In America, there are a lot of places you can go that will make you feel like you’re in a foreign country. Certain areas of Miami, Phoenix, or San Francisco immediately come to mind, and you might feel like you need a passport to go there. However, I firmly believe that when I travel to some parts of Louisiana, I feel like I’ve left the planet entirely. Louisiana is the ultimate alien experience. They have people, plants, and creatures there that simply defy description.
Remember the Rodents of Unusual Size in the Fire Swamp of the “The Princess Bride?” Well, they actually have them in Louisiana. They are called nutrias, and they are basically rats the size of small coyotes. As the story goes, they were brought into Louisiana in the 1930’s by E.A. McIlhenny, who was the same guy that invented Tabasco Sauce. His plan was to keep them in captivity on Avery Island and breed them for fur. At this point, the story gets confusing, because it keeps changing.
Either the rats unintentionally escaped into Vermilion Bay, or McIlhenny let them out on purpose to eat some invasive vegetation. At the time, McIlhenny boasted and bragged that he was the first person in Louisiana to release nutrias into the wild. Later, when they multiplied into ridiculously destructive hoards, he kind of rolled back that story a little bit. Even the Tabasco Sauce website goes to a lot of trouble to distance Mr. McIlhenny from the controversy.
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