Saturday, March 20th, was that day that most of us moved out of the not-so-cozy confines of Madonna Manor. We packed our belongings, packed our respective vehicles, and went into the City once again. The last two vans ventured in for one last visit before hitting the road. I had the weekend to look forward to.
I went with Sasa and Trevor’s group to the St. Louis Cemeteries just outside of the Quarter. I was excited to find the tomb where jazz guitarist and raconteur Danny Barker and his blues singer wife “Blue Lu” Barker are buried. And at St. Louis #1, we visited the highly decorated burial place of Madame Laveau, the so-called “Voodoo Queen.” From there we entered familiar territory.
It was a beautiful morning in the French Quarter. I spotted a number of students running in and out of the French Market and the souvenir shops along Decatur Street. Musicians and magicians and performance artists lined the streets. And the lines wrapped around Cafe du Monde as those on spring break, tourists, and NCAA basketball fans sought their fix of cafe au lait and beignets.
Around noon the remaining groups hit the road and headed into St. Bernard Parish for the Islenos Festival. Los Islenos first came to St. Bernard Parish from the Canary Islands in 1778 at the behest of Spanish governor Bernardo de Galvez. They settled the frontier east of New Orleans and helped provide New Orleans with a buffer against the British. Many St. Bernard residents trace their ancestors to these Spanish-speaking pioneers and the festival was created to celebrate this history. On the grounds of the Islenos History Center, there were crafts, Spanish and Islenos food, music, and both St. Bernard residents and visiting Canary Islanders in period costume. I enjoyed wood carvers, boat builders, historical interpreters and some very very good food: alligator sausage and grilled bananas wrapped in bacon leap to mind. Fredy Omar con su banda provided the music and the crowd provided a surfeit of dancers.
As much as I enjoyed the festival, the call of a hotel room with a clean shower and proper bed linens called. I drove back into New Orleans and enjoyed such luxuries for the first time since I left home. I ventured out for a bite to eat and to sample the musical wares of Frenchmen Street. However fatigue and the overwhelming crowds made me brave a light rain to cross the French Quarter and hotel bed resplendent with proper sheets. And I enjoyed them.