Down in Louisiana, where the Alligators grow so mean…

We both enjoyed Galveston, Texas and would have stayed longer but the rain beat us.  It rained torrentially there each day which drove the mossies crazy, which drove us crazy!  S looked at the weather map to see it was all clear further east.  We left Galveston by a 20 min  ferry journey travelling over the Bolivar Peninsular.  This would lead us from Texas into Louisiana.  During this drive the rain was torrential and the sea at times was lapping only a metre or two away from the road we were travelling along.  Having the Gulf of Mexico so close, the rain pouring down, the sky black and knowing this is the land of, and the season for, Hurricanes.  I admit I felt vulnerable!

The road that ran parallel to the sea eventually ran out and we took a left.  We drove on this day to Lake Charles, about 3 hours on I10.  We can’t believe how fast people drive in heavy rain, especially the truck drivers, it’s a nerve racking journey as a passenger on our coach, it must have been awful for S.  We saw some accidents that had just happened!  Following distances are close and so many younger people texting whilst driving.  You need your wits about you as the driver of a coach towing a car in these conditions.

The coach remained watertight throughout this journey which was very impressive, I wondered if our slides might let some water in.  They didn’t, but some of our external lockers leaked, just the sheer force of water being thrown up from the road.

We only stayed a night in Lake Charles and didn’t see the lake!  The weather was hot and humid and more rain and thunder still came through.  The next day we drove to Slidell, still in Louisiana.  This journey has us driving on an elevated road over the Atchafalaya Basin.   This is the point where the Atchafalaya River meets the Gulf of Mexico.  It’s a swamp that’s over 1 million acres in size, the largest swamp in the US, rivalled only by the Great Dismal at the bottom of the Caroliners.  This is the land of the Alligator.  We saw lots of swamp birds, Herons, Pelicans etc but most impressive are the Cypress trees that stand in the water, the epitome of the southern swamp image.

Slidell is a town about 40 miles northeast of New Orleans.  We thought it would be a good base for exploring New Orleans.  There are RV parks in NO but they don’t get very good reviews and the crime rate is high.  There are more murders in NO than any other city in the US.  Also the crime map shows 327 crimes in the last week, we didn’t want to stay there it seems NO takes on a pretty lively scene at night time.

Today we drove the car to New Orleans.  The drive includes the long 6 laned bridge over Lake Ponchotrain.  Very impressive engineering.  Once in the city parking was easy to find, but it’s not cheap-about $25 US for 4 hours.

We spent lots of time walking around the city.

We took in the Mississippi river walk,

Bourbon Street

and walked over to Frenchman Street to check out the market.  The architecture is very beautiful.  Colonial style weather board two story houses with vine entwined steel lattice work around the balconies.

There are a plethora of interesting shops selling wares from crystals to voodoo charms to crocodile heads.

     

We lunched at Pere Antoine Restaurant.  We wanted to sample some original Cajun food so we shared a Cajun sampler meal.  We rather disappointingly thought it very average.   The atmosphere of the place was good but otherwise very ordinary.

The further we walked towards Frenchman St the more seedy the place became.  Lots of homeless, some drug dealing that wasn’t very discreet, lots of people sitting around totally out of it, and lots of people just sitting around watching….  I didn’t feel safe here and didn’t want to hang around this area, we both had a sense that more than one set of eyes were on us.

As we walked back to the tourist area, we walked past an area on Esplanade Ave, where I saw a historical marker that explained that this was the area of the slavery pens-imagineL.

It’s a historic fact that these slavery pens were in fact all over the city and auctions were held on a daily basis.  The slave traders wanted to sell the slaves off as quickly as possible before they got sick and then became a liability.  They were spruced up with clothes and makeup and a show was often made of a doctors inspection.  Husband, wives and children were often split up and sold separately.  Anyone of colour in those days that had no paperwork could be seized by any white man.  Around 100,000 human beings were transacted before the US civil war in New Orleans alone, nearly 30,000 of them children under 13-that was only 160 years ago, 4-5 generations ago…  New Orleans was the country’s largest slave market.  It’s a pretty ugly history of the city, but I’m glad there are tour guides and markers around that city to tell the story, this kind of history should never be forgotten.

The day was around 98 deg F and 68% humidity.  It became a bit of an endurance to explore any longer so we opted to head home to the coach, luckily we left the Air Con running.