Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Today is the last day of Mardi Gras and the last two parades are in the morning and we miss the sign up for the shuttle. But a couple near us were going to take their truck in and offered us a ride. We met him as he was taking out their trash. He was wearing surgical gloves and shook hands with us with them on. That was weird. We were to take off at 9 AM, but they were late and we got off after 930.
He was driving wearing surgical gloves. We decide he has some skin disease. They are possibly younger than us, hard to tell. But he drives like someone 95.
He was born and grew up in New Orleans. They lived here in the Garden District until a few years ago when they moved to Florida to be close to her elder parents. They just have her mom, 89, left. Mom is very clingy and they bring her along everywhere. Today they left her in the RV with the dog.
Our driver is having a constant conversation with himself about where he should turn and what off ramp to take and he misses his off ramp. I am quietly semi cracking up in the back seat as we have to cross over the Mississippi bridge away from the city and turn around to come back and pay $1 toll. I thought he was going to miss the turn off again, but he made it. He dropped us off at the old mint where we were used to getting off the shuttle bus. He dropped his wife there also along with her chair and 2 canes. He was going to get the truck parked and come back and help her to Jackson Square where she just sat and people watched. He was in costume and planned to go to a party. Takes all kinds.
We walked over toward the parade routes. Although it was morning we decided to walk down Bourbon street.

We ran across the street parade group Mondo Kayo.
Mondo Kayo, to be sure, has an aesthetic all its own. Compared to mainstream parades, which tend to be highly organized and prepackaged, Mondo Kayo is footloose and rambunctious -- a tribal free-for-all. Their (mostly homemade) regalia is generally tropically themed, but in the spirit of do-it-yourself performance art, individual participants are free to decide for themselves what may please the Tiki gods. And the fact that the krewe operates on the fanciful premise that New Orleans is the northernmost banana republic -- backward by some standards yet blessed with tropical abundance -- seems to encourage a gonzo mentality whereby participants gleefully embrace “primitive” Bacchanalian impulses. That, and copious quantities of early-morning beer.

I got the quote from a cached page by Chuck Busch one of the founders back in 1982.
Their emphasis is obscure African and Caribbean music.

Bourbon Street is the home of colorful characters like the tit lady.
The doom and gloom prophets were out in force. There are 4 campers full of them here. They have fluorescent lettering on the sides predicting the end of the world May 21,2012. Even though we thought we were too late for the Zulu parade we really missed only the first few floats. the Zulu Social aid and Pleasure club has been in existence as a Mardi Gras Krewe since 1909. Their membership is mostly black and they parade in black face.You can tell we were down at ground level and far back in the crowd today.I made friends with Gregory, 5, and his sister Jay Cee, 10. Jay Cee says that she is going to get to ride on a float next year though she doesn't know what parade.
After the Zulu Parade William and I went to Remoulade. William had "Taste of Louisiana" and I had Crawfish pies. All very tasty. We wandered back to Canal Street to watch the Rex parade. Very fancy floats with a literary theme.
After Rex came the truck parade. These are neighborhood floats pulled by semis. All the other parades have their floats pulled by tractors. We watch a few of these, but it is after 3 and we have to walk back to the mint as our ride wanted to leave at 4. No more walking down Bourbon Street. Way too crowded. We chose a less crowded route and found another street parade from Preservation Hall.
Out of the dragon's mouth and back home to the RV.