I’ve made a couple of bad decisions today. One was having a 4 hour nap in the middle of the afternoon. So now it’s late at night and I can’t sleep. It’s amazing how many times I can do something, realise it is a mistake and then continue to do it over and over. Buying family sized blocks of chocolate and fully believing I can ration them over a week being another prime example. So now Luke is going to his well-earned rest and I’m wide awake, watching mouse-sized cockroaches scuttle across the kitchen floor. Hooray.
My other major error today, which I feel much worse about, is ordering the half-sized (full is for two people) seafood platter (platter is a flag word in terms of portion size… NTS!) at a restaurant that was described to us as having big portions by our bus driver this morning. He was half the size of a house so WHY DID I NOT LISTEN? Anyway, here’s a photo.
I ended up taking more than half away in a takeaway container because I felt so monumentally guilty about the wasted food but then it’s deep fried seafood so I threw it in the bin and now I have a wasted styrofoam box to add to my guilt. And it didn’t even taste that good. Hooray. To alleviate my guilt I’m not going to eat any meat for a week if I can avoid it, to atone for wasting all those fishy lives but especially for the soft shell crab. I don’t know why, but I’ve always felt especially sorry for crabs and the like.. the way they don’t just get caught and killed, they usually live all trussed up for a while before being boiled alive. No more crab for me, I think. No more unethical meat, actually – especially when I get home and can buy it for myself.
Anyhoo, what did we do today? We went on a swamp tour! On one of those boats with the giant fans on the back. Airboats, I believe they’re called. I have a thing about boats. I really love them. And the rockier and faster and more dangerous they appear the more I like them. Which makes no sense because I hate rollercoasters and anything else that involves speed and the possibility of any kind of injury, let alone drowning. But a top-heavy boat with no rudder in alligator infested waters? Where do I sign up?!
So we were picked up this morning by our very friendly driver, Chris, and taken to the place where the boats set off. It was $90 each for pick up and the 90 minute ride. We were lucky enough to be in a six person, rather than 16 person, boat. Our pilot/driver/swamp man was Mike. I couldn’t understand some of what he said but we’re getting kind of used to that down here.
After admiring the two albino alligators (which I kept calling crocodiles) in their indoor enclosure, we set off. There were about 10 boats but we all sent down different waterways and set about looking for alligators and turtles. We saw lots of each but I didn’t get any decent shots because I only have a wide angle lens. Luke got some good footage though, and the fun we had tearing around corners at high speed in the boat was much better on video than trying to capture it on camera.
We had two other girls from Melbourne on the boat and, unwisely for them, they made it clear that they were afraid of the alligators, even the tiny ones. So when Mike said he was getting a drink from the cooler but instead brought out a baby gator and put it on their shoulders they screamed mightily and much hilarity was had. I wasn’t fussed either way but I’ve learned, through teaching, how to deal with people like Mike. Look super keen and show no fear! So I held the baby and it was actually really nice to touch and not squirmy or slimy at all.
Mike went to put it away but then put it on one of the girl’s heads.. I felt sorry for them but also thought it was funny. Life’s a game of chicken sometimes – if you show fear people can’t help pushing you for reactions.
We saw lots of turtles out sunning themselves but no photos (sorry Nikki!) and lots of birds. I found the moss-draped trees fascinating and we were told of giant rats – about the size of the ROUS’s who live in the fire swamp in The Princess Bride. They’re an introduced species, designed to eat the water hyacinths but now the damage levees by digging holes under them and so hunters are paid by the tail to kill them. Sound familiar, Australia?
Quite a few homes back onto the swamp so there must be a lot of people who find gators in their yards and rattlesnakes are common too. I don’t know why Americans are so ‘OMG, life in Australia is so dangerous!’ when they have just as many deadly creatures here.
Our guide tried to catch a few live gators by hand but to no avail. The girls weren’t sorry though.
All in all, a fun trip. The most fun was holding the baby and then the bits where we went zooming down the waterways, cornering at an angle and spraying water everywhere. I’d definitely recommend this if you’re in the area, just try to time any visit to New Orleans for Spring/Autumn. Everyone agrees that the heat and bugs down here in Summer are atrocious.