NewOrleansWhen I woke up this morning, I knew I wasn’t in Denton anymore because I couldn’t hear any barking dogs. We were in a room a short walk from the French Quarter.
This was my first trip to New Orleans. I haven’t seen so many people hanging out in the streets since we left Nicaragua. Bob lived here in the 60’s, until he was nine years old.

After we checked into the Bed and Breakfast, we walked down to the Café Du Monde for iced coffee and beignets. Bob’s mother used to take him here when she came to market.

New Orleans is so alive it frightened me. It is crawling with unsanitized, drunken, gay street life. I didn’t see any disneyfied fry pits, parking lots or box stores. Only a river of tourists, musicians, bicyclists, mule carts, dog walkers and skateboarders against a backdrop of crumbling buildings, tattoo parlors, porn shops, bars and cafes.

The beignets arrived, piping hot on a mound of powdered sugar. Like every other person in the café, we regarded the plate for a few moments with a mixture of awe and trepidation before picking one up and chewing off a hunk, sending a puff of powdered sugar into the air. Pigeons walked around on the sugared floor, pecking at beignet bits, the ladies out front made beautiful music and the sun painted the buildings with its golden glow.

After a little wash up in our water glasses, we continued on to Pat O’Brien’s Bar for a couple strolling Hurricanes, after which the Quarter seemed a lot more homey. Despite the piles of garbage from Halloween and the residual drunks sleeping it off, despite the run down seediness, we were taken by it. It was all so fascinatingly real that we were temped to cancel the rest of our trip and see if we could settle in here with the rest of the whackos.

By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.