History of Immigration
Part 1

he entire history of Belize has been one of Immigration - the Blacks, Creoles. Caribs, Mestizos. Ketchi, East Indians and now Central Americans, North Americans, Europeans and the Chinese.

What about Ambergris Caye? of course, this community has also been the result of steady immigration. The Maya were the first to live on this island, like the rest of the country of Belize. But even they, where did they come from? Mexico or Guatemala? The Maya of Ambergris Caye were part of the principality ruled from a city called Chetumal. Ambergris Caye was part of this Mexican territory. There are still numerous ancient settlements evident on this island, the largest one being at Basil Jones. (Bercellon as the islanders call it) There are low mounds, fragments of pottery. bone carvings, and an abundance of obsidian flakings. The soil around these Maya sites consists of black top soil, excellent for farming. Much conch shell is buried in the area of these sites as evidence that the Maya were engaged in fishing. Carvings on animal bones indicate that the Maya utilized the wild game which was plentiful on the island - deer, wild pigs, jaguar etc.

Why did the Maya disappear from Ambergris Cave? It is believed that they suffered the same fate as their mainland brothers. They were exposed to European conquests (mostly from the Spaniards) and were driven back or killed at war or were affected by their strange diseases.

Though we do not see obvious evidence of the Maya on Ambergris Caye today. we do have traces that remind us of their influence. The curved or arched nose is a typical Mayan feature still found among the young inhabitants of this island. There are Maya sites or small mounds on various locations - Basil Jones and Marco Gonzalez. Dig anywhere and find skeletal remains as well as obsidian, which the Maya used in making tools like knives or arrowheads. Ambergris Stadium is practically covered with several inches of black top soil which came from a huge Mayan mound found exactly at that location. Another mound is found in a lot on the main road of San Pablo. The staple food of the Maya - corn - is still a favorite among the inhabitants. And finally. even in our Spanish dialect you hear words like Tzot. Chackchi and chechic to remind us of the language of our ancestors.

Tzot - a small barracuda
chackchi - red lipped fish (the grunt)
chechak - red fish soup
pirish - egg or testicles
pak- tomato
pirish pak - egg with tomato

The first immigrants - the Maya - have come and gone. Nevertheless, their heritage remains. The Mundo Maya Countries can benefit from this.

San Pedro Town can also exploit this rich heritage.

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