Hello again from Charleston, South Carolina. The opportunity to tour this city has been nothing but a blessing. It is the perfect location for diversity in culture and society. The things I've seen today will truly stick in my mind forever, like a photograph of this moment in time. But a still picture cannot fully sum up the complexity and peacefulness of the memories I possess. It would have to be a series of pictures, one right after another, traveling fast enough to seemingly make things come to life.
My life is a film reel.
6:00am. The alarm rings. There's a knock on the door to make sure we're all moving and getting ready. All they told us about the final service project was that time is VERY important, so we have to get there early, and we'll be getting dirty. Very dirty. Today, I didn't complain. I got the best night of sleep in days - about five and a half hours all together. I got up, got dressed in some clothes I wouldn't mind throwing away, and I headed down to the bus, gross and smelly like everyone else. We left right on time and started doing energizers as soon as we arrived, even though no one was in the mood at 7:30 in the morning. A man gathered us around and gave us a deeper explanation of the activity for the day.
We will rebuild the coral reef. Or help it along at least.
Bug spray applied, a few volunteers helped load up a trailer full of about 600 mesh net bags of oysters. Oysters upon oysters. The 290 volunteers that we brought out to the site today were to make the longest assembly line I'd ever seen and pass each bag to the end, where they would set them on a shallow piece of muddy ocean sand. Oh, and the muddy ocean sand? We were standing in it. Losing our shoes in the mud if we stood too long in one spot, in fact, but by the end, we were okay with being soaked in mud on the legs. As we passed each bag, we sang songs, did energizers, played telephone, and fake worked out for a while (tighten the core!). Overall, it was a blast. The oyster bags are now all laid out along the shore to collect mussles and other organisms that will rebuild this magnificent natural beauty. As we walked back, we got to see the progression of other oyster bags that had been sitting there for a while, and let me tell you, they look full of life. But my favorite part was watching the tide roll in slowly throughout the morning. That was why time was of the essence. But I'll watch my time to watch that view any day.
Group picture, dumpster of old shoes, and back on the bus. I got back to my room around 11:30, showered, dressed, and did my hair in under 30 minutes. Good thing I don't take a lot of time :) We were off to the picnic at noon, and waited for the pizza meal once we got there (#waiting). Once we ate, we forever waited for the buses to be ready to take us to historical downtown (#foreverwaiting). I still don't understand why we didn't leave earlier, but pretty much the entire group was done eating by 1:45-2:00, but our bus couldn't leave until 2:45, which took away precious time in the city. No big deal, I suppose.
No big deal? But there's so much to see!
We split off into small groups of four or five once we got there and decided on things we would like to do. I went with Connor and Ashley squared. The first and best decision we made was to go into the gelato shop just off King Street called Paolo's. Inside, we met an Italian lady from Florence, who made gelato with her husband in this small shop. Let me tell you, that was the best gelato I've ever had. Confession: I don't have a lot of gelato, but I feel like this might be a contender for people who do. We chatted together and she gave us directions to a few restaurants and other fun things, so we took off for some other fun things. We walked King down to Market Street, where we actually walked through a real live market! So many cool things. I bought an amazing, handmade ceramic mug that I plan to use for my tea from now on. There were also basket weavers and different clothing to choose from. Connor was very into going to see the Civil War remnants like Fort Sumner and the Battery, so we took a long walk across what seemed like the whole city. But man, was it worth it. I enjoyed every second of walking through Charleston and simply enjoying the view and the breeze off the hah-ba. When we realized we may not have time for anything else, we raced back to the bus to arrive right on time. We didn't get any food, so Connor and I scarfed some Popeyes to hold us over. I'm still not sure why we needed almost two and a half hours to get ready for Celebration City, but it gave me good time to write some blogs since I was behind.
8:30. I slip on my dress, fix my hair and makeup, and head down to the celebration. The reflection of the entire trip was so awesome - all the buses had a couple people share their experiences, then they all sang a bus song created from the melodies of other songs, but with original lyrics to STLF. Everyone's performance and trip sounded absolutely wonderful. We share, don't compare here.Recognition was given to appropriate people, and (I didn't think this was possible) it made me feel even more blessed to be riding ISU bus three: mystery! We rocked the house down, took some pictures, and now I'm in sweatpants, blogging about my day. I'm very tired, so my bed sounds so nice right now - not to be anti-social or anything. I can hear them screaming and shouting at the top of their lungs and all I can think is: how do they have the energy for that?!
I'm pooped. And everyone feels it too.
But as much as I want to sleep in my own bed again, I wish all 44 of these people could sleep in it with me. ... well, that came out wrong, but I think you know what I mean :) I started to become teary-eyed when the speakers began to talk about making this experience more than just the nine days, but in the back of my mind I know that I may never see some of these people again. Of course I would hate for that to happen, but we're all busy people and things happen. I'm gonna miss these guys. And the final stretch of reality begins tomorrow morning at 8:15.
Confession: This roll of film engraved in my mind has been the most real thing to me in a long, long time.