Like so many of you, I love to travel. Everything about a trip, from the first stages of planning to packing, the ride to airport, even standing in the security line at the airport is fun for me, simply because its loaded with anticipation. I look forward not only to seeing the local geography and architecture of a new place, but primarily to meeting new people.
So my trip last week to New Orleans for the 3rd annual Folk Magic Festival was a treat on many levels. Having gone last year, I knew it would be a chance to see some wonderful friends I made then (I couldn't wait to hug Auntie Sindy Todo, for example), but I also had the fun of traveling with my sweetie this time around, which meant that I'd be getting to do new things as well, since he has different interests and would definitely add items to our "to-see" list. We rented bikes, left the French Quarter for at least a few hours each day, had coffee with the locals, dined at little out-of-the-way dive bars with killer food, chatted with bartenders, watched amazing bands in backyard party settings, traded dishes with other patrons, talked art and magic and music and burritos, took photos of great street art, and had ourselves a ball.
New Orleans is a magical place. It is like no other town I've ever visited. Full of its own history, storehouse of the mystical wisdom and traditions of voudoun, keeper of the faith in the transcendence of music, repository of resilient soul, it seeps under your skin and into your blood, making you want to remain there, eating gumbo and po-boys til the end of time. The infamous witch Dorothy Morrison (http://www.dorothymorrison.com/), who visits several times a year with her husband, Mark, while walking around shopping this weekend, showed me "her" building, the one she's already picked out to buy in the Quarter, complete with iron balconies hung with huge ferns, and I have no doubt that I will someday visit her there and we'll drink sweet tea and watch the traffic on the street below. When New Orleans beckons, you must heed her siren song.
As always, we visited the tomb of Marie Laveau, though I spent too long making offerings at the bank of the Mississippi first, so by the time we arrived at the cemetery, the tours were out in force, and it's just weird paying your respects and praying in front of a bunch of folks that are still wearing their beads and their hangovers from their visit to Bourbon Street the night before. Still, it was good to say "hello" to her. Next was a visit to Congo Square in Louis Armstrong park, where the presence of Spirit is strongest to me....I gathered a dozen acorns from the huge live oak that I always think of as "Marie's tree". Some of them will be planted, and some will be used in my readings for the next few months.
Yes, travel restores the soul, and made me eager to come home to the shop, and our friends, with new tools, new techniques, and new enthusiasm. Mission accomplished!
PS - Check back tomorrow for my post about the chilling LaLaurie Mansion.....one of the few places in New Orleans that I try to avoid at all costs. Spirit there is strong, but not in a way of light and love.