Monday, July 11, 2016

Plymouth: Rocking with the Pilgrims

In the past couple of months I have found myself submerged in American Civil War history. I knew journeying to Boston would take be back much farther in history, to the American Revolution. I had heard about a large living history museum from an Ella Sharp Museum staff member, that went back even farther, to the time of the Puritans landing at Plymouth Rock. I became very focused on going there. 

My day began with a walk to South Station where I got a bus to Plymouth, Mass. for $27 round trip. This bus was much nicer that the one I took to Salem, I was thankful for that. Buses on several lines left this busy terminal frequently so I only waited 10 minutes to depart after purchasing my ticket. The ride took a little bit longer that usual due to the holiday traffic, bound for Cape Cod. I wasn't going to make it there this trip, but many of my fellow bus riders were headed there themselves. I got dropped off in Plymouth at the exit 5 Park and Ride, and I wasn't exactly sure how I would be getting to my final destination. Luckily for me, another couple and their young son were dropped of as well and heading in my direction. I drafted off their kindness and navigation skills. We ended up taking a small bus to downtown Plymouth for just $1. Instead of getting off in downtown Plymouth, I remained on the bus as the friendly driver said Plimouth Plantation was a stop he would eventually make. After a lengthy stop and go ride, my whole reason for coming to Plymouth finally was upon me. I paid my $28 entry fee for Plimouth Plantation only, apposed to $36 to visit two other sites they manage. I knew I wouldn't have enough time to see them all. 

I'll address why I am spelling the word Plymouth in two different ways. When researching the lives of some of American's first European settlers, the town of Plymouth was most commonly spelled Plimouth, so founders of the museum decided to spell it the way of its original inhabitants. 

My journey began at the Wampanoag tribe village. It was a tiny village depicting life of the people who had inhabited this area for 12,000 years. Inside the few structures built were true native people who interpret the time period in first person. That means, that they speak as if they were people living in this time. This way, people can experience history in a three dimensional  kind of way. They know a ton about their topic and they aren't supposed to know anything past 1627. Their lifestyle seemed very beautiful. Their structures were built with wood and bark. I saw an amazing canoe that was nothing more than a hollowed out tree trunk. They wore beautiful clothing adorned with beads.

After leaving the Wampanoag, I traveled to the 1627 English Village. This is a settlement of some of the original passengers of the Mayflower voyage of 1620. It was fun interacting with the characters who speak in English accents and formal ways grammar which we have deviated from today. Each of them has a back story of people who lived this life. At first I struggled trying to think of questions to ask them. Though I was a bit out of my element as far as knowing historical knowledge to ask educated questions, I could tell there were some other visitors around me who knew their stuff. However, then I realized I didn't have to talk to them about historical events, names or dates in time. I could just talk to them like regular people and find out what their lives were really like.

I began talking to a young woman and asked her what the most difficult part about living in the new world was. She said she was missing the conveniences of their home in England like having a baker, a mill, and a laundry nearby. How, they have to do all these chores for themselves. The homes they live in now are very basic with dirt floors and stick roofs. She told me her home in England was nicer, with wood floors and a more comfortable bed. I asked her why she wanted to come to the new world and she replied that she didn't have a choice. Her step-father brought her with him because he was working for the settlement company. Another pull was because there were far  more women than men in England at the time, which meant that marrying off his step-daughter in England would be a tough task. There were far more prospects for marriage in the new settlement. 

I spent some time watching men having a shooting drill. From what I could observe, they had to pour gun powder down the barrel of the gun, pack it down, light it with the long fuse (a rope lit at the end), and fire one shot. All of this just to shoot one time. I know that by the American Civil War (over 230 years later) firearms were not a whole lot more advanced than that. These contraptions were very primitive to us now, but to the native people they became a demise. After their drill I spent some time doing some writing and taking in the sites. I even had a chicken friend come visit me who happened to be roaming around the village.

There was a lot more to do in Plymouth in addition to visiting Plimouth Plantation. You can see Plymouth Rock, the  Mayflower II, and take in downtown Plymouth. After I was through at the plantation I began making my way back to my bus to Boston. I was concerned I may miss the last ride out that day, so I played it safe. When I arrive back in Boston I collapsed on my bed for about an hour. I was compelled to explore a nearby Park, Back Bay Ferns, so I ended up jogging around it and ended with some yoga in the grass. It felt really nice after a long day. Though I took my phone to navigate, I still got lost in the park. I can get lost inside of a paper bag and you may insert any other get lost easily cliche phrases.  I was near Fenway Park and close enough to hear the roar of the Boston Red Sox play the Los Angeles Angels.

Travel details:
What: Plimouth Plantation
Where: 137 Warren Ave, Plymouth, MA
Cost: $28-$36 for an adult depending on how many locations you want to see
Why go: To experience first hand what life was like for settlers and native people in 1627.

What: Plymouth, Mass.
Cost: It cost me  $27 round trip on the Plymouth-Brockton bus line
Why go: If you want to see landmarks that showcase some of the first European settlers in this country.