Mud Bugs

First off, have you heard of crawfish? Maybe crawdads? Living up in the Northwest, I had heard of them. We usually refer to them as crawdads up there, but either works. I vaguely remember my mom showing me one swimming along in a river or stream up there even. Well, down here in the South, they are a main delicacy. A staple to many standard southern dishes, Louisianans love their crawfish.

I’ve learned that their harvest is seasonal, their tails taste pretty good, and the locals like to suck the juices of melted fat from around their heads and their brains. I guess that’s the best part. I doubt I’ll ever be able to expand on that – I really don’t have any desire to suck the juices off of a crawfish brain.

The most interesting thing I’ve learned about these little creatures is that they don’t live only in water. Nope. They can live in your yard – in the ground. It's true! Don’t believe me? Goggle it. You’ll find links where people ask how to get rid of them and get them to stop digging up their yards. Crazy! They make little mud mounds and apparently are most prominent in eastern Texas and Louisiana, but I guess they appear across the south in ground where the water table is quite high and the climate is wet with humidity. Pretty much everywhere down here haha. You can see their little mud mounds along the road in a few spots near where we live. I actually learned about all this because one of the guys stationed here was digging up a small circle in his backyard for a fire pit, and he found 3 crawfish in the dirt! I really didn’t believe it, so I did a bit of research and sure enough – it’s not uncommon down here! What a strange place… yet another reason not to walk outside barefoot! Not only are there nasty spiders, mean fire ants, and cockroaches – there just might be a “mud bug” out there ready to pinch your toes!


Lesson Number One: Water

There are quite a few lessons I’ve learned since moving to Fort Polk. I will write a few out in my coming posts, but the first thing you need to know if you are going to be living here is: DON’T DRINK THE WATER!

Now, I have never been one to pay for water. That seems ridiculous to me. Why would I spend money for a bottle, when I can just fill my glass at the faucet? I took for granted that I lived in the Northwest and the water not only tasted good, it was safe to drink.

I’m not kidding. You may want to re-evaluate your grocery budget because this place is hot and it is humid, and you are going to want store-bought water on hand at all times. If you drink the water from the faucet here, you run the risk of getting a nasty H. pylori infection. I know that sounds a little crazy – water here in the United States isn’t safe to drink?! What! I couldn’t believe it when I found out. But, sadly it is true. A woman here got so sick from it she had to be on medical treatment for nearly 6 months, couldn’t eat hardly anything during that time and couldn’t even leave the house for a while because she was so weak and ill. She has since recovered, but I wouldn’t want to risk going through all of that pain.

If threat of bacterial infection isn’t enough to loosen your wallet for bottled water, consider this: I bought a showerhead that filters water. A showerhead. Why? Because if you shower in this water unfiltered, sometimes it can smell so bad that your hair even has a lingering scent of sulfur. I’m originally from a place near Yellowstone National Park. I know my sulfur smell, and this water has got it. What’s disconcerting is it isn’t a constant. It comes and goes. On some days, you can smell it from the faucet when you just wash your hands. Weird. Gross. And if it’s not a sulfur scent, I can guarantee it will be an overpowering chlorine smell. Sooo… either you smell like you fell in a hot-pot, or you smell like you just got out of the pool. Take your pick. Invest in a showerhead that filters all that junk out!

Another thing that happens here a lot: boil advisories. Personally, I thought cutting water lines to residencies was a pretty rare thing. Here it seems to happen pretty frequently and I usually never find out about a boil advisory until after the fact. Seriously – their way of notifying us is sticking a Xerox copy into our garage door handle. How often do I run outside and check my garage door to see if I can use the water in my home? I don’t know – it seems like there should be a better way to warn people. If the faucet starts coughing at you and lots of bubbles come out with the water… or the water turns dark yellow to brown while it’s running… that’s when they’ve recently cut your water lines. The last time it happened on our street, I found out because my toilet was making so much noise I had to leave my office to check on it. I was shocked to find that the water in the bowl was DARK BROWN! Eeew – so disgusting. It smelled like rust and dirt and the toilet just kept running! Luckily it didn’t overflow, but I was getting worried. My cat even had to check it out and warily kept watch outside the door. Once I was sure that the lines were reconnected, I ran the water from every faucet for at least 10 minutes straight. Only then did the water start to run clear. But still, do you think it’s really clean enough to drink at that point? They lift our boil advisories in a few hours and even state on the notices that they don’t believe it’s really dangerous to drink that water as it is. Seriously?! That stuff smells so rank and you don’t think there’s anything wrong with it? Yet another reason to not trust this place or the “regulations” that they follow to ensure things are safe for us.

Don’t worry – there’s not much to do around here. You can afford to take care of your health and pay for your water! I highly recommend it. I was drinking faucet water the first 8 months that I lived here and I always felt a bit sick. One easy solution to some of the nastiness here – purchase water.