lunes, 13 de agosto de 2012

Km 2844: New Orleans' got soul

We arrived to New Orleans on the day of the Red Dress Run, a big race for which both men and women wear… well, a red dress. According to Wikipedia, the Red Dress extravaganza was born when a woman wore a red dress to a hashing event. She was unaware that hashing involved non-competitive running, socializing and drinking, but she was a trooper and ran the race, red dress and all. Thus, the tradition of running in red dresses followed by copious drinking and socializing was born.

We first saw people in red dresses on our overnight Megabus from Atlanta to New Orleans. The bus made a stop in Birmingham, Alabama to pick up three girls in red tutus at 4AM, an exotic sighting when one is not on the Greyhound. You see, while the Megabus is known for abusing its air conditioning system, the Greyhound is known for its colorful passengers and the unexpected adventures lived on board of these buses. One account tells the story of a young girl seated between four women who had just been freed from the prison, lively narrating their experiences in jail. Another account mentions the passenger next to an acquaintance of mine having a terrible seizure while on the bus. Either way, we were on the Megabus, it was freezing and I was sleeping with a sweater, cap, jacket, blanket and scarf. I was still cold but the poor Alabama girls in red tutus’ were definitely not prepared for this harsh environment.

When we arrived to New Orleans, our host Yomi picked us up and we went to his place by bus. Yomi lives in a shotgun house, not to be confused with anything like a crack house or a whore house. Shotgun houses are typical houses from the South of the United States, usually one story, quite narrow, with rooms lined up, one behind another and the entrance door is elevated (to prevent flooding). We did some civilized activities such as showering, grocery shopping, resting and facebooking after our adventures in wild Tennessee and Atlanta. Yomi went to work and later on repaired a couple of bicycles s we could all go ride together.

We did a nice, long bicycle ride in the French Quartier with Yomi and Dan, one of his roommates. The French Quartier is more or less the party area of New Orleans, host to world famous Bourbon Street. Furthermore, drinking on the street is legal in New Orleans and it was Saturday night, so we had a beer at a bar, bought some beers and took our bikes on a ferry ride across the Mississippi and back. We then battled the masses on Bourbon Street, dodging drunken men in red dresses, drunken women popping their heads out of car windows to throw up and a series of shady bars, barely legal strip clubs, love act venues and a group of religious people trying to save a few souls in the midst of so much decadence.

Bourbon street

We started ending our night by going to Mimi’s, a bar where we danced between sweaty and enthusiastic men, who later turned out to be Lenny Kravitz’s entourage. And then we saw Lenny Kravitz, but he was neither dancing, nor sweaty, nor enthusiastic. I then met Steve, a film director with whom I had a very interesting conversation in which I was barely involved, as I was literally falling asleep while he talked. Steve told me I was right about Atlanta and that he felt that it is one of the few cities in the United States that is run mostly by black people. He told me more interesting things, for instance that his family thought of him as a snob because he came from a poor background and was the only one who had gone to university. I collapsed on our couch at 3AM and died until the next morning.

We woke up quite late the next day and did more civilized activities, such as having breakfast and doing our laundry. We went on a long bicycle ride with Yomi and passed both gorgeous and really run-down areas. However, even in the neighborhoods that looked poor and marginalized, the houses were colorful and interesting. They’re all above ground so they won’t flood when it rains too much, apparently a frequent happening in N’Orleans. We passed in front of stunning mansions, like the ones in “Interview with the Vampire” with huge gardens and a never ending number of rooms. We passed Loyola University, Audubon Park and the Fly, where we say down to talk about many things, among them Katrina.

N'Orleans houses

Late night biking and statue climbing
We ended the night by having lasagna and a session of late night biking up and down the city, up and down parking lots. We were even called “a biker gang” by an old fashioned lady. We crowned our night with a beer in a punk bar, which was overridden by dogs in a not-so-cool way. We walked in to dogs having sex in the middle of the bar, followed by a big hairy dog lying on the bar and that wouldn’t even have been a problem, if it weren’t for that gigantic dog shit in which I stepped. In flip flops.

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