Louisiana: Welcome to the Jungle
New Orleans is a city of diversity. The streets teem with a mix of people, from tourists to panhandlers, Cajun to African American. The French Quarter hums with the smells of food, beer and people. People that all look slightly off, like no one in this section of the city can maintain their cleanliness for long. Board shorts are torn, flip flops are muddy and eyes are black. A drunken youth runs in the pouring rain from one bar to the next, half-naked and hollering. I shelter from the rain with a local who tells me half his life story in the few minutes we hold a conversation. It isn’t really a conversation. It’s a full-on monologue from this hotel porter, who feels the need to delve into the details of his online techno life, his gym workout sessions and the jagermeister he consumed last night. New Orleans is a city of indulgence. Of excess. You either drown in the filth of Bourbon Street or you try and find your place elsewhere. We opt for the latter.
The Natchez cruise ship offers a different way to indulge in Creole cuisine and the culture of Lousisina. A jazz band plays as we cruise up the Mississippi river drinking punch and people-watching. It’s a way to see the city without sweating in it, and this time it is exactly what we feel like. The following day we embark on a swamp tour at Cajun Encounters led by a genuine kind of bloke who does his best to dispel myths that surround swamps and alligators. “I guarantee you Bourbon Street smells worse than any swamp does,” he says, without even the hint of a smile. He’s right, but swamp or city, river or gravesite, New Orleans sure does have something for everyone.
Except perhaps the clean freaks.
New Orleans is also the first city we fail to find the time (or weather) to play tennis is, but we did play in a gorgeous town called Lafayette which is east of New Orleans