We're often asked how Itz'ana got its name and to that we reply that it's derived from the Maya God Itzamna- the God of Day and Night. It's fitting because it represents the dichotomies so prevalent here in Belize - jungle and reef, adventure and luxury and the effects of the sky on the land, specifically in Belize. Take for example, the moon. There is an abundance of history, mythology and folklore related to the rhythm, pace and tide of the moon and how it affects both people and nature.
Throughout the month, the moon often hangs in the background of the blue sky during the day, not taking center stage until after the sunset. But once a cycle, it puts on a spectacular show; rising as a giant orange orb from the sea's horizon. It's on those nights you'll find numerous "Full Moon" parties hosted at local beach bars where locals and guests will come to get a little wild, as superstitions say.
Some people might be skeptical of these superstitions about the moon's effects, but here in Belize they are taken very seriously. Take thatch roofs, for example. Many traditional Maya homes use this roofing style and they are highly popular in the tourism industry as they make for a cool and waterproof overhead solution. The most common species of leaf used in Belize is the Bayleaf or the Palm and both are best to harvest when the moon is full. Drawing the sap into the leaves, the moon affects them the same way it does the tide on the beach. Even our residences and guests benefit from the full moon. We use bejuco wood that has been harvested during a full moon as the privacy screens at the resort and the siding on the lagoon homes. This is also why people will plant their garden on a full moon in Belize, plants are believed to absorb more water during this period.
Interestingly, sea life is believed to be equally as affected as the flora. It is well known that if you're booking a Whale Shark tour in Belize, you'll want to book it three days before the full moon and three days after during the months of March to June (making this year's best dates March 20– March 30, April 18 – April 29, May 17 – May 28 and June 16 – June 27). And it's not just full moons that generate these behavioral patterns either. Fish are known to be most active when the moon rises and sets and the best time to fish is after a full moon, when its not at its brightest. As the moon affects the tides, when fly fishing, you'll want to go one week before or one week after a full moon.
These rituals are deeply rooted in the country's ancestral history. The Ancient Maya's attention to detail and astrological precision has influenced generations throughout Belize in industries like fishing and agriculture. They paid homage to the night sky using the constellations and moon to make decisions on battle times and farming. With each passing decade, as generations unfold, a grandfather, a fisherman, a farmer teaches their predecessor about the moon, it's cycle and how to work in synergy with it.
On the lighter side of things, if you want to know when to conceive a baby or get a haircut, just ask a local woman when you're here on your next visit. She'll be sure to point to the sky as her guide.
**Full Moon photo shot by one of our very own homeowners, Annelise Hagan