Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Surreal Ending to My Time in New Orleans

I woke up early on Sunday, September 5, determined to have another great, relaxing day in New Orleans, before renting a car and heading to other stops. I rented the car over the phone, and jogged in my carpeted room. I knew fatigue might play a part in my day, but it was off to a quiet, yet effective start. Then I got the call that my mother had died.

My sister and I had known this was a possibility -- my mother had been sick with Alzheimer's for years. She was in pain, with little quality of life. The possibility of mom dying while I was on vacation had been discussed, and it was agreed that I should continue on vacation. The problem was that my sister was also out of town, and was sleeping soundly -- she could not be reached. I got phone call after phone call asking me for details of the arrangements for my mother -- which only my sister had! All this while I was trying to plan a day, check out of my hotel, and drive to a new city!

This may seem insensitive on my part -- after all, my mother had just died. I am not trying to defend or justify my actions in any way, just to describe them. I was very unsettled for the rest of the day, and comforted only marginally by my sister eventually contacting me to let me know that she was taking care of the details, and telling me to continue on my trip, as we had discussed.

I had a decent seafood omelet while eating with a young man with whom I had struck up a conversation on the street, on line outside the popular establishment -- I always trust that a restaurant with a line out the door is going to be good -- that has been my experience:

Before moving on, I want to give a shout out to Winston, the young man who conversed and ate with me during this difficult time, and remind him that I am happy to reciprocate his kindness should our paths cross again. Winston, if you read this, please leave a message, so that we can correspond! :)

But it isn't the food, or the restaurant's popularity that sticks in my mind. It's the name of the restaurant, the significance of which I only realized much, much later...

After breakfast, and among the myriad of phone calls I received, I perused the shops at Riverwalk, close to the levee:

I chose to spend the remainder of my time in the New Orleans area doing something a little different -- a swamp tour. Among other things, I enjoyed watching the tour guide feed the alligators:

Handling the various paraphernalia he handed around, including this baby alligator, was also noteworthy...

After the tour, I had to experience a po' boy before I left town:

I remember most of the day fondly, and by the end, with the help of a good friend I called, I was feeling much calmer. The alligators were amazing, and I would recommend a swamp tour if you are in the New Orleans area. It takes you away from the hustle and bustle of downtown, which may not be your goal, but it is something that really invigorated me -- seeing the life in these reptiles, and the surroundings they lived in -- after a morning filled with sorrow and stress.

Just think -- if I could have such an adventure-filled day when I was dealing with sorrow and stress -- imagine what New Orleans might offer to those who don't have such extra burdens!

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