We were drawn into the little cottage by the smell of smoke, mingled with the scent of meat and spices. Sure enough, once our eyes had adjusted to the dim light, we saw a young woman in a lavender bodice and light-blue skirt was setting out a pewter dish of stewed chicken on a trestle table.
"Do you drink tea?" my friend asked, eying the jug standing beside the chicken thirstily. But she was met with a perplexed look and a polite, "Tea? What is that?"
Tea, you see, that stereotypically English beverage, wasn't widely consumed in England or America before the 18th century. No wonder the young Pilgrim woman was confused--the interpreters in the Pilgrim village at Plimoth Plantation act as if they know nothing beyond the year 1627.
Encounters with the interpreters are the best part of visiting Plimoth Plantation--ask them questions about what they're doing as they go about their daily chores: caring for livestock, tending their gardens, maintaining their houses, and preparing food. They'll be happy to tell you all about it (provided, of course, that you don't ask them something that an Englishman or woman of 1627 wouldn't know). You can also stroll the streets (well, street, really) of Plimoth Plantation and snoop in people's homes and gardens.
Once you're done visiting the English settlers, you can visit Native Americans at Hobbamock's homesite. The Natives are dressed in traditional costumes, and, like the colonists, do typical daily tasks. Unlike the colonists, though, the Native interpreters speak from a modern perspective. Stop and spend some time there--it's not only interesting to look around at the summer and winter wigwams (more rustic looking, but better adapted to the forests of Massachusetts than the colonists' homes), it's interesting to hear native perspectives on history and on their culture.
Younger children will enjoy visiting the historic livestock breeds at the Nye Barn, and everybody can get gifts (including crafts made at Plimoth Plantation) at the museum's gift shops.
Plimoth Plantation is located 3 miles south of Plymouth, MA, and is open from 9 -5. The combination ticket also allows visitors to see the Mayflower II, a replica of a 17th Century vessel, that's docked on the Plymouth waterfront (it's really close to Plymouth Rock, so you can kill two sites with one stone, as it were).