To learn more about the Cajan culture here, we visited Vermillionville, located in Lafayette. This Williamsburg-lite heritage and folklife park brings to life the early days of Cajan and Creole settlers from the mid 1700's to the late 1800's. Five original homes and twelve reproductions gave us an impression of what life was like around here. In the midst of all this history, we were able to call a phone number and hear information about the buildings on the site, Very high tech!
In the school house a message on the black board warned that an amendment to the Louisiana constitution specified that it was illegal to speak French here. This was revoked in 1968, but makes it even more amazing that the Cajan form of the language has fared so well. Maybe it is a coincidence, but we have run into many French Canadians. Perhaps they are investigating where some of their countrymen ended up and surely they are comfortble here linguistically.
A few bus fulls of students on field trips had the park buzzing in the morning, but after lunch we had this picturesque spot pretty much to ourselves. Many of the homes in the park and more modern ones in the city have steeply pitched roofs. If we saw this at home we would assume that they were built in this manner to shed snow, but here the steep pitch must send the heat to the top a bit like a chimney.
The park tour included a boat ride down the bayou where the guide talked about how the Indians lived here and assisted the early settlers in learning how to survive. He said that over the millenia the Gulf of Mexico extended two hundred miles inland from where it is now as well as three hundred miles further out. Nearly all of the land around here was Mississippi River basin at one time or another.