Mardi Gras light
Though I made it a point to avoid coming to New Orleans near Mardi Gras weekend I had the great fortune of visiting within the month of the event which led me into the experience without the 10 fold of the madness.
The thought of coming to New Orleans always fascinated me, yet was never very high on my list of destinations. Now that I’m up with a high from my night (it’s 3:15 local time) with fading nuggets of thoughts throughout the night and walk home that I hope I can capture a few of them before drifting finally to sleep.
As I drove in today the most beautiful sight was actually Lake Maurepas. It was bright blue and glistened for miles. Then I noticed for several miles that I was always on a bridge. The interstate floated above the delta/swampland until the city was almost in sight. The city granted the typical skyline and the Superdome caught my attention, but it was about focusing on a busy highway and making sure I hit my exit. As I exited I entered a different world. An older, simpler, somewhat impoverished/recovering area, still, that my hotel was located. It was refreshing to have such a helpful and hospitable clerk that made me feel right at home. I checked in, freshened up, and put on my summer clothes. Wow!
I made the 15 minute walk down to Bourbon Street and had a drink at the oldest bar in the country. I walked down Bourbon street with carriages, street performers, beads falling from balconies, and revelers of all kinds. It was Mardi Gras.
I couldn’t wait to indulge in all the sights,sounds, and smells, but I was more interested in this parade I was informed about. I staked my ground and waited for this parade.
For 90 minutes in short sleeves, shorts, sandals and dropping windy temperatures.
No parade ever made it to me.
I cut my losses and made the trek back to the hotel for a wardrobe change and headed to my main destination of the night to see a couple of bands on Frenchman. I STILL had not had dinner. Fortunately upon arriving in the neighborhood I found a place near the later venue that served both important things to my traveling soul, music and food. Though it wasn’t cajun/creole/etc in any way, I had my Mexican food with a stellar band and soaked it in. I left there to see the later bands.
The best part about traveling alone is nobody else interferes. Also it’s usually up to you to either enjoy the experience to yourself, or make conversation with complete strangers. Both at the parade corner and at the later music venue I was not alone. I had grand conversations and had made some soulful connections. At met people from the Cincinnati area, and a couple that bought me a drink, but most importantly danced with me before they said goodbye. I have to be really drunk or coerced to dance. It felt good for someone to lead and say, we shall dance. And dance I did.
Others danced with me later as the band wound out their set. And then I walked back to the hotel and noticed things in such great detail. How the new city looked down upon the old city as a guard, and still the brightest stars were able to beam down and look over both. How the warmest places on the street held the homeless snoring away. How I helped someone park a truck. How the sirens were wailing probably helping those who overdid it. How the fear of walking home alone was not scary. It was beautiful.
Other than I’m what assuming will be a short sleep I anticipate walking down to the river and visiting Cafe de Monde, blowing the powder of my beignet, driving over Lake Pontchartrain, through the delta, and over to Lafayette for the evening.
I really like Louisiana, but I must sleep now.