Faquetigue - Rural Louisiana
Louisiana is known for New Orleans, and New Orleans is known, of course, for its Mardi Gras. On this Fat Tuesday, we discovered a whole different type of Mardi Gras celebration -- one that has roots dating back to Medieval France and is celebrated today in the Cajun communities of Louisiana.
When we joined 300 people gathered at 8 a.m. in the middle of Louisiana prairie, we quickly found out that we did not a clue what what we were in for. What ensued was likely one of the most wonderful days experienced on the AFP, one full of Cajun music, chicken chasing, pig tackling, waltzing, and a beautiful respect for the traditions and customs, and ranks up there with one of the best days of our lives.
Simply put, we spent the day walking through the Cajun countryside like some sort of tribe, a band of gypsies, a family of bejeweled strangers, dancing and singing to songs from the Cajun canon. Ok, maybe “simply” isn’t the right word. At every third or so house we passed, the entire caravan stopped and would beg for a live chicken. A resident from the house would then hold up the animal, inciting the mob into a frenzy, and launch the bird into the air setting off a furious dash to catch it. If the chase wasn’t long enough there might be a second or third chicken throwing. We must have done this seven times and after each one the band on the wagon would start again and dancing would recommence.
Slowly, we made our way across grass fields, dirt roads, through cemeteries, and eventually back to the house where it all began for a community gumbo and dance. Perhaps it was the cinnamon whiskey that started the day. Perhaps it was first days of warm weather we had experienced in months. Perhaps it was that infectious cajun fiddling. But there was a warmth to this day that will be hard to forget.