Skip to main content


Chronological Table of Contents (Click on "Read More" to open the Chronological Table of Contents)

Chronologically: From Mayas to Tourism PRECOLONIAL     Ruins of a second temple to Ixchel were found on the Mundaca Hacienda a few years ago EARLY CONTACT Mayan Merchant-Sailors Traded Salt & Stingray Spines and Met Columbus PIRATES Hard times in the 1500's: Attacks by Conquistadors, Corsairs & Pirates Do you think of Isla Mujeres pirates when you hear the song "La Bamba"? SETTLED IN 1850 From Pirate Refuge to Established Settlement   From Five Fishermen to 1500 Refugees: Isla Mujeres in the 1840's Sending Slaves to Cuba, Conspiring With Rebels & Liberating Sailors from Cozumel: The Caste War The Census of 1866 (16 years after the town was founded) Mundaca & La Trigueña   Isla Mujeres in 1876 1876: The Fishermen & the Bay by Alice Le Plongeon AMONG THE TURTLE CATCHERS by Alice le Plongeon in 1876 This Town was Built by Farmers Who Learned to Fish and Survive Disasters & Disease 1900's The Hu
Recent posts

Ruins of a second temple to Ixchel were found on the Mundaca Hacienda a few years ago

   In 2014, while excavating under the old monkey cage at the Mundaca Hacienda, the foundation of a Mayan temple to Ixchel was discovered. During the construction of  walls and pathways around the former Hacienda, they also found an abundance of Mayan relics, which were mostly religious offerings, as well as some human skeletons, and eight underground cisterns built by the Maya to ensure that worshipers didn't go thirsty. Mundaca's Hacienda covered about 40% of the island in the mid 1800's, and stones from the Mayan structures were used in its construction, according to Isla Mujeres historian, Fidel Villanueva Madrid. Foundation of temple to the Mayan goddess Ixchel, located inside the Mundaca Hacienda. Photo from Diario de Q Roo, Larry Parra, May 14, 2014 .      The caption for this video says that the Mundaca Hacienda dates back to 1860, when its creator, the pirate and slave trader Fermin Mundaca Marechaga, took refuge in Isla Mujeres from the British Navy, and (

Regional Clothing: Procession Celebrating "Traditional Night"

     Celebrations begin today in honor of the 167th Anniversary of the Founding of the town, with a procession through the streets in traditional clothing. The graphic below is from the Yucatan, and while there are variances by region, as well as by occasion, it explains typical clothing of this area. Ternos are generally reserved for special events, while huiples can vary from everyday, basic designs to more complex, elegant dresses.        A huipil is generally made of one piece, with an embroidered rectangle forming the top of the dress and lace at the bottom border attached from underneath. However, this can also be worn as a separate underskirt. In Isla Mujeres, a common accessory worn with a huipil is a shawl called a rebozo. Larger versions of rebozos are used to carry babies, as well as merchandise. I'll add photos to this article after tonight's permitting. Both Huipil photos by Adrian Montroy, SIPSE          Styles and patterns of

A New York Times Travel Writer Describes the Isle in 1981

Thirty-six years ago, NYT journalist John Brannon Albright wrote about his visit to Isla Mujeres, when the ferry was 50 cents & you could rent hammocks or tent space downtown by the beach for $2.50/night. The "desolate Hotel Zazil-Ha Bojorquez" he describes is now the Mia. Isla Mujeres a Budget Alternative to Cozumel & Cancun Published April 5, 1981 The article begins:      "Isla Mujeres, off the northeastern tip of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, is an attractive, low-cost alternative to nearby Cozumel and Cancun. The island, six miles long and half a mile wide at its widest point, was named ''Island of Women'' by Spaniards who arrived in 1518 (sic 1517) and found many erotic female idols there. At the southern tip, the highest point, stand the ruins of a small Mayan temple. At the northern end, on a rocky promontory pointing like a finger toward the Gulf of Mexico, stands the eight-story Zazil-Ha Bojorquez, a hotel knocked o

From Five Fishermen to 1500 Refugees: Isla Mujeres in the 1840's

         In 1842, when an American archeologist visited, he found the isle abandoned except for a few turtle fishermen. Five years later, a newspaper report said there were 1500 people on the isle, trying to escape the Caste War. .         This page from an paper about the Caste War by Michel Antochiw says that after ChanCenote fell (where 2000 rebel Mayas attacked and 60 men tried to defend the town) and Valladolid fell, panic spread across the Peninsula. Thousands fled by boat and the press reported there were 1500 refugees in Isla Mujeres and 3000 in Cozumel.          It says in the first few months of 1848, there was not a single pueblo, hacienda, or ranch that had not been invaded by the forces of the rebel leader Cecilio Chi. While he and his companions were heading toward Merida, the immense region from Rio Lagartos, Tizimin, and Valladolid to the Caribbean was left to its fate, forgotten by both the whites and by the rebel Maya. (By the summer o

From Dozens of Farmers & Fishermen to Millions of Tourists: The Changing Face of the Isle Statistically

Residency statistics....   In 1592 and again in 1597 , every human being on the islands of Isla Mujeres, Contoy, and Cozumel was seized and removed by Spanish conquistador Juan de Contreras and his men, including Maya rebels and Negroes from Guinea, who were hiding on the islands, fleeing from slavery. Until the 1820's , when the Lafitte brothers were expelled, Isla Mujeres was a refuge for pirates. After that, t he isle was only occupied a few months of the year by a handful of fishermen from the Yucatan peninsula and Cuba. A report in 1825 said there were about a dozen huts.   *Link to Pirate history articl e   Link to Mundaca article         .. In 1842 , a visiting American archeologist found the isle was vacant except for "two huts and a shelter made from branches, inhabited by three fishermen and two natives , who were fishing for turtles." In August, 1850 , the town of Dolores was founded by ~250 refugees from the Caste War, who had to reside

Tourism in its Infancy

     Tourism was being developed in Isla Mujeres decades before Cancun existed. The island had scheduled amphibious airplane flights arriving in the 1930's. Scheduled ferry service began in the 1950's after a road was built to the coast from Valladolid. The bus drivers would spend the night on the isle, sleeping at the movie theater. 1930's Isla Mujeres downtown 1930's: Amphibious Flights To Isla Mujeres       In 1932 a 12-passenger amphibious aircraft was flying the "Chicle Route" from Florida to Cuba to Progreso to Cozumel, Chetumal, Belize, and Guatemala. In the 1930's, celebrated Mexican pilot Sarabia began operating his airplane company in Quintana Roo with five airplanes, which could each carry five passengers. They established the "Caribbean Route" ( Ruta del Caribe ): Chetumal-Puerto Carrillo-Cozumel-Isla Mujeres.        The famous pilot was good friends with Quintana Roo Governor Melgar, and they enjoyed breaking speed re

How America's obsession with chewing gum began with the Maya & supported our regional economy before tourism

     Before tourism came to the coastal regions of Quintana Roo, chicle harvesting was one of the main industries that fueled the economy of the area for over half a century. Chicle was used in the manufacturing of chewing gum until the 1950's, and is a natural latex produced by the sapodilla tree to protect itself from insects and animals.      In 1898, Puerto Morales was established (20 miles south of present-day Cancun) to serve as an international port for shipping chicle (called Punta Corcha). At an inland jungle village west of the port, chiclero workers cooked the sap down into a white resin, molded it into bricks, and transported it to the coast in rail cars, drawn by horses or mules, for export to the United States. Another rail line brought the bricks of chicle to Puerto Juarez. (Isla Mujeres had been founded a half-century earlier in 1850.)      For centuries, the Maya extracted chicle sap from the hardy sapodilla trees, which thrive