I love New Orleans. Everyone here is so friendly. People greet each other in the street, call hellos and comment on the weather from their front porches. It’s a great little community. Hapless Birt has been left behind momentarily in favour of a Louisiana lilt. After being advised to imagine my words stacked together like soldiers falling lazily into each other, I’m practicing a smooth southern drawl and I’m a regular dandy.My vocabulary is now overladen with ‘g’mornin!’ and ‘well now sugaaaar’. It’s a little addictive. That and the baby back ribs and I’ve been swooped firmly off my feet.
Today I return to the sights I had outlined when planning my visit. Wanting to knock another of ’20 cemeteries to see…’ from my bucket list I head off to New Orleans Cemetery No. 1. I fall at the first hurdle however as, due to a lot of recent vandalism, you can’t enter unless on a tour. Not one to be beaten, I book on a tour and grab a quick iced coffee and wander the CBD until it’s time.
Our tour guide Sheila (take a bow) muddles through the history of the architecture in the baking sun. She’s not that engaging, but it’s nice to see; although a lot of the tombs are in massive need of repair-their steeped roofs crumbling.
Next I head up to Lafayette Cemetery as a storm blows over and hot rain falls.
Fancying some more local fare, I eat chargrilled and raw oysters from the Gulf of Mexico, and shrimp and grits. I chase it down with 6 scoops of ice cream in crazy flavours (my favourite magnolia flower), and food coma once again kicking, in I take an afternoon nap.
Around 7 I head to back out to Cafe DuMonde for cafe au lait and beignets. Re-awakened with caffeine and sugar, and I’m ready for some live music so take a jaunt down Frenchmen.
The Three Muses offers me a quirky quartet led by a beautiful girl with the sweetest voice singling songs of love and sadness.
Next up I hit The Spotted Cat where a live blues group are tearing it up. Pretty soon I’m whooping and hollering in appreciation as swing dancers litter the dance floor and the guy on trombone takes it to town.
The music courses through my veins and into my bones, and it’s electric.
Heading off for drinks with more friends and we pass an all night wedding chapel, me and my friend joke we should just get married, and so pick up a ring from a cute little art fair just in case.
Champagne is bought as we add to our wedding party at each bar we hop in, and it’s quite the bachelorette send off. 4am comes and goes, and too much alcohol consumed once more, and it’s time for bed.
I’ve had the best last night here in New Orleans and its getting harder and harder to leave all the amazing people I meet on each stop I make. Full of vibrancy, love and a sweetness that creeps up on you with a kicking aftertaste, Louisiana really has been gumbo for my soul.