Former YMCA Building: City of Riverside Landmark #41

Location: 3485 University Ave.
Date Established: 1909
Date Visited: 6/13/2014

The woodwork on the building is very imposing.

The woodwork on the building is very imposing.

According to the YMCA’s website their focus is to “bring about meaningful change in individuals and communities, we must be focused and accountable.” The Life Arts Center started it’s life as the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) in 1909 with the plaque reading “to the glory of God and the uplifting of man.”

The building was designed by Arthur Benton (the same from the Mission Inn) and is done in an imposing red brick, Italian Renaissance style. There are plenty of arched windows and decorative awnings.

When it was first built it housed 25 rooms upstairs which were rented out as affordable hotel space and downstairs there was a gym with a pool. Today the top rooms are rented out as business spaces and the main floor is used for event planning (mostly weddings). In the back there is a small gym called “City Gym.”

The YMCA ran the building from 1909 to 1968 when they moved to a new facility on Jefferson St. Unfortunately in 2013 the YMCA in Riverside abruptly ran out of money and so currently there is no YMCA (there is a YWCA) in Riverside.** In 1974 the original building was bought by a man named Bent Corydon, who had a long running legal battle with L. Ron Hubbard which ended in 1992 with Corydon winning ownership of the building. *

ymphotostudio

A view of the lobby area of the Life and Arts Center.

A view of the lobby area of the Life and Arts Center.

A view towards the Florence ballroom shows a classic brick archway.

A view towards the Florence ballroom shows a classic brick archway.

These stairs lead up to the area that used to be hotel rooms.

These stairs lead up to the area that used to be hotel rooms.

This is the location of what used to be the calisthenics room.

This is the location of what used to be the calisthenics room.

The YMCA cornerstone.

The YMCA cornerstone.

The Life Arts Center is now home to what was the YMCA building.

The Life Arts Center is now home to what was the YMCA building.

A postcard from 1909, interesting to note that the 1907 water fountain was once in front of the building.

A postcard from 1909, interesting to note that the 1907 water fountain was once in front of the building.

A view from across the street.

A view from across the street.

Denise looking at the lobby area of the Life and Arts Center.

Denise looking at the lobby area of the Life and Arts Center.

Towards the back of the building is the City Gym (privately owned).

Towards the back of the building is the City Gym (privately owned).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Brandeis, Gayle (1 October 2012). “From Y to Art: The History of the Riverside Art Museum and the Life Arts Center”. KCET Productions. Retrieved 1 November 2014.

**Robinson, Alicia (18 Januaray 2013). “RIVERSIDE: City wants to see YMCA reopen”. Press-Enterprise. Retrieved 1 November 2014.

 

St. John’s Cathedral, Belize City, Belize

St. John's Cathedral is an easy walk from the city center.

St. John’s Cathedral is an easy walk from the city center.

The first British “colonists” to Belize were not really much into religion but by the late 18th century trade had taken on a more legitimate form in Belize and with it religion soon sprouted. St John’s Cathedral was finished in 1812 after many years of hard work. It was built primarily by slaves with bricks from Europe that were brought as ballast for large sailing ships. Inside the pews and doors are made with mahogany and many decorative altars made out of sapodilla wood.

Outside the cathedral is the Yarborough cemetery which was named after an affluent citizen who donated his property for the site. It is the oldest (modern) cemetery in Belize with graves dating back to 1798.

Today the cathedral is still active with an active Anglican Parrish. When we were there they were preparing for a funeral service. The day was sprinkling (there is lots of water in Belize), but we still had a fun time walking the grounds and looking at the intricate woodwork. In 2009, the cathedral and cemetery were set aside by the government as a archeological and historic site.

The outside of the cathedral is made of bricks brought from Europe as ballast.

The outside of the cathedral is made of bricks brought from Europe as ballast.

A view towards the altar from the back.

A view towards the altar from the back.

The cathedral has an ornate pipe organ.

The cathedral has an ornate pipe organ.

The sign of the dove is often attributed to St. John.

The sign of the dove is often attributed to St. John.

Many of what were known as the " Miskito Kings " (local tribe kingdoms) were coronated by the British at the site.

Many of what were known as the ” Miskito Kings ” (local tribe kingdoms) were coronated by the British at the site.

An outside view of the stain glass window.

An outside view of the stain glass window.

One of the ornate doors going into the chapel.

One of the ornate doors going into the chapel.

St. John's is the oldest Anglican church in the Western hemisphere with church leadership dating back to 1776.

St. John’s is the oldest Anglican church in the Western hemisphere with church leadership dating back to 1776.

An outside view of Yarborough cemetery.

An outside view of Yarborough cemetery.

 

The Government House (former Governor’s Mansion), Belize City, Belize

govfrontThe first meeting of the Government House in Belize was in 1815 when a public meeting on the site was held to decide if the colony should allocate funds to the building of a house for the Superintendent. A sum of 3,000 pounds sterling was set and the building commenced. The first Superintendent to live in the house was Colonel Arthurs who had chosen the site due to it’s downtown location and close proximity to St. John’s Cathedral.

Used as the head of government’s house for over 150 years many notable celebrations have been held at the Government House. In 1815, 1825 and 1845, kings from the Mosquito Coast were crowned at St. John’s Cathedral with celebrations at the Government House. In 1838 another celebration was held at the Government House when, what was then known as the British Honduras, emancipated all of it’s slaves and abolished slavery in the colony. Probably the most poignant of celebrations came on September 21st, 1981, when the Union Jack was lowered and the Belize flag was raised for the first time.

In it’s early days only Belize’s elite were allowed in to the house, but today the Government House is what they call a “House of Culture” and anyone with $5 USD can get in from 8AM-5PM. When we were there Denise and AJ went and looked at the displays available (a lot of local art) and some historical displays. I (John) decided to sit on the portico steps and I read the story about how the Baymen defeated the Spanish armada.

The Girl Guide (Scouts) headquarters are right across the street.

The Girl Guide (Scouts) headquarters are right across the street.

govhousesign1814

 

 

A view of some of the storm windows.

A view of some of the storm windows.

AJ learning about Boledo. A form of gambling that involves a lot of mysticism.

AJ learning about Boledo. A form of gambling that involves a lot of mysticism.

A view of the coast from the Government House. Normally Baron Bliss' boat is here but we didn't see it.

A view of the coast from the Government House. Normally Baron Bliss’ boat is here but we didn’t see it.

AJ and Denise on the portico steps.

AJ and Denise on the portico steps.

Xunantunich “Stone Maiden” Ruins, Cayo District, Belize

A concept drawing of the Stone Maiden.

A concept drawing of the Stone Maiden.

According to legend Xunantunich (pronounced “junantunish”) got named when a hunter went by himself in 1892 to hunt by the ruins along the Mopan river. The ruins were known by the locals for millennium by the locals and people would often prayer in front of a makeshift cross at the main temple known as “El Castillo” (the castle). It was while hunting at this site that the hunter claims to have seen a mysterious woman dressed all in white. It was kind of strange to see this lady by herself but the lady beckoned him to follow him and so he did. According to the story as she slowly ascended the stone stairway she turned and the hunter could see that she had fire-red glowing eyes. She also disappeared straight into a stone wall. This caused the hunter to freak out and he ran back into town. When the hunter got back into town everyone started asking him what had happened to his gun, which he had forgotten back when he had panicked. He told them his story and everyone went to the site to look for this mysterious woman. The gun was found by the cross where everyone had always prayed but despite a looking all around the site the “stone maiden” was never found, but the name Xunantunich stuck and now that is the name of the site.

Denise looks up to El Castillo.

Denise looks up to El Castillo.

In the mid 1890s the first modern explorations of the site were done by a man named Thomas Gann. He was at the time the district surgeon of Cayo and had chosen to settle in the area due to his interest in what he called “the unknown wonders of the indigenous people.”* The first survey of the area was done later by his successor Sir J. Eric Thompson. The majority of the excavation of the site happened between 1959 and 1960 during the Cambridge Expedition to what was then the British Honduras (Belize’s colony name).

Archeological evidence says that there has been a human presence at the site as early as 3000 BC. Looking at the number of ceramics and rate of growth, the height of Xunantunich’s growth happened somewhere between 300BC and 400 AD. In about 600 AD there was another apparent boom period but evidence also shows that Xunantunich may have fallen under control of another local Mayan site known as Naranjo. In 750 AD the site was suddenly and completely abandoned. No one knows why but architectural evidence does show evidence of what could have been earthquake damage to “El Castillo” (the main temple).

The ferry that takes people across the Mopan river.

The ferry that takes people across the Mopan river.

Today Xunantunich is one of the easiest of Belize’s archeological sites to get to being that it is only a mile off the western highway. The site is only 1 KM (about .6 miles) away from the Guatemalan border. When you climb to the top of “El Castillo” you can see down into Guatemala. To get to the site you have to cross the Mopan river. To do so you drive your car on a little hand cranked ferry which takes you safely across the river. The entire drive was paved, which was a first on our travels in Belize. Due to the ease of access we got there very early and we had the place virtuously to ourselves. By the time we left at 10 AM we saw bus loads of cruise people coming in (you can always tell who they are because of the lanyards they wear). When we went it was late September and it was drizzling. This along with the ever small stairs, made for a very slippery climb. We slipped a few times while climbing the slippery plastered steps. Luckily, we did not fall off the temple, because the drop offs were quite steep, but it was definitely not a guaranteed thing!

A brief video:

 

Click the plus sign to expand the pictures:

AJ at the hand crank.

AJ at the hand crank.

This royal grave was found at the site of A4. Mayan royals were often buried under temples, while regular people were buried under their homes.

This royal grave was found at the site of A4. Mayan royals were often buried under temples, while regular people were buried under their homes.

This room was used for spiritual cleansing. The petitioner would start a fire in the pit, pray to the stella, and then bathe in the ashes.

This room was used for spiritual cleansing. The petitioner would start a fire in the pit, pray to the stella, and then bathe in the ashes.

My friend and I slipped on these steps at A4 trying to find an ancient grave.

My friend and I slipped on these steps at A4 trying to find an ancient grave.

From the top of A4 looking at the plaza.

From the top of A4 looking at the plaza.

A view of the Mopan river.

A view of the Mopan river.

The ferry that takes people across the Mopan river.

The ferry that takes people across the Mopan river.

AJ checking out the ball court.

AJ checking out the ball court.

An unexcavated pyramid.

An unexcavated pyramid.

This Mayan servant totally looked like he was walking like an Egyptian.

This Mayan servant totally looked like he was walking like an Egyptian.

This side view of El Castillo kind of reminded me of the old Matterhorn at Disneyland (remember the Sky Ride?).

This side view of El Castillo kind of reminded me of the old Matterhorn at Disneyland (remember the Sky Ride?).

Can you see the stairs in this picture? No railing if you slip.

Can you see the stairs in this picture? No railing if you slip.

We were struggling to climb El Castillo and then I hear "hello papi" and saw that AJ had followed us up.

We were struggling to climb El Castillo and then I hear “hello papi” and saw that AJ had followed us up.

A view from the top of El Castillo. Denise looks like an ant, but she is really an aunt.

A view from the top of El Castillo. Denise looks like an ant, but she is really an aunt.

John with Guatemala in the background.

John with Guatemala in the background.

A view to Guatemala from El Castillo.

A view to Guatemala from El Castillo.

An ancient guard shack.

An ancient guard shack.

Chaq the rain god definitely made his presence known when we were there.

Chaq the rain god definitely made his presence known when we were there.

Denise looks up to El Castillo.

Denise looks up to El Castillo.

This was our "guide" he wasn't officially a guide but as a local he certainly knew a lot more than the official guides did.

This was our “guide” he wasn’t officially a guide but as a local he certainly knew a lot more than the official guides did.

A view to El Castillo from the royal apartments.

A view to El Castillo from the royal apartments.

AJ checking out Stella 1.

AJ checking out Stella 1.

This Ceibo tree describes the Mayan view of life.

This Ceibo tree describes the Mayan view of life.

This clay pot was excavated at the site.

This clay pot was excavated at the site.

A concept drawing of the Stone Maiden.

A concept drawing of the Stone Maiden.

Archaeological evidence says people have been here since maybe 3000 BC.

Archaeological evidence says people have been here since maybe 3000 BC.

The family at the Xunantunich Visitor Center.

The family at the Xunantunich Visitor Center.

Crossing the Mopan River.

Crossing the Mopan River.


 
 
 
 
 
  
 
   
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
   
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
   
  
 
 
  
 
   
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
   
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
   
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
   
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
   
  
 
 
 
  
 
 
 
 
  
 
   
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
   
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
   
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
   
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
   
  
 
 
 
 

*Thompson, J. E. “Thomas Gann in the Maya Ruins.” British Medical Journal 2.5973 (1975): 741-43. Print.

Benedict Castle: City of Riverside Landmark #13

Location: 5445 Chicago Ave.
Date Established: 1922
Date Visited: 10/23/2014

The main tower of the castle is very imposing.

The main tower of the castle is very imposing.

The construction of the Benedict Castle started in 1922 and took about 9 years to finish. It is estimated that the total cost for building the castle was about $300,000. Which back then was an amazing sum of money (about the same as $4 million of today’s dollars). The construction was under the order of Charles Williston Benedict. A native of Riverside he left Riverside just after graduating high school and came back a rich man. Not much is known how exactly he made his riches, but it is known that he operated a firm called the Brockmeyer Economic Service which principal activities included stocks and bonds.*

A view of a side tower.

A view of a side tower.

The name today of the castle is the Benedict Castle but Charles Benedict named the build the “Castillo Isabella”. He was looking for a castle like residence he had seen in Europe and wanted to keep in harmony with the Mission Revival theme common with the rest of Riverside. To do that he hired architect Henry Jeckel. Mr. Jeckel was known for building the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles and which his Spanish-Moorish influences was a fitting pick for chief architect.

Despite the expense in construction the house fell on hard times and in 1949 was auctioned for a final bid price of $52,000. The buyers were Tom Perrin and Francis McDowell who retired Riverside residents who resold the land for the use of the Catholic faith. The Catholic church used the building to train priests for the Servite Catholic Order and was named the Seminary of Our Lady of Riverside.* Today the building is owned by an organization named Teen Challenge and is used to house men who are going through substance abuse rehabilitation. The organization also rents the grounds for wedding receptions.

The castle grounds are big. The main house is over 10,000 square feet.

The castle grounds are big. The main house is over 10,000 square feet.

The crest of Teen Challenge.

The crest of Teen Challenge.

In the courtyard you can see some ruminants of it's days as a Catholic seminary.

In the courtyard you can see some ruminants of it’s days as a Catholic seminary.

A fountain in the courtyard.

A fountain in the courtyard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the praise service there was a lot of singing.

In the praise service there was a lot of singing.

Going to a worship service in a big tent was different for us.

Going to a worship service in a big tent was different for us.

When we went we were invited to a praise service hosted by Teen Challenge. While there we got to hear from Laura Johnson who spoke about her missionary service in different parts of the world. It was kind of different from the worship ceremonies I was used to because of the different music and that it was in a tent. It is always good however to celebrate God and the work that they do at the center is very much needed in the community.
*Patterson, T (1964). Landmarks of Riverside and the Stories Behind Them. Riverside, CA: Press Enterprise.

Belizean Food

belfoodbelezanDespite the low GDP in Belize the food in the country is very rich and diverse.

When we were in Belize we had the privilege of trying food in a variety of settings…

Some places were very fancy like the Marriott Hotel in Belize City:

Some places like the bus stop were not really eating places, but no matter where you go there was always food in Belize:

At this meal Denise tries to learn how to make a tortilla.

At this meal Denise tries to learn how to make a tortilla.

My (John) favorite places were when we got to eat with the people at their homes. This is where you really see what people are eating:

The first thing you notice coming off the plane is that there are no chain fast food restaurants in Belize. There is really no need for them in Belize for mainly two reasons: One, regular Belizean food is so cheap they would never be able to compete on prices; and two, Belizeans don’t really like to eat their food quickly. The majority of the restaurants we saw had outdoor eating areas where the people would sit and watch the people go by, it was kind of like watching a parade but no one really was headed in any particular destination and no one ever marched to the same beat.

To list all of the food we had in Belize would be impossible but I did want to at least try to give a top ten:

10: Stew with beans and rice. Cost: $8 BLZ ($4 USD). This is a classic food in Belize. Typically it also includes potato salad, but one place called Eva’s served it with mashed potatoes that were so good that one time I just ordered mashed potatoes.

The classic: stew with beans and rice.

The classic: stew with beans and rice.

9. Chinese food plate. Cost: $9 BLZ ($4.50 USD). Surprisingly Asians own a lot of the restaurants and stores in Belize. The result of which is that you can get some really good fried rice in Belize, but for some reason you also get french fries included with your Chinese meals.

Chinese food was good, still don't understand why it had french fries.

Chinese food was good, still don’t understand why it had french fries.

8. Belizean Ice Cream. Cost $2 BLZ ($1 USD). With all the fresh fruit and chocolate in Belize it is no surprise that the ice cream in Belize is really good. There is no Baskin Robbins in Belize but if there were I think they would have to change their slogan to “365” because there were no end to the different types of variations we saw. The strangest one had to be the spicy tart ice cream. Ice cream should not be spicy.

AJ enjoying strawberry ice cream.

AJ enjoying strawberry ice cream.

AJ with caramel ice cream.

AJ with caramel ice cream.

7. Lemon Tarts. Cost $1 BLZ ($1 USD). Small convenient and sold at every bus stop. Guaranteed to make you feel like you were instantly transported to an island.

A ham and cheese Johnny cake and a lemon tart.

A ham and cheese Johnny cake and a lemon tart.

6. Johnny Cakes. Cost $2.25 BLZ ($1.125 USD). These hearty creations were originally made for sailors sailing across the Atlantic. Once hardened Johnny Cakes can last up to 6 months, which is plenty of time for a pirate to attack and loot quite a few Spanish ships.

5. Fry Jacks. Cost $5 BLZ ($2.50 USD). Fried dough, how can you go wrong? You can’t. They look and taste just like mini Indian fry breads and are great for a hearty breakfast right before a day exploring ancient ruins.

Eggs, fry jacks, and sausage made for a very hearty breakfast.

Eggs, fry jacks, and sausage made for a very hearty breakfast.

4. Conch Ceviche. Cost $10 BLZ ($5 USD). I had heard of this dish from before I had even set foot in Belize. Conch are mostly known in the USA as those shells that Hawaiians are always making into horns, but apparently the snail that lives inside them are edible. In Belize they pull out the snail, pulverize it with a hammer, chop it up with onions and tomatoes, and then serve it with lemon juice and chips. It reminded me a lot like coctel de pulpo (octopus cocktail).

Conche Ceviche.

Conche Ceviche.

3. Coconut Tarts. Cost $1 BLZ ($1 USD). Lemon tarts are good, but coconut tarts are just one notch above. Eat one of those and not only do you feel like your on an island, but you just became a poor rich man on an island.

It really is as good as it looks and no, I can't wait to take a picture.

It really is as good as it looks and no, I can’t wait to take a picture.

2. The lobster roll. Cost $2 BLZ ($1 USD). I couldn’t believe it when I saw them in the bus station. Someone was actually going to give me a fried lobster roll for $2 BLZ. I quickly bought all 5 that they had and to my surprise they had 5 more when we came back several hours later, which I also bought!

How can lobster be this cheap?

How can lobster be this cheap?

1. Chocolate bars. Cost varied. Hello! This is why we came to Belize and it did not disappoint. Any empty space I had in my (John’s) backpack on the way back was dedicated to the loading of as much chocolate I could get my hands on. It is eventually going to run out, but in the meantime I (John) plan on having a good time.

How can you ever go wrong with chocolate?

How can you ever go wrong with chocolate?

A few other honorable mentions would also have to include freshly squeezed juice, chocolate cookies (what we would call brownies), pepper jack steak, and coconut sauce fish.

In the front is pepper steak, then fresh watermelon juice, and in the back is coconut sauce fish.

In the front is pepper steak, then fresh watermelon juice, and in the back is coconut sauce fish.

AJ eating some stew on a bus bench in Belize City.

AJ eating some stew on a bus bench in Belize City.

The Marriott had a very fancy restaurant but we didn't feel like paying $40 BLZ ($20 USD) for the buffet lunch.

The Marriott had a very fancy restaurant but we didn’t feel like paying $40 BLZ ($20 USD) for the buffet lunch.

On my morning walks it was hard not to buy a lot of pastries.

On my morning walks it was hard not to buy a lot of pastries.

Eva's was one of our favorite hangout places because it had free wifi and was centrally located.

Eva’s was one of our favorite hangout places because it had free wifi and was centrally located.

They called this a cookie.

They called this a cookie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eventually we did go home and we had to leave all that great Belizean food behind. In the mean time we will always have the memories and if we are really lucky we might even find a good Belizean restaurant one day.

You think we would have been more creative for our first meal back.

You think we would have been more creative for our first meal back.

Riverside Metropolitan Museum (RMM): City of Riverside Landmark #11

Location: 3580 Mission Inn Ave.
Date Established: 1912
Date Visited: 10/21/2014

The Riverside Metropolitan Museum has been used for many things over the years.

The Riverside Metropolitan Museum has been used for many things over the years.

The building that currently houses the Riverside Metropolitan Museum also known as the RMM has had various reincarnations. The building started it’s life in 1912 as a Federal Post Office. At the start of World War II it was taken over by the war department and in 1943 housed soldiers on temporary leave in Riverside. In 1945 the City of Riverside bought the building and used it to house the Police Department and the City Museum was housed in the basement. In 1965 the Riverside Police Department got it’s own building at 4102 Orange St. and the after a brief restoration the City Museum completely took over the space in December of 1966.

 

 

 

The RMM is City Landmark #11 and listed on the National Landmark registry.

The RMM is City Landmark #11 and listed on the National Landmark registry.

If you look up at the museum façade you can see some emblems of it's early post office days.

If you look up at the museum façade you can see some emblems of it’s early post office days.

This design drawing shows the opening of the new Riverside Police Station in 1965. (Courtesy Ruhnau Ruhnau Clarke)

This design drawing shows the opening of the new Riverside Police Station in 1965. (Courtesy Ruhnau Ruhnau Clarke)

This picture shows the museum circa 1961 when it was still being used as a police station (courtesy City of Riverside Library)

This picture shows the museum circa 1961 when it was still being used as a police station (courtesy City of Riverside Library)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some decorated Native American artifacts.

Some decorated Native American artifacts.

The Riverside Municipal Museum, now known as the Riverside Metropolitan Museum (RMM). Started on December 12, 1924, when the widow of National Biscuit Company (NABISCO) magnate Mrs. Cornelius Earle Rumsey donated her husband’s collection of Native American artifacts to the city. In the beginning the museum was housed in the basement of the old city hall building and was really more of an archive that guarded prominent artifacts donated by various citizens. It wasn’t until the mid 60’s and early 70’s by the efforts of people such as world famous naturalist, and Riverside resident, Edmund C. Jaeger, that the museum would start to grow and expand into a traditional museum with both permanent and rotating displays.

Today the RMM is a very prominent organization within the City of Riverside. It also has associations with national museum organizations including the Smithsonian. Besides the downtown location the RMM also owns the Harada House and the Heritage House. The permanent collections of the museum include it’s original Native American artifact collection, some city artifacts, and various stuffed animals. When I went to the museum there was a display regarding the Cahuilla Indians and a display upstairs regarding John Muir and his visit to Riverside.

Denise and AJ in front of the Temperance Water Fountain.

Denise and AJ in front of the Temperance Water Fountain.

At the bottom of the fountain it is interesting to note the "doggy bowls".

At the bottom of the fountain it is interesting to note the “doggy bowls”.

The Temperance Water Fountain was donated to the City of Riverside in 1907 by the Women Temperance Society in an effort to promote clean water. The drinking fountain part has been removed, but if you look close you can still see where the pipes were and at the bottom there are "doggy bowls".

The Temperance Water Fountain was donated to the City of Riverside in 1907 by the Women Temperance Society in an effort to promote clean water.

A picture of the fountain when it was still a fountain. (Courtesy Riverside Museum)

A picture of the fountain when it was still a fountain. (Courtesy Riverside Museum)

John Tortes Meyers was a Cahuilla Indian and a Riverside native who played in the major leagues from 1908-1917.

John Tortes Meyers was a Cahuilla Indian and a Riverside native who played in the major leagues from 1908-1917.

AJ and a friend imitate the Cougar roar.

AJ and a friend imitate the Cougar roar.

An early bicycle from the "City of Riverside in 50 artifacts" display.

An early bicycle from the “City of Riverside in 50 artifacts” display.

This 1915 portrait of the Riverside Police Department features Chief Kirk, his daughter, and the rest of the department.

This 1915 portrait of the Riverside Police Department features Chief Kirk, his daughter, and the rest of the department.

In 1887 Hall's railway weaved through 10th, Main, and Date street.

In 1887 Hall’s railway weaved through 10th, Main, and Date street.

John Muir visited Riverside in the late 1800s and spoke about his many travels.

John Muir visited Riverside in the late 1800s and spoke about his many travels.

A crocodile skeleton from the John Muir exhibit.

A crocodile skeleton from the John Muir exhibit.

A walrus head and artifacts from one of John Muir's Alaskan trips.

A walrus head and artifacts from one of John Muir’s Alaskan trips.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have some time I would encourage you to go. The museum is open most days 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and admission is a suggested $2, but not required.

Nim Li Punit “The Big Hat” Place

It was from this stella that Lim Li Punit got it's name.

It was from this stella that Lim Li Punit got it’s name.

Nim Li Punit  is Mayan for “Big Hat” which it got from one of the stellas at the site that has a ruler with a very large head piece. If I were to name the site I would have named it Monument Hill. It certainly had a lot of them. Almost every few feet you walked you could see the base stone for a stella. Walking through the site there were clearly three main areas. One area appeared to be a ceremonial plaza, the second a ball court, and the third a royal burial ground.

 

This stella talks about a king that took over after a big fire in 746AD.

This stella talks about a king that took over after a big fire in 746AD.

Some of the tools used by the people of Lim Li Punit.

Some of the tools used by the people of Lim Li Punit.

I found this old man charm kind of interesting.

I found this old man charm kind of interesting.

This was the largest of the stellas found in Lim Li Punit.

This was the largest of the stellas found in Lim Li Punit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nim Li Punit was recently discovered in 1976 by a archeologist named Norman Hammond. He was from the British Cambridge University Museum. There were excavations in the 80’s and the 90’s but the site today is mostly untouched. This is evident in the many rocks that are strewn about the area. The site is located in Southern Belize in the Toledo District. The Toledo District is known for its thick jungles and heavy rainfall. To get to the site you had to drive a half a mile from the main highway. It wasn’t too bad, but like most hill roads in Belize it was very bumpy. When we were there we were mostly by ourselves. The only people we saw were grounds workers who were using some of the old stones to make walkways.

The steps to the main plaza were kind of steep.

The steps to the main plaza were kind of steep.

AJ used the hop method to get himself up the plaza steps.

AJ used the hop method to get himself up the plaza steps.

Most of the area still looks unexcavated.

Most of the area still looks unexcavated.

Workers were piecing together the old stones to make new walkways.

Workers were piecing together the old stones to make new walkways.

John overlooking the plaza and ball court.

John overlooking the plaza and ball court.

AJ trying to find meaning in a stella.

AJ trying to find meaning in a stella.

A view walking up to the royal tomb plaza.

A view walking up to the royal tomb plaza.

an open royal tomb.

an open royal tomb.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A little hut protects the stella of a royal tomb.

A little hut protects the stella of a royal tomb.

Reading what I could on the stellas it looks like Lim Li Punit was kind of a coronation ceremony place. A lot of them certainly took place there. It looks like the city had it’s heyday between the 5th and the 8th century. In the 8th century it isn’t clear what happened but looking at the stella it appears that there might of been a bit of turmoil going on because the leaders changed a lot. Whereas in a 5th century stella you would have one stella dedicated to one king, in the 8th multiple rulers would use the same stone to mark their coronations.

 

 

AJ on the start game mark of the ball court.

AJ on the start game mark of the ball court.

To get up to Lim Li Punit you have to go up a half a mile up a rocky road.

To get up to Lim Li Punit you have to go up a half a mile up a rocky road.

You don't see many tapir warnings in the USA.

You don’t see many tapir warnings in the USA.

The view from the royal tomb area was spectacular. If you gotta go, this is the view you want to have for eternity.

The view from the royal tomb area was spectacular. If you gotta go, this is the view you want to have for eternity.

 

Museum of Belize, Belize City, Belize

musmussignOne of our main objectives while we were in Belize was to visit the Caracol ruins. The Caracol ruins is the largest archeological site in Belize. It has been know for few decades now, but it is still an active dig site. New things are being discovered there all the time. The site itself is pretty remote so I rented an SUV to get out there. The road however was a lot longer than I estimated it to be, not to mention it was very rugged, so I sadly had to turn back. As soon as I got back I booked a trip with a professional outfitting group and again was excited to go, but the morning I was scheduled to go I read this:

Because of the shooting Caracol was declared closed for at least a week.

Because of the shooting Caracol was declared closed for at least a week.

Well, that ended that idea. We thought hard on things to do and ultimately decided to go to Belize City. When we told the outfitting group that we were going to Belize City they kind of laughed at us. They said there was nothing interesting in Belize City. They said that tourists only land in Belize City and that they leave because it is boring. We went to Belize City despite the warnings, and found many things to do.

The Museum of Belize and the Central Bank of Belize are on the same grounds.

The Museum of Belize and the Central Bank of Belize are on the same grounds.

The Central Bank of Belize.

The Central Bank of Belize.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maybe, history is not the image Belize wants to convey to tourists. Or perhaps Belize wants to keep their rich heritage all to themselves, but we found A LOT of things to do in Belize City. So many things in fact that it is going to take several blog posts I think to cover it all.

This blog post however is going to cover the Museum of Belize. Which was actually the last thing we did in Belize, but if I was just arriving in Belize I would probably make this my first thing to do because it gives a really good overview of almost everything Belize has to offer.

The door locks to the museum are really thick.

The door locks to the museum are really thick.

The Museum of Belize is housed in the old prison house which is on the same grounds of the Central Bank of Museum. The museum is in walking distance of the Tourist Village, but definitely outside of the normal area you would probably see a tourist. Whereas most touristy things to do are to the left of the big cruise terminal, the Museum of Belize is the right of the terminal.

As stated before the Museum of Belize used to be the national prison. As such the walls to the museum are really thick and the gate to get into the museum is a heavy metal gate. Luckily, there was staff by the door or we would not have figured out how to get into the museum. Inside the museum it is divided into many different sections. It was a brief visit for us but we did at least walk through each section.

This shows what an old prison room looked like. Very small and not very hospitable looking.

This shows what an old prison room looked like. Very small and not very hospitable looking.

The old section locks are still in place.

The old section locks are still in place.

musprisondoors

The front door of the Museum of Belize.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trains did not last very long in Belize because they took a lot to maintain.

Trains did not last very long in Belize because they took a lot to maintain.

The first section we went to was dedicated to the money and transportation of Belize. Belize today is an interesting country in that there are only 4 paved highways crossing the country. In days past many different ways were tried to deliver goods and people throughout the country.

The currency of Belize as probably as equally as interesting. Belize is a independent commonwealth of the British Empire. However, when the country first was settled the only money they had were Spanish coins and not that many. In order to facilitate trade with the small amount of currency they had they would take the Spanish Reales (silver coins) and cut them in 8 pieces which they called bits. Two bits were equal to about 25 pence and now you know why the song says “a shave and a haircut, two bits.”

A display on how the Real was cut into 8 pieces.

A display on how the Real was cut into 8 pieces.

Different Belizean currency.

Different Belizean currency.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Money today in Belize is printed at the Central Bank and on the front shows Queen Elizabeth II who is the sovereign Queen of Belize, but on the back the money shows historical scenes of Belize. Changing money is easy for Americans because the money is tied to the U.S. dollar at a two for one rate.

A map of the Mayan World.

A map of the Mayan World.

The second part of museum is the Mayan section. This is by far the crown jewel of all of Belize. I saw a lot of pottery at the various archeological sites, some stellas, and only tiny pieces of jade. Until, I went to the Mayan exhibit at the Museum of Belize. I found out that the Central Bank of Belize is the holder of all the Mayan jade discovered in Belize. I also discovered that they have a lot of it! After seeing that much jade I was beginning to thing that maybe the warnings not to go to Belize were some kind of passive aggressive way of protecting their jade. Jade to the Mayans was more precious than gold. It was the ultimate treasure and only royalty was allowed to keep it.

Yax is the symbol for green.

Yax is the symbol for green.

A full Mayan jade necklace.

A full Mayan jade necklace.

This death mask idol was used to protect a burial site. The red bark covering it is poisonous to the touch.

This death mask idol was used to protect a burial site. The red bark covering it is poisonous to the touch.

The jade head buried with this Mayan royal in Toledo was the largest piece of jade discovered in Belize.

The jade head buried with this Mayan royal in Toledo was the largest piece of jade discovered in Belize.

The presicion to cut these pendants is amazing.

The presicion to cut these pendants is amazing.

These jade pieces are Olmec and probably the oldest pieces of jade carved in Belize.

These jade pieces are Olmec and probably the oldest pieces of jade carved in Belize.

I never saw this much jade in Toledo.

I never saw this much jade in Toledo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A pumpkin shaped offering pot.

A pumpkin shaped offering pot.

Vases like this were used to serve a variety of Mayan drinks.

Vases like this were used to serve a variety of Mayan drinks.

An old man shaped out of pottery.

An old man shaped out of pottery.

A flat offering pot.

A flat offering pot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A beautiful multi-colored clay pot.

A beautiful multi-colored clay pot.

The Mayan alphabet.

The Mayan alphabet.

An image of Lord Cacao.

An image of Lord Cacao.

A Mayan Chocolate Farmer.

A Mayan Chocolate Farmer.

A Mayan scimitar and axe head.

A Mayan scimitar and axe head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The third part of the museum was the historical room of Belize. It described Belize’s very twisted history. Belize was originally declared part of the Spanish empire by the Spanish, but after failing to discover any gold they quickly left. English pirates started to settle the area in the late 16th century. Fearing a new English empire the Spanish formed an armada to wipe out what they described as a “infestation of pirates.” The Spanish lost and a colony was born. A land of constant turmoil their have been many events in Belizean history. The museum doesn’t have many artifacts but it does a good job of describing the main players and events through some interesting posters.

A painting depicting the English arrival in Belize.

A painting depicting the English arrival in Belize.

Julian Cho was a Mopan Maya from southern Belize who struggled for Matyan justice in Belize.

Julian Cho was a Mopan Maya from southern Belize who struggled for Matyan justice in Belize.

A sample memorial altar.

A sample memorial altar.

The caste war was a rebellion by the Mayan to take back their land (they lost).

The caste war was a rebellion by the Mayan to take back their land (they lost).

Chicle (gum) was an early Belizean export.

Chicle (gum) was an early Belizean export.

Slaves helped defend the English when the Spanish invaded.

Slaves helped defend the English when the Spanish invaded.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
The last section was the bug room. There is no way to get around it, Belize has a lot of bugs. There are literally thousands of different species of bugs in Belize. Of all shapes and sizes we saw several cases of different bugs and butterflies. AJ got kind of excited because they had magnifying glasses and he got to use them to examine the many different bugs on display.

Belize has many different beautiful butterflies.

Belize has many different beautiful butterflies.

AJ examining the bugs.

AJ examining the bugs.

The harlequin bug is a really big bug.

The harlequin bug is a really big bug.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is my idea of a Mayan treasure hunt.

This is my idea of a Mayan treasure hunt.

Overall, the museum was a blast. We also had fun in the museum gift shop getting rid of the last of our Belizean currency. We bought lots of chocolate and a Belizean cook book. I don’t know how soon we will get back, but I figure if I need to I can at least cook up a little bit to remember my adventures.

Cahal Pech, San Ignacio, Belize

Cahal Pech is probably one of the easiest accessible archeological zones near San Ignacio (because it is within San Ignacio), however, without a common measurement distance is very hard to measure. I could have taken a quick taxi ride for about $5 BLZ ($2.50 USD), but I like to find things on my own so I decided to walk. Looking at a simple map the archeological site of Cahal Pech was very close. Only about 3/4 of a mile away from the church. Since there are hardly no street signs in San Ignacio Belize my directions were as follows: “From the church go to the highway and make a right. Look for the stadium and pass it, continue by following the signs.”

First part was easy. I already knew where the church was (click on photos to expand):

calchurch

I think the LDS church was the second largest church in San Ignacio.

Luckily the highway was not far away. The thing is highways in Belize are not like highways in the USA. Where I come from we have big freeway systems with multiple yellow striped lanes. In Belize the highway is a paved road that if your lucky can fit two cars going in opposite directions. The good news is it is very easy to find a highway in Belize because there are only four of them in the whole country.

The next thing was the stadium, but again the stadium was like the highway in that I think the term gets lost in translation in Belize. But I found it, and sure enough just around the corner was a sign that pointed the way to the archeological zone.

The "stadium" had lots of ads on it about HIV and chagas (little tick disease).

The “stadium” had lots of ads on it about HIV and chagas (little tick disease).

Along the way to Cahal Pech there are these signs guiding the way.

Along the way to Cahal Pech there are these signs guiding the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then this was my site for about a half a mile:

The road up to Cahal Pech was very rocky and steep.

The road up to Cahal Pech was very rocky and steep.

Not much of a view going forward, but the view going back was awesome:

You can see very far from the top of Cahal Pech

You can see very far from the top of Cahal Pech

The grounds of Cahal Pech are beautifully maintained, which was kind of a mystery to me because besides myself I only saw two other people. One maintenance man and a security guard.

Main entrance and museum. Admission to the site is $10 BLZ ($5 USD).

Main entrance and museum. Admission to the site is $10 BLZ ($5 USD).

A map of the site.

A map of the site.

Lot of pottery, but also a lot of empty shelves.

Lot of pottery, but also a lot of empty shelves.

The first thing I did at Cahal Pech was to visit their museum. The museum was kind of small and had a lot of empty shelves. I would later come to find out that there used to be a lot more things to look at in the museum but that Cahal Pech has had unfortunately a bad history of looters. Some locals told me that there used to be a jade mask in the museum, but that one day an unknown looter shot the guard and stole it. Very sad.

 

 

An interesting incense burner.

An interesting incense burner.

A happy looking pot.

A happy looking pot.

This chart showed how Cahal Pech was developed over 1000s of years.

This chart showed how Cahal Pech was developed over 1000s of years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

View of the main plaza.

View of the main plaza.

The name Cahal Pech means “Place of Ticks” (probably has something to do with the ads at the stadium). That was the name given to the site by archeologists from Pennsylvania in the 1950s. Somehow I doubt the Mayan named their palatial hilltop city after a bug infestation. Archeological evidence shows the site being inhabited as early as 1500 BC. One can only guess what was going on in this city a thousands of years ago, but looking at the location and ball court I am guessing that at one time Cahal Pech was a major trading post. From it’s hilltop location one can easily see the Macal and Mopan rivers. Anyone controlling that city could have controlled the trade for almost endless miles.

When I was there I had the pleasure of exploring the ruins all to myself. There were no barriers at all at the site. I was free to explore as much as I wanted to and I did. The site is very multi leveled. Like most Mayan sites there was amble evidence that the city had been rebuilt every 52 years. I saw rooms that appeared to be living quarters and others that appeared to be offering rooms. I also saw some rooms that appeared to be storage rooms (very dark and popular with the bats). I suppose if I wanted to do it the touristy way I could have driven up there. There is ample parking, but the hike wasn’t really that bad and it kind of gave me a more explorer feel to the place.

View of the main plaza.

View of the main plaza.

You can see how the walls were plastered.

You can see how the walls were plastered.

A tree grows in a smaller residential plaza.

A tree grows in a smaller residential plaza.

Looking at the cracks you can see that there are more buildings underneath the existing ones.

Looking at the cracks you can see that there are more buildings underneath the existing ones.

The hallways are shaped in a arch so that the ruler could come out with his headdress on and not rumple the feathers.

The hallways are shaped in a arch so that the ruler could come out with his headdress on and not rumple the feathers.

The drainage system still works.

The drainage system still works.

This looked to me like a bedroom of some sort.

This looked to me like a bedroom of some sort.

A plaza overlooking an offering room.

A plaza overlooking an offering room.

Inside an offering room.

Inside an offering room.

This picture shows the many layers of building at Cahal Pech.

This picture shows the many layers of building at Cahal Pech.

The stairs were very small and I had to walk sideways everywhere.

The stairs were very small and I had to walk sideways everywhere.

In one of the storage rooms. It was very dark, wasn't surprised to see bats.

In one of the storage rooms. It was very dark, wasn’t surprised to see bats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A video of me exploring a bit: