For corresponding photos for this post, click here.
Despite my philosophy of spending a while in a place and just going with the flow, my sitting down to write my activities each morning highlights that I do actually still do quite a lot. And after a 4am bedtime on Saturday night, the cycling everywhere, the heat and sun, and the fact I am nearing the end of my trip, I was certainly feeling it when I woke up yesterday. Tired, fuzzy, sore. Not even hung over – I’m drinking consistently whilst I’m here, but never going beyond a nice buzz (intentional – firstly I don’t want to waste a day being hung over, and secondly, more importantly, it’s a safety thing – I’m accountable for myself and am 100% alone, so I gotta take care of myself and ensure I’ve got my wits about me, eh) . So yeah, yesterday was the day I woke up feeling the effects of the past 10 days.
But that doesn’t mean the day is a write off. I get up, I write, I head out for food, and just see where the day takes me from there. It was a slow and late start, but I achieved all of that and decided just to take it easy – no set activities.
I pulled into for brunch at Who Dat Coffee, one of my favourite local cafes, where I’ve been a couple of time. It was raining pretty constantly so took my time until the rain passed, it always passes, an extra mug of coffee and chapter of a book will see to that.
Once the rain had passed, I had no set plans, so decided to meander over to the French Quarter as there was a vintage shop I had been meaning to check out. But as I leaded East, Laing my usual route into the Quarter, via Royal and Frenchman Street, I hit Washington Park – which is just at the top of Frenchman Street – and was greeted by some kind of festival and hundreds of people in the green open space.
I pulled in, parked up, and went for a wander through the tents and the crowd to figure out what was going on – it was a festival called the Pig and Punch, and everyone was eating amazing looking pork dishes, and drinking.
There were DJ’s, brass bands, and a big merchandise tent.
I figured maybe it was a private event from the Tales of the Cocktail industry conference that’s going on right now, as many seemed to be wearing the wristbands… thankfully, organisers, on the loud speakers soon cleared up for me what the deal was.
The Pig and Punch is an annual fundraising event – raising money for underprivileged kids in the city. The concept is simple (and very cool) – you buy some merchandise from the tent – t shirts, hats, bandanas, books, pins – they have a ton of cool stuff – the proceeds from the merchandise goes to the kids (over $300k had been raised to date) and then, well you’re free to go and enjoy all the food, punch and music you want.
I bought a bandana – whic I tied around my head like Amy Winehouse – and a book . The book is beautiful – it’s a cocktail menu presented like a Dr Seuss book – beautiful illustrations and poetry, by local artists. I think a new one is released each year which makes each one limited, and it was something I’d have bought regardless as I love quirky books like this.
And then, I just spent the afternoon at this amazingly cool party. Sitting under the shady trees, watching people, enjoying great music and the cold punch. The punch wasn’t just your usual bowl of leftover spirits and juice – no, there were about 12 kinds, all featuring premium brands and spirits. All served from huge bins.
There were about 5 food stalls- all run by different local food joints – pork skewers, tacos, sliders, gelato. Again, just line up, and take a plate. It was all amazing.
The food and drink were donated by the industry / the restaurants – which I guess is a nice way to give back to the community, especially given how much the alcohol industry must make from this party city where the main product is alcohol.
And it was just a really wonderful afternoon. The brass band was perfect, and got everyone dancing. And yeah, technically the food and drink were free, but it was all so good natured and chilled out. The police were there, keeping an eye on things, but also just chilling out and enjoying the food. No one was visibly shit faced. And the park has a lot of homeless and neighbourhood eccentrics, who also joined the party, but it was great as they got to enjoy the food, and were happy dancing and mixing with everyone.
It was an example of a really great, well organised, community event, and proved that alcohol doesn’t always mean violence and carnage – if presented in the right way, for the right cause, even one is respectful and just enjoyed the beautiful summer afternoon.
Well that took me until about 4pm, feeling the effects of the punch, I decided to take myself off, knowing that whatever else the day brought me, I’d already had the highlight and a victory in their bag.
I meandered onto the quarter, as I’d planned. Checked out the vintage store (beautiful, but nothing for me on this visit). Paused for a beer and a rest in a dive bar I came across. Then headed back towards Frenchman.
Although not before coming face to face with my nightmare – three street entertainers wielding three pythons – on Bourbon Street. Bourbon Street, as I’ve said, is a nightmare, and I made the mistake of turning up there at around 6pm as it was really coming alive. It was packed and it’s weird – as 6pm isn’t even late – but it had all kicked off, along with the entertainment. And there they were, the pythons. I’m a pretty rational person, but if I have one phobia in life, it’s pythons. I don’t like any snake, but for some reason, pythons are the ones that get me – and I can’t even look at one in a picture, let alone when three of them are being walked towards you! I never did an about turn so fast in my life – I was pedalling out of there as fast as I could – convinced the men were coming after me, having sensed my fear.
Well thankfully I escaped!!
It gets to about 7pm and then there’s always that question – do you stay out, or come home to go back out later. I decided to try and stay out, and found a cute little micro brewery just off Frenchman where I enjoyed a craft beer in their courtyard. But after that my energy was at zero, my phone out of charge, and decided to stay out would just be a waste of time and money. All I wanted to do was get an early night and restore.
And that’s cool too. It’s nice to take the pressure off. I’ve still two days left here, and I want to get the most out of them. So that’s what I did – I got home, fed the cats, and watched some you tube before falling asleep at around 10pm – just like if I was at home. And it was perfect!
And this morning I’m feeling 100 x better as a result, and ready to smash the day!