I signed up for a bus trip into Charleston to see the lay of the land and learn something about its culture. There were two full busses of women on this trip. People on one bus didn't intermingle with people on the other bus, as we didn't stop at the same places at the same time.
I learned about this city being the hub of the slave trade and that rice was a major crop of the area. Growing rice was very labor-intensive and it was discovered that blacks from the Sierra Leone area of Africa were very knowledgeable in raising rice because the climate there is just like here. So, the whites took them from their homes to come here to work for them. They got rich from rice-growing, too. The blacks found some of the same raw material here as in Sierra Leone to make their baskets, so that's what they did. At first the baskets were used in separating the rice from the chaff, but later they were used for lots of things. Now, there are fewer people who know how to sew these baskets (they are not weaved, but sewn using palmetto strands) but the demand is still there. So, the baskets now cost much more than just 10 years ago.
I also learned that Fort Sumter was built long before the Civil War because the southerners knew it might come to a fight one day and they started preparing themselves to defend the city. Remember, these people had money from rice plantations. We went by some very expensive homes, one of which is the owner of the Piggly Wiggly grocery stores. He has pigs on his walkway instead of the lions we see in front of some homes. He dresses his pigs in line with the season!
There are many old homes here from the 1700s even. They were built as single room houses with porches facing the direction of the prevailing winds so that the breezes cool off the inside of the house whenever possible.
After getting off the bus to be on our own for a few hours, most people went into the Oyster restaurant. I walked around and looked for things we had seen on the bus. I didn't find Rainbow Row (houses painted in different pastel colors to be cooler in summer), but there are lots of homes painted as such on many streets. I found an English pub and had a sandwich and ale there before going back to the meeting place for hte bus ride back to the convention site - the county fairground.