Year of the Monkey

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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. Continue Reading

How far we’ve come

With social media gaining momentum, it has become easy to share information. Organizations like the Institute of Archaeology, Belize Archives, Museum of Belize and the various culture houses now have a platform to distribute information to their followers, exposing them to a wealth of information and sparking interest so that they can then visit their offices in search for even for information. I have always had an interest in history and over the years, I have gathered and stored photographs and other data, thus creating my own library. So about a year ago, when I heard that research was being gathered to create a book now known to us as “A Walk Through El Cayo”, I became excited. Shortly after the release of the book, my employer, San Ignacio Resort Hotel, pitched me an idea for a tour. This tour is to be conducted within the downtown area of San Ignacio, visiting iconic and historic places. So immediately I got to work, collecting further information and images; some I already had, but I turned to social media where I found in abundance. Continue Reading

Corbeled Arches

The corbeled arch is found throughout the Mayan territory of Mezoamerica and now decors the Columbus Park in the downtown area of San Ignacio.  The corbeled arch is a very unique design that the ancient Maya used within residential and ritual buildings, and even tombs. This style of arch differs significantly from the roman arch and the later Gothic arch in the 12th century.  Despite the variation of appearances, all arches have the same principle and characteristics of assembled rock diverting weight and pressure to create an open space below it. Continue Reading

Old Benque

Twenty five years of creeping us out with its dark stories and Belizean folklore, I will never forget the part of that book when the spirit gave the woman the candle that later tuned into a femur.  The first time I read the story was in high school for my Spanish class but I think I did not appreciate the book until much later when I reread it and understood it better.  The book was first published in 1990 and is written in Spanish, a true work of art by David Nicolas Ruiz Puga, an educator and cultural promoter from Benque Viejo del Carmen, Cayo, Belize.  It features a blend of historical events, Belizean culture and folklore and is now an iconic book in Western Belize. One of the memorable things about the book is the compilation of images sketched within its pages.  I was always thrilled about them.  The drawing of the skeletal spirit handing over the white candle has certainly haunted me all these years, and the rest of the drawings are equally as memorable. Continue Reading

The Shell Goret

There were many interesting presentations at the BAAS 2015 and, for me, the most captivating was the one delivered by Dr.  Jason Yeger and their discovery of a shell goret at Buena Vista del Cayo. Made from marine shell, the species is still undetermined because of it was so heavily modified. It was likely worn and suspended from the neck, as indicated by two drilled holes.  It also has a concave shape and is 13cm by 9cm, likely dating to AD 450. The disk has hieroglyphic text across the top half and an ancestral head profile looking downwards. The glyphs name the bearer of the goret as being Naah Uti’ K’ab and it was likely found within his grave. Continue Reading

Cayo Winners 2015

Last night was the 13th National Tourism Awards.  Congratulations to all the winners.  Your hard work and dedication pays off. CayoGuides.org congratulates the Cayo winners, those hard working Cayo people that brought all those awards home because when we win, the Cayo District wins. And the Cayo winners are Guava Limb Cafe,  Table Rock Lodge, Gaia River Lodge, San Ignacio Resort Hotel and Anderson’s Caves Branch Jungle Lodge.

Guava Limb Cafe won Resturant of the Year.  It is located in downtown San Ignacio.  The exterior is a colonial building with a modern touch.  It prides itself in serving quality coffee drinks, pastries, signature dishes and a wide variety of specials.  Table Rock Lodge won Small Hotel of the Year.  Located just outside the village of Cristo Rey on the Pine Ridge Road, it offers a beautiful Jungle and farm cabins for their guests. Hotel of the Year went to Gaia River Lodge, located in the Elijio Panti Forest Reserve near the mountain Pine Ridge.  It offers fine dinning and comfortable cabins all overlooking the 5 Sisters Falls. Hospitality Award went to San Ignacio Resort Hotel, located in the heart of San Ignacio Town. The hotel offers prestigious accommodations, exquisite dining at their Steakhouse Resturant and a variety of amenities like the Green Iguana Conservation Project. It is managed by Mrs. Mariam Roberson, who also brings home the Minister’s Award. Tour Operators of the Year went to Ian Anderson’s Cave Branch Jungle Lodge, located along the Hummingbird Highway, near the St. Herman’s Cave and Blue Hole National Park.  It offers a jungle setting, beautiful river, treehouses, jungle suites and exciting adventure cave tours. Continue Reading

Xunantunich Updates

Last year, I visited Cahal Pech.  Mr. Jorge Can was more than willing to provide information of the developments at the site. Yesterday, tour guides of the Cayo West Association and the Cayo Tour Guides Association visited the site of Xunantunich to listen to the new developments. Under the direction of Dr. Jamie Awe, the new excavations will be conducted on several buildings that have not yet been investigated and other areas that were previously excavated by Richard Levental. The areas that will be excavated and consolidated are structure A2, A3 and A20.  This will certainly change the face of the site core as it is today, but I heard a rumor that the south end of el Castillo will also be done on a later project. Continue Reading

Sports Day

For the past weeks we have seen children from different schools visiting marketplaces, factories, sanctuaries and many tourist destinations, all part of the Education Week here in Belize. This week in particular is Education week, all leading up to Friday, which is Teachers Day, a day teachers are given a break from regular classes and participate in activities planned for them either at national, branch or school level.  It applies to all teachers from primary school and secondary schools and normally they use this day to go on a day or weekend trip organized by themselves or their school administration. Teachers work very hard on the days leading up to Teachers day, planning trips, writing end of year exams,  but today is Sports Day at least for the children of Sacred Heart Primary School in San Ignacio. Continue Reading