Charleston Travel Blog› entry 3 of 4 › view all entries
September 21st, 2008 – by: jenn79
but a lot more complicated than I thought it would be. I would say I might be overthinking things, but for someone without a great context of what happened in South Carolina, I am only left with what could be misunderstandings and wonderment.
What a fab city!!
So I woke up super late today because I couldn't sleep until 2am as I'm still struggling with the time difference. I also got my hands on a computer last night so .. hehehee =) I promised Nhi I would stay offline and not blog but its therapeutic for me and helps me sort out my thoughts - so too bad! ;) We left the resort at around 10am and went to the Original Pancake House - I was really excited as I thought it would be like the one that Mel took us to in LV the morning (excuse me, 2 hours) after the Vegas meet! It was such a yummy and wonderful experience in LV that I was hoping to share it with Andi and Marc.
After brekkie we prayed to the rain gods that it wouldn't start pouring on us despite the ominous clouds. We were REALLY lucky with the weather during this trip as it was supposed to rain Saturday, Sunday AND Monday! It hasn't rained yet, fingers crossed!
Charleston really blew me away - it's probably one of the more interesting cities in the South, save probably Atlanta which I've never seen before. Andi really outdid herself today in terms of showing us around. We drove about 3 hours out of Hilton Head into Charleston and proceeded to stop by a few of her college haunts, a few historic sights and then drove to Isle of Palms - a really posh island about 30 min outside of Charleston that had a lovely beach and some multi-million dollar homes.
The main pic for this blog was taken in Charleston. It's such an interesting place of contradictions - the pic is of a gaggle of 17/18 year old navy boys sitting at a cafe in front of an old holding depot for slaves while sharing a hookah and drinking coffee. This is one of those cities that is rife with historical context being a major port for slave ships and now a major military area though I'm not sure which branches of the military. Some very nice universities are also in just around the corner so you have a progressive young population living side by side with the conservative, republican population.
It's crazy how within 1 square block you can see remnants of how strong the Confederacy was, as well as the misery of slavery, and then they have all the benefits of globalization - the hookahs, the tapas bars and the pubs! And then you witness what elements persist.. the strong culture of military, the old world charm yards away from dilapidated squats and the stark divide between the haves and have-nots. One always vacationing, the other always working. Every city that I went to in the south had poor African Americans making roses out of palm fronds and sold them for $2 on the street.
Perhaps the most disturbing thing I saw here was the "marketplace" which is the converted slave holdings. In a sense I wonder why the hell the city didn't just smash the shit out of this building as it's a reminder of a grave evil in our country. And likewise I am very proud of them for letting it stand so that nobody ever forgets, so that this corpse of wrong can serve as a reminder instead of just wiping history under the rug. But it was pretty awful.. this marketplace was very wide - like a barn and stretched for blocks and blocks - and there is not a doubt in my mind that this place was packed shoulder to shoulder with slaves. The demand must have been INSANE if this was simply where they were being held! And now it's a weekend market.
I'd love to visit again and see the other side. I'm sure I couldn't get the whole story from Andi as she's one of the kindest, sweetest young women I've met in my life. I think an extraordinary amount of my brain focuses on things having to do with poverty, inequality and strife. And the prevention thereof. I'd love to hear thoughts from those on the other end of the spectrum - what the challenges were and how those have evolved.
But at the same time it seemed to be a fairly safe and interesting place to go to college. There's exposure to a lot of different aspects of American life - not the practically elite kind you get in huge cities like Los Angeles or New York, but what can be described as "the real America".
There are plenty of those still fighting the good fight on both sides. The one against closed-mindedness and ignorance and entitlement, and for hard work and creating opportunity and not leaving anyone behind. But coming to the South it was pretty clear that no matter how many pretty store fronts boasting multi-cultural elements there were, the gap is bigger here than in most parts of the country.
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