Happy Mardi Gras!
The first time I went to New Orleans my parents thought I was in Alabama. I was a freshman at Memphis State University, and it was my first spring break. My friend, Jan, her boyfriend and I set off in a 1940-something Plymouth that required watering the radiator every 25 miles. Jan’s mother lived in a small Alabama town where we stopped overnight on our way to stay with her cousin who lived in the French Quarter.
We found the cheapest, best meals and entertainment - not too hard to do in New Orleans. I remember eating beans and rice in the kitchen of a Cajun joint and ordering my first oysters at Felix’s Oyster Bar. Back then it was pretty easy to get into Preservation Hall, grab a seat on a long wooden bench and catch a jazz set.
But most of all I remember the vibe I caught there. How it turned me on to its ubiquitous musical mix, its gumbo of cultures and artisans, and the joy that emanates at every turn. This city runs on a different wavelength, full of color and mystery - like the Mardi Gras Indians who'll be sensational today in their feathered and beaded suits that embroider stories and symbols from indigenous, African, and Caribbean roots.
In New Orleans the spirit world rubs up so close to the physical that you just might get a glimpse.
I’m Paula Garrett and that’s my perspective. Jocamo fee nah nay!