As a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), I have the opportunity to use my travels to not just tell great stories in my published outlets, but to give-back and use those journeys to teach children about geography. It’s called the Traveling Teddy program.
I have partnered with a husband and wife team (Beverlyn and Orvell Johns) in Columbus, Ohio who run the Institute of International Affairs and Diplomacy. Through my travel writing journeys and their curriculum, we will go into the classroom and give children reasons to care about the world around them.
Traveling Teddy, who still does not have an official name, simply could not wait to pack his bags and explore the world. So, over the holidays, he traveled with Beverlyn and Orvell Johns and their children to explore the Mayan Ruins in Mexico.
Here are excerpts from Traveling Teddy’s journal from Mexico:
Traveling Teddy is a little nervous to go on his inaugural trip, but he is super excited to leave the cold city of Columbus, Ohio. Next stop is Atlanta, Georgia where it is about 10 degrees warmer and South of Ohio.
Traveling Teddy made it safely to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport. The Airport has a Rotating Exhibits art program. Check out this amazing piece hung by Gate C-24!
Traveling Teddy made it safely to Mexico! Because Traveling Teddy has traveled from the United States of America to Mexico, he must go through customs.
Customs is an agency that secures the homeland by preventing illegal entry of people and goods. This is why Traveling Teddy needed his passport to show that he was legally traveling with his companions. He is excited to go through customs, get his passport checked, and pick up his bags.
As Traveling Teddy and his companions were heading out of the Airport, a kind gentleman approached them and tried to sell a timeshare. Although we said no to the timeshare, he was gracious enough to take a picture. His name was Juan and he’s from Indianapolis!
Traveling Teddy is super excited to travel to the City of Chichen-Itza! He cannot wait to get there. Along the journey we stopped at Kaua to do some shopping with the local Mayans. Then we headed to Bestest, Mexico for some authentic Mayan food at the Bar-Café Ku’Ku’ Ul-Ka’an Restaurant.
Traveling Teddy is learning a little more about the Mayan culture as we continue to head to Chichen-Itza. Teddy took a close look at the Mayan calendar. There are a total of 18 months with 20 days each per year in the calendar. This adds up to 360 days per year.
What happened to the last 5 days? August 5 – 10 are considered special days. If a child was born between these days, they were set-aside and taken care of by the high priest. At some point, they were sacrificed! These 5 days make up the last of the 365 days.
Traveling Teddy finally arrived at Chichen-Itza and met some members of the Institute of International Affairs and Diplomacy. Chichen-Itza was a large pre-Columbian city built by the Maya Civilization.
This city was a major focal point in the northern Maya lowlands from the Late Classic AD 600 through the Terminal Classic AD 900 and into the early portion of the Early Postclassic AD 1200. Behind us is the El Castillo Temple. El Castillo, which is also known as the Temple of Kukulkan , is a monumental representation of the Mayan Calendar.
There are 18 terraces on each side (symbolizing the number months per year) and four staircases, each with 91 steps with one final step to symbolize 365 days of the year.
Traveling Teddy has stepped over to the Chichen-Itza Ball Field and he is so excited to play- until he hears the story behind the ball field. Ball games were played throughout Mesoamerica in pre-Columbian times.
Each team tried to keep the ball in play by hitting it across the central line. From what we gathered, the games had ritual significance and were associated with warfare. Many players lost their lives through decapitation by the end of the games.
Once Traveling Teddy hears these stories, he politely asked to be placed in a safe spot because he did not want to lose his head or any other part of his body!
Once leaving Chichen-Itza we stop in the city of Yuchatan, Mexico and visit the Cenote Il Kil. The Cenote is open to the sky with the water about 85 ft below ground level. It is about 200 ft in diameter and about 130 ft deep.
You can see visitors at the bottom swimming and enjoying the warm water. Traveling Teddy was concerned about falling over the ledge and opted out of this picture.
Full of knowledge, Traveling Teddy was ready to come back and relax on the Caribbean Ocean and treated to a nice dinner on a yacht called the Sea Horse. Traveling Teddy was starved and ready to eat this delicious lobster prepared by our Chef and Captain.
During this trip, Traveling Teddy enjoyed the Mayan and Mexican cultures. He noticed their work ethic and servitude. The overall temperature was much different from Columbus, Ohio.
On average, the temperatures were 50 degrees higher! The families represented at the resort were from all over the world. However, he noticed many of the ones from the United States of America did not bring their children.
This made Traveling Teddy very sad as this was a great learning opportunity for him and he knows that other young people from America would learn so much if they had the opportunity to experience this beautiful country and other countries outside of the United States of America.
With his inaugural trip in the books, Traveling Teddy is anxious to pack his bags again to learn about another fascinating place in this world.