Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Slidell, Louisiana

"I am 100% Cajun, coon ass, swamp rat, red neck and I will be your captain today," announced Cap'n Jack by way of introduction.

It was 8:37 in the morning and both temperature and humidity were bounding past 90. I hadn't even made it to the boat and I was soaked through.

The guidebooks all said that if you wanted to see the bayou, visit the folks at Honey Island Swamp Tours. Normally, I'm not a big fan of group activities, but the idea of walking around some half-collapsed dock in the delta, draped in cameras and proffering cash to wary locals seemed like more drama than I could face without a drink in my hand. So for $23 I signed on for two hours in a shallow draft mud boat hurled downriver by a 200 horsepower Honda.

As a long-time Seattle resident, I've muffled most of my once over-abundant personality in a heavy blanket of emotionally-repressed Lutheran civility. I now shake hands with small babies and last raised my voice in anger sometime in 1998.

Jack doesn't have that problem. He hollers a welcome to all his passengers. He yells into his cellphone about a busted air conditioner. He bellows apologies for the delay and roars full throttle out into the bayou.

Jack spends a lot of time on 11.

But the man could work some magic with the alligators. "You want to get their attention? Throw 'em some marshmallows. Then poke some hot dog on a stick. Gators love them wienies."

I had no idea that alligators had the same eating habits as my cousins. It's not exactly textbook wildlife ethics, but it works wonders. An eight-foot alligator swims out, snarfs down the campfire fare and swims closer.

Jack raises an eye as I hold my camera down to the water's edge. "She gets ahold of your hand, it'll be somethin' gettin' it back."

I imagine the tug of war between me, Jack and the 'gator and edge a wee bit closer to the boat.


Wendy Lee said...

Couldn't you have gotten any closer?

Ray K said...

We need some of those in Lake Washington (Cap'n Jack not the gators)