Monday, April 4, 2022

Isla Mujeres News & Events Monday, April 4


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 Thursday thru Sunday, April 7-10, Art & Culture Fair--Dance, Music, Gastronomy, Murals, Workshops, Painting, Artisans, Entertainment & Fun....and much more...
Outside the Casa de la Cultura (on Guerrero-the back street downtown) by the Isla Mujeres photo op sign and the Caribbean malecon

There will be a Tournament of Beach Volleyball and Soccer on Thursday thru Sunday, April 7-10, starting daily at 4pm at the Media Luna Beach, as part of the Art & Culture Fair. Registration is at the Departments of Culture and Sports, and is open to people of all ages and sexes who want to play, integrated into mixed teams.

 Yesterday, Sunday--Behind this beautiful image is a great job! A big "Thank-You" to the crew who cleaned this beach in preparation for the arrival of tourists and locals on this Sunday. The personnel from the municipal Sports department took their turn accompanying the ZOFEMAT crew, who clean the beaches in the early mornings.  If you visit, don't forget to put your trash where it belongs!

Yesterday, Sunday, there was a high level of traffic at the Cancun International Airport, which reported a total of 578 flights, mostly from abroad, with the majority from the United States. There were 292 arrivals (83 domestic & 209 international) and 286 departures (82 domestic and 204 international).
 Saturday--The Mayor thanked the residents who participated in this Saturday's community clean-up, noting they are being held on Saturdays regularly. They started at 7:30am,  in colonia Electristas, removing trash, junk, debris and litter. In addition to improving the appearance of the colonias, these activities prevent mosquito-borne diseases by eliminating their breeding areas.

 Friday morning--Clean, beautiful beaches of Isla Mujeres-

Today --Monday--downtown eastern-Caribbean malecon--and sargasso-free water/sand

Thursday, March 31--   Both Zones of Quintana Roo remain in Green status on the state Semaforo thru Sunday. April 10th. There are only four patients hospitalized with C-19 in the entire state, none of whom are intubated. Therefore, hospital occupancy is less than 1%. The Governor said many days have passed without any deaths, and Q Roo's mortality rate is below the national average.
    The Governor was thrilled with the graphs. He praised the municipality of Lazaro Cardenas (Holbox) whose cases decreased 100% to zero, and Isla Mujeres, who reported a 74% decrease, having gone to zero, followed by a tiny spike of an average of 0.2 cases daily. He was very pleased with the graph for Benito Juarez (Cancun), which is very important as most populous municipality, and reporting nearly zero cases, as well as for Solidaridad (Playa del Carmen).
      The Governor said Mexico will soon be approving vaccination against C19 for children 5 to 12 years olds and he will share this information as soon as it is available. Residents age 15 and up have been receiving vaccinations. He spoke about the availability of vaccines and programs to give more people access so they can obtain all three doses.
       He discussed the recent influxes of sargasso to the beaches of the state, explaining that it follows a similar route as the hurricanes, from the coasts of Africa into the different parts of the Caribbean. He said when large quantities arrive with the strong surada winds like we've been having this week, this limits the use of the boat-machinery and the barriers become insufficient. These large quantities require increased, coordinated efforts by all three levels of government, as well as by the businesses, and the communities. They have involved specialists and experts from around the world to address and understand this problem, and they are providing daily forecasts and status reports.
      He also discussed investments and efforts to improve the state's economy, the creation of new tourism products and promotions, and he provided statistics reflecting the increased number of visitors and flights. He emphasized the preparations for the Easter holidays to ensure security and coordination between the different agencies.
      In conclusion, he reviewed the protocols for the prevention of C19 and encouraged everyone to cooperate. We are reminded that face masks are still required in closed spaces, on public transport, anywhere there are crowds and for workers serving the public.

Trash collection seven days a week! Please note the time when you should set out your trash.

Notice from the Bus company.... We would like to inform you that due to construction at the convention center and as a request from the local government, all our routes will return at the "Monumento al Pescador". (Jaxbar)   If you are going to "Playa Norte", the drop off will be either at Jaxbar or our stop at "Playa Centro (Posadas).  We apologize for any inconvenience, this will also allow us to do faster routes and maintain a more fluid service.

 The Governor posted a video PSA of Elsa (from "Frozen") singing "I'm free!, I'm free!"...who is interrupted by a reminder from handsome fellow under a palm tree that face masks are only optional in open spaces; in closed spaces (and around crowds), put it on--the pandemic isn't over. 
In his Tuesday evening video (a weekly event),  the Governor of Q Roo discussed the false information being spread about Monday's incident at the Cancun International Airport, and how harmful it is to the families of Quintana Roo. He said the alert was set off by a very loud, unusual noise, when the signs fell, noting they fell with a domino-effect. (There were three 'totem-type' signs, each weighing ~50 kilos/110 lbs, knocked down by someone rushing to a gate in Terminal 3, according to ASUR, who operate the airport.) He said the false information has included that there were 30 deaths, that many people were injured, or some were kidnapped....all of which are totally untrue.
    He emphasized that spreading these false rumors causes damage to the all the people of Quintana Roo, and he said some of the people who are intentionally spreading this misinformation are enemies of the state. He explained that the only injuries were caused by the panic, and there was no evidence of any gunshots nor explosions.
     He also discussed the usual Tuesday-night topics, listing the colonias with the highest number of active C19 cases (none from Isla Mujeres), the dates & locations of the vaccine brigades (ours were earlier this month), and the status of C19 in general (still trending downward). In the whole state, there were only four people hospitalized with C-19, one of whom is intubated. He noted that our mortality rate is very low compared to the national average.
    The Governor and the state Director of Civil Protection also discussed safety protocols, in relation to the upcoming Semana Santa (Easter week) holiday and regarding the tragic explosion of a propane tank in Playa del Carmen this month, as well as the fire at Dolphin Discovery in Isla Mujeres on Sunday.       They emphasized the importance of implementing and enforcing regulations, noting there are inexpensive devices to detect gas before the odor is noticeable, as well as smoke detectors and synthetic products for thatch (palapa) roofs that make them less flammable.
     They discussed the importance of having protocols in place, which were implemented successfully at the Dolphin Discovery fire, where there were only two people transported to the hospital, of which one was a worker with smoke inhalation. (In a PDC resort-restaurant kitchen in mid-March, a propane tank leak caused an explosion resulting in the deaths of two employees, and approximately 21 injured, of which 8 were serious.)

 New officers of the Isla Mujeres Tourist Police were given a training course in use of the PR24 baton, which provides personal defense in case of an attempted assault.
 Friday's  "𝗠𝘂𝗲́𝘃𝗲𝘁𝗲 𝗰𝗼𝗻 𝗖𝗮𝘂𝘀𝗮" event provided an opportunity for enjoyable exercise and promoted being physically active, which is important for the prevention of diseases. It was sponsored by the municipal Youth Department, in the colonia La Gloria Park and included Live Music, an Entrepreneurs Fair and Physical Activities.

On Saturday, April 2nd, there was a  "Isla Mujeres en Movimiento" event at 8am at the Futbol/soccer field in colonia Salina Chica. To encourage teamwork among the women, it included these sport activities:
>Battle of strength
>Obstacle course
>Functional training
 On Sunday,  a male person was fatally shot in his home in Miraflores and the investigation is in process. The Director of Public Security said they have a lead on the identity of the suspect, who may have been accompanied by two others.
Thursday-- The Mayor writes-- The sea turtle breeding season will begin very soon, therefore I'm concerned that we currently don't have a place to protect the turtle eggs, nor a place for the conservation of these and other species, and to provide education about them. It has now been six months since we took office, and we are again requesting that the Instituto Nacional de Pesca (National Institute of Fishing/Fisheries) that the Tortugranja be reopened.
I invite you to join us to recover this heritage of the islanders. Let's take care together of this species that is so representative of our municipality!
(Note--Officially, egg-laying season begins May 1st, but traditionally Tortugranja staff began patrolling the eastern coast in mid-April, collecting the early nests. Last year, they made a secondary incubation pen near Playa Media Luna, but it was damaged in a storm-hurricane.)

In this speech (LINK to video)  and at yesterday's City Council meeting, Mayor Atenea Gomez Ricalde expressed her frustration with state and federal authorities regarding the status of the Tortugranja, and her commitment to conservation of sea turtles and to the children of Isla Mujeres having access to education about them. She complains that she had gotten no response from the Instituto Nacional de Pesca (National Fishing/Fisheries Institute). She is particularly concerned after learning that the facility experienced an electrical failure, resulting in a damaged transformer, leaving the facility without electricity throughout the weekend.
She said it has been nearly six months and her administration hasn't been given any information, they don't know the status of the turtles, and they aren't allowed access to the location. The recent bad weather has raised concerns, and we are reminded that these turtles are a species in danger of extinction. The Mayor emphasizes that the pumps need electricity to circulate the water to keep the turtles alive. She repeatedly says that a Management Plan is lacking, and is necessary.
    Fidel Villanueva Madrid, municipal historian, who stands next to her, explains the origins of turtle conservation on the island and its 65 year history here, which began with one family. They both emphasize that the Tortugranja is an important, essential part of the culture and history of the island. The Mayor explains that the municipal government doesn't own another location where they can protect the turtles and they need answers from the state and federal authorities.
The Mayor has a meeting scheduled on Friday with a manager of PROFEPA (Federal Environmental Protection Agency).
 On Thursday, Mayor Atenea Gomez Ricalde met with Harbor Master Mario Martínez Martínez, and the commander of the island's Naval base (of the Fifth Region of Mexico), Admiral Javier Abarca García, to ensure safety at the beaches during the upcoming Easter holiday season. The Admiral announced earlier this week that they will be discussing placement of the buoy line off North Beach to prevent boats and jet skis from entering the swimming area.

Wednesday-- Federal authorities with the Secretary of the Navy have scheduled meetings with the municipal government to discuss details regarding the establishment of an area of protection for swimmers at North Beach, which will be delineated by a buoy line. This was announced by Admiral Javier Abarca García, commander of the local Naval base (Fifth Region).
He explained that their intention is to protect swimmers from the risks posed by the tourist boats and jet skis, which have been coming very close to the beach. Meetings have been scheduled for this week to define the location of the protected area and placement of the buoy-barrier. This is expected to be accomplished before the Semana Santa/Easter holiday period, or at its start. He concluded by emphasizing the importance of being prepared, for the protection of both Mexicans and foreigners.
 Wednesday--Three parked golf carts were affected when a cement mixer hit them near the downtown gas station when it was traveling on Rueda Medina this morning. Photo credit IM Noticias
Photo credit-Noti Isla Mujeres

 At a special event on Tuesday morning, the municipal government gave awards, recognition and appreciation to those who fought the fire at Dolphin Discovery on Sunday, for their bravery and teamwork. There are more photos here--

The Isla Mujeres photo op sign behind the Casa de la Cultura has been repaired after the bases of the letters were damaged by rust.

RECORD-BREAKING NUMBERS OF VISITORS EXPECTED during the upcoming Easter/Semana Santa holidays. With seasonal the change in currents and winds from "nortes" to "suradas", the SARGASSO ARRIVAL SEASON HAS BEGUN. The Q Roo coasts are currently drowning in Sargasso--EXCEPT Isla Mujeres--which will bring more tourists to our beaches. Update here, with photos & video--
Isla Mujeres is the only area in blue, "Without Sargasso", on Saturday's map monitoring its arrival to the coasts of Quintana Roo. The three photos beside it show Isla's beaches this weekend.
We're likely to receive additional visitors seeking to escape the sargasso, particularly in the next couple weeks of the Semana Santa/Easter holidays, when records are historically set for most people arriving to the island daily. Along some beaches of the Riviera Maya, the sargasso is so thick you can walk on it, as you can see in this video, which has English captions. The worst are in Tulum and Playa del Carmen, where its economic impact is hitting providers of tourism services, as well as the hotels and restaurants.
#5-Satellite photos indicate large amounts will arrive to the coasts of Q Roo this week. In addition, there are large amounts near Honduras, as well as near Jamaica, arriving in the next couple weeks. They are predicting that 2022 will be the worst year so far.
#6 is another recent map, which monitors 80 public beaches, of which 44 report excessive amounts and only 4 without-mostly ours.
#7 is a new machine being tested in Q Roo. It cleans the sargasso, removing sand and moisture, reducing its quantity by 80%, according to its developer (who hopes to sell and rent them.)

     The geographic orientation of the island, with its swimming beaches facing the mainland, works to the isle's advantage. When the currents and winds occasionally drive it to North Beach, crews of resident-volunteers and municipal employees set to work, as well as members of the Navy and private businesses. The community understands that we all benefit from keeping Playa Norte in good shape, so there are many people who pitch in. The Navy also patrols offshore with the sargasso collection boats, which are parked at the Naval dock when not in use. There is also a beach-cleaning machine.
        The ZOFEMAT crew, who are mostly women, are out daily at dawn raking and sifting the sands of Playas Centro & Norte, as well as removing trash, palm fronds, debris, etc. Their work is much appreciated!!

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. The Mayan merchants of eastern coast of the Yucatan peninsula traded with their peers from the Gulf of Mexico down to Honduras. The Mayans of the Gulf of Honduras (including Guatemala and Belize) are said to have sailed long distances in search of salt.
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 abundance of salt for tanning hides, not only for his herds of cattle and sheep, but also for 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, where he created a hacienda, from ~1850 to ~1880. 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.
Written by Ronda Winn-Roberts for Isla Mujeres History, sponsored by Maravilla Caribe Bed & Beach
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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, 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.


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 US National Hurricane Center 

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