Thursday, March 9, 2023

Isla Mujeres News & Events Thursday, March 9




    Aquakan announced a leak had been detected in the undersea line that runs from Punta Sam to Isla Mujeres. This problem is affecting the water supply to Isla Mujeres, where clients may experience low pressure or a lack of water.


Aguakan announced that they are working to restore normal service to the island, and meanwhile they've sent trucks out to provide water. Yesterday afternoon, they detected a leak in the undersea line that runs from Punta Sam to Isla Mujeres. An Oceanographers and a team of divers have been inspecting 4 kilometers of the pipe, in order to detect the tear. Aguakan has also been working to generate additional resources to bring water to the island and avoid a lack of supply.


    Aguakan says they have brought in a brigade of divers to repair a leak in the undersea line, and meanwhile they have dispatched trucks to the island to provide water service during this outage. The City government says they are monitoring Aguakan's efforts and Monday morning at 8a, the vehicle ferry brought five water trucks to the island. They each have a capacity of 10,000 liters (2640 gallons) and proceeded to supply the most affected areas, which are Punta Sur and the colonias of Miraflores, Caridad del Cobre, Cañotal, Lol-Be, and Salina Grande. Aguakan advised residents seeking truck service to send them a message.

The leak and interruption of service was announced on Sunday afternoon.


In this update from the Mayor, (FB VIDEO)  she explains a meeting is scheduled between Aguakan and municipal and state officials at the Palacio Municipal at 1:30p today. Aguakan officials explained on Sunday that the island's lack of water was caused by a leak in the underwater line. The Mayor emphasized the importance of providing this vital liquid to the islanders, and that Aguakan needs to answer the question of when water service will resume. She said 60% of the island's businesses have been affected, and lack of water service is affecting tourism, as well as families.
She also addressed issues about Aguakan's service overall, and whether they are meeting the terms of their contract; that money made from water must also be invested in infrastructure. She talks about taking legal steps on that issue. She says trucks are needed to supply water to the island now.

At this press conference, the reporters tried repeatedly to obtain an answer from Aguakan officials regarding when water service to the island will be reestablished. Their reply was "en brevidad" and "en cortos plazos", which mean soon/shortly. When reporters asked, "How long? In 15 days?", the reply was "Oh no! Soon." When they asked, "How soon? Today? Tomorrow? Day after tomorrow?", the official replied, "Soon....a couple days". 
The officials said they have been bringing five water trucks over twice daily since Monday morning, and admitted that this is an insufficient supply. The reporters said the people need to know the routes and times of the trucks and complained about a lack of information on Aguakan's social media and at their office. They were told that clients should call Aguakan's customer service number, 079, to make their requests and obtain an order number. 
The Aguakan officials explained that water delivery is being coordinated with the municipal officials, giving priority to the schools and hospitals. The municipal General Director, Hugo Sanchez Montalvo, said the trucks are unable to refill people's water storage tanks because of the limited supply, so they will be filling their containers. (Each truck carries about 2600 gallons.)
The Aguakan officials explained that this problem began on Sunday afternoon, caused by a leak in the undersea line. They said specialized divers are working hard to get it repaired and that it is complicated. They said the leak was caused by an accident, not by a lack of maintenance or because the line is in poor condition. 
The reporters said residents also want answers about water problems that existed before that, complaining that some areas of the island have been suffering ongoing issues with intermittent lack of pressure or interruptions in supply, which need to be addressed. 
Another (state?)) official spoke to the Aguakan officials, emphasizing the importance of communication, and the need for the company to inform the public and the government, step by step, about what is being done. It was agreed that this is a serious situation, that water is a universal human right, and not only is this interruption affecting residents and tourists, it negatively impacts the island's tourism-based economy.




This notice is from the Quintana Roo state government page regarding the island's lack of water supply due to a leak in the undersea supply line. They "buried the lede" in the last line where it says, "We (Aguakan) are working with the intention to finish today and to have normal service reestablished by noon on Wednesday, March 8."
It states that this notice explains what's going on with the tap water line that connects the Punta Sam water tank with Isla Mujeres. On Sunday afternoon, March 5, Aguakan techs noticed a decrease in the levels of square meters of water coming to the island, although the Punta Sam tank on the mainland was functioning correctly.
Therefore, the emergency protocols were activated, and Aguakan contacted an oceanographer and team of divers to inspect the line that afternoon. As a result, around 7p, the location of a leak was found in the line, but the couldn't proceed due to a lack of light. Aguakan arranged for 5 water trucks to cross on the cargo ferry and arrive by sunrise.
On Monday, materials were prepared to repair the leak, with sacks of sand to place around the line to shore it up. The affected section of the line has a series of marks on it, caused by the passage of a boat, which may have caused the break. During Monday's work, the affected section was modified three times, but the force of the tides did not facilitate the work and on the third attempt they managed to reduce the leak without closing it completely. Meanwhile, trucks delivered water to island tinacos and cisterns.
Today, work resumed early in the morning with the preparation of more materials to re-enforce the line and prop it up more firmly on the sea floor. Trucks continued to deliver water, and Aguakan will be providing water normally from the Mundaca tank on the island, for distribution to the colonias of La Gloria, Miraflores and the lower part of the island. The notice concludes by saying that Aguakan is working with the intention of finishing today and having totally normal service re-established by noon tomorrow, Wednesday, March 8th. 

Repairs to the undersea water line that supplies the island were completed yesterday (Tuesday) around 5p, after various pressure and capacity tests were carried out. (When we checked our outside tap around 7:30p, water was flowing, and our rooftop tank was full this morning.) Aguakan said low pressures could occur during the next 24 hours after the repair was completed.
In accordance with commitments made by the company, water trucks were scheduled to be brought to the island last night to supply the most critical areas of the island. As of yesterday afternoon, service levels had increased downtown, and would do so later in the rest of the island. Clients needing more information are invited to contact Aguakan's customer service department by phone at 073 or via their social networks.



From Saturday.... 

Today Isla Mujeres commemorates the 506th Anniversary of the arrival of the expedition of Francisco Hernández de Córdoba. Before they landed here in 1517, they thought they were going to die in a 'norte' storm. They were flabbergasted by the sophisticated buildings they saw along the coast, which they compared to the fine architecture of Seville, Spain. The expedition, which sailed from Cuba in three boats, is credited with discovering the Yucatan and what is now Mexico, after landing on this uninhabited isle. They named it for the icons of women they found in a temple, left in honor of the Mayan goddess of fertility, Ixchel. The half-garbed statues were replaced with an icon of Mary and they took the items made with gold or copper.
The 110 Spaniards sailed north up the coast to have their first encounter with the Maya at Cape Catoche, "Where the Conquest of Mexico Began". They took more relics and captured two natives, who received the first baptism in Mexico and were taken to Cuba to be trained as translators. 
The expedition was 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 a couple weeks later.
Although in modern times, Cuban refugees have frequently landed on the eastern shores of Isla Mujeres in tiny makeshift boats, these Spanish explorers didn't cross the ~100 miles of open sea until a quarter century after Cuba was discovered.
 There are discrepancies among the various accounts of the voyage, all written by non-participants, except one who penned his version nearly fifty years later, but it's generally accepted that the expedition was motivated by a need for slave labor in Cuba, as well as a desire for claiming land & sovereignty, and gold.
Although the Spanish lacked awareness of the sophistication of the Mayan culture, which differed considerably from the other indigenous people in the Caribbean who lived in huts, this wasn't their first encounter with them. In 1502, Christopher Columbus came across a large Mayan canoe in the Bay Islands of the Gulf of Honduras, full of trade goods and presumably from the Yucatan. Its ~40 passengers included well dressed merchants, their families, and about 25 oarsmen. It was eight feet wide, 'as long as a galley' (~50ft), with a covered area in the middle that protected the women, children, and goods. He compared it a Venetian gondola and was impressed with their seamanship. Mayan murals portray boats with raised, curved bows and sterns.
Columbus considered these Mayans to be more civilized because they were clothed, unlike natives of the Caribbean islands. He described their fine textiles, weapons made of flint (probably actually obsidian), and copper goods including cups, bells and hatchets, which ended up in his possession. The Mayan merchants carried a type of beer made from fermented corn, which young Fernando Columbus enjoyed.
The Maya also had first-hand knowledge of the Spanish in 1511, when they captured survivors from the "Valdivia", which wrecked somewhere between Isla Mujeres and Cozumel. Originally, there had been about 15 people aboard (one account says 16 men and 2 women) traveling from Panama to Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic). They drifted in a lifeboat until currents brought them to the coast of what is now Quintana Roo, where the Maya sacrificed some and put others in cages.
Therefore, it is likely that the arrival of the Europeans was not unexpected when Hernandez landed in early March of 1517. Ten months later, the Pope ordered a church be built near Cabo Catoche, to establish the Yucatan diocese. The Boca Iglesia church was built just up the coast in what is now the municipality of Isla Mujeres (formerly the Mayan district of "Ekab"). It was presumably constructed using stones from the Mayan temple that conquistadors had 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. 
When Columbus first encountered the Mayan merchants in the Bay of Honduras, Antón de Alaminos was among the crew as a cabin boy. Fifteen years later, he was the main pilot on the Hernandez expedition that 'discovered' Isla Mujeres. The following year, 1518, Alaminos piloted another expedition to Yucatan and named the peninsula "Isla Rica", thinking it was an island, before joining Hernán Cortés on a trip that culminated in the Conquest of Mexico.
When the Cortes expedition came to Yucatan in 1519, they learned there were two bearded men living among the Maya, Spanish survivors of the Valdivia, which had wrecked somewhere between Isla Mujeres and Cozumel in 1511. Eight years had passed since the wreck and only two survivors remained.
Gonzalo Guerrero, had "gone native", becoming a military leader, married to a Mayan princess named Zazil Ha, daughter of a Mayan official. Guerrero fathered the first mestizo children of Mexico. It's said that his expertise was instrumental to the Maya in the bloody battle of Champoton in 1517, where Hernandez received his fatal wound and many of his soldiers died. The extensively tattooed Guerrero expressed a preference for his current life and stayed with his family, declining to join Cortes and his army. He died fighting against the Spanish with Mayan troops he'd helped train.
Cortes rescued the other survivor, Jeronimo de Aguilar, a priest who'd escaped his first captors to become the slave of a rival Mayan leader. Some say that his life was spared because he carried a "Book of Hours" (Horarium) which were only possessed by priests and nobles in those days before printing presses. It's said the Maya had high regard for those who carried books. Aguilar accepted Cortes' offer and became his personal translator, playing an important role in his campaign.
The Spanish encountered many challenges attempting to control and settle the region; the terrain was difficult, the inhabitants hostile, and the seas were "infested with pirates", according to a Spanish report in 1537. There were only six coastal towns in the mid 1500's, which were poor Mayan pueblos, between what is now Holbox & Chetumal, of which two were located on the island of Cozumel. The few people of these settlements were mostly Mayan, who in their state of abandonment by the government, often allied themselves with the pirates to save their lives. Out of fear of reprisals, they usually failed to report the abuses they suffered.
During the colonial era, the Yucatan peninsula was not really part of New Spain, and was administrated separately as a "General Captaincy", which included Belize, Honduras, and parts of Chiapas and Tabasco. It was a vast, difficult to control area, lacking in means of communication or transportation by land.

Pirates found strategic shelter on the islands of Cozumel, Contoy, and Mujeres, and in Ascension and Espiritu Santo Bays. They were periodically expelled by the Yucatan government, who sent expeditions for this purpose every five or ten years. However, the outlaws blatantly returned after the military left.
Pirates were eventually ejected from the region, and the island remained uninhabited except for fishermen who left behind a few thatch huts and visited intermittently seeking salt, turtles, and other sea creatures. Refugees from the Caste War settled the island in 1848, and it was founded as "Dolores" on August 17, 1850. A former pirate and slave trader, Spaniard Fermin Mundaca, owned about 40% of the isle. The base of a second Mayan temple was recently discovered on his hacienda, whose stones were presumably used in the construction of his walls, wells, and buildings.
There will be an event at Punta Sur today at 5p to celebrate this anniversary. Residents and tourists are invited to attend and to wear white.
Photos of Francisco Hernández de Córdoba and the ruins of Boca Inglesias near Cabo Catoche in the municipality of Isla Mujeres.


 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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