In light of recent events, I wanted to take a break from posts about places far and wide and focus on the place I grew up and have lived practically all my life – Lafayette, Louisiana.
Now, Lafayette is an amazing place, often overshadowed by tourists and news by New Orleans. Last year, Lafayette gained a lot of national news coverage when a study showed that it was the “Happiest City in the United States.” We Lafayette natives were proud that our city, our little city, was finally getting the attention it deserved.
However, more recently, Lafayette gained national again – but this time for a reason no one saw coming, and a reason no one was happy about. There was a shooting in a local movie theater, a movie theater that I went to all the time back when I was in Lafayette, a movie theater that many of my friends live near. Two girls were killed, and about nine others injured.
The news came as a complete shock to me all the way over here in Dublin. I feel like in a way you become numb to stories like this, of shootings and crime, because it happens all too often. And we as Americans almost become used to such horrible stories and tragedies. News like this is becoming all too common, but I guess I was naive enough to think it would never, ever happen in a place in Lafayette, so close to home, in a movie theater that I’ve been to so many times. Where I actually had friends who were in that exact same theater and had go through that horrifying event.
In light of all of this, it got me thinking of what I love about my hometown, and why the news affected me the way it did. And it got me thinking about my favorite things about Lafayette and being from Lafayette:
1. The Food
Lafayette does not joke around when it comes to food. Being the heart of Cajun and Creole cuisine, Lafayette’s food is absolutely to-die-for. Local dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, etouffée, poboys, and boiled crawfish are always spicy and bursting with flavor. In the few weeks before I moved to Ireland, I think I ate boiled crawfish about every other day. (I’m not kidding.) Food is a huge part of our culture in South Louisiana, and I think it has a big reason as to why Lafayette was voted “Happiest City.” #fatandhappy.
2. The Festivals
Of course Mardi Gras is included in this. But actually, my absolute favorite time of the year in Lafayette is the weekend of Festival International de Louisiane. It’s a huge festival held in Downtown Lafayette every spring that includes incredible musical acts from all over the world, delicious food booths (see #1) and beautiful arts and crafts booths from local and foreign artists! You can read more about Festival International in this post, and if you’re anywhere near Lafayette (or even if you’re not) its highly worth the trip!
3. The Landscape
I’m not even going to TRY and pretend that I don’t bitch and moan about how unbelievable hot and humid it is in South Louisiana. It really is miserable. But at the same time, this place has its moments. We may not have mountains or snow but we have swamps, we have bayous,, and there is nothing prettier than a Louisiana sunset.
4. The History
Lafayette has many places where its history is evident. From Acadian Village, to Vermilionville, to tours of plantation houses, you can learn so much about Lafayette’s rich and influential history.
5. The People
My friends are there. Most of my family is there (or near). This is the place where I grew up. Where I have so many memories. Where everyone asks “How are you today?” and genuinely mean it. Where strangers wave and smile. Where the stereotype of “southern hospitality” is so, so true.
In the midst of this tragedy, I’ve never been prouder to be from Lafayette. It’s a mid-sized city with a small-town heart. Even from thousands of miles away, I can see how the community is bouncing back. They are standing together and will come back prouder and stronger than ever before.
From last week’s Travel Tuesday I chose to spotlight Two Feet One World’s post “The 5 Senses of Turkey” ! Turkey has been on my bucket list for such a long time now!
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