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The real pirate of the Caribbean!

Updated: Jul 5, 2023

The legend of the pirate of Isla Mujeres - Fermin Antonio Mundaca y Marecheaga.

ARR! Me hearties! Follow us on this swashbuckling tale of the infamous pirate of the Caribbean and Isla Mujeres - Fermin Antonio Mundaca y Marecheaga. Who was he? Why does he have a gravestone in Isla Mujeres? What is the story of the island’s Hacienda Mundaca, and what was his involvement? A story that has been passed down through generations, unfortunately hard to separate fact from fiction. Join us as we step back in time and delve into the life, love, heartbreak, insanity, and death … the legend of one of Mexico’s most famous pirates. And let's see what the plans are for the gorgeous space that is Hacienda Mundaca on Isla Mujeres, as the team, thanks to the willingness and work of President Atenea Gomez Ricalde, begin the project to restore and rescue the space, highlighting the wonderful history of the island.

Life and Legend of Mundaca

The story of Fermin Antonio Mundaca y Marecheaga begins in Santa Maria, Spain, where he was born, in October of 1825, he finished school and left Spain for the New World. It is said that he was an architect and a great sailor, however, this was a front for his crimes, and he made his fortune by trafficking slaves to Cuban plantations, pirating and smuggling merchandise from foreign ships. He arrived on the shores of Isla Mujeres in 1854 at the age of 29 and set out building his hacienda, “Vista Alegre” (Happy View), a farm that covered 40% of the island with gardens full of exotic flowers and plants, areas with animals, and fruit and vegetable plantations. This was his pride and jewel until he fell in love!

La Trigueña (the brunette) - Martiniana (Prisca) Gomez Pantoja was born in 1862, one of five sisters, she was 37 years younger than Mundaca, and it is said she grew into a beautiful young woman with green eyes, golden bronzed skin, and long dark hair. Despite the age difference, Mundaca fell deeply in love with her, showering her with gifts, even building and dedicating the arches above the gates to the entrance of his farm to her, “La Entrada de La Trigueña (The entrance of La Trigueña), all in the hopes that his efforts and the portrayal of his wealth would win him her heart. However, La Trigueña never accepted Mundaca’s love and instead married a humble local man closer to her age, the story continues that Mundaca was lovesick, heartbroken, and slowly went insane. With his own hands, it is said that he carved his gravestone, which can be found on his tomb in Isla Mujeres’ downtown cemetery.

A Pirate’s Grave

Today in the island’s downtown cemetery, you can find the hand-carved gravestone and tomb of the notorious pirate Mundaca, carved with a skull and crossbones to remember his days of piracy, as well as the epitaph and words for his love La Trigueña - “As you are, I was. As I am, you will be.” The gravestone has been kept on the island and is an important nod to the island’s history. However, the remains of Mundaca are not located in his tomb and never made it back to the island. As he lost his sanity, he left the island and the story concluded that he was last seen in Merida, where he died alone. It is said that he died of love!

Hacienda Mundaca

As mentioned, Hacienda Mundaca was a large hacienda first built by the 19th-century slave trader and pirate, Mundaca, once called Vista Alegre, the property would have covered 40% of the island, with areas of plants, flowers, fruit, and vegetable plantations, and livestock. Structures, walls, archways, and other parts of the hacienda still exist on the island today.

The Future of Hacienda Mundaca

In 2015 the place was rescued and for years the partially reconstructed/restored historic location of Hacienda Mundaca was open to the public where visitors could go to view the beautiful botanical gardens, the museum, and the historic ruins of the farm. However, the work done was considered by some as not enough, and the site was closed once again to have more work and restoration done on it, and today it has not yet been reopened.

For years there have been works being done on the archaeological rescue of the place, and this year plans and proposals have been made and announced, and construction has been started to rescue the space. The proposals include the restoration of the open-air theater, a Mayan house, a pirate walk, and even a train that runs through the entire 19 hectares of the Hacienda. The island famous palapa has been removed, and the shops and businesses underneath have been closed as work has begun. The final aim is to highlight and increase the historical and cultural value of the island, creating a space for visitors and islanders to learn about the story and history of the area, the island, Isla’s pirates, and the island’s fishermen.

There are also plans for a new circuit for people to enjoy, with a hiking path and a cycling path, which will begin and end at the entrance of Hacienda Mundaca. This circuit will take visitors along the west coast of the island, to Punta Sur and the temple of Ixchel, and back along the east coast with views of the sea, and lookout points.

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