The Jesus of Juarez Avenue: My Week on Isla Mujeres, Quntana Roo, Mexico

Isla Mujeres (Island of Women) is a five mile long Caribbean island off the Yucatan coast at the top of the Cancun-Mayan Riviera tourist and backpack route leading eventually to places like Tulum to the southwest and the laid back island of Holbox out on the Gulf of Mexico spillover.  You get to Isla Mujeres by plane into Cancun, then local bus or taxi to Puerto Juarez, where you take a ferry to the malecon and cross the main street, Rueda Medina, and enter a world that is half Mexican, half Caribbean.  And fun.  That Mexico is so incredibly Catholic has never bothered me when I visit there.  The cathedrals are works of art and not unpleasant for cooling off on a hot day.  The Jesus graffito along Juarez near Mango's Restaurant captured my eye.  

Now HERE is the real ruling deity at Isla Mujeres: Ixchel ("Eeesh-tell"), the Mayan goddess of fertility, or the Yucatecan Venus-Aphrodite.  Although Isla has its own hustle ("Hey guy, cuban cigar?"), it is much less stressed out than Cozumel or Playa del Carmen, which we also visited, taking in the ruins at Tulum.  The RCC did its best to worm its way into the consciousness of the indigenous peoples of the New World and the best they could accomplish was a syncretism.  (In Guatemala, copal is burned on the steps of the cathedral which, like the Tzotzil temple of San Juan in Chamula, is run by a guild of elders. They allow the idolatry of the native gods alongside Jesus.  San Juan Chamula, in Chiapas near San Cristobal, is a special case: inside the church, not only does Saint John the Baptist occupy the centerpiece of the altar, shamans are allowed to make altars of their own on the floor for the purpose of contacting spirits of the dead to whom they communicate by spewing soda pop on the pine needles.)

I loved going through the maze-like narrow passageways of the Great Temple at Cholula, which the Spanish buried under a church, simply wiping away remnants of a civilization as valid as anything in Europe, and in one way, smarter still.  The indigenous peoples of Mexico calculated the movement of the planets and employed a lunar calendar that is more accurate over the long haul than the Gregorian or any European calendars.  The priests were also astonished at the natives' perversions, mentioning all manner of couplings with no regard to sex or familial considerations, Fais ce que voudras. When you're in a confessional all day hearing masturbatory fantasies and spanking your monkey, you don't need to hear about any stud humping.  We don got to hear about no stud humping!  Lastly, the apartment where I was a guest for a few days, at the southern tip of the island:

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