Day#1 New Orleans is a trap. The streets have an awful odour, overweight people sweat around you eating fried alligator and you feel the weather is too hot. You’re Le Clézio’s Beaumont acquainted with his pain. Dampness kills. Prayers go for air-conditioning.
Night#1 It was not as bad after all. The little jazz pubs are similar to Jedermann in Budapest. (Perhaps rather vice versa.) Yet, the streets, the ugly scent of the streets tells you it’s New Orleans!
I travelled with my dear companion Old Elephant. The name stands for that he is grumpy, wise (or just old), and very tough. When it comes to lightheaded things he suffers. Mardi Gras, the carnival parade is lightheaded and colourful and..! The sort of event I put on my bucket list immediately. I convinced him to endure what was about to come.
Day#2 They are preparing the Mardi Gras costumes all-year round in a large depot and we went to see how the creative work is done.
On the way back we met the majesty, Louisiana Spoon King.
Night#2 Of course New Orleans will have a National Park for jazz. All dead icons I thought.
Until, wandering in the French Quarter I spotted a funny entrance of a cellar. I didn’t think about taking pictures. We just went in there. “We are here to explore, aren’t we?” That’s all I thought about.
A couple of stairs down, I walked into a passage. It was dark and cool with some touristy looking people waiting for something. At a small table they sold tickets. They said there was a dixie concert beginning in 10 minutes for a price which was not unreasonable. Behind the ticket table there was a bigger room filled with musicians and audience. Musicians smiling and laughing, telling jokes and tuning. Audience in 4 or 5 rows, sitting on simple benches no more than 30-40 people.
We knew nothing.
“There is no beer here.”- is what Old Elephant said.
“There is saxophone here.” – was my reply.
So I went for beer and he bought tickets. The audience was full, I haven’t seen so many people in such a little dingy cellar sitting so closely, so uncomfortably, so… enlightened.
In this dingy little heaven in New Orleans they played music I will never forget.
You – human who claim to be – alive, opt a visit to the Preservation Hall!
Day#3 I basically abandoned reality and spent 4-5 hours in a music shop.
Later we scrolled to the edge of town, found a cemetery, a car dealer, a tidy neighbourhood, nothing unexpected. Eventually returned to Bourbon street.
Night#3 Take it easy. The streets do have an awful odour, overweight people sweat around you eating fried alligator and you feel the weather is too hot. New Orleans is a trap because against all odds you want to linger.
Text and photography by Kriszti Katona (loofetravel.com)