oak-alley

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B & H at Oak Alley - part 6 (final part)  

(All credit goes to Spies, I’m simply reposting some of the clips)

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Day 138: We got an interesting but disturbing history lesson on our visit to two of the remaining plantations along the Great Mississippi River Road, which runs between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. First up we visited Oak Alley Plantation, notable because of its amazing ¾ mile stretch of 300 year old oak trees leading up to the ‘Big House’, hence the name Oak Alley. Our guided tour (kitted out in 19th century dress) explained all about the families who have owned and lived on the plantation and it was fascinating to hear about social etiquette and plantation life from the owners perspective. There is of course a much darker side to plantation life and this was explored through a small exhibition in the reconstructed slave quarters on the grounds. It was of course shocking to see the way in which the slaves lived and is impossible to imagine what it must’ve been like to exist in those conditions in the shadow of so much wealth and opulence. The second plantation visit was to Laura Plantation, named for one of the past owners who had written a memoir of her childhood there. The 'Big House’ was very different to that of Oak Alley, and others along the road, as it is one of the only remaining Creole style houses. A mixture of French, Spanish, African and Caribbean, Creole houses are made from wood, generally on one floor and are very brightly coloured. As well as the tour of the 'Big House’ we also saw the original slave cabins, which is quite rare as most plantations have since pulled these down. At Laura, however, this was not possible as shockingly there were still people living in these cabins until 1977! They obviously weren’t slaves at this point but when slavery was finally abolished 1865 most of the slaves owned by the plantation had never set foot off the grounds before and therefore had nowhere to go, they also only spoke creole French making their situation even more difficult. Therefore, they remained living and working on the plantation. We assume they were working for money at this point but were clearly still living in shockingly poor conditions.

Oh and apparently aubergines (or eggplants) grow on trees…who knew! (Pic 5)