Walked into town and had a really nice breakfast before heading off for a double plantation tour.
We decided that walking into town would be a good idea as we would be on a bus a lot today. We had to cross a railway line and there was a train in the way. There are no gates or anything else to stop you going on the rails and the train was going really slowly. Eventually it stopped but there were only about 3 more wagons to the end so we walked down the track and crossed behind it. We thought one girl was going to climb up and over where the carriages join but she didn’t.
I wondered why there was so much noise one night but I know think it’s because the trains blow their horns all the time to warn people and motorists of their impending arrival.
We were looking for the Café du Monde for breakfast but it eluded us. The breakfast we did find at Monte’s was delicious. Biscuit (I would call it a scone), ham, boudin, egg and rosemary fried potatoes. Shared of course. I even managed to persuade the waitress that she should put the bag in and pour the hot water over it. For the first time since I’ve been here I was charged for my second cup of tea though.
We went to where we were told that the meeting point was for the plantation tour but there was no one there except another 3 people also going on the tour. I was looking at a brochure and it said tours went from the lighthouse just behind the building so we went up there and sure enough that is where we were supposed to be. We told the man at the window there were people waiting elsewhere but he didn’t seem to care so TP went back and told them.
The trip was about an hour and the bus driver provided us with information and anecdotes the whole way. He had a sing song voice which irritated after a while but I suppose he had said the same thing so many times. He held the microphone with one hand and drove the bus with the other. Can’t imagine that being allowed in Aussie!
We went to Whitney first.
This one told the story of the slaves and although I was aware of most of what they told us, these were stories about real slaves who lived on the plantation and elsewhere. There were lots of quotes around the place which came directly from slaves. It was a very interesting tour and the guide was passionate about the place which always makes tours more enjoyable. She said she had come on a tour herself about a year prior and had gone back to work and quit so that she could become a tour guide.
I was surprised that the house wasn’t more luxurious. It was a basic place built very much along Queenslander lines. Wood, raised, fretwork and verandahs. There is so much that is similar to QLD as they were sugar cane plantations and they used to burn and cut the cane just like they do in Qld.
As we arrived at Whitney we were given tags and each one had the picture of a slave child and a short paragraph about their life. In the chapel we were told to find our child and I’m standing behind mine in the photo.
We then went on to Laura Plantation which was more about the plantation owners.
It was run by women for many years. The guide here had been doing the job for 5 years and obviously loved it. She talked so fast as she was trying to relay as much information as she could. Fortunately some was repeated as we moved from room to room which helped stick the story together.
One of the owners has done extensive research about the place and she found the memoir of Laura, one of the ladies that ran the plantation so a great deal is known about the family from that. The owners had intended to tell stories about a rabbit which were derived from the stories told by slaves in their huts in the evenings.
Now they have the information they tell the story of the family.
On the way back our driver, Gerald, continued his narrative from which we gleaned lots more information. We noticed that we drove an awful long way over water. It must have taken a long time to build all that road over water. NO is surrounded by water so not much choice really. Mile after mile of swamp out to the plantations.
We thought we had time to get to the World of Mardi Gras so off we went. We also thought we would be able to walk there along the river front but no. They don’t seem to use their river front for recreation very much.
We walked a little way and then we had to go through an outlet store to get back to the road. We asked someone how to get to Mardi Gras World (MGW) and she said on the street car, there is one there now but we missed it so decided to continue walking. It was a very tedious walk along the front of the conference centre which went on and on and on.
On the plantation tour we met a lady with her husband and granddaughter who was in town for the Mary Kay conference. We had found where it was to be held, in the conference centre we walked by.. Her husband had had the chance of a teaching job in Aussie but she didn’t want to go and so far they haven’t travelled outside America.
We were too late for the last tour when we finally got to MGW. It cost $US20.. nothing is cheap here, so we decided not to do it ourselves. There was no transport so we walked back along the outside of the conference centre. They have a shuttle bus but you have to have paid for entry before you can use it. The street car didn’t go there either although we were told it did at the other end.
We tried to find a cuppa in the food court at the outlet centre. The only place that offered tea wasn’t manned so I thought I’d have a shake and TP fancied a smoothie. She came up to me with no smoothie. When she had asked about the frozen yoghurt that should go in it first they said the machine was down and then that they didn’t put any in smoothies.
She had a small coke and helped me with my milk shake which was more like an ice cream shake. I couldn’t drink it, I had to spoon it out with the straw. I like soft ice cream so I enjoyed it but it would have been an awful lot of ice cream to eat by myself.
We decided it was time to hit the bars and found a restaurant/bar down a side street with a jazz trio playing. There was a well in the middle with diners and we sat up at the end where the bar was. Diners sat on the two sides also. We had a good view of the diners as well as the band but the stools were not comfortable so we moved on. It’s very enjoyable sipping a wine and listening to music.
Next stop was a small bar at the end of an alley. We sat at the bar here and the security guard came along and chatted to us. We thought he was a bar attendant but during the conversation he said he was security. We chatted to him through 2 drinks until TP decided she needed food.
The most interesting part was what he told us he did after Katrina hit. He and his mates didn’t evacuate until a week after and to survive they had to break into shops and steal petrol. There were no services in NO so no water, electricity, gas. They pulled the boards from grocers shops to find food and water but they had no light. They were trying to find what they needed in the dark.
To obtain petrol, they would find an abandoned car and someone would stand guard with a gun while another drilled into the petrol tank and drained the tank. This is what he told us and he seemed genuine enough. He said he didn’t own a gun at the moment but had no problems with people owning guns for protection.
His family used to be tobacco farmers and he still owned the land but rented it out.
When he finally came back, houses were cheap and he bought a 5 bedroom place with a library which he still lives in today. He said he had done all the repairs himself including electricity. Apparently, that is fine as long as it gets checked by a qualified person after installation.
Everyone we chat to, including this young guy, are really worried about what is going to happen here with Trump as president. We have been told that most of Louisiana except for NO voted for Trump though.
Coup’s for dinner. Chicken, jambalaya and coleslaw. This was another place recommended by our Airbnb host.
It was a casual layback place and the food was good. Nice atmosphere also, We did have to move seats though as the air con was blowing straight on us and it was freezing. The air con in NO is very effective, it’s really cold which they would no doubt need in the summer.
We decided to walk home which was fine until a lady in a car called out, “ you don’t come from around here do you? You shouldn’t be walking , you’ll get murdered!”. She didn’t offer us a lift though! I am pleased to report that I am still here.