Eclipse! And a trip to the South

I hate writing retrospectively. It comes out so stunted and awkward, so many elements missed. Right now I’m sitting in Charleston with Max, the lovely hyper-active American, but seriously how did I of all people become a magnet for ADD. He’s on the bed watching something on his phone while I write this, both of us happy to not be in each other’s space. He leaves me to it for the most part, piping up every now and then with a random thought or idea.

This isn’t something I’ve ever done before. I keep asking myself if I’m crazy, sitting here in South Carolina with a boy I hardly know. But it doesn’t feel wrong or risky. He’s sweet, smart, always happy and chirpy. I wish I could do that sometimes!

The whole last two weeks have been pretty amazing compared with the start of the month. I never thought this was where I would be all those weeks ago. I’ve made some amazingly weird friends, spent all my money on a spur of the moment trip south, drove a freaking tractor, saw an eclipse, hitchhiked (or as close as is legally allowed in Ontario), and I’ll be flying back to Canada, back to the Rocky mountains in a day or so. The reason I came to Canada after all, not to play in the cities but to snowboard and learn how to climb, see bears, racoon, northern lights, and have no responsibilities for a while.

I arrived in Charleston two days ago, Max had called the hotel to let them know I’d be there early and they had the room ready to go by 9.30am. Not just a room, a proper apartment! All I remember is being anxious all day, worried I was going to spend four days with someone I hadn’t really spoken to much alone, that I’d bore him with my more reserved quiet nature. But as soon as he arrived I relaxed, and quickly realised that maybe our differences are why we’ve ended up here. He’ll laugh at my Scottish phrases and pronunciation, I can’t say ‘go for it’ (gopher it) without him teasing me, every single time. He doesn’t seem bothered or even notice what I would call my shortcomings.

Flying in to Charleston, unexpectedly green

I like watching him talk to people, everyone. He has such a gift for talking utter shite to anyone and everyone, getting them to reveal their life stories. Sometimes it’s not entirely sincere, and I can see them defer to me for some kind of response after he’s asked them a question and then blatantly ignored the answer. But he’ll chime in a few moments later as if he’s been listening all along and they’re happy to keep talking, enjoying his attention.

He does however microwave his tea. Puts a tea bag in a cold mug of water, and lets it heat up and steep in the microwave. This might possibly be the most awful thing I’ve ever seen. I feel physically sick. This is truly horrific. The sheer disgust I feel towards him when I see him do it. Worse when he tries to make me a cup and I see him heading towards the microwave. Fuck. No. Don’t you dare! Even after I show him how to use the coffee maker to heat up the water he still continues to use the microwave. I might feel the most British I have in my life right now.

We spent the day at the beach yesterday, the Atlantic on this side as warm as the Mediterranean. He’s tall and slim so has no trouble riding the waves into the shore. Meanwhile I I get smashed in the face, thrown around, hair matted, gasping for air with a nose filled with salt water. He shows me how to swim under, letting me climb on his shoulders so I can at least stay out in the deep water. I love to swim but I’m not used to waves like these.

The food here is evil. Fried chicken and waffles drenched in syrup, green fried tomatoes, fried catfish with mac n cheese. It’s all delicious but I’m dying. The green tomatoes though, so good.

Enjoying the southern hospitality, a little sun burnt!

Although we came here to see the eclipse the weather was unfortunately not on our side. The skies stayed cloudy all morning, breaking every now and then so we could view the partial phases. When there was only a sliver of sun left the clouds were too thick to use the glasses, but could be seen with the naked eye, hopefully without causing any future damage. Beautiful to watch, and a fantastic atmosphere. As the skies grew dark, the ring of totality barely visible through the clouds, thunder cracked in the distance as the birds flocked and flew back to the roofs. We’re surrounded by storm clouds, the lighting flashing every few minutes but far enough away that it’s at least dry. The sky on the horizon still bright while around us it’s as if night has fallen. Even if we didn’t get to see the entire thing it was still a pretty special experience.

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For the last day we spent it at the plantations. For once the heat is bearable, just. The air thick with humidity. The leaflet warns us to avoid the gators but I don’t really believe we’ll see one, how many times have I been warned about bears and mountain lions without seeing any. But this time, lurking in the dark swampy water, a knobbly armoured back glides into the shallows. An aligator! I’ve always been a little scared of them, but they didn’t give a toss about us, quite happy to chill in the cool swampy water. He isn’t dealing well with the heat today so we sit in the shade, resting his head in my lap while I play with his hair as he seems to like. Me watching for more gators, him half falling asleep. Sure enough another one creeps in to view. I wonder how many there are here, hidden in the undergrowth.

DSC_0988 (2).JPGSpotted!

DSC_0963.JPGWalking through Middleton Place, South Carolina

We spent a few more hours walking around. The bugs are everywhere and by the end of the day I’m covered in hot angry bites. By the time we get back to the hotel it’s almost empty, presumably everyone has left now after the eclipse and we have to pool to ourselves. He’s so full of energy but not once do I feel exhausted as I usually would, with his eager charm, such an adorable nerd.

DSC_0015.JPGLizards everywhere

DSC_0016I have no idea what these trees are, but they have pine cone like seed pods filled with red beans.

DSC_0037DSC_0040Fat cat. Even the animals sleeping through the heat

Four days over so quickly, we’ll go our separate ways. Him to Miami and then California to do his lawyerly thing, while I fly back to Canada. A tinge of regret I’ve already booked my flights so I can’t join him as he’d like me to. I don’t know if I’ll ever see him again, hoping perhaps naively that regardless we can stay friends, that maybe he will come out for a weekend in the winter. We’ve promised Amy and Toby we’ll have an Icelandic adventure someday, or a Scottish road trip. I’d be gutted not to see all their faces again.

And so ends my time travelling as I have to face up to the fact that I have no money left and desperately need to find a job and a place to stay. I haven’t even got accommodation booked in Calgary yet and I fly tomorrow. How different things are compared to when I set out. But I have every faith that everything will work out, one way or another. To Canada!

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