|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."