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Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Bayou Boogeymen

All areas have ghost stories and they all have their local myths and legends.  When searching for these in Louisiana, it doesn't take long to find links to things that go bump in the night.  The bayou loves its scary characters.

There are so many ghost tours and supposed haunted plantation houses that we'll have something to do for months!  We may need a package of adult diapers though because these things typically freak me out.  A sensational article by National Geographic's digital nomad Andrew Evans described his encounter with one plantation ghost, which he tweeted live!  Readers beware!  The tale will raise the hairs on the back of your neck.  Andrew clearly has the best job on the planet.  I'd gladly be his substitute whenever he needs a vacation.  Apparently TV's ghost programs also visit the area because when I was researching, there were videos plastered everywhere.

In addition to all of the spirit chasing, we get to walk around in Lestat's hunting grounds.  Being a huge Anne Rice fan for as long as I can remember reading books makes this especially exciting.  She certainly popularized the legends of the vampire with her musings.  She was the first to write from the vampire's perspective and made you fall in love with them.  She lived in New Orleans until she was 15, which is obvious when you read her vivid descriptions of the area.  She clearly held a special spot in her heart for New Orleans and Louisiana itself.   Though she made vampires more "mainstream" and glamourous, the history of the vampire legends are told throughout the world.  She took what she'd learned and weaved them into something truly remarkable.  Though I don't recall it in her books and please correct me if I'm mistaken, in Louisiana the vampire is often linked with another "boogie man", the rugaru. 

The rugaru or loup-garou or Rougarou, depending on how you want to spell it, is a swamp beast.  Sometimes he's thought of as a sasquatch, sometimes he's a vampire, and sometimes he's a werewolf.  The history clearly evolved through a long time game of telephone and is as intermingled as the culture itself.  Some believe that this hairy, toothy swamp beast will hunt down and kill Catholics who have broken lent.  I for one will stick with my no sugar for lent pledge, even though I'm not Catholic.  Nobody wants to be chased down by a werewolf! 

I was excited to learn that they hold an annual Rugarou festival right in downtown Houma!  Apparently there's a festival for everything, which is very encouraging for people who love fun.  There will always be something to do!  This one is held in October and people dress up for parades and there are flash mobs to Thriller.  Um, yes please!!

Throughout history the tales of these Louisiana "boogie men" have been used to terrify kids into behaving.  Since I'm not into midnight wake ups for nightmares, I'll politely pass on that type of discipline.  My kids will be excited to learn these stories as history and to celebrate them like Louisiana folk do.  Bring on the boogie man!

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