The Maya word Uayamón means "where the spirit descends" or "place where sorcerers go down." Jungles have always seemed mysterious to me, so I'll go with the definition about the sorcerers. An access road leads from the #60 highway through the forest to the hacienda. The map above is a screenshot from this Google map, which you can use for a more detailed look at the area.
Hacienda Uayamón was founded in the mid-1500s, not long after the conquest of the Yucatan Peninsula. During the 1600s, Spain's settlements along the Gulf and Caribbean Coasts were plagued by pirate attacks. The old colonial city of Campeche is still surrounded by walls and fortifications built to resist these depredations. Hacienda Uayamón did not escape these attacks unscathed.
A hacienda's economic focus often changed over the centuries, as new markets opened up. This was true of Hacienda Uayamón. During the latter part of the 16th century, large-scale cattle ranching was the focus. However, over the next 400 years, corn, sugarcane, henequen and .Palo Campeche, or "dye stick" were added to its mix of products.
Dye stick was one of the most lucrative. It comes from the logwood tree (Haematoxylum campechianum) and produces a brilliant red-orange dye. The Spanish first encountered Palo Campeche in 1540, when they conquered the Maya city of Kin Pech (Campeche). When the new dye was imported into Europe, it revolutionized the 16th century textile trade.
The building seen above was constructed in the late 19th century, when Hacienda Uayamón was at the height of its wealth and power. Only a couple of decades later, the hacienda system in Mexico was overthrown by the Revolution. The brutal economic and social exploitation on which the system depended was destroyed and most of these old estates fell into ruins. Some of them, like this one, have gained a new lease on life from enterprising new owners who restore the old structures and refashion them into hotel/resorts.
La Casa Grande
Luis Bosoms Creixell. In any case, haciendas often underwent changes, restorations, and enhancements over the centuries. The early structures were simple adobe, later upgraded to rough-cut stone, and then elegant brick.
A casa grande was more than just the hacendado's residence. It was the nerve center of the operation and often included offices, meeting rooms, and a tienda de raya (company store). Sometimes, there was even a jail for workers who were insubordinate or who were recaptured after running away from debts owed to the hacendado. The owner and his family would have elegant apartments in the casa grande, for use during their periodic visits to the property.
From the late 16th century through the beginning of the 18th, the city of Campeche and its hinterlands were repeatedly raided by pirates. One of the greatest of these buccaneers was Laurens de Graff, known to the Spanish as Lorencillo. He was a Dutch privateer, working for the French in their war against the Spanish.
Privateers were essentially businessmen who contracted with governments to attack an enemy power's shipping in return for a share of the captured loot. Pirates, on the other hand, had no government association and shared their profits with no one but their fellow crew members. As his career progressed, de Graff decided to freelance as a straightforward pirate. In 1685, he seized the city of Campeche and held it for two months. During this time he sacked Hacienda Uayamón. Although he secured provisions for his forces, he found little in the way of treasure.
Haciendas also functioned as way-stations along roads leading to the interior. Travelers might stop for the night, enlivening dinner conversations with news of the outside world. In the mid-19th century, early archeologists John Stephens and Frederick Catherwood were welcomed at haciendas all over the Yucatan Peninsula during their expeditions to find ancient Maya ruins.
Most hacendados were just fine with this situation, viewing an illiterate workforce as easier to control. Fernando Carvajal Estrada was one of the more enlightened of Uayamón's hacendados. In the late-19th and early 20th centuries, he sponsored a school for his workers and their families and even provided them with on-site medical services.