Thursday was another full work day. Keeping with tradition, I painted.
In the evening, the Habitat workers took us all out to dinner in Downtown Lafayette. We went to Dat Dog, a gourmet hot dog restaurant that oozed personality.
Dat Dog – everything inside was extremely colourful:
Food & drinks at Dat Dog:
Afterwards we spent some time wandering around Downtown Lafayette. We went to a park where we saw fire spinners and a hula hoop artist, and they were kind enough to teach us some of the cool things they were doing (minus the fire).
Our whole group, taking a picture with the Lafayette letters:
Friday was our last day of work at the site. Shocking no one, I painted again all day.
For lunch, one of the Habitat workers was super nice and made us the most amazing crawfish etouffee, which is kind of like a stew, served over rice. “Etouffee” is a French word that translates roughly to “smothered” – in the case of the etouffee, I think it refers to how the crawfish is smothered in butter and good spices and veggies. The whole dish only had seven ingredients in it. It was absolutely delicious, and once again, really nice to have some authentic Louisiana cuisine!
Aside from the food, Friday was very Canada-themed. One of the Habitat workers wanted to hear the Canadian anthem, so during lunchtime we all sang Oh Canada for him. We were the first Canadians that some of them had ever met, which makes sense when you consider that Louisiana is about as far as you get in America away from Canada. Go any further and you’d be in the water. Luckily, despite the distance, they seemed to have a pretty positive perception of Canadians and Canada, which we tried our best to uphold.
I had brought some maple candies with me and gave them to the workers and volunteers that day. Before I gave one of the University of Louisiana volunteers a candy, I asked if he’d had maple syrup before, to which he scoffed and said of course. And then he ate it, declared it was amazing, and asked to know what was in it. The answer? Nothing but pure maple syrup. Those ‘Muricans. Likely he had maple-flavoured syrup before, but as any good Canadian will tell you, it can’t even compare to real maple syrup.
In addition to syrups, our group noticed another difference between ourselves and our Louisiana friends, namely how Canadian culture is often focused on America, but the reverse isn’t nearly as true. One of the college volunteers began a story once by saying “our former president, Obama…” and our group all burst out laughing, because he genuinely thought that we might not know who Obama is. Canada hears about American politics all the time, listens to American music, and watches American movies and TV shows. Most Canadians could name the last several American presidents, but most Americans couldn’t do the same for Canada. The college volunteer we were talking to couldn’t name Canada’s current Prime Minister, and after we told him it was Justin Trudeau, he admitted he would never have guessed that. Canadian culture is very Americanized. Compared to how aware Canadians are of the happenings of their southern neighbour, Americans seem to be much less aware of what’s going on in the great white north (although some of the workers had heard of Rob Ford, Toronto’s former mayor). Considering that, it was really nice to be able to expose them to a little bit of Canadian culture.
At the end of the work week, we got to pitch a sign for our university in front of one of the houses we worked on. The sign will stand until construction on the house is completed.
Our sign (we may have played a little joke and painted an igloo as our school. But the Timmie’s, at least, is accurate):
Our sign in front of the house that we did the most work on:
In the evening we headed back downtown to spend the night at a local bar. The next morning we would wake up, pack our bags, and make the long drive home to Canada. We didn’t get very much reading done, but I’m proud of the work we accomplished, and everything that we learned, during our time in Louisiana.
The drive home:
A stop along the way home at the “Devil’s Crossroads” in Mississippi. Legend has it that musician Robert Johnson once sold his soul to the devil at this crossroads, in exchange for success and the ability to play really good blues music. Photo is blurry because it was raining tons on the drive back: