By Tess Malijenovsky Emerald Isle – By the time she made it to my apartment, Deborah Walters, a 63-year-old grandmother, was halfway through a 2,500-mile journey from Maine to Guatemala. She’s traveling in a kayak. Alone. “A lot of people go out paddling for a day and then pull a short night and sleep,” says Walters. “Well that’s all I’m doing. The only difference is that I’m doing it day after day after day until I get to Guatemala.”
A wall of thick heat waves over me as I step off the plane in Zanzibar. I’d never heard of this Tanzanian island in the Indian Ocean until a friend of mine from college said he’d be living there learning Swahili and extended a casual invitation. Thanks to either the Google images or a dream I’ve had since I was a little girl, I’ve just arrived 8,600 miles away from Beaufort.
There are many things for a woman to fear when she travels alone. Perhaps because it wasn’t my first time traveling alone or in Ireland, I wasn’t afraid. However, it was in this cold, dreary and majestic land that I realized I’d been living a life consumed by fear.
Four Days Up the Coast of Croatia The McDonald’s employee sees my littler sister and me sleeping on their red bench seat. She continues to sweep under our empty table, waking me up. It was hard to fall asleep anyway, what with the terrible Spanish music and cold draft in the Barcelona airport at 2 a.m. It’s just Chloe and me now, in transit overnight to Dubrovnik, Croatia where we will arrive without reservations—literally without lodging plans, but also without expectations of this southeastern European nation between the Balkans and the Adriatic Sea.
Ses Salines beach at the most southern tip of Ibiza is known by the rich, the beautiful and the famous. Walking along the shoreline it all appears pretentiously picturesque: yachts on the horizon, the inviting aqua clear waters, a sharp and jagged coastline of yellow cliffs, carved stones by the water’s edge. But when I look a little closer I find champagne corks in the sand, see a naked woman tanning next to her gold pumps and hear techno from the beach bars drowning out the waves.
Tomato Fight in Spain! The world’s largest tomato throwing festival takes place in the small Spanish town of Buñol, 45 minutes outside of Valencia, every year. It’s called La Tomatina. And ever since I was a little girl I wanted to be in a food fight like the ones I saw in the movies. With only four hours of sleep since our last night in Madrid, the four of us travelers woke up at 5:45 a.m. to catch a metro and a train to Buñol. We had to make do with wine for breakfast and to no surprise, there were hundreds of people from around the world who also shared my dream of launching ripened red fruits.
The morning I was to leave Beaufort for my seven week venture abroad in Europe and Africa, my father held out his hand with three small, white and black-speckled pebbles, asking me to choose one. “Take it with you wherever you go and bring it back,” he told me. The other two were for him and my younger sister Chloe who was coming with me for the first three weeks in Europe. My parents have always supported our passion for world travel, but with the message of never forgetting where we come from.
Four locals eager for hunting season reveal the differences among deer hunters. One hunts deer with a bow and arrow high in the camouflage of a tree. One is a sheriff deputy and taxidermist who hunts by rifle with his three daughters. One hunts in fellowship as the president of a hunting club. One is a local good ‘ol boy who hunts a country road by foot with a keen eye and lives off his land. These huntsmen may have different styles, but all of them cultivated a devout passion for hunting as young boys. All of them have been waiting for August 15, the first day of hunting season, in great anticipation.
I’ve been an “outsider” since last August, listening to the locals echo “Water Festival” in all its glory since I moved to Beaufort about a year ago. Man, it’s the best time of the year… Just wait ‘til Water Festival…The sandbar is crazy! etc… Well the notorious Beaufort holiday has come and gone—live music was danced to, new friends were made, old friends embraced, and sandbar debauchery had. By the time Water Festival was over, in a way I would have never anticipated a year ago, I had a newfound understanding of sandbar summers and southern nights.
The Outsider and her dad go foraging for wild mushrooms… then cook them and serve them over chateaubriand. (“Papa” happens to be a French chef!) If you see a brunette man with a woven basket foraging your wooded property for wild, vibrantly colored mushrooms, please don’t be alarmed. It’s probably my father, or Mr. Mali as many parents and schoolchildren know him.
Biorock is ready to roll in the Lowcountry Water bugs of the Lowcountry, your beloved’s kidney is failing. In the words of Captain Jacques Cousteau: “The sea, the great unifier, is man’s only hope. Now, as never before, the old phrase has a literal meaning: We are all in the same boat.” This World Ocean Day, man finds himself in a boat siphoning down an eddy of dystrophy.
A Mother’s Day Meditation It’s May and an adorable White-tailed fawn is curled up by the house garden or alone by the side of the road. With one look—its big black eyes and long lashes, wobbling on its unsure newborn legs, and fur speckled with white dots—we can feel our hearts melting just a little bit inside. Naturally, we want to mother the apparently helpless creature by taking it home to care for it, because we’ve assumed the little guy is Bambied (orphaned or abandoned by the mother doe). In actuality, “99 times out of 100 that’s simply not the case,” says Charles Ruth, wildlife biologist and Deer Project Supervisor for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
On the spring’s full moon this May 6, scientists, Master Naturalists and members of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will be gathering in great anticipation for the arrival of two endangered species on South Carolina’s barrier islands. “To me this has always been one of nature’s greatest stories,” said Pete Richards, President of Fripp Audubon. That is, the story of the horseshoe crab and a shorebird called the Red Knot, and the synchronicity of their fragile existence.
April 22 is “Earth Day.” So, is it a day to celebrate the outdoors in the Lowcountry, to feel the splash of a saltwater mist and breathe in the fresh air? Or, is it a day to raise awareness of the planet’s “cancer” – the metastasized tumor, if you will, that is slowly degrading air and water quality, piling toxic waste, expending energy and destroying the ecosystems we cherish? Perhaps this Earth Day we’ll ask ourselves: Am I sensitive or am I proactive?