Pyra-Danny has taken a solo road trip to New Orleans for a three-day weekend. She’s stopped at sites along the way and has finally made it to the Big Easy. This was her final day.
I slept in a bus. How could I not? When a renovated bus decorated in flowing colorful drapes appeared on my AirBnB results, it seemed to represent everything artsy about New Orleans that I wanted to experience. It was unique, quaint, vintage, and hipster. I can’t give more specifics because after all… this AirBnB is the private property of a NOLA resident, but I felt safe and comfortable after my fun-filled yesterday.
I had a quick lunch at the neighborhood institute Mandina’s. Plenty of dark wood and tablecloths make the inside seem poshy, but around me families and old friends laughed as I dined on Gumbo and grilled Catfish.
New Orleans is famous for its above-ground cemeteries and the most famous of them all is the St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. Besides its varied architecture and long history, it’s also famous for its residents including Marie Laveau (supposed voodoo priestess in an often vandalized tomb), Paul Morphy (early world chess champion) and future resting place for actor Nicolas Cage. Despite its size—the cemetery is about the size of an acre– there were at least eight other tour groups visiting. My group was from Save Our Cemeteries who works closely with the Archdiocese in charge of the cemetery and therefore were very respectful of the tombs instead of treating the place like a haunted show.
As I was surrounded by the looming architecture of the tombs, it appeared somewhat fitting this was the only time on my trip the sky stayed overcast and released a few tears. The cemetery hinted of eeriness—I was surrounded by resting bodies! Although there were very ornately carved, newer tombs, vandalism had taken its toll on some of the older ones as bricks loosely gathered at the base.
Afterwards I quickly visited the famous Bourbon Street but only the Southern architecture and occasional street performer captured my attention. It was too filled with drunken laughter and bars and I wasn’t in the mood to drink or party alone. A short stop at Spitfire Coffee fueled me with caffeine and revealed that not everything in the French Quarter was sub-par in its catering to tourists. With a few gimmicky options like the Hellfire Mocha (Espresso infused with habanero bitters) I found its coffee to be smooth and well-balanced. I sipped my Mole Espresso as I walked to the French Market.
The French Market has evolved since its start in the late 1700’s. This open-air market contains plenty of shopping above typical tourist trinkets. The food seemed the most popular with booths providing a variety of yummy cuisine including Cajun, Vegan, baked, and alcoholic smoothies. I nibbled a sweet, Cucumber-flavored Snowball from the Mother Nature’s booth while browsing a line of artist tables and their creations.
An old acquaintance, Friend-of-a-friend Al brought me to Cajun Seafood outside of Downtown for a Crawfish meal. Although the building’s appearance showed wear and tear, it was plenty busy inside this neighborhood market and the Crawfish were very tasty and very seasoned.
And just like that my NOLA trip had ended.
The weariness but satisfaction at seeing so many different locations played in my mind as I returned my rental Ford to the Louis Armstrong Airport and slowly walked to the Southwest Airlines terminal. In the past 72 hours I’d toured through caverns, climbed a WWII war ship, entered a cemetery, sipped local rum, slept in a bus and more. Talk about blessed! Seriously—let me talk God for a moment—I totally thank him for keeping an eye on me and allowing me to experience all those blessings.
Eventually I felt the thicker humidity of the Florida atmosphere… I was home again.