My sister and I hoofed it, running like silly little girls all the way to the end of the sidewalk so we could get this awesome shot of the famous Oak Alley Plantation in Louisiana. Along our way we passed an older gentleman who was confused by our urgency. He beckoned for us to slow down, “you’ve got time”, he said. But little did he know that our tour began in 5 minutes and that sidewalk was loooooooooooooooong! We still had to run all the way back to the house. The plantation is swarming with people so we felt lucky that our photo only captured a couple of tourists and they’re itty bitty in the background.
The oak trees were absolutely mind-blowing; so majestic, so old, and so HUGE. Unfortunately, our experience went down hill a little from there. The tour of the house was super odd. Obviously they’ve gotten into some political trouble as of late because they were very tight-lipped about how the family lived in the home and instead, focused almost solely on how the slaves worked about the house. Even then the information was sparse and uninteresting. I completely understand shying away from glorifying the slave movement in any way. We should not romanticize generations of people who were oppressed, tortured, and treated like animals; however, there is a history to be told here that can’t be ignored and shoved under a rug. It was obvious that the tour guides were VERY nervous to talk about much regarding the house or the family. I was very frustrated. You can’t destroy an era of history just because you don’t agree with it. A more constructive way of dealing with it is telling these stories and helping people learn from them.
This idea was illustrated perfectly by our tour at the Whitney Plantation a few miles down the road. This plantation is dedicated solely to telling the story of the forgotten slave. Our African-American tour guide (with slavery roots to this very plantation) did a phenomenal job of exploring all sides of the slavery question and helping us all understand what happened, how we can avoid it in the future, how we can come together as different races, etc. He was extremely philosophical and diplomatic and proposed through a series of stories that education is the key for all of us to be our best selves and to avoid oppression. It was AMAZING! I watched a large group of diverse people come together and have a very civil, enlightening discussion on how to improve our society in a way that didn’t preach entitlement, victimhood, or superiority, but individual responsibility. I was thoroughly impressed with the whole experience. Kudos to the Whitney Plantation Organization.
This is why I LOVE traveling. My eyes were opened and my heart was very full that day. So thankful for this incredibly inspiring experience. But don’t forget. You don’t have to take a long-distance trip to have a life-changing experience. Sometimes some of the greatest lessons are right in your own backyard. #happytravels #whatsinyourbackyard