"Ooooo- wee, child, is 'dat your Evangeline?"
"Yes ma'am," I replied as I turned my head around to see who was complimenting me in such a thick Cajun accent.
All week long, tour buses would bring people to view the downtown St. Martinville scene. Folks from Ohio, Minnesota, Texas, Illinois, mostly folks trying to thaw out from up north. And, naturally, quite a few from France to check the Creole and Cajun historical sight.
But this woman, with a long full colorful skirt, complete with jangling jewelry and a leopard print headband, looked straight out of central casting for a voodoo queen, or priestess.
"You did 'dat?" You doing my lady, fine, fine... Ooooo-wee! Lordy, lordy!"
"Well thanks, ma'am... it's starting to come around," I said.
"Where you fum?" she asked.
"Originally, I am from New Orleans, but I live now in a small town called Folsom."
"Ooooo, Lord." New Orleans is bad!"
"Not the good bad. I'm talkin' bout the bad bad," she said nodding her head down as if to be praying for all New Orleanians.
"Too much killing down 'dere, child... too much!"
“’Dats why you moved?”
“Aw, New Orleans is not that bad. You just have to have some common sense, ya know?”
“I live in Folsom for many different reasons,” I replied.
“Well, she said, clutching a little tighter her huge satchel like purse and slowly moving toward the front of the church,”I gotsta go visit ‘da Lord!”
After a few steps, she then turns back around to tell me her name and to ask me for mine. Her name is Aida, and says, proudly that she’s from St. Martinsville and has lived there all her life. We banter back and forth for a few minutes about saving the world with prayer, living in St. Martinsville all her life, and my living in California. As she kinda threw her head back separating her dark dreadlocks, which were rather dark for being well into her sixties, she talked a bit about her being black, but Creole.
“Hey, I understand where ya comin’ from, lady. I spent a couple years here in Cajun land. It’s a beautiful thing!”
Even if I thought differently, I wasn’t gonna take no chances. She did have a Marie LaVeau look about herself. Best to not mess with no voodoo, ya know?
“I come everyday to pray and visit my Evangeline… she’s a saint, Mister Ben. Did you know?”
“Well, no ma’am, I didn’t know that, but the story is a very special one, I know!”
“You fum where?” Where you be staying?
“Folsom, LA”, Aida, I repeated quite impatiently.
“Dat’s a long ways to be painting my Evangeline!” she once again, replies.
“You doing her good.” she, grammatically, but hilariously, announced.
Pointing to the sign that officially advertises my involvement as one of the thirty or so artists at the Shadows, I say, “I’m participating in a contest at the Shadows-On-The-Teche museum in New Iberia.”
“Lord, lord”, I better git,” she moans, jingling all the shiny silver, plastic and assorted bracelets around her wrists…” I best be praying for you too,” she said.
Thinking to myself how awfully nice it was of her to pray for my good luck, she mumbles as she turns away flailing her arms,
“Ooooo- weeee, New Iberia!”
“Dat’s no place to be, child. Another dangerous place, fo’ sho!”