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Last Saturday, we put on our bug spray and headed to the Jean Lafitte National Park and Preserve’s Barataria Preserve. It was only 30 minutes away from our dorm but felt like a different world. It’s hard to believe that the New Orleans we’ve come to know and love once used to be nothing but swamp. Before the Mardi Gras beads, jazz, and streetcars, there was marshland, bayou, and trees.

During our hour and a half long boat ride, our guide Darryl was sure to point out all the noteworthy plants and animals while telling us about the swamp and cracking jokes. We saw turtles on logs, alligators, and an old cabin. There was a show-and-tell section of the tour where Darryl passed around an alligator snapping turtle’s shell, an alligators head, oh, and a live three year old alligator (pictured below).

I don’t think any of us knew what to expect, but it was certainly an experience. We all learned a little bit about alligators’ lives, the difference between bayou and canal, and that Spanish moss is neither Spanish nor moss. It was cool to see for ourselves New Orleans’s swampy roots, and a good time was had by all.

Now to sign off in a very Darryl way: see you later, alligator!


Pictured: The view from the boat.
Pictured: Lauren, Henry the alligator, and Nefer’s hand.