana fase final de fiesta patronal

   After the noon Mass, Father Raúl Sánchez Alonso blessed the horses and riders who came to the island as part of the festivities in honor of the island's Patron Saint, Our Lady of Immaculate Conception. They are members of a regional horse group who have participated annually in recent years. Their procession went thru downtown and the colonias and terminated with a party on an lot in La Gloria, overlooking the Caribbean.

Opposition to tiered rate system for buses  

Inquieta tarifa diferenciada de transporte urbano

  See above.

Cleaning urban areas  

Limpian áreas urbanas

See above.

Working at restoring the corals  

Se suman a restauración de corales

Several tourism service providers in Isla Contoy National Park have joined the coral reef restoration program in a combined effort with students of the University of the Caribbean and specialists, according to officials of the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas and biologist María del Carmen García Rivas, director of the Contoy reserve,

Trash transfer facility is full again   

Estación de transferencia de nuevo llena

  Although the Trash Transfer Facility was emptied this fall after the City hired a dozen trucks to transport the accumulated garbage to the mainland, about 5000 tons have accumulated because the work on the wastewater network at the southern part of the isle has kept the transport trucks out of the facility until several days ago. The collection trucks have been able to function, but no the large transport trucks, and there has been no announcement of hiring a dozen trucks again.
Urban transport going into operation  

Entrará en operación el transporte urbano

  See post above.


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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.

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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, Manolitos, La Chatita, Green Verde, Kash Kechen Chuc, and the large department store-grocery , Chedraui & 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. It takes 20-30  minutes to walk downtown.
Full moon rising over the Caribbean 
December 12   6:46
December 13  7:42
December 14   8:42
December 15  9:44
December 16 10:46
December 17 11:48

Painting by Pamela Haase at MVC
 Sunset  ~6:04-6:16p (start-end/mo) 
Sunrise ~7:08-7:24a (start-end/mo)
December Events 
Provided by MaraVilla Caribe & Isla Mujeres Daily News & Events

Wednesday nights at 8:45p, the group "Isla en Bici" bike around the isle, meeting at Juarez &  Abasolo. Lights required, helmet recommended. LINK

Thursday afternoons ~3p-8p Artist Fair on the Paseo de la Triguena off the Town Square at the malecon by the food trucks. 

Thursday, Nov. 28 The Festival for the Town Saint, Our Lady of Immaculate Conception began
when the icon was removed from her niche. 
 The Cabalgata horse procession is Saturday, Dec. 7th at noon & Por Esto says it will travel from downtown to the colonias. That evening at 7pm is the vehicular caravan around the isle, and at 9pm is the Mass of the Mañanitas with Mariachi.
On her Day, Sunday, Dec. 8th are the Communions (10a) and the procession by the boats in the Bay (3p), with the closing Mass and return to her niche at 6p.

Sunday, Dec. 1 at 7pm on the Town Square--Lighting of the Christmas lights & dance troupe performances!
The Guadalupe-Reyes holiday period begins with the celebrations for the Virgin of Guadalupe, whose day is Dec. 12 and continues thru Dia de los Reyes, Three Kings Day on January 6th.

Dec. 11 Singing of Las Mañanitas outside the Chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe in colonia Salina Chica ~10p-midnight.

Guadalupe pilgrims
Dec. 12. Dia de Guadalupe, patron saint of Mexico. There is usually a run in the morning from the downtown church to Punta Sur to the Guadalupe Chapel, after the 7a Mass. There is usually a procession in the afternoon with children dressed up as Juan Diego, and shepherdesses, between the downtown church and the Guadalupe Chapel. Pilgrimages are made in honor of Guadalupe, sometimes carrying her statue on their back, which is blessed before they return to their homes.

Friday, Dec. 13-Geminid Meteor shower peaks and is considered one of the best & "most reliable", because the individual meteors are bright, and they come fast and furious. More than 100 per hour may be visible, although this year the fainter ones will be invisible because of the full moon.

The Posadas Navidenas take place Dec. 16-24 and usually include at least one event on the Town Square, featuring regional dances and probably costumes from different parts of Mexico. Schools, businesses, City departments, and individuals celebrate the season and comraderie at posada parties. "Posada" means "Inn" and the term commemorates Joseph and Mary seeking shelter for the birth of Jesus, but it's a general term for these seasonal parties. During this period, you'll see groups of children caroling and carrying a branch, singing "La Rama", which is a regional tradition & it's appropriate to reward them with coins.

Saturday, Dec. 21 Winter solstice is December 21

The Annual  "Elmo Christmas Golf Cart Caravan" is Saturday, Dec 21st,  meeting in front of MaraVilla Caribe Bed & Beach (in Bachilleres, in front of the dome, just north of Salina Chica on prolongacion Aeropuerto aka Jesus Martinez Ross) and Casa Ixchel at 5:30, facing south. The procession of decorated carts is led by characters in costume, Elmo, Mickey & Minnie & Santa, and the participants toss candy & toys as they wind south thru the colonias, and then head downtown. Both foreign & Mexican residents participate & everyone's invited...BYOCart & Candy/Toys 

Saturday, Dec. 21 Ursid meteor shower

Tuesday, Dec. 24 Noche Buena, many businesses may close early so employees can celebrate with their families.

Wednesday, Dec. 25 Christmas  Most tourist-oriented businesses will be open 

Saturday, Dec. 28   Dia de los Santos Innocentes A day of practical jokes, similar to "April Fool's Day"

NYE on Town Square by Eduard Joao
Tuesday, Dec. 31 New Year's Eve celebration on the Town Square with a band. Tables can be purchased in advance, and are usually put on sale after Christmas, but they sell out quickly & there's not a lot of advance warning before they are available. The last ferry is usually cancelled, and the first one or two on New Years Day. The celebration begins before midnight and continues until morning. It is traditional for many islanders to greet the dawn at Punta Sur, where the sun touches Mexico first. Some businesses may start late, or be short staffed until later in the day.

 In December, Ruben's charity (link) is very active collecting toy donations & putting together hampers for low income families, to be distributed on Three King's Day, January 6th.
Photo:Tony Garcia
Patron Saint of Isla Mujeres: "Conchita"

The icon of the Virgin that is honored during the Patron Saint festivities is one of three "sister" statues removed from the church of Boca Iglesia in 1890 by several fishermen. (Boca Iglesia was one of the first churches established in Mexico, and is in the municipality of Isla Mujeres.). It is thought that the statues were brought to the church by the Spanish in the mid to late 1700's. They were carved from wood, with hands and faces of porcelain. The other two are in Izamal, Yucatan and Kantunilkin, Quintana Roo. The ruins of the church are difficult to access thru the mangroves, by boat, and in recent years, access has been blocked by private property owners.

Día de Guadalupe...honoring the Patron Saint of Mexico
Dia de Guadalupe by Tony Garcia
According to accounts published in both Nahuatl and Spanish in the 1600s, the image of the Virgin Mary appeared to the indigenous peasant, Juan Diego, in the hills of Tepeyac in the outskirts of Mexico City on December 9, 1531, when Juan Diego was on his way to the city from his village. (Later she also appeared to his sick uncle.) The young woman was surrounded by light & spoke in Nahuatl, telling Juan Diego that a church should be built in her honor at the top of Tepeyac hill, where there had once been an Aztec Temple to the goddess Tonantzin.
Artwork by Pam Haase
    But when Juan Diego told this to the Spanish archbishop, the priest didn’t believe him and told Juan Diego to go back to Tepeyac and ask the Virgin for a miracle. The Virgin told Juan Diego to gather Castilian roses at the top of the hill. She helped arrange the flowers in Juan Diego’s tilmátli (a type of cloak), and he carried them back to Mexico City.
     When he arrived on December 12 and opened his tilmátli in front of the archbishop, the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe had been imprinted on the cloak. It is still on display at the Basilica de Guadalupe, one of the most visited shrines in the world.  Written by Ronda Winn Roberts

Pinatas & Catholics: Changing Customs

Pinatas are an essential part of the Christmas posada celebrations, which take place Dec.16-24. "Posada" means inn, and these celebrations commemorate Mary & Joseph seeking shelter in Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus. The parties include refreshments, songs and prayers, (or may be less religious) and the breaking of a pinata, which traditionally has seven points, representing the seven deadly sins. Although much of the religious significance has been lost over the years, traditionally, breaking it symbolized the triumph of good over sin, and receiving rewards from God. Although blindfolds aren't usually used in Isla, they're said to symbolize blind faith, and the person providing guidance represents the guidance of the Church. Here, the pinata is usually suspended on a pulley so it can be hoisted up and down, while attendees sing the 'pinata song' and children take turns swinging at it.
The custom of breaking pinatas among Europeans is said to have come from the Chinese, via Marco Polo. In our region, the Maya had a game in which each player, blindfolded, hit a clay pot suspended by a rope, which contained valuable cacoa seeds.
When the Spanish arrived in the "New World", they found the Aztecs celebrated the origins of their God of war for 20 days in the month of panquetzaliztili, aka December. During these festivities, the Mexica priests hung banners and placed a clay pot, richly adorned with colored feathers, on a pole of the temple. When it was broken, small treasures fell as an offering at the feet of Hitzilopochtli. The Spanish Conquistadors made use of these Aztec traditions when converting them to Christianity, covering the clay pot with colored paper, and imposing new meanings and traditions.
The Spanish exchanged these December celebrations for events called "Misas (Masses) de Aguinaldo" in which passages & representations allusive to Christmas were read, and small gifts, called "aguinaldos", were given to attendees. Nowadays, this is the name of the end of year payments that are mandatory for workers in Mexico, (and the equivalent of two week's pay). Written by Ronda Winn Roberts 

Celebrating New Year's in Isla Mujeres
   To celebrate New Year's Eve, some families set up tables in the side streets with pinatas strung overhead, and dine on turkey stuffed with seasoned ground meat, while others crowd the Town Square for live music, dancing, and fireworks. Each neighborhood brings in the New Year with a bang, and the skies explode with color in all directions.
     During the NYE countdown, there is a tradition of eating twelve uvas de buenas suerte (grapes of good luck), each representing a month, with a toast of champagne or cider. The party on the town square continues all night long. At the other end of the isle, people gather at Punta Sur to greet the first rays of the sun at the eastern-most point in Mexico.  
     Other customs include cleaning your house on New Year's Eve & sweeping out bad luck. Wearing red underwear could bring you love in the New Year, or  your white undies may bring you peace, while yellow represents wealth. Those who hope to travel should grab an empty suitcase and carry it around the room or the block, and set it by the door. If you drop a shoe on New Year's morn and it lands "boca arriba" (face up)  you will enjoy good luck in the upcoming year. 
The old year is represented by a life sized character called El Viejo, The Old Man, who is later filled with fireworks and set ablaze. He may resemble a politician, and he is usually holding cigars & tequila. .
      Kids receive toys on Dia de los Reyes, January 6, when families, friends, and coworkers share rosca de reyes. King's cake, usually with hot chocolate. If you get the Baby Jesus,it means you'll be hosting a party & providing the tamales on Candlemas Day, Feb.2.

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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