“Do you know much about Punta Sur?” I asked.
“Other than the fact that it’s the southern-most point of Isla Mujeres, no,” Jackie smiled.
“So the ruin we’re going to see is from a temple dedicated to the goddess of the moon, fertility, abundance, healing…and depending upon the source there’re a few other things”
“I think I read happiness and love. Generally, good stuff.”
“Sweet! What’s her name?”
“Her name is Ixchel.”
“How do you say it?”
“Honestly, I don’t know if I’m pronouncing it right, but I’m pretty sure it’s pronounced ‘ee-shell.'”
“I think so.”
“Cool! I like it!”
“Me too. It’s pretty. So basically, this whole island is considered Ixchel’s special little spot.”
“And when the Spanish invaded this island they saw all these statues of the goddess. In the statues, she’s bare-chested. Couldn’t you just see the Spanish, totally over-dressed, being all ‘oh! What barbarians with their naked ladies!'”
“Ugh. They’d be super judgy.”
“Oh totally. And there were so many statues! They were all over the place! And that’s how the island got it’s Spanish name; it literally means island of women.”
“Oh, no way!”
“That’s awesome! I love it! The female goddess. That’s the perfect temple for us to see first!”
“Right!? Oh and by the way, apparently those first Spanish people stole a bunch of gold from the temple.”
We pulled up to Punta Sur. Greeting us was a statue of a Ixchel.
“Is that how the statues looked a long time ago?”
“I mean — I have no idea. I saw some pictures of her online where she looks like an old medicine woman and some where she’s young and beautiful. The snake on her head and her gesture of giving are definitely part of her image, though. It’s how she’s often represented.”
Directly beyond Ixchel was another statue, this one an enormous iguana.
“What’s with the Iguana?” Jackie asked.
“I dunno. Lemme read the plaque — it just says the iguana is a native species that’s a representative of the region. ‘Icono’ might be ‘icon.’ So yeah, it’s probably here as an icon of the region. Also says they live to be fifteen.”
“Good to know. But what’s an iguana doing in Ixchel’s territory?”
I shrugged. We paid the $3 entrance fee. Our cashiers were a couple of adorable kids; they couldn’t have been older than eight or nine. Crossing the threshold we looked out at Punta Sur.
“What’s all this?” Jackie asked.
“Oh I read about this! It’s an international art project!”
“WHAT?!” Jackie has a particularly hilarious way of saying things when she’s surprised. It’s kind of like she’s laughing and raising her voice at the same time. It absolutely cracks me up.
When I finished laughing I said, “A bunch of artists made statues that somehow represent Punta Sur or the island — I’m don’t fully remember.”
“It’s an outdoor gallery! How cool!”
We took our time looking at each of the statues.
“Is that Cancun?”
“Definitely. When it’s clear, this is supposed to be an incredible view. And the ocean would be that bright Carribean color.”
“I wish it was nice today.”
“It’d proably be more breathtaking.”
After much meandering, we arrived at the ruin.
“Not much left of it, eh?” Jackie said.
“No. A hurricane destroyed most of it a few years ago. I guess it was pretty intact before. Fun fact, the Mayans used the temple as a lighthouse.”
“They put torches in the windows.”
We took a few pictures and continued along a path that curved below the ruin.
“These cliffs are just stunning!” I said.
“Seriously…What kind of rock do you think this is?”
“No clue. But it’s cool!”
When we had sufficiently filled our lungs with the salt air, we headed back to the golf cart.
“What should we do now?” I asked.
“Let’s walk around the north part of the island. That’s where the map says downtown is.”