Thursday 4/11 – Friday 4/12 New Orleans, Louisiana
The barrage of insects didn’t stop on that dreaded eve. However, our wake up call was significantly less insidious. Slug bugs slip slided all over the slippery sleek walls of our tent and we woke to their squishsquelchsquanch song.
A second chance for the French Quarter. Equipped with parking plans and sunscreen, we weaved seamlessly through tourist traffic, prepared. Lukas insisted we head directly into the tourist trap known to some as Cafe du Monde. We would later realize there was a line circling the block, but we slipped in, I asked a waitress if we could take the table she was cleaning and she said yes.
Lukas knows some french and calls these fried balls of doughy sugar ‘ben-yays’. It’s spelled Beignets, so it’s likely actually pronounced ‘bay-guh-nets’, like a net for bagels. This makes sense. I will continue to call them bayonets, as a compromise. Dipped in chicory coffee, these bayonets are well worth cutting the line.
A few blocks away was a small bookstore I had at some point decided we should go to. We couldn’t find it.
Lost, we stumbled through the French Quarter Festival, bumping into tubas and gypsy jazz around every corner. An hour later we found the bookstore and missed the trumpets. We lounged in rays of sun, snares sprinkling and blues dripping on our bare shoulders. We walked past galleries straddled by street artists straddling. The street artists proved more talented than the gallery curators and we salivated over art we don’t have walls for.
We wandered through crowds of old white people with their lawn chairs, visers, and over-priced beers. I haven’t been to many and neither has Lukas, but our experience with music festivals is that they are dominated by white audiences. It makes me uncomfortable, especially when the musicians are dominantly people of color. I don’t know what to say about this, it’s so complicated beyond my pay grade and it’s drenched with sweat from experiences I’ve never had. I just felt I had to acknowledge it because I’m telling you what we saw and felt and this was part of it.
We biked out once we’d had our fill and escaped to MLK Library, a public library attached to an elementary school of the same name. We had to go to the library because I had to take a test for a prospective job. Fifteen minutes for fifty questions. Pencil poised, I started. Within minutes, it was Montgomery all over again. At least three hundred 6th graders flooded the library. They just needed somewhere to be before their parents picked them up I suppose. There was yelling and running and gossip and I tried to ignore it while assessing analogies and doing arithmetic. It was stressful. I survived. Word to the weary wifiless traveller, twice learned, libraries remain unshushed in the after school hours of 2-4pm.
We got a greasy goopy Po Boy and Gumbo from a hole in the wall store and ate them in a park. The gumbo was inedbile. The Po Boy was delicious.