de la Costa Maya Evelyn López
Flying high at the grounds of this year's Costa Maya
Festival were the flags of the five Mundo Maya countries who united again in "La
Isla Bonita" to pay tribute to their ancestors - the Maya. The festival
committee's many hours of work and planning paid off as thousands of locals and
visitors rendezvoused at the old football field to catch a glimpse of the
cultural and musical diversity exhibited at the 2001 festival.
|Reina de la Costa Maya Conductor Valentino Lanùs poses for pictures with
fans upon arrival to San Pedro
The euphoria began last Wednesday as many fans of the
rising soap opera star Valentino Lanùs congregated at Maya Island Air's terminal
to give him a warm island welcome. After a short tour of town, excited fans were
able to shake Valentino's hand and even have their picture taken with the
celebrity at his host hotel, the Fountain Blue Suites.
On Thursday, pageant night, the festival grounds
came to life as the five Mundo Maya ambassadors illuminated the stage with their
beauty and charm. The festival was appropriately opened by the San Pedro Dance
Company performing to "Welcome to San Pedro," a song written by Wil and the
"La Leona" meets "Los Leones"
|Belize's Melina Diaz - Winner of Best National Costume
After an official acknowledgement of the visiting dignitaries,
pageant conductor Valentino Lanùs accompanied by Tina Auxillou of Caye Caulker
accepted the microphones to commence the Reina de la Costa Maya Pageant. The
five lovely contestants made their first appearance on stage adorned in exotic
traditional costumes. Next came the swimsuit competition, followed by a special
dance presentation which included the reigning Miss Costa Maya Sandra Silis of
El Salvador. This was followed by the glamour of the evening gown competition.
Throughout the evening all of the contestants received thunderous applause from
the audience, but the final decision was surely a difficult task for the judges
as all the ladies were worthy of the crown. At the end of the evening the
distinguished panel of judges consisting of Steve Schulte, Jenny Woods, Johnny
Roberson, Sharon Dominguez and Lucy Fleming, voted Miss Evelyn López of
Guatemala the winner. Erika Lizeth Ramirez representing Honduras was named first
runner-up. Melina Diaz was awarded the title of best costume depicting the
melting pot of cultures that can be found in Belize. The festival goers then
celebrated the crowning of the new Miss Costa Maya as they danced the night away
with the sounds of Griga Boys. At intervals during the night the crowd was
kept entertained by the
talent of Barbara's Dance Group and Grupo Apolo of Guatemala.
|First runner-up Miss
Friday's Cultural Fiesta Night was filled with
delightful and colorful presentations from Ballet See Saca Tec from El Salvador,
Formula Ancestral from Guatemala, Mariachi San Felipe from Mexico, and
traditional dances by the San Pedro Dance Company and Barabara's Dance Group
representing Belize. The ancestry of the five Mundo Maya countries was displayed
with much "gusto" and enthusiasm by all the artists.
Leon entertains the crowd
International Night, one of the most anticipated nights of the festival took
place Saturday as literally thousands of people arrived at the festival grounds
early to ensure they had a good view of the Mexican superstar and singer Laura
Leon. To set the mood for this entertainer, Formula Ancestral of Guatemala,
local dance groups and the mighty Gilharry 7 performed some of their best
selections. Just minutes after midnight the crowd gathered closer to the stage
as Laura Leon made her grand entrance. Donning a neon green, form-fitting
costume, the curvaceous "Tesorito" took to the stage emanating an energy that
received loud applause and cheers. From the moment she stepped on stage until
her last selection the electricity transmitted by this "hot" singer kept the
crowd charged up! Her most popular songs were complimented by explosive
fireworks, her energetic dancers and band. Both the younger generation and the
young at heart stood on chairs to get a better glimpse of "El Tesorito."
Described by many as one of the best concerts ever seen in San Pedro, Laura Leon
was definitely the perfect headliner for the 2001 Costa Maya Festival. After
approximately ninety minutes of outstanding entertainment, the superstar bid
farewell but not without thanking the audience and taking some time for pictures
with her fans. As always, the festival party continued, this time with the
lively music of Gilharry 7 until the wee hours of the morning.
Costa Maya 2001 certainly lived up to its claim of being
the premier festival in this country. Looking back at three days jam-packed with
culture, great music, exquisite food and entertainment, we congratulate the
organizers and already look forward to Costa Maya 2002. Thumbs up to all the
committee members, sponsors, supporters and the attendees of the Costa Maya
Festival 2001! Well done!
|San Pedro Lions
Treasurer Abel Guerrero presents Laura Leon with the club's commemorative
The San Pedro Sun had the opportunity last Friday night
to talk one-on-one with Mexico's "Tesorito" and headliner of the 2001 Costa Maya
Festival, Laura Leon. Joining the island newspaper were some members of the San
Pedro Lions Club who did not think twice about meeting this well-known actress
Rebecca Beltrabai (Laura Leon's birth name)
hails from the state of Tabasco, Mexico. She informed this newspaper that she
first learned about Belize through the television but had not had the pleasure
of being here before. She was impressed with the beauty of the island and its
charming people. "I am glad and feel very fortunate to have been invited to
visit "La Isla Bonita," stated Ms. Leon. During her stay on the island Ms. Leon
said she hoped to learn more about the culture, arts and crafts, and to visit
points of interest in San Pedro. She explained she has visited and performed in
other small places like San Pedro and enjoyed very much the response and love
she received, adding the feeling is mutual. "The charisma and charm of the
people of San Pedro is evident," stated Ms. Leon when speaking about the
wonderful and warm welcome she experienced.
When asked how
she describes her show, Laura Leon said it is very passionate. She always gives
an intense show for her public because it reflects the public's applause. She
describes it as "an artist and public's affair." Considered a "sex symbol" by
many, Laura Leon stated she is honored to be thought of that way, but that she
is only a very hard working woman, devoted to her work as an actress and singer.
"The public has a lot of opinions of artists and I am glad they like me. That is
very important to an artist," continued Ms. Leon.
this very busy actress/singer takes some time out of her demanding schedule she
enjoys staying home. She also has a passion for traveling to new places and
exploring the beauty of nature. "When Laura Leon is not working she forgets
about the stage and becomes a woman that enjoys her home, her plants and her
family," Ms. Leon told the San Pedro Sun. As a
person in the music industry she has also developed a great love of all music in
general but says she specifically enjoys reggae, rancheras and modern music.
These, she says, rejuvenate her.
in many people's mind is why the nickname "El Tesorito" (treasure) and to this
Ms. Leon explained, "Why Tesorito? I had to do a lot of exploring. I had to dig
for it and it was not easy. I found the map. The map taught me to be dedicated
towards my goals. Before I found the "Tesorito," I dug, I fell, I cried, I
laughed, but after a lot of hard work I found it."
speaking to the members of the San Pedro Lions Club, Ms. Leon stated she had the
opportunity to work with Lions in Mexico. She stated she was happy to see a
group of dedicated men and women in San Pedro helping others and was very proud
of them. Lion Abel Guerrero, Treasurer of the San Pedro Lions Club, then took
the opportunity to present Laura with the Club's commemorative pin which she
accepted very humbly stating she would treasure it with much
After her concert in San Pedro, Laura Leon returns
to Mexico and then travels abroad to perform. She will then return to Mexico
where she will begin filming another soap opera in January.
Laura Leon ended her chat with the San
Pedro Sun saying that San Pedro is very beautiful because it
still contains its charm and is not as developed as other places of the world.
"It is clear to see why you get a lot of people here; I only hope you preserve
the charm of this island. It has been a great pleasure meeting you and I hope to
stay in contact."