Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Lundi Gras Madness [part 1 of 2]

Lundi is Monday in French.  Since my family decided to spend our Mardi Gras holiday in NOLA, I thought you might enjoy my take on this vacation.  It happens that this is my first trip to New Orleans during Mardi Gras.  As many times as we've been to NOLA, I've sort of avoided Mardi Gras.  That said, we had planned.  By that I mean weeks, knowing when and where the parades would be, getting hotel rooms overlooking the city, even having tee shirts made.  Phones/cameras fully charged.  We were set! Set, I promise.

The view from our hotel window.

It was pretty awesome and got even better at night when lights turned on and the fireworks went off on the river.

Except I was so outdone by the noise and the smells and the people that I got a migraine.  Thank heavens Richard brought my migraine medicine.  I may be too old, or maybe I'm too ADD, or perhaps I'm just me.  Whatever.  I can't handle this much stimulation.

Much less handle it for hours.

And hours.

People really do stand on the balconies and tempt others with their beads.  If you want them badly enough, you'll dance, raise your shirt, or just stand around until something comes flying down.  That something may be meant for someone else, but the winner is the one who grabs and holds on the longest.  Yes, sometimes the beads break in a tug-of-war.  Oh well, start over....beg for beads!

At one point while we were on Bourbon St. a jazz band passed by playing some, well, jazz music.  People follow alongside dancing, drinking and laughing.  Move out of the way.  Just move to the side.  Get on the sidewalk, get on the edge of a crowd, just move!

I somehow managed to get my krewe to stand still for two seconds for a picture.  Take note, some of us were in shorts on Monday.

Others were dressed a little less conservatively.  The idea is to dress as outlandishly as one dares.  Showing skin is okay.  Showing private parts is acceptable, especially late at night or when drunk. We went in mid-afternoon to see costumes and crazy.  Nothing private on the "must see" list.   However, we walked passed a few girls in the doorways dressed to entice....bustiers, bras, strings that could not be called undies.  

I had to get at least one picture of the ground.  It was difficult to walk without slipping on the beads on the street.  Pick them up, you say?  No way.  The street may look relatively clean, but this is Bourbon and is definitely not.  While walking one must keep an eye on the ground: to avoid slipping on beads, in oily water puddles, and human vomit.  

The big beads are the most sought after.  

And there's no such thing as too much fun.  Ask Richard.  He caught a few beads, but Will and Lane are taller, so they have a longer reach and now have more beads.  Jolie is cute and loves fun. She is also young enough...no one was lewd toward her.  She would just ask grandparent-looking people on the balconies for "somethin'." She caught the most and probably had the most fun.  Dusti and her friend Lindsey are 15-16, short and shy.  They caught beads but refused to beg or ask. They certainly did not consider showing skin.  Parents and grandparents can prevent such behavior, but even better is upbringing.

We grandparents just followed along and let the kids have fun.  It felt almost safe: there wasn't any of the really scary stuff happening, but we kept a close eye on the kids and stayed together. I counted us every few minutes, which meant counting the kids hundreds of times.  Sometimes it meant holding hands or pushing the kids away from an odd or scary-looking person, but I expected much worse behavior from the crowd.  I've heard so many stories. 

Where else can you go to the biggest party in the world and happen upon a Christian organization holding a revival only a block or so away?  NOLA.  Of course, there were thousands more people on Bourbon Street but there was a good showing for the revival, too.

Remember that I mentioned a migraine earlier.  Well, before the first parade rolled past, I was in my hotel room. Drapes closed, lights off, sounds silent, and people vacated.  They went to the parades.  Yes, plural.  There were two yesterday beginning at 4 and lasting until well after dark.  When Richard and a couple of grands returned, I was awake and somewhat alive.  

So we went to Mulate's for dinner where we listened to La Touche' play Cajun music.  The stimulation was pretty awesome: Cajun music and dancing, fabulous seafood platter, people in parade-float-worthy garments (such as kings and queens wear in NOLA).  

And the headache returned.  More later on part 2 of our Mardi Gras insanity.  

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