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Our First Worldschooling Journey, South of the USA Border & How You Can Get Started On Your Path

Updated: Jun 21

HERE'S HOW YOU CAN DO IT, TOO!!!! On Facebook forums, such as Homeschooling Unschooling Roadschooling Worldschooling; Worldschoolers; and We Are Worldschoolers, I often read people sharing, "We are ready to jump into life on the road & in our world, but how do we know where to go?" At the beginning of spring 2019, when Papa Burt and I both came to the same conclusion, that it was time for Cee and I to jump ship and head out on our worldschooling journey, my mind immediately lunged into the fantasies of all the places we could go. Bali was at the top of my list but southeast Asia seemed a world away. My mind then began scrolling through all the magnificent places on our planet that we could go to and then overwhelm set in.

How could I ever narrow down a starting point? I came to my center by breathing deeply and allowing my mind to relax. I then became curious: What places had I really been envisioning our family traveling to? That's when I remembered that Mexico's Mayan Riviera had been swirling in my mind's eye as a destination that I wanted to discover with our family over the previous few years. I jumped online, searched for some groups on Facebook, and, voila!, I found the above groups as well as the Anahata worldschooling village. (The above photo is from an evening spent with traditional Mayan dance performers at Anahata in July 2019, when the group adorned our worldschooling tribe with their body paint.) Papa Burt was nervous about jumping on board because he hadn't traveled the way I had, and he didn't speak Spanish. Anahata's informal programming and serene group location at what had once been a small hotel was a gentle beginning for our family's nervous system, which was already taxed by Papa Burt's cancer journey. He also shared a vulnerable post on his Facebook wall, expressing both his excitement and his fear, to which one of my "friends" (Joy) responded by offering us her apartment in southern Ecuador for the seven weeks when she would be back in the USA.

 (Here is Cee at the start of his incial [preschool] career at La Calandria in the Valley of Longevity, southern Ecuador.)

It's not rocket science, folks. When people offer us such gifts, it's wise to jump up and claim them. With two locations dialed in, I got to work on creating the pathway we would travel between them. Joy also shared with me information about the international private school located in southern Ecuador's Sacred Valley, just five hours from the Peruvian border. We wanted Cee to learn the language and one of the best ways to do that is through full immersion. Within days, we had school, a route and accommodations lined up.

To supplement our income (Papa Burt was a computer programmer so traveling was relatively easy for us given his profession,) I became an online english language teacher offering 1-on-1 video call classes to children in China. To be successful at it, I had to work wonky late night and early morning hours. But as a early riser, this worked for me, especially once I had established myself and had weekly students whose hours worked with mine. Cambly, Skooli, and Outschool offer tutoring/teaching opportunities. You can also find more at Teachaway.

Here's a view of my office on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. I had been hearing about this magical location and so I was sure to make sure we wound our way through it. Again, I added myself to groups on Facebook that serve this region, such as Lake Atitlan Guatemala Travel,Lake Atitlan Rentals, San Marcos Atitlan Community Uncensored and more. It was the Mayan culture and region that had been beckoning me to it and all I could do was listen.

For further assurance that we were on "our" path, we would meet people along the way who would say, "You're going to... Lago Atitlan?" And then, after we arrived at our hostel via a winding ride on a tuk tuk (a three-wheeled vehicle that has a covered, passenger compartment on the back of it) underneath a torrential downpour, the owner said, "You're going to Vilcabamba, Ecuador?! You have to meet my best friend there..."

When it comes to traveling, for me, one of my most important values is CONNECTION. As the clarity of our path reveals itself, I reach out to the people I know - even if they are only 'acquaintances' - to see if we can meetup in person. This way, I get to know the region and area from their perspective. I might even meet some of their friends and neighbors. A win-win all around.

Some of our first worldschooling journey highlights included:

  • Swimming with whale sharks in the Carribbean Sea, and smelling the salt air and the breeze in our hair while taking the ferry across to La Isla de Mujeres:

  • Being tourists with the other worldschooling families, to places like: the ancient Mayan pyramids at Chichen Itza, which included a light and laser show cast onto the main temple one night; escaping the sweltering heat by cooling off in a handful of the thousands of cenotes (sink holes filled with fresh, clear water) that dot the Yucatan peninsula; visiting our neighbors homes to learn about making traditional pozole (a fermented cacao drink that predates the arrival of Columbus) and Mayan embroidery of the hipil and fustan (a knee-length, shift-type dress and the half-slip worn underneath it);

  • Making lasting connections and feeling a part of the global network that is Worldschooling;

  • Visiting and staying with a peer from my dance community in San Diego who had been raising her half Mexican children in Merida, and engaging in a contact improvisation dance at one of her friend's black box theatre;

  • Busing our way across Quintana Roo and then riding in a sail boat and frolicking in the 'Lagoon of Seven Colors' in Bacalar, Mexico;

  • Crossing the border over land from Mexico into Belize, where we hopped on the ferry from the Belize City to drive a gold cart across Caye Culker island and be served food and drinks underneath a palapa and at a table in the Carribbean Sea;

  • When Papa Burt was struck with a scary sinus infection, a family from Australia - Mama Shelley and her two boys, who we had met at Anahata - joined us in Belize and traveled with us, crossing the land border into Guatemala;

  • Catching the sun rise over the main temple at Tikal with Mama Shelley and her boys;

  • Seeing Howler Monkeys in the wild; Cee holding a tarantula in his hands with full confidence; staying on the small island of Peten before visiting Antigua, Guatemala where Cee had to see a local doctor to treat his first ever ear infection; and then riding the lanchas (water taxis) back and forth across Lago Atitlan;

  • Visiting the permaculture farm of a peer from San Diego, Mama Carolina, who inherited a plot of land in the city center of Santiago Atitlan from her Guatemalan grandfather, and staying in the Earthen home that she and her husband designed and built by hand;

  • Catching the stars twinkling above the volcanoes that dot Lago Atitlan; hiking around the lago with a yoga teacher and guide, David, who we returned to visit and house sit his apartment in San Pedro in following years;

  • Cee and Papa Burt created a story line called "Otter Time" in which they told stories about the animals that lived under the lake as we hiked. Cee and I often came back to telling more "Otter Time" stories, and keeping Papa Burt alive, as we walked to school when we returned to Ecuador in 2021;

  • Landing in South America and exploring the pristine, cathedral-dotted city of Cuenca, Ecuador before taking a shuttle that wound its way through the meandering, emerald green valleys and towards our new "home" in Vilcabamba;

  • Cee beginning his first educational experience at La Calandria, a private international school, that occupied his time five hours a day - our first experience in being away from each other for so long!;

  • Our family being embraced by a vibrant community of international travelers, Ecuadorian people and immigrants from the USA, who have co-created a local network of organic growers and infuse the town with their regular Ecstatic Dance, hiking, writing, singing, and other meetups and groups;

  • Cee feeling extremely insecure - for the first time ever in his young life - about not speaking the local language or having any close friends to count on and then, just three months later, his finding his stride when we connected on a deeper level with Mama Deborah, Papa Sebas and their two boys;

  • Papa Burt's two, other children making their way to us in order to be with Burt on his death bed;

  • Papa Burt peacefully taking his final breaths at our casita by the river while surrounded by his family, roses and fruit trees.

Enjoy these brief slides that share just a glimpse of the miraculous memories that our little family was able to create together before Cee and I became a family of two. And, reach out if you have questions, need/want support for your journey!

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