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New Orleans, The Jazz Capital of the World

Back in the early 90s when I was young and carefree, I visited New Orleans and had a wild time. I enjoyed the bars, the music and that wild drink “The Hurricane” Fast forward 30 years and it was time to visit again. Ken and I set 3 days aside to spend in this deep south institution. Far more mature there was no bar hopping and late nights planned.

We had booked a tour that would take us to an old Plantation, followed by an airboat ride (Think Gentle Ben in the 60s).

The Plantation, Destrehan,   was established in 1787 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It remains the oldest documented plantation home in the lower Mississippi. We chose this option as it is one of the closest to New Orleans. We were met on arrival by a lady in period costume. She was to be our guide who would bring this beautifully restored mansion to life.

The grounds were appeared frozen in time with moss draping from the trees. I could imagine fog drifting through and it would be so eerie. The house was naturally large and some of the original furniture was on display. The large veranda on the top floor would have been a godsend in its day, an escape from the heat and an incredible view of the Mississippi

It was interesting to hear the tales of how the privileged lived and then in the next breath, hear of the harsh realities of the slaves and their living conditions

There was a registry of the slaves and although some comments made me smile, it really was sad. Perhaps a few examples are in order: I have also included how much they were worth to the Plantation

Philander: Negro,   Field Hand, Addicted to running away $600

Little Sam: Negro, Field hand, has the dropsy’s $50

Simon: Negro, Field Hand has absented himself $900

Binky: Negro, Field hand and dirt Eater $450

Time was moving on and so we boarded our minibus and headed off for our adventure on the Air Boat.   Our vessel took  16 people I think, so not as small as I had hoped, but that s my only negative. It was so much fun. We went alligator spotting and there was a plethora of those. Our captain threw marshmallows into the water to bring them closer. His idea: They smell great for the alligators and don’t sink so they stay above the water. I am not sure how many diabetic sweet-toothed alligators swim the marshes, but for us, t served the purpose.

Although the alligators were a major drawcard, the scenery was magnificent. As with the plantation, moss was dripping from the trees, game ducks treaded water unaware of the tourists and I guess the prehistoric monsters lurking by and grass marshlands that we would skim over in our airboat. So much fun it was sad when it was over.

This was the end of the tour and so we headed back to the city. It was late afternoon so we decided we must visit Bourbon Street, for research purposes only of course. We chose a bar and sat to listen to some music. Must say the plastic cup, the cheap wine and the loud music was perhaps not to my liking. I am sure it was not like this 30 years ago, or perhaps I am more mature! After some further research, we found that Frenchman Street was the new place to go, so perhaps a visit there later after dinner is called for.

In case you are wondering, yes we went to Frenchman Street, Yes we had a hurricane, yes we listened to jazz and yes we stayed out way too late.  I guess now I am just older and carefree!

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Fiona Boileau

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