Where time moves as slow as molasses, southern hospitality extends beyond formality, and voodoo is not a practise, but a way of life for some. Louisiana is a deep, rich cultural tapestry of conventional, off-beat, and old fashioned fun. Our Flightie Ryan recently went to New Orleans to experience the lively culture of the city and the serene nature of the bayou. Here he shares a moment in the Big Easy that stuck with him.
Just a short drive from New Orleans are a number of picturesque Louisiana swamps and a number of tours that you can take to explore the endless waterways and breathtaking nature. In a boat called the Voodoo Queen, we floated slowly down the Louisiana bayou. We drifted through the swamp milkweed and purple hydrangeas that coated the river. The river opened as the little steel boat hummed softly along.
The crowns of the Cypress tree towered overhead and the emerald Spanish moss draped the river bed like fallen curtains. The sun beamed relentlessly and the heat pulsed on the boat and river, inviting the snappers of the swamp to find their basking logs. Baritone bullfrogs croaked and crickets chimed their soprano melodies.
The Blue Heron and White Egret were statuettes under the moss, soon to wade in the water to their cool hunting ground. Waterfowl crossed the open sky of the river; wild wings against a southern blue sky. This was their sanctuary and I was the Northern visitor. The American alligator’s snout sprouted upon the surface water. The gator swam alongside the boat, her long tail gliding smoothly and effortlessly, her black slit eyes never flinching. She was the Queen of the Bayou. The Captain said, “We don’t feed ’em like we used to.” This is a good thing, this is their land, not ours to interfere. I kept my arms and legs inside the boat.
A weathered and shambled shack appeared on the muddy shore of the swamp. A tourist in a safari hat and twangy southern accent nudged me, “Y’know them Cajuns can conjure Voodoo spells.” Truth be told, I wanted my fortune told out here in this bayou. We drifted by the shack. An old Creole woman rocked on the chair of her porch, she lifted a finger off her knee—an acknowledgement of sorts. I understood. This is her land and I’m the visitor.