Beignets and Birthdays

“I’ve made a huge mistake,” I thought to myself as I walked into my hotel room in New Orleans only to find earplugs on the nightstand with a note warning me that things get loud.

The thought of not being able to catch up on sleep after a 7 hour flight while my stomach grumbled in the background, begging for a decent meal, was a nightmare to me.

I decided I needed to grab a bite, and then I’d be more logical about the happenings around me.

The hotel I was staying in happened to be right next to Bourbon Street, so I decided to take a stroll down and see what the fuss was about on my way to dinner a bit off the beaten path.

I had walked all of a block before I about lost my shit.  It was people overload.  Drinking in the streets, stumbling around, people asking for money, and dodging piles of vomit everywhere in my new Rebecca Minkoff booties was not boding well for me.

It was like a messy frat party, which has never quite been my scene considering I tend to relate more to octogenarians than frat boys.  So I cut a few blocks over to get some air and find something a bit more off of the beaten path.

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Welcome to New Orleans

I stayed focused, thinking that I needed to land on Frenchman Street that everyone was telling me about as more of a local hangout, and then I’d finally be able to hone in on what was going on around me.

I ate a great meal at a tiny little bar with live music and felt the crankiness melt away.  This is what I had wanted out of New Orleans to begin with:  good food, a stiff drink, and amazing music.

I left the bar with an open mind and full belly and was able to pay more attention to my surroundings:

A man standing on a corner posing with a huge snake around his neck (which was apparently the trendy thing to do as this was not the last man I would see doing the same thing).

A band of men dressed like pirates talking to each other with lots of “Ay Mateys,” as if they actually speak fluent Pirate.

A man dressed as Santa who had a sign up for a smoke exchange and also one that simply read, “Santa’s Prenatal Counseling $1.”

At a later point in time a man standing outside of a bar named Jesus would vouch for Santa and say, “he’s a solid dude,” and perhaps not realize the complete irony behind it all when I laughed out loud.

I was enticed by the weirdness of the whole experience as it seemed to be a different world entirely.

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Beignets all day

When my friend showed up at the hotel later that evening, my initial hesitation had turned into excitement, and I was amped to show her all the interesting things I’d found out about my adventure wandering through the city that evening.

The next day we gorged ourselves on beignets, which we would do every single day we were there afterwards.

I was happy enough to be soaking up the sunshine and 80 degree weather, a far cry from what I was used to in Seattle at this point.

We watched a man in the park try to gather a crowd by throwing cards out and trying to hit them midair using a whip.  He didn’t seem particularly great at this trick, and I was hoping he didn’t end up taking volunteers in his act because I couldn’t visualize it ending well.

But it didn’t stop a woman walking past, stopping in her tracks, and saying, “I bet he’s a lot of fun.”

“Good luck lady.  Your going to end up missing a limb, or worse,” I thought.

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Just wandered into a random night market…no big deal.

There was a magic in the weirdness of it all.  And it had the promise of an interesting story around every corner.  Not to mention the history and the feel of New Orleans was different from any place I’ve been before.

I listened to the music that was on numerous corners that day thinking that I was incredibly happy that my 31st birthday would happen to fall in the course of this trip.  I couldn’t imagine a place that would be more exciting.

Until that rolled around, I’d just have to continue shoving my face with beignets.

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