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World organization visits Sanibel

By Staff | Nov 19, 2014

A poem that began with “Retire with me to Sanibel” capped a weeklong visit by the Road Scholar program, an organization for decades that exposes and immerses outsiders in local culture.

The reading by Joe Pacheco was before a dozen Road Scholar participants lodging in Sanibel at the West Wind Inn. Considered the island’s unofficial Poet Laureate, Pacheco shared in verse his take on island life, romance, alligators and hurricanes, each delighting the Road Scholar visitors.

Sanibel “has been a great visit,” said Alice Mogle, a Road Scholar from Durham, North Carolina. The group visit included 31 travelers, a cameraman documenting the trip and a coordinator. “It has the best shelling ever.”

Road Scholar has its roots dating to the 1970s. Founders had traveled Europe, visiting youth hostels during a walking tour of the continent. Two men founded Elderhostel in 1975, later rebranding the program as Road Scholar. Those enrolled in the adventure program travel the world. Costs vary on the time of year and the location, organizers said.

Road Scholars toured Sanibel in a motorcoach, visiting hotspots like the historical village, the “Ding” Darling refuge, the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum, Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation offices, and a visit to the Edision/Ford estates in Fort Myers. The group also dined in local eateries, shelled beaches and enjoy shellcrafting activities, coordinator Elinor Martin said. Other than the enjoyment of visiting, the group absorbs information, learning about local history and culture.

“We’re not just sightseeing,” Martin said.

The group disbanded Nov. 14, heading home to retool for another visit to the islands in January, Martin said.

Reaction to the island trip was positive.

“They’re coming back,” she said. “They always love Sanibel.”

Details about the program are at roadscholar.org.