So here’s where the stories really begin.
I mentioned that Andrew and I were there for business. But of course, because this was on my bucket list of cities to visit, we had extended our trip so that we had two full days of exploring on hand, on top of the afternoons and evenings of our work days. So the first chance that we got, we grabbed an Uber across town to the Tree of Life.
Our Uber driver was amazing. The trip over took a while and we had a great chance to chat. She lived in a suburb just above the city, and she had moved there after losing literally everything because of Katrina. She laughed when asked if she saved anything, “Nah, my apartment was on the first floor and there was 14ft of water.” So her and her family started from scratch. She also told us how much the city had recovered, but also that it had a lot more to go – that they were about half way there. Our previous uber driver had shared her woes of the corruption in the city and the crime levels, but this woman seemed to be more focused on the resiliency of the people in it. She herself had a happy air about her, asking us what it was we were seeing at the location she was driving us to. She had never heard of this tree, but was excited to hear about it and discover a little more about her own city.
Biding our driver goodbye, we got out and walked towards the massive Tree of Life. Planted in 1740 and sprawling wide and tall. Andrew laughed at me because despite the cold weather, I had decided that I would wear my Tree of Life dress to visit the Tree of Life. I’m a sucker for little things like that. Apparently, if you climb high and at just the right time you can see a parade of giraffes. You see, the tree is right outside the city zoo by the giraffes and sometimes you can see them parading around over the walls. We didn’t get that chance, and also I didn’t feel like climbing a tree in my boots and in the cold. I’m a sucker for the cold like that too.
Then began the long 7-8 km walk back towards our hotel. We figured that if we timed things right, we’d get back to our hotel (which is on the parade route – because yes, the weekend of multiples parades – about 9-10 over two days – was kicking off) just as the first parade was starting. Meandering through the streets we saw a lot of houses. Many gorgeous southern houses with wrap around porches in pristine condition, and many houses barely keeping it together with garbage and cracks in the foundation. Honestly, I didn’t see much in between – just lots of high and low. But that’s my impression, I don’t claim to have seen all of New Orleans, or to have an objective and fully informed opinion.
Regardless, I loved how many of the houses had just totally embraced being extra. Like, completely covered in mardi gras beads like ivy growing everywhere extra. It was brilliant. Of course, I had mapped out some vintage shops to pop into on our long trek back. Even though I didn’t buy anything from them, it was fun to see and fun to ogle the gems. Lafeyette cemetery was closed so I couldn’t get inside to take pictures, but I was able to stick my lens in between the bars and grab at least one shot of these amazing cemeteries with full on tombs. The whole time walking around I had lines and scenes from True Blood playing in my mind. I know, I know. It’s not real but man I couldn’t get away from it in my mind.
Then the parade started. So much music. So much drinking on the street. So many beads. The joy and excitement was in the air. And there were also so many beads in the air. I actually read an article not too long ago about the amount of waste they produce and how they clogged up the sewers over the weekend we were there. It’s nuts. Fun, but I don’t envy the clean up crew. We watched about half of the parade, it was hours and hours long. We watched for two hours and gave up. It was cold and we enjoyed retreating to our hotel room for cuddles and an early bedtime. We’re both really over getting drunk and staying up ’til 6 am. It’s fine, don’t get me wrong. If you like it, go for it. We’re just not into that. Plus, it was coooold.
Dress – Tree of Life
Top – swapped
Jacket – Danier Leather
Boots – thrifted
necklace – Threadsence