Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Cajun Christmas

As Cam said, it has been busy lately. Yesterday, we took a deep breath and let out a sigh of relief at the emptiness of our house and January's calendar. The couple of months around the holidays have been exhilarating and exhausting.

We took a fabulous trip south where we were able to see people who are important to us and have wonderful experiences. Yesterday, Cam posted a slideshow of the trip on his Flickr account. Feel free to check it out if you want to see an overview now. Both of us plan to follow-up with our version of the stories behind the photos as well.

Cam wrote about the first leg of our trip to Lafayette, Louisiana (via Dallas) and a delightful break in our day of driving. It took us well over 24 hours to get from our door to theirs but the enthusiastic, warm greeting we received from Jim & Liz was so invigorating we were raring to go experience a taste of Christmas on the Bayou.

Our first stop was at Acadian Village. "An entire 19th century bayou town which has been restored to depict the life of Acadians in southern Louisiana. Buildings include homes, blacksmith shop, general store and a chapel..." They decorate the place with lights at Christmas time. I forget the number but I think Liz said they promised a million lights. For some reason, this simple house was one of my favorites.

I don't have a good grasp of Acadian history but what I understand is that a community of French immigrants who originally settled in Nova Scotia around 1600 were run out of their communities for refusing to swear loyalty to the British who were taking over. In and around 1755, Acadian families were deliberately separated by the British, "settlements and farms were burned, men and boys were separated from women and children."

Somehow, many of these exiled immigrants made their way to and eventually settled in southern Louisiana. Their descendants retained much of their culture while taking on influences from other cultures as well.
Their heritage makes up what we now refer to as Cajun culture. Again, this is my humble attempt to give a brief overview of Acadian history. Feel free to leave corrections or clarification in the comments.

Liz and Cam talk outside this home. Note the stairs outside the residence. I was told this was common practice though whether it was an attempt to keep more of their money (Jim said there was a tax per internal stairwell.), provide additional privacy for the upstairs residents or other reasons, I don't really know. I did think it was interesting.

After stretching our legs and getting into the Christmas spirit. Jim & Liz took us out for a delicious dinner at a local tavern with a distinctly Cajun feel.

At Prejean's,
I thoroughly enjoyed the company, the crab stuffed mushrooms and the highly recommended eggplant pirogue.

These guys playing Cajun music while the kids did the two-step gave a nice added touch to the atmosphere.

Thanks for a lovely evening Jim and Liz and for being such generous hosts. We love you.

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