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.