Intrepid Travelers: The Pilgrims

Today, Americans throughout the United States will be stuffing themselves with turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese (a favorite at my childhood home), and pies of all sorts. Why do we do that? To remember the intrepid travelers who almost didn’t make it. They had to do what travelers all over the world still do today. They needed the help of the locals.

Reason for Travel
The Pilgrims left England in 1608 bound for Holland to practice their faith the way they believed to be right. The problem was, Holland was too lenient. They needed somewhere to go where they believed they could make the rules. So in September 1620, they set out on the two-month journey to the New World!

Travel was a bit different in the 17th century. So how did they spend that two months? Cruising to the New World on the Mayflower, of course! Well, it wasn’t quite that glamorous. They started out on two boats, but one encountered troubles (the Speedwell) so everyone piled into the Mayflower. For 66 days the Pilgrims and crew remained at sea, many hurling their guts up, others succumbing to disease, and one man was swept overboard and drowned in the rough seas! On November 11 they found themselves 600 miles off course and landed on Cape Cod instead of the intended Virginia. Oops.

As you might imagine, late fall is not a good time to set up camp in Massachusetts. So they stayed on the docked Mayflower until she sailed back to England in April 1621. But don’t worry, it didn’t get too crowded. Only 53 passengers survived and only half the crew. When they left the ship and built their own homes, they enjoyed the coziness of a one-room, thatch-roofed house. And then they planted their crops to grow their own food–sorry, no top-notch restaurants around there.

The Locals
As you might imagine, the newbies needed a little help. And who better to ask than the local Wampanoag people, right? They’d made an agreement with the Wampanoag leader, Massasoit, not to do any harm to each other, so they gave friendship a go. That November the English folks and the native Wampanoag came together to celebrate the Pilgrims’ first year of survival in the New World.

Feel a little better about your traveling experiences now? Appreciate your Thanksgiving dinner a little more now, you know, since you likely bought the ingredients rather than grew or caught them yourself?

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