Okay! December is here and I promised you “stuff” – details on my volunteering with PEACE in particular but let’s start with a little history today of my destination: Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Most of the links this month are organizations pertaining to PEACE or organizations doing great things on Isla Mujeres. I have also added a link for Camfed – my special interest is women’s education and empowerment (as you will see in later posts about my contribution to PEACE while I was on the island). You can contribute by doing the free activities and then a corporate sponsor donates money.
I plan to include the history, if possible , of the places and organizations that I work with. This is all new and I am trying to see what works for me and my readers so please, any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
Fact or Fiction?
The island (only a 20 minute ferry ride from Cancun), it is said, served as the sanctuary for the goddess Ixchel, the Mayan Goddess of fertility, reason, medicine, happiness and the moon. Her temple was located at the South point of the island and also served as a lighthouse.
In 1517, when the Spanish conquistador, Francisco Hernandez de Cordova, landed upon the shores of the island, he found female shaped idols in the likeness of the goddess Ixchel, thus the island got it’s name, Isla Mujeres (Island of Women). Others say the name dates back to the 17th century when visiting pirates would use the island to stash their women while they went out to rob the high seas. So, you pick your ending – how did the island get it’s name? No one really knows for sure.
THE LEGEND OF MUNDACA
Fermin Anonio Mundaca de Marecheaga (Mundaca) was a pirate who arrived on Isla in 1858 and began building his hacienda called “Vista Alegre” (Happy View) which grew to cover about 40% of the island. For a visual, the island is only 5 miles long and 1/2 a mile wide.
Mundaca built a special garden called “The Rose of the Winds” which acted as a sundial telling the time of day by the shadows. Overgrown and crumbling now, you can tell that it was once a magnificent garden.
The man in the picture above joined in on one of our volunteer activities and then took us on our own private tour of the Park while giving us all the history of the area. Although he spoke no English, we understood him perfectly. He is very proud of his island and the work he does to preserve the park.
Mundaca fell in love with a girl, 37 years younger than he. He built these elaborate arches above the gates in his garden hoping to win her heart with his wealth and power. His efforts were in vain and she married a man closer to her in age. He slowly went insane and died in another part of Mexico. His empty tomb still awaits him on Isla Mujeres. It is adorned with a skull and crossbones and words that were meant for the girl he loved: “As you are, I was. As I am, you will be.”