Beyond The Bayou

Beyond The Bayou

We intentionally miss New Orleans, we swing off the heavily beaten path and head to bayou country. Little did we know we were headed to where alligator shows are filmed and have become the rage. A simple stop at a grocery store and a man named Charlie compliments us on our Sprinter Van Conversion RV and asks about the sign on our trailer. It says Buffalo Billfold Company-Purveyors of Buffalo Leathergoods.

He is an amiable fellow and wants to know if we carry product on board and he’d love to buy a billfold.
We travel pretty far and fast and usually give most people business cards and tell them to check our website.
We are usually moving full tilt to another market exhibition or juried art festival. Today we are doing little of either, we are slowly heading toward Texas to pick up a leather machine for production work. Yesterday I suffered a rather large charge for RV work and I’m feeling like a losing enterprise… need of some small financial boost. I say yes to my new found friend “Charlie” and go around back into our trailer and sell him a wallet right out of my salesman kit. It is equivalent to 2/3rds of a tank of diesel…..I’m well pleased and so is he.

Charlie strikes up another consideration and asks where we are spending the evening and invites us to his home on the Bayou.We’ve just signed up for a hotel down the road and reluctantly take a rain check. Our water heater isn’t working and we need showers! Sitting in our above average hotel room at 2 p.m. we realize we want to see and meet people. We take our showers and call Charlie back and ask if the invite is still available? He generously says “of course, and the barbecued ribs will be ready at 3:30. We leave the fancy hotel after spending one hour there.

We head to St. Charles Parish. We wend our way on the back streets and roads off the interstate, along “old Spanish Trail” and “Up Bayou Road”. Our tiny RV had to back up and find different avenues of approach to find this special place that is only a mile or two from a major interstate, it is real Louisiana. Blue Crab, Crawdads, catfish the size of hogs and Alligators are the mainstays in these parts.

As we pull up we are greeted by Charlie and his wife Anna, they are surround by 8 or 10 kids, friends and some relatives. The conversation is one of welcome, join in….the barbecued ribs are on the table. We’re hungry and we eat. We find out through conversation that Charlie is a Viet Nam Vet (1967 DMZ) and his wife is a nurse from Honduras. The children and other adults are bi-lingual and seem to be well above average achievers.
We are the mono-linguists in the group, we struggle to appreciate the accents…and we stumble along as we listen to cajun English and Spanish. We’ve struck gold with another adventure of extending friendships.

A boat ride through the bayou.

After our meal Charlie takes us on an epic boat ride through the bayou’s and he explains that this little community is used to seeing TV film crews show up… filming the famous Alligator shows you see on TV. Afterward we take an evening stroll through the neighborhood and we notice that the water level is mere inches below the banks of the road ways in this area. In the bayou water is friend and foe. The full moon is on the rise, we play some music, everybody starts to trail off and then the mosquitoes come out. We quickly head for the refuge of our RV and swat mosquitoes for 20 minutes having let just a few in when we opened the door.

The following morning we couldn’t resist another stroll, white herons and egrets have become fixtures along the neighborhood shores. They monitor the scraps being thrown out by the fisherman cleaning their mornings catch. Neighbors pull up along side of us as we walk the narrow street along the bayou. They can spot new comers and go out of their way to say hi. They are driving four wheelers filled with catfish that weigh thirty to fifty pounds. We joke about the size and I ask where they are catching them and the reply is stated with a big smile, “I’d tell ya, but then I’d have ta kill ya! We all laugh.

We are pressed for time and say our goodbyes along with a kindred photo. A day or two passes and we are far down the road in heavy early morning rush hour traffic in Dallas, TX. The phone rings and the screen on my phone says Metarrie, LA. I answer and with a deep southern accent I can tell it is my friend Charlie. He has called to tell me the neighbors we had met just came in this morning with 1,200 pounds of catfish from one net.

I wake up most every morning amazed with the world around me, Charlie is proof of just that.

2 Replies to “Beyond The Bayou”

  1. This is my grandpa Charlie – he passed away now. He had such an interesting way with people – you captured it perfectly and my family is so grateful that you wrote this. My dad still has that wallet and this was a beautiful way to capture his spirit – it really touched him to read this and realize that’s the wallet in his pocket. Thank you. So much. My family will hold onto this forever.

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