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Towns and Villages
Maya Villages


Santa Elena

The Mopan Maya villages of Santa Cruz and Santa Elena lie a couple miles apart on a long stretch of hilly, gravel road. Together, they have a population of about 500 people. Before the villages were established, both areas were alkilos (people living independently in the forests far from each other).

In 1950, a group of families came together to build a community at a site with fertile soils. Since most people were associated with the Catholic religion, they named their village Santa Cruz which means Holy Cross. An alcalde was elected to govern the village. Schools were built with the financial help of the government and labor of the villagers.

Santa Elena Guesthouse

Santa Elena began the same way. A group of families were attracted to the beautiful waterfalls and the forest surrounding the area. Initially, their settlement was known as Rio Blanco, the name taken from the crystal clear river flowing nearby. When new members of the community arrived with a statue of Santa Elena, the villagers changed the name of their village to honor their new patron saint.

The thatch roof houses in each village are spread out along the roadside. LIvestock is plentiful - horses keep the surrounding vegetation low and chickens and pigs roam the village. A central water system was built on the outskirts of Santa Cruz. Both villages have a community phone and contain a large football field, a school, a church, a community center, and a store. Tours are offered to the Rio Blanco waterfalls and pools, as well as the Uxbenka Maya site nearby. The view of much of Southern Belize is exceptional from the top of Uxbenka.

Use the links below to visit the other villages

Punta GordaMonkey River> Maya Villages <

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