It's no secret that I am not a Southerner. While I do appreciate it's warm-hearted and very polite people, delicious recipes and sleepy paced, small town charm, I have also been on the receiving end of the harshness of being a foreigner in the deep south=not a good experience. All that being said, it was my idea this year to visit my husband's extended family in a relatively rural part of Texas known as Port Arthur (I often refer to it as Port Armpit). It is close to where Louisiana and Texas meet-just in case Texas wasn't hillbilly enough.
I have been there a couple of times before, once with my husband about 10 years ago, and then again in 2004 when my youngest was about 18 months old. It was EXACTLY the same this time. In fact, it resembled 1950 or 1960. The house we stayed in had one TV (no cable) with Gunsmoke, Archie Bunker and Bonanza reruns playing. There was no internet. There was one bathroom in the entire house-which of course had an ashtray in it. And speaking of ashtrays, I saw a man smoking in the bakery section of the grocery store-Bruce's. They still have stores named after people. I noticed there were no sidewalks in the town either-and lots of obesity. This probably goes hand in hand with the abundance of fried food items available at most restaurants. There was actually a fast food restaurant called, Donuts and Burgers. There were far more donut places than gyms-if there even were any gyms or rec centers. So, to say the least, it was quite a different experience than life here in the burbs of the oh-so-fit and pretentious Denver area.
While it was culture shock to me, I must admit, there were several things I found enviable about life in a slow-paced small town in rural America. People just don't seem as stressed out-people are so friendly and pleasant-and it's geniune. I never felt rushed. Life just seems more simple. And simple can be very good. The boys and I climbed trees-real trees, not the flimsy kind we have here in Colorado. Jackson and I were both on a limb that was at least 2 stories high. It was awesome. We hunted frogs and looked for four leaf clovers. We drove accross huge bridges and saw giant barges go underneath. We went crabbing. We visited people who had my son's pictures all over there homes. I never doubted this was a good trip to make despite my own misgivings about the South. It really was a good time.