Katie from Paradise Praises is sharing about taking an international field trip. This is a great post and she has included a printable 2-page planning guide at the end. Thanks, Katie!!
Looking for a great idea for teaching history? How about taking an international field trip. No, I’m not kidding! There are so many historically and culturally rich destinations in the world, why not? Look at Campeche, Mexico, for instance. Aside from it’s great climate, beautiful seaside atmosphere and delicious local cuisine, Campeche, Mexico was made a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage site in 1999. Known for it’s picturesque town center, local charm, historic forts (with museums) and proximity to local Mayan ruins, Campeche, while little known by North American tourists, is a hidden jewel for history buffs and the perfect destination for a history
family vacation field trip.
A great international field trip begins with a great historical destination.
Located in the tropical Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, This area is where the Spanish explorers first landed in the early 1500s. When visiting the fish market to pick out today’s lunch meat (caught locally this morning), we have visited a nearby well and historical marker stating that Francisco Hernandes de Córdoba and his men satisfied their thirst there in March of 1517. The locals are full of stories and legends about the explorers, their conquests, loves, failures, and discoveries.
Don’t overlook the benefits of religious history. Much can be learned from a location rich in religious landmarks: lots to see and lots of stories to tell.
Campeche churches are fascinating, both because of the structures themselves and because of their history. The Iglesia de San Francisco (St. Francis) is the oldest Catholic church on the continent and was built on the spot where the first Catholic mass on Mexican territory was officiated in 1517. It was also where Martin Cortes’ son was born and baptized. You can also visit other historic Campeche churches including the Iglesia de San Roman (St. Roman) famous for it’s black ebony statue of Christ, and La Parroquoia de la Purísima Concepción del Sagrario (Pure Conception of Sagrario Parish Church ) with it’s gold covered altar. Our favorite is the Cathedral de San Francisco (San Francisco Cathedral, pictured below). It faces the central park on the main square, was built over a period of 300 years, and is breathtaking at any time of day or night.
Discover how historical events impacted a certain local area. What happened that influenced the culture and made it what it is today?
In downtown Campeche, you can read a book in the public library (housed in what used to be the Governor’s mansion), enjoy local cuisine at a balcony restaurant, or shop for souvenirs, clothes, shoes and gifts. We are frequent passengers of the trolley tours that depart several times a day from the central park with friendly guides who are happy to explain various historic and modern landmarks. And don’t forget to see the local art exhibit near the Original Sea Gate, attend a free evening open air concert in the main square, or take in the evening light and sound show and tour of the Land Gate. The 3.5 kilometer Malecón (boardwalk) follows the coast for the length of the city. It is dotted with palms and boasts of walking and bike paths, family parks, and impromptu exercise classes and concerts. At the western end of the city you can buy tickets for a Pirate Cruise on the water with reenactments and regaling tales of pirate sieges on the old city. Everywhere there are evidences of the Campechano’s great pride in his history and the mixing of the old with the new.
You can learn a lot about history by taking time to study monuments.
Probably what we love the most about Campeche are the monuments and the forts. It seems that at every turn there is a monument or statue sharing some new nugget of historical insight into the lives and loves of Campeche. The walled city is also a great monument. The city originally had 6 fortified bastions in addition to the Sea and Land Gates. Each with it’s own name and story. The Spaniards and upper class families lived inside the walls, while the Mayans, farmers and servant families lived outside the walls. In addition, the San José and San Miguel Forts on hills on either side of the city served as additional protection from pirates who plagued the city during the second half of the 16th century.
Some of the greatest historical lessons can be learned from civilizations that lived, thrived, prospered, but are no more.
Driving about 30 minutes from Campeche, we visited the Edzná Mayan ruins. Edzná is said to have been inhabited from 400-1450AD by agriculturists known for their complex watering systems and grand buildings. If you want to drive further Uxmal is another gorgeous site between Campeche and Merida, Yucatan, and just beyond Merida is the famous Chinchen Itzá. All unique and all highly recommended!
Now it’s up to you to write the next page of your history and get the next stamp in your passport. Where will you go? What lessons from history will impact your life forever? Wondering how to start planning your international field trip? Here is a free printable planning guide to give you some tips.
Happy Travels! I mean, Enjoy your field trip!
Katie Hornor and her family have lived in Mexico for 5 years ministering through church planting, Bible training, bookstore ministry, and homeschool curriculum development. Katie loves exploring Campeche, homeschooling their 4 children, and snuggling with them in their Mayan hammock. She pursues her passions for encouraging others and promoting home education by blogging, writing, and speaking. She blogs (in English) at Paradise Praises and (in Spanish) at Educando en el Hogar.