Contestants arrive in San Pedro

Preliminaries...
The arrival of the beauty queens on Monday, July 13th, signaled the beginnings of the International Costa Maya Festival. The people of San Pedro are now getting excited and they are buying tickets to what they know is the most exciting and biggest festival in the country of Belize.

On Tuesday, July 14th, the Costa Maya Festival held the sashing ceremony for the Reina de la Costa Maya Pageant at Ramon's Village. The five contestants who will be vying for the title of Reina de la Costa Maya are: representing Guatemala: Miss Astrid Ramirez; representing El Salvador: Miss Johanna Paulina Sasmay Villacorta; representing Mexico: Miss Barbara Macossay; representing Honduras: Miss Dania Prince and representing Belize: Miss Charlotte Lynette Romero Dominguez.



Miss Belize: Charlotte Lynette Romero Dominguez

Miss El Salvador: Johanna Paulina Sasmay Villacorta

Miss Guatemala: Astrid Ramirez
Master of Ceremonies for the event was Eiden Salazar, Deputy Mayor. Presenting the sashes to the contestants were Vanya Vasquez, Miss San Pedro 1997-98 and Miss Sharon Dominguez, pageant chaperone. The contestants were showcased at poolside, where a crowd gathered to see the radiant and ravishing young ladies and select their favorite. Each contestant was introduced and they presented themselves as beauty ambassadors to their countries. Live music was provided while the ladies dined after the ceremony.

Sharon Dominguez, pageant chaperone, said, "The girls are all enjoying themselves and everything is going on schedule so far. I was really impressed at the photo shoot that we had this morning.The ladies look good."

Previously that day, the contestants went out to enjoy the natural beauty that San Pedro has to offer. They went to The Essene Way Resort where a swimsuit photo shoot was held. In the afternoon they took the opportunity to ride around town on golf cart.


Miss Honduras: Dania Prince

Miss Mexico: Barbara Macossay

Sashing Ceremony at Ramon's Village

"The golf carts are so much fun," said Johanna Sasmay, Miss El Salvador, with a giggle. "They are so neat and fun to drive, I had a blast."

The San Pedro Sun had the opportunity to talk to the beautiful ladies over dinner at Celi's Restaurant on Monday, July 13th. All the ladies were extremely happy to be on the island. It was their first trip to Belize and San Pedro, except for Astrid Ramirez, Miss Guatemala, who had participated in a fashion show that was held in Belize City.

"San Pedro is such a beautiful island, that it hurts to be here," said Miss Astrid Ramirez. "I feel so insignificant among all this beauty."

"I know," said Miss Johanna Sasmay. "It is so beautiful here and the people here are the most nicest that I have ever met. I definitely have to come back to visit this place. I do not care, I come alone." Miss Sasmay was accompanied to San Pedro by her mother.

Dania Prince, Miss Honduras, had visited Hawaii when she competed in the Miss Universe pageant and she expressed that San Pedro is much more beautiful. "This island is so small and impressive. I am in love," she said.

"I knew the island was called La Isla Bonita, but now I know why it is called that," said Charlotte Dominguez, Miss Belize. "The island is so gorgeous and the people are exceptional."

All night long the ladies could not stop raving about the beauty of the island. They all expressed their pride in representing their country in such a beautiful festival that celebrates a common culture that unites us. After dinner the ladies took off their shoes and walked down to The Shark Bar to see the nurse sharks and the rays. They then walked down the beach to Ramon's Village where they retired for the night.

First Runner-up Miss Danya Prince
Miss Astrid Ramirez

On with the show...
Rain drops keep falling on my head!la!la!la! It rained for close to an hour after the beauty queens finished their presentation. Sadly, the showers chased most of the festival goers home, but, the show did go on.

The five beautiful contestants vying for the title of Reina de la Costa Maya International 1998 were - representing Guatemala: Miss Astrid Ramirez; representing El Salvador: Miss Johanna Paulina Sasmay Villacorta; representing Mexico: Miss Barbara Macossay; representing Honduras: Miss Danya Prince and representing Belize: Miss Charlotte Lynette Romero Dominguez.

The crowd was awed by the five contestants as they paraded in their cultural costumes. The beauty queens then introduced themselves and the countries they represented. The introductions were followed by a performance from the Guatemalan dance group. They performed a rain dance. (Yes, a dansas de lluvia.) In a kaleidoscope of color, the dancers swirled and jumped as they beseeched Chac to bless them with rain. Well, Chac did. The five gorgeous contestants paraded on stage in their bathing suits and the Miss Coppertone Prize was presented to Miss Honduras by Miss San Pedro, Vanya Vasquez. The prize for the contestant with the best tan was donated by Brodies Supermarket. Shortly after the award was presented it rained again.

It didn't rain very long. As soon as it subsided the girls were able to perform their group presentation. The contestants danced to the festival's theme song, Las Chicas de la Costa Maya. The theme song was written by Chairman, Gach Guerrero and the music was composed by Mr. Tim Budd. The dance was choreographed by Miss Rosita Baltazar of the Belize Dance Company.

Rain drops keep falling on my head!la!la!la! It rained for close to an hour after the beauty queens finished their presentation. Sadly, the showers chased most of the festival goers home, but, the show did go on. Dressed in sparkling swirls of material, trails of satin and elegant shawls, the five beauty queens graced the stage with their presence for the evening gown competition. The question and answer session followed. Mr. Caesar Gonzalez interviewed Miss El Salvador, Miss Guatemala, Miss Honduras and Miss Mexico. Miss Belize Universe, Elvia Vega, interviewed the Miss Belize representative. The ladies were asked to share their feelings about San Pedro, the other contestants and to talk about the Mayan people of their country.

The judges' scores were collected and were tabulated. The judges for the Reina de la Costa Maya International Pageant were: Mrs. Victoria Collins, Dr. Otto Rodriguez, Mrs. Patricia Murray, Dr. Roberto Toriz and Mrs. Yolanda Espat.

Reina de la Costa Maya 1997, Miss Guatemala Carol Aquino gave a heartfelt fairwell speech. She spoke of San Pedro's beautiful surroundings and its people. She said that San Pedro would always be in her heart.

The five beauties returned to the stage once again and waited for the judges' decisions. Miss Honduras, Danya Prince, was awarded Miss Photogenic and Best Costume was won by Miss Guatemala, Miss Astrid Ramirez. Miss Honduras was selected as the first runner up. Should the winner be unable to hold her title Miss Prince would then be Reina de la Costa Maya 1998. The lovely Miss Guatemala, Astrid Ramirez was crowned as Reina de la Costa Maya International 1998 by her predecessor Miss Carol Aquino. Miss Aquino represented Guatemala in last year's pageant. Miss Ramirez took her victory walk and waved to her supporters who cheered her on. She also took pictures with her fans and greeted festival goers with hugs and kisses.

Kodak awarded a cash prize to Miss Honduras, Danya Prince who was named Miss Photogenic.

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