Monday, February 22, 2016

A weekend of music

Louisiana is a state, like all the states, of diverse cultural differences. The Acadians were shipped from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, Canada to different places in the 1700s, with New Orleans one of these places. This has been immortalized in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's epic poem called "Evangeline", written in 1847. Their history, from their arrival in Louisiana down through time to today, is well documented in various museums and general information as it pertains to the specific area that is handed out in Chambers of Commerce and Visitor Bureaus. These people became what is known today as Cajuns and their music and food are the focus of our short visit to the area.

Basing ourselves out of Eunice, LA we have managed to cram in a lot in the short time that we have been here, starting with a trip into the fast food cuisine of Opelousas, our first stop. My favourite snack - deep fried dill pickles with ranch dressing, and the best that I have had to date. A small order but oh so worth it.
 and of course, one could make them like this:  but homemade never seem to be as flavourful as restaurant or kiosk style. Wonder why?

As is our norm, we like to make a tour of the state parks to see if we can park there with the RV, especially if we can get a senior discount. Very often these parks have 50Amp service and water in the site but no sewer, so that limits our time. Some great cycling out here but way too many hills to safely get in and out with the RV. Leveling could present a challenge as well.

Another norm is to stop at a local Chamber of Commerce to get the lowdown on the area and happenings of the time. The ladies at the Ville Platte, LA Chamber were just delightful
and all joined in to give a wonderful synopsis of everything, including that this area is the true Mardi Gras area and "why didn't we come down for that?" Leaving, we had our hands full: t-shirts, maps, pamphlets, booklets, and ideas.

 Saturdays in this area for us, all start early as Fred's Lounge (read bar), in Mamou, LA opens at 7:30am and is only open until 2pm with music from 9am til 11:15am.

 They do not serve breakfast, just drinks. So eat first and then come on in
 Where else can one have a bloody mary at 8am? coffee for me, thank you.
The musical part is a never ending line of local bands, each playing for one day, some more famous than others. Others call it a jam session where the players come together to form a band for the day, but I IMHO, doubt this. This part of the morning is actually a live local radio spot: KVPI 92.5 fm playing the Oldies. Smoking is allowed, so allow for stripping, washing the clothing, and showering as soon as you get back to wherever you are staying. People, as evidenced by a couple sitting next to us, come from all over the world to visit Fred's (they came from the US Virgin Islands), listen to music, and dance.

Another recommendation was to visit the Swamp Pop Music museum, which Danny did: He is more thrilled with immersing himself in this environment than I am. The whole culture is a very colourful one, both visual and auditory.

Saturday is finished up with a visit to the Rendez-Vous des Cajuns music radio show(again a live radio show) in Eunice. We have attended this before and enjoyed not only listening to the music but watching the people activities, of which most is dancing. Every Saturday has a different performer and band and is in a mixture of French and English with one week a month totally in French (we hit this one). This is held in the Liberty Theatre and sponsored by the Jean Lafayette National Park of Eunice. Again people come from all over to attend this.

 The RV park that we are staying in is renown for it's own hosting of the music culture of the area. Here we discovered that the week of Mardi Gras 2017 is already booked with only 3 slots left. Of course, we booked as we had tried for days to find just this very thing this year. A lot of good it would have done, as the area books solid a year in advance. So now we have a booking already for 2017 - go figure. It is an odd happening that we actually book so far in advance.

Sunday is not forgotten, even though this is a heavy RC area. One has seen movies with the old saloon down by the swamp, hidden away from all eyes. We Whisky River in Henderson, LA, outside of Lafayette, up and over and then tucked in behind the levee, would definitely qualify for this.
 Best we can tell, music is only played Sunday evenings but I am sure that is not totally correct. This again has people coming from far and wide to listen to the music and do some floor stomping. 
This evening was zydeco by a locally famous artist and his band, Geno DelaFose.    The music was very good, the smoke thick, and the people watching awesome. I saw more cowboy hats, belt buckles, tight blue jeans and boots than one would see at a Texan rodeo. Talking with the man who was selling hamburgers et al, most of the “blacks”,  who were the best dressed of them all, are all ranchers and farmers from around the area.
On our way up and over and out, we met a Fr couple who are touring the world over 4 years in their small RV "They do not dance like we dance".

The food has been awesome and if we stayed very long in the area, we would roll out of the RV and have to go on a strict diet. So much deep fried food. I wonder if this is a recently developed food form or has it always been so? And is it so tasty because it is deep fried? And do they deep fry in veggie oil or the good old fashioned pork fat? So many questions: Will have to think about taking a cooking class down here sometime.

 Everywhere you look in the fields, we saw varying stages of water filled fields. Are they growing rice? Mais oui, mes amies! But what are those weird things sticking up in the water? They are farming crawfish and the harvesting is done buy a very strangely adapted boat.

As do all great journeys, this one too had to come to an end. Heading back towards our own fields, we headed to Texas and to the activities that called us back. What will be our next journey, time will tell and you too can discover it simply by coming back to visit us here at Where Are We?