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Postcards from Belize: Costa Maya Festival in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye

Belize’s biggest annual festival and also one of Central America’s most unique fiestas is this weekend – the San Pedro International Costa Maya Festival.

The goal of the festival is to bring together all the countries of Maya heritage so they can celebrate their culture, their food and you guessed it, their women: Belize, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. It began in 1991 on Belize’s “isla bonita,” Ambergris Caye, and has now reached an international level, with media stars from Telemundo hosting the event and Latin performers like Marisela as part of the festivities line-up.

Last night was the kick off, with amazing cultural dance performances from the various countries, not to mention the food too (stay tuned for those photos). But earlier that day, I had lunch with the 8 beauty pageant contestants – all vying for the Reina de la Costa Maya title. Definitely a first for me. If I didn’t have modeling experience in my past, I probably would’ve felt odd sitting among eight beauty queens. But instead it felt like I was on the set of America’s Next Top Model! And the girls were a lot of fun.

The competition is tonight and is the most popular part of the festival for Belizeans.

Miss Belize, Idolly Louise Saldivar, is 20 years old. She’s been competing in pageants since the age of 16. She’s originally from Belmopan but she’s also the classic Belizean: a mix of several cultures. Her mother is part Japanese, part East Indian and her father is Creole. Pretty amazing.

The buzz question around San Pedro since yesterday is, “Who do you think will win?”

What do you guys think? :-)

Here are some candid shots I took quickly over lunch yesterday…

Miss Belize: Idolly Louise SaldivarMiss Belize, at last night's Flag Dance opening of the FestivalMiss Nicaragua: Giselle de los Angeles Alvarez RamirezMiss El Salvador: Andrea Bazant SolMiss Panama: Marielena GonzalesMiss Costa Rica: Crissia Maria Sanchez CalvoMiss Mexico: Valentina Cervera AvilaMiss Guatemala: Ana Lucia FlorentinoMiss Honduras: Linda Beatrice KennettStarting Thursday afternoon, people from all over descend on San Pedro for the festival. The girls decide to greet them from their lunch table at Tackle Box, next to the water taxi stop.Got to love Heineken. Nice promotion huh?Good luck tonight ladies!

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