Belize Birding Tours

Belize Culture - Mestizo

Mestizo refers to the mixture of Spanish and Maya. They are immigrants who fled the ravages of war as as result of the Guerra de las Castas. The first group began to move into northern Belize around the 1850's. The northern refugees who settled in Corozal, Orange Walk, Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker were at first only Mestizoes but later were joined by many Maya immigrants. These were the people who developed agriculture, especiall sugar cane production on a large scale.

Apart from language and cultural religious traditions such as the novena, posada, fiestas and los finados,the Mestizo culture was unique in its regard for close family ties with strict rules of courtship and marriage.Mestizo food is actually a mix of Maya and Spanish cuisine with corn playing a major role: tortillas, tamales, bollos, tamalitos, panades, garnachas along with other tasty foods such as relleno negro, chilmole, and escabeche.

Another aspect of Mestizo culture is the fiesta Carnival presently being revived in Orange Walk district. Carnival season would be ushered in by a dance called "Los Mascarados". This dance involves a group of men in different disguises who would march through the streets dgragging chains. Some would be dressed like old men and women, while others masqueraded as witches, ghosts, demons, and others disguised themselves as priests in black cassocks with one man impersonating the devil. Other groups of 6 feet women would sometimes dress in Sunday satin all shiny, whole men sometimes stuck to simple white trousers, with white long-sleeved shirts, red neckerchiefs and sombreros.

During other carvial days, coparas (chorus/skits) would be performed at individual homes where refreshments would be served and sometimes a fee colected for entertainment. Dances performed included: la Estudiantina; Juan Carnaval was an effigy (made by stuffing a pair of trousers and shirt with dry banana leaves, his head an empty calabash with facial features painted on wearing a sombrero). Juan Carnaval would be burnt at around 6:00pm on the eve of Ash Wednesday. La Rumba, La Samba Los Negritos, El Torito, Basilio Capa Mojada, Los Chicleros, Las Peolonas y Las Tres Hermanitas were also danced during carnival. Not to be excluded, groups of kids played on the streets trying to catch a victim to paint with an assortment of talcum powder, egg and shoe polish.