Monday, July 26, 2004

Back in Sylacauga, drove about 7 1/2 hours today from Charleston, we used a map plus the car's GPS system/software. I was a little nervous about using GPS it made a few errors but it was basically correct, it had some trouble on rural roads. During the drive traveling from Charleston through Georgia to Alabama - the floral changed from oak covered with Spanish Moss to forest covered with Kudzu. The smaller two lane roads could be charming in many ways - with small towns and abundant greenery dotting the roads.
One interesting town we drove through was Aiken South Carolina right on the Georgia border. The City is visually more affluent than all the towns we have driven through, it turned out Aikens is an old resort town known for its' horse breeding and polo.

My only trauma was handling a Southern rainstorm in Atlanta, this was no fun on a freeway (I-20), full of aggressive trucks. I was actually blinded by a truck which sprayed the car.....but we survived and in the tradition of southern rainstorms after a few miles the rain just went away.

Earlier today visited the Middleton Plantation,
Middleton Place is a plantation that survived the Civil War. The Middleton Plantation is a National Historic Landmark and has America's oldest landscape garden. Middleton did lose several of it's buildings during the civil war and also sustained damage from the 1886 Earthquake. Middleton isn't the cheapest place to visit, it cost $20.00 to see the gardens and stables we started with the carriage ride which was an extra $13.00 bucks. Regarding the earthquake, our carriage guide told us the quake lasted 8 minutes and was between 7.9 - 9.0. She was correct about the later, the quake was estimated at 7.9 but a course nothing would survive a 8 minute earthquake. Charleston with it's brick buildings would have been completely demolish.

The reason I picked the Middleton plantation was its' African-American focus tour. The Plantation was primarily a show plantation but had rice cultivation. The tour focuses on how the enslaved Africans cultivated the rice and how they lived. The plantation has only one slave quarter, this was disappointing, a slave cemetery, rice mill - where people worked, and slave chapel.

The tour was given by a Yankee, a New Yorker who unlike our Beaufort tour guide had no sympathy for slavery. She scoffed at one question about the slave house being built as an reward for a slave couple staying on the plantation. This was implied by the 8 minute earthquake carriage driver. She wasn't impressed with the idea of a slave cabin as gift. It reminded me of the freedom and slavery tour in Charleston were the tour guide mentioned the free room and board the slaves had hence an advantage to save money. He slightly corrected himself by mentioning that the slave's owner had complete control over this transaction and many times took a portion of the money slaves earned on the side.

The lady at Middleton was the only tour guide that presented slavery completely as a brutal-perverse scam I wondered if she was given the assignment because she was a Yankee. It's a difficult tour physically on a hot humid July day, we were soaked after the tour. But she was obliviously interested in the material and did a good job presenting it.

Again I was surrounded by beauty that was created by exploiting humans. Is it really beauty or just the facade of Greek columns and large gardens to hide primitive ostentation and gross greed by people whose only interest was to make money?


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