Thursday, June 9, 2011

Swamp People

Hi, I am Marcus de la Houssaye,

owner and operator of de la Houssaye's Swamp Tours at Lake Martin. I have lived on a houseboat in the Atchafalaya Basin Swamp from 1986 through 1995.

The three photos of me below, are copyrighted and are courtesy of Marc Garanger April, 1989

When I first built my houseboat in 1986,

and moved to the Atchafalaya swamp as a permament resident, the old timers claimed I would be the last of the "permanent" residents.

I really didn't understand what they meant by that, at the time, but it was true.

To live without electricity, television,

and having a boat as a main mode of transportation is as rare today, as it was 25 years ago when I first moved into the Basin. Frankly, I am amazed that more people can't disconnect from the mainstream modern lifestyle, and just do it.

What has happened for most of us, appears to be a matter of convienence. We have children who need to be in school 5 days a week, and we have jobs, to pay for our nice car and truck and our mortgage, insurance, internet, cell phone, etc.

But how can we be free, to live off the land and hunt and fish as a true Cajun, if we are so obligated to so many costly things? Well, the answer to that question is: we compromise and live a modern life with a road or street in front of our hiuse with electricity, internet, running water, etc. for five days a week, and on the weekends we haul our boat over the levee

on a boat trailer behind a pickup, and launch into the Basin for the weekend getaway.

It is practical, but still I am amazed that no one seems to be completely commited to living in the wilderness.

I met Greg Guirard on a movie location, a couple of weeks ago and asked him if there was anyone living in the Basin as a permanent resident.

He said "No, you were the last one".

He then went on and expressed concern that we as Cajuns are losing our identity, because we are allowing outside TV and film productions to focus on a small facet of our culture and that causes people on the outside to assume that we all live in housboats, or in houses on stilts,

and we all are swamp people.

Furthermore he pointed out that too many Cajun people are sucking up to and catering to tourists expectations of what is Cajun, such as spicy food, and alligators being consumers of humans. Then he really pushed it and said that too many tour guides were pretnding to be Cajun just to make a buck!

Today, with the Swamp People TV program being so popular, we are concerned that outsiders will assume that what they are seeing is representative of the Cajun culture as a whole. Well that is part of it, and those guys are for real, but they are not common per se.

If you would like to do a genuine Louisiana Swamp Tour, call the number above or click on the link in this line and I will do my best to share a couple of hours of culture, history, geography, and nature study, and I just might share some of my Cajun humor and talk like dat for you!