*80 Days* The Bayou is the latest region design by Camila (Camila Runo). As the name suggests, it’s a region design that takes us down into Louisiana, where a mix of open water, mangroves and a small town that feels like it might have been cut from a corner of New Orleans just across the state line, and dropped neatly into the grasslands here.
The landing point is located on a large waterside pier, against which is docked a paddle steamer of the kind perhaps also more readily associated with the Mississippi – although that was not the only river along which these majestic boats once regularly plied, their great stern wheels thrashing the water.
The unmistakable work of Analyse Dean, the steamer sits with her saloon and card table set as if awaiting fare-paying customers, the perfect backdrop from which to start a visit to the region. And, from the paraphernalia on the wharf, the perfect backdrop for a film crew – a sign even inviting you to sit in the spotlight and take your own picture (or have a friend take it for you).
The wharf joins with a trestle bridge that spans the river on which the steamer sits, suggesting that if she does still make way under her own power, this is one end of any journey she might make. Across the bridge on the south side of the river, lies a muggy, tree-shaded expanse of bayou, cut here and their by water channels. A raised board walk offers a route over the waterlogged land to keep feet dry as it winds its way to a grungy bar sitting among the mangroves.
On the river’s north side, the bridge gives way to a road leading to the little town, passing the obligatory cemetery along the way. This is the place where the main street basks in the late afternoon heat and humidity, overlooked by the balconies of the places of business that line it on either side. Up on one wall, Satchmo plays his horn, while the sounds of his playing echoes along the street from open windows, washing over visitors as they explore places like Maison Devil, with its voodoo overtures, or drop into the quirky Goofy Gator lounge (which has a nice minimalist ambience, but I wasn’t entirely convinced by the green beer!).
To one end of the town sits a small restaurant with streetside dining and dancing, the road beyond it giving way to a dirt track which curves down to a beach looking out over (presumably) the Gulf of Mexico. A second track parallels the route to the beach, just across the car park from the restaurant. However, rather than also leading to the beach, it instead offers a path to the local alligator farm.
Between the town and the river, the land is flat and given over largely to grass and wild flowers, although a third track does point the way to a little pier that juts out into the river. Watched over by a plump pelican, this pier is home to a little motor boat rezzer people can use to putter around on the water – just be wary of the region boundaries when doing so.
The rezzer is one of a number of little interactive elements included in the setting that help bring it to life. Others include opportunities to dance or scrub a car, enjoy a drink or pose for a photo. There are also number places where visitors can sit and pass the time, some of which sit out in the bayou to offers places of solitude for those who want to be on their own, while others are well suited to couples or small groups.
Populated by the static figures that appear to be having their 15 minutes of fame among region designers at the moment – and which do help bring a sense of life to region designs – and rounded-out by a nicely balanced sound scape, *80 Days* The Bayou makes for a photogenic and engaging visit.
With thanks (again!) to Shaun Shakespeare for the pointer.
- *80 Day* The Bayou (White Widow, rated Moderate)