I am a grandmother paddling alone over 2,500 miles from Maine to Guatemala. Along the way I will be:
- telling the story of the children who live in the Guatemala City garbage dump community
- honoring their entrepreneurial mothers
- talking about the success of the Safe Passage model school and
- raising funds for additional grades for the school.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Flooding, seafood bonanza and Guatemala landslide

Throwing back a female blue crab
So happy to have made it safe and sound to Beaufort, SC, thanks to so many generous people.

Gratitude List:

  1. Sun!!!
  2. Lull in the rains and hearing the the first birdsong after days of torrential rains
  3. Hearing the music of the marsh
  4. Ride for me and kayak
  5. Seafood feast harvested right from my host's dock

Experiencing the flooding in South Carolina has been a low of my expedition.  I am used to feeling at peace with the weather: snow, rain, wind and waves.    While it can be intense, I have usually felt confident I could deal with what comes.  But during the torrential rains in Charleston, I felt trapped and concerned during every high tide cycle that I could loose my cozy shelter.

Some folks took a more casual approach and played in the streets in kayaks and on paddle boards.
(Post and Courier photo)
The oddest sight was the guy who didn't have a kayak or paddle board or canoe, but seemed happy to use his inflatable mattress in the streets, as Charleston has become the Venice of America.
Man on air mattress.  (Post and Chronicle photo)
During a lull in the rains on Monday I heard the first birdsong for many days.  I didn't realize how much I had missed that music.  Going outside I saw one of trees on the property that had fallen into the creek as a portion of the bank gave way.
Downed Tree
The positive has been that so many people have been so helpful to keep me safe.  Eric Mills of Coastal Expeditions, gave me and my kayak a long motor portage from Charleston to Lady's Island near Beaufort.  We ran into major highways closed due to flooding, but thanks to maps on my cell phone, we found a route through residential developments around the closed section.  I wondered why they didn't have detour signs set up to guide us, but then remembered that over 500 roads were closed.  Then I felt lucky that there were cones on the road and a "road closed" sign.

While they were originally going to give me a ride only to Edisto Island, my host there let me know that her road had washed out.  I am so grateful that Chris Crolley readily agreed to take me all the way to Beaufort.

As we passed over the ACE basin, Eric explained how just in his six years here, he has noticed how this area is changing.  The section we were traveling over had been freshwater, but now is becoming increasingly salty.  The effects of the saltwater are seen in the freshwater forests that are now just boneyards of standing dead trees.

Eric Mills with the Coastal Expeditions truck with an awesome roof rack!
My hosts here on Lady's Island, Lori and Stephane Malijenovsky, agreed to have me come a day early.  Stephane took me out on the dock and showed me how to pull his crab traps, throw out the female blue crabs and the little stone crabs, and get the rest of the crabs ready for dinner.  He uses a toss net to catch his bait, which he uses to catch fish. The parts from cleaning the fish become the bait for the crabs and for catching shrimp.  The oysters are just growing there below the dock.

Dinner started with gravlox (homemade), a dill mayonnaise (homemade) and toasted bread (homemade).  Then we moved onto blue crabs and a green salad.  Lori was ready to stop, but Stephanos seemed pleased that I wanted the next two courses, flounder and shrimp - both caught fresh at their dock.  Stephane trained in Switzerland at a top culinary school, and it certainly shows.  Might have been one of my best meals ever!   And then the conversations about life made it all even better!  Lori is the mother of Tess, one of my hosts in NC, and it was fun to catch up on her news as well.  Tess gave up the offer of an editorship to travel.  She's one awesome young woman!

Today, walking along the long dock, over the spartina, I was surrounded the lovely music of pop, clicks and snaps coming up from the marsh.  Turns out they were snapping shrimp.  Feeling the sun on my face and arms, and seeing the blue skies after so many days of torrential rains felt so good.  I didn't realize just how tense I had been during the constant rain and flooding.

I joined my hosts, Lori and Stephane, picking crabs out on their dock near sunset.  Great fun,  and Stephane promises yummy crab dip for tomorrow.
Deb and Stephane picking crab.
Lori and Deb at work
Sunset from Lori and Stephane's deck.
While experiencing the flooding in South Carolina, I was thinking of the landslides in Guatemala, and how horrible they have been.  I was worried about Safe Passage families, but was relieved to hear that the landslides that buried so many people on the outskirts of Guatemala City are not an issue in the communities of our Safe Passage families.  A few years ago, when I was in one of the neighborhoods around the dump, I saw some homes built on the edge of a ravine that would be very susceptible to landslides.  But the local government of the community had determined the homes were too unsafe, convinced the families to move out, and built a wall to prevent other families from moving into the structures.  Our hearts are sad thinking about the many lives lost in the landslides.
New York Times photo of the funerals for the landslide victims
Date: Tuesday, October 6th
Location: Lady's Island, South Carolina
Hosts: Lori and Stephane Malijenovsky

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