Today we got to taste lots of what Louisiana has.
We started off this morning with an air boat tour of the swamps near New Orleans. Our tour guide was native to the area and had lots of experience with alligators and other wildlife in the swamp. The bayou is a maze of large and small channels between the heavy forest and it would be impossible to find your way around without a guide. Our guide, Rodney, was knowledgeable about the environment and knew where to take us to meet a breeding pair of alligators and a large alligator, called Dante, also came to visit our boat. Rodney also spoke to us about the conservation efforts and the government regulations which help to preserve the alligators and other wildlife. The tour was fantastic and lots of fun to go through the bayou.
While we were out on the bayou it started raining, not too badly, but certainly enough to get us soaking wet through the ponchos supplied by Rodney. On the way back, the rain got worse. And worse. And worse. By no means is is an exaggeration to say it was the heaviest rain I have ever seen. While we very slowly drove back to the hotel we were joking that it must be a hurricane or a cyclone. It actually turned out to be a tornado. (Don’t worry, we were safe. The roads drain very well here and Chris drives well in all conditions. It did give me a good benchmark for heavy rain, however.)
After spending a few hours waiting for the rain to stop, we went to the French Quarter which is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in America and has a cool mix of tourist shops, restaurants and artists collectives.
We visited the voodoo museum which is in the heart of the French Quarter. The museum provides a lot of information about voodoo which is still very active in New Orleans (practiced by about 16% of the population). Voodoo is a lot like the city itself and is a mix of a wide range of traditions and the museum presents these traditions in an honest and insightful way.
We also had dinner at the Gumbo Shop. Creole food is some of the best food in America and the gumbo shop is a great example of it.
We had lots of fun in Louisiana and got to see a great sample of it.