Acapulco Mythbusters

Acapulco Mythbusters

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Acapulco – just a vacation resort built up in modern times, or a city with a long tradition and exciting history, where even buccaneers and corsairs play a prominent role? Acapulco's cliff divers are world famous. But were the Acapulqueños (inhabitants of Acapulco) really the first ones to jump down rocks from breathtaking altitudes into the wild sea below? What is true and what is false? Let's see if the Acapulco mythbusters among you can detect the facts from the fiction:

1. Acapulco was founded in the 1930s as a beach resort for the Hollywood jet set.

FALSE. Acapulco is a city with a long history. Archeological finds show that pre-Hispanic settlements date back to more than 2000 BC. The Spanish discovered the Bay of Acapulco at the beginning of the 16th century and immediately started to exploit its strategic potential as a center for their trade with Asia. Acapulco hence became the most important port of the New World on the Pacific coast. For centuries, Spanish galleons cruised between Acapulco and Manila.

2. The San Diego Fort was built to protect the city against pirates

TRUE. At the beginning of the 17th century, trade between Acapulco and Asia was flourishing, and the Manila galleons arrived loaded with precious trading goods. Pirates in those days were not only cruising in the Caribbean, but threatening all the wealthy Spanish port cities in the New World, including those on the Pacific coast. Attacks by buccaneers were not just scary urban legends in Acapulco, but reality. The Fuerte de San Diego was erected in 1616 to protect Acapulco against these threats. Destroyed by an earthquake in 1776, the fort was later rebuilt to its present shape as a pentagonal star.

San Diego Fort
Calle Hornitos
39300 Acapulco, Mexico
+52 (744) 482.3828
Tue-Sun 9:30AM-6:30PM
$2.50 per person; free Sundays only

3. Hernán Cortés, the Spanish conqueror, came to Acapulco himself.

TRUE. Indeed Hernán Cortés, who came to the New World to conquer it for the Spanish Crown, came all the way down from Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec empire (nowadays, Mexico City), to Acapulco. Puerto Marqués, the small bay south to the Bay of Acapulco, was named for him. Now, why isn't it called Puerto Cortés then? Cortés also had the title of Marqués del Valle de Oaxaca (Marquis of Oaxaca Valley).

4. Acapulco means "place of the canes."

TRUE. The name Acapulco is composed of ancient words of Nahuatl, the language spoken by the Azteks. Translated the word means in fact "place of the canes," or "place of the reeds." Acapulco mythbusters find this to be true.

5. Cliff diving was invented in Acapulco.

FALSE. When 13-year-old Enrique Apac Rios jumped down the rocks at La Quebrada for the first time in 1934, he indeed initiated a whole new tradition of cliff diving. Nevertheless, it is one of the Acapulco urban myths that jumping from high cliffs began here. Cliff diving was already being practiced in the 18th century on the small Hawaiian island of Lana'I, where warriors were forced to jump down high cliffs as proof of their courage.

6. Elvis visited the cliff divers' show on various occasions during the filming of his movie Fun in Acapulco.

FALSE. In the movie Fun in Acapulco, shot in the early1960s, Elvis stars as a former trapeze artist who is defied to jump down the cliffs in Acapulco. He finally dares the reckless dive and overcomes his past trauma. In fact, Elvis contributed to making Acapulco's cliff divers even more popular. However, his reported fascination with the actual cliff divers in La Quebrada is part of Acapulco lore. All the scenes with Elvis were shot in Hollywood, and he had never traveled to Acapulco.

7. The Coyuca Lagoon served as a film location for Sylvester Stallone's Rambo movie.

TRUE. The sweet water Coyuca Lagoon just north of Acapulco is surrounded by fascinating tropical vegetation. Its long side arms, dense mangrove forests and incredibly deep red sunsets make it a perfect location for films. Various scenes of Stallone's Rambo II movie were shot there.

8. A Chinese monk called Fa Hsien arrived in Acapulco before the Spanish conquerors.

FALSE. There are various Chinese and western scholars who seriously tried to prove that a Chinese monk by the name of Fa Hsien or Fa Xian arrived in Mexico and Acapulco much earlier than the Spanish. There is not enough historical evidence, however, to prove this theory true. So for now it remains a truly interesting urban legend of Acapulco.
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