2/10/13 – Going down the bayou!

Oh wow, what a day! Started early yet again. Our continental breakfast was even more exciting this time – they had a waffle iron! Jayda helped me to make one. It was very yummy. Had a four and something hour drive with another Walmart stop in between. As soon as we got to Honey Island Swamp Tours we were herded straight onto the boat.

I think everyone felt a certain level of apprehension upon seeing just how tiny our little river boat was. We headed on down the Pearl River and into the swamp itself. It actually really was a fascinating place. The air was so clean and a lot of people clearly live backing up onto the swamp. One place even had a rope swing over the swamp and a ladder leading out of the water! It gave me some great research ideas though for Argo stuff (decided that Ricki’s definitely gonna be a swamp homegirl). Our captain Mel was funny and extremely knowledgeable. Always a plus!

We saw quite a variety of wildlife including the gators, turtles, snakes, various birds and a raccoon! Mel was feeding the gators marshmallows because apparently they resemble eggs that they eat. He also did some creepy-ass gator call, which quite literally brought all gators within earshot crowding round the boat. More than a little unnerving. The website described the tour as a ‘gentle cruise around the swamp’. Gentle cruise, my ass. On the longer stretches of the Pearl we were going at ridiculous high speeds that gave us all ‘swamp do’. Then at another point Mel had an eight-foot gator called Jumper (take a guess why) jumping up the side of our tiny boat. Terrifying experience doesn’t quite cover it.

The monster that nearly gave me a coronary!

We had a quick look in the gift shop afterwards and were amused by the baby gator that was called Sid. We got Sar a Louisiana fridge magnet (because the geek collects them) and I got a hematite gator necklace. We had a swift lunch before getting back on the road to finally reach out hotel in New Orleans. Our hotel room is totally cute and we were impressed by the style of the complex straightaway. We did some wandering around the French quarter before and after getting something to eat.

I decided instantly that New Orleans is the best place we’ve visited so far. Bourbon Street is really something else – everything you see, hear, smell, etc. is just so incredibly cultural! We quickly checked out the steamboat on the Mississippi too. It looked amazing. We ate at a place called the Gumbo shop and I had my first real gumbo, partly on Derek’s recommendation and partly because of Princess and the Frog references. Mine was chicken, Cajun sausage and okra with rice. It was gorgeous! I had a lovely frozen strawberry daiquiri too!

After that we went to a bar called Pat O’Brien’s. They do one of New Orleans’ two signature drinks – the Hurricane. Not entirely sure what was in it… Mostly rum, juices and a shitload of sugar, I’m guessing. Over food I’d gotten to speak to Derek quite a bit more, which was nice. Turns out he’s a writer too! Me and Kel didn’t stay out too long because we both still needed to shower. But before that we had a game of Gladiators on our beds with our big sausage pillow things. We also had the cooler in our room this time so I was able to help myself to alcohol! Night of win.

Kel taking spy shots of us in the courtyard

The set of our Gladiators game