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New Orleans In A Flash

June 2, 2017 , In: Culture, Folklore, General, Indigenous
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My husband & I took a very quick trip to New Orleans back in March. It was intended to be a 4 night stay to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary, but we had a family issue arise and had to shorten our trip to 2 nights. Soooo, how do you cram 3 full days of sightseeing into just ONE full day?  Not very easily, but we sure did try. Didn’t get all the sights in but we did manage to get to a few places on my list.

Restaurant & Bar Signs

I found that just walking around the French Quarter and absorbing all the sights and sounds was very satisfying. The architecture is one of my favorite things about the city. Yes, the stucco is crumbling in places, the buildings and roof tops are no longer squared up but it has such a wonderful vibe to it. I love the balconies & porches, the horse-drawn carriages & streetcars and the general atmosphere of the city. Everyone seems very happy to be there!

City Streets & Architecture of New Orleans

One of my favorite houses that I saw near the French Market

We walked all around Jackson Square. There were artists hanging up their paintings all along the fence surrounding the park. There was a man sitting under a tree making voodoo dolls and the tree was decorated with hundreds of strands of beads.

Artists selling their wares around the perimeter of Jackson Square & a tree hanging full of Mardi Gras beads

Man making voodoo dolls and Mardi Gras dolls

The famous Cafe du Monde is adjacent to Jackson Square. We opted not to stand in the mile-long line for fresh beignets since we had reservations for the Jazz Brunch at Muriel’s.

Home of the famous beignets & chickory coffee

Jackson Square was originally named Plaza d’Armas. It was renamed in honor of the hero of the Battle of New Orleans, Andrew Jackson. You can read more about it here.

L to R-Sign at Jackson Square, Statue of Andrew Jackson and the view looking across the park toward St. Ann Street

Below is a picture of the restaurant where we had brunch while listening to a jazz band. It was really yummy and the music was fantastic!

L to R- Muriel’s Bistro; jazz musicians at brunch; wall in Muriel’s decorated with absinthe ads and labels.

After Brunch, we proceeded to continue our walking tour of the French Quarter. We happened upon Dutch Alley Artist’s Co-op that had jewelry, paintings, photography, fiber art, ceramics and wood turned bowls and vases. We were greeted at the door by one of the jewelry artists whose name was Stefano Velaska. He was wearing a top hat & was quite a character! After hurricane Katrina, he was trying to figure a way to promote New Orleans as well as trying to make something beautiful out of the devastation of that event. He starting picking up scraps of metal after the destruction of the hurricane to use in jewelry making. He cuts, cleans, polishes and crafts it into jewelry. The earrings below at the top right are Stefano’s.

Dutch Alley and the Artist’s Co-op with Stefano’s earrings top right, middle right is ‘The Bone Gang’ by raku artist Joy Gauss and bottom right are paintings on local palm tree bark- I apologize to the artist as I didn’t write the artist’s name down and the artist isn’t on the co-op website.

Almost all the souvenir shops, tour businesses & gift shops feature alligators either in their front windows or just as a prominent display. I found this really interesting since alligators are NOT the first thing that come to mind when I think about New Orleans.

Alligators greet you at almost every place of business. And of course most of them are decked out in beads!

There are many souvenir shops devoted to selling beads, voodoo dolls and of course the famous pralines. I ate way too many pralines while there. My favorites came from Leah’s on St. Louis Street. Sadly, I ate them before taking a photo-trust me they tasted even better than they looked. And the good news is, you can order online!

Souvenir shop with vintage jazz funeral hearse now loaded up with Mardi Gras beads. There was a skeleton fortune teller and lots of little voodoo dolls in the shop as well.

 

We saw Saint Joan of Arc. I knew she was young when she was burned at the stake but seeing it carved into the statue was shocking. She was only NINETEEN!

Statue of Joan of Arc- a gift from France

We went to the French Market- it was overwhelming. Tons of vendors but most were mass produced items so it was a bit of a turn-off for me. So we just rushed through the main aisle and headed to the Voodoo Museum.

NOLA Voodoo Museum

I had really been looking forward to the Voodoo Museum. I bought a voodoo doll in Haiti quite a few years ago and I am a huge fan of American Horror Story (their storyline a few years ago was all about New Orleans, witches & voodoo). So I had to put this on my list of things to see. Dear husband was not impressed. First, no air conditioning; second there is only ONE way in and ONE way out. (pretty sure that’s a fire code violation…); third, it was really dirty-tons of dust. But I persevered- I enjoyed walking through the small but-filled-to-the-brim-with-voodoo history museum. It consists of only the front entrance & a narrow hallway down to 2 separate rooms. Alters and shrines to various goddesses and Marie Laveau, ‘queen of voodoo’ were set up throughout the 2 rooms. The hallway was full of information and photos about the history of voodoo in Africa as well as the obituary of Marie Laveau.

And a huge painting of Marie met us at the entrance (below)

There were many animal bones hanging on the wall as well as what appeared to be human bones as well as skulls. I can see why it’s so dirty, the alters and shrines have mountains of coins and dollar bills as offerings and it would be a bit hard to clean without disturbing all of those.

L to R: vintage voodoo dolls, info on voodoo dolls and African fertility goddesses

In the back room there was an gnarly old tree stump with lots of nooks & cranies. This was a shrine/homage to Marie Laveau. The viewer was instructed to write a wish on the paper that they supplied and then roll your wish up in a dollar bill. Find a nook to stick your wish into while reciting a prayer of sorts to Marie and then tapping the stump 9 times. There were hundreds of dollar bill wrapped wishes in that stump. And of course I was so busy writing my wish & tapping the stump I forgot to photograph it!

After the museum we headed straight to Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo.

Marie LaVeau’s House of Voodoo

I was determined to buy another voodoo doll and it just had to come from Marie’s. This shop was a bit of a disappointment. I walked in expecting to see someone like Angela Bassett (who played a voodoo priestess in American Horror Story) but was met by a couple of grouchy guys! As soon as anyone steps foot in the door they bark out-“ABSOLUTELY NO PHOTOS”. And then they proceed to repeat that several times as you walk around the shop. If I hadn’t been so determined to get another voodoo doll I would’ve left.

 

I did purchase a voodoo doll as well as a dried/taxidermied alligator foot, some lucky beans for a gris gris bag (good luck) and a Marie Laveau pendant.  The voodoo doll is stuffed with sage and covered in spanish moss. (there’s a photo below)

Hex-Old World Witchery

After Marie’s we found Hex-Old World Witchery. I was much more impressed with this shop. It was clean, they were friendlier but still didn’t want you taking photos. I bought a Bridget Bishop poppet from the Hex shop. Bridget Bishop was the first person executed for witchcraft in Old Salem.  I have been reading the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness which is about witches, demons and vampires so I have become quite interested in witch craft as well. I also just read Witch’s Daughter by Paula Brackston. I highly recommend these books! And there is a sequel to Witch’s Daughter but I haven’t gotten to that one yet.

My voodoo doll and Bridget Bishop Poppet for healing & influence

 

So that’s our quick trip through the French Quarter of New Orleans. We ate some great food, drank some wonderful cocktail’s, listened to a little jazz and crammed as much as possible into our short stay. I hope you enjoyed the photos. It was fun to experience it. Hopefully next time we get back to the Crescent City we can stay a bit longer. I really want to hear more jazz and visit the famous cemeteries. For those of you who have been let me know if there is anything that is a must-see when visiting NOLA.

 

 

Cathy Spivey Mendola

Cathy Spivey Mendola has been creative her entire life. After a short career in the medical profession she became a stay-at-home mom which allowed her to dabble in various arts and crafts. Many years and mediums later she has finally found her passion-bead embroidered jewelry. When she needs a break from jewelry she creates bead embellished art quilts and wall hangings.
    • Kathy Lindemer
    • June 2, 2017
    Reply

    I enjoyed your photos and stories about your quick tour. Thanks for sharing!

  1. Reply

    Cathy – check out this podcast: http://thehistorychicks.com/episode-89-marie-laveau/ Sorry you had to cut the trip short, and not tour a cemetery, etc. I love NOLA for many of the things you have shared – great pix.

    • Reply

      Ooooooh, thanks Jenny! I finally went to visit the link. ONe of the few articles I had never read on Marie.

  2. Reply

    Looks like y’all had a blast. Growing up just a couple hours away from NOLA, I’ve taken several trips myself. . .never have done a gravevyard tour. But, I spent a lot of my college years over there. Ha! Thanks for sharing your experience. Oh, and I recently finished the All Soul’s Trilogy and loved it too!

    • Reply

      Glad you enjoyed the pictorial of NOLA. You should check out a graveyard tour I certainly want to do that next time I go.
      And so glad you are a fan of All Souls-what a great escape into witches, demons and vampires:-)

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