Location: Memphis, Tennessee, United States

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Over the Independence Day weekend we visited the little town of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, in the heart of Cajun country.  My main reason for taking the trip was to see Avery Island, the home of Tabasco Sauce and get an introduction to the region’s creole music -- Zydeco.

Zydeco is fast tempo music dominated by the squeeze box (accordion), scrub-board and guitar.  Throw in a room full of dancers and you have a Cajun party.

Driving over the 18-mile bridge that spans the Atchafalaya Swamp, we knew we were getting close to our destination.  Breaux Bridge is in south-central Louisiana near Lafayette, the home of the Ragin Cajuns of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.  Crossing the namesake Breaux Bridge steel truss draw-bridge, we entered the little town of 8,000 residents.

We woke to a typical Louisiana day – hot and humid, and it was off to Avery Island.  Traveling the 35-miles down LA-31 to the island took us through more sleepy little towns and plenty of sugarcane fields. On the approach to the island we crossed a small causeway with a toll gate.  The admittance charge to Avery Island was a whopping one-dollar per vehicle!  The gate keeper was a cheerful guy and a worthy ambassador for the island.

Following the signs we proceeded to McIlhenny Companies Tabasco factory, a large building with a brick rick-rack façade. A short film followed by a quick plant walk-through was the extent of the tour, then it was over to the general store to sample their assorted flavors and purchase our souvenirs. 

Next we paid a visit to Jungle Gardens, a refuge for alligators, snowy egrets, turtles, giant bamboo stands, and mossy live oak trees.

Leaving the island we drove due north to see the sights of Lafayette.  The two highlights were the drive-thru Daiquiri bars and a visit to St. John’s Cathedral to see the 500 year old Live Oak tree. The impressive tree stands over 125-ft high and spreads more than 138-ft wide and is considered one of the largest in the US.  The cathedral and maze of above ground tombs in the cemetery were also interesting.

The 4th of July was all Zydeco.  We started the day at Café Des
Amis in downtown Breaux Bridge, where Terry and the Zydeco Bad Boys had the joint a jumping for the breakfast crowd.  The afternoon took us to a brewery on LA-31 for more Zydeco music, and the evening was capped off at a bar called Route 92 to dance to the Zydeco beat of Geno Delafose and the French Rockin Boogie Band.  By the end of the evening my little brain was worn out trying to remember the simple slow-fast-fast-slow-fast-fast dance pattern, the foundation steps to Zydeco dancing and the bed was a-calling.

All-in-all it was an enjoyable trip to Cajun Country where the sugar cane and bayou backwaters monopolize the landscape and Zydeco music is king.