New Orleans: The People

Where to begin in describing the people of New Orleans?  Edgy, flamboyant, artistic, distinct, multi-cultured, and southern.  Everywhere you turn your head in New Orleans is bound to reveal a unique personality that captivates and intrigues.

The French Quarter. Yes, this is where the famous beignets and cafe au lait can be found. In addition, loads of people watching can be discovered here as well. There is a distinct festiveness about the French Quarter. It is the haven for tourists and they do flock here by the bus loads.

And, yes, I just couldn't resist this little voo-doo doll {above}.   The little tag says, "Will work against any unwanted negative entities."  What a hoot!  Where shall I put her?  I thought about a guest bedroom.  Hmmm...probably would slightly unnerve  my guests so I'll have to find the right spot.

If you look past the flocks of beer toting tourists looking for a wild time,  you can pick out the real city dwellers going about their daily lives.  The sites, the smells, the sounds are all so varied and wonderfully blended that each section of the market tells a different story.  

The food is indeed delicious.  I'm not a big Muffaletta sandwich person but I'll grab a seafood Po-boy sandwich any day.  Look at this sweet couple {above}.  He is staring intently at some artwork hanging in Jackson Square.  He is so absorbed in appreciating and studying the painting.  She is winsome and carefree, relaxed and dreamy in her feminine floral dress.  Her heavy boots, however, add that urban grittiness to her style.

Sure, there are the hundreds of trinkety Mardi Gras baubles to mark the trip.  T-shirts, beer mugs, and hats are stacked everywhere.   If you look just a bit deeper, though, some of the market's treasures can be unearthed.  I have a collection of antique Chinese snuff bottles.  Ironically, I found three fabulous ones to add to my collection.

Street performers are on every block and around every corner.  Saxophones can be heard wailing their soulful tunes.  Horse-drawn carriages are winding their way in and out of the tiny streets lined with wrought-iron balconies.  Artwork is lined up all round Jackson Square in front of the St. Louis cathedral.

After leaving the tourist-laden French Quarter, the kids and I drove over to a local farmer's market that my friend recommended.  It is called "The Green Market" and she said we would find more of a local market here more unknown to tourists.  We loved it.  It was a tiny market but instantly upon arriving, you could tell its where the locals shop.  I loved the casual air of these two people.  They were simply enjoying their day and in no rush to go anywhere.

I admired one girl's vintage purse.  I also liked her knee-length skirt with the husky boots.  I could never get away with this in my suburban neighborhood.  I have to chuckle at the thought of me traipsing in Kroger looking so urbanly outfitted.  If I lived closer into the hub of Houston, it would work.

We sampled some delicious sweet cornbread, noticed the tomato jam jars, and wished we could take home some of fresh pink shrimp.

The people of New Orleans are probably the most unique bunch that I have seen anywhere in the US.  And I have lived in NYC!  You know they must be a pretty special lot when one of the tourist attractions is the local cemetery.  

This is the St. Louis Cemetery of New Orleans.  Because of the marshy earth, tombs are mounted above ground with elaborate carvings and dedications to loved ones.  This is a very unique sight in the US and another facet of this city's unique heritage and religious history.

The pace of New Orleans is different but difficult to pin down by description.  It is laid back, carefree but festive and jovial.  Life is celebrated for the now.  Death is celebrated for the future.

My kids and I enjoyed staying tucked away in an old house off of the beautiful Esplanade Ave. in this dynamic city.  It was a unique experience for sure.  I enjoyed noting their observations of so many social economic levels of society intermingling one on top of the other.  It made me realize how suburban we have become in our daily excursions on the edge of Houston.

We strolled up and down the streets noting the evidence of destruction by Hurricane Katrina on one block and the hammering and restructuring of homes on another block.  This city is determined  to pick itself up and move on.  There is a saying often used and re-used in Louisiana.  It is "Laissez les bons temps roulez".  It means "Let the good times roll".  That is a perfect phrase for this city shouldering heartache and resurrection.  

I have no doubt that good times will roll again.  The city captivates, slightly disturbs, wickedly amuses, and gently tickles all of the senses of travel and cultural diversity that make it so great.

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