Travelogue on Hilton Head Island

by Isabelle Garcia

As a STEM major, art history challenged me to think less numerically and more artistically, from the perspective of artists central to some of art history’s most significant moments. In order to understand the historical context of each time period, we conducted case studies; these were reading-based assignments wherein we focused on specific pieces of art and learned about their historical contexts as well as their connections to current events. This travelogue, focused on the artistic styles of The Travels of Marco Polo, was one of our case study assignments. Our assignment was to choose a past vacation and to write about our journey through the lens of Marco Polo. This is my version of his travelogue with Hilton Head Island in South Carolina as the destination. I wrote in the style of Marco Polo, both in terms of descriptions and of sentence structure. This assignment opened my eyes to varied writing styles as well as how different mindsets make observations. 

Key Words: Marco Polo, travelogue, 13th century, exploration, biography

I write this journal so that I may look back on my travels to Hilton Head Island and so that I may not forget its substance. Seemingly so, I share my observations and experiences with the people of my home so that they may too long to travel to the land of South Carolina.

It takes a journey of less than a day’s time to travel through the marsh state of South Carolina and reach the town of Hilton Head. The route we travel is hardly ever acquired by foot, as the trek through the mountains and forests would be brutal to the body. The road leading to the island is abundant with nature, mainly of trees, short grasses, and others of the sort. As you near the town, the land becomes more and more fertile, as it is swampy and full of rivers that cut through the land and spill out into vast lakes. Throughout Hilton Head exist a number of animals, many of those belonging to the serpent-like family. Large lizards, which the natives call alligators, crowd the town and show little fear to observers. Locals rarely dare to hunt them as they are notorious for their massive size and jagged teeth. Their violent behavior is not alien to visitors either. They reside in the rivers but stray away from the coastline where the Atlantic Ocean leads beyond the horizon and towards the heavens. It seems as though the sun constantly shines its light on the island as the heat is ruthless and unforgiving. The people say, however, that when it does rain, it comes down with vigor as if the Lord God is furious with the land and its inhabitants.

The people of Hilton Head can barely be organized into one specific identity. Upon arrival, many of the island’s inhabitants were travelers like us, coming from both near and far. Even more so, the island natives originally were born of other lands, and they wear their race proudly. There are people of both Asian and European blood, living as one community. People are of all colors, whites and blacks alike. They carry on with their practices near the coast where fishing is prevalent, and the hunt is abundant. The ruler, if there be one, is mighty yet quiet, as one rarely sees his face. But, his presence is evident through the laws of the island. The rules stand simply to maintain the harmony of the people and are enforced by the ruler’s men. Although the people are diverse, they speak in universal language and cover their nature in the same clothes but of different colors: garments that represent their unique character amongst a sea of other dwellers.