Travel because you have no idea who you are until you experience yourself through different people and realize how we’re all the same.Erada
One of the first things I noticed when I landed in Nola was how hot it was. The heat coupled with the humidity made it much worse but at least it was something with which I was familiar minus the humidity.
As I moved around just drinking in the sights and sounds I felt right at home. I couldn’t put my finger on it at first but I soon found out why I was reminded of my isle in the Caribbean, why there was that sense of familiarity. Although New Orleans is a big city, there was no frenzied big city rush. The pace was much slower and more relaxed, catering to the many tourists strolling about. I felt right at home coming from the laid-back Caribbean.
Lending to this homey atmosphere was the French Colonial architecture, with its intricate fretwork, which many of the homes and buildings in New Orleans possessed. It reminded me a lot of St. Lucia and my twin isle of Trinidad and Tobago. Both of which have retained and restored many homes and structures from their French colonial days.
I liked that New Orleans has a blend of both the modern and quaint and they coexist seamlessly. I experienced being in a big city and just a few blocks away in the French Quarter, I felt like I was back home. Whilst walking through the French Quarter I was smiling to myself because I noticed the bars were old and wooden, weathered by age, dirt, and grime. However, this did not deter satisfied patrons from enjoying live jazz bands jiving away in a corner. Perhaps in another part of the world these buildings may have been condemned, but here in NOLA they were open and fully operational. This I liked. No out with the old and in with the new here, but a total embrace and appreciation of the old and conventional. If you’re from the Caribbean and visiting or working in New Orleans for any significant time, you won’t get homesick.
The food deserves a blog of its own. Again, the similarities were everywhere. New Orleans world -famous beignet (pronounced binyay), is a slightly sweeter version of what we in Trinidad call a fry bake/float, in Jamaica it’s called a fried dumpling. In NOLA though, they serve it with lots of powdered sugar on top. Here in the Caribbean, it is not sweet and it can be eaten plain or with anything of your liking. Everything I ate, was well seasoned and tasted delicious. The highlight of my dining experience was having fried alligator tail, however, after my initial reservation I ate down to the last one and enjoyed it too. Another memorable dining experience was visiting a popular churrascaria, Fogo de Chao. Waiters brought plates with polenta and other sides to the table and to my surprise, polenta is the same as our fried coo coo – a dish made with cornmeal. I became very fond of the sea bass, a popular fish in New Orleans and ordered it a couple of times at different spots. My favourite though, was at Drago’s, theirs was succulent and delicious.
Two places I would recommend to anyone who visits NOLA are a tour of Whitney Plantation and the World War II Museum. Both tours were informative and emotionally charged and are definite must-dos.
Though my visit to Nola was short, I realized that when you immerse yourself in another’s space and culture you find out that we are all the same. The pulse of humanity connects us all.
Do you also get that sense of familiarity when you travel?
I would love to hear about your travel experiences.
Tell me more in the comments below.