Sunday, March 1, 2020

Isla Mujeres Daily News & Events Sunday, March 1

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There's not much news to translate today, so here's part of an unpublished article I wrote about the history of Isla Mujeres....

 North end of isle, NYE, 2018 Photo-Gustavo Moguel

  From the Maya who built an observatory-temple on the cliffs of Punta Sur, overlooking a vast expanse of the Caribbean, to the pirates who used the isle as a base to launch raids on shipping routes & coastal cities, seafarers have known for centuries that Isla Mujeres is strategically located.
     About 50 years ago, Mexican officials took notice of the its convenient location in relation to dozens of airports, and now more than 2 million tourists enjoy the island's white sands, crystalline waters, and unique Mayan-Caribbean culture every year.

An Asteroid Hit 66 Million Years Ago....

 Chicxulub impact NASA/Wiki


The Ice Age that killed thedinosaurs, and most of life on earth at that time, was caused by an asteroid hitting the Yucatan peninsula 66 million years ago, according to a majority of scientists. Isla Mujeres is about 200 miles east.

The First Folks in Mesoamerica....   

Photo-Nick Poole

Ninety miles south of Isla Mujeres, 10,000 year-old skeletons found in water-filled caves near Tulum indicate that some of the earliest residents of Mesoamerica lived along this coast, at the end of the last Ice Age.  

 The Early Maya...
     Archeological excavations on the mainland across from Isla Mujeres determined this area was inhabited ~2000 years ago, for a period of time in the latter part of "Pre-Classic Period", around 300 B.C. to A.D. 100.  During this period, the Maya developed agriculture and domesticated animals, settling in small villages and maritime communities, making significant artistic and scientific advances, including the development of hieroglyphic writing, astronomy, the corbel arch, and one of the most accurate calendar systems in human history.


During the 650 years of the "Classic Period", Mayan civilization flourished, building impressive cities.


Mayans moved north & east 900-1500.B.Turpido-Lurie
The "Post Classic Period", when the lowland Maya abandoned their cities, began in A.D. 900. Based on architectural features and objects found in Tulum, Xcaret, and Cancun, as well as at El Meco and Boca Iglesia in the municipality of Isla Mujeres, it appears that many of them settled in these coastal regions. With changing dynamics in population, alliances shifted and coastal trade expanded.

Isla's Salt Beds & Mayan Merchants....     
A commercial maritime network developed from the Gulf of Mexico to the Gulf of Honduras, of Mayan merchants traveling along the coast in massive dugout canoes, such as the one encountered on Columbus' fourth voyage at the Bay Islands of Honduras, propelled by oarsmen. Young Fernando Columbus enjoyed Mayan beer made from fermented corn, and the finely dressed merchants provided the Europeans with their first exposure to chocolate.
    Salt was harvested on Isla Mujeres, which was an important export from the region, used for preserving food and tanning hides. After the Spaniards discovered this uninhabited island, (mentioning its salt beds), they observed many large Mayan canoes carrying up to 50 people at nearby settlements.  

A Busy Mayan Port.... 

El Meco, possibly the Spaniard's "Grand Cairo". INAH

Located directly across the bay from Isla Mujeres, the Mayan port of "El Meco" shared associations with the island connected to the salt trade and religious pilgrimages to the shrines on Isla Mujeres honoring Ixchel, the Mayan goddess of fertility. Between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries, El Meco acquired increasing commercial, religious, and political significance among the Mayan ports on the Caribbean coast. 

El Castillo at El Meco, 1909 Arnold & Frost
 The principal building at El Meco was the tallest structure on the eastern coast, and it faces the observatory-temple of the same era perched on southern tip of Isla Mujeres, at the easternmost point in the Mayan world.  El Castillo's staircase is bordered with carved serpents' heads, and offers impressive views of the Caribbean and nearby lagoons.

El Castillo at El Meco, AclarandoBlog
  After the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century, El Meco was abandoned, and maritime activities by the Maya were prohibited. "Belma" was the Mayan name of this port and/or the port to its south where present-day Cancun is located. ("El Meco" was the nickname of a former caretaker. The Mayan name for Isla Mujeres is unknown.) The ruins are located between the ferry ports at Puerto Juarez & Punta Sam. The old Mayan harbor and ancient residential area on the other side of the road haven't been excavated. There are over 30 Mayan ruins in the mainland part of the municipality, including El Ramonal, Nohoch Pich, Nohoch Mul, Mi Ruina, Paso Poot, Rancho Viejo and El Conchero.

Two temples to Ixchel....
Drawing of Punta Sur Temple-Observatory, 1841. Catherwood 
       Sitting 50 feet above the sea on the highest elevation in the region, this building and its adjacent structures at Punta Sur on Isla Mujeres are presumed to have nautical significance, as well as serving as a shrine for pilgrimages in honor of the Goddess Ixchel.
     In the early 1500s, the Spaniards described Punta Sur as having four buildings, but when an  American archeologist arrived in 1841, only two foundations and one building remained, due to erosion of the limestone cliff over the ensuing three centuries. Later, the site suffered further damage from pillaging and hurricanes. 
 Punta Sur, 1891. Teobert Mahler

It is presumed that this was a typical Mayan religious ceremonial complex, with a main temple surrounded by lesser temples or altars. Ixchel is the goddesss of the moon, medicine, midwifery, fertility, and textiles. It is thought that Mayan girls on the verge of adulthood came to Isla Mujeres and Cozumel to honor Ixchel with a figurine in the shape of a woman.

  In 2014, a second temple to Ixchel was found under the old monkey cage on the Mundaca Hacienda and excavated. An abundance of relics and religious offerings were found, as well as human skeletons and eight underground cisterns ("cultunes"). The temple was aligned with the solstice, according to historian Fidel Villanueva Madrid, who told a reporter that at least five buildings have been detected in the Mundaca estate, and there could have been seven "but only one has been worked on".
      The Maya collected salt on the isle, and left offerings in appreciation and in hopes of future abundance, as well as for fertility and successful births. Mr. Villanueva said the nearby lagoons probably connected to the sea, allowing the Maya access to the temple area in their canoes. (The salt beds and lake Salina Grande were connected with the sea until blocked by road construction in the early 1960's. Salt continued to be collected and marketed in the early 1900's.)
     Offerings found at the temple site include items from the sea such as spines from rays and turtle shells, as well as objects made of wood, earth, stone, ceramic, jade and obsidian. There were offerings of honey and copal incense, as well as many broken incense holders.The more than 100 items are currently under the protection of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).  An ancient cemetery was found to the west, near Playa Lancheros.

 Mayan Stelae Whose Story is Lost.....
 Stelae from Punta Sur, Isla Mujeres, in a  Brussels museum. On the left stelae, the superior figure faces right while the other looks upward at the first. On the right stelae, a figure wearing a headress faces left, with one foot resting on an object that could be a head.  photo by Laurence Levy.

 Spanish Conquistadors....   

Although in modern times, Cuban refugees have frequently landed on the eastern shores of Isla Mujeres in tiny makeshift boats, Spanish explorers didn't complete the 90 mile distance until 25 years after Cuba was discovered.

                                      Francisco Hernandez de Córdoba is credited with discovering the Yucatan, and what is now Mexico, after arriving on Isla Mujeres from Cuba in early March of 1517, with three ships and 110 men. There are discrepancies among the various accounts of this voyage, all written by non-participants, except one who penned his version nearly fifty years later, but it's generally accepted that the expedition first landed on Isla Mujeres and was motivated by a need for slave labor in Cuba, as well as a desire for exploration and gold.  
    Previously, in 1511, survivors of the Valdivia shipwreck accidentally landed somewhere on the coast near Isla Mujeres & Cozumel, but only two remained alive when Cortes arrived to Cozumel in eight years later. He rescued the priest who'd been enslaved by the Maya, but his assistance was declined by the surviving sailor who had married a Mayan princess named Zazil Ha, fathering the first mestizos of Mexico. He later died fighting against the Spanish with Mayan troops he'd helped train. 
     The Cordoba expedition arrived on this uninhabited island after surviving a storm, and named it for the female figures they found in the Mayan temple.  After replacing them with an icon of the Virgin Mary, the Spaniards sailed up the coast to have their first encounter with the Maya, which didn't end well. They promptly left Cape Catoche, after performing the first baptism in Mexico on the two natives they'd captured and kept to train as translators.
     They were 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 two weeks later. 
    Torquemada wrote--"Francisco Fernandez de Cordova, Christoval Movante, and Lope Ochoa de Caucedo armed three ships to go to seek for Indians in the neighboring islands, and to traffic, as had been their custom up to that time and their expedition was uneventful until they discovered the land of Yucatan--a coast until then unknown and undiscovered by us Spaniards, there upon a headland there were some large and good salt mines. It was called Las Mujeres because there were there towers of stone, with steps and chapels, covered with wood and straw, in which there were many idols that appeared to be females that were arranged in a very artificial order. The Spaniards marveled to see edifices of stone, that up to that time they had not seen in these islands."

This week Isla will commemorate the 503rd anniversary of this event. 

The First Catholic Church....
Dale Cana
       Ten months later, the Pope ordered that a church be built to establish the Yucatan diocese, and the Boca Iglesia church was constructed near Cape Catoche, "where the conquest of Mexico began", probably using stones from the Mayan temple they'd 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.  

Library of Congress
The Spanish encountered many challenges attempting to control and settle the region; the terrain was difficult, the inhabitants hostile, and in 1537, the Spanish government acknowledged that the waters of the Caribbean were infested with pirates.
     After a smallpox epidemic decimated the Mayan population, the Conquistadors successfully conquered the Yucatan in 1546, including the chiefdom of Ekab, where Isla Mujeres and Cozumel were located. Ekab was also the name of the former settlement at Boca Iglesia, which is label "Ruined Church" on this map from the 1700's.
Google Images, AclarandoBlog

  The isolated Boca Iglesia settlement endured attacks by Mayan rebels and European pirates until it was abandoned in 1644. It's in the Isla Mujeres municipality, located at the division point between the waters of the Caribbean and the Gulf, set back in the mangroves.

Nearly Three Centuries of  Pirates....

   In 1571, French pirates seized the settlement at Boca Iglesias, defacing the church and terrorizing the villagers until the citizens of Valladolid came to their rescue. Eight years later, a Spanish official wrote: "It has been a year, more or less, since the French (pirates) stole the island (Cozumel), taking a large amount of corn, chickens and blankets, and the church bell "
  In 1592 and 1597, Conquistadors were sent to the islands of Isla Mujeres, Contoy and Cozumel, where they seized every human they found, including Mayan rebels and blacks from Guinea fleeing slavery.
Dutch pirate Lorencillo
     In the 1600's, Isla Mujeres sheltered a variety of  Dutch pirates including Nikolaas Van Hoorn, who may have been buried on the island after he died from a wound inflicted by the infamous "Lorencillo" de Graaf. Other pirate captains operating out of Isla Mujeres at that time included Diego el Mulatto, who'd escaped slavery in Cuba, "Pata de Palo" (Peg Leg) Jol, "Abraham" Blauvelt, Henry Morgan, and the French pirate "Agramont".
     In 1683, Lorencillo and three other captains formed a fleet of a dozen pirate ships with 1200 sailor-soldiers and attacked Veracruz. They held the city for three and a half days before sailing to Isla Mujeres to split the loot. During the siege, four hundred citizens died and the Governor was held for ransom. They returned to the island with cash and treasure that had an estimated value of  4 to 7 million pesos. They took 1500 slaves, lost 35 men, and inspired the song "La Bamba".
    Isla Mujeres continued to be a haven for smugglers and pirates, until the Lafitte brothers were expelled in the early 1820's, leaving their watchtowers behind. A few locals claim they also left some descendants behind, but the island was uninhabited until the late 1840's.
      Some biographers say Jean Lafitte was buried on Isla Mujeres, after he died from wounds received during an encounter with the Spanish. In Dzilam de Bravo, Yucatan, their oral history claims his brother brought the wounded man there and he was buried in their churchyard, until a hurricane washed away his grave. And some say he survived. ¿Quién sabe?
  In the 1840's, Yucatan fought for independence from Mexico, arming and training the Maya, who were virtually enslaved by the cruel encomienda system.The federal government was preoccupied by the US claiming Texas, setting off the Mexican American war from 1846 to 1848.  
     On July 30, 1847, Mayan rebel leaders lit the fires of a social war "The Caste War" whose flames engulfed the entire peninsula within months. Acts of terrible cruelty took place among the combatants and the government was unable to stop the rebellion.  
     Within ten months, Valladolid had been abandoned, and the Yucatan was on the verge of military collapse, with more than 100,000 refugees huddled in Merida, while others sought safety behind the walls of Campeche. The British in Belize supplied the Mayan rebels with arms and ammunition. An agent of the Yucatan government requested assistance from the US with a desperate offer of  "dominion and sovereignty" over the Yucatan. The offer was declined with harsh warnings about potential consequences when a similar offer was made to England and Spain.
   As the Caste War raged across the peninsula, residents sought escape from the bloodshed via the sea. Thousands fled to the previously unpopulated islands of Isla Mujeres and Cozumel, where they boarded boats and ships. 
      The refugees who wanted to become island residents repeatedly petitioned the government, and after intervention from politicians and the Catholic Church, they were allowed to found the town of "Dolores" in August, 1850.  There is an oral history on Isla Mujeres about seeing bonfires on the mainland, fueling fears that the rebel Maya might cross the short distance to attack. The settlers were expected to survive by their ingenuity during those early, difficult years, and the war continued for another five decades. ~~By Ronda Winn Roberts

We'll celebrate the 170th anniversary of the founding of "Dolores" in August & I'll write about the early history of the town then.

 Back to the news....
From the City....

  Islanders between the ages of 12 and 30 are invited to participate in the first "Municipal Cartoon Competition". The contest will take place on March 6th and the deadline for submission is March 5th. Participants can register and bring their work to the Casa de la Cultura between the hours of 9a and 4p. The winning artwork will be exhibited publicly and the top three winners will be awarded prizes.
TVisla Mujeres    

For the fourth consecutive year, North Beach (Playa Norte) was chosen on TripAdvisor as one of the 25 most beautiful and popular beaches in the world, ranking at #17. LINK  

From  Por Esto :

The Isla Mujeres section still has articles published on Feb. 27. 


  This blog is brought to you by....

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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 out of the pic at left.

"Reverse Sunset" (looking east from MVC)
Free amenities include hammocks, portable beach chairs, beach towels, washer & dryer, loungers, shared bikes, BBQ grill, and safes.  Panoramic views from the rooftop terrace. Large sliding doors open to a patio & the white sand backyard-beach, overlooking the Caribbean sea.  Downtown is  ~ a mile away; we're on all four bus routes or  flag a $3 taxi. Off street parking. You can enjoy the music & crowds downtown, then return to the quiet neighborhood of Bachilleres and  sleep to the sounds of the sea.$275/$325/$425 wk   $40/50/$65nt  Monthly Discounts
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 
 March  9  7:09 (sets 7:07a)
March 10   8:13
March 11   9:17
 March 12  10:20
 March 13   11:22
This is the second of four supermoons for 2020. The Moon will be at its closest approach to the Earth while full, causing it to appear slightly larger and brighter than usual.

 Sunset  6:52-7:02pm (beginning vs end of month)
Sunrise ~7:07-6:40am
Painting by Pamela Haase at MVC
March Events 
Provided by MaraVilla Caribe & Isla Mujeres Daily News & Events

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

Sunday's at 1p there may be baseball games at the stadium in front of Chedraui. There are two teams, the Pescadores & the Cockteleros, who are in Category A & Category B of the same league, which is currently having the playoffs for the season championship.

Occasionally, Sunday evenings 8p on the Town Square "Noches Magicas" performances  

Fishermen in this region are banned from catching grouper, lobster and octopus during March  LINK

Sunday, March 1--At 1p at the Pescaodores baseball field the Isla Mujeres Pescadores will play the Rockies of Cancun, after losing the first game in their three game series in the semifinals. If the Pescadores beat the Rockies twice, they will win in Group B category of their league. The Isla Mujeres Cockteleros won the Group A category & are waiting to see who they'll  play from Group B for the league championship. LINK  

Monday, March 2--On the first Monday of each month, there is usually a civic ceremony in the morning, often on the Town Square. 

Thursday, March 5--There is usually a ceremony commemorating the arrival of Francisco Hernandez Cordoba in 1517, who is credited with discovering the Yucatan and what is now Mexico, after landing on Isla Mujeres. The expedition of 110 men in 3 boats sailed from Cuba and around the coast, battling with the Maya, until all but one were injured, and over 50 had died. Cordoba died after returning to Cuba.

Sunday, March 8--International Women's Day

Monday, March 9--Full Moon, which is the second of four Super Moons in 2020, meaning it is at its closest approach to the Earth while full, making it appear slightly larger and brighter than usual.

Monday, March 16--Day off in honor of the birthday of Benito Juarez on March 21st.

Tuesday, March 17--St Patrick's Day

Wednesday March 18--Observation of Oil Expropriation Day (not an official day off--businesses & schools will be operating normally). Commemorates the nationalization of Mexico's oil fields on this date in 1938.

Thursday, March 19--Spring Equinox

Thursday, March 19--Dia de San Jose, which MAY be celebrated with a dance on the Town Square.

Tuesday, March 24-- Venus reaches its greatest eastern elongation of 46.1 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to view Venus since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the evening sky. Look for the bright planet in the western sky after sunset. Mercury reaches its greatest western elongation of 27.8 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to view Mercury since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the morning sky. Look for the planet low in the eastern sky just before sunrise. New moon--lack of moonlight is the best time to observe galaxies & star clusters.

Friday & Saturday, March 27 & 28-- About 600 swimmers are expected to participate in the National Open Water Championship 2020 which will be held in Isla Mujeres on March 27 & 28. The winners of the 10 kilometer competition will represent Mexico in Tokyo during the pre-Olympic match for the Olympic games. The top 20 swimmers in the categories of 14-15, 16-17, and 18-19 divisions, in the categories of 5k, 7.5k and 10k will qualify for the National Conade Games 2020.
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

The ten 31-passenger buses travel on four routes, from 6a to 10p, turning around near the Convention Center, behind the downtown Mercado, and going south thru El Centro on Rueda Medina. #1 & 2 are the "Colonia" routes and #3 & 4 are the "Tourism" routes. The overhead digital display & cardboard sign in the windshield provide the route information. The bus numbers don't indicate the route, they are numbered consecutively, 1 thru 10.
At the edge of town....

Route 1 goes southward down the western side of the isle on Rueda Medina and returns northward on Jesus Martinez Ross to town. Its west-east transit is Paseo de los Peces in colonia La Gloria.
Route 2 goes southward down the eastern side of the isle on Jesus Martinez Ross** and returns northward on Medina to town. Its east-west transit is also Paseo Peces.
Route 3 goes southward down the western side of the isle on Medina, then in & out of the Sac Bajo peninsula. If there are passengers for Punta Sur, it goes there & returns northward to town on the Caribbean Coastal road. If not, it returns east on Peces and returns northward on the Caribbean Coastal road to town.
Route 4 goes southward down the Caribbean Coastal road directly to Punta Sur & Garrafon, then northward in & out of Sac Bajo, then returns northward on Medina to town.
**Routes #1 & #2 aren't exact opposites--#2 takes J.M. Ross northward all the way from Peces thru Salina Chica, but #1 going southward turns left/east off JM Ross before entering Salinas, taking the Caribe Coastal road thru Meteorologica, and I've heard it turns right/west back into the colonias by Madera Food & Art. All four routes go thru Bachilleres, past Maravilla Caribe Bed & Beach and all four routes go past Chedraui.
The map isn't a bus route map, it's a street map, showing how Jesus Martinez Ross follows the Caribbean coast until becoming the main street of Salina Chica and going on to La Gloria, while the Caribe Coastal road (aka Payo Obispo) follows the coast. The east-west transit, Paseo de los Peces, is shown, but not labeled, at the edge between colonia La Gloria and the Mundaca Hacienda. Its east end intersects the Caribbean Coastal Road by the Cemetery & its west end intersects Rueda Medina by the Mundaca Hacienda.
Downtown the main bus stop is at the parking lot just south of the passenger ferry terminal, and across the street. You can flag them down anywhere you see them outside of town. Chedraui is on the west side/Medina. Tortugranja & DD are in Sac Bajo. Garrafon is at Punta Sur. Bachilleres is on the eastern Caribbean coast, north of the colonias.
The 10p rate is for state residents & the senior citizen rate is for INAPAM card holders.Tourists pay 38p/$2usd per person per ride and can purchase an all-day pass for $9usd/175p. You pay as you board and exit thru the back door. The front seats are for seniors, disabled & pregnant women. The buses are air conditioned.

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