Isla Mujeres Mystery ~ Lynda L. Lock

Then and Now – Dan Kane’s photo collection

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Dan Kane – transplanted islander
“What is happening to my little isla?” – Recent arrivals moan.  Change!  Inevitable change.  When you look back on the photo collections of other Isleños the island has always been changing.  

This idyllic palm-strewn sandbar in the Caribbean Sea was discovered by the Mayans, then Spaniards, then Mexicans, and finally world-travellers of many different nationalities.
A transplanted islander, Dan Kane, recently reminded me that he has a collection of photos taken back in the 1970’s and early 1980’s.  They are fun photos of thin earnest young men with longish hair, and pop-star-style moustaches.  

Earnest young men with pop-star moustaches

The southern view from the balcony of their room at the Rocamar shows a remarkable open area where our house and the houses of my neighbours are now situated. 

The view north, behind the two men shows the large hotel known over the years by four different names including the Presidente, and the Avalon.

Upper balcony of Rocamar  Hotel looking south
Some of the photos capture Playa Norte, or North Beach as an empty sweep of white sand, dotted with palm trees; no condos, no hotels, just sand and a couple of rustic beach restaurants.  

At the south end of the island the Mayan temple to the Goddess IxChel stands alone, a sturdy sentinel against invaders.  (The structure was much larger before the devastation of Hurricane Gilbert in September 1988.)  The statue garden has not been thought of, the newer lighthouse structure, gift store, restaurant have yet to be built.  Neither Garrafon Natural Reef Park nor Dolphin Discovery exists.

Mayan structure before 1988 Hurricane Gilberto
Every person that discovers Isla changes it in some small way.   Perhaps a tourist requests an item that was not available before and an enterprising merchant imports it to the island.  Perhaps a winter resident requires a new service and a company steps in to supply it. 

Services that may have started out with simple things such as fax machines and photocopiers soon included cable internet, cell phones, internet cafes, or cash machines.  Eventually the island offered every modern convenience a traveler could dream up – including the fairly recent Chedraui Super Store.

Isauro “Indio” Martinez Magaña 
Other historic pictures from Dan’s collection are of a very well-known former islander, “Indio”, sharing his sailboat with friends.  Isauro “Indio” Martinez Magaña passed away on August 14th of this year.  

He was part of the large, influential Magaña family, and a cousin to our Presidente-elect, Agapito Magaña Sanchez.  

Many of you will remember Indio’s Beach on the south-western side of the island; a quiet tucked away area to enjoy food, beer, and perhaps a little nude sunbathing if you were so inclined.

North beach before the hotels, condos and restaurants
Most of us are careless with photos from our youth, never once believing that a quick snapshot of friends enjoying themselves could have any historic significance down the road. 

Perhaps in a few years your personal photos will be the subject of another blogger’s musings.  

Cherish the memories – they are a bit of history happening before your eyes.

Thank you Dan, for sharing your memories with us.

Hasta Luego 

Lynda and Lawrie


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