JUST SAYING HELLO | Sharon Henry
We love meeting and talking to people on our travels. They give firsthand insight into their part of the world and culture stamping authenticity to the places in a way the travel brochures can never do. So, we were delighted when Joette LeBlanc politely introduced herself having overhead our conversation at the Pointe Coupée museum. She was fascinated that people travelling from a tiny Atlantic island were there in the middle of Louisiana, USA! Within hours of her returning home, she was a follower of our blog.
Joette was there with her lovely granddaughter, Amelia (6), both from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Amelia was visiting to collect her second place prize in an art contest; a ribbon and package of art supplies. It was the first time she’d entered a competition.
“It was in the Petite Gallery and it was a picture of a vase of flowers,” Amelia proudly told us. “Two different kinds of lilies. One of them was yellow and the other was red.” Her grandmother fetched the painting from the car for us to see.
It was a watercolour and even to our untrained eyes we recognised detail and skill beyond her six years.
At the moment Amelia doesn’t have a favourite subject with art, she’s open to everything. “My mummy inspires me,” she told us.
The Best Thing About Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Joette herself is watercolour artist, painting landscapes and countryside scenes of historic places. Her love of art has obviously rubbed off on Amelia and she’s delighted by her granddaughter’s interest. “She already calls herself an artist,” said Joette. “If you have that kind of love and devotion; she’s going to be really good, I can see it already. I don’t think it’s just family pride, other people have confirmed that, even my art teacher is impressed with her!”
Joette also volunteers at her local church. “Years ago I worked at a law office but I’m more of a homemaker now. It gives me the freedom to do what I want to do, like painting. My work is not online but my husband is my agent and he shows everybody the pictures on his phone.”
We asked Joette what’s the best thing about Baton Rouge? “Well it’s home to me, I was raised there, my family and my husband’s family are there and most of our kids are there. We have one son who just got married in New Orleans, who was working in Galveston, his wife just graduated from medical school. We saw them briefly for the wedding and then they took off for Birmingham.
“We live out by the river so we get to see a lot of wildlife, we raise chickens, the grandkids come over and they get to enjoy the animals too, and we garden.”
Travelling The World, Making Connections
Being from St Helena, one of the most remote islands in the world (for now), we are always interested in other people’s travel experiences.
“I’ve been to China and Aruba,” Joette told us. “My experience with Aruba was really nice, my husband was working there and he got to bring all our family down. So we just fitted in with the locals for about three months.
“China was a different story. My church sent some people there to carry bibles, and we stayed about a week. I found it fascinating, real good people; they accepted us.
“If I had an open ticket I would like to go to Europe, I have ancestry through England, Wales and maybe Scotland. My husband’s French. We would just like to see our own heritage, where we come from, just look into our past, see if we can make some connections.”
Perhaps the best part of talking and connecting with people around the world is realising we pretty much all want the same things. Whether we’re from Cambodia, St Helena or USA; love, home, family and friends.