I'm on a train pulling into New Orleans on Mardi Gras, and the conductor informs us that the streets will be so grid-lock with traffic from the Endymion parade that we won't be able to leave the Amtrak station.
3 hours later, I manage to traverse the 10 miles down-river to the lower 9th ward, where I'm pitching my tent for $15 a day, less than a football field away from the levy that broke in 2005. When I unlatch the front gate and enter, I find a maze of a few dozen tents and a mix of mostly dirty, white travelers in their late 20s. In the middle is an unfinished, 3-story structure. Many long-timers here are doing a work-exchange building it. Much of the wood was dumpstered, needing nails removed.
After settling into my new tent city, I roll my fully-loaded bicycle into the grocery store and start hunting for nuts & bread. I fill my water bottle & go to checkout. The cashier is wearing a white fetish in the shape of a penis around her neck; I suppose it's a whistle.
a hand pops up from the ground...and apparently there's 2 bodies in there. I notice a roll of colorful condoms on the road a few feet from their discrete sex hole, and we leave them to their business.
Around 9, I roll out of my tent to the community around the wood fire. Someone asked about my bike, and I claim ownership, but inform him (S) that I came in via Amtrak. He tells me of his journey bikepacking through SE Asia & China, and---after preparing some food and a visit to the compost toilet, we bike together towards the French Quarter.
The route we took was different than how I came the night before, and probably safer too. After crossing the draw-bridge over the industrial canal, we dash down a grassy hill. A man sleeping by the tracks at the bottom of the hill asks if we have a lighter; we don't.
We meet the street at its dead end, and my new friend from Montreal goes to investigate a bicycle unattended by the road. Alarmingly, a hand pops up from the ground, and I can see the matted hair of someone hiding in shallow drainage ditch. It's broad-daylight, and apparently there's 2 bodies in there. I notice a roll of colorful condoms on the road a few feet from their discrete sex hole, and we leave them to their business.
When we get to Canal St, I part ways with my riding partners. I want to go checkout my cowork office at Lafayette Square; they want to sneak onto a cruise ship.
Mardi Gras itself was crazy. Indeed, I'd never been to carnival before. I had come ill-prepared without a costume, but there was so much waste cluttering the streets that I was able to decorate myself sufficiently before the sun set.