Natchez, MS

November 12-15, 2009 En route to Natchez, MS: Most of the cotton was already harvested and bundled into massive bales. A semi-trailer can only carry one bale.

In Natchez, before you even reach the Under the Hill Saloon, you know something unusual is coming your way...

It isn't until you step inside that you can picture the fille de joie, the crooks and the gamblers fresh off the riverboat that must have streamed through these doors on Silver Street for cheap whisky, quenching lust or five-card stud so many years ago.

Nowadays: no whisky, no illicit loving and no gambling (that we could see), but the place is crammed with memorabilia, which is a lot of old photos and riverboat models and stuff, and the odd, tooth-poor local and the dog on the stool next to him. Locals and tourists alike can settle into a seat, but, regrettably, they must ignore the beer taps. The taps are there, but without the kegs -- bottled beer only and cocktails in plastic cups.

In our search for quasi-healthy vegetarian fare we happened upon a Greek restaurant deceivingly named Center City Bistro. "Peter the Greek" is a suave man of charm in round glasses with thick black frames. He is from Greece, but he has the appearance and smoky voice that you would expect of a Mafioso. At first we were concerned about the lack of patrons, often a leading indicator... That concern vanished with our first bite. We had an authentic and delectable Greek feast. YUM!

The Isle of Capri is a casino. Because the casino is essentially detached from land the establishment is exempt from certain state (and maybe other) taxes and such as it's regulated. However, the Isla of Capri must be permanently moored at the dock and is restricted from actually cruising; that enables 24-hour gambling.

Southerners are generally sociable people. Their singsongy voices and gesticulations suggest a confidence and an affinity with one another and, when in the South, one must expect a certain ... flair and, perhaps, a little more social drama. Case in point:

And again:

More on Natchez to come...