22 March 2016

Primer Cementerio de Cozumel

HISTORY 
The Maya are believed to have first settled Cozumel by the early part of the 1st millennium AD, and older Preclassic Olmec artifacts have been found on the island as well. The island was sacred to Ix Chel, the Maya Moon Goddess, and the temples here were a place of pilgrimage, especially by women desiring fertility. There are a number of ruins on the island, most from the Post-Classic period. The largest Maya ruins on the island were near the downtown area and have now been destroyed. Today, the largest remaining ruins are at San Gervasio, located approximately at the center of the island. 

The first Spanish expedition to visit Cozumel was led by Juan de Grijalva in 1518. In the following year Hernán Cortés stopped by the island on his way to Veracruz. The Grijalva and Cortés expeditions were both received peacefully by the Maya of Cozumel, unlike the expeditions’ experiences on other parts of the mainland. Even after Cortés destroyed some of the Maya idols on Cozumel and replaced them with an image of the Virgin Mary, the native inhabitants of the island continued to help the Spanish re-supply their ships with food and water so they could continue their voyages. Gerónimo de Aguilar was rescued at this time.

As many as 10,000 Maya lived on the island then, but in 1520, infected crew members of the Pánfilo Narváez expedition brought the smallpox contagion to the island and by 1570 only 186 men and 172 women were left alive on Cozumel. In the ensuing years Cozumel was often the target of attacks by pirates, and in 1650 many of the islanders were forcibly relocated to the mainland town of Xcan Boloná to avoid the buccaneers’ predation. Later, in 1688, most of the rest of the island’s population, as well as many of the settlements along the Quintana Roo coast, were evacuated inland to towns such as Chemax.

In 1848, refugees escaping the tumult of the Caste War of Yucatán settled on the island and in 1849 the town of San Miguel de Cozumel was officially recognized by the Mexican government.

TODAY
WE walked around San Miguel Cemetery, the Primer Cementerio de Cozumel and visited with some of the pioneer souls that first journeyed to this island; and their descendants. This is a very old place. It’s divided into two sections, the smallest of  those is directly back from the main gate and it holds the graves of the first settlers. Many of the tombs and family masoleums are adorned with gifts, photos, flowers, plants and candles. Some hold, plates and cups or glasses; left behind by visitors who shared food or drink with loved ones. On November 2, Dia De Meurtos (Day of the Dead), family and friends gather to clean, paint and decorate the grave-markers of their relatives.


       
Crusty ...

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TEAM: LOAF, Crummy, Wry & Crusty