Posted by: adventuressetravels | July 9, 2010

The Fish Out of Water Effect

Planning my trip I held a golden image of the South in my mind.  I thought of gentility, manners, honeyed accents, and over-the-top hospitality.  Of course the other side of the coin was that there was certainly dark undercurrent of racism, but by in this day and age that was certainly well hidden.  A place with echoes of Gone With the Wind, and the grandeur of the Old South around every corner.  H’s description of Savannah had done nothing but reinforce these pretty little notions.

Before I got off the boat, my illusions were already crumbling.

“Some of the wealthiest people have a third grade education.  And they’re proud of it. They’re old money – their great grandparents had land and the money has passed from generation to generation.  It’s a different world,” B told me grimly and relayed story after story of the South he knew.  Each more disturbing than the last. 

I shuddered.  A place where ignorance was actually championed.  His tales of ignorance, old boy mentalities, and what had gone on even outside New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina all painted a very different picture of the South.  I started to realize how little about the place I really knew.  And I would be staying in the south a week and a half? 

Apprehension tickled the back of my mind.  Apprehension and vague memories; that’s right, weren’t the highest rates of obesity, unemployment found in the South?  What if everything B said was right?  Why was I putting myself in a hotbed of ignorance, crime, and racism?  On purpose!  What had I been thinking? 

But he had been talking about Louisiana, maybe Georgia was different.  I had heard great things about Savannah.  H had given it glowing reviews as had A, and both friends were educated, open-minded women whose opinions I trusted.  Anyway, I would be staying with a couchsurfer; a Georgia native at that.  Some of the most forward-thinking people I have met have been couchsurfers.  Maybe what B said was right, maybe it wasn’t.  This was just his perception and his experience.  Whatever the case; I’d get to see the real South; I just had to keep an open mind and suspend judgment.

M, my host, had seemed extremely nice on the phone.  He was even driving down from Savannah to pick me up; almost a 2-hour drive or so X told me.  Everything would be fine.  It couldn’t be as bad a place as B had described.  I may not be on a boat anymore but everything would be great, I reassured myself.   This was just post-sailing withdrawal, in other words the fish out of water effect.

As I sat and waited for M to get to the Marina I started to feel the familiar excitement welling up in my chest.  Good or bad, I was wading into uncharted waters.  I had gotten such differing accounts of the South that I didn’t know what to expect, but did I really want to go into it with preconceptions?  After all, this was the start of a new adventure…


  1. The Mason-Dixon Line is south of the border.

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