“It’s never encouraging to be awoken in a tent by headlights. I wanted to play possum–roll over, and pretend to sleep until they left,” writes David Hanson. “But this was exactly why I was here, a few hundred miles into a 500-mile canoe float down Georgia’s Chattahoochee. I came here to see the river, but I really came here to see its people. And here they were.”

Today, we bring you David’s story of discovering a culture at once foreign and strangely familiar–and all within a day’s drive of the place where he grew up.

David recently returned to the Chattahoochee to create a documentary, Who Owns Water,that chronicles a tri-state water war that threatens the river and the communities that depend on it.

This episode reposted by permission from our friends at The Dirtbag Diaries. For more great episodes, visit them at dirtbagdiaries.com.