Costa Rica takes the crown at the 14th International Costa Maya Festival!

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 15, No. 32            August 11, 2005

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Miss Costa Rica, Johanna Fernandez, is Reina de la Costa Maya, 2005.

Costa Rica also took the prize for best national costume, depicting a Mayan bride.

The Kumbia Kings’ dramatic arrival via water.

Kumbia Kings gave an energetic performance to screaming fans.

Chris Perez and A.B. Quintanilla rocked the stage with their impressive guitar skills.

No-one could stand still with the energetic Kumbia Kings dancers onstage!

Los Beliceños from Benque gave a stellar performance also!

Michel Olivarez holding the San Pedro Sun upon arrival.

Actor/Comedian Lalo España as his alter ego Doña Margara, had the crowd laughing throughout the show.

It was a perfect opening for the International Costa Maya Festival 2005, kicking off with a bang as charm, poise and splendor filled the stage at the Reina de la Costa Maya Pageant extravaganza.

   The exhilaration began Thursday as many fans of the rising model star Michel Olivarez, arrived at Maya Island Air’s terminal to give him a warm island welcome. Along with Mexico’s Ambassador, Cora Amalia Castilla Madrid, Marisol Rojas, Mayor Elsa Paz and the media, Michel was greeted with hugs and warm smiles. At the airport, fans and the media had the opportunity to take pictures and get autographs from the model superstar Olivarez.

   Later in the evening, the grounds were officially opened and the pageant commenced. The mass crowd was greeted with a warm welcome to the festivities, which promised to be one of the best. After an official acknowledgement of the visiting dignitaries and judges, pageant host Michel Olivarez accompanied by Lilian Villanueva of Mexico kicked off the show. The seven lovely contestants made their first appearance on stage dressed in matching orange outfits, and opened the program with a beautifully choreographed dance. True beauty of the Costa Maya was well represented on stage by the participants of the seven Mundo Maya countries namely El Salvador, Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua all competed for the title of Reina de la Costa Maya International. These beauty ambassadors from their respective countries resembled goddesses as they illuminated the stage with their grace and charm.

   Evidently, the festival committee’s many months of hard work and planning paid off as hundreds of locals and visitors rendezvoused at the old football field to catch a glimpse of the cultural and musical diversity exhibited at the 2005 festival. The seven contestants, each worthy of the title, displayed great confidence during the event as they made their presentations in their national costume, and swimsuit. The ladies then made a final appearance in their evening gowns and responded to questions from the hosts. Prior to the announcement of the new Reina de la Costa Maya, the reigning Costa Maya queen Miss Marisol Rojas Avila of Mexico, made a final appearance on stage expressing her gratitude to the organizers and wishing the Costa Maya Festival many more years of success. Avila stated that her time as queen “has impacted my life and I have no doubt that the new queen will do well with the title.” Throughout the evening all of the contestants received thunderous applause from the audience, but the final decision was 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 Diane Campbell, Gregory Vernon, Sonia Lewis, Melina Diaz and Ramon Nuñez voted Miss Johanna Fernandez of Costa Rica the winner. Although all the beauties were winners in the hearts of San Pedro, it was Miss Johanna Fernandez of Costa Rica who was crowned Miss Costa Maya 2005. Along with the title, Johanna was awarded the title for best national costume depicting the Mayan culture. Her costume truly was a beautiful sight as the Costa Rica culture was emphasized; she was wearing an elegant, traditional Mayan bride gown. This was definitely one of the best highlights of the night as this is the first time that a Costa Rica delegate won the crown. Reigning queen Marisol Rojas Avila then placed the crown on her head, naming her the next queen to represent the Mundo Maya countries. In her acceptance speech, an ecstatic Fernandez stated “I am very happy and I would like to thank everybody that supported me […] I love San Pedro and its people, I will surely come back to visit, you will always be a part of my heart.” Opal Enriquez representing our beloved Belize jewel was named first runner-up and second runner up was Maria Jose Solis of Mexico. The festival goers then celebrated the crowning of the new Miss Costa Maya as they danced the night away with the sounds of the San Pedro High School band. At intervals during the night the crowd was kept entertained by the talent of San Pedro Dance Company and entertainers of Mexico.

   The Reina de la Costa Maya 2005 certainly lived up to its claim of being the premier gala pageant in this country. Once again the hard work and planning of the dedicated members of the Costa Maya Festival Committee paid off, as the event was indeed a success.

   Many thanks to the sponsors and all who attended this one of a kind event in San Pedro. A big thumbs up and kudos to all those responsible for the 2005 Costa Maya Festival! Truly one of the best and it will forever be a memorable event never to be forgotten!

   For highlights of the great four-day event, read full story in The San Pedro Sun Visitor Guide!

Costa Maya includes high-quality sports competition

Kayakers set off for a 13.5 mile race from the Costa Maya grounds.

The bike race spanned both North and South of the island.
The buzz on the Costa Maya Festival is behind us and now all that is left are memories of the grand occasion that happened over the weekend. The festival was jam-packed with events that not only catered to adults, but to children as well. People had the opportunity to witness the Reina de la Costa Maya Pageant; the Kumbia Kings live on stage, and Grupo Bahia, while the children were entertained with mechanical rides and presentations from several groups. This year’s Costa Maya was truly one of the best to date; it was a grand event that brought hundreds of locals and tourists alike to partake in the biggest annual celebration on the island.

   Over the weekend, several sporting events took place, including the Costa Maya kayak race, bicycle race and a volleyball tournament. First on the agenda was the kayak race held on Sunday, where 16 kayak teams entered the race. The Eco-Challenge Committee organized the race in an effort to promote ecotourism and conservation on the island.

   At the start, paddlers got ready for what was expected to be one of the best kayak races in the country. Participants had the task of paddling a 13.5 mile long race around the southern tip of Ambergris Caye. Family, friends and spectators came out to watch the paddlers take off. During the route, the paddlers had a first hand look at the flora and fauna diversity found along the natural habitats of the island. The course was set for kayakers to paddle north toward the cut at Boca del Rio and loop around heading south along the ocean front towards Boca Chica. Then, while cutting through Boca Chica, paddlers took a last loop and headed north to the finish line, which was back to the Old Football Field. The race was a close one as the first, second and third place winners were no less than a few minutes behind each other. There were three categories which included the double recreational, race and singles. First place winners for the double recreational division was Robert C. Bailey and Mitchell Chi as team “No Fear.” Second place went to Bill Henkis Jr. and Luis Montejo as team “Bob’s Construction” and a close third by Jorge Santos and John Bodden as team “Capricorn.” In the males’ double recreational race, first place winner was Jimmy Polonio and Teddy Rubio as team “Island Ferry,” second place went to Miguel and Victor Buans as team “Playado,” and third to Wilfred Trejo and Fred Trejo as “Tae Team.” Then, in the Women’s double category, first place went to Leticia Westby and Delia Briceño as team “Hearts on Fire,” second place went to Roxanna and Yesenie Reyes and third by Francisca and Isidra Henry as team “Teen Powers.” The highlight of the race was in the single’s category where first place in the singles and overall went to no other than Immer Perez from Caye Caulker as team “Anwar Tours,” second place went to Ali Ifield as team “The Great Barracuda” and third went to Mario as team “Flying Torpedo.” Overall, the race was a grand success and would certainly be remembered for many years to come.

   Later on that Sunday, a bicycle race took place as 12 cyclists took the “pedal to the metal.” The designated route started from the Costa Maya grounds, as far as Boca Ciega and back to front street Barrier Reef Drive, through Angel Coral Street and straight to the show grounds. It was a two-lap race and riders had the opportunity along the way to win any of the five station prizes. The top three winners in the race were; third place, Daniel Caliz, second went to Manuel Caliz and first prize winner was none other than Andrew Vasquez, who also took home four of the five station prizes. The race was truly a spectator sport and the committee is very pleased with the outcome and participation of the public.

   There was also a volleyball tournament that took place which began on Saturday. The competition kicked off with thirteen teams from San Pedro, Belize City and Caye Caulker. The second annual Costa Maya Beach Volleyball tournament proved to be the most exciting beach volleyball tournament of the year. The venue for the first day of action took place at the Cannibal’s Bar and Restaurant, where drinks and food were plentiful. During the day, the crowds were treated with exciting plays until the top eight teams advanced to the quarterfinals.

   On the second day, the competition moved to the Costa Maya show grounds at the Old Football Field. Play continued throughout the day until there were four teams standing; Scorpions Belize (Arvid Arnold and Oscar Arnold), Caye Caulker Cyber Café II (Miguel Neal and Tico Requeña), Holiday Hotel Pistolas (Ian Pou and George Requeña) and Captain Sharks (Enrique Pinelo and Carlos Gonzalez). The first match saw the Pistolas from Holiday Hotel taking on the exhausted Captain Sharks who had to play a number of back to back games coming out of the losing bracket. Holiday Hotel took the sets 23-21, 21-14. The Pistolas challenged Caye Caulker Cyber Café II, next and the winner of that game went on to qualify for the finals against the undefeated Scorpions. Caye Caulker Cyber Café II made it past the first game with an easy 21-12 win. The exhaustion from two days of play was apparent in the second game, but they were still able to pull it off with a 21-18 win and advanced to the final round to face the Scorpions.

   Tensions were high as the finals got underway between the undefeated Scorpions and the Caye Caulker Cyber Café as these two teams had met on three previous occasions in the tournament finals throughout the last two years. Cyber Café had to win two matches in a row in order to take the championship and come out of the losing bracket. The first set looked like it was going to be an easy match for Cyber Café as they took an early lead and came out with the 21-14 win. The second set of the match saw Scorpions getting into their groove and the game was a nail biting cliff-hanger, but again ended in favor of Cyber Café at a 24-22 win. As a result, it placed both teams with a loss each and therefore play had to continue to the second match. The first game of the second match was again an easy win for Caye Caulker Cyber Café II as they pulled the 21-14 win. History repeated itself for the fourth time as Caye Caulker Cyber Café II took the second game and the tournament winning 21-16 forcing the Scorpions to the second place position.

   Congratulations to all the winners and participants for displaying outstanding sportsmanship and great athletic abilities on all the sporting events that took place last weekend.

   The Eco Challenge Committee, the Green Reef Environmental Institute, Joe Elijio, Jorge Varela and the Ambergris Volleyball Association wishes to thank all its sponsors for making the 2005 Costa Maya sporting events a huge success!
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