Thursday, November 03, 2005

'Despite the Fury of Wilma, Isla Mujeres Slowly Returns to Normal' - translated by LDC

October 26, 2005, 12:22 p.m.

Despite the Fury of Wilma, Isla Mujeres Slowly Returns to Normal

ISLA MUJERES, Mexico (AFP) - Without potable water, telephone nor electricity, the Mexican resort of Isla Mujeres was left deserted of tourists after the passage of Wilma, but at least their retailers were not sacked.

"Unlike other municipalities (affected by Hurricane Wilma), we are here very well, at least there is tranquillity; there was no sacking; there is no disorder. At the most, people argued over the distrubution of relief supplies", Raciél Román, spokesman of the city council of Isla Mujeres told the AFP.

"Maintaining the electrical current is one of the greater problems we have. We calculate that it will be restored to 100% within 45 to 60 days. We are going to begin by restoring it to the center of the island, and soon towards the North end where there are several hotels, and soon to the South end ", added Román.

On Isla Mujeres there is practically no trace left of Wilma. Accustomed to the inclemencies of the season, these inhabitants dedicated themselves to cleaning and to reconstructing as soon as the hurricane passed, but businesses remain closed and its 1,000 hotel rooms are empty.

In the south end, Punta Sur, the aquatic park of the Garrafón was seriously damaged structurally, but the ruins of the sanctuary of Ixchel, goddess of love and fertility, was respected by Wilma in spite of finding it on a tongue of land some four meters wide.

Isla Mujeres, 8 km in length and 900 meters in its wider part, is almost as old as the discovery of America. [translator's note: It's older.] In the chronicles of the principle evangelicists of the 16th Century XVI, Isla Mujeres already appears, called thus for the innumerable stone figures in the form of women found there.

"If I had light and potable water, tomorrow I'd be opening and receiving tourists. Within two weeks a generator arrives that we bought and the municipality has committed to distributing potable water to us, so, at least, by the end of November we will be working ", assured Lat Lima Hernandez.

34 years old and an "Isleño" [islander] of several generations, Lat is the proprietor of a hotel of 18 rooms, his father has 73 "cabinas" [cabins?] and his brother, 9 luxury suites.

"The hotels did not suffer structural damage -- of course, the rooms are wet and the windows were broken, but nothing else. I am ready to receive my winter guests as I have all the rooms already reserved ", added Lat.

The hotelkeeper explained that they have received via Internet numerous emails from clients, worried as much about the security of the proprietors, whom they already know, and to announce that their intention to visit Isla Mujeres is still on.

The few foreigners who ramble through the streets this Wednesday are residents who dedicate themselves to tourism or are retired and they spend seasons in the Mexican Caribbean.

"I go away in 3 weeks because here the businesses are closed. I was born in Germany, but live here and in France. I have a hotel in Strasbourg and other businesses there, so I will be traveling as soon as it is possible ", Eberhard Biesinger, 56, who is dedicated to renting apartments to tourists said at his side.

"We are some 20 Europeans who we live here: Germans, Italians and Swiss, and we will remain here, to raise this beautiful island back up", said Beate Bernadt, a German of 45 years of age who has been living for 10 years on the island where she has a language school.

With or without hurricanes, Beate assures us, some have no intention of leaving Isla Mujeres, a place their adolescent children also adore. "In Europe these things happen also, the rivers overflow, there are floods. Here, the hurricane goes away, leaves the sun and everything is dried. In Germany they spend weeks and everything is storm clouds, it continues raining, and the sun never comes out and shines," she said.

Copyright © 2005 AFP. All. Reedición or redifusión of the contents in this screen this specifically prohibited without the written approval of AFP.

*Translated by Lorna Dee Cervantes 11/3/05


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