I recently went on the Honey Island Swamp Tour – a boat tour around the Honey Island Swamp. I was looking forward to seeing the ‘gators, but never expected to be so struck by the beauty of the place. It was so serene and raw, like no other landscape I had ever experienced. It felt honest and mysterious – like you could get lost in there and in so doing, discover the meaning of life. Unfortunately, this was a guided tour so I have yet to make such a discovery.
The alligators were, as expected, quite magnificent. They approached the boat on the always-fulfilled-promise of marshmallows (right-who knew! Wonder how that taste developed and was discovered!), and would jump feet out of the water to retrieve raw hotdogs from the end of a wavering stick.
We also saw a multitude of turtles, some snakes and a great blue heron.
It was a little disturbing to see the prolific presence of the Confederate flag amongst the residences along the swamp, but then it doesn’t get much more rural than the swamp, and it does appear to be an area entirely untouched by the passage of time. Families sat gathered together on porches balanced precariously over the swamp, basking in the warmth of the sun, watching their children swing from tattered ropes into the alligator infested waters. They smiled and waved as our boat passed them, as the children swung the ropes a little further, enjoying the combined look of shock and fear that flashed over our faces.
The tour guide was knowledgeable and informative. He had grown up on the swamp and was able to navigate its many paths and identify individual alligators. He was entertaining and careful. I would highly recommend the tour company should you decide to venture out of the city and see another side of this fine State.