[Editor’s Note: Lily Girma is the first photographer-in-residence to participate in the Road Warrior program, a partnership between MatadorU and the Belize Tourism Board. This summer Lily is documenting different cultural aspects of Belize as well as travel and adventure options around the country. Each week she’ll be reporting on her experiences for Matador, her personal blog, and for other outlets.]
I STOOD OUT AS A NEWCOMER IN ORANGE WALK by showing up to the town fair promptly at the “start time” of 5:00 pm. Hours later one of the locals took me under his wing, showing me around the different gambling events and food vendors. Another invited me to sit with his family and taste their homemade tamales and tacos. I almost wanted to try the amusement rides, but I just didn’t want to risk feeling nauseous while carrying expensive camera gear. And it was just as fun watching the kids and families having a blast.
In San Pedro I showed up two hours after start time and blended right in. There were cultural dances on stage – everything from Latin to African-inspired performances – and a beauty pageant. When I wasn’t shooting, I walked around the stadium, sampling street food such as pupusas and churros.
My favorite day so far was the free beach party in San Pedro. It closed out the Costa Maya Festival with live folk music and lots of dancing barefoot in the sand.
I’m looking forward to more festivals this month of September, with Belize celebrating its annual Carnival and its 30th Independence. Maybe I’ll finally stay till the end for one of those events, because so far I haven’t been able to keep up with the all-night partying; the latest I’ve stayed was midnight. But the fiestas can go on until 3 or 4am.