New Orleans Trip

Here’s a quick brain dump of my trip to New Orleans:

Last week, Joasia was in New Orleans for a conference and I decided to join her by flying out on Friday. I flew out through London in the morning and arrived in the early evening. It was quite a long flight, but the flight was comfortable so I felt okay when I arrived.

I made my way to the hotel, got my key, got changed and headed to the conference dinner that Joasia was at. I arrived halfway through dinner, got a quick bite to eat (something light because I was feeling a little dirty inside) and had a few drinks as we socialised a little with some of the people at the conference.

The following morning, Joasia was off for the second day of the conference, while Jim arrived at the hotel. He was gracious enough to fly in for the weekend. We went to get some breakfast and I think this is where things went off the rails for me a little bit.

When visiting the United States, I always have to get used to the food. It’s easy to eat heavy, greasy and too heavy foods. The breakfast I chose was heavily lathered with hollandaise sauce (which seemed to be a staple for breakfast foods in New Orleans, because it was part of a lot of dishes, I noticed) and I suspect my stomach decided to start protesting, and it didn’t stop protesting throughout my trip.

Jim and I spent the rest of the day going through the World War II museum, which was very interesting, although a bit coloured, especially in regards to the Pacific theatre. The museum was set up in a way to convey a particular narrative, which is something I’ve been seeing more lately. Most notably, the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. I’m not sure how I feel about it, because it becomes very hard to draw your own conclusions instead of adopting the conclusions provided to you through the narrative.

The rest of the weekend was spent exploring the city, especially the city’s multitude of restaurants and bars. We also went to Jean Lafitte National Park for a two hour hike through the bayou where we saw a dozen alligators, which was kind of awesome.

We had arrived in New Orleans just after Mardi Gras, and the city was still a mess, with certain streets being a war zone of plastic beads, discarded cups and just general junk everywhere. That, coupled with the poverty of certain parts of the city, gave me the feel that there was little going on in the city which wasn’t based on binge drinking.

We went to The Presbyt√®re, a museum on the edge of Jackson Square, which had two exhibitions; one on Mardi Gras and one on hurricane Katrina. I went to check the Katrina exhibit while Joasia and Jim checked out the Mardi Gras one. It wasn’t amazing.

Jim departed early in the morning on Monday, and Joasia and I went to the Whitney Plantation, about an hour outside of New Orleans. There were several plantations to consider, and Joasia decided to go for this one because it was less about visiting a beautiful plantation, and more focused on slavery and the dreadful economics behind it. It was an incredibly insightful, educational, horrible and beautiful visit. The tour guide was an amazingly knowledgeable and passionate man by the name of Ali.

When we got back to the city we decided to visit the garden district and admire the beautiful houses there. Sadly we just missed our chance to visit the Lafayette cemetery, but we went through that on a self-guided tour the following day.

Throughout all of it, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers, a terrific video game I played when I was in my teens, which is set in large in New Orleans. I recognised and knew about a lot of things because of this game. I’m sure when looking back on the game now a lot of things are probably horrible tropes, but I still remember it fondly.

The flight back was okay until we arrived back in London to find that our flight to Amsterdam was cancelled due to weather. When we finally made it home, we had been up for 35 hours and dead tired. And my stomach was still giving me trouble.

Conflict Everywhere

There has been a lot of conflict in my life as of late. Conflict at work, conflict among my friends, conflict in the lives of my loved ones; I don’t think it’s ever been this bad. Well, not since I was very young and I was still subjected to the conflicts that raged throughout my family. It’s making me anxious, which is also not something I’m used to. It has, however, given me some insight in the problems of people around me who deal with anxiety problems.

Depending on how things develop, I might need to write it down in order to process it, in which case I will go into more detail here later, but hopefully that won’t be necessary.

I Met a Man Down on His Luck

Tonight, as I was cycling home from training, as I was crossing an intersection, a guy on a scooter came up from behind me and yelled some profanity at me. We were both coming from the same street, but he was taking a right, while I was crossing the intersection only to take a right afterwards. We both ended up on the same road, going the same direction, just on opposite sides of it.

As I cycled onward, I saw him waiting at the next traffic lights and I noticed that it was a food delivery scooter. One with a box on the back to keep food warm. I recognised the sign on the box as being the fast food place on the ground floor of my apartment building.

As I continued cycling home, I lost sight of him and started thinking about what happened. I suspected that considering the speed he was maintaining he had to slow down to allow me to cross the street before he could take a right turn. The road that I was crossing, and he was turning into was a priority road, so we would have to yield to any traffic coming from it, but the road was empty as I crossed it. The same traffic rules applied to the both of us, and as I was going straight, and he was turning right, I had right of way. I think he was just annoyed that he had to slow down.

I beat him home because I saw the scooters that the fast food place uses standing out in front, and the one in question wasn’t there yet. I briefly considered talking to the owner of the place to tell him that he’s employing a prick, but just as I decided that I was going to go inside and forget all about it, the guy rides up and parks his scooter.

I had to talk to him. So I waited for him to notice me. The brief exchange that I had with him made me glad that I didn’t end up talking to his boss. It went something like this;

Me: “Hey man”
Him: “Eh, hey…”
Me: “I thought I’d come and say something, since I didn’t really appreciate what you did back there.”
Him: “Oh, that was you? I had right of way!” (He sounded a little bit shocked.)
Me: “No you didn’t, we were both coming from the same road, so the same rules applied to us, except I was going straight and you were turning right.”
Him: “Man, it was nothing personal. I just didn’t see you and what I said was more out of shock.” (He looked miserable.)
Me: “Okay, had a bad day?”
Him: “Yeah, I try really hard, you know,” as he pointed at the fast food place, “and today I had three traffic violations, I hit a parked scooter and then when this happened I just reacted.”
Me: “Oh man, I hope your day improves.”
Him: “No, my day won’t improve. I’m misery incarnate.”

Now, it’s interesting, because that last bit he said in a way that I wouldn’t have expected. You see, he was a guy in his early twenties, probably not very well educated, tall but not healthy looking, wearing tracksuit bottoms and faded trainers. He had a type. And what he said in Dutch was “ik ben ongeluk zelve”, which is old-fashioned and almost poetic.

He apologised again. I told him to hang in there (“Sterkte.”) and he wished me a pleasant evening. I’m really glad I didn’t talk to his boss. I think that guy has been having a rough couple of months. Hell, perhaps even a rough couple of years.

A Sour Mood

Wow, the last few days have been a struggle. Since NYE I keep having a recurring cough, which is a nuisance. This has kept me from training for a little while. Then I injured my finger during training last week, which is painful. And I’ve tweaked something in my neck which keeps lingering and causes me to wake up during the night.

Wah wah wah!

It has meant I have been in an awful mood the last few days. Even though there’s really no reason for me to be so grumpy. I had to get a crown fitted a few days back, and that was surprisingly painless, I had a really relaxing weekend. I am going to go to New Orleans in a few weeks. I have a trip planned to Norway in May. And I’m going to Brazil again in December. I should focus on all the good things in life.

And yet…

…wah wah wah!