My Pandemic Trip to Louisiana

Painting by my favorite Louisiana artist, Clementine Hunter. 1886-1988.

In the past six months, I have been operating at about 30% capacity. Yes, I have tried volunteering and writing and baking. I hike a lot and keep in touch with friends and family. I remind myself how good my life is, but my feelings ignore my thoughts. At this time of my life, I need new places and people and ideas. I need instability.

When I knew it would be a long time before I could travel to other countries, I began thinking about returning to Louisiana to work on my writing project. If I can’t be nomadic, at least I could have a job in a state that is like another country. Before making any rash decisions, as I normally would, I weighed the risks of domestic travel with variables from science fiction. Do I choose fires and un-breathable air in California or hurricanes in Louisiana? Is the global pandemic more dangerous in Louisiana or the Bay Area? Would I rather be on Planet California or in the gun-lovin’ rural south during a second civil war? It turns out, you can’t answer a question that makes no sense, so I got a frequent flyer ticket to Lafayette, Louisiana. I chose an early flight, assuming it would be less full than later flights, and I rented a hotel room near the airport, assuming no one would want to take me to the airport at 5am.

At the hotel, reception made an effort to convince me that my visit would be safe because of “protocols” and “policies.” My room had a special sticker on the door to assure me that no one had been in the room since the house-cleaning staff left. (Not sure how the sticker builds confidence, actually..)

The next morning, my flight left on schedule without me. I cancelled after the news predicted Tropical Storm Beta would hit Houston about the time I was to land there and board a mini-plane to Lafayette. True, the airlines won’t fly if the weather seems dangerous. But, you know. The fear, the throwing up, the Hail Mary’s in Cajun French.

A few days later, I headed back to a different SFO hotel, where some of the (white male) guests didn’t wear masks in the lobby or on the airport shuttle. But the flight was easy, even wearing two masks for 8 hours in a row. Instead of the beverage wagon, the flight attendants came around with little bags of bottled water and stroopwaffel and hand sanitizer. Everyone behaved.

The plane that flies between Houston and Lafayette is barely big enough for you to stay six feet away from your pilot.

I am in Lafayette now, staying with my friend Renee in her backyard cottage, and driving a large Cadillac. The rental agency didn’t have anything smaller because everything is rented out to people who lost their cars during Hurricane Laura. I am returning the car tomorrow because driving a Cadillac here is even more in-your-face than it would be in the Bay Area, although for different reasons, as you can imagine.

When I arrived at Renee’s in my Cadillac, I was greeted by this little cutie. He is a green anole, a Louisiana native. He reminded me that in my family, when you die, you come back as an animal.  I’m pretty sure my green friend is RBG.

I think I’m ready to dig into my writing project tomorrow if Sallie will stop sending me information about visas for Tajikistan. 🙂

18 comments

  1. Enjoy your time abroad in the American South. I’m currently in North Carolina looking for inspiration and I swear it should be necessary to have immigration checkpoints in this part of the country. 😉

  2. Damn, I’ve been wanting to call you to schedule a walk! Yuku posts are beautiful, always, and I’ll just hope we’re both spared till we can take a walk.

  3. Hey next time feel free to stay with us in San Bruno- it is close to the airport and I can bring you to SFO!
    Let me know if you need a lift when you return.

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