Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans?

I visited New Orleans in the 90's, attending a convention of people involved in the party industry. We had five wonderful days in the city, enjoying all that it had to offer: good food, great scenery, partying heartily, a ride on the Delta Queen Paddleboat, fabulous antique stores, Hurricanes (the drink), beignets dripping powdered sugar, and coffee with chickory!

These are various postcards and pics from that trip. One of the most interesting places we saw was the warehouse where they keep most of the Mardi Gras floats. In fact, they had a party for us in that warehouse, and it was an excellent experience. If you have never attended Mardi Gras, you can have no idea of the size of the floats, most of which are huge. Imagine how fun it was to stroll, drinks and hors d'oeuvres in hand, between the floats and large puppets, imagining what it would be like to participate in the Mardi Gras parades. I could picture myself standing on a float, throwing beads and candy to the by-standers, or being a by-stander and yelling "Throw me something, Mister!" to the guys on the floats. (I would not, however, be showing them anything!).

Speaking of the foods, we ate alligator sausage that night (andouille, I think) and crayfish (crawdads) were found in abundance, as were shrimp and other seafood. The buffet tables were replete with delicacies of nearly every description and the floral decor was to die for; such as tall palm trees whose trunks were made from the hulls of pineapples. It was very creative. Of course, when you are putting on a party for people who put on parties nearly every day of the year - you have to be creative and over the top with your decor!

New Orleans bent over backwards to welcome us - as well as all the other tourists who came there each year. I mourn the loss of this very special city with its distinctive architecture, no less than I mourn the loss of its people, who practiced a brand of hospitality not found everywhere. I cannot imagine how it feels to be one of the displaced, and I hope they can find peace and understanding at some point. Vaya con Dios.


Vicki said...

I definitely remember it as a happy, gracious and welcoming city. Preservation Hall and Banana's Foster at Brennan's. Those pleasures aside this is really a terrible disaster that will impact us all for some time to come.

srp said...

I loved my visit there. The beignets are heavenly. I expect they will be back. I do hope they think about the risk of having such a large city built 20 feet below sea level.

It irks me to see other countries and even people in our own country blaming the US for the hurricane. (Cindy Sheehan just blamed Bush for the hurricane, give me a break)

We have now heard that Nyssa's friend in Ocean Springs, MS lost their home and Margaret's parents lost both in Pass Christian. Others have not been heard from yet.

Winds were 50 mph with gusts to 85 mph as far north as Columbus, MS (east central MS) with power outages there as well.

It will be hard, but the people of New Orleans, Mississippi and Alabama are unusually resilient. I'm sure our churches here in VA will be mounting a push for aid in coordination with others.

Jennifer said...

I can't imagine, either.

It's unimaginable. And unthinkable.

And it breaks my heart.

terrilynn said...

I am at the point where I can't bear to watch the coverage, and can't bear not to. It's just heartbreaking.

yellojkt said...

michele sent me.

My wife and I went to Mardi Gras as newlyweds way too long ago and stayed in the French Quarter. We have geat memories and a whole box of photos somewhere. I hope the city recovers.

The Mistress of the Dark said...

I was never there, but my brother went on business years back and he said it was beautiful. I'm just sad that I'll never get the opportunity to see it at its full glory.

It's truly the new "Atlantis"

Peter said...

Thanks for the trip to New Orleans Kenju, It is a shame that some of the things you describe have been destroyed or damaged.
Nothing brings out the good in people like disaster, I'm sure there has been a surge of response already.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

I think everybody has a soft spot in their heart for New Orleans, home to so many good things.

Weary Hag said...

Like someone else has said, it's hard to drag myself from the news reports, yet hard to watch at the same time. Sadly, the people still there are now resisting help and rescue. It doesn't take long to lose your mind when you're dehydrated, starving, angry, emotionally drained and homeless all in the blink of an eye. My heart cries for these people. Thank you so much for the lovely photos of a great city that 'was.'

Star said...

Kenju, your postcards brought back memories of my family's trip to New Orleans. I was just telling a coworker the other day how welcoming the people were. It is horrible to see what is happening. And to know that some of the world is geting their only impression of that area from what they see on the news.

Jerry said...

For two years I was in the Krewe of Bacchus. I was one of those on the floats throwing the beads. Your arms get really tired after three hours. It was quite an experience.

I have been to New Orleans more times than I can count. I have so many good memories (and some fuzzy ones). I just try to remember it as it was. It's just too sad.