The sharpie squeaks against the paper as I cross another city off my list. It’s a sound I love hearing for it marks another conquest. Every moment I travel, to new places or old ones, I collect a little piece of it and take it with me, and leave a little piece of me too. Every place I go adds to the addiction of wanting to see, feel, touch, taste… and simply experience more.
New Orleans gave me a different kind of perspective, one I wasn’t expecting. In photos from those who have visited before me, I pictured a town of beautiful French and Spanish inspired architecture, with colorful aromatic flowers over flowing window beds. I imagined luscious greenery blanketing the streets, parks full of old cypress trees waving at you in the breeze. The scent of all sorts of creole inspired dishes, spices tickling your nose and enticing your belly. I thought I knew what New Orleans was before arriving but in all reality, I had no idea.
Yes, you will find all of which I mentioned but sadly, it’s slightly hidden behind another world, a far more unpleasant, an almost sinister world. Despair permeates the city, and it’s only after you’re drunk that you seem to forget about it. Souls both dead and alive, roam the streets, tragedy chiseled onto their bodies for the rest of us to witness. It weighs heavy on the heart to witness so many people in pain while knowing there is no way for you to help each and every one of them. Regardless, you’re not there to spend you travel time wallowing over other’s unlucky circumstances, so you move on as best you can.
One thing you seem to not be able to get away from is the ammonia that lingers in the air. Some blocks just pat you on the nose with it. Other blocks, it seems as though you’re getting body slammed. You fear that if you open your mouth to even comment on it, the stench will rip your tongue out and burrow deep inside. Now, I’ve been to many major cities and I understand they don’t smell of warm lavender showers and bubble gum drops, but geeze Louise was this something! With time, your senses become slightly accustomed, and not to mention with every cocktail you sip on the easier it is to forget. Upon my arrival I was fathomed at how such a popular city among tourist could be let to get so dirty but the truth of the matter is, they don’t. Day and night you witness city employees sweeping up garbage, emptying out trash bins, they even street wash every single night late into the early morning with soap and hot water to keep the grime at bay. Yet, with its dense population, a high amount being homeless, and thousands of tourists visiting per day, they can only do so much.
No matter the unpleasantries, they weren’t enough to deter me from visiting again. If anything, I can’t wait to go back. Though we were there for 4 days, there was still so much left to do and try. One of the best things we did during our earlier stay was taking an overall all city tour. Our tour guide was able to give us a fun and informative history, but most importantly highlighted many food and music spots that you wouldn’t have found on your own unless guided by a true local. My bf and I being the only two on this tour got to benefit from being able to ask as many questions as we wanted, getting the real inside scoop of what to do and where do go, and where not to. Some of these spots we were blessed to try, others remain undiscovered until next time. Taking a ride out on the Mississippi River on the oldest steamboat in the city is still left on the todo list, along with a good old fashioned trolley ride, and we can’t forget a trip out to the plantation for a tour of it and its bayou.
All in all, it was another successful trip. No fussing, no drama. Just good food, good music, great company, amazing people. I look forward to my return someday so that I can enjoy the gift of these unique experiences that visiting NOLA brings. A gift that although not made up of diamonds and gold, it still shines in its package, tied up with a pretty bow of sorrow, just waiting to be unwrapped and enjoyed.