Day 225 : Right place, right time

27 February 2011

Katy (TX) to New Orleans (LA)

High Point: Mardis Gras magic

Low Point: Trailer trash, cold showers and Steve’s ponytail

No Point: Taxi ‘co-drivers’ meaning not enough seats for the crew, and Amy frequently having to sit on the floor!

When planning our Stage 8 route, New Orleans was one of the places we were determined to visit. But what we didn’t know, 18 months ago, as Val drew a hopeful line on a map, that our arrival into the city would coincide with one of the biggest events in the New Orleans social calendar – Mardis Gras – win!

New crew member Steve Shoppman immediately proved his worth by knowing some lovely locals who invited us round their beautiful house, which was positioned conveniently close to the Mardis Gras parade route – double win! Thanks to Ashley and Will for their hospitality, local knowledge and King Cake to kick start the day.

It’s been nearly six years since the devastating destruction of Hurricane Katrina hit the city. Regeneration is still being undertaken, but the spirit of the people remains strong, and nothing epitomises this spirit more than Mardis Gras…

The streets were decorated with yellow, purple and green decorations to an extent that put the Christmas celebrations of Oxford Street, London, to shame. Locals excitedly lined the route with chairs, ladders and an enthusiasm that was impossible to avoid. We took our places beside them to watch the colourful floats, dancers and marching bands parade past and joined in the bun fight for the colourful beads being thrown into the crowd.

A few hours later, we all looked like Mr T wannabies and were ready for lunch – New Orleans style – and once po boys, gumbos, red rice and spicy beans had been hastily consumed we went in search of another thing New Orleans was famous for – some smooooth jazz.

Walking through the city’s French Quarter looking for a venue to satisfy Steve’s desire to hear a jazz flute, a la Ron Burgundy, we passed charmingly colourful wooden houses, which transported us far away from the commercialism you’d expect from a large American city – it was absolutely stunning.

Viewing New Orleans on foot, it’s obvious music runs through the veins of the city, and the people who live there. As we were trying to decide between live jazz, blues or Dixie to accompany our evening meal, we were entertained by a medley of performers, ‘jamming’ on street corners.

Witnessing a city on its way back from the brink after a major tragedy is a humbling experience, but the people of New Orleans don’t show signs of being downtrodden, downhearted or downbeat. On the contrary, both they, and their city is a awash with positivity, spirit and beats…of the jazz variety, and it’s been a great place for FTFE to visit.


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2 Responses to “Day 225 : Right place, right time”

  1. Wow Scems – looks amazing – love that you referenced Oxford St! x

  2. FRSCA Sec Nick March 3, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    S’funny, but I thought that Mardi Gras (“Fat Tuesday) was the French equivalent of Shrove Tuesday, which isn’t until next Tuesday – or do they get it out of the way before the “real” thing?