Across Continents

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Cajun spices

I’d breakfasted in a small cafe in Mamou. As much intrigued by the mish-mash of French and English on the radio in the background as the server’s name. Boniquica. I’d had to ask her how to spell it. Her sister-in-law’s similarly obscure but I forgot it almost as quickly as I’d been told it. She was from out of State. Struggling to conceive what might draw her to Louisiana, and Mamou at that.

Pondering the map. French influence – Ville Platte, Plaucheville – with a teasing German presence. Hamburg. Mostly unkempt. Suburbs often little more than shanty towns. Tired single storey wooden shacks, paint blistered by the summer sun. Children’s toys scattered amongst the junk outside. Old cars. Often hard to distinguished the abandoned from those still struggling along. Just bright white water towers bearing the town’s name offering the merest glimmer of civic pride.

Past the occasional stack of crawfish pots besides the rice fields. Barely more than subsistence farming. Into Bunkie and another cafe. Bright and friendly affair belonging to Kelly, Tommy and their daughter Miranda. Names I could spell. Chicken salad with some complimentary funnel cake fries. Resembled pancakes rolled up like cigarillos, deep fried and dusted with icing sugar. They too were from out of State. Florida. Lots of English friends.

The road out of town mostly shattered tarmac. Crazed. Uncomfortable. Made more so by a driver who steadfastly refused to pass, despite ample opportunity to do so. Instead the occasional burst of her horn. I watched the queue of cars grow, knowing they’d blame me for the hold-up. But to pull over would plainly encourage her to expect the same in the future, cementing her inadequacies. And that I couldn’t do. Firm believer that you should never reward stupidity. Goes against Darwin’s concept of natural selection.



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