The Cajun Country Swamp Tour out of Breaux Bridge, LA, was such a highlight of our trip that we did it twice, once at sunset, and then again in full daylight the next day. The first night, we were with Butch, the owner, and the next day with Shaun, his son. Both were great trips.
Now here is the thing – there is more than one swamp tour company, and you have to be sure to get the right one (this one is the right one.) It’s not like Florida, where you look for the sign. When you get to Lake Martin, where this tour takes place, there is no kiosk, nothing except a tour boat coming in, but even this boat doesn’t have a sign on it. You have to know who you are looking for.
These people were so helpful in getting us booked. We really wanted to be with an eco-tour kind of exploration; some of the swamp tours are purely awful, and exploitive, hard on the animals, disruptive of the environment. We read the reviews; Cajun Country Swamp Tours is the group we wanted to be with. Our sunset cruise was delightful, just us, Butch, who is a wealth of information, and a family of five, the youngest of whom fell asleep almost as soon as the boat left the tie-up. The second day we took a private tour, and they gave us a good price. We like being able to watch the birds, watch the light change, wait for the right shot – it’s worth it to us.
Lake Martin is beautiful, in a lowlands kind of way (it looks a lot like parts of Pensacola.) Taking photos was fun, and also a challenge. Here is the challenge; sometimes the camera doesn’t really understand what it is supposed to focus on, so you think you are shooting a heron, and the camera is busy focusing on the tree two feet behind the heron. Sometimes you want to capture this exact light, but the camera sees ‘this exact light’ a little differently than you do.
This is what the tour boat looks like – very shallow, so it can get into very shallow places, and so it can drift over logs in the swampy areas:
Now, just settle back in your seat and enjoy the swamp and bayous with us on St. Martin’s Lake:
“OK, but I want to eat lunch at Clementine’s,” I replied, as AdventureMan is scheduling some Cajun Country Swamp Tours for the afternoon and the next day. We drive back into New Iberia, and make sure we are going in the right direction on the one-way Main Street, only to discover Clementine’s is closed on Monday. Oh, Aarrrgh.
But I love my iPhone. I love it because I can put in an address, and it shows me how to get there, when to turn, where we are . . . I love it. I love it because I can put in “great food in New Iberia” and up comes names – and ratings. The highest rating other than Clementine’s is a place called Bon Creole, and it is on the one way street, St. Peters, going in the opposite direction of Main Street, so we turn around and head back in the other direction.
We are HUNGRY. So when we miss it the first time, and have to go around the block, AdventureMan says “I think I saw it, but it looked closed.” I think I saw it, too, but it looked . . . like some dive. As we come around the second time, we see a button-down-shirt-and-chinos kind of guy coming out, so we know it must be open, and he looks like a working local, not some tourist like us. And did I mention we are hungry? We decide to give it a try.
You walk in and order at the counter. I can’t say we got a warm welcome. The woman behind the counter wasn’t rude, she was just working hard, and there really wasn’t a smile. I ordered the daily special, but it was already gone. “OK,” I say, “I’ll take the gumbo, and some potato salad.”
“Potato salad comes with it.” She doesn’t even look up from writing down the order. So far, we are not encouraged, but there are a goodly amount of customers inside, and as we wait for our food, we get to listen in on all the town gossip, which is not unlike town gossip in most towns, who drinks too much, who is going out on who, and can you imagine someone wearing that to church?
Our food arrives, a bowl of gumbo, a bowl of rice and a bowl of potato salad, plastic utensils.
And then, with the first bite, everything changes.
“Oh, WoW!” I say, and my eyes open wide. “Wow!”
AdventureMan is having the same experience. “This is REALLY good!” he says.
We are quiet now, eating this totally delicious seafood gumbo. We are both busy trying to figure out how they made it taste so seafood-y, lots of shrimp, maybe some crab, but the gumbo itself, essence of shellfish, it is SO good.
What if we had judged by the exterior and had ended up in some plastic and mediocre place? What if we had missed this totally awesome seafood gumbo? This gumbo was seriously GOOD.
If you find yourself in New Iberia, hungry and looking for some seriously good gumbo, here is where to find Bon Creole:
Bon Creole also has a lot of fried dishes; we were just looking for something not-fried, but if you like fried, you too will like Bon Creole.