Rediscovering New Orleans, Nov 2007

Day 1: Daiquiris, Muffulettas, & Shopping
Day 2: Andre Agassi, Good Food, & Local Music
Day 3: A Pound of Butta & Napoleon

The very first time I saw New Orleans, I was 12 years old and it was a hot and humid July. My parents were attending a week-long conference, so I was shuffled off to the day-camp that was provided.

I saw the amazing Audubon Zoo and the park with its crazy live oaks, and was mesmerized by Oak Alley Plantation with its canopy of oak trees swathed in Spanish moss.

I ate Red Beans & Rice with a dollop of Tabasco every day and beignets every other day.

I remember riding on the paddlewheeler along the Mississippi River, thinking of Huck Finn. One day we went to the shops at Jackson Brewery, where they had a whole floor dedicated to dining. I was both curious and revolted by some of the southern menu items, such as alligator. However, when my father ordered some raw oysters and bit a real pearl (admitted small and rough-looking), that sealed the deal for me.

I determined that this city was a magical place, more exotic and foreign than it was southern, a place where you might find gems in the most unexpected places. And, the crush hasn't really lessened over the years; I've visited New Orleans five more time since that first time.

As a college student, I spent my fair share of time on Bourbon Street on the lookout for flashers and cheap drinks. Even in the years after college, I still walked around with my frozen daiquiri and enjoyed a conga line as much as the next gal, but I also started developing more interest in good but affordable restaurants and spending quality time with friends.

<--- Um, yes, the second one is me. For the sake of this story, I am willing to share this with you!

It's been nearly five years since my last visit, and I was excited to see what New Orleans would be like. A lot has happened in the Crescent City, namely Hurricane Katrina, the renewal of corruption (they'd been doing better for a while), and an explosion in crime. Apparently, New Orleans has the highest murder rate in the nation right now. A lot has changed in my life, too. Nothing like a hurricane, mind you. But, I have grown up a bit. I'm more interested in people and the history of a place and while I like to get my drink on from time to time, I'm no longer a Bourbon Street party girl.

Instead, interesting architecture, the sight of a tantalizing menu, and a shop window full of pretty things have a lot more impact on me these days. And seeing, really seeing the people who generously open up their city to me, well that's more meaningful to me these days.

It all starts here! Day 1


Lynette said...

What a wonderful, heartfelt telling of your crush on New Orleans. It's wonderful to read. And I believe you're so brave to have gone back to see the city that you love, after Katrina. I was last there about two months before the hurricane; I couldn't get back there before we moved to Portland in June, 2006. I lived in fear of breathing the mold to which I'm extremely susceptible. I couldn't even go to my beloved Mississippi Gulf Coast. Thank you for going. I look forward to reading and looking at the rest of your visit.

Waldo Oiseau said...

Lynette, thanks for your comment. I will be happy to visit the Crescent City anytime on your behalf! :)

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Amanda said...

Your post on NOLA is so great! We visited about a year ago and were shocked at how far they had come from Katrina but more shocked with how far they had to go to "get it back". Most of the locals we met were nice but seemed weary of the questions and having to constantly talk about what they had been through. However, I was moved when we visited the Lafayette cemetary in the Garden District and a gentleman who was walking his dog stopped for no reason but to thank us for coming back. He said, "you have no idea what it means to this city to see visitors again." AND thank you thank you thank you for not doing the damage tour. Those people are bloodsuckers profiting from the sadness and misfortune of others. I love your KC Daily Photo Blog and will put you on my blogroll. Your photography is beautiful.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Love that roof shot, cool POV! Nice sky.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for visit my blog!
You have done excellent work here,
it`s very interesting to see also all those places, where we can not go ourselves.

Waldo Oiseau said...

Amanda, thank you so much for your comments. And, most especially, thanks for sharing the warm comment that the local Nola resident made to you.

I think there are certain cities that have a special power over each of us, and for me, New Orleans is one of them. I made a point of not asking locals about Katrina, and I was actually really surprised how much they brought it up in conversation. I very much got the impression that life for many of the city's residents was broken between "before Katrina" and "after Katrina."

Again, thanks so much for you comment here, and I'm so glad you enjoyed reading about my trip!

Galadriel Thompson said...

Oh my goodness, how are you? I'm so sorry for being so absent. I feel like a total jerk. I just realized that I never got back with you about the print! Feel free to call me an asshat all you want. Hope all is well with you and yours. Hope to catch up again with you soon.


Shaykhspeara Sha'ira said...

Hi Waldo!

Wishing you a happy and blessed new year!

Hope to see you at :)

All the best!

Shaykhspeara Sha'ira said...

Dear Waldo!

Hope all is well with you. :)

Writing to let you know has been relaunched. Hope to see you there again!

All the best.