National Institute of Culture and History Belize
I took a few hours out of my day to learn more about the history of Belize. Where is the best place to do that in the city? …The prison.
Actually the building once housed convicts from 1857 and not until 2002 when it was revitalized into a museum of culture and history. This museum is the perfect size – but only for a museum. After spending about 2 hours in there, I was bewildered that such a small building was operating up till the 21st century holding criminals captive. From all the information I gathered, one cell blocked (7ft by 10ft aprox) held up to 6-7 grown man – that’s smaller than some peoples closest. And that the last death penalty was held in 1980s – a murderer sent to the gallows.
For those active in the hobby of stamp collecting, the museum had an entire room dedicated to just stamps! Mostly containing her Majesty the Queen.
The next floor up (because there is only 2) contained a historical walk through the Mayan show and impressive archeological findings from Mayan sites. From all sorts of jewelry carved from jade, to the mapping of the Mayan archeological site that are scattered in the Yucatan. And lastly, a glass cased tomb.
Location of Belize – its access to the sea and fertile, lush rainforest filled with mahogany tree – throughout history was wanted by many, but controlled by few.
From the prehistoric era that was lost to the Mayan civilization who were eventually obliterated by the Spanish conquistadors who used the country for its resources. Eventually the pirates came followed by the Brits who clashed in epic sea and land battle. Again, back to the Mayans trying to restore the land for themselves from the British (of the little number that was left). It came to a point where the British brought in the ships and steal to build railways, their settlements and ports. In the 1900 hundreds, aviation grew, ships no longer travelled the coast line and highways were being constructed between towns and connecting to the heart of Belize – Belize City. The independence of Belize occurred in 1981 which is now celebrated on September 21st (COMING SOON).
I do not want to leave out the important parts of culture and history of Belize. Even with the tossing of the dominant actors in history, Belize culture is very diverse. Now I could go through an entire timeline, but you can do that for yourselves here!
The communities stretching from South to North, East to West are made up of people such as the Garifuna, Creole, Mayan, Spanish (Guatemalans, El Salvadorans, Hondurans), the Expats, the Taiwanese, the Indians (who migrated at two different waves in Caribbean history),the Nigerians, and lastly the Mennonites (of German decent).
Lastly, there was a room dedicated to the insects of Belize. Some of the beetles were a gigantic mutinous size, along with moth species. But at least the butterflies were pleasing to the eye – no matter the size.
All in all, with a 9 months placement in Belize, even if I wanted to see all these cultural and historical parts I would still not have time to experience them.