Swinging Through New Orleans
One minute we were floating from bar to bar, Big Easy slushies in hand, and the next we found ourselves sitting down the quiet end of Bourbon Street next to two drifters, one going by the name of Six Pack, his little pup Piggy, and one too Irish and or drunk to understand.
I’m not sure how the conversation started with them but pretty soon we knew all about Six Pack’s life, a “former” drug addict, covered in scabs and tattoos, hopping on trains from town to town all over the United States. The compass and railroad crossing symbol were tattooed prominently on his chin, his feet filthy and wrinkled, I would guess late twenties at most. He told us of life, how he apparently rescued his puppy from meth heads, and recited his somewhat well formed beliefs and opinions.
For some reason he liked us despite telling us he was not a people person, pausing mid conversation with us to [literally] bark at some passing tourists. And here’s us four north shore Sydney boys, just hanging on the pavement with the most unlikely of friends.
That was our first night in New Orleans and it pretty much summed up the incredibly duplicitous city for us. A city so entranced by Jazz, cajun spices, so rich in culture and yet burdened by relatively high levels of poverty. A city so completely different to all those we had visited in the US so far.
The Big Easy was our last stop in the States. It was the last city we added in to our itinerary, originally supposed to be travelling to Miami (mainly just as an easy way to get to Mexico), we thought New Orleans would be more our scene. So far the best decision we’ve made on this trip.
We spent our time riding the humble little streetcars (quite possibly the most inefficient public transport that I’ve come across), and either walking down Bourbon to party it up a bit, or walking down Frenchmen to experience the more Jazzy part of the French District. And between the countless bowls of Jambalaya, Gumbo and Po-Boys, we did our best to take advantage of all the unique food that NOrleans has to offer.
We even somehow managed to stumble into a karaoke bar, hoping to get up and belt an Aussie tune (as we did with Powderfinger’s My Happiness in New York to a silent crowd), however this one happened to be oriented towards country music. We tried our best to join in with the crowd singing a rendition of some Garth Brooks’ song, whining out about “friends in low places”, despite lacking any clue of what the song was supposed to sound like. Needless to say we left pretty quickly.
We did actually run into Six Pack again the following night on Bourbon, this time with a guitar in hand and of course a flask of whiskey in the other. Trying to make a few bucks to get by in the Big Easy before hopping on the train to somewhere else.