Posted March 10, 2003 by Kay Walten in Mexican Culture
Excerpts from the book by Pablo Bush Romero – founder of Akumal
First published in 1964, this book is the story of Mexico’s CEDAM Club, its directors and members, and their pioneering work under the Mexican flag during 1959, 1960 and 1961. The club was conceived and founded by Pablo Bush Romero, the founder of Akumal, with the noble ambition of “serving their country and mankind in preserving those riches found in the coastal waters of Mexico”. It is fascinating reading and a must have for anyone truly interested in the contemporary history of the area. The book is due to be reprinted by the Bush family in the future and available in Akumal.
The eternal craving for new horizons was now channeled to activities combining the sport of diving with the investigation and salvaging of vestiges of ancient civilizations. This enterprise took us to Tulum, the fantastic walled city on the coast of Yucatán, jutting sharply over the Caribbean. Tulum is a fortress city, a rocky monument to the Mayan warriors of the past. Because of its strategic location it suggests that long before the beginning of the Christian Era, the Caribbean was the center of intersecting maritime routes of the world, a place of adventure, struggle, and ambitions. From that Mayan civilization, projected over the greater part of the continent, there still remain vestiges, archaeological treasures, witnesses of history, silently urging and inviting discovery.
It was in this legendary sea that CEDAM was to begin its work. Cozumel… Punta Matanceros… Acumal… Isla Mujeres… Cancún… Dzilam… Punta Soliman… Xeláh… Muyil… Chunyaxché… Punta Pájaros. These are so many windows from Mexico to that turbulent and legendary Caribbean Sea out of which rose the major part of the history of our America, amid blood and gunpowder, pirates and buccaneers, and royal intrigue. Steep rocks, cliffs, large crests of rocky shores look like the topmasts of so many ships sunk in its waters, imprisoned now by coral in the stormy depths, or calcified by the tropical sun which gives life and destroys. History and legend tell us of discoveries, conquests, and wars between the nations of Europe -England, France, Holland and Spain- taking place not on their own territories, but here in this Caribbean Sea. Here these nations concealed behind the religious banners of Catholics, Protestants, Huguenots, their real designs for territorial expansion and slave traffic, so that they might take possession of pieces of the new continent. Here the exploits of pirates and corsairs, as well as the struggles of the liberators, took place under blinding clouds of violence, adventure, and war without quarter.
That day in 1492 when Columbus changed the name of Guanahani (Island of the Iguanas) to San Salvador, saw the beginning of the collapse of the great civilizations of America, those of our Mayas and Aztecs, spreading south beyond Panama; and the great Inca civilizations in Peru and South America. But it was also the beginning of an era of turbulence which lasted nearly three centuries, all taking place in the waters of the Caribbean.
This historic sea was crossed by Hernando Cortés, who took possession of Mexico. Along other routes, that of the Island of Cozumel, bold Francisco de Montejo attacked the Mayas. Here, between the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, CEDAM succeeded in salvaging three cannon and an anchor, certified by an official of the Smithsonian Institution as belonging to a Spanish ship of the sixteenth century. Our work, as will be seen in due time, gives reason to believe, from investigations made by Jesús Bracamontes, of the group of technical investigators of nor Club, that the ship located in Cancún was one of those belonging to Governor Montejo, bearing the name of La Nicolasa. Word of the fabulous treasures of Mexico and Potosi had traveled through Europe, greedy for riches; and many nations of the Old World hastened to take part in the booty.
They did it craftily. They could not do it by open and outright warfare; instead, they launched upon the seas pirates who often traveled under letters of marque. These were not the grotesque pirates so picturesquely depicted by Stevenson in Treasure Island. There were no wooden legs, no hooked hands, no black flags. These were highwaymen working under instructions from their governments, and, at times, their knavery won for them the title and accolade of “Insight” from a British Queen.
The first buccaneer to appear on the Caribbean’s turbulent scene, according to reports, was Giovanni de Verrazano, a Florentine who operated under orders from France. In Spain they called him Juan Florentino, or “The Frenchman.” His men were rugged cutthroats who knew how to pierce the heart of the enemy as well as they knew the operations of a ship. Besides being a sea robber, Verrazano or Florentine was a man of prodigious memory and an intuitive cartographer. From information given him by his brother Hieronimus and from his own recollections of his sea travels, he traced the countours of a map of the world, which served as a model for later cartographers.
Before his star declined, he had recorded in his log more than 150 ships, galleons, and galleys, which he had sent to the bottom of the sea. Once he was taken prisoner, and frightened by the presence of the executioner, he exclaimed: “Oh, God, who have permitted this to happen! Oh, Fortune, who have brought me to this! Is it possible that I, who have killed so many, must die at the hands of one man?” He offered 30,000 ducats for his escape. But he did not escape.
From that time, the most adventurous career for the youth of Europe was that of a pirate. On the other hand, powerful companies were formed for tragic in spices or slaves. And all of this took place in the Caribbean, where Englishmen, Frenchmen, Dutchmen, and even Danes, had hideouts where their officials or semiofficial pirates took shelter in the various islands. Sometimes they fought among themselves, and most of them were double-crossers. The only thing in which they were in agreement was in considering Spain as “The Common Enemy” whom it was necessary to annihilate. In the Caribbean, therefore, rose men like Hawkins and the fascinating figure of Francis Drake, Buccaneer of the Royal Order, whose outstanding filibustering accomplishments were rewarded by Queen Elizabeth, who gave the title of Knight of the Crown to the barbarous captain of the Sea Dogs, nom de guerre of the British pirates.
Drake passed on to the Great Beyond in the locale of his notorious feats: the Caribbean. Like all great admirals, he died in the bunk of his cabin and was buried at sea. But his personality was such that Lope de Vega himself dedicated a long poem and an epitaph to him, which has mourned through the years over the underwater tomb of the fantastic pirate, king and master of the seas.
The list of the pirates of the Caribbean would be as interminable as the naval battles fought in its waters and the assaults made from its hiding places.
A memento of the most regal of all the buccaneers was found by the men of CEDAM in a poor cemetery in the port of Dzilam, near Progreso in Yucatán. A stone there says: JEAN LAFITTE REEXHUMED. This is all that remains of the Haitian-French corsair, who was lord and master of New Orleans for so long, and who made General Jackson take back his epithets of “Criminal” and “Bandit” to declare him publicly a “Gentleman and Patriot.” Without the pirates of Barataria, governed by Lafitte, the United States would have lost one of its decisivo battles in its war against England.
This is the Caribbean-bloody, legendary, mysterious. Nevertheless, it was upon its waters that a great deal of the personality of the New World was forged. Buccaneers of the Caribbean collaborated with Bolivar in the liberation of South America.
Now another type of adventurer has arisen. The modern pirates have returned to this turbulent sea and followed the routes of their ancestors. They came preferably to the Mexican Caribbean to avail themselves of treasures from ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations that a invaluable, either for their historical significance or their intrinsic value. They came in hopes that by good fortune they might find one of those remarkable galleons and brigs which were sunk along our coasts while bound for Spain carrying gold and rich merchandise.
It was in order to make these depredations difficult that men of goodwill have organized the Club of Explorations and Water Sports of Mexico (Club de Exploraciones y Deportes Acuáticos de México). Their aim is to serve their country by turning over to the Federal Government whatever can be salvaged from the wrecks buried in the bottom of the Caribbean.
They also engage in a mission of service, and they do it with enthusiasm and absolute disinterest, ignoring the risks and the fatigue involved.
To the family of Pablo Bush Romero for permission to reprint chapter 2 of “Under the Waters of Mexico” and for many of the photos which appear here from the book. Two of the photos of Pablo Bush with club members and recovered cannons/artifacts are from the book “Mexican Caribbean” by Earl J. Wilson.
Riviera Maya Activities (217)
Mexican Art (61)
Community Organizations (27)
Mexican Culture (176)
Mexico Destinations (127)
Family vacations (97)
Food & Drink (233)
Guest Bloggers (20)
Riviera Maya Photos (304)
Riviera Maya events (79)
Riviera Maya Services (62)
Sustainable Tourism (113)
Vacation tips (58)
Destination Weddings (30)
Costa Maya (14)
Loco Adventures (43)
Mayan Ruins (39)
Riviera Maya Destinations (250)
Community Announcements (20)
Mexican Recipes (33)
Riviera Maya Restaurants (73)
Mindful Traveler (49)
Yucatan Activities (46)
Riviera Maya Vacation Tips (149)
Mexico Vacation Tips (163)
Restaurant Reviews (8)
Interview with a Local (15)
"Not sure if we will be returning next summer, but will definitely let you know if we are, as Loco Gringo is the ONLY way to go for us!"
--Lesley P., Texas
"So here is a GREAT BIG TEXAS THANK YOU TO LOCO GRINGO for all the awesome, fantastic vacations in Paradise."
"I had contacted you before I left for my first trip to Mexico and all of your recommendations were spot on. I started in Playa Del Carmen and worked my way to Tulum. I had only expected to stay 2 nights there and instead wound up staying for a week-and that still was not nearly enough time. Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks! I will be checking in with you guys as I am tring to plan a trip to Holbox next. That place looks amazing!"
--Louis Skip Gonzalez, Unidos Magazine
"Both in 2011 and this year we have booked our room through Locogringo.com. We searched and found a great rate at the resort we wanted, and then Locogringo met that price, and with their booking came their amazing customer service and the peace of mind that if we need anything while we are there we simply need to call. I always get a fast turnaround on any email I send them, and they work so hard to find us the best rates and the rooms we want. We hope to have a long relationship with them, and recommend their site to everyone we know."
--Tim A and Teri A, Salem, UT
"People who “live the area” will want to make sure you enjoy your vacation and come back again!"
"It is like having a friend make your reservations for you .... we always feel comfortable knowing LG will be in charge of our arrangements because they know the area first hand, they live there ..... you ask a question and they answer it with good humor and great knowledge of what they speak. I will always recommend Loco Gringo in a heart beat!"
"and for the past five years we have used Loco Gringo for every reservation, I'm sorry that we did not find them sooner.
I have been searching Loco Gringo for all these years and one thing I have not yet found ........... someone who is not fabulous to work with. Great people, great owners and a great way to run a business."
--K & DB, Outer Banks, NC,
"It's a great comfort to visit the Riviera Maya and know that Loco Gringo is there to help, if needed. "
--Bryan in IN,
"She & her new Husband had a fantastic hassle free trip. This was their very first time to Mexico and her comment upon return was " Dad, 7 days is NOT enough time ! " Super job, LG."
--Bernie in Denver,
"I would recommend Locogringo to everyone I know. It is such a great service that they provide from researching and booking the perfect place to stay to finding all the needs you could possibly want during your stay. Thanks Locogringo."
"I have booked most of my Mayan Riviera trips through Loco Gringo and can only say I wouldn't even consider using anyone else to handle my bookings for stays in that area.
Their booking process is simple, fast and friendly, and they will answer your questions and queries until you are completely satisfied that every single detail has been taken care of.
Who else would know the area better than folks who live and work right there? Try to get that level of expertise and knowledge with a booking agent who lives and works several hundred, or even thousands of miles away.
Not only that, but they are genuinely nice people as well, who really care for their customers and the community and area that they call home
Keep up the great work Loco Gringo!!"
"I will be bragging about your site to any and all who will listen. Our experience was phenomenal!!!"
"Loco Gringos is the VERY BEST booking site I have ever worked with. They respond to emails promptly, work hard to honor special requests, answer questions etc. They ALWAYS take great care of their customers and are conscientious and professional at all times. We have booked 8 trips with this company and NEVER hesitate to use them or recommend them when traveling to the Riviera Maya."
"...for your patience with me and making this process go soooo much smoother! I truly appreciate you and the staff at LocoGringo. Thanks again! I can't wait to be sitting on the beach!
Maggie in Colorado"
"You always recommend amazing accommodations and we are always comfortable and feel safe. Your staff does a fantastic job at making our vacation each year a ” hassle free ” experience ! All we have to do is ” show up ” and the rest is already taken care of. We will continue in future to use LocoGringo and also continue as we have done already, to highly recommend your company to anyone we know that is planning a vacation."
--Nancy & Bill, Toronto, Canada
"We usually need reservations for 2 to 4 people but for 2 years we needed reservations for 7 to 9 people, adults and kids and they have always done a flawless job in getting the resort we wanted and at the best price too!!"
"And their amazing website is one of the main reasons we started going regularly to the Riviera Maya and especially Akumal. No other place around the Caribbean has nearly as good a web presence as LG has given this area."
--Dan, St. Louis MO,
"I just wanted to take a moment to say THANK YOU! The trip we booked through Loco Gringo was perfect! The price was exceptionally good and the service was second to none! If you’ve never booked with Loco Gringo before, we *highly* recommend them!"
""I was soooo delighted with the Loco Gringo services. Everything was trouble free and all my questions were always answered promptly. Thanks for a GREAT trouble free vacation!""
"What an amazing company Locogringo is. Every silly question I have.... they answer , If something comes up like a travel day change, adding more people, or whatever it might be... you get a response from a real person ... who seems to love what they do . That is hard to find these days and I really appreciate that."
"When we use LG to book a trip we get immediate help with all of our questions in a very timely way by people who know what they are talking about and are extremely helpful, patient, knowledgeable, and congenial. They really get how to do customer service.
Once we book through LG we never have to worry about any of it again. We are always amazed at how smooth and trouble free our bookings through LG have been."
--K.B., Fort Worth, TX
"We have been Booking our Riviera Maya vacations from Loco Gringo since 2005. Always Great communication, helpful tips and quick responses to our questions. They were especially helpful when Hurricane Wilma hit and put a stop to our Vacation plans. They made sure we knew about the weather situation and did all the work with re-booking our vacation in Paradise!"
"A company made up mostly of American Expats living in the Riviera Maya with a booking list of many hundreds of properties. Big enough to know each property intimately and small enough to know each customer personally. A level of service simply impossible for the giant companies to provide.
--Jim T., Colorado
"LocoGringo.com books total trip packages and I recommend LG to all my friends and even to strangers I hear talking about going to Mexico!!"
"All our Riviera Maya trips have been booked using LocoGringo. We love their service."
"Go to the home page or check the forum."
"Now is a great time to tell you how wonderful you and your staff are at making it so easy to find and book the best vacations, THANK YOU !"
--Joyce & Hugh,
"We spent a lot of our time sitting on the second floor porch with our feet propped on the railing just staring at the water. Coming home was hard this year..Staying for two weeks still wasn't long enough."
"Thanks for everything you have done with Locogringo… the site is great and your staff has been nothing short of incredible when it comes to helping us plan our trips. Maybe we’ll run into you on one of your walks some day."
"Loco Gringo has an AWESOME website with great info, it is lots of fun to visit, be sure to join their forums. The forums hold more information and trip reports than you can 'shake a stick at'!"
"quick and informative replies from Bart ( thanks Bart) , easy booking procedure plus online management of your booking . I am highly impressed."
--Theressa - Middlesex U.K.,
* Denotes A Required Field
How much are you thinking about spending?