AN OLD GOAT AMONG THE CROCS

THE BROADER PICTURE

Anyone Wanting to meet a man with seven wives should head not, as the nursery rhyme has it, for Saint Ives, but for a crocodile-infested lagoon in southern Mexico known as Pie de la Cuesta. For a price, one of the local fisherman will take you out in his boat to a tiny island in the middle of the lagoon, where 95-year- old Don Pio Quinto lives with Emilia, his seventh wife (pictured left).

Don Pio colonised the inhospitable Isla Montosa as a young man early this century. He immediately laid claim to the island - a quarter-of-a- mile-square of rocks fringed with mangrove swamp and small beaches - and went on to populate it with his polygamous family of seven wives and their offspring. Four of his sons still live on Isla Montosa; at weekends, when members of the extended fam- ily often visit, the island's population swells to nearly 100. But in spite of living so near to each other, the Quinto family are not close-knit: none of the sons speaks to their father. The reason for this remains unclear, but it seems to have something to do with Don Pio's ability to keep so many women simultaneously happy.

Emilia, who at 63 is the youngest and most recent of the wives, recalls the first time she made the half-hour boat journey out to the island, to start married life alongside Don Pio's six other spouses. "He'd left them here while he went off to the nearest city to look for his next wife, which turned out to be me," she explains. "Of course, he didn't tell me about them at first, and I wasn't exactly happy when I did find out, but I had fallen in love with him by then. I just had to come to the island and make a go of it.

"In fact, we wives got on with each other surprisingly well," Emilia recalls with a grin. "We all worked together around the house. He was like a cock strutting about amongst his hens. He loved women more than food and he was, quite honestly, an old goat. He often slept with all seven of us in a night. We never had anything to complain about on that front."

A heavy smoker and mescal drinker for many decades, Don Pio outlived his first two wives. The following four left the island a few years ago, when his sexual prowess began to fail. Emilia remains devotedly by Don Pio's side, caring for him and running their restaurant, which sells warm bottled drinks (the island has no electricity or running water) and shrimps served in three different ways - with tomato sauce, with garlic and on their own.

Don Pio's four sons have set up rival restaurants on the island, all of which serve shrimp dishes and warm drinks and compete with each other for the scarce tourist trade. One of the restaurants has put captive crocodiles on display near the outdoor tables in a bid to attract clientele, but Don Pio's life story is the real crowd-puller. So although his sight and hearing are fading, he cheerfully welcomes visitors who travel to the island specifically to meet him.

"A lot of people want to know my secret - how I managed to keep seven wives happy at once," he says, "and I do have one. But I've never told anyone what it is." Don Pio does plan to pass his "secret" on before he dies, but he hasn't said who to. This, according to Emilia, is one of the reasons that family life on Isla Montosa is not as harmonious as it might be. "It's made," she says, "for a lot of envy and bitterness." One can understand why.

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment
Relocation, relocation: Zawe Ashton travels the pathway to Northampton
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

TV
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Armie Hammer in the new film of ‘The Lone Ranger’

TV
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
    How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

    Heavy weather

    What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
    World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

    World Bodypainting Festival 2015

    Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
    alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

    Don't call us nerds

    Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
    How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

    How to find gold

    Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
    Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

    Not born in the USA

    Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
    10 best balsamic vinegars

    10 best balsamic vinegars

    Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
    Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

    Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

    Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
    Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

    Greece referendum

    Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
    Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

    7/7 bombings anniversary

    Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

    Versace haute couture review

    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
    No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

    No hope and no jobs in Gaza

    So the young risk their lives and run for it
    Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

    Fashion apps

    Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy