The downside of writing this blog in retrospect is that sometimes the events of my first two trips blend together. I’ve been to New Orleans twice, and it’s hard to remember what I did when. The assistant I was traveling with had family in Biloxi, so that portion of both trips focused on them and what they wanted to do. But what I remember most clearly about the first trip was the stench of oil.
The oil spill had just happened a few weeks before, and the ocean smelled like a gas station. It was the worst along the coast in Biloxi – thankfully New Orleans was not hit as badly. They’ve been through enough, and quite a bit of Hurricane Katrina damage was still visible in both areas. In New Orleans I visited the aquarium, and was struck by the irony that BP was a major sponsor of several exhibits. They even had a presentation about how offshore drilling was safe and beneficial to ocean life. Needless to say I had to take pictures. It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.
I found Bourbon Street to be a big disappointment. It’s really just a street full of bars for idiots to get drunk. The famous voodoo shop wasn’t wheelchair accessible. Off Bourbon Street, I got to have some amazing seafood. Seafood is my favorite and New Orleans does not disappoint. The tenderness, the spices, the flavors – I was awestruck.
Much as I love New Orleans, I really haven’t had a chance to experience it in the way that I want to yet. It’s high on my list for a return trip, focusing on food and live music. I was never able to go to a jazz club and hope to one day. My diet will go out the window that week too!
I returned from my first trip forever changed, yet still not quite ready to file for divorce. I knew it was what I wanted, but my fear was that the process would be more vicious and terrible than I could bear. It would take a second trip, and reconnecting with voices from the past, to give me the strength I needed.