And this is where I took my Hispanic, Los Angelino husband for his college required cross cultural experience. Into a community that is 0.04% Hispanic.
My family is from a couple hundred miles farther south, in the Smoky Mountains, but the hill country of the northern Appalachian mountains isn't such a far cry culturally from where we're from.
So away we went! Armed with snacks, pillows, and a really old map, we winded our way south in search of moon pies and sweet tea. My momma and I were a smidge worried about finding cultural things for him to "experience" - but after the seventh time he asked what something meant after approximately 3 hours on the road, we decided it wouldn't be as hard as we thought!
There's some invisible line somewhere south of Indy where I'm fairly certain there's a shift in the time-space continuum. You drive past it and are transported back a minimum of thirty years (Paul says there's similar portal above my mom's front door, except it transports you several hundred miles south). See the towns we visited were little mining towns, impoverished now that the strip mines are clean. But the mountains dictate your lifestyle, and little coves of people spring up in the hollars and flat places along the mountain chains. Everyone has a dog, and a small garden, and you might see the same 25 people every day, unless you are bused out for school. The people are a hardy, stubborn set, devoted to their families, land, and very traditional way of life.
We went to a tiny little church, just up the mountain from where my grandparents had a church in Lost Creek, Kentucky. The congregation numbers about 25, but there were only 13 in attendance on Sunday (my family making up 4 of them!). Worship was strictly hymns, including my Paupa's favorite, The Old Rugged Cross.
|Buckhorn State Park|
Even with the intense poverty, this area is beautiful. Up in the mountains, the air is so clear and life slows down just a bit; it's easier to think.
It's impeccably hard to describe the difference in atmosphere, unless you've been there. But I miss it. I'm not sure I've really caught my breath since we got back, and I certainly haven't had a decent glass of iced tea!