The Beginning of a New Era: Sunrise Maya Ceremony On the Beach of Ambergris Caye, Belize

Last night and this morning the National Institute of Culture and History along with the San Pedro Town Council put on quite a show for the end of the Maya calendar. When I arrived at the park today at 5am, the party was still going on from the previous night.  The midnight fireworks were long over but the DJs had only just finished, the stage for the live music was just emptying and there were plenty of people standing around enjoying their last drink.

Belize (or what is Belize today) was at the very heart of the great Maya empire.  In fact, the population of Belize 1000 years ago is thought to have been at least double of what it is today.  The entire country is covered in Maya temples, cities and artifacts.    Many people that live on our island are of Mayan descendants and Mayan dialects are still actively spoken in Belize.  For anyone who thinks the Maya people died out…just visit us or the Yucatan in Mexico or Guatemala and you will find that they are alive and well.

Here are some of this morning’s 5am celebrations to mark the end of the Mayan calendar, the beginning of a new era and the winter solstice.  Today is the longest night and shortest day of the year.

The beach was set up with torches and a calendar ready for the boat arrival.

Decorations on the stage…

People dressed in traditional Mayan ceremonial costumes rowed to shore and started a ceremony.  Here are the pictures.  A somewhat sullen Mayan princess.

Cool, right?

The drummers…

I am quickly falling in love with our new San Pedro branch of the NICH (National Institute of Culture and History) and Mito Paz, the member of the Town Council in charge of cultural affairs.  There has been such an amazing push for cultural events from Roman Catholic observances like last week’s Las Mananitas a La Virgen De Guadalupe to Mestizo traditions like those featured at Dia De San Pedro to the block party and presentations for Garifuna Settlement Day.  This country is made up of so many different amazing groups.  What better was to get together as Belizeans than through music, dance and partying?  I know there is a ton to worry about…crime, the roads, schools…all critical things.  But I think this kind of investment is one of the most important that the Town Council is making for the people of the town and for tourism.  I love it.

  • Omaha Dave

    Hi Rebecca,
    You saying that you arrived at the park at 5 AM reminded me of an earlier blog where you took a picture of your watch in a golf cart at about 3:45 AM and you said that you would disclose your journey to us later – if you did = I missed it.
    What were you up to ?

  • Me

    Wow. Nice memory. I was out rounding up stray dogs. Depressing work…