If you’ve never been Central Louisiana is terrifying, properly terrifying. I 100% understand why so many horror stories, movies and television shows are set here. I get why True Dectectives set their uber creepy crime drama here, and why Anne Rice (author of vampire thrillers) set all her stories here, it is a scary, scary place. It’s dark and damp, the trees hang thick with moss and (no exaggeration) at least every 5th house is abandoned. But not abandoned like the families packed up their stuff in a congenial manner to have a better life somewhere, but like ‘sh*t hit the fan’ and they had to leave - they left stuff, creepy toys and even cars. What is about toys that they suddenly become disturbing when left behind?
We opted to take the scenic route to New Orleans, the leisurely country route, we also wanted to see the place where Bonnie and Clyde were captured and absolutely shot to smithereens (there are pictures, Google it). The town had a small “museum” I use the term museum loosely as clearly it was run by some gold ol’ boy with an unhealthy obsession with Bonnie, a lot of facial piercings and just a few teeth (he was also wearing dungarees/overalls if that rounds out the picture for you). After that it was a country road to Alexandria, we thought we’d stop in a State Park to camp up for the night as it was free. I did not sleep. I was so worked up by the creepiness of it all and the surroundings, and then people in pick up trucks kept driving around (well three of them), even though we were deep in to the forest and had seen no one else for a while. I was sure they were going to come back in the middle of the night and string us up. Fortunately, there was a massive thunderstorm and they were unable to return and so we survived the night.
On yet another level of interesting and slightly disturbing, we found we were passing through on the day of the Louisiana State Penitentiary Rodeo (not the 4th word you were expecting was it?), apparently this has been going on for some time and the prisoners like it. Every weekend in October and one weekend in April the prisoners get to put on a rodeo as well as a market to sell their wares. The legality and the morality of this is questionable at best, as the last “competition” was 50 prisoners trying to take a poker chip off the bull’s head to win $1,000, but we went for it anyways. This is by no means a low security prison. 70% of the inmates are in for life, but it’s a way for them to see their family and friends, and I guess a healthy sense of pride in a job well done/a chair well made/a bull poorly ridden but ridden is a good thing for people who are in prison for life. It was a fun afternoon and the atmosphere was convivial. There were also monkeys riding sheepdogs herding goats, that was not a mistype, I saw it with my own eyes, so it was totally worth it.
New Orleans is amazing; it’s got character and cuisine and contrasts - my three favourite words for a city. I love the way it looks and feels and Jonathan is already angling to come back here one day, we’ll see. I’m just happy we’ve got a month to relax and really get into the city. We’ve managed to find a place to park up close to my work, and close to town so I think we’ll have a better time than in Austin (provided the weather holds out). We’ve got a check-list of 16 things to do while we’re here so that, at the very least, should keep us busy.