Lafayette is also known as the Heart of Cajun Country, due to the acadian culture, and Hub city, as all roads in south Louisiana lead to it. It was our home for a week for our first American workaway.
Abigail and Lynn (and Monsieur Lala the cat) welcomed us into their homes like family. We stayed at Abigail’s beautiful 1840’s farmhouse on the outskirts of the city. It was originally situated close to the nearby river but was moved to safety on higher ground after the great flood of 1927 which was the most destructive river flood in US history. The work was painting the new rental home they were moving into, and this house was from the early 20th century. Stilts and porches make the plantation style houses surrounding the lively downtown area of Lafayette.
Workaway is supposed to be a cultural exchange and we really did learn a lot from each other. We were treated to new foods and so much amazing live music in dancehalls, bars and honky tonks – they even taught us how to waltz. From watching The Ranch to Victoria when the temperatures in Louisiana dropped to records lows. Snow fell and pipes froze but we cuddled up inside the farmhouse and learnt how to make a real gumbo.
After only one week it was sad to leave them behind, a week full of happy memories! The place is steeped in history and felt very different to other parts of America that we’ve seen. This is definitely the place to go to experience great music, rich food and welcoming people.
A proper American experience, a home party for the NFL game! We went to the home of one of Abigail’s many cousins to watch the New Orleans Saints vs Minnesota Vikings, the quarter finals before the superbowl which will happen this Saturday. And yes, if you know who’s playing then you know the Saints lost this game. It was a difficult loss, they were behind in the first half then brought it back to win in the second, before literally losing on the final play where somehow the Vikings wide receiver slipped through the Saints defense to score a touchdown. No one could believe it. Despite the loss, beer and delicious home cooked BBQ was happily consumed and we learnt more about Abigail’s large family. Some of their family owned a bar which was split in two due to the racial segration laws at the time and so childhoods were spent peeking through the other door in between watching and listening to the new and different music.
A trip back in time took us to Vermilionville to see houses from the 18th and 19th century restored and full of original furniture. Each house included someone dressed up from the time with explanations on how people used to live. The school house blackboard was full of lines saying “I will not speak french”, to prevent the acadian dialect from spreading. The houses were beautiful positioned next to a bayou which had a hand pulled ferry to get you across. And, of course, the main hall had many musicians playing more acadian music.