El Instituto Nacional Guatemanteco de Dancas Folkloricos commenced the evening's activities with a cultural dance. The rich display of heritage was engaging. The Reina de la Costa Maya International Pageant began with an introduction of the Master and Mistress of Ceremonies for the pageant: Mr.Caesar Emilio Gonzalez of Love FM and Miss Belize Universe 1998 Elvia Vega.

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.

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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.

Los Malecates
Guatemalan entertainers added their touch of magic to the Costa Maya Festival Tuesday night, July 21st. The performances were nothing short of spectacular. Los Malacates had a great night despite the rain delay. The crowd had dispersed but after the rains declared themselves officially over, Los Malacates were ready to perform.

Los Malacates emerged in Guatemala about a year ago in February. They came together as friends enjoying music as a hobby. They are a young band that seems to be hitting Guatemala hard with their original Ska compositions. Ska is a new-wave dance music that hit the music scene a couple of years back and now seems to be on a steady climb in the music industry. Los Malacates were the first to introduce Ska to Guatemala.

"We have gotten such a good response from the Guatemalan people," said Francisco Past, lead vocalist. "We are so glad to have gotten such a great response from our own people."

The group has performed all over Guatemala at sports events, clubs, festivals and in their own private concerts. This is the first time that they performed outside their home country.

"We are so excited to be in San Pedro for the Costa Maya Festival," said Francisco. "It is very important that we come together as one big family. We need to open the doors of friendship even wider, not only for Belize and Guatemala, but to all the other Central American countries as well."

The music was also a first for San Pedro, but the crowd totally enjoyed their music. A small crowd of "groupies" gathered in front of the stage to dance and cheer as the band played, jumped and skipped across the stage. Los Malacates were a sure hit in San Pedro.

El Instituto Nacional Guatemanteco de Dansas Folkloricos (INGUAT) lighted up the stage with colorful fireworks and beautiful costumes. INGUAT was born in 1990 with the primary objective of promoting tourism in Guatemala and showcasing the country's cultural values, music, dance, costumes and folklore.

INGUAT has participated in many festivals in Mexico, Central and South America, Europe and the U.S.A, including Madrid at the Tourism Fair FITUR (Feria International de Turismo) and The Festival del Caribe in Cancun, Mexico.

Twelve members of the dance group came to participate in the festivities. Julia Vela, director and founder of INGUAT, mentioned that an additional twelve members will be added to the dance group in preparation for their participation in the Expo '98 Trade Show in Portugal in September.

This year INGUAT incorporated Creole dances into their performance. Julia Vela stated that the Creole culture is very much a part of the Guatemalan culture.

"The Creole culture has never been stressed a lot in Guatemala and we are trying to create an awareness in Guatemala and abroad," said Julia Vela.

Their dances consisted of four parts. The first and second part were Ketche and Ketchi Indian dances and the rest were Creole dances from the Guatemalan region.

This is not the first time that the INGUAT dance group has come to Belize. They participated in the 1995 Sea and Air Festival.

"The INGUAT dance group is very happy to be in San Pedro once again," said Julia Vela. "The island is very beautiful and we all love to come here to enjoy the sun and the sea. We are also extremely happy to be able to participate in such a beautiful festival which exhibits our artists and culture. All the countries are so much alike even though we are apart."

El Instituto Nacional Guatemanteco de Dansas Folklorico took the stage once again for their final performance of the evening. Guatemala Night would not be Guatemala Night if their finale didn't entail blowing stuff up. The Devil Dance was presented which involved dancing peasants scurrying about in fear of the "Red Devil." With a wheel of fireworks strapped to his back, the Devil took center stage in front of a strip of small fireworks and then everything exploded. The crowd applauded and cheered as the fireworks shot up into the air and the Devil was lost in a cloud of smoke.

The conclusion of the pageant marked the beginning of the night's musical entertainment. Los Malacates, a band of young talented young men from Guatemala, entertained the party animals who wouldn't go home until they danced. Los Malacates is famous in Guatemala for their unique style of music, the Ska. This fast paced reggae, rock-and-roll type music was new to many but the revelers weren't discouraged and were soon bopping up and down to the music. Los Malacates were encouraged by their "groupies" to play one more song after their supposedly final selection. They complied and soon there was yet another request for more Ska and then another. Los Malacates were thoroughly enjoyed by those who stayed to celebrate the opening night of the biggest festival, in Belize the San Pedro International Costa Maya Festival.

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