A New Zealand Couple Share Their Special Story of Their Time in Charleston, SC

By Jhovaan Reinds

Hello Charleston

And thanks for having us in your town!

Four years ago, in New Zealand, my husband and I got the email. ‘You’ve been selected for further processing for the United States Diversity Visa’. We freaked out, and went to our local bar. We were not big shots. I worked in a picture framers and he manned the phones for a health insurer. We’ll never get this opportunity again, we said. Let’s do it!

Today, I write to you from the beautiful James Island. We’ve been here for one week, staying with some very patient and loving locals. Squirrels chat outside in the warm sun under a gorgeous blue sky. Are we sure its winter here? This is not winter where I’m from!

People wave at us from the road edge while they push strollers and walk dogs. There are no sidewalks here but the residents seem happy to share their front yards with the public. From the trees hangs a beautiful moss, making them look cuddly and inviting. Until my host points out that bugs live in there and to not touch it.

We’ve seen Folly Beach, our first glimpse of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a stunningly calm cobalt colour in comparison with the Pacific. I’ve seen my first dolphin in person, hanging out with huge pelicans begging for shrimp from the trawlers at Shem Creek. We’ve walked along the waterfront, admiring the historic buildings and famous Pineapple Fountain. We’ve taken the time to discuss the engineering feats of the Ravenel and Don Holt bridges. The Angel Oak in Johns Island has awed us and provided much quiet contemplation in the company of curious, laughing children.

What has really struck us though, is the hospitality of the people. Whether in Cory’s Grilled Cheese on Maybank, or Queology in downtown, or The Mill in Park Circle, everywhere we go we are treated as friends. That’s different for us, and knowing that a kind, helpful person is waiting to help with coffee and ‘biscuits with grits’ makes waiting at the DMV all the more worth it.

So thank you again, Charleston. We are looking forward to getting to know you more, and contributing to your vibrant community. You have special people here and a care for your heritage like nothing we’ve seen before. In the meantime, we are available for car washing 7 days a week (well, I might send the husband! He’s great with a sponge).

Yours for the indefinite future.

Jhovaan and Nicholas.