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Monday, May 16, 2011

Here, there, and home again

The Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis King of France on Jackson Square
is the oldest Catholic cathedral in continual use in the United States.
It was a good time in New Orleans! We loved it, although our few days there flew past in a flash. It's definitely a place we'd love to explore further! It was interesting though, after having spent so much time in the islands, how certain things stood out in New Orleans. There were the obvious differences of course, but there were also some interesting similarities. I guess living aboard and traveling at a much slower pace for the last seven months has made me more reflective, but it was almost frustrating to have such a limited amount of time here. What we really enjoy most about cruising is the lack of schedule, and having the time to truly explore places for as long as we'd like. Being on a time schedule in New Orleans felt rushed, and it also felt a bit odd to do such overtly touristy things as organized group tours!

Obviously, one of the differences was being in a big city again! All that pavement, all those cars ... all those people! (Which made for some fun people watching, to be sure!) But, it was almost overwhelming, so crowded and impersonal, with so many things geared towards tourism on a large scale. I have to admit, I prefer the smaller, more intimate scale of things that we've been accustomed to while aboard in the Caribbean. The crowds took some getting used to!

As for similarities, they abounded as well. As in any new  place, simply exploring the different parts of the city and learning about the history was thoroughly interesting. We had to chuckle though, since plantations were another parallel to the islands:from sugar plantations in St. Kitts and Nevis, to cotton plantations in the southern US. We'd seen enough plantations in the islands (again, on a much more intimate scale) so didn't feel the need to tour one here!

But we certainly didn't shy away from sampling any food! It's always fabulous to try regional specialties, just like in the islands! I'm always ready to sample new foods and different preparations -- just about any unique regional cuisine, be it goat or frog, octopus or soursop! So I was more than willing to try New Orleans' muffaletta and true crawfish etouffee. I didn't have the chance to sample boudin, a type of southern Louisiana sausage, but I did try every kind of andouille sausage I could find, as well as sampling bowls of gumbo in as many places as possible! New Orleans does share the Caribbean's love of hot spices, though, which makes perfect sense since such a large part of the population had West Indian, Haitian and African roots. Happily, New Orleans is a city of great restaurants, so we weren't disappointed with any meal. (Recommendations? Go to Felix's for fabulously fat oysters on the half shell; Herbsaint for their gourmet gumbo of the day and slow cooked lamb neck's; GW Fins for superb smoked sizzling oysters among their ever-changing very fresh fish selection.) Yum!

Chicken and andouille sausage gumbo!
As always, all good things must come to an end, and our time together ended all too soon! While Ron continued on his motorcycle journey westward, I returned to Jensen Beach to continue coordinating the work on Equinox. We're aiming to continue to explore the new and ever-tantalizing places beyond the horizon, but while we're getting Equinox back into top cruising shape, you can be sure we'll keep you posted on our land-based adventures as well!

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