As they describe themselves on their website, soultravelers3 is a family of two parents and 6-year-old daughter from Santa Cruz, California, who embarked on “an epic odyssey: open-ended, years long slow trip around the world as a family adventure, unschool, spiritual journey and lifestyle” beginning in September, 2006. Frequent commenters on the My Wonderful World blog, I asked soultravelers3 to share details about ways travel contributes to the family’s geographic learning. Their response follows.
As we enter our third year of our open ended world tour, I can say
that our travel experiences have had an astonishing contribution to our family’s
geographic learning! Our main motivation behind this world tour was to educate
our child in the best way possible as a global citizen of the 21st century, and
the benefits from our travel have just been stunning and way beyond our very
We have the luxury to travel very slowly which allows us to
immerse deeply into the places and cultures where we stay. This will be our
third year wintering in a tiny 15th century white village in Andalusia, Spain, where my
daughter studies at the local school in her second language and where she takes
flamenco lessons from one of the local masters. We love experiencing the many
festivals, the food, the customs and traditions. It has a rich history during
both the 800 years in which Jews, Christians and Muslims lived together in
peace and also during the horrific reconquest. We live in a farming community
so we watch them grow food, listen to the goats and roosters and listen to the
beautiful Andalusian horses and donkeys clomp by on the cobble streets. We have
grown very fond of our village and its warm people. It will always hold a
special place in our hearts.
We travel for 7 months following the weather and have used every
mode of transportation from camels to trolley cars, although our main
transportation is a small RV which we park for long periods and walk or use
mass transit. We have been to 4 continents, 28 countries and traveled over
60,000 miles, mostly by land or water. Seeing so much of this wonderful earth
we live on, how can we not be thoroughly affected? We are constantly learning
and we always seem to meet fantastic people who are willing to share their
world with us.
A good example of a profound geographical learning for us was our
journey into Africa to visit Morocco and the Sahara desert. We met an open-hearted
city girl from Brazil who spoke 6 languages. She came to the Sahara
and ended up marrying a Berber Nomad whose family had lived in this mystical
place for generations. Our 6-year-old daughter rode in on a camel to those
bright orange Merzouga dunes of the Sahara to
give a violin concert to 60 Berber kids who lived there, without running water,
and who had never seen a violin. They were clapping and singing French songs to
her arrival and she was carrying a Santa Claus-sized sack full of healthy
snacks we brought to share afterwards. They shared no language in common, but
all of them shared the language of music, joyfulness and goodwill.
Watch a video of Mozart playing her violin for Berber children in Morroco.
They happily played in the Oasis afterwards and we as a family
took our own camel ride deep into the Sahara, where we slept over night in a Berber nomad tent. We ate the delicious local
food, learned about the customs, and absorbed the generosity of the people.
Later, we visited their home made of mud, and we were invited to watch how they
bake their bread in a traditional community oven. If you ask my child about the
geographical terms oasis or desert, she has a very deep experience of what this
means in the Sahara, the world’s largest
This type of theme of knowing a place and a people deeply has been
repeated over and over in our travels and has enriched us all immensely. How
could it not?
One of the ways we like to celebrate our wonderful world and the gift
of this world tour that we have given to ourselves (through lots of hard work,
sacrifice and planning) is to find ways to give back. We are proud to be
volunteer travelers for the award winning nonprofit “Reach the World” that matches special
travels with disadvantaged school kids. We had an awesome time meeting tons of
our great students in person recently in New York City in places like Harlem, the Bronx, Queens and the Lower East Side. It is exciting
to know that they are learning about geography right along with us as they
travel with us virtually!
We also volunteer with Teddy Bears Around The World, a project discussed
this blog, that involves teaching geography to kids around the world with
the use of traveling Teddy Bears. Mozart enjoys taking pictures of her Teddy
Bear “Peppa” in various locations as we roam the world and telling
other kids what she is seeing and experiencing.
Our travels have allowed us to experience our wonderful world in
deeper and more expansive ways. We never tire of learning more about geography
through our experiences and love celebrating what is right in our world!