is located 88 km (55miles) northwest from the city of Campeche.
Its population is famous for the production of palm hats, the famous
Panama or jípis (pronounced heepee). The jípi is the
fiber of a miniature and very delicate palm that needs to be weaved
in an environment humid enough so the jipi can’t break. These
conditions explain why the work is done in caves, where humidity
and heat are constant. Most of the families of the village dedicate
themselves to this delicate craft work.
At the end of the eighteenth century, Campeche
was the richest province in Yucatán,
because of its trade, maritime and farming position. The Castes
War (revolts of the native Mayas during the second half of the nineteenth
century) changed the panorama and the haciendas became again prosperous
thanks to the sisal.
The haciendas comprised a main house ("casco") –
usually of a big size - with trojes (typical houses), warehouses,
a waterwheel and cultivated fields. Some have offices, a store and
a church. They were usually managed by an administrator while the
owners used them as secondary houses.
Nowadays, some of these haciendas are converted into luxurious hotels
while others are open to the public through guided tours. Among
the most important ones of Campeche,
there are :
Hacienda Uayamon :
This hacienda of livestock at the sixteenth century developed in
the late nineteenth century while diversifying its production (sugar
cane, sisal, corn and cattle farming). It was a model of production
at its zenith. It was in the vanguard considering the social and
technologic sectors because it had at its disposal electric energy,
railway, medical and educational services for the workers. The ex-hacienda
is now a luxury hotel located 27 km (17miles) southeast of Campeche.
Hacienda de San Luis Carpizo
: It is now the Naval Infantry Headquarter. It was an important
hacienda because of its location (8 km (5miles) from the municipal
administrative center via the road Champotón-Isla Aguada)
as well as the fertility of the soils allowing a huge farming production.
Hacienda Blanca Flor
: This old hacienda was the setting of violent events during the
It remains part of the main house which was converted into a hotel.
It is located 63 km (39miles) from Campeche.
Map of the state of :
History of the Sisal
It was the Spanish who gave Sisal global exposure. Long before Cortès stepped foot in Véracruz, the population of Tulum ‘town of dawn and beginning’ were situated facing the Atlantic, and were able to observe the strange Iberian vessels sailing all sails outside. On board was Cordoba. From 1517, the conqueror indicated the existence of this Mayan city and the burning fires of the tour in his vessel logbook which was meant to guide the vessels to the small pre-Hispanic City-State of North Yucatán. It took however almost two centuries for conquerors to surrender to the fiery, passionate Mayan people on the side of Guatemala in 1699. The Yucatán peninsula offered Spanish settlers (who discovered here the henequen - Mayan name for Sisal) the opportunity to gain a booming industry. It was at the time of the growing maritime transport industry and there was a huge market for fiber ropes, necessary in order to avoid the slowing down in progress of the New World. In just a few decades, the Sisal was at the origin of great fortunes. At the end of the 18th century, such wealth transformed into a great boom within the industry due to the incredible strength of the henequen fiber. At the beginning of the 19th century, Yucatán exported 80,000 tons of sisal rope every year, thus 90% of the raw material used for ropes throughout worldwide. At the center of this feudal production system were the haciendas with insolent luxury who were inspired by the "palladiennes", the wealthy Italian population.
The agave fields aligned the area up to the horizon, monotone, striated with rail lines which were used for truck transportation to the dryers where the extracted plant fiber was hung up by string for air-drying outside. At the peak of this green gold, around a thousand haciendas occupied the area. The schools and the churches developed in the areas close to the haciendas. The sisal therefore embodies the Yucatán wealth which became an independent nation for a short time, from 1843 to 1846. It was the determination of the Mayan people not to surrender to new masters in the areas within the ancestral Indian lands. In 1847, the Mayan people from Yucatán initiated an aboriginal insurrection that remains today one of the bloodiest since the Spanish Conquest – The Castle War of Yucatán. This lasted until 1901. Firstly, the Mayan people regained some of their land. Victorious, they plundered the haciendas before falling back on Tulum and other pre-Hispanic cities. They were slowly worn down bit by bit. The haciendas finished in a better position by rising from the ashes of defeat with new life.
The Mexican Revolution (1910)
and the accompanying land reform had a knock-on effect. It was then the invention of nylon that was fatal to the henequen industry. Today, there is hardly one hundred haciendas still growing sisal. Those that survived housed some of the wealthier families. Some of them also became museums, whilst others were converted into high class hotels.
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