New Orleans (aka Norlans)

Trip Start Nov 01, 2012
Trip End Nov 28, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Louisiana
Thursday, November 15, 2012

So after much hype and trepidation, I arrived in New Orleans. Whilst admittedly I had the fear of bad elements put before me (excluding Katrina), I ventured outside this morning but took a city tour to get my bearings. That was a great idea as I got to see places I would not have even thought of seeing. One of the interesting places we visited was one of many graveyards also referred to as "the city of the dead." Aptly named as all the graves are above ground. The reason for this is because New Orleans is on average 8ft below sea level and with the rising underground water, bodies kept popping up out of the ground.

Another few interesting anecdotes:
Before a body is placed inside the tomb, it lies somewhere else until it basically shrivels away to nothing. It is then placed in a bag or packet. The front marble of the tomb is removed as well as the bricks behind it. There is a hole at the back of the tomb and the bag is placed into the opening and pushed (with a ten foot barge pole) to the back of the tomb where there is a hole that it drops down into to join the rest of the bagged family members. Sound familiar? You won't touch me with a ten foot barge pole! In some cases, back in the days when vital signs weren't checked, it so happened that some people were buried alive. So how they overcame this problem is, they tied a bell to the toe of the 'dead' person. If the person happened to wake from the dead and move his toe, the bell would ring and hopefully be heard by the person on graveyard shift. Hence the term: "saved by the bell" and "dead ringer". True story!

Unfortunately we didn't drive around in an open top bus so it was too difficult to take pics but we were taken down to lower 9th area where the devastation of Hurricane Katrina is still evident. Katrina hit New Orleans on 29 August 2005. Incidentally, the city has 24 massive pump stations located around the city to pump water out. This failed dismally when Katrina hit because the pump stations operate on electricity and obviously all power was out so the pump stations didn't work. The majority of the city is built below the water line and levees are built around the Mississippi and the bayou's as a means of protecting the houses. Apparently what happened in the lower 9th area is a barge bashed into and broke the levee in this area which caused the majority of the flood damage.

We were also taken to see Lake Pontchartrain which is 24 miles long and 47 miles wide. Lake Pontchartrain has a roadway running the entire 24 miles across and is the longest bridge in the world. You can't see the other end of it. In fact this entire area of New Orleans is completely surrounded by water in the form of lakes, bayou's, swamps and the massive Mississippi River. The Mississippi river is 2340 miles long and runs from Minnesota down to the Gulf of Mexico. It is the third largest river in the world next to the Nile and the Amazon.

Some other interesting bits of information received was about Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras is celebrated annually and actually means 'Fat Tuesday' and it normally takes place on Shrove Tuesday. The legend behind it is that you feast and fatten yourself up on Shrove Tuesday in time for lent which starts the next day, Ash Wednesday. The floats run along St Charles street and if you drive along this street, you can still see the beads hanging from the trees. Incidentally, Sandra Bullock lives just off St Charles Street.

I really am starting to feel like a Chappies wrapper: " Did you know...?"

Right, enough lessons learnt... Once the tour was over and I had my bearings, I honored those in the know, and went to Cafe DuMond for my Cafe Au Lait and Beignets. For just a little more than $5 it was a real treat. I seriously could've eaten another 3 but I was saving myself for the Muffuletta, which I had also been advised to try. That, as well as the fact that I had icing sugar all over my dark clothes. This is probably the only time I needed to wear white knowing I could spill on it and no one would know. Cafe DuMond is open 24 hours a day too.

Then it was time to walk the French Quarter and the flea market which was great with fresh fruit and veggies and then other bits and bobs. Mainly Mardi Gras and Voodoo related stuff but also your general junk. And of course, some African carvings - so not out of place in New Orleans! Seriously??

And then I went and queued for my Muffuletta at the Central Grocery Co. Interestingly Franks next door also sells Muffulettas yet the people queue at Central Grocery and there's not a soul at Franks. It was only after I bought it did I see 'olives' - blurggghhh! But hey, now may be a good time to start liking them. So I stashed that for later as I was still digesting my icing sugar.

I then made my way down to the paddle boat docking station for my river boat ride. I met a lovely old couple there, George and Delia from New Mexico. George was an engineer for NASA and such an interesting man to talk to. We exchanged email addresses and I will definitely keep in touch with them. That's what I have love most about traveling alone is meeting all these people who are so interested in hearing about South Africa and my travels as I am to hear about theirs. And my accent is a winner every time. Of course I hate talking so that becomes a problem - NOT!! Whilst we were waiting to board, I witnessed the most amazing thing. A lady started playing a steam organ on the paddle boat. I've posted a video of this because I can't describe it in words. It was another WOW moment. We then boarded and were off for a 2 hour river boat ride. It was such a treat and I'm so glad I got to do this.

We got back around 5:00pm and I only had 6%25 battery life left on my phone and needed that to navigate my way back to the hotel. I did end up down some side alleys but made sure not to make eye contact with anyone and made it safely back to the hotel. At least I had an idea of which direction to head in. Tomorrow I will do some more exploring and then it will be time to head to Biloxi to visit some good old friends for the weekend.

So till tomorrow then...
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Lynette on

Lesley please keep writing....I'm so enjoying your travels!!!!!!!!

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