The Mayan Rain God blesses Costa Maya Festival - Miss Astrid Ramirez "reigns" as Queen of the Mayan coast

First Runner-up Miss Danya Prince
Miss Astrid Ramirez

Rain! Rain! Go away! Come again some other day! It didn't work! Chac deemed San Pedro worthy of his blessing. The opening night of the San Pedro International Costa Maya Festival started out perfectly; the attendance was excellent and the excitement was high.

Tuki Tuki, the toucan, was at the festival grounds passing out candy to the children. The Youth Cadet Corp marched around the grounds keeping it clean and attractive. The games were up and music was playing. San Pedro was ready for the festival to begin!

The Belize National Anthem was sung by Claudia Haylock and the Guatemalan Anthem was sung by a member of the Guatemalan Folklore Dance Group. Master of ceremonies, Mr. Angel Nuñez, welcomed festival goers and introduced the evenings speakers. The Ambassador of Guatemala, Mr. Rafael Salazar, addressed the gathering and said he was pleased to be in San Pedro and that Guatemala was participating in the Costa Maya Festival. His Worship Mayor Alberto Nuñez welcomed delegates and the people in attendance to the festival. Chairman of the Costa Maya Festival, for the second year, Mr. Gach Guerrero, was last to address the gathering. He explained that the 1998 committee worked very hard to make the festival a reality and thanked all the sponsors and supporters of the festival.

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.

The crowd was awed by the five contestants as they paraded in their cultural costumes. The beauty queens then introduced themselves and the countries they represented. The introductions were followed by a performance from the Guatemalan dance group. They performed a rain dance. (Yes, a dansas de lluvia.) In a kaleidoscope of color, the dancers swirled and jumped as they beseeched Chac to bless them with rain. Well, Chac did. The five gorgeous contestants paraded on stage in their bathing suits and the Miss Coppertone Prize was presented to Miss Honduras by Miss San Pedro, Vanya Vasquez. The prize for the contestant with the best tan was donated by Brodies Supermarket. Shortly after the award was presented it rained again.

It didn't rain very long. As soon as it subsided the girls were able to perform their group presentation. The contestants danced to the festival's theme song, Las Chicas de la Costa Maya. The theme song was written by Chairman, Gach Guerrero and the music was composed by Mr. Tim Budd. The dance was choreographed by Miss Rosita Baltazar of the Belize Dance Company.

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. Dressed in sparkling swirls of material, trails of satin and elegant shawls, the five beauty queens graced the stage with their presence for the evening gown competition. The question and answer session followed. Mr. Caesar Gonzalez interviewed Miss El Salvador, Miss Guatemala, Miss Honduras and Miss Mexico. Miss Belize Universe, Elvia Vega, interviewed the Miss Belize representative. The ladies were asked to share their feelings about San Pedro, the other contestants and to talk about the Mayan people of their country.

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 judges' scores were collected and were tabulated. The judges for the Reina de la Costa Maya International Pageant were: Mrs. Victoria Collins, Dr. Otto Rodriguez, Mrs. Patricia Murray, Dr. Roberto Toriz and Mrs. Yolanda Espat.

Reina de la Costa Maya 1997, Miss Guatemala Carol Aquino gave a heartfelt fairwell speech. She spoke of San Pedro's beautiful surroundings and its people. She said that San Pedro would always be in her heart.

The five beauties returned to the stage once again and waited for the judges' decisions. Miss Honduras, Danya Prince, was awarded Miss Photogenic and Best Costume was won by Miss Guatemala, Miss Astrid Ramirez. Miss Honduras was selected as the first runner up. Should the winner be unable to hold her title Miss Prince would then be Reina de la Costa Maya 1998. The lovely Miss Guatemala, Astrid Ramirez was crowned as Reina de la Costa Maya International 1998 by her predecessor Miss Carol Aquino. Miss Aquino represented Guatemala in last year's pageant. Miss Ramirez took her victory walk and waved to her supporters who cheered her on. She also took pictures with her fans and greeted festival goers with hugs and kisses.

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.

Kodak awarded a cash prize to Miss Honduras, Danya Prince who was named Miss Photogenic.

On Wednesday, July 22nd - El Salvador Night, the Ballet Nacional performed cultural dances and the Do Mayor Band provided musical entertainment. (A full report will be printed in next week's paper.)

On Thursday, July 23rd - Mexico Night, the Ballet Folklorico de Quintana Roo, Mexico, gave a marvelous performance. This group has visited San Pedro many times and has become popular and well liked by the people of San Pedro. Later, the CRACK Band, also not strangers to the islanders, (they performed at the old football field in April), entertained festival goers and were greatly enjoyed. (A full report will be printed in next week's newspaper.) What's to come?

Tonight, Friday, July 24th - Honduras Night, Groupo de Dansas Folkloricas de Honduras will be presenting cultural dance performances followed by the ever popular Gran Banda! This vibrant band of performers will provide excellent and energetic dancing music! Come out and enjoy Honduras Night!

Saturday, July 25th - In the morning, Kid's Day activities will commence at 10:00 a.m.. All the children of San Pedro are invited. Activities will include: water balloon toss, lime and spoon race, sack race and musical chairs. The volleyball tournament will also take place at 1:00 p.m. Saturday Night is the biggest and most spectacular night of the festival. Belize International Night promises to be explosive! Come out and be oohed and aahed by a dazzling fireworks display. The Belize Dance Company will open the night's entertainment with an array of artistic and culturally rich dances. Belize's number one band, Santino's Messengers, will "pump up" the crowd with their heart-pumping, sweaty, Caribbean-style music. Garibaldi, a large group of impressive performers, will be mesmerizing the festival crowd with their unique and sensational potpourri-style dance music.

On Sunday, July 26th - The Grand Finale! In the morning, Event Day activities will be held: the annual cycling race. A dance contest will follow later that evening. No, you can't go to sleep yet! Come to the final night of the festival and enjoy great entertainment including the Unity Band, Vellie's Dance Group and the Barbara Alonzo's Dance Group.

On each night of the festival a round trip ticket from Belize - Cancun courtesy of Aero-Caribe will be raffled. Tickets for the raffle will be on sale at the festival grounds.

The Mayan Rain God blesses Costa Maya Festival - Miss Astrid Ramirez "reigns" as Queen of the Mayan coast

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