Thursday, April 8, 2010

Down to New Orleans

I'm home, Internet. Home. Home from New Orleans. As always happens when I travel, I don't really want to leave. There is so much more to do. More to see. More to eat. But, then I did miss my bed. And my cats (don't laugh). And I thought about the nasty Nawlins humidity that would kick in around May.

And then I woke up on Tuesday with a  wickedly sore throat. I really thought I was just tired. It had been a long week. Of working outside and inhaling god knows what. And then my friends drug me out to party all weekend. So it was understandable that I would be a little run down. But it seems I brought the sore throat home with me. An unintended souvenir, packed along with the beads and hot sauce. It's Thursday and it's still sore. I sound like Kathleen Turner after smoking six packs of Marlboros.

So it's inconvenient. But whatever.

I can't say it's not worth it. Because I had SUCH a great time in New Orleans! I did. I had a fucking BLAST! The work week was total awesome sauce. It was completely moving and as fulfilling as I expected it would be, while of course, finding ways to surprise me. I can't recommend this enough. If you're looking for a new experience. If you want to step outside yourself for a few days and try something new and change your life and bit and grow as a person, go to New Orleans and serve. Do it! It's so amazing, my meager words will never do it justice.

that would be me at the end of an extremely satisfying work week.
that is a face both exhausted and pleased. 

Now, this trip was not all about the work (it mostly was, but all work and no play makes Andrea a bitch). I had some fun too. We listened to fantastic live music down on Frenchman (in the French Quarter, but where more locals hang out) at Checkpoint Charlie's and the Spotted Cat and I danced my butt off (not really, I ate so much that this ass isn't going anywhere).

I did the obligatory walk down Bourbon st., drank a Hand Grenade, and collected more beads than would fit in my carryon (and I never had to show my boobs. not once. and it's a good thing too. my boobs are so little, they'd ask for beads back.).

I sat in an open-air cafe at night with friends and listened to outstanding jazz while sipping coffee, where I overheard a girl mention my alma mater. Turns out we graduated college the same year (small school) and have mutual friends. What a small world. I'm always amazed at what the universe throws my way.

I got to experience a real Nawlins Easter Parade (not watch. no one just watches a parade down there) where I collected even more beads and saw some of the best bonnets of my life on both men and women.

But the best time I had was just sitting alone in a cafe on a weekday morning, sipping the best chicory coffee you'll ever taste, eating beignets, writing poetry, followed by wandering the Quarter alone, photographing anything and everything. That's when I really met the city. 

I'm always preaching that there is so much more to New Orleans than the French Quarter. That if you've gotta venture out and meet the locals and see how much more there is to really get the flavor. But, I didn't take my own advice, because I wasn't paying attention to the French Quarter enough. There is so much history there. Colonialism. Pirates. Disease. Jazz. 

It's a beautiful city. As a whole. But the French Quarter is especially gorgeous. But the absolute coolest thing I did and the most spectacular was a swamp tour. I'd always pictured the bayou as murky and buggy and smelly and muddy. Well, this swamp (being in early April anyway) was completely breathtaking. 

I need a better word than gorgeous. Splendid. Stunning. Awe-inspiring. Help me out here! Also, I saw two Great White Herons (no pics of those, sorry), one snake, and like 5 alligators. It was very, very cool. 

Now, I would be remiss if I didn't mention my very favorite thing about New Orleans. I know you know what I mean, Internet. If you don't, then you don't know me that well yet. The food. THE FOOD!  Crawfish etouffee, po'boys, fried catfish, fried shrimp, fried chicken, fried anything, beignets, jambalaya, dirty rice. YUM! 

And though I'm not much of a drinker, I will give a quick nod to Abita beer (I prefer the Amber to the too girly for my taste strawberry). 

And the bubbly French 75, which has champagne and something else secret and which you can only get at the bar of the same name. It was the best place to spend my last night in the French Quarter. French heaven. Reminded me SO MUCH of Paris. And with the champagne going right to my head, I got a little homesick for that smelly old city. But, of course, the Quarter smells just as bad as Paris.

Until next year...

Laissez les bons temps roulent.

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