Road Scholar Trip To St. Augustine Part 3

Day 3: Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

After breakfast, this day began with Dr. Ann Masters interpreting the voices and people of old St. Augustine by her poetry and her talk “Floridanos, Minorcans and Cattle Whip Crackers”. She described each group and how they lived lives in such close proximity that they knew each other and their ways. She revealed and then dispelled their cultural myths finishing with the cultural drift found through their marriages. Their lives overlapped to become the heritage roots of St. Augustine today.

Next, we boarded a tour bus for the Fountain of Youth. Not the Harry Potter version. This one is an archeological park located on the original site of the Nation’s oldest city and the area first explored by Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513.

On our arrival, we met Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles – known today as James Bullock – who was our walking-tour guide. Bullock is known in Florida for his talk called “Many Flags/Many Colors”. As Menendez, he told us about his life and his experiences. 

Menéndez’s crew sighted land on August 28th, 1565, the feast day of St. Augustine of Hippo. That was 55 years before the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, and 42 years before Jamestown. They landed shortly after founding the settlement they named San Agustín (Saint Augustine) in the former Timucua village of Seloy. The location of the settlement was chosen for its defensibility and proximity to the freshwater artesian spring, The Fountain of Youth. 

If you’re in the SCA and looking for a persona connected to the New World you could be a Menéndez’s crewmember or a person from San Agustin. Life would be hard for your persona and you probably wouldn’t be noble but you’d explore and learn about our early history.

To begin our visit we learned about the water and we each drank from Ponce de Leon’s still flowing Fountain

We passed by many exhibits including this Timucuan village where we again saw Aimee Nichols who earlier gave us our first talk on “St. Augustine Before the Europeans’ Arrival”

 “This place marks the site of an ancient Indian village called Seloy in the sixteenth century. Archeologists believe after making excavations on the ground that Indians had lived on this site for centuries before Ponce de Leon landed in this vicinity in 1513” as the plaque says.

At every turn, we saw peafowl, both colorful and white. I was fortunate to find this one showing off in full array.

Black Smith Exhibit

We continued our walk along beautifully tended paths to see other exhibits.

Giant clay “barrels” used to collect rain.

Although – except for the gift shop -this is where we ended the tour. It is where a chapter of New World history began. 

After the Fountain of Youth, we had the afternoon on our own. We could stay in the park or take the tour bus back to the historic district. I chose to take the bus to find a local coffee shop and eat a ginger cake or two and sip smooth coffee.

I then wound my way to the Villa Zorayda house and museum built by Franklin Smith in 1883 as a winter residence. It was designed as a 1/10th scale portion of the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain, a Moorish castle.

This tour was separate from the Road Scholar offerings and was guided by a recorder you wore. While you’re not supposed to take pictures I broke the rule to show you I was there. Be sure to look at this Zoryada Museum link for more awesome photos. The place is a treasure trove of Smith’s unique collecting interests.

I then went for a tasting-tour of Whetstone Chocolates of St. Augustine.  It was more than eating chocolate. You learned the difference between chocolate types and how they are grown and made. You also discover how they pick out and combine the flavor and texture influencers. Trade secrets were revealed if you listened carefully

And yes this tour also ended in the gift shop where I bought what is suppose to be “gifts” for my family. Maybe.

I met the bus at 4:00 PM at Constitution Plaza for a ride back to the hotel. I know many on the tour
were staying in the area to see the tail end of the Nights of Lights winter light display. 

Me on the beach in January
Omaha weather is 20 degrees colder.

I chose to go to the beach instead because I grew up with a similar light shows around Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza. Nothing is more memorable than a night-ride around the Plaza as giant snowflakes fall through the uncountable twinkling lights onto your tongue.

I finished my tour-day with a scrumptious Pink Beetle burger with sprouts and avocado slices at Obi’s Fillin’ StationI’m a sucker for both sprouts and avocados. Their crispy fries were also the tastiest you can find.

The evening was lights out early for me with more to follow tomorrow.

More to follow. Ta, ta for now.

Related Prior Posts:
Road Scholar Trip To St. Augustine Parts 1 and 2.

Related External Sites:
Ponce de Leon’s First Voyage to Florida  
Timeline Of Significant Events At The Fountain Of Youth Archaeological Park
Floridanos, Menorcans, Cattle-Whip Crackers: Poetry of St. Augustine – -ouTube video

Categories: Travel

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