The 172nd Anniversary of Isla Mujeres

August 2022 marks the 172nd anniversary of Isla Mujeres. Find out what is being celebrated and learn about the events taking place on the Island.

By
David Araya | Updated February 4, 2023

Isla Mujeres is a Mexican paradise. The Caribbean is so awe-fulfilling. 

 ́El despertar de México ́ or, ´Mexico’s Awakening´ is when the first rays of sunshine illuminate the southernmost tip of the island, a.k.a Punta Sur. But what about its beginnings? 

How was this strip of land discovered? How did it all start? Who was here first? 

In the following paragraphs, I will break down the origins of Isla Mujeres and what is being celebrated this month of August because 2022 marks the 172nd anniversary!

Origins

Isla Mujeres was initially one of four territories of the Mayan state of Ekab. Dating back to 564-1516 d.c, it was a landmark destined to worship the goddess Ixchel. 

During this time, the island was not a place settled by humans but rather a sanctuary. Ixchel was and still is regarded as the goddess of fertility, healing, and abundance, amongst many other benign characteristics. The Mayan ruins of Isla Mujeres represent her temple.

Discovery

It wasn’t until Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba, of Spanish ascendence, discovered the island during one of his voyages on March 4th of, 1517. 

After finding all the feminine figures is how the island came to be named Isla Mujeres, in allusion to the female structures located throughout. 

It is important also to understand that part of what is known today as the municipality of Isla Mujeres also includes a section on the mainland called ´Zona Continental´, where ruins are also located in an area denominated ´El Meco´. 

Zona Continental also includes places like Rancho Viejo. 

After its discovery, the island was utilized in multiple ways in its early years. Among those uses or practices was the slave trade, as it was common, and slaves were bought and sold for hard labor. 

Another use was as a resting ground for pirates who needed a place of rest after long voyages. 

Founding 

This year marks the 172nd anniversary of Isla Mujeres. The island was founded on August 17th, 1850, as part of the state of Quintana Roo in the Yucatan Peninsula. 

Current day

Many things have changed since then. Today it is an enormous tourist destination for people from all over the world of all walks of life. There are an infinite amount of activities for children and adults alike. 

Regardless of the time of year, you will always find things to do no matter which part of the world you visit from. 

The current administration of Teresa Atenea Gomez Ricalde, the local mayor, has been working very hard to restore the island’s roots and culture. This work has been nonstop since they took office in 2021 and show no signs of slowing down.  

This month of August 2022, a celebratory program has been prepared for everyone to enjoy. It will run from August 5th through the 28th. 

Each day one or more activities will take place for the enjoyment of the local community and tourists alike. 

Festivities 2022

The kick-off will be August 5th at 7:00 pm in the town square where mass will be held in honor of ´La Virgen de Concepcion´ followed by a procession and then a dance presentation in town at 8:40 pm.

The following three nights, contestants will compete to be the ambassador of these said festivities, which will surely keep these evenings fun! 

Saturday, August 13th, is a date that many will be looking forward to. Fishing is a sought-after activity on Isla Mujeres, and on this day, a women’s tournament will begin at 7:00 am and finalize around 8:00 pm. 

This day will include weighing in the catch and announcing winners. In the evening, a special tribute will be held in honor of Virgilio ´Chino´ Fernandez, a local musician, singer, songwriter, and pioneer of La Trova Isleña. 

Other fascinating activities will include an offering at La Cruz de la Bahia. A special annual event where floral arrangements are brought out on dozens of boats mid-bay in gratitude for the blessings the sea offers year-round. 

To culminate, there will be a lively fair in Rancho Viejo in Zona Continental on Sunday the 28th. This will take place in the dome known as Domo Hugo Ravell Magaña at 4:00 pm where a large gathering will more than likely be present. Food, drinks, music, arts and crafts and a lot of smiling faces will surely make up the evening. 

Conclusion

Lots of preparation have been invested in organizing this month-long celebration. If you are on the island, make yourself present. 

It is exciting and humbling to know that such a tight knit community continues to work hand in hand in preserving the essence of Isleño culture. 

Proud locals celebrate the ongoing traditions that define what it means to be an islander.

Written by David Araya

David Araya

David Araya is an Isla Mujeres resident of many years. He is a husband and Co-founder of the "Cooks for an Island Cause" and "Toys + 'Tings" non-profit organizations. He is also the host of ShakerSation. Follow David on Instagram @araya_bartekniks