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COZUMEL

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COZUMEL

MEXICO


Dwellings of a goddess, refuge of pirates. Cozumel, selected island, preferred and praised by deities and rascals alike… why? Maybe because of its proverbial calmness of idyllic palm trees and warm white sands emerged from paradise; maybe for its raptures of forests plethoric of life, or its transparently blue sea of portentous coral reefs.

Cozumel, home of Itxel (the Mayan goddess of fertility) and the lair of English pirate Henry Morgan, is now the largest inhabited island in Mexico. A tourist destination famous worldwide, which name is synonymous of joy and submarine exploration, of sublime relaxation at comfortable hotels and boundless adventures at exuberant national parks.

With over 2000 years of history, Cozumel, or "Land of Terns" - translation into English of its name -, was an important place of pilgrimage for the ancient Mayans, who worshiped Ixtel (between the years 300 and 900 D.C.) and also a vital seaport in the commercial chain of this Mesoamerican civilization (year 1200 D.C.)

Nowadays, the island remains as a space of cult. Its devotees come from distant places, unknown to the Mayans. The new pilgrims do not venerate Ixtel; they come with the fervent desire of becoming bewitched by the warmth of its beaches, and to meddle within the depths of its submarine world, habitat of amazing and colourful creatures.

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    Due to its enormous coral reefs and the transparency of its waters, which allow visibilities of down to 70 metres, the island is one of the five best places in the planet for the practice of scuba diving and snorkelling; it was the training camp for navy divers from the United States during World War II, and later one of the favourite spots of investigator Jaques Cousteau.

    To submerge, to be part of the depth, another inhabitant of the profundities of the Caribbean. To get close to the coral walls of the Reefs of Cozumel National Marine Park, or adventure to the waters bordering the Palancas Reef, one of the largest in the world, are sublime experiences that remain engraved in the memory of travellers.

    The immersions can be revived at the Chankanaab National Park, which adds to its excellent diving areas, a spectacular botanic garden with over 350 varieties of tropical flora coming from 20 different countries, where 60 palm tree species and a diversity of orchids stand out.

    Along with its amazing natural landscapes, Cozumel, located 68 kilometres offshore Cancun and 18 kilometres away from Playa del Carmen, shows important vestiges of its pre-Hispanic past with the Mayan temples and palaces of the San Gervasio Complex, the best preserved archaeological monument of the island.

    Other Mayan constructions did not resist the Spanish presence, which started in 1518 with the arrival of Juan de Grijalva. Later, when the Spaniards got hold of other coastal zones of Mexico, they decided to abandon the island; but in the XVII century, the pirates turned it into their den. A century later it would become unpopulated once again.

    But it was not forever. During the War of Castes, an uprising of Mayan natives due to the social and ethnical inequalities ruling in Mexico in the midst of the XIX century, it became the refuge of the mestizos crossbreeds running away from the cities in order to save their lives. They would found San Miguel, the only town of Cozumel.

    Home of goddesses, den of pirates, and discreet inlet of crossbred fishermen. Historic changes of an island that, in the present time, is one of the major tourist attractions of the Mayan Riviera. What would come next? Nobody knows, the only certainty is that Cozumel will remain as a place of inspiring beauty.

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