Hurricanes, Hot Sauce and Hamlets

New homes arise from the ruins of Katrina and Rita, a decade before

After a very pleasant night at Holly Beach, I wasn’t exactly in a hurry to gather my stuff and move on. Nevertheless, Boots and I did finally break camp around noon. Now, the last time I drove the southern route along the Louisiana coast was the year following hurricanes Katrina and Rita. At that time it looked like a war zone, with hardly a single structure left standing.

Over a decade has passed since, and I was curious to see what had been rebuilt. So I wandered once again along highway 27, and then down the even more southerly highway 82 route, just to see what I might find. I still had over a quarter tank of gas, so instead of filling up in Cameron, I decided to hold off for a few more miles. Big mistake… Although the area is once again the beautiful Cajun Nirvana that it was before the Hurricanes, although all the eerily empty slabs of concrete now bear the weight of brand new homes, I swear not a single gas station has been rebuilt. I must have driven past a dozen stations with rusting, dilapidated kiosks once intended to deliver gasoline to thirsty cars and trucks. Some had returned to retail operations and were usually good enough to hang an “Out of Order” sign on the old pumps. Other stations were simply left to rot, melting back into the swamps upon which they were built so many years before. Poor little Taco (my Tacoma) was sucking fumes when we finally pulled into the beer, bait and ammo store on the banks of the Schooner Bayou Canal… I didn’t even look at the gas prices.. Fill er up!

In The Republic, Plato introduced the idea of the Forms. Essentially, he suggested, for every thing, there is the perfect form of that thing. And any

Mecca…

time we encounter a thing in the course of our lives, it is only ever but a shadow, a vague copy of the one perfect version that exists firmly beyond our meager comprehension. If Plato had experienced bottled pepper sauce during his life, and then imagined what the Form of it should be, he would have surely attributed its existence to Avery Island in New Iberia, Louisana.  Sriracha? Please move to the back of the bus. Same for

Cholula and all the other pretenders out there. The one and only contender is Tabasco Sauce, the sauce by which all other sauces are measured. And I made the pilgrimage today in order to thank them for making my life just a little happier. Quite an operation they’ve got down there. It’s gotten awfully

A gallon? Really?

touristy, but they still make damn good hot sauce, though.

 

After sampling the spicy wares of New Iberia, I drove a few more miles north, finally landing in the quaint little town of Breaux Bridge, evidently the Crawfish Capital of the World if one is to believe the sign coming into town. Crawfish or not, it’s a fine little hamlet. And right in the middle of it is a beautiful city park, Parc des Ponts Breaux. On one side of the park flows the Bayou Teche, across

Parked in the parc… Parc des Ponts Breaux, that is.

which the original Breaux Bridge was built in 1799. On the other side is a truly Louisiana style cemetery, St Bernard’s, with all the graves above ground in a sea of concrete, brick and marble sarcophagi… Gotta say, it’s a little creepy to be sleeping next to such a deathly hallow, but it’s a really cool little town. And they don’t seem to mind a wanderer spending a night or two in their city park.

Mahalo y’all.

St. Bernard Cemetery
Putting the bridge in Breaux Bridge since 1799… One of several, anyway.

 

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