Today we had a visit to Angola Penitentiary planned. When we turned up we found out that we couldn’t join that mornings tour because it was for basically naughty children who had been sent there as a deterrent to future bad behaviour and the insurance wouldn’t allow us to go too. So we ended up having a personal chauffeur who was the Director of the museum lol. This had both good and bad points for us. The good thing was that we got personal service and the freedom to ask all the questions we wanted. We were driven around parts of the 18000 acre site, which holds over 6000 prisoners, the majority of whom will never be released. They also have approx 60 prisoners on death row there. Other than the death row prisoners, the others have the chance to earn some kinds of freedom within the prison, so all of them have to serve at least 10 years working in the fields and then, if they have behaved well they have t the chance to apply for different jobs. They have a huge variety of jobs available depending on your skills or desires so there are cowboys that take care of the cattle, people that take care of the horses or other animals, people who train the dogs to be drug dogs etc (and some of those get to live in separate houses near their dogs), carpenters, groundwork, basically any trade you can think of they have here. They have a rodeo every year where the public are allowed in and the prisoners take part in the rodeo and sell their crafts, foods etc. Some of the prisoners run cafes etc on site which the people who work there use. Some of the people that work there live on site with their families too, it’s basically a huge, pretty much self sustaining city in its own right, with its own postcode etc. Many people that work and live here have never lived anywhere else and come from generations of people who have worked there. Unfortunately we didn’t get to try the prison food since we weren’t on the proper tour and I think the visit was tailored to show it in as good a light as possible really. For a prison it really was a beautiful place and many of the prisoners had a lot of freedom but it is still a prison and some people, who weren’t able to adapt to their situation still live behind bars. It was a really interesting and eye opening visit for us though.
After the prison visit we made our way up to Natchez. Stopped in at Mammys Cupboard and tried a Reuben sandwich, without the sauerkraut, which we both loved, with blueberry lemonade followed by a banana caramel cream pie, also yummy! Natchez is full of old buildings and a lot of antebellum houses so we had a little look around those and went to a bar for another daquiru before an early night.
No photo’s today from inside the prison 🙁 but we have some from the museum, the hearse was made by prison inmates and is used even now at the funerals of inmates, the wooden coffins are also made by the inmates as previous to the present prison govenor, cardboard coffins where used and one unfortunate inmate fell through the bottom of a damp cardboard coffin.
Tomorrow, more exploring of Natchez. Until then, later gators. Ps root beer, daquiru and laffy taffy are now my new favourite things, oh and ruebens and crawfish…. there could be a long list here soon.
The day started with a breakfast of boudin (a kind of spicy pork sausage), crackling, hogs head cheese (which is NOT cheeses, it’s basically the pigs head boiled and made into a kind of pate with the gelatinous from the pigs head, I did NOT know this when I ordered it lol), scrambled egg and toast. Glen went safe with ham and eggs, wuss.
Then it was sign out time from our cutesy cabin and off to the Swamp Tour baby!!! We had the best time ever with Champagne’s Cajun Swamp Tour, we saw loads of gators, loads of turtles and birds including an osprey with a fish in its mouth. The swamps are just so beautiful and serene, we could have stayed there for hours but unfortunately it was only a two hour tour. The sun was beating down (don’t wear black if you go there lol doh!) and there were at least 3 gators just sitting waiting before we even got on the boat! Best day ever, even though i am burned again lol, we had a super great day.
Now we are holed up in St Francisville in a beautiful old B&B, we think it’s a kind of colonial style and there are loads of plantation houses around here. We went to one for dinner, in the carriage house, where I ate a crawfish ettouffe (a tomato based roux kind of sauce) with rice and Glen had fried catfish. Off to sleep now. Angola State Penitentiary visit tomorrow. Love to all. Xxx
Started the day in New Orleans by visiting the French Market first thing where we found our souvenirs of the holiday, a painting and two small prints of a play on voodoo dolls. Kinda freaky but fun, just what we like.
Then we packed up our kit bags (I wish, I have far too many clothes for that!) and headed to LAY Rural Life Museum just outside BatonRouge. It had a selection of genuine old buildings transported to the site of an earlier plantation, from early settlers buildings to slave quarters to overseers houses and more. So fascinating and such a beautiful spot, we could have stayed there all day. But we had to head in again to our accommodation for the night.
So off we went to Breaux Bridge where we stayed at the Bayou Cabins on the Bayou Teche (a bayou is a slow moving river). The cabins were previous slave/worker buildings on a plantation and the Bayou had risen so much through the recent rains that the balcony was literally over the water. We sat out having a drink with our next door neighbours although we pretty much needed an interpreter. We went to a local fruit shop for dinner which sounds odd but I had a huge platter of crawfish with two baked potatoes and a corn on the cob plunked on there lol. It tasted amazing tho I had to beg off the usual Cajun seasoning, I’m a wimp. Glen had the first po boy sandwich of the holiday with shrimp. I had to have a banana daquiru too, as you do. Amazing day, great night until the neighbours started fighting after we had gone in lol, we earwigged a bit, oohhh drama. The people round here are so friendly! Swamp tour tomorrow.
A bit of a lie in today, to try to catch up on a little sleep. Then more experimental breakfasts (banana and pecan pancakes with bacon for me and French toast with bacon for Glen, just as well we like bacon lol). Then we decided to take a tour road parts of New Orleans with a tour guide by bus, which was a huge feet saver. There is a LOT of walking in New Orleans because no buses can fit in the French Quarter. We toured the salubrious Garden District (anyone got a spare $3million for the cheapest house here?) and saw one of Anne Rice’ s (Interview with a Vampire author and she also wrote one of my favourite ever series, the The Mayfair Witches) houses (not one that she lived in, just one she remembered playing dolls in as a child so she bought it, for millions, cos she felt like it, as you do….). We saw one of the famous cemeteries here, they bury in above ground tombs because of the water table level here and previous issues with bodies bobbing back up again. They have two bodies in a tomb at a time and if they need more space they take out the previous bodies, stick the bones in a bag, tag them and stick them in the bottom of the tomb so the new coffin can go in lol. All change. We ate more beignets but this time at Morning Call instead of Cafe du Monde (we preferred them here although you still end up looking like you are a clumsy coke snorted). Finally we were taken around the 9th District which was the hardest hit by Katrina. When you see how much lower New Orleans (and particularly this district) is compared to the river and the lake (and at one point you see it very clearly) you absolutely understand the problem. So much has been and is still being rebuilt but New Orleans is coming back baby!
Later that night we went on a ghost walk around the French Quarter and learned about the brothers who rather recently kidnapped and drained blood from their victims to drink. Some of their victims died from blood loss until one woman escaped over the balcony and raised the alarm. We also heard about a colonel during the civil war who was taken away to war shortly after his marriage and whose wife died while he was away, apparently they both haunt the house to relive their happy days there dancing. That same house was the scene of a mafia extortion gone wrong, which ended up with the owner of the house killing 3 and wounding 1 mafiosa because they wanted money or they would kidnap his son. Gunshots are still heard.
All in all a busy day. My feet also died on the ghost walk so maybe I will be talked about there in future too *grins*. That’s all for now folks.
Sat night we had a walk out down Frenchmen St, had a walk round the arts market and we have noticed that most sellers don’t like you taking photos.
As it started to drizzle with rain, this did not dampen the spirits of anyone, they just carried on as if it wasn’t happening, we then dropped by the Vaso Club and listened to some great live reggae bands, the place was full of characters including Mr Hi Vis (man wearing a hi vis jacket) we guess he came straight from work, Ska Man (complete with fedora hat) Skullcap man, Rubber man, (way over 6 feet tall but only weighing 10 stone) Jack Sparrow showed up looking more like Adam, without his Ants and later on even Bill Bailey threw some shapes.
Tomorrow (Sun), we will be venturing further into the `Quarter`