De Wey Wi Speak, Duh De Wey Wi Lib”
(The way we speak is the way we live – Lowcountry Gullah)
We’re in deep Lowcountry and the center of the Gullah culture. It’s a region entrenched with history and racial tensions intermingled with stunning beach’s and virgin coastline. These are the Sea Islands of the Carolinas they’re a totally unique experience.
The broad, flat “Low Country” is a tide-influenced coastal area extending from ~70 miles inland through swampy inlets, marshes and rivers to hundreds of islands speckled along the coast of South Carolina. With its rich soils it’s one of the epicenters of North American plantation history, from large rice plantations in the early 1700′s to cotton in the 1800′s. During the boom-time thousands of African slaves were bought in to labor the fields, and on the isolated coast they preserved their Gullah culture, a combination of Creole language and West African cultural heritage.
It took until 1960 to see the end of segregation in the region, and you still see a lot of the history in the region. The local population clearly remember the days of past, and many areas still show a stark separation between the poorer and richer communities. Much of the coastal wilderness stands apart and pristine and has kept a strong link to Gullah culture. It’s one of the last developed frontiers of the Atlantic with broad, stunning white beach’s set against a thick interior forest brimming with deer, racoon and wildlife.
We’ve spent the past week roaming the wild beach’s, exploring the coastal towns and talking to the locals. We’ve been amazed at the beauty of the area, as well as the warm Southern welcome we’ve been given by everyone we’ve met.
As the locals would say “you don’t come here to hide away, you come here to hear, feel and touch our story”, and it’s a story worth touching, indeed!