Thursday, March 15, 2007

Bayou Notes

On the Friday of the conference, when people broke for little trips, a friend and I created a trip of our own. We rented a car and headed down toward the bayou. Wow. That was crazy. Cool. But crazy. We headed through Louisiana metropolitan areas such as Morgan City, Houma, and Thibodeaux on our journey.

1. I wanted to head down to where the ocean was eroding the bayou. But you have to head way way down to get to that point I think. What we did see was the deeply industrial bayou. Little of the inner bayous remain in any kind of natural state. The closest I saw was some swamps owned by a hunting club. The road through that was really cool. Big trees with moss hanging on them, etc. I was hoping to see an alligator, but no such luck. The industrial areas did not look fun. Rough towns, clearly poor-paying jobs, nasty pollution. But it's Louisiana, so who cares?

2. That sure seemed the mentality with all the chemical and petroleum plants there. There was one chemical plant that basically towered over a house. Amazingly, someone lived there. That's not good. I have read in several places that chemical plants move there because they can do pretty much whatever they want without repercussions. That was clearly true.

3. Now that I'm on the job market, the idea of living in Thibodeaux, Louisiana and teaching at Nicholls State, does not seem fun. What a career I have chosen.

4. The poverty was pretty unbelievable too. Like the food, Louisiana has a lot in common with New Mexico. In Louisiana, the poverty seems more widespread but that's just because the population is more spread out. In New Mexico, you are severely limited by water. In Louisiana, that's not such a problem. It was kind of wild to see people in this country still living in that level of poverty. Wild.

5. Saw some old plantations as well. We stopped at one. It was a small one really. The one next door was much more massive. What places like that tell me is that you have to have a black sense of humor to be a historian. For instance, my friend remarked that the slave cabins were so near the main house. I said the only thing to be said, which was that who wanted to be inconvenienced with a long walk when they needed to rape a slave.

Louisiana--good times for all!