Monday, May 30, 2011

postcard from louisiana

Am I just lucky, or do remarkable things happen every day to everybody in New Orleans?

The threat of flooding from the Mississippi had continued as I carried on down towards its mouth. On the coach into town we're driving along bridges over marshland. Except today the locks have been opened and the area is being flooded to divert water from the city. It seems we're passing at exactly the right moment: we witness the sight of colossal amounts of water gushing into the area, overwhelming trees as it goes. The guy next to me said he's been traveling this route for 40 years, and never seen anything like it.

The best description of New Orleans I'm told is that I shouldn't think of it as the south of the USA, but as the north of the Caribbean. This seems accurate. And I say so with all the authority of somebody who has never been to the Caribbean.

My first night out in the city I am taken to a bar that feels more like an off-license, with patio furniture set up in the back garden, fairy lights decorating the fences, and musicians playing classical music in the corner. After that it's off to a private members bar/pool club where we relax drinking whiskey sours in the pool until 1am.

Hours before leaving the city I'm heading back to my hostel, along a street I'd already walked on several occasions. This time however, one of the parks is filled with a stage, the stage is filled with a reggae band, and 3000 people are partying along for free. I change plans, and join in. I ask the guy next to me why this is all happening, and his response describes New Orleans better in three words than I could in 300: "It's Wednesday, brother!"

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