Friday, April 23, 2010

Spartanburg

My tour of Southern towns is off to a fine start. The trees are of green tones that makes them appear as thought they are just waking up from a black and white to color picture.
Outdoors the weather is perfect. Indoors it is on the frosty side. An inverse ratio between air-conditioning indoors and heat outside pervades hot and humid climates. Glad my tour is in the mild spring...for I would surely freeze here in July.

Outdoors the weather is perfect. Indoors it is on the frosty side. An inverse ratio between airconditioning indoors and heat outside pervades hot and humid climates. Glad my tour is in the mild spring...for I would surely freeze here in July.
Getting accustomed to having wheels. My amateur driving status was on display earlier on when I failed to notice an unfortunately placed sidewalk as I entered my first hotel of the tour, the Marriott Renaissance in Spartanburg (despite its name, the staff is only in uniform, not costume).
The Chapman Cultural Center is lovely. It opened in 2007, but has a long-established feeling. The theater that "Tea on the Axis of Evil" played in seats 500. It is a lovely, classically designed room with a balcony.
The publicity director of the Chapman Cultural Centre, Steve Wong, took me to a delicious dinner of shrimp and grits, setting the culinary bar high on my first tasty outing.
Later, he told me that my screening drew the largest and most engaged audience of the series.
There were at least 9 people in the audience who had been to Syria. Some very elegantly attired elderly couples reminded me of what people in these parts of the Gracious South should look like. Some of the questions were more personal: one linguist instructor inquired about my accent. I explained that I have an empathetic ear that knows no borders.
The Southern accents here are less pronounced. I suspect by Sunday, my accent will be infused with a sweet sound of Georgia.
It was a wonderful crowd with intelligent and fun questions, which affirmed once again that Americans are curious and do want to know about real life in the Middle East. Several people commented that they thought it was important that TEA reach a wide audience.
Hope to come back to Spartanburg to speak at local colleges, with the help of two sociology professors who attended the screening.
Had a huge Southern breakfast with a nice, storytelling couple from Maine.
I am off to see te 70' tower that some years ago was moved from near old church to mark a new center of the town of Spartanburg. Wish I had been here to see the move.
Next stop is Fitzgerald GA - a mere 6 hours by car.
It is a little sad to leave so soon. Perry, Steve and Steve were kind hosts to TEA.