The Neighborhood Changes

Friday, March 25 continued…

As more of the regular RVers had their giant rigs towed in, first for weekends, then for longer stays, we found ourselves boxed in by vast, white or bronze behemoths decorated with flourishes of brown or black vinyl that were supposed to suggest speed or something. Units called ‘Montana’ , ‘Cougar’, ‘Bounder,’ or the ‘Velocity’, (subtitled ‘Raptor’, we renamed it the Velociraptor) hulked around us, with up to 5 slide-outs further crowding their sites. Gone were the open spaces around us where we’d counted up to 40 Canada geese foraging in the grass beneath the live oaks in late afternoon. This made our departure easier, but we still left Myrtle Beach on Friday March 25th under protest. The park was full for Easter weekend and our site was spoken for. It was also time to begin wandering home.

Brookgreen 2

But, before we left, we did revisit Brookgreen Gardens twice more for, of all things, Lego sculptures and a boat ride!


Along the pathway through the zoo area we’d toured previously, large Lego sculptures of various animals and insects had been installed: each requiring 20,000+ Lego bricks to build. Pretty impressive work!


The following day we took a guided boat ride through the wetlands and Wacasaw river tributaries that had enabled Brookgreen Plantation to grow rice, with slave labor.



The combination of the boat ride and an audio walking path, narrated in song and stories, of the slave quarters and community, gave us some idea of the incredible effort and suffering required to create the original rice fields from wild cypress swamps, using only picks and shovels, with the added hazards of alligators, venomous snakes, and disease-carrying mosquitoes.



Yes, these people had been experts in rice cultivation in Africa, making them prized workers, and yes, many had been sold into slavery by other African tribes, but their treasure: of life, of expertise, and of family, was callously stolen, for generations, by owners who grew very rich on their suffering and submission.


Growing rice was a complex and relentless routine of controlling tidal waters (fresh, not brackish) for each stage of the rice planting, development, and harvest.


One enslaved ‘trunk man’ was in charge of gates (originally a cypress trunk) that blocked or released water, and he was also the only slave given a gun, to shoot the bobolinks, or ‘rice birds’ that could otherwise voraciously strip the harvest. Small birds, they still provided food for the poorly-fed enslaved families.


We saw no bobolinks, but did see Bruce’s ubiquitous turkey vultures (his totem animal in our travels) and a couple basking alligators. We drifted past a long log, crowded with yellow-bellied slider turtles.


Our interpreter said a group of them is called a ‘bale’. Sun highlighted their smooth, rounded shells, against a background of mud embankment and saw grasses.

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