The Superdome was right in front of us as we got off the highway. It was cool in a “I’ll never go in there and have no desire to ever go in there” kind of way.
The first thing I noticed about New Orleans was that every other street name is in French. Which makes sense if you know anything the history of New Orleans. Well, that’s what I would guess. I know nothing about the history of New Orleans. The first street we turned on to was Tchoupitoulas Street. My guess is CHOO-PA-TOO-LAS but who really cares.
Stepping out of the car was the most disgusting thing I’d done all trip. The air was so thick you could have sucked the water out of it with a straw. It was the complete opposite of what I’d been living in for the past two months and the past five days in particular. One thing I sure did not miss was humidity. And mosquitoes with their diseases.
Our first stop was for dinner at a restaurant whose name is escaping me. We chose it because it served pretty authentic (or at least authentic to the tourists) Creole food. Needless to say I was excited. Betz and I took a seat near the back that gave us a view into the kitchen. We ordered our food and watched the cooks prepare it. I accidentally made eye contact with one of them. He asked me “how’s it going” and instead of responding “good” I averted my eyes looked straight down and grabbed my glass of water. I made a promise as a child not to talk to strangers and I don’t break promises damn it.
Our food came out. Betz ordered alligator and gumbo. I got rabbit (herein referred to as bunny) with dumplings and boudin. Boudin (or boudain, depending where you get it), from what I remember, varies in ingredients but generally includes a type of sausage, rice, and mixture of spices. Mine was fried. It was like hearing Susan Boyle sing for the first time in my mouth.
But here’s the big guy:
Bunny. And to be entirely cliche, it tastes like chicken. I could tell it wasn’t chicken, but probably only because I knew it was Bugs’s cousin. It too was great. Betz’s food was good too, although I wasn’t crazy about the gumbo.
Off we went. The sun had already gone down, but there was no way we were going to the campsite before strolling down Bourbon Street. For those who are unaware, Bourbon Street is in New Orleans’s famous French Quarter. It’s beautiful area of the city that has elaborate French architecture. We walked through a bit of it before getting to our destination.
Although it was Wednesday, Rue Bourbon still gave off the stench of sin. Bourbon street has no open container laws, so we got a beer from a “to-go” bar that was really just a window facing the street.
Walking up and down that street forced me to reconsider my definition of eccentric. Every bar had people yelling at you to pressure you to come in. Strip clubs linked the bars together and the strippers were in the street yelling at you to come in. Street performers weren’t your typical singing act or magician. They were this:
The best part of the night was the end. Just as we were nearing the end of the street, we heard a band playing. As we got closer, we saw a huge group of men playing everything from the trumpet and saxophone to the bass drum and snares in southern big band style. Two women were dancing around to the music in front of the band (they were either with the band or on drugs, or both). We watched until they stopped playing. It was the most authentic New Orleans I could have seen in my short time there. It’s a memory I will never forget.
We headed to the campsite. As I laid the tent out to set it up I looked over to see the biggest rabbit in the wild. This thing was huge. I scared it away by letting it smell its nephew on my breath.
Remember the humidity? Well if anything, it had gotten worse. As we laid in the tent, sweat was pouring down my face. I didn’t move an inch and yet the sweat didn’t stop. I don’t know how people in the Deep South do it, but I give them props.
And I give them deodorant. Lots of deodorant.
BONUS: here’s a middle aged woman acting exactly as you’d expect a middle aged woman to act.