A Morning Jog
I was less than impressed with Charleston after our first night out, so I figured I'd get out early and take a little jog before it got too hot. Only problem is that I headed off in the wrong direction twice and ended up seeing the lesser parts of town. It seemed to be a city that had seen better times, albeit around 150 years ago. I would realize the error of my ways but not for a day or so.
Boone Hall Plantation
There are several plantations to visit all boasting one claim to fame over the next and none coming out the clear winner. We decided on Boone Hall, one of America's oldest working plantations. The fact that the majority of the tours and sights were outdoors and that we chose one of the hottest days of the year to go would dictate how and what we saw. A tour of the entire plantation in an open air coach was just bearable. Our Southern surfer-dude guide who was obviously over giving the tour made for an interesting time. The House tour had a guide who was very into it and quite informative and in costume. It made the mansion that was built in 1936 seem much more authentic and significant than it actually was. The highlight of the visit was the "Exploring the Gullah culture" presentation. That the only African-American staff that I saw was relegated to being outdoors down by the slave cabins struck me as odd and darkly ironic.
The older gentleman was dripping with sweat as he paced the stage with the assistance of a cane. I learned a lot from his show and it made me curious to learn more, butin a place with air conditioning.
There were several original slave cabins, each with a pre-recorded presentation on black history, but again the stifling heat and humidity forced an early retreat.
Like so many other things in Charleston, I left the plantation glad to have gone but with mixed feelings overall.
Old Slave Mart Museum
Honestly I had had my fill of the history of slavery but Cindy insisted on going to the Old Slave Mart. As I expected it only increased my interest and confusion on the topic. Upon entering the museum on the first panel was a statistic that I had not heard before and brought to my mind many questions. It stated that of the 12 million Africans brought to the Americas on slave ships less than 7% landed in the British North American colonies. The implications of this are staggering and perhaps beyond comprehension. I was hoping to find out more about slavery's global impact and there was some more information but not enough. I went downstairs to the bookstore where there were books on the slave experience in the South, several Gullah cookbooks and some on the more general history of Charleston, but nothing that would answer the many questions I still had.
Upon future research, I would learn that of the estimated 10 million Africans that died due to the Atlantic slave trade, one to two and a half million would die in transport, a number that is horrific, yet the majority, with estimates up to 6 million were killed by other Africans in tribal wars and raiding parties aimed at securing slaves for transport to America.
Unsettling and not really too much to see but I would rank it as a "must see" to a visit to Charleston.
The Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon
The highlight of this visit may have been that the building was air conditioned. We started our visit with a guided tour downstairs in the cellar. A costumed actor lead us from one animatronic presentation to another which included an original Tea party activist, (Charleston seized the English tea and sold it later to fund the patriotic movement rather than dumping in the sea), a talking parrot and a pirate.
By this time we were definitely reaching our limit of museums and history lessons. Skye and Cindy did however take the time to sign the Declaration of Independence.
On our last day we finally wandered over to the southern end of Charleston's museum mile, the more picturesque portion. Again the sweltering heat would rule the day and sent us retreating for whatever shade we could find.
I am a lover of trees, so when I read about the Angel Oak tree I was determined to shoe horn it into our visit.
Reportedly the oldest thing -- living or man-made -- east of the Rockies, Angel Oak is a live oak tree aged approximately 1,500 years.
Unfortunately we got there 15 minutes before closing but it was time enough to take in such an exquisite tree.
We finally got to the beach but only with enough time to take a quick stroll' dipping our toes into the warm sea.