Today we headed to Charleston, so Larry could see his ship again. We travel along the Inter-coastal waterway, crossing bays and rivers. Lots of waterways and many marinas. We passed along the side of the Francis Marion National Forest and began seeing small vendors along the highway selling woven goods. We learned that they are the Gullah-Geechee people who weave palmetto and pine needle baskets, hats and mats of varying shapes and sizes.
The art of sweetgrass basket weaving is practiced in coastal and barrier island communities from North Carolina to Florida. The Gullah-Geechees are the descendants of enslaved West Africans who worked on coastal plantations and sea islands. Because of their isolation, they were able to hold on to many traditions brought to these shores during the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
The Gullah people and their language are also called Geechee, which may be derived from the name of the Ogeechee River near Savannah, Georgia The Gullah people speak an English-based creole language containing many African loanwords and influenced by African languages in grammar and sentence structure. The origin of "Gullah" is unclear. Some scholars suggest that it may be cognate with the word Angola, where the ancestors of some of the Gullah people likely originated.
By the middle of the 18th century, thousands of acres in the Georgia and South Carolina Low Country, and the Sea Islands were developed as rice fields. African farmers from the "Rice Coast" brought the skills for cultivation and tidal irrigation that made rice farming one of the most successful industries in early America. Many Gullahs served with distinction in the Union Army's First South Carolina Volunteers. The Sea Islands were the first place in the South where slaves were freed.
The Gullah people have a rich storytelling tradition strongly influenced by African oral traditions but also by their historical experience in America. Their stories include animal trickster tales about the antics of Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox and Brer Bear & Brer Wolf designed to impart moral teaching to children.
Justice Clarence Thomas was raised as a Gullah speaker in coastal Georgia. When asked why he has little to say during hearings of the court, he told a high school student that the ridicule he received for his Gullah speech, as a young man, caused him to develop the habit of listening rather than speaking in public.
We crossed Charleston Bay and saw the USS Yorktown at Patriots Point. As we arrived in Charleston we saw many colorful English style double houses of the 18th century. The older ones are believed to be the first apartment houses built in America.
As we headed to our campground just out of Charleston in Hollywood, SC there was a lot of marshland around us. Oh, and there were more Hurricane Evacuation route signs is this area.