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.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Hurricane Skip and Stories of Generosity

Photo from Charleston Post and Courier
The hurricane prediction has gotten better for this area, but the heavy rains and thunderstorms were still enough for me to do a "weather skip."  So no paddling for a few days, just stories of generosity.
Gratitude List
  1. A gift of an oyster knife
  2. A ride for me to James Island and a ride for my kayak to Edisto Island
  3. Safe inside during the heavy rains and storms
  4. Amazing news
  5. Writer shares her house and tells me "You have a story."
People have asked why I restarted my expedition during hurricane season.  When talking with residents who lost their homes during Hurricane Hugo, it is hard to find a good answer to that question.   Like parts of the NJ shore that I paddled past last year, Sullivan's Island changed character after Hugo.  So many homes were wiped out.  The homes that were built in the washed out areas are now larger and more expensive.  

As I watched the predictions for Hurricane Joaquin, and saw the predictions for 10 inches of rain in this area and wind gusts of 23 knots, I decided to play it safe and not paddle today.  I think it was a good decision as schools are closed today because of the storm flooding.  The pictures in the newspaper  of the flooding in Charleston are impressive.

Post and Courier photo
I'm used to watching out for the large wakes from boats, but could I manage the bow wake of a utility truck?

The problem is that if I don't paddle,  I have to find a ride for me and my kayak, because the speaking schedule I have means I can't wait for good weather.  Finding a ride for me is usually easy, but someone who can haul an 18 foot, 75# kayak is harder.  Chris Crolley of Coastal Expeditions has generously offered to help me.  Chris regularly hauls 20 or 30 kayaks.  Having him help me out is like asking a brain surgeon to remove a splinter.

I had shared some stories about my Arctic kayaking trips with Chris.  I told about making a huge mistake in admiring the moon shaped knife of Vera Avala, an Inuit women I was visiting.  She picked it up in two hands and held it out to me.  "This was given by my grandmother to my mother, and by my mother to me, and I want you to have it."  I hadn't realized that if you admire something, then the Inuit are obligated to give it to you.  I had to think fast.  "Oh that one is lovely, but is there someone in town whom I could pay to make a new one for me?"  Fortunately that response worked, and I purchased a knife.

Having learned my lesson, when I was staying at Chris's home and saw a lovely oyster knife, with the Coastal Expeditions logo on it's wooden handle, I didn't admire it.  But when he offered me any of the items in the Coastal Expeditions shop, I asked if he had any more of the clam knives.  He explained that that one was a prototype - the only one they have as they decide whether to have them produced.  Imagine my surprise when the next day Chris held out two hands and offered me the oyster knife.  I feel so honored.
Awesome oyster knife  
Now "oyster bar" has new meaning.  It's not the place in the restaurant where you eat fresh oysters, and it's no longer the oyster bar in the marshes that I avoid so my kayak doesn't get all scratched by the sharp shells.  Now it's the spot at low tide that I seek out and sidle up to in my kayak, and use my oyster knife to pry open some shells for a nutritious snack.  Sprinkle some of my Bull's Bay Red Mash Sea Salt on it, and I have a gourmet treat. 

Last night before dinner I received an amazing email about an international honor I am being given in November.    Unfortunately they will not let me say what the honor is until October 20th.  Stay tuned.

Had a wonderful dinner with Chris and Pete Richardson and their daughter, Lindsey, who is finishing  her Ph.D. at University of Colorado at Boulder.  It was fascinating hearing about her research where she has developed techniques during her field work in Guatemala to assess the performance of non-profits in achieving their mission using qualitative data.  Safe Passage, like so many non profit organizations, is always looking for additional ways test the effectiveness of our programs, so I shall read her research with great interest.

Deb, Lindsey and Peter Richardson
On James Island, I'm now staying with Ellie Mae Davis.  It's wonderful how she came to host me.  I read in a Maine paper about Michael Hurley, a writer from Charleston, SC who was attempting a transatlantic solo crossing and had to be rescued by Maine Maritime Academy students.  Since I still needed some hosts in Charleston, I looked up Hurley's website and emailed him as a fellow adventurer.  He immediately wrote back that he was in Spain, but sent my request to fellow writers in Charleston.  Ellie Mae Davis stepped up and is hosting me.  She has ghost written many fascinating books, including two I have to tell my daughter about: Shooter:Combat from Behind the Camera by Stacy Pearsall, and  a guide to photojournalism.  People are being so kind to me!!

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