Magic Carpet Rides

Developed by Laura Wheelock and Markus Naugle, Magic Carpet Rides is fueled by their passion for cross-cultural understanding, service and exploration.   Magic Carpet Rides was formally recognized as a 501(c)(3) non-profit in 2005 and originally conceived as a gap-year program.  Eager to support further the Guatemalan community that embraced them, the program expanded to offer placement service for people of all ages, families and academic groups interested in living with the Mayan people and volunteering their expertise.  


Markus earned a degree in molecular biology from MIT and devoted eight years to health care, both as a management consultant with the Wilkerson Group in New York and London, and as a product manager for Genentech, a San Francisco Bay Area biotechnology company.  His health-care training includes both western and eastern modalities including Emergency Medical Technician, yoga and Reiki.

Markus’ curious mind and thirst for adventure led to an exploration of nearly 60 countries.  He regenerated rainforest in New Zealand, meditated in an ashram in Bali, and taught yoga to prison inmates in California.

Together with Laura, Markus lived in Costa Rica, volunteering to protect leatherback turtles and helping with a local recycling initiative.  They also traveled throughout Ethiopia and Tanzania, with a highlight of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.



Laura's magic carpet carried her to 16 countries by the age of ten.  Her international education includes homestays and formal schooling in Holland, France and Guatemala with life experience broadened in Syria, Japan, and Nepal.

Volunteerism has been a focus for Laura since she attended the Sidwell Friends High School in Washington DC, where community service was a requirement.  After graduating from Stanford, she developed a volunteer program for Oracle Corporation involving more than 1000 employees in community service, from serving food in soup kitchens to mentoring at-risk youth.

In addition, she has provided strategic consulting for corporate giving and corporate social responsibility initiatives and worked at the White House.  Laura received a Masters in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School at Harvard University.