I swear I should have been born in New Orleans (close second after Brazil). I don't know much about the city but when I visit, I always feel at home. There's something about the culture and the people....its hard to explain.
Of course, my family is of creole descent. I have yet to get a full understanding but maybe that'll be my next genealogy project. I did one on my father's side years ago and the findings were incredible. Turns out I have some pretty famous relatives and it gave me a new sense of self.
At any rate, I am told that we come from a city in Louisiana called Crozier, is about 10 -15 mins south of Houma. My great grandfather's last name was Crozier. My sweet grandmother's maiden name was Crozier. My cousins still carry the last name Crozier. So either we named the city or the city named us. Whatever the case may be...I'd like to go there and discover more about what makes me, me.
Last weekend was the world renowned Mardi Gras. I've never been to Mardi Gras.....in fact the idea of Mardi Gras previously sent me into a slight panic. The thought of a large (understatement), uncontrollable crowd of heavily intoxicated people worried me so its never been on my list of things to experience.
About a month ago, a close friend brought up the idea of attending the Zulu Ball. This friend spent 4 years of college in New Orleans and knows just about everything about the city.So when he brought it up, I was confident that it would be an amazing experience. But...I did not know the ball was held during Mardi Gras. Hell, the Zulu ball is considered to be the event that kicks the whole thing off! (face. palm.) It wasn't until later that I discovered this very important fact and then....there was the panic. P.S. I know this panicking sounds irrational....but its real.
Over the course of time before the festivities, I heard horror stories from some people (thanks alot) but my friends reassured me that it wasn't as bad as I imagined, or as I had seen on TV, and I went and...am I glad I did.
For those who don't know, click here to get the history of the Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club. The origin of the club and its importance in the community is pretty interesting.
So...I got an evening gown, stuffed it in my suitcase and caught a 5:48 Spirit Airlines flight to NOLA on the Friday evening of the ball.
Sidenote: Spirit Airlines would charge you to breath oxygen and take a pee on their planes if they could. Make sure that if you are so inclined to purchase a ticket here, b/c...let's face it...the prices are insanely low...you go ahead and pay for a checked or carry-on bag at the time you book the flight to avoid other fees and check-in for the flight as soon as they give you the option. Otherwise, you will be charge $10 to check-in and possibly $100 to check a bag. This was my first time flying Spirit and I was appalled by all these extra charges. I had heard...but I had no idea it'd be like that. I'm a self professed airline snob but I'm also down for spending the least money possible so I might use them again...now that I know what to expect. end rant.
Anyway, I wont lie to you....the weekend started off rough. The flight was delayed, the rental car reservation was canceled somehow, it took members of our group forever to get ready and then we had a little fiasco with the tickets. We walked a country mile in heels and couture, carrying bags of food and liquor, then arrived to the convention center at nearly midnight only to be greeted with what appeared to be everyone in New Orleans and surrounding parrishes....couldn't find our table.....b/c this is what it looked like in there. I just got frustrated all over again while typing that paragraph.
Fortunately, we had a bottle of Maker's Mark at the table and a few swigs of that had all our attitudes back on the up and up. From there, the night was incredible. We watched Fantasia and Juvenile perform...danced, walked around and met new people and just had a fabulous time until about 5am.
The next day we rolled out of bed, hit 3 different restaurants for food...ordered a 20 piece bucket of chicken from McHardy's (just b/c we could) and then went out to watch the Krewe of Endymion Mardi Gras Parade.
Very brief explanation of Endymion. Endymion is a Super Krewe - as far as the parade goes, it is defined by its stunning use of visuals and floats laced with new technology and celebrity Grand Marshals. Endymion is one of the largest parades of the 80 that occur during Mardi Gras. The Endymion, in Greek Mythology, were the most handsome of men and the god of youth and fertility.
So we parked and walked across was seemed like the entire city of New Orleans....this is what we saw on the way:
And now...I have a suitcase full of beads. One of them is still blinking. And no...I didn't have to flash anyone to get them. Common misconception about Mardi Gras....lol. It happens....but not all the time lol. The floats were huge and so elaborate. It was definitely a sight to see.
Some people who have homes along the parade route have parties in conjunction with the festivities. We attended one such party....super fun. Can't disclose too many details...ha.
All in all...and this is no surprise...Mardi Gras is one big party....that lasts for several days. I found that b/c I went with people that knew the city and had been there before, I had less of a likelihood of a full on panic attack which is always good. Instead...I had a memorable weekend with my people....good times.
This was a lesson for me too. I love an adventure and doing things outside of my own personal box. But...fear can hold you back. You've got to experience life (in the safest way possible). I think that bit of advice translates to other areas in life as well. I'm glad I stepped outside my comfort zone...it was like a mini personal milestone. I'm grateful.
What did you do last weekend?