On a lighter note, following our visit to the Ninth Ward, Andrea dropped Mayumi and me off in the French Quarter in front of Café du Monde. I’ve successfully managed to stop there for café au lait and beignets every day I’ve been here. Mayumi hadn’t made it to the Quarter on her visit, so I did my best to be her tour guide.
We found a table as I tired to explain the concept of beignets to Mayumi. I also warned her about leaning forward when eating, so as to avoid powdered sugar down the front of her. We enjoyed the music drifting in from the street and talked about photography.
After we finished our beignets, we walked with our coffee across te street to the Café du Monde General Store so Mayumi could pick up a few things to bring back to friends and family. More explaining about voodoo dolls. Very amusing. She decided to buy one.
We didn’t have much time before she needed to get to the airport so I gave her q quick walking tour of the Quarter, giving her as much history as a Chicagoan can. I’m pretty sure most of what I told her was correct. I’ll have to check the Google when I get back to see how I did.
As we jaywalked across Decatur she commented that it looked like it was ok to do that. Yes, this was a city where you could pretty much do anything.
Any visit to the French Quarter requires at least a brief walk down Bourbon Street and Mayumi said she wanted to see it, so we headed off in that direction. On our way, we saw a silver mime and Mayumi got out her camera to snap a photo. It was then we were reminded that while you can pretty much do anything in New Orleans, but you have to pay for it. At least a dollar.
Since it was a Monday afternoon, Bourbon was a bit empty. I tired to describe what it would be like in a few hours or especially when Mardi Gras was in full swing. Women flashing for beads, many many over served people, music pouring out of every doorway.
But this afternoon, only the stale smell of beer was in the air as we walked down the street. Only the a few bars and all the strip clubs were open.
“The bars and the strip clubs are always open,” I explained as we walked by one where a woman in a g-string and bra was having in animated discussion with the hostess. We both wondered what the Monday afternoon shift at a Bourbon Street strip club would be like. Mayumi guessed it might be just customers who really liked the female body without all the drunken crowds. Hmmm. She could be right. Interesting.
We finished our little tour and boarded the St. Charles streetcar back to the Garden District so I could drop Mayumi off at Andrea’s house where she would be picked up for the airport. I really love the New Orleans streetcar. It’s easy. It’s historic. And the locals use it too, so I never feel like a complete tourist when I’m on it.
I wished Mayumi a safe flight back to Chicago and I headed off on my own to make a few photographs that had been on my to do list for a few days. Near the NOPA Gallery, I began noticing random signs and thoughtful graffiti. Intelligent. So I walked in that direction to find a few of them.
Later in the afternoon I noticed some dark clouds beginning to roll in and I took the streetcar back down to Canal to make a few last photographs. I stopped along Royal and looked up at the Astor Hotel. About as far economically from the Ninth Ward as you could possibly be. The brooding clouds above suggested perhaps all was not as carefree is it might seem at first glance. Everyone is doing a little belt tightening.
And then there are the streetcars. The last thing on my photo list was to make a few images of the streetcars in various places along their route. I made a few images along Canal and hopped aboard one back to my hotel to have some dinner. By the time the streetlights came on, a gentle rain began to fall and I headed out into it to photograph the reflections along St. Charles. I love the warm rain and got my pictures.
I’m writing this on the flight back. Lucky day again from first class. Something is going very right in 2009. Can’t put my finger on it, but good things keep happening. Here’s my lunch on the flight. After the hot towel. After the announcement that the good folks in steerage could buy a cookie if they wanted for $3… or chips.
It’s funny, first class on American Airlines is a lot like coach on Air France, my favorite airline. All the things I received in first class on this flight I get in economy on Air France when I fly to Paris. The hot towel, the real food, the coffee, the wine… and…. on Air France there are mini baguettes as well. I know times are tough, but do we really need to charge people $3 for their choice of a cookie or chips? And $15 for checking a bag? Seems like a losing proposition. Something is not right.
I still have a lot of editing to do on the New Orleans photos, but I also need to get some sleep, so this smattering will have to do for now. Thanks New Orleans!