Info on Cozumel


Mexico's largest island is Cozumel, which is well known for its long white sandy beaches and its famous diving places in crystal clear water. The Mayans considered the island the home of the goddess of love and fertility Ixchel and in former times the Mayans from Yucatan came at least once in their life here, to take part on ceremonies for the goddess.
Nowadays the islands inhabitants are still in majority Mayans - their hospitality and friendliness create together with the extraordinary landscape a singular beauty of this island. On the island you can visit several Mayan archaeological sites where ceremonies were held in honor of the goddess and you still can feel the ancient mystic of this place. The white coastline, the tropical vegetation and the friendly hospitality of the inhabitants invite tourists to enjoy their vacation here - many hotels for each budget are available. You can reach Cozumel by plane or ferry
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The name Cozumel (Isla Cozumel) means "Land of the Swallow" in Mayan, and was named so due to the indigenous, graceful birds that can be seen regularly patrolling Cozumel's beautiful beaches and coastline. Cozumel was settled roughly 2000 years ago by ancient Mayans, a seafaring people, who saw Cozumel as a commercial stop as well as a sacred shrine. The island of Cozumel once drew Maya noblewomen who made the voyage to Isla Cozumel in large dugout canoes to worship Ix Chel, the Goddess of fertility.
The Infamous Spanish conqueror Hernán Cortés found his way to Isla Cozumel in 1519 and with his influence, that included the destruction of the many temples and the spread of the smallpox disease, Cozumel's inhabitants went from 40,000 inhabitants to just 30 people by 1570. Cozumel's ancient Mayan civilization lied in ruins, and by 1600 Cozumel was uninhabited. The War of the Castes
In 1847 Mayans from the Yucatan initiated an uprising that would be remembered as one of the greatest civil wars Mexico has ever experienced. Known as the War of the Castes (classes), a group composed of Spanish Indians and Mayans who had been living in Valladolid began a journey that would end in the repopulation of Cozumel Island.
Historically speaking, the group's migration was doubly important. First, because the mestizos and Mayans would be responsible for permanently settling the Mexican Caribbean coast; and secondly, because repopulating that area ultimately produced a consolidated group with economical and political power that continues to this day.
The genesis of the Yucatan's east coast development, which later became the state of Quintana Roo, was a direct result of the War of the Castes. It was a conflict that changed the economic, demographic, and political geography of the peninsula and initiated the process of subdivisions and territories as the population was pushed out of the region.
So it is too that the Mestizos and white Yucatecans that lived in the South of Quintana Roo, in Bacalar and the surrounding area, went to repopulate what today is known as Belize, specifically Orange Walk, Corozal and Ambergris. Most of these settlers returned to Mexico at the end of the 19th century and populated Payo Obispo (Chetumal), Bacalar and Xcalak. The north was repopulated with emigrants from Valladolid, Espita, Tizimin and other villages. From that point on, the islands of Holbox, Mujeres and Cozumel would always maintain a population.
During this same period of time newly authorized officials divided up sections of Cozumel Island and distributed lots among the island's new settlers. These first citizens were Spanish descendants, some of whose surnames were: Novelo, Angulo, Alcocer, Cardenas, Rivero, Vivas, Aguilar, Anduze, Ezquivel, Vega, Martin and Coral. One of the elements that unified the group was their Catholic faith, which was the dominant religion among Yucatecos. One of the immigrants, a Catholic priest, had brought an image of Saint Michael with him, and San Miguel quickly became the patron saint of the island. The power of the church also worked well in controlling the Mayan farmers who had settled in El Cedral because they too were profoundly Catholic.
Once political and religious power had been established and the land distributed, the citizens set about establishing occupational specialization between ranchers, artisans and merchants. It would be the merchants who would consolidate the island's interior market, which initially grew out of the necessity for bartering between the citizens of San Miguel and the residents of El Cedral; and between the Cozumeleno merchants and seasonal fisherman from Cuba and Belize. The Cuban fisherman exchanged manufactured products from Havana for fresh food and drinking water.
In actuality, two different immigrant groups made it to the shores of Cozumel that first year. The first group was made up of 51 middle class families who made their way from the city of Valladolid, accompanied by 86 mestizo male servants. The second group consisted of 350 poor Mayans who came from the outskirts of Valladolid, but felt ideologically connected to the more urban group and elected to join them. Thus the first people to repopulate Cozumel arrived as a group with a history that instantly divided them according to work assignment and class distinction.
The mestizos that formed the dominant group of the newly born society had a European-Mayan culture, were bilingual and dressed like white Yucatecans. Their experience in the market economy would be determined by events that had taken place as the island was first repopulated.
The best land was appropriated in parcels of 10 to 200 hectares and the village of San Miguel was divided into lots for building homes.
The field workers, who had arrived in the second wave of immigrants, were relocated in the El Cedral area and given excellent agricultural land. They, in turn, organized their own disbursement system that tended to parcel out land based on the individual's ability to work.
The first action by the dominant group was to communicate with Merida and advise them of the new settlement, and so it was that on November 21, 1849, only two years later, Quintana Roo Governor Barbachano established the village of San Miguel, Cozumel.
By 1970, Cozumel's population quickly grew to 10,000 and today the island boasts a population of more than 65,000. The only explorers that visit Cozumel these days are those looking to discover the beauty of the sun, sand, and sea.

Geography


The island of Cozumel lies 12 miles offshore the eastern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and is the largest island in the Mexican Caribbean as well as being the most populated island of Mexico. With water the color of imperial jade and edged with white-sand beaches and craggy black castles of limestone and coral, Cozumel is the largest of 3 islands off the east coast of the state of Quintana Roo. The island is approximately 30 miles (48 kilometers) long and 10 miles (16 kilometers) wide, with the high point measuring a mountainous 45 feet above sea level. Fauna/Flora
The forests of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo are home to many exotic trees, flowers, plants, and animals. Along with the many mangroves, bamboo, and swamp cypresses, ferns, vines, and flowers slither throughout the various trees to create a dense jungle. On the highest of limbs, orchids and air ferns can be seen stretching towards the sun. The Southern part of the Yucatan Peninsula hosts classical tropical rainforests that are the home of tall mahoganies, campeche, zapote, and kapok, all of which are covered by jungle vines. Los Arboles (The Trees)
Perhaps the most recognizable of trees in the area are the many types of Palm trees. These trees, vital to the survival of the people and region, come in many varieties- tall, short, fruited, and oil-producing. Some specific types of palms include Royal (tall with smooth trunks), Queen (used for landscaping and bearing sweet fruit), and Thatch (used extensively for roof thatch). At one time, the Coconut palm served the Yucatan very well as it is used for producing oil, food, drink, and shelter.
The tree matures in 6 to 7 years and then bears coconuts for the following 5 to 7 years. Unfortunately the "Yellow Disease" , a condition that has struck the coconut palm from Florida to Central America, has taken away the coconut palm as a source of income. Henequen, which is a cousin to the Palm tree, is used to form twine, rope, matting, and other products. The Calabash tree provides gourds that Mayan Indians have used for years as containers. A tall tree known as the Ceiba is known as the Mayan tree of life, and tied very close to the Mayan religion. The beautiful Framboyanes (royal poinciana) have wide-spreading branches covered in clusters of brilliant orange-red flowers when they are in bloom during the summer months. Las Frutas (The Fruit)
In addition to the trees, there are many delicious fruits that grow in the this region of Mexico. Sweet and sour oranges, limes, and grapefruits can be found, as well as the presence of the papaya, and avocado. The mamey tree, which grows to 15-20 meters in height, provides a brown avocado-shaped fruit with a sweet salmon-pink flesh in the middle (a flavor similar to the sweet yam). A lanky evergreen known as the Guaya produces small, green, leathery pods that grow in clumps like grapes. These pods have a sweet, yellowish, jellylike flesh.

Las Flores (The Flowers)


In remote areas of the state, the orchid can be found on the highest limbs of tall trees. There have been 71 species reported on the Yucatan of which 20% are terrestrial, and 80% are epiphytic, meaning that they are attached to host trees and deriving moisture and nutrients from the air and rain. Both types grow in so many different sizes, shapes, and colors- some subtle and some brilliant. In the spring, flowering trees are the gathering place for hundreds of singing birds that come together for the mating season in the treetops. Here in a natural environment you'll see a full spectrum of flowers that display wild colors and appealing scents. White and Red Ginger are among the most exotic of herbs, in addition to Plumeria which has a wonderful scent and can be found in many colors. Hibiscus and bougainvillea bloom in the forests and are of the most colorful sort that you will find. In addition to these exotic flowers, the more common Morning Glory is prevalent as it endlessly creeps and climbs over trees and bushes.

Climate


Cozumel temperatures are warm year-round with daytime highs averaging 81 F (27°C). In the Caribbean, hurricane season officially begins June 15 and runs through November 15th each year. Do not let this deter your planning because INSIDERS know that these are some of the best months to enjoy the Cozumel. Yes, there is always the chance of a tropical storm or hurricane coming in but typically there is a warning period and time for preparation or departure from the island if needed. The heaviest rains begin in June and last through October. It's possible for rain to fall almost every day during that time but the usual afternoon shower is brief and causes minimal interruption of travel or activities. Occasionally, however, the skies can open up and let loose torrents. During wet months, expect high humidity. November - May is generally balmy, with daytime highs averaging 80 F lower humidity and an occasional cool evening. Always remember, tropical climes can change from mellow to miserable and back again very quickly.
July/August - High 80's to low 90's°F (32°C)
December/January - Mid 70's°F (24°C)
Water temperatures range from 77°-82°F (25°-28°C) throughout the year.
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Antiguamente llamada Cuzamil, que en maya significaba "tierra de golondrinas", Cozumel es la isla habitada más grande de México y un lugar verdaderamente paradisiaco. Por sus aguas transparentes y cristalinas, donde se pueden practicar el buceo, la natación y otros deportes acuáticos ; por sus playas de blanca arena, en las que abundan las conchas marinas, los caracoles y las tortugas ; por su estupenda estructura de servicios turísticos y, sobre todo, por su gente amable, este bellísimo lugar es enormemente atractivo.
Para conocer y explorar los hermosos rincones, la arqueología y las playas de Cozumel, una buena idea puede ser rentar un auto o, si se tiene espíritu aventurero, un jeep o una motocicleta para poder salvar fácilmente el monte y las brechas. Y si quieres vivir el sabroso ambiente isleño te recomendamos caminar pausadamente por el pueblo, que combina lo moderno y lujoso con la serena tradición popular.
Al norte de la isla se encuentran varias zonas arqueológicas, entre ellas Aguada Grande, junto al Faro de Punta Molas. Más al sur se encuentra San Gervasio, la zona arqueológica mas importante de la isla, que cuenta con varias edificaciones, plazas y sacbés, que en maya significa "Caminos Blancos". Bordeando el mar por la carretera llegarás a la pequeña laguna de Chankanab, de origen natural y famoso por sus innumerables peces de colores, su hermoso jardín botánico y su playa, donde podrás practicar el "snorkeling" y el buceo.
Siguiendo hacia el sur llegarás a las playas de Santa María, amplias y sombreadas por palmeras y a San Francisco, preferida por sus aguas claras, por las facilidades que ofrece para bucear, por la riqueza y variedad de la fauna marina y porque es el punto de escala para los botes con fondo de vidrio que bordean la costa desde los que podrás apreciar los grandes bancos de coral. No muy lejos de ahí te recomendamos visitar la Marina Norte, refugio de yates de todas las latitudes, además de que existe un interesantísimo acuario. Muy cerca de ahí se encuentra El Cedral, poblado donde se ubica uno de los 34 sitios arqueológicos que hay en la isla.
Volviendo a la carretera que rodea la isla y enfrente de la costa, encontrarás el Arrecife Palancar, admirable muestrario vivo de la copiosa población de coloridos peces tropicales y paraíso de los buzos. Gran parte del Arrecife Palancar, que, por su extensión, ocupa el segundo lugar a nivel mundial, está siendo habilitado como parque nacional submarino, con el fin de proteger la especies marinas, algunas de ellas en vías de extinción. En el extremo sur de la isla te espera Punta Celarain, con su faro desde cuya cima tendrás una vista indescriptible de Playa Encantada. A 4 km. del lugar se encuentra la zona arqueológica de El Caracol, probablemente un observatorio maya.
Volviendo hacia el norte encontrarás la Laguna de Colombia, con su estupenda Caleta solitaria y su Playa Bonita, cuyo acceso no es fácil, pero sí gratificante. Más adelante podrás visitar Playa Hernán, protegida por dos minúsculos islotes, y El Castillo Real, la construcción prehispánica más grande de la isla.
Y no olvides visitar otras playas, como San Juan, Tanún, Santa Pilar - donde también hay una zona arqueológica-, Chen Río y Punta Morena.
Y, si aún tienes tiempo, no te pierdas otros hermosísimos sitios, como las aguas Xlapan y Ciega y las zonas arqueológicas de Buena Vista, Junán y Nohná.
Otros atractivos de Cozumel son su Museo, donde se muestra una síntesis de la historia de la isla, así como los sistemas ecológicos de tierra y mar y El Mirador, una hermosa barrera de coral sobre la playa y donde seguramente no olvidarás el estruendo del mar al chocar contra sus rocas ni sus amaneceres, con una fantástica gama de colores.
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