Please don’t spray

circa 2006 The Light

When travelling I have always tried to avoid the guided tour. My preference has always been to discover new things on my own when ever possible. Its not that I am antisocial but put it this way, I want to discover new adventures at my own pace.


Guided tours tend to speed you around the main attractions and pause only to you a  allow pit stop and an opportunity to purchase Chinese made local antiquities. Of course these authentic souvenirs tend to have newly painted surfaces and reflect cultures and customs that don’t match the country you are visiting.

Case in point, last month a local artisan displaying his wares at a farmers market in Charlotte, North Carolina told me  that the carved chess sets that he was selling were handcrafted by Yankee prisoners of war during the US Civil War. Funny how plastic holds its finish after 150 years in a barn.

Life is not perfect, so one has set aside ones preferences on occasions and do things that might be referred to as “Not my usual approach” Last month’s tour of a plantation south of Pawleys Island, South Carolina was  a fine example of the exception to the rule. In this case the only way I could visit the place was to take the guided tour.

Hobcaw Barony is one of the few undeveloped tracts on the Carolinian coast.  Somewhat similar to the true meaning of Tatamagouche, Hobcaw is a  Native American word meaning“ between the waters”

During the Colonial times the land was granted to British settlers and as such it became a Barony. Over the years it was sold and subdivided into plantations extending from the river to the sea.  Hobcaw Barony was part of the great rice empire until the  turn of the 20th century.

Bernard M. Baruch, Wall Street financier and advisor to presidents, purchased the property comprised of 11 former plantations in 1905 for use as winter hunting retreat.  17500 acres of pristine wood, beach and salt marsh. Baruch invited presidents, prime ministers and politicians to hunt duck, turkey, deer, quail, foxes and hogs in the South Carolina Lowcountry. While the politicians  have left, the flora and fauna remains as a true glimpse of how nature was in the eighteenth century.

On his death the Barony lands passed on to his daughter Belle Buruch and in her will she created a foundation to manage the land as an outdoor laboratory for the colleges and universities in South Carolina.

Swamps, abandoned rice fields, pine and hardwood forests, salt marsh and barrier island environments provide habitat for many native animals of the coastal plain.

The only differences between the plantation then and now is that the slaves are now free and the tourists can be more of a pest that the fire ants.

On our trip one of the visitors insisted on spraying insect repellant over herself while remaining in the van with the rest of us. A gentleman from Ohio was annoyed when he found that there were no food facilities on the plantation and that the tour was focussed more on education than fun in the sun.

My friend Susan who lives in Bedford is an expert on how to deal with lost souls on holiday. Susan’s daily job is to direct tourists and travellers in the right direction at Stanfield International Airport. Susan tells me that many tourists seldom travel prepared for the places that they will visit.

Her stories about vacations that have gone wrong before they have started are priceless.There was the couple who wanted to ensure that would have access to their favorite drink so they bought two large bottles of rum at the Duty Free before they departed for Jamaica.  Another couple forgot their airline tickets at home. When asked which airline they were travelling on they replied Maritime Travel. When asked where they were going they replied South, very near a beach.

For our visit to Hocaw there were several people without water, proper clothing or suitable footware. The waiting list for this tour is a minimum of three weeks and the booking staff provided printed information on how to prepare oneself’s for the tour. Despite this valuable heads up, people arrived in flip flops, no hats, allergies to insects, fear of snakes, little interest in history and if that wasn’t bad enough one person wanted to feed the feral pigs popcorn.

The visit went well even if some were not impressed with nature in all its glory. As I was sharing my email address with a couple from Virginia so that we could exchange photos we took of the wild turkeys that morning, I over heard a parting comment from the guy from Ohio. “The tour was alright but some of the older buildings on sight wouldn’t rent well today because they don’t have air conditioning”.

Quietly Retired on Waugh’s River

Edward C Sampson

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