Marco Gonzalez Archeological Site Celebrates Spring Equinox

Friday, March 29th, 2019

Well over 175 people gathered at the Marco Gonzalez Archeological Reserve Site to celebrate the Spring Equinox on the morning of Saturday, March 24th. Making the five-plus mile drive south of San Pedro Town, families, friends, residents and tourists alike walked the quarter-mile boardwalk to the Main Plaza of the site where the ceremony and festivities were held. The event, coordinated by the Board of Directors for the Belizean non-profit Marco Gonzalez Maya Site Ambergris Caye LTD, was complete with a Maya blessing ceremony, costumed individuals, Mestizo dancers, interactive exhibits, refreshments and more.
At 10:30AM, Chairwoman for the Board and founder of the non-profit Jan Brown welcomed guests to the site, giving a brief background on the history of the area. “Marco Gonzalez was an important hub in a thriving maritime trade system that moved goods down the Yucatan coast all the way through Central America. This trading post is thought to have been active from 100 B.C. until about 1500 A.D. and consisted of at least 49 known structures,” she explained. After introducing the Board of Directors, President Peter Nolan took the opportunity to reveal new plans for the archeological site. “We are excited to announce that we have obtained the property at the entrance of the site and fundraising is now underway to construct a visitor’s and education center. Our new Maya Archaeological Visitor’s and Education (MAVE) Center will be a state-of-the-art facility that complements the Marco Gonzalez Reserve by promoting the history of the Maya people on Ambergris Caye and offering an interactive educational experience for tourists and locals alike.” To a round of applause, Nolan encouraged guests to donate to the important project through the Marco Gonzalez website. After Brown recognized the many sponsors of the event, she proclaimed, “Let the celebration begin!”
In grand fashion, with the sound of Maya music and the exotic smell of copal incense, a Maya Warrior in full costume (Josh Nuñez) escorted a stunning Queen (Karen Grote) to the east structure over which the sun and moon rise, where they presided the ceremony. On the ground before them lay colorful blankets adorned with burning candles, shells, clay vessels, herbs, and offerings. Shaman Mr. Fuastino Yam, a Yucatec Maya from the village of Cristo Rey in Corozal proceeded with the blessing, speaking in his native language, with his nephew Heraldo translating into English. Swaying an incensario smoldering with copal, Yam walked around the gathering, speaking words of wisdom and celebration while the smoke coiled around the crowd. He then followed his steps by dashing holy water on the group. Members from the audience were then invited to come up for an individual blessing, which many participated in. In conclusion, the Warrior and Queen were blessed and then escorted out of the area.
Following the blessing, Brown introduced the Raices Mexicanas – Retonos Beliceños dancers from San Joaquin Village on Corozal. Dance Director Mrs. Maria Magana explained that they are Mestizo, meaning half Spanish and half Maya, which makes for most of the Belizean population. She also spoke of the colorfully embroidered Huipil dresses the seven dancers wore and what they symbolized. Four different lively dances were performed, with a short wardrobe change to conclude with two dances celebrating corn/maize, an essential part of the Mestizo culture.
Between costume changes, Brown invited the audience to visit the interactive activities, including an exhibit of artifacts excavated from Marco Gonzalez, which included an impressive bowl dating back to 100 A.D. that originated from Tikal, Guatemala. The booth was hosted by Mito Paz from the San Pedro House of Culture. Chris Beaumont from the Belize Chocolate Company was also onsite demonstrating how the Maya processed cacao, chocolate, using a mano y metate hand grinder made of stone. Guests were delighted to try their skills at crushing the tasty bean into a powder and sampling the taste of unrefined chocolate. Four staff members from the Institute of Archeology were also on-hand to offer guided tours of the site and to demonstrate how to throw the Maya Atlatl spear, which many were happy to try. Guests also enjoyed a variety of snacks, refreshments, and cocktails along with the chance to win great raffle prizes.
This celestial celebration is the fifth for the Marco Gonzalez site, with the first three celebrated at the Summer Solstice each June. Due to less than ideal weather conditions, last year they held their first Spring Equinox event instead with ideal weather. The Government of Belize does not fund the site and the annual fundraiser helps sustain operational costs of site management during the slow season. In 2011, Marco Gonzalez earned the distinction of being the first Maya Site National Park to be established on a Belizean island.

The Board of Directors sincerely thanks all the volunteers and sponsors who were instrumental in the success of the event. For more information about Marco Gonzalez, please visit their website at


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