New Orleans: Part 1

This past week, I had the opportunity to go to New Orleans for my profession’s annual conference. It was magnificent. It was great fun to see friends, explore the city, and learn from my peers. The next couple of days I’ll write about the adventures we had.

The first evening was spent walking around the French Quarter where the conference was located. We decided to walk up Bourbon street, which was neat. Neon sign followed neon sign, men in tshirts and tuxes tried to hustle you into the various bars and strip clubs. Music of all sorts wafted out into the humid evening air. It reminded me of Las Vegas or better yet, what Las Vegas was trying to achieve.

Then we went to dinner at a place off Bourbon Street, which proved a bit of an unexpected adventure. I had my first taste of jambalaya with rabbit and alligator (i think). It wasn’t bad. It was a little heavier than I really wanted with the heat and humidity. However, I’m glad that I finally had some since I’ve always loved the song “Jambalaya.” However, before the meal came, a mouse appeared from the ceiling as it crawled down a pipe behind the bench we were sitting at. It was so unexpected. Never had I seen anything like it in my life! But it didn’t phase me at all. I enjoyed my food. All in all it was a nice evening.

The following afternoon, on lunch break, I decided that I had to make a mad dash for Cafe de Monte. It’s one of the classic cafes known for their coffee and beignets. It’s where I realized the magic of the beignet, a French powdered donut. I hadn’t remembered having one before so I was very keen to try one. I took it to go since I didn’t have the time to sit down. It took 20 minutes to get through the short line, which was a bit frustrating. It was hot and humid at midday. I finally got my order, sweating profusely in the humidity. With one bite, the powdered sugar rained down on my shirt. But it was everything I could have wanted. The heat, the mess, the beignet made it a sublime experience. It wouldn’t have tasted as good any other way.

I also found my way to Jackson Square, which was alive with art and music. Artist sold their paintings by hanging them on the wrought iron fence surrounding the park. I also happened upon a brass band, playing their wondrous music. It’s funny how easy it was to find live music here. I once started following the sounds of a trumpet and found a man just walking along with his trumpet. This constant music reminded me a little of Istanbul.

Brass BandJackson Park, view of the Cathedral

After sessions let out for the day, I made a beeline for the Voodoo Museum. I had read about it years ago and I really wanted to go. Plus I had loved the recent exhibition at the Field on Voodoo so I wanted to learn more. Of course, that exhibition focused on Haitian Voodoo and this museum was about New Orleans voodoo.

I enjoyed it very much. It’s a small museum, practically a storefront, with two major rooms. Just as I entered the museum, I felt something crawling on my arm, which startled me. It was a cricket! It felt like a great start (and I’m not being sarcastic here) to the museum. The rooms had numerous shrines to several gods and other religious items. One room had various figures made from skeletons, alligator, and much more. The shrines were definitely being visited; people put coins and other offerings all over them.There were also cases of voodoo dolls and potion packets. It was wonderful to see that the museum was a living and used space. I learned about some of the big names in Voodoo, specifically Marie Catherine Laveau, the Voodoo Queen. That was super cool. I’m pleased that I took the time to go!

Voodoo Museum

That’s all for now!

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