We’re starting on our third week in New Orleans, and almost as long without a blog. The first week in town we stayed at Bayou Segnette State Park and worked. The park was nice, surrounded by swamp but no mosquitoes in the cold. At first it was hard to walk to the bathroom at night, hearing breaking branches in the dark. After a couple days we started to see who was making the noise , a very fearless Armadillo, enormous raccoons and tons of bunnies. The Armadillo hung out behind the RV – ignoring us as we got up close and even running straight for us at one point. We thought we’d them missed for good in Texas but apparently they’re all over the south.
Since I decided like 15 years ago that New Orleans was my favorite US city, thanks to Ann Rice no doubt, theres no way we could come for only a week, or 2 even, and no way we could get away with just hanging out on the outskirts of town, never going inside it. Naturally, we rented a car for the weekend to head into the center and take a look around. It was the first time we rented a car so far and was actually pretty cheap. We went out Friday night and of course walked down Bourbon Street, but avoided the busier bars. I made a list of places that sounded interested or offbeat, Ye Olde Original Dungeon, Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop (a bar owned by a pirate and supposedly the countries oldest continuous bar) and Yo Mamas where we started the night off with a garden burger.
Saturday we headed to find a vegetarian breakfast and found 13 Monahan in thw Marigny district to be the only one so far. We spent the rest of the day walking around the French Quarter and Marigny, then drove to the Garden District where we ran into Lafayette Cemetery and walked around a while. For lunch we got some dinner at another Vegetarian place in Marigny, Cafe Bamboo at the Dragon Den. They have a fake chicken there thats pretty much the best I’ve had at a restaurant, good texture and taste. After eating it was getting close to the voodoo tour I paid $40 for online. We still had to go all the way back to the camp to let Chena out to go to the bathroom; it was a mad rush through the French Quarter (where you go an average of 10miles an hour) and onto the freeway, then back through the same thing. We’d planned to park in Marigny and walk the 15 minutes to the meeting place of the tour but arrived downtown only 10 minutes before 7:30 when it started. Ross dropped me off at Rev. Zombies House of Voodoo where the tour was already gathering. I hate tours but was interested to see one about Voodoo in New Orleans. I turned in our ticket and waited in line while Ross tried to find parking with an almost dead cell phone. The tours started gathering in groups of about 15 people. As time went on I kept moving to the back of the line, hoping to give Ross some time to catch up. Finally the last group gathered at about 8pm and we started walking down the street. I called Ross to try to tell him how to find us but his phone died mid directions. I didn’t really know what to do. The group turned off into Pirates Alley and I tried to decide to ditch the group or hope he finds us, 30 seconds later he somehow did. Unfortunately but ok in the end, by going to the back of the lines I had gotten out of the Zombie tour and into a regular Haunted Tour. No signs or information about this difference during the group gathering process of course. It was interesting anyway and we learned about some truly gruesome history – yellow fever epidemic, civil war hospital and Dauphine the slave torturer, all in the French Quarter. Our tour guide held back no details on yellow fever, amputation or the state of Dauphine’s mutilated slaves.
Sunday was a different story completely. I woke up at 7am to get a drink of water, by 8 I was on the floor with a trash can next to me puking. I was in horrible pain and constantly nauseous but insisted we make use of the rental car while we had it. Every bump in the car was like a knife in my stomach. We made it to Magazine Street where lots of vintage clothing stores and cafes are but even walking felt like daggers. All the smells of the street didn’t help either. Throughout the city open sewers stink up the intersections and each cafe and restaurant provided a different set of nauseating aromas. The RV was no better, every smell but the new clean car smell was making me sick. We took an excruciating drive back to Marigny where Ross got a burger and I got a small salad, whose smell immediately made me push it to the other side of the table. After that we decided to head back to the RV so I could lay down, day ruined in my book, and from that point I was sick and basically unable to eat for 4 more days.
On Wednesday night Ross finally came down with the same thing,making its source even more confusing. The water at the state park wasn’t necessarily the safest water, although we filter it. I was sick directly after drinking – though Ross drank from the same cup, and Ross was sick directly after a shower almost 4 days after me. The night before, 12 hours before I got sick, we shared some fries and fake chicken nuggets; but a 12 hours to 4 day delay for food poisoning? Although I was less sick after 4 days, I still had a sore stomach after everything I ate, making it discouraging to eat at all. We decided to get another rental car and a day early this time (only $30 more) so we could go buy some pro-biotics and yogurt as my mother had suggested. Ross improved over the weekend but my stomach continues to be really sensitive to anything with spice or flavor. Indian food that Ross made had be back at the trash can for hours and since I’ve been sticking to mashed potatoes, cereal, bread and pasta – boring. Hopefully this will be over soon; its horrible when in order to eat I have to prepare for hours of sharp shooting stomach pain, though nothing else at least. I started to read allot about bacteria in water and food poisoning and with only the one symptom its hard to imagine what it could be. Would be nice to know so I could avoid it in the future at least…
We spent this last weekend (3/5-3/7) discovering more neighbourhoods in the city; Magazine Street again, this time finally getting some shopping done at Buffalo Exchange, and a neighbourhood that was the worst hit by Katrina, the Ninth Ward. There were many empty spaces and most of the standing buildings were unoccupied and still had the FEMA markings on them. One building we decided to park next to while we ate out takeout also had markings from the Humane Society “2 dogs”. Its always horrible to think of what the residents and animals of the neighborhood went through. I took a photo of some graffiti I liked (not realizing it was painted over a FEMA marking till I saw it on my computer) but didnt really take many photos in the area. I love taking photos of dilapidated buildings and wreckage but this just wasn’t the same. People died in this neighbourhood, dogs drown, people homeless because of a storm and the fact an irresponsible company like FEMA left them waiting. I saw no reason to take photos, I don’t take photos for shock value.
After we left, we decided to head back towards Magazine street and St.Charles Street. A neighbourhood with huge mansions, towering cathedrals and the gorgeous Toulane University. It was definitely a contrast, as much of the city is. We stopped to use a bathroom at a McDonalds and once I saw a Borders books across the street I got into a crafty frenzy. I haven’t actually made thing this trip… somehow I’ve managed to too be busy or too tired and sore after work to manage that but I intend to change it. I bought a beading book and a “cute” crafts book, then we went to Michael’s for some supplies (because JoAnn’s was closed) and headed for the worlds most disgustingly sweet gelato sundaes.
Sunday was our moving day but the place we wanted to move to was full till Monday afternoon. We drove the car and RV to a Walmart and hung out for the night, returning the car in the morning working till 2. I’ve become increasingly annoyed by the lack of space for 2 people and a dog in the RV, so I had to enlarge my work table. Before the move we headed over to Home Depot and had a piece of wood cut, which is not strapped to my existing table with a bungee. Better than a table barely wider than my laptop, now I can actually use a mousepad and mouse!! Future improvements may include as much as a whole new trailer. We are both feeling very, very cramped in here and I’m sure Chena’s nearly insane.
The new park, Jude RV Park is our new home for an entire month. It’s closer to town and should give us some more time to look around some more, rental car or not. They even said they’d work with us if we ended up with a trailer, truck and RV all at the same time. Nice people.
I’ll try to update more often, assuming I’m not on the floor next to a trash can.