Bertie's Mood

Always Critical and Never Superficial

The South 2015: chronicles of the unexpected

Only so few times in a lifetime you take on a journey where you feel a chronicler and an explorer like Pedro Cieza de Leon. Open, inquisitive and with respect for local culture he wrote down his observations of what was then Peru. Not that I am about to detail an expedition with reports of battles, local power structures, fauna and flora, burial customs or observations of a civil war. But I am to share with you my experiences, insights and notions of my trip to Georgia, Louisiana and Florida. An expedition that takes you back into history, a trip that takes you completely off-road and back road to the road less traveled. An expedition, not a reality show, about real people who make today’s society. You won’t read any stories on Snooki, Jenni or Mike “The Situation”. We’ll talk about a thing “the union” seems to have forgotten all about: not the economy stupid, but its people.

The first seeds of this journey were planted less than a year ago in Paris, when I teamed up with a globetrotter and a curious mind like me. Dark brown skin, the delicate dreadlocks accentuate her inquisitive eyes. She is a Lawyer by trade, discoverer by profession. We met in Thailand in Chiang Mai on December 31st, when I saw her lighting her own lantern to celebrate the New Year.

After a delicious Vietnamese meal in one of the lesser touristic quarters in Paris, a kind gentleman with a white beard and a tangle of hair picked us up to go to a local café in the center of the city. Alas, I forgot the name and the exact place, but what I do remember is that the doors of the relatively small venue were all open. No front door, no back door, no window. For once, Parisian weather allowed the otherwise explicit border between the inside and outside to fade away and give way to the sound of blues and jazz mixed with the background noise of a vibrant nocturnal capital. Singer, Musician, Attentive Listener all sat together and shared a large but small table. Chairs were hap hazardous being added. A singer I never heard of, a drummer who had fame and a guitarist who was often in Brussels. I was introduced to a world that was completely new to me.

In the brasserie they had the best of lamb. Tasty, tender and it was shared with all participants. Food was served and I was introduced to Colin. The sound of the blues became a feeling, an emotion we all seemed to share. Colin and I got talking. About Belgium, how he served in the war, about his homeland, about his travels in the world. He spoke French and was from Louisiana. That is, French and the Creole language from his hometown.

The idea of visiting Colin in his hometown, Vacherie, in Louisiana took hold. I liked it, and so did my friend. I was warned though; visiting Colin is not an ordinary thing and I should prepare something. Recite a poem, sing music or play on the piano. I got searching and found “Louisiana Man” back in my music collection. Last February, we started planning.


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