“I am sure many people compliment you on your eyes,” I said to a woman I met last week.
“Just as they must comment on yours,” she replied.
Between two international residents, such an exchange would sound strange, but my new acquaintance is not from the United States, Canada or a European country.
Her brightly embroidered huipil, friendly smile, and physical features type-cast her as a Yucatecan village woman, and indeed, she comes from Muna, close to Uxmal. But while most of the country’s population is dark-eyed – this lady has striking blue eyes.
We did not have a long conversation, but I figured her family tree probably includes a few of the Casa Carlota settlers.
Casa Carlota was established during the Second Mexican Empire (1864-1867) when two Yucatecan hamlets – Santa Elena and Pustunich – received 443 German immigrants. They were farmers and artisans who came to the country at the invitation of Mexico’s Emperor Maximilian, brother of the Austrian king Franz Joseph. The emperor hoped to colonize the Yucatan with 600 European families a year.
Funding for the project did not last long because Emperor Maximilian met an early demise by firing squad. The German settlers dispersed. Some went to other Mexican cities, some to the USA, others back to Europe, and of course some stayed on.
These individuals and families quickly formed relationships with the people living in the surrounding countryside. Marriages were performed, and many German-Maya children arrived into the world.
Readers interested in learning more about this unique period of local history can download and read this PDF containing information compiled by Alma Duran-Merk: