Even though I had grown up nearby, I had never had the opportunity to visit Louisiana cajun country. There were plenty of cajuns where I lived, but they had already drifted away from their central turf. On this trip, I decided I needed to see such things.
Lafayette, Lousiana is considered to be the capital of Acadiana, so I figured it was the best place to start. However, my first stop in the city was not auspicious, just a central park, but I got out of the car to walk around a bit.
I was happy to see Spanish moss again after being in places where it had been ripped off the trees by hurricanes.
I don't know if the park people were doing normal or stange things.
The park was right next to the university.
Just a bit later, I saw the real heart of Lafayette.
Wonderful peering into those old store windows! I saw a pic of John Wayne, two old wooden theatre chairs, a Beatles LP, the old wash board that you can get a tune out of! Those beads must be for sale? on show? Wouldn't last 1 minute here.....
Wow ~~ what a well-wrought, enjoyable thread, very especially for me. Lafayette is where I went to college, as did my parents. In fact, the school could be said to be responsible for my existence, since it's where Mama and Daddy met. Great to get to wander through there again. The school has grown, but so much has not changed there or in the downtown, despite the heavy-handed use of rue-this and rue-that to drive home the French heritage. I'd forgotten what a perfectly lovely moderne city hall it has.
But it was the pics of Breaux Bridge that brought on sniffling homesickness, specifically the one with the federal highway sign pointing the way to I-10. It's such a Louisiana town -- the building styles, the greenness, the business area, the cemetery, the last names, "fais do do" -- everything.
I remember being sorely disappointed the first time I went to Lafayette because I somehow had it in my head, wrongly, that it was much older in appearance than it turned out to be. I have occasion to go there a couple of times a year for a garden conference and to hear music as they have some wonderful venues there. But, it is Breaux Bridge that really captures the heart and soul of the Cajun people and they wear it well. I'm glad you got to go there. In another week or so thousands of people will descend upon them for their annual Crawfish Festival. I wouldn't be caught dead there.
Would you do me a huge favor and capitalize the Cajun in the thread title Kerouac? I think they earned it, pretty please?
I was headed south towards the mouth of the Mississippi, and my next stop turned out to be Morgan City. One funny thing for me is that I had few real notions of where any of these places really were, even though I have been familiar with all of the names all of my life. The television stations that we received in my hometown were the New Orleans stations, so on the news and weather we heard things about "the Crescent City" (the common nickname for New Orleans back then) but also Lafayette, Slidell, Bogalusa, Morgan City, Houma, Shreveport, Baton Rouge and Lake Charles, just to name a few of them. My little kid mind turned just about all of them except Baton Rouge into inner or outer suburbs of New Orleans, and this trip was my first opportunity to put the geography back into the correct places.
Even without knowing the name of Morgan City, I think that the bridges would have made me stop there anyway.
If I did not have a road map right next to me, the size of the river would have made me think I was crossing the Mississippi. However, the map quickly disproves this misconception.
I could only make out Gaston and Célestine among the first names. I know people by those names, but they are not young. A couple of generations ago, far more "antique" names were found here than in anywhere I'd seen in France; that was also the case in Belgium. Not so much nowadays.
I thought that broad river was the Mississippi as well.
Well, I must comment on the Morgan City portion. It's another blast from the past for me, but a more recent one. I used to have to take my husband down to that part of Louisiana to get on a boat. It was usually some ungodly dawn hour, so never really spent much time there.
In the you-can-take-the-girl-out ... etc. vein, what kills me about this thread is that it all looks to me the way things are 'sposed to look. ;D
My next visit going south was to Houma (which is pronounced Homa). A waterway, probably originally a bayou, divides the city in two.
An event was taking place the day I was there. There seem to be non stop festivals in Louisiana in the spring, whereas in France the non stop festivals are mostly from June through September. In any case, I very much approve of places with lots of festivals, even when the pretense is flimsy. People just want to have a good time.
I presume that most of the stuff would be happening in the evening, but I was there in mid afternoon.
The central park was the main point of congregation.
I've never been to Morgan City. What a sleepy looking town. My husband's work takes him there occasionally. I easily would have confused the Atchafalaya River for the Mississippi too.
I see signs around here for the Shrimp and Petroleum Festival and it always cracks me up!! What ever on earth are they thinking? (Although, after the BP oil spill it was a rude reminder). Louisiana I believe likely has the largest amount of festivals of any place I know.
Oh my goodness, now we're in Houma!!! You certainly did get around Kerouac!!