New Orleans - French Quarter & Zombies



Welcome to Louisiana!
 The Big Easy; Party Central; Crescent City; The City That Care Forgot; Hollywood South - all of these are nicknames for New Orleans, the state of Louisiana's largest city and, snuggled in between Arlington, Texas at number 50 and Bakersfield, California at number 52, the 51st largest city in America.  It is famous for being the birthplace of jazz, creole cuisine, voodoo, the French Quarter, and the many celebrations and parties held there, especially the annual Mardi Gras carnival. Having been myself, I can testify that if you have never been to New Orleans during Mardi Gras and you are an adult with a Laissez les bons temps rouler (let the good times roll) attitude, you really should get yourself down there the first chance you get! It wasn't Mardi Gras time (and I wouldn't take  my 14-year-old daughter during Mardi Gras anyway!), but for 5 days in the spring of 2013, it was simply a fun place for Momma-woman, Youngest-daughter and myself to tour, visit the sites, eat some good food and relax. One more chapter in our love affair with this city!
Shopping just down the road from Jackson Square



First up on the touring schedule was, of course, the famous French Quarter. In addition to the shopping, eating, architecture, and site-seeing, the smells and interacting with and watching the "interesting" people - artists, mimes, musicians, live statues, acrobats, tap dancers, fortune tellers, tarot card readers and the just plain odd - are enough to make this a full day's agenda.



Saint Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square








Statue next to the Saint Louis Cathedral
















Cafe Du Mond & beignets - so good!




















Pat O'Brien's & their famous Hurricanes















Youngest-daughter hesitating to enter
Boutique du Vampyre
Youngest-daughter told me one of her friends is convinced there will soon be a zombie apocalypse so for your education, here's what I learned about zombies while browsing the voodoo shops and museum.


The word "Zombie" comes from the name for a great spirit in the Congo, Nzambi, which is symbolized by a snake. According to Voodoo teachings, your body is home to a small angel and a large angel. The big angel is quick and goes to heaven as soon as you die, but that little angel dude doesn't realize you are dead right away and hangs around until your body rots. That takes about 3 days and during this time, a witch doctor or a magician can mess with your little angel and cause you to be a zombie.
Understand, all spirits start out good and they mean to stay good, but they are easily manipulated by bad folk. For instance, Ghede, the spirit that deals with zombies, is an alcoholic and can be had for a bottle of rum. For that bottle of demon rum, Ghede will steal the spirit of the not yet rotted body and turn it into a zombie. Or, if you would like, he will steal the spirit of the poor unfortunate and put it in a jar to be used later. 
A zombie's feet never touch the ground because they are not earthbound. They can't have you seeing them float along so that's why they always wear long dresses and pants that drag the ground.
There are different kinds of zombies. One of the worst to be is a chemical zombie. After the living person has been poisoned, "died," and buried, he is quickly dug up before actually dying and given an antidote. The powerful antidote brings them back to life, but it also causes hallucinations, amnesia, and disorientation. Chemical zombies walk funny and act very strange. There is also a Louisiana-based zombie called a rougarou. Some say it is a swamp monster that looks like a werewolf; some say it is a swamp Bigfoot; and some say it is a half alligator and half human man. All agree though that it has bright red eyes and he steals your soul just by getting you to look him in the eyes. Once that happens, the only way to get your soul back is to find another soul to steal.
The jazz great, Jelly Roll Morton was supposedly another kind of zombie, a bargained zombie; in his case, a jazz zombie. As a young child, his father abandoned him and his mother. His mother died not long after so he went to live with his grandmother. Still a boy, his grandmother kicked him out of the house for wanting to be a musician so he went to live with his godmother, Eulalie Hecaud, a voodoo queen. It is said that Morton gave his soul to his godmother in order to have a musical career. She kept it in a jar and every time he suffered a setback, she fixed things. In time, his godmother aged and passed away. Four days later, apparently in good health and for no reason, Morton himself died. According to Voodoo, souls in jars must be fed by the keeper. 
There really is not much reason to fear zombies as they can be easily dealt with by inviting them to lunch and feeding them salt. If they will not eat the food with salt on it, just throw a handful of it on them. Evidently, the salt somehow lets them know they are actually dead and they will go back to their grave. Or, if you don't have a salt shaker handy, you can carry around a frog as zombies are afraid of them. Well, actually, they are afraid of frog pee because if it gets in their eyes, they will go blind.
Lastly, and perhaps comforting, Zombies do not have super powers. In fact, besides being able to move after they are dead, zombies have fewer abilities than they did when they were actual living people. This is because their bodies are affected by the same decomposition as a normal corpse. Since they do not heal or regenerate, rigor mortis causes serious tissue and muscle damage every time they take a step. Therefore, "old" zombies are actually easy to outrun.
Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo
Although I didn't learn this in the voodoo shops and museum, after a careful analysis of numerous zombie movies, I have come to the conclusion that to survive a zombie attack:
  1. Do not take shelter in a motor vehicle to which you do not have the keys
  2. Do not leave your weapons lying around where the zombies can find them
  3. If your group has only 1 weapon, do not give it to the hysterical person
  4. Absolutely do not hide out in a basement without supplies
  5. Do not allow yourself to be caught in an elevator and surrounded by zombies
  6. Do not let your personal feelings for a significant other who is now a zombie stop you from killing them
  7. Do not split up your group into individuals to go looking for a supposed non-zombie person in a dark, spooky building.
  8. Do not stand with your back to a broken window and have an argument with other members of your group when the zombies are out there somewhere.
At the end of the day, having spent the vast majority of it in and around the French Quarter, we were tired, satisfied and zombie educated. As we made our way back to our hotel in the dark, we all kept a sharp lookout for any stiff-legged, slow-walking, vacant-eyed people stumbling around. We saw a few, but I'm pretty sure it was due to them imbibing Pat O'Brien's Hurricanes rather than the beginning of the zombie apocalypse. We also looked for a frog, but never saw a one. Evidently, they are in great demand in New Orleans.  
Standing on Bourbon Street