March 06, 2011

New Orleans

Oh, New Orleans, how I love you! This charming place that should be a swamp, if it weren't for humans, has so much life in it. Although I have heard a few stories of people being robbed somewhere in the city there hasn't been an instance in which I felt uncomfortable here. Not when I was walking all across town after dark or waiting for a bus in a less busy neighborhood. The warm climate and the mounting party atmosphere during Mardi Gras season definitely helps, too.

The city is quickly getting more crazy. Costumed people walk in the streets and bars are open 24 hours. Unlike in any other city in the US you are allowed to drink alcohol openly in the streets and that is what people are doing. Lundi Gras and Mardi Gras, the carnival days after which begins the period of Lent, will be the culmination of what is already going on in the streets of the French Quarter.

There are daily parades of dancing troupes, big bands, and so-called floats, that are typically huge decorated platforms - drawn by a small tractor - with costumed people throwing gifts down into the crowds at the roadside. There is a whole variety of "krewes", i. e. Mardi Gras associations for the purpose of raising funds among themselves and organizing parades for public entertainment. The number one thing that the krewe-members throw from their floats are (plastic) beads. Those beads are found all over town, around people's necks, in the street, on trees and frequently flying through the air :) The custom is that women flash their breasts for men that give them beads, but while there is some nudity during the parades, I have not seen this happen (yet). I have however collected a huge stack of beads that look pretty, if nothing else :)

So while all this is going on in the city and I have been enjoying it immensely, I needed a break for some days and took a rental car for a short trip to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. It was severely hit by the BP oil spill and the beach front is still flattened and has no buildings. That leaves a nice view for the motels in the second row. Skye told me that many people have received thousands of dollars for missed income from BP in exchange for not suing the company. The gulf coast is also known for its casinos, so I saw it as a nice opportunity to try myself at gambling. The atmosphere is strange in those luxurious halls. Thousands of slot machines will take your money for credits and randomize symbols until you have lost all your credits or took out your wins. The majority of players at the slot machines are middle aged and older women, who sometimes play with huge amounts of credits, looking rather bored while they press the buttons repeatedly. I spent 20 dollars and lost 15 of it over the course of 1.5 hours. I did get the appeal of losing, but I did not understand the addictive effect it obviously has on so many. In any case it was quite an interesting experience.

This is it for now. I will leave you with some new pictures in the album on the top right hand side. Enjoy and have a great weekend!

2 comments:

Grumpy smurf said...

I loved New Orleans as well. I´ve been there after Katrina, so I assume it was even more beautiful before...
I love the vibe of the city and "smell" of jazz in the air...I think it is one of the most nices cities in US I´ve ever been...
Hope you are having tones of fun and looking forward to new post...

Robert said...

Katrina has certainly shaped public conscience here about the fact that the city used to be a swamp before it was cultivated land ;) Still, this place has some powerful mojo! Hope to be back some day...
Take care, dear smurf!
Robert