28 Feb

Arriving in New Orleans

‘Y’all mind if I vape up here?’ the woman at the front of the bus hollered back at us.

The three of us left on the airport shuttle glanced at each other and mumbled something. I for one was simply too tired to care what she did. Tired and cold. It was raining.  A lot. I had been sitting beside that same woman on the flight into Louis Armstrong airport. She had warned me about the weather, explaining that that day’s ‘Fat Monday’ events had started early in an attempt to avoid the worst of it. She was right.

‘We’re arriving into some weather here, folks.’ The pilot as we came into land. I looked out at the slick runway, planes and airport buildings reflected in its shiny surface.

The woman at the front of the bus vaped, her legs crossed and resting on the seat in front. She continued her phone conversation, interrupting the driver every few minutes: ‘where we at?’, keeping her phone buddy up to date with precise updates of our slow progress through the aftermath of the day’s parades. She provided a running commentary of our trip from the airport to the guesthouse, with the promise she would be there soon to enjoy some hurricane cocktails.

The two men from Boston, who arrived preloaded with beer and beads around their necks, ready to party had also been keen to track progress to their hotel. While ‘cheering on the blue dot’ on their Google map they discussed their plans with the now vaping lady. ‘Oh my gawd. We’re having shots as soon as we get to wherever we getting to,’ said one of them.

‘They should serve alcohol cocktails through a bus straw from the sky,’ said his buddy.

‘I hope they’re having fun,’ I said, as I layered up in my pajamas and hoodie. Even the guesthouse was cold. I wondered what they were up to, feeling a little defeated. There was a time I would have arrived into a new city and headed straight out for cocktails. We wondered if we were the only ones in New Orleans not out celebrating. ‘Manana,’ I said as I curled up, secretly enjoying the new found wisdom that my mother assured me would come with age. And which lasted until exactly 3 o’clock the next day, Fat Tuesday, when we celebrated Mardi Gras in New Orleans with far too many hurricane cocktails.