Photo Essay: At the Market in Charleston, South Carolina

by Ekua on May 11, 2011 in captured on memory card,South Carolina

Before I went to India, I visited Charleston, South Carolina in October 2010 for a wedding of a family friend. It was my first trip to the Deep South. As a typical crunchy lefty San Franciscan, I am supposed to regard the Deep South with suspicion, or maybe disdain.

But prior to leaving for South Carolina, I was pretty thrilled to have the opportunity to delve into a part of my own country that seemed so obscure to me — at least in its present state. Once I arrived, I enjoyed my stay in the charming city of Charleston immensely.

We had time to explore the city and the surrounding areas between and after wedding events. During these walks and drives, I found that in discovering Charleston’s similarities and differences to my world, I was as fired up about cultural exploration as I would be in some far-fetched out of the country location.

On the morning of the wedding, we stumbled upon a craft and farmers market that wouldn’t have looked all that out of place in California, but had a few South Carolina touches:

Recycled art made out of sheets of rusty metal. As Halloween was approaching at the time, there were Jack-o-Lanterns and monsters amongst the hearts, crosses, and South Carolina state flag designs.

Plump heirloom tomatoes for sale.

Prettily presented bath salt samples and wash basin invite market goers to try them out.

Peaches, plums, and muscadine grapes.

A group of African Americans called the Gullah live in what as known as the Lowcountry region of South Carolina and Georgia. They’ve maintained their African roots more than any other African American community in the United States. This is apparent in some of their food, language, crafts and various other cultural traditions. In these sweetgrass Gullah baskets, there are clear similarities to traditional baskets you’d find in West Africa.

Driving themed recycled art.

Paintings and ornaments.

More ornaments and vases that depict dancing Gullah women in the background.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Oneika the Traveller May 11, 2011 at 11:13 pm

I’ve never been to any of the Carolinas (nor anywhere else in the region, for that matter), but it looks interesting.

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Ekua May 12, 2011 at 11:52 pm

I probably wouldn’t have thought to check out Charleston if it wasn’t for the wedding, so I am glad they decided to do it there. It was a really pleasant city and I’d recommend checking it out. It actually got me curious about checking out some other places in the Deep South.

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Emily May 12, 2011 at 11:17 am

Those bath salts look awesome. I could imagine sitting there all day without a care in the world.

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Ana May 12, 2011 at 1:59 pm

It’s great that you felt the same enthusiasm for exploring your own country as much as a foreign land. It happens to me a lot when I visit my country, now that I’m living in Texas. I’m curious to compare Texas with S Carolina, see if their “Southerness” is the same or different.

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Ekua May 12, 2011 at 11:47 pm

I would guess that Texas has a different vibe from South Carolina, although I’ve never been to Texas. I think S. Carolina probably has much more of a colonial feel to it while Texas seems like it would have more of southwestern feel. Of course, I really can’t say that without visiting Texas first 😉

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Odysseus May 12, 2011 at 7:04 pm

That makes me want to revisit Charleston. It was pretty much the only place my non-traveling family (from Ohio) ever visited. The sweetgrass baskets are gorgeous. Did you buy anything?

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Ekua May 12, 2011 at 11:58 pm

I got a pair of earrings made out of semi-precious stones. Hard to describe, but they look like little angels. Interesting that you went from rarely traveling and visiting Charleston to living in S. Korea!

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Stephania Andrade May 17, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Amazing photos!
The Gullah baskets are my favorite. And I wish I could try out the bath salts!

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