With all that goes on in the downtown area of Cozumel for visitors to see, there is nothing more compelling on the streets of Cozumel than a strolling band of mariachis. With their meticulously detailed outfits, large sombreros and cowboy boots, mariachis are an unmistakeable element of Mexican culture. Carismatic and charming, the booming, harmonic voices of the mariachis sing in beautiful harmony with their rythmic instruments.
The Coca Indians who lived in the hills of the central part of Jalisco, knows as Cocula, are credited with the origin of the mariachi. Prior to the arrival of Cortéz the music of Mexico was simply played with rattles, drums, reed and clay flutes as well as conch-shell horns and was mainly a part of religious celebrations. After the arrival of Spaniards in Mexico, instruments imported by the Spanish included violins, guitars, harps, brass horns and woodwinds. The Indian and mestizo musicians not only learned to play European instruments but also built their own with unique shapes and tonalities. It was around 1531 the Cocas combined their native music with the Spanish harp and violin. Then in 1576 the guitarilla, the small guitar with only four strings, was added for a unique sound.
Music and dance were important elements of Spanish theatrical productions and were enormously popular during the colonial period. The typical Spanish theatrical orchestra of the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries included violins, harp and guitars. It was from this group that several of the most distinctive regional ensembles of Mexico developed, including the Mariachi.
Musicologists and folklorists have argued for years over the origin of the word “mariachi.” While there will probably always be differing theories as to how the current word was derived by the Coca Indians, there is no question that mariachi and this style of music originated with the very artistic Coca tribe. Through the centuries more and more natives became interested in music. They learned to play has their fathers taught them, by ear. Musicians played and sang songs describing love, sorrow, famous deeds and heroes, horses and homes. Theirs was the "country music" of Mexico.
In the 1880's small groups of mariachis known as violines del cerro or "violins of the hills" began searching out occasions to play their music. They dressed in their best clothing consisting of a white shirt and pants with a red sash around the waist worn with simple sandals, large straw hats with ball fringe and a red sarape or black cotton blanket folded in half and draped over one shoulder. The dashing mariachi outfits we know today were to come much later.
In 1890's mariachis established their territory by traveling to nearby ranchers. In September, 1905, Juan Villaseñor, a ranch supervisor from the area of Cocula, took a group to Mexico City to play for President General Porfirio Diaz in celebration of "fiestas patrias" the 16th of September. This was the beginning of an Independence Day tradition that would grow stronger by the decade.
In the complete Mariachi group today there are as many as six to eight violins, two trumpets and a guitar—all standard European instruments. Then there is a high-pitched, round-backed guitar (vihuela), a deep toned guitar (guitarrón) which serves as the bass of the ensemble, and a Mexican folk harp which ornaments the melody. Mariachi music is not just music to be played and sung. From the very beginning it was music to be danced.
By the 1930’s Mariachi musicians had begun wearing the charro costume we see today consisting of a waist-length jacket and tight wool pants which open slightly at the ankle to fit over a short riding boot. Both pants and jacket are often ornamented with embroidery, intricately cut leather designs or silver buttons or conchos in a variety of shapes. As noted earlier, prior to that time photographs show early Mariachis dressed in homespun white cotton pants and shirts and leather sandals, the clothes worn by most peasants in Jalisco.
The original mariachis played seated. Not until the first trumpet joined the group in the 1940s did they start standing. "El Trompetas," a musician simply known as "The Trumpeter," was a master of the instrument and changed the mariachi sound forever.
By the 1950’s the Mariachi ensemble had become a complete, adaptable orchestra with the ability to retain its traditional base while it was assimilating new musical ideas and styles. Mariachis often help celebrate the great moments in the lives of the Mexican people. With the serenade the Mariachi participate in the rite of courtship. In a society where the young members of opposite sexes were kept apart, the serenade was a means by which a young man could send a message of love to the woman of his heart. “Las Mañanitas” is the traditional song for saints days and birthdays. Mariachis are commonly hired for baptisms, weddings, patriotic holidays and even funerals.
Traditional Holiday Mariachi!
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"Action" and "speed" pretty much describe this popular dolphin program! Get a handshake, a kiss and then you give them one. Feel the strength of your new friends as they push you across the water from the bottom of your feet in the thrilling foot-push. It is "the experience of a lifetime!"
US$ 149/Adult / US$ 89 child
Enjoy a relaxing "all inclusive" day at this white powder sand beach featuring top notch facilities and tons of activities for kiddos like water cannons, twin water slides as well as a 200 foot long pool and a pirate ship! Here there is an underwater Mayan City, organized games, kayaks, paddle boats, hobie cats and more!
US$73 Adult / US$63 Child
Enjoy a relaxing day at this fantastic white powder sand beach featuring top notch facilities and tons of activities for kiddos like water cannons, twin water slides as well as a 200 foot long pool and a pirate ship! Here there is an underwater Mayan City, organized games, kayaks, paddle boats, hobie cats and more!
US$ 30 Adult / US$ 25 Child
Sign up for an observation and education session about Cozumel's nesting sea turtles and the volunteer brigades that help in their conservation. Learn about these amazing creatures in the Fundacion de Paques & Museos program and help release hatching baby turtles as they make their way to the sea.
From $ 40 - 70 / person donation
Our Family took both Island Cuisine Cooking Classes and we learned several basic salsas and entree items. We were able to add new Mexican dishes to our table at home. Sherri, offers wonderful cooking classes for couples, friends, and families that want to learn about Mexican Cuisine. We learned to make Mango Black Bean Salsa, which is a wonderful treat with chips, baked chicken or as a summer salad. We prepared fresh Pico de Gallo and Salsa Verde just like Mexican Restaurants. We, also discovered how to make a traditional Chicken Pibil. We enjoyed eating all of the wonderful food that was created in class. These authentic Mexican Dishes have been added to our Family Cookbook. Art, Pam & Andrea ~ Portland, Oregon
Thank you so much for all your help! We took you tour to Chitchen-Itza in june. We were the couple that missed the tour because we did not get the wake up call. Because you went the extra mile with us (by finding us a tour operator that would honor our voucher the next day) I am extremely greatful. it certainly made our vacation. I will DEFINITELY recommend your website COZUMELINSIDER to anybody who will listen. thanks again! F. Escobar ~ not given
Hello, I want to let you know that I visit your website all the time! I love it, so much information. I used you as a resource when I came to Cozumel for the first time about 2 years ago. Although my soon-to-be wife was there before, I needed to do some of my own homework. As for her, she and I will be getting married on June 22 at Hotel Cozumel and we are both really excited about it. I am so happy that you are able to put this website together for people like us who love Cozumel and can't be there as much as we want to be. Thanks again! John DeMaio ~ Milford, CT, USA
Thank you so much!!! Thank you for arranging the dolphin encounter for my family!!! Even in the aftermath of Hurricane Emily, Cozumel Insider came through with flying colors --- yall are perfect... A. Sikes ~ Frankston, TX USA
First of all, I want to say thank you so much for sharing your wonderful island with my family. Secondly, we did the Royal Dolphin Swim with Dorie and Belle, and it was the most AWESOME time of our lives. One lady in our session cried at the end, saying this was the greatest thing that she has ever done. The Park was beautiful, and everyone was very helpful. Thank you again for a wonderful time. D. Smith ~ USA