After being treated to a wonderful sendoff in Phoenix, including an early morning ride to the airport, Boris and I hopped our flight to New Orleans via Houston. The trip itself went well, other than the continuing realization that you are getting less and less free stuff on flights (example: during beverage service, Boris asked for peanuts or crackers, and all the flight attendant said was, “We don’t do that anymore.”) My aunt picked us up from the airport, and as we began our drive into the city I immediately felt a sense of newness. This place was different from everything I knew home in Tucson. Dorothy said it best when she remarked, “We’re not in Kansas anymore…” Not only was it immediately apparent that the swampy climate of Louisiana was super different from the dry heat of Arizona, the architecture was, the cityscape was, the cultural influences were. As we got a mini driving tour through town to the Garden District where we’d be staying, I instantly fell in love with the architectural elements throughout: the Greek columns supporting every tall home, the intricate ironwork protecting the greenery of front yards. Rockers rocked and porches porched. Beautiful.

One of the houses in the Garden District. I want one!

 Our first order of business was to get some grub. This was another experience I was anticipating with much relish; I’ve never really eaten true Southern fare! We ended up on Magazine at The Rum House, where I had perhaps the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten. Louisiana crab meat, melted jack cheese, a fried green tomato with wilted greens and a red remoulade sauce on a house -baked Cuban roll. YUM. SERIOUSLY. I thought I took a photo of it on my phone, but it turns out I ate instead.

Boris had some tasty fried oyster tacos, as well as a lamb vindaloo taco, jerked vegetables, and coconut mango rice. I won the food-choosing challenge, though. We all agreed. 😉 After a much needed nap, we headed down to the French Quarter for our ghost tour. New Orleans has a rich history, which is really another way of saying there are a lot of ghosts here. At least, according to legend. Whether or not you believe in a postmortem sojourn on Earth, the stories on these tours are usually pretty interesting if you can stomach them. Our tour lasted about two hours, but I’ll share a couple of my favorite stories.

 The Vampire Girls: back when NOLA was still run by France, there wasn’t a huge female population for a while. To rectify this, the Ursuline nuns came and campaigned to bring some demure young ladies to be wives to some of the gents. They arrived late one night wan and pale and their baggage looked suspiciously like coffins (turns out, coffin-style trunks were the cheapest options). This raised eyebrows, as did the (completely coincidental ) outbreak of tuberculosis that immediately followed their arrival and the fact that the windows of the convent where they lived were totally fettered shut (privacy for teenage girls was apparently also strange to the then+residents of the Crescent City). All of these thrown together equaled a lynch mob one night outside the door of the convent urging for the death of the vampiresses. A clever priest volunteered to fix the problem, and “exorcised” the demons from the convent, which really entailed a lot of theatrics to convince the angry crowd that there was no threat and allow the terrified women to escape. Not a real ghost story, but an interesting one.

This balcony belongs to a house that is supposedly haunted by the spirit of a young woman whose love for a boy from the wrong side of town went awry when her father found out…

 The Love-sick Kleptomaniac: on St. Philip St. There was a funeral parlor owned by a man who had a lovely daughter. She fell for a good kid from the wrong side of the tracks, as it were, whose family happened to be no good. Dad got wind of how she had been sneaking out and caught her one night. Some say she slipped shimmying down from the second floor as she had so many tines before to meet her beau, others say her pop pushed her, but in any case she didn’t survive the fall. Now, the house is the presidential suite for a nearby hotel. Guests frequently report jewelry stolen, specifically engagement and wedding rings. If you’re forceful enough with her spirit, she’ll return them. Otherwise, she walks the balcony where she met her demise…

Even the only photo I managed to take of the scariest place on the tour looks creepy! 

 The scariest one of them all involved a rich woman, mistreatment of her help that involved insane human body experiments and a clean getaway…Suffice to say, this place is so haunted that the cops have stopped responding to calls of people witnessing a girl plummeting from the second story.

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