For a state where every other billboard seems to be about a casino, most of the towns in this area close up on Sundays. This is a good thing except that today was our last day in the Lafayette area and I wanted to see as much as I could see.
One thing we’ve found is that Louisianans are very hospitable. Mark and I went to a church nearby this morning and everyone greeted us. When the pastor’s wife found out we are from out of town, she began recommending authentic Cajun places to eat. One thing we’ve seen signs for everywhere is different places that serve boudin (boo-DON) and cracklins. Boudin is a kind of sausage with rice and meat in it, while cracklins are pieces of pork from the skin down that are fried for about an hour, then re-fried until they pop. We opted for the Cracker Barrel for lunch; nice and safe!
After lunch we drove to New Iberia, south of Lafayette. I had hoped we could see Shadows on the Teche, a historic plantation, but it was, of course, closed for Sunday.
We walked down Main St in New Iberia and it was all very quiet. We had picked up a walking tour map so as we went Mark read the history of each building.
There was a great fire in 1899 that burned a good part of town, but there was a building with a brick façade and a metal roof that the firemen knew would not burn, so they poured water on it and stopped the fire which saved the rest of the town.
We met someone on the street and he struck up a conversation with us and told us some things about the area, including which parts of town to avoid!
From New Iberia we began a search for the famous statue of Evangeline in St Martinville. Evangeline was a poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow about the exile of the Acadians from Nova Scotia. The story begins on what was to have been the wedding day of Evangeline and Gabriel, but before they could be married, the British soldiers expelled the Acadians from their homes in Des-Pre and set the town on fire. They herded the people to the beach where ships were waiting to take them away. In all the confusion, families were separated as they were put on different ships, and Gabriel and his father set sail the day before Evangeline and her father were put on a ship. That night Evangeline’s father died on the beach and was buried there the next morning by the parish priest. After that, Evangeline spent years trying to find Gabriel but finally settled in Philadelphia to work as a Sister of Charity with the poor. While tending to the dying during an epidemic, Evangeline found Gabriel among the sick, and he died in her arms.
The statue was difficult to find, but we finally located it in the back courtyard of a church.
By the time we found Evangeline, it was dinner time. Someone a couple nights ago had recommended a place called Randol’s in Lafayette. We decided to go there for dinner. This time we got a little braver and ordered three pounds of crawfish and an appetizer of boudin balls. It was somewhat spicy, but not as much as we had feared it would be. The boudin balls were very good.
The whole time we were eating there was a band playing in the other room which had a dance floor. After dinner I talked Mark into taking me on the floor to dance. Everyone around us was dancing a particular dance style that included lots of twirling women around and fancy arm configurations between the couple. The reason I had to talk Mark into taking me on the floor was because neither of us knew that style of dance, but the music made us want to move, and move we did. It was a fun way to end the day.