Monday, October 27, 2008

Rich history, Lean times

At the center of town, on a small green next to the farmer’s market, a cluster of traditional Cajun homes offer a glimpse into the past. This is the home of Venus, a Creole free woman of color who lived on the Cajun prairie before the abolition of slavery. Made of bousillage, a mixture of mud and moss, it is estimated to have been built around 1800, and is a source of community pride. Pride in tradition and history keep Opelousas going during difficult times: it is one of the poorest towns in the state’s poorest parish, its economic burdens substantially increased in the aftermath of both Katrina and Rita. According to a local taxi driver, that’s why Yambilee is so big: People here always look for a way to have a good time, no matter how bad things get.

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