What strikes me most about the city of New Orleans is that it seems immune from the constraints of time.
You take a look at the buildings around you and it appears as though everything just stopped moving forward at some point during the 19th century.
The French Quarter rises above you two or three levels, with intricate iron balconies lining the upper decks. Some of these balconies are pouring over with lemon trees, others emerald and moss colored ferns, and yet others are spilling over with drunk middle-agers and mid-life-crisis-ers. You know, the yin and the yang.
On the street level, a healthy mix of bars, restaurants, rare books and antique emporiums, art galleries, and tourist shops line the cobblestone streets. Occasionally, a very determined mini-van or SUV will inch its way along the road, preceded by ranks 2 or 3 deep of tourists and locals alike.
JP and I decided that our time would best be spent wandering these streets and letting the New Orleans voodoo guide us along a path of cultural discovery.
The hum of a thousand conversations is gently diminished as jazz draws you in from each street corner. And then I heard it, my favorite song of all time, “La vie en Rose,” floating along the picturesque streets; it’s source, a family of musicians, happily playing for a crowd.
The magic spell you cast
This is la vie en rose
And though I close my eyes
I see la vie en rose
I’m in a world apart
A world where roses bloom
Everyday words seem
To turn into love songs
And life will always be
La vie en rose
“Excuse me,” the man was missing the majority of his teeth and would have greatly benefited from a bath or possibly a car wash. “Excuse me,” he said, stopping us in the street, “I’ll bet I can tell you exactly where you got those shoes and when. From what city and what time.”
“Uhhhh,” we exchanged a glance, “Ok?”
“You GOT those shoes on your feet, in the CITY of New OrlEEns, today, THIS afternoon. Now I make a living shinning shoes, and I’m going to shine yours right now.”
He reached down to JP’s cloth shoes and my synthetic boots and squirted God knows what on our feet. “Alrighty then,” we politely declined the further shining of our non-leather shoes and hurried off both confused and amused.
We walked the afternoon away, sipping on mimosas and screwdrivers, taking in the curious collection of people.
Dinner is next, so stay tuned. It’s a life changer!