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Towed out of the swamp…

It’s not often I get to say that I’m awake while the Girl is sleeping, but alas, the day has finally arrived.  Sadly, it’s not because of anything awesome, like skydiving or bungee jumping, but more because I’m wrestling with insomnia and she’s not (also a weird reversal of roles). 

Can I mention how hysterical it is that the Girl stole the ‘Jailhouse Times’ newspaper from a Mississippi convenience store?  No kidding, there were pictures of people who’d been arrested (not charged, fyi) for things like ‘petit theft’.  It took me a little while to figure out that petit theft didn’t mean they stole something little, but rather something petty (like a newspaper).  She wasn’t joking when she said I was checking the rearview mirror for the Sheriff.  You just never know.  We might see Mel’s photo in the ‘most wanted’ section of next week’s paper.

So, I thought I’d pick up where the Girl left off yesterday.  We arrived in Lafayette, Louisiana on Monday afternoon.  It was an easy two-hour drive, and we checked into our really comfortable hotel without any problems.  To be completely honest, we were enthralled with the idea of the Acadians that live in Louisiana.  The Girl did a bunch of research and specifically worked this area of french cajun country into our trip so she could practice her french. 

We kinda lazed around for a couple of hours and then jumped into a cab to head out to this really cool place called Randol’s Dance Hall for dinner and what turned out to be quite a show.   The Girl keeps asking everyone, the hotel clerk, the cab driver, the servers at restaurants and everyone who will acknowledge her presence if they speak french.  They all shake their head in a sad way and tell us the story of how french was banned in the 1920’s and only recently became popular again.  We’ve also heard from the younger generation that their parents and grandparents chose not to teach them french so they could gossip about their neighbours while the kids were around.

Our first cab ride to Randol’s was….interesting.  A really friendly cabbie named Terry picked us up after we waited for almost 30 minutes at our hotel.  He asked where we were from, we said Canada and his first response was ‘I hear y’all have some great herbs up there’.  You know me, the herb connoisseur I am, I come back with ‘yessir, Mary Jane loves Canada’.  WTF?  I have no idea where that came from, the Girl looks at me like MJ and I have been hanging out and I shake my head.  I still have no idea where that came from. 

So we get to Randol’s and ask for a seat near the dance floor.  The reviews all said this was a tourist trap, so I didn’t have high hopes.  The server took our order, brought us beers and we watched the band do sound-check.  About 45 minutes after we arrived, people started going out onto the dance floor and sitting on benches.  The band hadn’t actually started yet.  About 15 minutes after that, 3 beers in, the Cajun band (accordion, fiddle, steel guitar, acoustic guitar and drums) started up a little diddy and the dance floor was full of members of the blue-hair club!  Seriously.  There must’ve been 20 people on the dance floor, all in couples, all over 70, and all doing the same two-step.  There was one exception though. 

 There was this sweet little lady, I imagine she’s got a tiny house somewhere in the mountains and a tiny little closet with some garden gnome friends.  She must’ve been 4 feet tall with a hair net type hat on that gave her at least another 6 inches.  When the music started, she got up from her bench and started doing laps around the dance floor, doing a two-step by herself, sashaying her hips and clapping every few beats.  It.  Was.  Adorable.   We laughed and laughed and awwed when one of the old men came and bowed at her to ask her to dance. 

We figured out during our meal why the night started (and ended) so early; the dance hall is open from 6:30 to 9:30.  It’s beacuse the old people don’t stay past 9:30pm and the only reason people come to this restaurant is to watch the old people dance.  I guess that’s what the ‘tourist trap’ reviewers meant.  I actually found it quite authentic, I haven’t seen 70 year olds move like that since…. ever!

The next morning (yesterday), we hit the road early (10 am) and headed out to our swamp tour.  We arrived and found some french speaking people!  Unfortunately, they were from France.  I don’t mean it’s unfortunate that they were from France, just that it was unfortunate that we still hadn’t heard a Louisiana cajun french person speak yet. 

In the thirty-five degree heat (not including the humidex), we stood on the dock, backed away from some huge ass spiders hanging in the trees and eventually got into the swamp boat, and figured out that our swamp guide was going to be doing a bilingual tour.  When he started speaking french, the Girl and I looked at each other with raised eyebrows.  We could completely understand him, don’t get me wrong, it’s just that it was like listenening to Acadie-man with a southern drawl.  It cracked us up.  The Girl took a video of him speaking  (see below).

It was a really interesting swamp tour, we saw a lot of cranes, egrets, trees and spanish moss.  Even though we didn’t see any alligators, we did learn a lot about the eco-system and about the bayous of Louisiana.  We were in a 14 passenger swamp boat, which was full, and at the beginning of the tour, the guide (whose name escapes me) said that we’d likely be dragging bottom the whole way, since the bayou only has 4 feet of water.   We hit bottom a few times, but nothing the tour guide couldn’t get us out of.

On our final push to shore, we passed a dead carp that must’ve been about 2 feet long.  It was floating, belly up, and people in the boat kept asking what it was.  As the tour guide turned the boat around to get a closer look, I felt the top of the boat go up and then felt something solid underneath me. 

Less than two hundred feet from shore, we’d managed to get ourselves stuck on a log.  And.  Not only did we get stuck on a log, but the boat’s motor crapped out at the same time.  As our skipper tried in vain to start the motor, I looked around and very slowly realized that not only were there no life jackets in this boat, there also weren’t any oars.  We were kinda up a creek without a …. never mind. 

BUT NO FEAR, friends!  The skipper called Brian, another guy with a boat, and Brian sped along the bayou, came up to the front of the boat and bumped our boat off the log with his boat!  It was like boat bumper cars in the Louisiana swamp.  Southern hospitality at its finest!  Brian grabbed a rope, tied our boat to his and towed us to the shore.  Seriously.

We got into the car after the Girl bid adieu to the Cajun and headed for the nearest place with coffee.  A good lunch and some caffeine helped to propel us through the stifling heat.  It’s HOT down here.  We looked around a quaint little village, bought some cute little things from an antique store and then headed out to the Acadian Museum in St. Martinville. 

I’d love to tell you about the Museum, but to be honest, I was completely distracted by some people speaking in the lobby.  There were two women and an adorable little kid talking to the Museum guy, asking about Acadian heritage, about lineage from Nova Scotia, about french names and whether or not there was a list of those exiled from Acadia in Canada to Louisiana.  Then, we heard the Museum guy tell these women that Quebec didn’t really want to be a part of Canada and that they want to go back to France.  I was shocked. 

I looked at the Girl and walked up to the women and the Museum guy and said ‘You’re mistaken, Quebec doesn’t want to move to France.  Some Quebecers want independence, but most want (and have chosen, by referendum) to stay in Canada.’  They all kind of looked at me like I was some whackjob, and then I said ‘Oh, we’re Canadian’.  They smiled and nodded and continued their chat as I moved on. 

Of course, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t want to talk to them more, so as I pretended to read the Museum signs, I completely eavesdropped on their conversation.  It turns out the younger of the two women is working on a fictional novel about the  Acadian exile from Nova Scotia and trying to track down her roots.  As we started to make our way towards the exit, the adorable little girl was hanging out, so I started chatting with her, making little drum beats with our feet and generally being a dork. 

I go to find the Girl, who is still immersed (of course she is), and I find her taking notes in her little Hello Kitty notepad (of course she is).  The little girl sees her notepad and is immediately impressed, I get ditched and now the Girl and said 3 year old are comparing pink purses, shoes and all things Hello Kitty.  Mel said it right yesterday when she said that she gets along best with three year old girls! 

We have subsequently agreed to a very hospitable dinner invitation from Morgan (the lady who’s writing the book), her mom, Eddie (still not sure where that name’s from) and Jiffer (aka Jennifer, the adorable three year old who will no doubt covet the Girl’s stuff over dinner tonight). 

That’s the thing about the South.  We’ve met some amazing people.  In New Orleans, we spent the night in a bar and made friends that I suspect will be friends for a long time.  These two boys asked us if we’d let housebroken boys sit next to us, and we immediately hit it off.  Scott ordered a drink, offered me his cherry and told me how much he liked girls (to which I responded, ‘me tooooo’!!)  Then there was Minnesota, this cute boy who’s name I didn’t even ask, because I wanted to call him Minnesota, and the boys from Calgary who were in town on a conference.  Now there’s Morgan, Eddie and Jiffer who invited complete strangers out for dinner, because, well….I guess because that’s what they do down here. 

We’re having fun.  We really like nice people.  :0)






One Response to “Towed out of the swamp…”

  • The Outlaws says:

    We can totally see how 70 year olds would be tourist attractions. Love the one about the net adding several inches to the height of the lone dancer — before she was courteously asked to perambulate.

    Bring Minnesota back to Ontario — he sounds intriguing to say the least. And your dinner sounds like it will be interesting, informative, and lots of fun. Not to mention, you will find out so much more about all things pink and Hello Kitty!!!

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