Goodbye New Orleans, swamp and alligators and home.
We packed our bags even though we were not leaving until late afternoon. We were going to go to the swamps and then drive to the airport from there. We took our bags downstairs and then went to the bakery next door for breakfast. Quite a bit of choice but we decided on a cheese biscuit (ie scone) with bacon and egg on it. We also bought a bananas foster so we had that first followed by the scone/biscuit.
There was also a pecan tart with sticky stuff on it which looked yum so we bought one of those for morning tea.
We had ordered a King Cake but it wasn’t quite ready. We wanted nuttella and banana. At least it was TP that wanted one to take back for her workmates. Dawn bought it around for us as we were taking our bags to the car.
The story behind the King Cake originates in Europe where the 12th day after Christmas is celebrated. In New Orleans the date marks the beginning of the carnival season. The coloured sugar denotes the colours of New Orleans, purple, gold and green. Inside the cake is a “baby”, a small plastic figure. Whoever gets the baby has to make or buy the next King Cake.
Everywhere changes from Christmas colours to Mardi Gras colours on the 6th Jan and the King Cakes come out. We went to a supermarket and there was a huge display of different sized ones for sale.
The weather was pretty awful. Very misty with low visibility. We thought we had chosen a bad day to go to the swamps but by the time we got there the mist had cleared and it was probably the best day we had had.
We packed up the car and it was quite tiny so our bags filled up the boot and the back seat! We set up the phone to give directions and set off… together with King Cake which was at least a foot wide by 9 inches.
TP was giving directions from the phone but I asked her to turn on the lady to give me directions as she misunderstood the map and we got “redirected” and we were cutting it fine and couldn’t afford to be redirected.
We got out to the Barataria Preserve in one piece after encountered a driver turning right any time with care, but she forgot the care bit. Just as well I had good brakes.
We arrived just in time as the ranger who was giving the free tour was leaving for the starting point.
The tour lasted for a couple of hours and was very informative although we were surprised at the amount of questions he couldn’t answer. He couldn’t even tell us how long the alligators lived. He kept saying , an alligator lives here, I can’t see her right now but she’s here somewhere.
I began to think that we wouldn’t see any but once we got to the canal we saw one and after that we saw a few. We also saw a couple of snakes and a turtle. One was a black snake lying on top of the weed in the water. The other was a black and yellow striped one which was in a bush. It was about as thick as a pencil and the stripes went the length of it, not round it.
There were only 6 of us on the tours so we could hear everything and ask questions with no problem. They took us to a point, describing the route and how you knew whether you were going upwards or downwards. The slope was very slight but the vegetation changes which is how you can tell.
They then left saying it would only take about 30 mins to get back. We actually walked back with him and learnt some more on the way back until he got distracted explaining something.
We went back to the visitor centre and did another track literally over swamp. The boardwalk was built over water the whole way. On this walk we came across another alligator right next to the path. I noticed that he had lost his right hand. It was very exciting seeing her so close.
Back to the car and out to the airport. Had to get petrol, another challenge. Eventually I put my credit card in and petrol was dispensed. We then hoped that it would stay in the full zone until we returned the car. It did.
No problems with the car or checking in. Delta was very good and organized for TP and I to sit together on the flight to Atlanta. We had already managed to get seats together on the flight from Atlanta to UK.
We went to get a drink but they didn’t have what we wanted so we went and had a cuppa instead together with a Muffaletto. We had missed that in our culinary adventure. It is a roll with various meats and cheeses topped with an olive mix. I didn’t think i would like it so TP ordered chips with it for me.. which turned out to be crisps.
We should have known they would have been called fries! Anyway I did like it, it was toasted and quite yummy so once again we shared.
The bar did have some interesting beer tops.
Note the Rebel one.
We were on the first flight with an orchestra from Uzbekistan. It took a while to get going as they were trying to get their instruments in the overhead storage and it took a bit of juggling.
The toilets in NO airport were interesting. They had seat covering which moved around to a clean bit when you pressed the green button.
On the way to get our international flight we encountered another lady with a King Cake, no way near as big as TP’s though. Her son had fallen and compressed his spine so she was going to look after him for a while. The cake was to bribe the doctors who were going to decide how he was to be treated. Her son was training to be a radiologist.