Cajun Phrase: Directions

You might think that directions are easy to follow. I mean, you can’t really mess up North, South, East, and West, can you? Well, leave it to Cajuns to change things.

You see, for the longest time I had no idea what was north, south, east, or west. Not because I wasn’t taught, but because we don’t use those words when we’re giving directions. No, here, things are either “up the bayou” (north) or “down the bayou” (south). There are variations, of course, like “You’re gonna come to Roland’s, turn right on the bridge and go down the bayou aways until you see the Lion’s Club.”

You see, the towns around here were built around the bayous. Communities sprouted up next to the waterways which were the easiest means of getting around the area. Bayous are everywhere. There’s the bigger bayous, then the smaller canals. In the old days, roads were apparently for wimps. My mom talks about how at one time barges used to come down the main bayou in town. Now though, the bayous are mostly unused except for fishing or dredging. Which is a shame really, they’re lovely.

Now for the real lesson. It isn’t just a matter of saying down the bayou or up the bayou. You have to say it correctly. It isn’t “down the bayou” it’s “down da baya”. If you’re in Terrebonne Parish, it’s down Bayou Terrebonne and if you’re going down the bayou, you’re heading into towns like Chauvin, Montegut, and eventually, you’ll read Cocodrie. If you’re in Lafourche Parish, you’re driving along Bayou Lafourche and going down the bayou brings you to towns like Larose, Cut Off (birth place of the Cajun Cannon, Bobby Hebert), Golden Meadow and eventually Grand Isle.

If you’re from Terrebonne Parish talking with someone from Lafourche Parish and say you’re going down the bayou, they might think you’re going down Bayou Lafourche. Funny, huh?

So what kind of strange directions do you have in your area? Is there a landmark everyone uses as a compass, like our bayous?

8 Comments

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8 responses to “Cajun Phrase: Directions

  1. Nope. I’m pretty much a straight North, South, East, West. Although….since moving into a valley (Phoenix) just over five years ago, it’s difficult because there are “mountains” (I’m from Denver…these hills here, so not mountains) on all sides of us. . . usually I looked to the mountains while living in the Denver area to orient. LOL.

    • I wish we had something so noticable here that would help guide people, but the land here is extremely flat. I went to Missouri and was like “Wow, mountains!” and a couple of ladies who were from Vermot? Virginia? I can’t remember where they’re from now, told me “Oh honey, those are hills!” LOL

  2. I moved from Miami, FL, where everything was numbered in a grid. You took 1st street to 2nd avenue kind of thing. Well, when I moved to GA there were no straight roads, and everything was called Peachtree. 🙂 I moved into a small town and the first day of work the guy told me to go down that ther’ road until ya reach the second tree, then turn right, go yonder past the first farm, etc… No Joke! I was like, WHAT? 🙂

  3. KAK

    Zomg, I get lost in a closet, now y’all are monkeying with directions? ~sob~

    Just look for the lost red-head crouched on the side of the “baya,” sucking her thumb and rocking inconsolably.

    • LOL, somehow I don’t see you being lost for long. Maybe flashing your leg at every pirogue that passes by for a ride where you’re going, but sucking your thumb and rocking? Tsk. I doubt it!

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