“Tiddly! Just … tiddly! Here in the Low Country business isn’t conducted by the same rules as anywhere else in the U.S.,” one of the locals commiserated with us. We were bewildered, had just finished explaining our plight. Enterprise Car Rental, usually so reliable for us in other cities, had told us just a scant half-hour before that someone would be there at 9:30 to pick us up. Well, 9:30 came and went, and when I called to ask if there had been a problem, they said that the rental car we’d reserved hadn’t been returned on time and they had nothing else to offer as a backup … uh, you didn’t notice this a half-hour ago? I’m standing here on a street corner waiting for you, when did you THINK you were going to tell me? Grrrr!
It was a gorgeous spring day, and we were determined to see the city anyway, and we accepted her offer of a ride into town. We found the historic arsenal compound now painted yellow and turned into a visitor center, and “armed” ourselves with a good map. As it turned out, the town was a reasonable scale for walking, after all. We walked all over the historic downtown, to the old church with Confederate flags at some graves, and a few tombstones identifying British soldiers from the Revolutionary war (in one case, there were two sharing a grave, we wondered what the story was behind that?). Many historic homes, from a modest dwelling from Revolutionary days – one of the only ones identified as a woman head-of-household – to LARGE plantation mansions. Here was the silver lining from walking instead of driving - many of the houses in the more modest parts of town had front porches, and the porches all had rocking chairs, from which folks wished us a good morning as we walked past. We got into a conversation with one older woman who had moved here from the Eastern Shore forty years ago. Needless to say, we told her she would not recognize the place should she go back for a visit!
There were drapings of Spanish moss on trees, spills of brilliant purple and pink and white flowers, floral and spicy/woody smells. We had lunch of blackened grouper sandwiches and lemonade in a waterfront café and lingered to enjoy the singer. He put on a crocheted Rasta beret (complete with artificial dreadlocks) and played some Bob Marley reggae, then changed to a ball cap and did some John Pryne. He even had a few jazzy numbers that I vaguely remember from my parents’ era. We explored the redeveloped waterfront park, and, finally got a taxi to take us back to the grocery store where we stocked up, expecting to be anchored out in pristine anchorages the next few days. We walked back to the marina and took the dinghy out to the boat in the fading light. Lacking a car to do further exploring, but feeling like we’d gotten a pretty good sense of the town, we decided to go on. Three pleasant days motoring up canals and rivers lined with infinite shades of green, and a couple of nights in pretty anchorages shared only with birds, a timed drawbridge, and we were approaching Charleston, SC.