Forrest Gump, Elvis and me

Elvis had kept me up all night and was screeching again outside as I sat down to a breakfast of homemade shrimp ’n grits.

‘My shrimp and grits are the best in Beaufort, Probably the best you’ll find this side of Charleston. Maybe even in the South,’ announced  Cindy our Airbnb host.

I did like her grits. Like Irish porridge but whipped up from ground corn, it was rich and buttery and delicious with prawns.

But most of all I loved Cindy’s accent, especially the way she said ‘Chass ton’. I hung on her every word, waiting for the dropped rs.

Shut up Elvis!’ she shouted to the roof outside, ‘that’s enough. I sure hope he didn’t keep yawl awake all night’

We weren’t going to complain about anything. We were having a marvellous time staying with Cindy and her daughter Ally in their luxurious house in Lady’s Island in Beaufort.

For the last week we had been on a road trip of Georgia and South Carolina, our final 3gosouth.

In a trusty Jeep Patriot, we had braved driving on the wrong side of the road and headed down the Interstate from Atlanta to the coast,crisscrossing swamps and marshes, staying in family homes and rented apartments and soaked up the Southern Hospitality. They sure were very friendly.

In Charleston, we abandoned the car on the Battery, facing out onto the  Atlantic and walked through the  vast historic district. Our jaws dropping at the huge Antebellum houses, just like Tara in ‘Gone with the Wind’/

‘Where yawl from?’ said a slight, elegant lady leading a poodle through the cobbled streets. She wore a bright white Honduras t-shirt and an even brighter whiter perfect smile.

Her name was Teresa and she was delighted we were Irish and gave us us travel tips about Charleston and asked what we were looking for.

‘ Coffee’ I answered, exhausted after hours of Interstate driving. She laughed and walked four blocks out of here way to bring us to her favourite cafe. She loved hearing about our trip and told Darragh he was the luckiest boy alive before telling us about her volunteering work in Honduras.

She walked past Starbucks and brought us to an arty independent cafe. ‘These folks will look after you’ she said and left us in capable hands.

Charleston,Savannah and Beaufort are living museums with stunning houses, unchanged since before the Civil War, that form a backdrop to so much Southern Literature and Hollywood blockbusters like Forrest Gump, Midnight in the Garden Of Good and Evil and Prince of Tides.

We got a kick out of visiting the movie scenes. Bonaventura Cemetery with its ghostly drapery of Spanish moss , the setting of so much of Midnight. Crossing over the swamplands and savannahs of Prince of Tides. Seeing where Forrest ran and ran,waited for his bus and sailed a shrimp boat  down river.

But even in our wildest starstruck dreams we didn’t expect to meet Elvis.

The Peacock


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