Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Fourth of July Weekend Part 1: Swamp Tour

Oh, where to begin?

Three days off -- free of commitment and structure -- was absolute heaven. And while I am 100% in this thing, it was still incredible to spend a solid two days not talking about anything related to Teach For America or our students. Instead, during our five-hour road trip and brief fling in New Orleans, we go tot learn something about each other outside our lives as teachers.

After school on Friday, many people's Friday nights turned into what the corps members on my floor like to call an FNF. A Friday Night Fail, when you fall asleep when you get home from school and don't wake up until Saturday morning, sleeping through the evening's festivities.

I wish I'd FNF-ed. I would have felt much more rested on Saturday.

Saturday morning was the beginning of the weekend adventure. At 5 am, four fellow BamaCorps members and I piled into a couple cars and took a five-hour road trip down to New Orleans.

First stop was Dr. Wagner's Honey Island Swamp Tours in Slidell, Louisiana.

So excited to go on our swamp!

The swamp was actually beautiful. Really beautiful in it's own eery, magical way.

It was also fun to learn the history of the area.

For example, in order to have a house on the swamp, people couldn't just drive to the site and build. Because there are no roads (and in most cases, you are building on some sort of island). So even as far back as the forties and fifties (according to our tour guide), people were putting building materials on a boat, rowing out to their spot, and building from scratch.

They even built small communities, or "camps," on the water.

A typical house on the water.

The funniest part to me were the house boats that some of these people owned.

Some had the kind of house boat most people picture when they hear those two words.

House boat according to most people

And then others had house boats according to the bayou.

Made out of wood and floating on styrofoam. Some true American ingenuity there.

Highlights include seeing three alligators.

Alligator #1: Baby Gator

He mostly just swam around and chased marsh mellows in the water.

Alligator #2: El Whoppo, King of the Swamp.

Homeboy is humongous.

And kinda looks like a dinosaur (maybe like the top of T-Rex). Am I right?!?

The guide couldn't coerce the man with marsh mellows, so he put hot dogs on a stick and slapped the water with the meet until El Whoppo deigned to grace us with his presence. He devoured five hot dogs.

Alligator #3: Speed Demon

This kid snuck up on us.

Duuuuuuuuuuuun-dun..... Duuuuuuuuuuuuun-dun......

Dun-dun dun-dun dun-dun!

He was also the most interesting...

...and animated. He did tricks.

Rising on his hind legs (or tail?) to reach the hot dog above.

And he doled out the death glare to all.

And everyone on the boat took a crap-ton of pictures.

After the alligators, the exciting parts of the tour were over. But we floated around, admiring nature and appreciating the weird awesomeness of swamp geography.

It was one of the best tours I've ever been on, and well worth the five-hour drive down.

But wait! That wasn't all we did while in Louisiana.... Stay tuned for more later! (Promise I wont wait a bajillion years for the next post)

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