THE BIG DAY HAS ARRIVED!!
One of my top bucket list items, it’s time for Mardi Gras in New Orleans. We woke up super early to have breakfast with Anthony’s housemate Lee and his friends – sausage and eggs to fuel us for a long day of drinking, dancing, and jumping for beads.
The house is right on the parade route on St Charles, so we sat inside in the warm until the parade tracker told us it was time to head outside. As the parade drew closer, more and more of Lee’s friends turned up until we had about 12 people waiting. Finally, we heard the bands marching down the street so there was a mad scramble to head outside to catch the beginning of the first (and best) parade of the day, Zulu.
It was my favourite parade of the week – awesome things were being tossed out of the floats, footballs, parasols, coconuts – there was such an excited vibe in the crowd. They had the best marching bands too – you couldn’t help but just all dance in the street.
In between Zulu and Rex, we grabbed a pulled pork po’boy to warm us up and refuel for more dancing.
We were texting Anthony, and waited for his float to arrive on the back of a firetruck. We saw him hanging off the back, having the time of his life! It was a cold day, but it was Mardi Gras – we stayed until the end.
Afterwards it was time for more food – we all piled into Voodoo BBQ, cold, wet, but happy. I had a big plate of slow cooked brisket, pulled pork, corn pudding, collard greens and garlic toast.
Full and happy, we headed back to the apartment. On the way back we saw a jar of abandoned pickles. Only in New Orleans are street pickles a thing.
Anthony was there waiting for us, and told us that all the locals head down to Frenchmen st to continue the party afterwards. That is where all the bars filled with live bands, and quirky, eclectic revellers were. We head down Bourbon, grabbed some bloody marys at what claims to be the oldest bar in the United States, and head back out into the street to drink and dance as we head over to the other side of the French Quarter. On the way we ran into a broken down float, and some drunk guys were trying to load it into the back of the truck. Short pitstop to lift it up, we continued down the street with our drinks.
We made our way into Blue Nile, and listened to an AWESOME band playing NOLA tunes, mixing in some Mardi Gras Indian music here and there.
We head to one more bar, listened to some music, and then in typical Lani fashion got hungry again – we head over to Decatur to Coop’s Place, that I had heard had rabbit Jambalaya. We had some seafood Gumbo, Shrimp Creole, fried chicken, red beans and a super delicious rabbit and andouille sausage jambalaya.
After a big, long day, we only made it to about 12PM – we head home, exhausted, and collapsed. But not before Anthony found this wig. He looked so simply amazing in it, I had to post this (sorry Anthony!)
It was the most amazing day ever – perfect capstone to 4 days of the biggest parades of Mardi Gras and immersing ourself in life in New Orleans. While in the Blue Nile I remember standing there, listening to the singer shout out ‘Iko Iko’ while on the shoulders of a masked man in the crowd, jostling and dancing with a packed, colourful venue filled with people in costume, and thinking this. is. it. Life is dirty and rough here, but it is LIFE. People know how to drink, dance in the street, party, laugh, and have the best time possible. The best food in the world is on every corner, people are friendly and happy and excited. I’ll remember today forever, because it reminded me that there are places in the world where people want to live life like it is meant to be lived. It’s not always easy, but it is always fun in the Big Easy.