Monday, January 26, 2009

Day 14: Saturday, January 24, 2009

Today is Saturday and after a long week of interviews and working we were all glad for the opportunity to sleep in. Not only did we get to sleep in but we had the entire day to do what we pleased. After sleeping in we all split into small groups but most of us headed into the French Quarter. Alisha, Michele, Nikki, and Roxanne went into Jackson Square to look for hot sauce for Michele’s dad and buy the vouchers for the Vampire tour that eight of us would take later that night. Many of the other girls spent the day in the Quarter as well getting custom T-shirts made at a local shop.

Stephanie, Anne, and Scarlett, like many who come to New Orleans, spent the afternoon in Jackson Square getting their tarot cards read. The woman did their astrological charts and read their tarot cards giving them a little insight into the future!!

After pizza dinner at the hostel eight of us—Cynthia, Nikki, Alisha, Roxanne, Michele, Melissa, Stephanie F. and Keelia—got on the streetcar and headed toward Jackson Square for our Vampire Tour. In the usual New Orleans fashion, we were late. Apparently our streetcar driver was hungry because after sitting on the streetcar without moving for a while we noticed that the driver was no longer on the streetcar. Instead, he had crossed the street and gone into the Burger King to pick up some dinner. We couldn’t blame the guy for being hungry but we had to laugh at the absurdity of it all.

Although the Vampire tour guides were less than thrilled that we were five minutes late, they split the large group into two and we were on our way. It was a perfect night for a vampire tour—dark, rainy, foggy, and cold! We lucked out because our tour guide turned out to be the author of the book New Orleans Ghosts, Voodoo, and Vampires, Kalila Katherina Smith. She took us all around the French Quarter pointing out certain houses where police reports suggest vampire crimes had been committed. She showed us building where scenes from the film Interview with a Vampire had been filmed and told us about Vampire mythology. At the end of the tour she left us with a spooky thought. She told us that while she never said that vampires do exist, she never said that they didn’t…

Before we left Michele, Roxanne, and Nikki purchased a copy of her book and Kalila signed it. Cynthia took the chance to ask about two individuals dressed as vampires that had been standing near the tour group before we started. We had all assumed that they were part of the tour. It turns out we were wrong. Kalila said that they are part of a group of vampire life-stylers who are moving back into New Orleans. These people aren’t just playing dress-up. This is their life. Kalila wouldn’t go into detail but suffice it to say we were thoroughly creeped out!!

That night Kermit Ruffins was supposed to be playing at a bar on Frenchmen called the Blue Nile. Much to our surprise, he was nowhere to be found. Turns out Kermit’s wife told him he could not play that night because it was her birthday, so he didn’t—smart man. Instead, Mardi Gras Indian Big Chief Monk Boudreaux was performing. It was his last performance of the season before he retired that particular suit in preparation for the upcoming Mardi Gras season.
To our surprise, at the beginning of the night a man came out on stage and said ‘We have some guests here from California’ and proceeded to dedicate his song, “Laid Back,” to our group and sing it to us.

Next, Chief Monk Boudreaux came onstage to perform. He sang and played the tambourine dressed in his bright pink suit. According to Cherice Harrison Nelson, a woman who makes the Mardi Gras Indian suits, all of the suits are handmade. They do all of the beading and sewing by hand. At the end of Mardi Gras they start making the suits for the next year—that is how intricate they are.

All of the girls were thrilled to see musician Glenn David Andrews who had been in the film "Faubourg Treme" and who we had seen perform at Tipitina's on Monday night. Upon seeing our group, Glenn came right up and started dancing with the girls and having a great time. It was another night to remember in New Orleans!

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