Real NOLA

So this morning we opted to get some laundry done. We neglected it for long enough and although it wouldn’t normally be needed since we exploded our milk all over the van we had only a few towels to mop it up with and they were due for a wash.

So we spent the better part of the morning getting everything washed at the local laundromat and watched a bit of news on TV. It has certainly been a while since either of us was caught up on the news – it’s just not something we tend to follow. Between the tragic succession or stories or the violent reports it just doesn’t tend to show us a real depiction of the world we see every day.

Later on we headed to a coffee shop for a little while to get a few things done. We found out completely by accident that the Canadian dollar has topped the US dollar, meaning we are now getting more US dollar(s) for our Canadian dollar. This is a very good thing for us. But what we found most strange was that, despite being around a TV with news stories that were starting to repeat, not once did this story even make it onto the agenda.

We spent the afternoon visiting one of the most famous New Orleans cemetery, Lafayette Cemetery No 1.
2011-03-11-09.jpgThis and all of the cemeteries in the area are built above ground because of the high water table in the area. Just walking around you can see some of the destruction a combination of Katrina and lack of funding has left.

2011-03-11-12.jpg2011-03-11-04.jpgThe family tombs are most interesting because you can have several remains in one tomb over many years. The way it works is by having 3 shelves – the first and top is the most recent death. After a year everything gets shifted down a shelf so by the third year the most amount of decomposition. If someone in the family passes within a year, the tomb is not allowed to be opened because not enough decomposition has occurred. In this case a temporary tomb will be used.

2011-03-11 Family Tomb.jpgIn New Orleans the traditional funeral, as far as I understand, is turned into more of a celebration of that person’s life. There is music and a procession even for the average joe. I was told they will take the remains past all the most frequented locations (i.e. their home, their favorite pub etc.) of that person when they were alive so that everyone has a chance to say goodbye.

A pretty neat way to celebrate a life – make it a party.

2011-03-11-07-2.jpg2011-03-11-05.jpg2011-03-11-06.jpg2011-03-11-11.jpgA party which we discovered, is a New Orleans Natives coat of arms. In the evening we headed back into town to see what the real nightlife is like in New Orleans – Once all the tourists go home and Mardi Gras is over; this is what happens.

Bourbon Street is still Bourbon Street – you can buy stuff, people are crude and drunk and it’s pretty much a mess.

2011-03-11 No parking.jpg2011-03-11 ummm?.jpg2011-03-11 Typical Bourbon.jpg2011-03-11 Oversized mascot for an oversized drink - the grenade.jpg2011-03-11 Bras optional.jpgBusinesses are still working away at trying to get your money, from souvenirs to cigars.

2011-03-11 One of many souvenirs.jpg2011-03-11 Bourbon Street style.jpg2011-03-11 Hand rolled.jpg2011-03-11 Hand made.jpg2011-03-11.jpg2011-03-11-22.jpgThe parades never really stop – St. Patrick’s Day parades are already starting with green beads (recycled no doubt) being thrown out to pedestrians.

2011-03-11 St. Pat's Day Parade.jpgThe real party though, happens a couple blocks away out on Frenchmen St.

2011-03-11 Street performers.jpg2011-03-11 Poetry anyone?.jpgWe slipped into a bar called d.b.a. A cool club playing some old time Jazz.

2011-03-11 Sweet Jazz.jpg2011-03-11 Cool club.jpgWe also got some Poetry from one of the locals – we thought we had a good story for him, and were hoping for something about our trip and our adventure but after interviewing us it seems he latched on to one detail and his poem sort of took an odd turn, and not the direction we had hoped.

2011-03-11 An interview with the Poet.jpgWhen I first heard about Katrina and the devastation, amongst being concerned for how it will affect the residents I was sad that I would not get to see New Orleans in all it’s glory, as it once was. Today however, we’ve seen the real New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA) and I have to say, I don’t think it’s changed all that much. It’s the people that make this city and the people here are fantastic. They have a huge spirit which extends into the relaxed and fun way they go trough life (and death). They party hard, and they thrive in the face of adversity. Katrina and now the oil spill in this area have both affected the city tremendously but I’m certain that this town will persevere and continue to be an amazing place to live and visit.