Tuesday, March 27, 2012

a visit to the museum of belize

I've wanted to visit the Museum of Belize for a while, mostly because I'm fascinated by the fact that it used to be a prison.  Look how gorgeous this old building is! You would never suspect it was a prison.  Besides the Mayan ruins, there aren't many historical buildings in Belize.... probably because wood doesn't last too long in the tropics, especially when said buildings get hit by hurricanes.

The bricks were brought over as ballast in ships, then recycled into buildings.  I haven't seen many more brick buildings in Belize, so perhaps all the bricks were used here?  Who knows.  But it held up well during hurricane Hattie, when most of Belize city was flattened.

This was a cell.  I could stand in the middle and touch both walls.  Apparently for punishment the window was covered, and the cell would be dark.
I found this prison menu from 1870 quite interesting-- apparently they weren't big on fruits and vegetables back then, which seems strange because of all the fruits and veggies that grow so easily here.  The only veggie was the onions added to the soup on Sundays!
The museum also has some Mayan artifacts, though the majority of things are in museums in other countries (I was actually quite surprised at how few artifacts there were).  Mayans valued jade-- but I had no idea they actually inserted jade into their teeth.  I cringe just thinking about the anesthetic-free drilling that must have been involved.   

This is cool- it is a prehistoric GIANT SLOTH leg bone, found about 15 minutes from where I live.  I wish we still had giant sloths here.

The other reason why I've wanted to visit this museum is their bug and butterfly collection.  It is impressive-- made even more so by the fact that all of it was collected by a mom and her 3 sons.  The only disappointment was that the labeling was very general, and didn't give specific names.

I would love to know what these are called.  They were beautifully iridescent.

These are some of the variations of the Sulfa butterfly.  They are very common here.

And some of the many, many bugs that can be found in Belize.  For my amusement, I put a little butterfly stamp on those bugs that I have personally encountered.  See the one on the bottom with a purple stamp on it?  That is a tarantula wasp.  It eats tarantulas. I saw one dive bombing a tarantula in my front yard once.  And we won't talk about my encounters with scorpions (marked with a green stamp), I have to mentally block it else I'd probably run screaming to the airport. 


  1. Hey Cathleen!

    I think the blue one is called a common blue morpho. I was in a butterfly jungle in San Diego earlier this month on vacation and I saw and loved these as well. So pretty! Here's a link to the butterfly ID guide that went with the jungle: http://www.sdzsafaripark.org/butterflyjungle/butterfly_guide.html

    Can I also say that I love your book reviews, and I think I usually end up adding each book to my Good Read to-read list. So thanks for enriching my life!

    1. Hi Jenn!
      Thanks so much for that awesome link, Daniel and I are always trying to figure out what kind of butterflies we see. This one isn't a blue morpho-- we actually have a farm near us that raises morphos (sooo much fun to visit) so we see them often-- and they are quite a bit bigger then these little guys were.
      Hey guess what... I might be in DC for like 2 days in May :) Are you still living in that area?


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