Our Community" Maricela "Maya" Kumul
"Providing the sweet smell of home cooking"

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 14, No. 35            October 14, 2004

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Maricela "Maya" Kumul

Ambergris Caye has many restaurants. While walking through town, the rich aromas that emerge from these businesses can make one's mouth water. However, nothing compares to a home cooked meal, especially a dish that has survived the test of time, prepared and perfected over generations. In this day and age, the tradition of passing down recipes is slowly fading away. This week's personality, Maricela "Maya" Kumul, is keeping the tradition alive, and takes great pride in preparing family recipes that have been passed down from her mother.

    On April 22nd, 1958, Julianna Reina and Florencio Acosta welcomed their first daughter, Maya into this world. Born in San Pedro Town, Maya, along with her six brothers and one sister, enjoyed the island's freedom.

    As a child, Maya attended the two-story Catholic School located where the San Pedro Police Department now stands. However, due to financial limitations, she was unable to continue her education. As the eldest daughter, Maya helped her mother with the daily household chores and took care of her younger siblings.

    At the age of 12, Maya got her first job at the San Pedro Co-operative, where she was responsible for cleaning and packing the fresh catch brought in daily by local fishermen. Lobster, fish, and conch were prepared and preserved to be shipped in and out of Belize.

    While working at the Co-operative, Maya met Pablo Kumul. The couple dated, fell in love and "tied the knot" on August 8th, 1976. After her wedding, Maya opted to leave her job and dedicate herself to her husband. She became a devoted wife by cooking, cleaning and performing her household chores. It was during this time that she became closer to her mother and together they would bake breads and tasty, sweet treats. The following year, she gave birth to her first daughter, Maricela (27). In time Maya and Pablo had three other children; Rosita (26), Pablo (20), and Juanelo (14).

    Maya loved her life, but felt that she needed to help her husband with the expense of raising a family. She wanted to get a job that would allow her time with her children. In 1982, luck came her way when a friend proposed that they go into business together, cooking and baking treats. The idea was to sell these treats to the elementary school children and then share the profit. Maya accepted the offer and every weekday morning she would get her children ready and take them to her friend's home, where they would prepare garnaches, empanadas, piñon, etc. While her friend was selling the goodies at the school, Maya would clean the kitchen.

    Maya enjoyed her job and the business proved to be lucrative. However, over the years, Maya was left on her own to run the small, growing business. Trying to keep production small, Maya decided to bake a limited amount of goods, and when her children were older she began to sell the food door-to-door. She expanded her market by baking breads, pies, and cakes from recipes passed down to her from her mother.

    Maya found that her most enjoyable times were when she taught her children how to cook and bake. She has now passed on her recipes to her children and today her daughter, Rosita, has gone into the family business with her mother.

    In her free time, Maya enjoys spending time with her grandchildren and taking them to the beach. She also enjoys visiting her family and friends and reminiscing about days gone by. "I love spending time with my children. Talking to your children is important today. Children are just more rebellious these days; communication is the key," she said.

    Maya found a way to help her husband financially while growing her children. "It was always important to me that I grew my children, not a nanny. That was my biggest priority. Baking treats is what I love, so now that my children are grown, I can pass down my secrets to my grand daughters," she ended. Knowing the importance of family values, Maricela "Maya" Kumul instills these qualities in her children, adding a sweet smell to the rich aromas of "Our Community."

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