Back on the Natchez Trace Parkway for a while before rejoining The Blues Highway towards Biloxi.
I’m going to be honest here – we didn’t really go to Biloxi to see Biloxi itself. We had seen “Historic Civil War America” now and what we really wanted was a rest from driving and sightseeing, a few relaxing hours by a pool, a hotel with all mod-cons and some night-time entertainment, so we checked into the Hard Rock Casino Hotel! It did what it said on the tin, I walked away a few 100 bucks better off than I walked in, and we got some pool time in.
And onward to the final destination on our journey, to the magnificent New Orleans. I last visited New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina destroyed so much of it and I wasn’t sure what to expect. In the end, the main “pretty” part of New Orleans, the one the tourists see, was largely unchanged from when I was last here (although there seemed to have been a huge increase in artists and art galleries, which was lovely to see) and the BF and I made a deliberate decision NOT to visit the outer areas of the city which still lie in ruins, never to be rebuilt. It seemed wrong to pay for a trip, to gawp at poverty and destruction from the safety of an air-conditioned coach, but neither is it safe to visit some of those areas armed with a camera and little else. So we stuck to the touristy areas and enjoyed the sights, sounds and smells that the French Quarter had to offer. Having paid a curteousy visit to the hideous tourist trap that is Bourbon St, with its hordes of tacky stag parties, our real nightlife took us towards Marigny and the edges of the Treme. We enjoyed great local food, from po-boys to a fabulous meal at Emmeril’s and listened to unbelievably fabulous music! There is something really special about New Orleans that you just can’t put your finger on – a vibe that’s truly unique.
But underneath the magic that is New Orleans, lies the sad reality of what happens in a society that makes no welfare provision for its outcasts. We had seen a fair bit of rural poverty, dirt tracks, ramshackle houses and trailers on our travels, but this urban poverty was different. We saw walking corpses wander (and lie in) the streets of New Orleans, ravaged with mental and physical illness, drug addiction and AIDS – to an extent that is completely alien to the UK and most other developed countries I’ve been to. You would expect to see these sights in third world, under-developed countries, but not in one of the world’s most developed and wealthy nations (though the bulk of its wealth, of course, lies with a tiny minority). It was an incredibly sad sight to behold and one I did not capture on camera. I’m not that kind of photographer, and frankly, those images will remain on my mind’s eye forever.
Instead, I DID photograph the happier, shinier bits.
Our final glimpse of the Mississippi…
We saw variations of art work involving these little doggy faces absolutely EVERYWHERE. So if anyone out there knows what they’re about, please leave me a comment.
And that’s it. 2 weeks and 1350 miles later, our journey is complete. It’s been amazing. I learnt SO much. I have been to cities all over the USA, have visited most US States, but have never really spent much time outside the major cities. Seeing how people live in this part of the country has really changed my perception of this country and its people… and dare I admit it, I even listen to a bit of country rock these days.
If you are looking for the start of the journey and the introduction, it begins HERE.
If you would like to see the full gallery of all the images I took (way more than on the blog) without the commentary, please click HERE.