Gonzalo Arcila Memorial Ceremony


Over 200 people – family members and friends – gathered for a memorial ceremony to celebrate and honor the life of Gonzalo Arcila.  Gonzalo passed away on 23 October 2016, and the ceremony was held at The Akumal Dive Shop on Wednesday, October 26th at 3:00 pm.  Acting as hostess for this event was Jimkrid Chrino Urribari who recounted aspects of Gonzalo’s life and invited Gonzalo’s mother, Wilma, and his sister, Betty, to speak to this tremendous outpouring of friends, all dressed in white.  Padre Hubert, originally from Germany and a long-time friend of the family, offered his memory of Gonzalo along with prayers of comfort for the crowd.

The Akumal Dive Shop was laden with huge wreathes, and many bouquets were presented to the individuals who embarked on 15  boats, also flower-bedecked,  to make the short trip through the Cut to cast Gonzalo’s ashes into the Akumal waters he knew so well.  A drone was flying high to record the crowd and the tossing of bouquets into the water.  When the boats returned,  a video of highlights of Gonzalo’s life was shown.

Many Akumal businesses were closed out of respect for Gonzalo’s influence in the Akumal community, and employees of Akumal’s dive shops were represented in full force.  The fleet of 15 boats were local, as well as from Playa del Carmen and other dive shops in the area.

What follows is a personal account written by a dear friend of Gonzalo’s:

Gonzalo Ívan Arcila González left this earth to start exploring new territory on Sunday, October 23, 2016.   He was 62 years old, and had been part of the fabric of Akumal and the Riviera Maya for the past four decades.  Gonzalo had fought a quick and terminal battle with cancer,  his dearly loved partner and companion Ingrid Datica at his side.  Ingrid had been his ‘amor’ for two decades, and it is comforting to think of the love and support she  provided throughout his final days.   Many of his nearest and dearest feel he has only exited this biosphere…. to begin travels to his next adventure.  

Gonzalo’s beloved son, Ívan Arcila Carranza, who is currently studying at Boston University, arrived at his side last week.  María Elba Carranza, Ívan’s mother, and Ívan’s sister Bianca Carranza Orvananos, were at  Gonzalo’s side as well, and are all experiencing this sudden and great loss.  All of Gonzalo’s family, mother Wilma, father Jorge, siblings Wilma, Betty, Jorge, Mauricio, Guiomar…and his many friends and family members, will dearly miss their son, brother, father…friend. 

Gonzalo was one of the original divers and entrepreneurs of Akumal.   Having arrived in Akumal from his hometown of Mérida in 1980, he was a skilled dive master and instructor,  with a naturally charismatic personality that gave him the ability to easily share his knowledge and open the window to the diving wonders of the Meso-American Reef.   By 1982, Gonzalo had made the full move to Akumal to work with Dick Blanchard running the Akumal Dive Shop, which was one of the first PADI five-star operations.  As the partnership developed, Gonzalo was responsible for scouting and bringing many adventurous dive masters and instructors,  along with explorers, to Akumal.  During this time, the Akumal Dive Shop was quietly making great discoveries and providing great SCUBA training.   In these early years, Gonzalo honed his artistic and creative skills as an underwater photographer.  This talent, along with his ability to bring great diving experiences and a passion for the area and exploring, lead him to become the perfect promoter of Akumal.   He was sought after as a photographer, and his works and collaborations with many renowned film projects, books, and the well known Biosphere Two are just the tip of the list of his works. 

When Centro Ecológico Akumal was founded in 1983, Gonzalo, a founding father of the ecological movement in Akumal, was already working with many local and international organizations (e.g. Pronatura, Amigos de Sian Ka’an Nature Conservancy) to bring an environmental vision and works to Akumal.  Some of his projects included reconstructed wetlands, reef monitoring and exploration, and research with national and international universities.   His contribution as a leader of Akumal’s many associations and community projects is staggering, as he had served many associations as president, board member or municipal council…he even ran as a mayoral candidate.  His work for community was tireless  attempting to improve the environment and the quality of water sports.  His vision had always been to share and help to improve the use of the natural resources Akumal has to offer.     
All those who knew Gonzalo or had the privilege to work with him were quickly impressed by his passion, his astute understanding of his surroundings, and his ability to cultivate relationships with people – with all things living.  He will be missed.   GO forth Gonzalo and explore new realms; we will continue to follow your lead.   




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  1. You will be missed
    a great deal Gonzalo . Our time together was too short. May your journey be sweet & peacefull. Our deepest regards to Ingrid and the entire family. Your neighbors, Gail and NEIL Breton

  2. Vecinos de Akumal Norte would like to express our sense of loss at the passing of Gonzalo Arcila, our member and board member. Most of us know Gonzalo from diving over the years. He was much more than just a business owner. He has always been an active leader in the various incarnations of our community organizations. Gonzalo served in the interim government when Tuum was established as a municipality and was the liaison and ambassador for North Akumal to the other sections of Akumal and the Municipal Government, threading the complex corridors of bureaucracy on behalf of our interests. We benefited from Gonzalo’s counsel and advice. Akumal will miss him.

  3. Gonzalo stayed with our Family in Des Moines Iowa when I was like eighteen years old back in about 1974. I had not seen him since, but my sister had. He was a great guy and will be missed.

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