Inigo Lopez de Loyola was born in 1491 in the village of Loyola, Spain. He was also the youngest of thirteen children. Unfortunately, his mother passed when he was 7 years old, but despite this, he was motivated and had many dreams of becoming a great leader or general. At the age of 18, he did join the military and became a soldier. He also adapted the name Ignatius of Loyola. He had a talent in the battlefield; he participated in many battles, always managing to be unhurt. A story says he killed a Moor with whom he argued about the divinity of Jesus. His talents ranked him up fast and soon he commanded his own group of soldiers.
As Belizeans, we are very superstitious people, and so is the rest of the Caribbean. All areas of Mesoamerica have their own traditional folktales and legends, and within the Maya territory, there are numerous characters and stories. Xtabai is what many would consider to be the most malevolent of them all. The very mention of her name is enough to bring chills to someone’s entire body. The character is not fully understood, which brings even more mystery to its motives and is best described as a demon.
The Chinese New Year festival is centuries old and is celebrated from China to many other countries as far south as Malaysia and the Philippines. Chinese all over the world, including here in San Ignacio, Santa Elena and all over the country of Belize, continue to honor their customs, traditions and beliefs. Although the Chinese use the Gregorian calendar, the Lunar calendar is also widely used, especially in traditional activities intertwined with superstition as it determines lucky days. Today I observed, like many other Belizeans, that a group of Chinese men from the Western Chinese Association, were visiting all the Chinese-owned restaurants and shops. As they entered the premises, fire crackers where lit, creating an instant loud noise. The Chinese lion started dancing across the parking lot into the store. It danced, moved its mouth and blinked its eyes as it interacted with the owner of the establishment. The owner then either gave the lion a small red envelope or placed the envelope on the counter and the lion appeared to eat it while dancing. The lion then danced out of the store and moved on to the next business establishment.
Death is a part of life. In fact, in some Mesoamerican cultures, life is described as a dream, and what happens after death is the person’s awakening from that sleep. In Christianity today, we are led to believe that if we do good things and follow Christ, we will go to a beautiful upper world we call heaven.
To the ancient Maya, life and death is represented by the corn god planting the corn, and directly behind him is the death god breaking that corn plant. The ancient Maya believed that when someone passed away, they came upon a river waiting for them. On the river was a canoe with two paddler gods, one in the front and the other in the back, and your place would be in the center. They would then paddle you into a cave and then to your afterlife. In the Yucatan, the Maya believed that you fell down into the opening of a sinkhole that lead the soul to the afterlife. The Maya also described the afterlife, Xibalba, as two places: a place of eternal rest and a place of fright, giving us reason to believe in a heaven and a hell as Christianity describes it, the difference being that for the Maya, both places are under the earth.
The Belize Archeology and Anthropology Symposium gets under way at the San Ignacio Resort Hotel for the next four days. The special topic for Archeology is ‘Ancient Maya Domestic Economy, subsistence commerce and industry. If you can remember, last year’s topic was ‘The Common Household’, therefore this year’s topic follows as a parte dos or part two to last year. It is organized by NICH (National Institute of Culture and History) and by ISCR (Institute for Social and Cultural Research). As of last year, anthropology presentations have been evenly embedded throughout the four days.
Christmas Day is certainly a great time to spend with the family watching classic movies or hosting a party with enough food to feed fifty, and plenty of drinks flowing, but for most tour guides of San Ignacio, our Christmas Day is spent dealing with rustic roads and occasionally rain. Tours leave early to Mayan sites and caves. I was so very fortunate to have spent it with the Women’s Group of San Antonio, Cayo. This is certainly a great tour and addition to tour packages at the San Ignacio Resort Hotel. It gives an insight to the anthropological side of our Mayan history as normally we visit sites and go deep into archeology. I have always thought that it lacks “daily life” of the Maya.
On Sunday, I had the opportunity of taking a close-up view of Mr. Pedro Cruz’s mural. It is an amazing art piece which features a collage of historical and wildlife images. It was painted over the welcome sign in San Ignacio. It has images of Cahal Pech, maya masks, and hieroglyphs, as well as wild animals found in the Belizean forests, such as the toucan, tapir, and jaguar. Also depicted are iconic historical and patriotic images like the Belizean Flag, the classic 21 September 1981 emblem and the chicle farmers life. It’s not only a mural; it is an experience, something that all Belizeans should see.
On Good Friday i was lucky that I did not have to work and could have attend the Good Friday events hosted by the Sacred Heart Parish Church in San Ignacio Town. For weeks now i could have heard members of the church practicing their lines and acting during the night time so i knew it would have been a good. I had missed the previous year so did not know what to expect. I arrived in time to see the trial and the lashings (all fake out course) but people could not help putting their hands over their face and heart. The procession of Jesus carrying the cross started through the streets of San Ignacio and Santa Ellena returning to the church and then crucifixion and finalized with the burial of Christ. So here are some pictures and a slideshow video i made enjoy.