(Evening One last night was memorable too, with hog head cheese, andouille, crawfish boil and barbecue shrimp at Eat New Orleans.)
We woke early to a Boil Water Advisory slipped under our door; easy for us, with the hotel supplying bottled water, but hard for ordinary residents and businesses relying on mains water – during the day we saw several coffee shops not serving coffee, presumably because their equipment is plumbed in and doesn’t heat the water to a full boil.
From there we headed over the flood wall to see the mighty Mississippi in person for the first time.
Downstream towards the Gulf we could see wharves and warehouses like those demolished to create the riverside walk. We were looking upstream so we walked upstream. Slowly. The heat is a physical force here; the hotel door opens a wall of hot moist air. it’s like walking into a sponge – and several people told us today how lucky we are that the temperature has dropped since last week.
We found ourselves walking from shade to shade in the same way that we hugged the shade in Mosaic Canyon last year. I think that was hotter, but the humidity makes this more oppressive.
At the end of the riverside walk we headed into the Warehouse District, staying on the shady sides of the streets. The sparely decorated functional square brick buildings reminded me of other North American cities. Not surprising, as this area was built more recently by the Americans; the old city – the French Quarter – reveals its French and Spanish origins.
But there’s something about the river. Much more interesting than warehouses and galleries.
And there are trains! freight trains running through the city constantly hoot plaintively to warn pedestrians, most of whom seemed annoyed by the delays at crossings, whereas we leaned against lamp posts to watch and read the labels on the freight cars. Now I understand why one of the books I’ve read compares the industry of New Orleans-Baton Rouge to the German Ruhr.
Beyond the tracks and parked cars is the high cream flood wall that protects the city. There are huge steel gates that swing to close the gaps.
They’d found the earliest occupation level 4′ down, at the point where the groundwater began to flood in.
We found lunch at a bar (A’s catfish po’boy was basically a fried fish sandwich; I discovered that a little hot sauce is good and more is better on a hamburger), then we walked around the corner to Acadian Books on Orleans Street. If you’re here, go there: it’s a Real bookstore.
I can’t work out how to rotate that!
There is more to tell, about our music tour that evening and the people we met, but this is the second time I’ve written this (i deleted the first one by mistake) and now it is time for beignets. stay tuned!