|Welcome to New Orleans!|
M and I arrived in New Orleans on the tail end of Jazzfest. We thought we might even catch some of it, but what we caught was a big accident on I-10 that shut down traffic for miles. A car flipped the divider and ended up upside down blocking most of the bridge. We sat for a long time in the heat and traffic. I thought about Katrina and wondered if it felt even something like that, but with fear and apprehension, too.
Coming in, Katrina’s leavings are still very apparent. You can see her in the roof tops all a-scatter, the empty parcels of land, stalled construction and deserted neighborhoods. Much better writers have written loads on Katrina and know and love this city way more than I could. I'm just a passer-througher. What more could I add to that story? Not much.
It’s 2012, and much of New Orleans is back. As far as I understand, the culture of drunk so pervasive in the French Quarter before Katrina is alive and well. So no worries, if you are planning to go to NOLA any time soon and drink until you piss yourself, you are in luck!
After we passed the wreck, we got off at Canal and drove down to Bourbon where our accommodations were located. We stayed in the Hotel Fancytown overlooking Bourbon Street, where a valet whisked away our chariot, and delivered unto us a luggage cart. With its sleep masks and air conditioning, it was a far cry from our beach camp, but I figured it would do in a pinch.
We decided to check out what the French Quarter had to offer. Walking down Bourbon St. after dark, I was irritated. It was probably the insomnia. I told M I thought it was the antitheses of authenticity. I could tell she was annoyed with me, since she loves the city so much. It’s my experience, I said. It feels like Disney to me. I was looking for something more real than a giant frozen drink and a live girl show. We stopped at a restaurant that was filled with tourists. I ordered beer and red beans and rice. M had crawfish pie. I really just wanted a bowl of oatmeal with a touch of almond butter.
After, we wandered through the streets for a while. M argued for the city, and I ho-hummed. Finally, I gave my leftovers to some guy on the street and went back to the hotel, where the internet sucked, and slept until M’s snoring woke me up.
In the morning, I exercised for the first time since we started this journey. M and I fought over routes, people and places. Honestly, I don’t care where we go, as long as we get through Texas, which I look forward to with a sense of dread. We called a truce and decided to go on a cemetery tour before leaving town. We met up with the group in front of a café in the French Quarter. Our guide, “Creole” Gwen, loved the city, and it was nice to spend time with her and hear her take on the city and the history of Louisiana. She talked extensively about Creole/American relations. There is such a rich history here, too, everywhere we go.
I'm getting to the point again where I realize just how huge, diverse, and interesting this country is. This trip is too short. It's like flipping channels through the history and space. Everywhere there's something I want to see more of, and I can't stop to see it. It's rewarding and maddening. I keep thinking, I need to come back here, every "here" I get to.
|Shrine of St. Jude, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church|
|I left an offering for Marie Laveau.|
We visited St. Jude’s/Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and talked about the Voo Doo/ Hoo Doo religion and practice. Then we went to the parish cemetery where Marie Laveau, famed Voo Doo priestess is buried. I left an offering and clapped three times. No whammies, no whammies, no whammies. We wandered around in the heat for a while, taking pictures and following Gwen. She asked M and I if we were staying in New Orleans any longer than a day. When we said we were moving on to Texas, she crinkled up her face, laughed and said: Stay. Texas is just a land mass. It takes up space and has mass.
After the tour, we grabbed a quick bite and fruit from a market and ate it on the steps of the New Orleans parish church. I decided I wanted to have my palms read, so we went to a touristy Voo Doo shop in the French Quarter where a nice woman, Miss. Irene, read my palms and cards. She was about 80 and completely adorable. She said the yellow bandana I wore reminded her of a box of Whitman’s chocolates. She said, when you get old, all you think about is food. And since, according to her, I’m going to live to be 100, I’m going to be thinking about food a lot.
I hope I get it together financially in the second half of my life, so I can eat well. According to Miss. Irene, I will! All that and have a long marriage to a well-to-do divorcee. I like this psychic stuff!
|So much sugar.|
When this was over, we went to Café Du Monde for benoits and coffee.
We said "Goodbye" to New Orleans with a traffic jam, and passed over the mighty Mississippi shortly after.
I am halfway home.