Mission San Juan, December 30, 2017

Mission San Juan, December 30, 2017
Mission San Juan, December 30, 2017

Saturday, August 8, 2015

International Inspirations - Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015

Bob took the day off work Tuesday so I kidnapped him and made the most of the time we had together. Our theme for the day was "International Inspirations."

Not wanting to be burdened with the car, we took San Antonio's Via rapid transit from Travelers World RV Resort. Our first stop was breakfast at Madhatters Tea House and Cafe in the King William Historic District.

They have a pretty good menu. Bob had a spinach scramble (3 eggs, artichoke, spinach, tomato, parmesan) with breakfast potato hash. I had Huevos Madcheros (2 fried eggs atop breakfast potato hash, covered in warm mad salsa). Both of us enjoyed our meals, although the mad salsa was pretty hot. Whew! I think I had steam coming out of my ears.

From Madhatters, we walked about 1/2 mile to the University of Texas San Antonio Institute of Texan Cultures (ITC) in association with The Smithsonian Institution. We weren't quite sure what to expect, but with a university and the Smithsonian involved, it had to be good. We had no idea.

Upon walking up to the main entrance, we passed the H. B. Zachry Plaza which honors the  original settlers of Texas by flying period flags from when these cultures were introduced to the Lone Star state.

H. B. Zachry Plaza
Entrance to ITC
The ITC opened at 9 a.m. and we were there early. As soon as the doors opened, we went in. The docent told us they had school tours coming through and if we wanted to listen in we were welcome to. Lots and lots of kids of all ages were throughout the museum. In a stroke of genius, this museum has exhibits that kids can interact with.

Kids interacting in the Lipan Apache exhibit
According to the people who worked there, the best way to see the museum was to start with the American Indians and work our way clockwise around the perimeter of the exhibits. The exhibits were divided into the different cultural groups who settled in Texas. Those groups are:
  • English/Irish/Scottish
  • Danish/Norwegian/Swedish
  • African American
  • Jewish
  • Hungarian
  • Czech
  • German/Wendish
  • Italian/Swiss/Japanese/Chinese/Polish
  • Belgian/Dutch/Greek
  • French/Lebanese
  • Jacal
Plus the current exhibits (with the ITC descriptions in quotes):
  • Faces of Survival - a disturbing look at genocide from the Holocaust through Guatemala. This exhibit explores conditions that can lead to genocide at any time in any place. "'Faces of Survival' explains how hatred, intolerance and discrimination become pre-conditions for mass murder...there can be no victims without perpetrators and bystanders."
  • Los Tejanos - "Encounters between Spanish, Mexican and indigenous peoples created a mestizo - mixed - population commonly identified as Tejanos...The exhibit draws upon major themes in Tejano life - migration, making a living, struggles for inclusion, and cultural traditions."
  • Sikhs: Legacy of the Punjab - "Sikhs, a unique culture and religion, originate in the Punjab region of India, straddling the India-Pakistan border. Male Sikhs are easily recognized by their turbans and untrimmed beards...The exhibit features a collection of traditional Sikh art, information on the culture’s history and beliefs, artifacts such as ceremonial weapons and armor, and a model of the Golden Temple, one of the sacred sites of the Sikh religion."

    This is a very interesting and highly informative exhibit highlighting an area of the world and religion we don't hear about very often; and one a person might confuse with the fanaticism of other turban-wearing, bearded men such as ISIS or the Taliban. It taught us not to stereotype according to looks.
  • Texas Czechs - "Immigrants from around the world have settled in the Lone Star state, each contributing to its unique and dynamic culture. Now the sights and sounds of Czech culture, found throughout Texas on any given day, have inspired an educational exhibition, 'Texas Czechs: Rooted in Tradition.'"
Here are interesting pictures of what we saw:

Pine needle basket

There was a whole exhibit on smoking and tobacco. The explanation below is quite interesting. Social get togethers of smokers have been going on for a long, long time.

Why did Indians smoke pipes?
Pots from different cultures.

After finishing half the museum, we wanted to eat lunch. We walked through the waterfall court at the base of the Tower of the Americas, along the River Walk and chose to eat at Paesano's Italian Restaurant. Bob ordered Chicken Parmesan with an outstanding house salad. I had the Chicken Parmesan Salad which I loved!

After lunch we walked back along the River Walk and through the waterfall court again. We saw some adorable young ducks just waking up from their nap. Cuteness!

Inside Paesano's Italian Restaurant
We walked past some unusual art critters too.

Bob at waterfall court
 Then we were back at the museum.

How Frito-Lay came to be
Spinning demonstration
Tatting lace (almost a lost art?)
Making filet lace
Texas Czechs exhibit...

Traditional Kroj costumes
As we got into the history of Europeans coming to America in the 1800s and early 1900s, the impetus seemed to be cultural, economic, and religious discrimination at home. They were seeking a new life in America.

Explanation of how Wendish Easter eggs are made
Wendish Easter eggs - These are so beautiful.
Gin keg with cups from Holland
Walls full of information. This display is about
the Lebanese Pack Peddler (similar to a Fuller Brush Man)
About the Lebanese Pack Peddler
Needless to say, there are so many historic exhibits, you just have to see them for yourselves. We learned so much.

The "Faces of Survival" genocide exhibit was gut wrenching. Besides the horrors inflicted on those of inferior races or inferior intelligence during the Holocaust, there are exhibits about Cambodia, Armenia and Rwanda. Man's inhumanity to man is startling.

The exhibit on Sikhs of the Punjab gave an in-depth look at a culture we are not very familiar with. A video about the life of Sikhs explained that it is considered very bad manners to touch the head of a Sikh male or try to take off his turban. It is through cultural exhibits such as these that we learn what beliefs others hold and come to understand more about each other.

Photos from the Sikh exhibit...

Brief summary of Sikhism
Darbar Sahib - the Sikh Holy Space
Is this place gorgeous, or what?
Another view of Darbar Sahib
Brief history of Sikhs
 The Sikhs are considered mighty warriors.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780-1839)
Sikh wedding attire
Phulkari (see description in photo below) textile art

We finished the inside of the museum at 5 p.m. and headed out for dinner. Their Back 40 outdoor living history area will have to be seen another day.

We walked to Schilo's (pronounced She-lows) Delicatessen for dinner, passing by the Tower of the Americas on our way there.

For dinner, both of us chose sandwiches and I opted for split pea soup. We each got homemade rootbeer which, while tasty, did not stay carbonated very long.

Tower of the Americas
Waterfall court
Waterfall court
Schilo's Delicatessen

Interior of Schilo's Delicatessen
We rode the bus home. That was our international day in San Antonio. Travel Bug out.


  1. Wow super full day - loves the pine needle work (I've heard of but never seen) and the colorful critters were awesome but I really smiled when I saw the pysanky eggs - which I also do (although not that well).

    1. The pine needle work was just divine. There were three or four pieces of it in the display case.

      Pysanky eggs? Didn't know that's what they're called. Pretty cool that you know how to do that. They look like they need lots of time and patience to make. The designs are so intricate.


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