Etikettarkiv: new orleans

Time traveling. And piss (again)

If New Orleans was like a journey back in time, the 15 hour long bus ride to Palm Harbor, Florida was a time travel back to the present. A very stereotypical American present.

On my last day in Louisiana I went on a kayaking tour in Manchac Swamp. 99 years ago there were people living in that swamp, but then a big hurricane came and killed them all, except for maybe four people – and they never moved back. You can still see poles from their homes sticking up from the water. The ghost of voodoo princess Julie White is supposedly haunting the Manchac Swamp. Legend has it that White used to sit on her front porch and predict the destruction of close towns and sing, “One day I’m gonna die, and I’m gonna take all of you with me”. On the day of her funeral in 1915, the hurricane struck the area and wiped out three towns.

I’m telling you. It’s gonna happen again and again and again. These levees won’t save you from voodoo hurricanes, I am sorry New Orleans.

The kayaking was beautiful and I wasn’t so scared actually, not even of the alligators. We only saw one, a baby, but apparently there are heaps of them there. We saw the nest of two bald eagles and a couple of herons/egrets that apparently are two different birds in English, but the same in Swedish – hägern. After 2 hours of kayaking I needed to pee so much I wasn’t even enjoying myself anymore. I tried to ask if there was any way I could go to shore and pee, but either it was dangerous because of alligators or they didn’t understand my pain. And the pain was real. The tour went on for 45 more minutes. I have never had to pee so much in my life. Every paddle stroke made my bladder feel like it was going to explode.I thought about peeing in small juice bottle, but realized it would be too small and that it wasn’t socially acceptable in the group i was in. Then i thought of just peeing in my pants, but realized that would be rude towards the guy who was gonna drive me back in his new and clean car, so i paddled, and paddled, faster than I ever have before, against the wind, thinking i might die from a broken bladder. As soon as we got to shore I ran into the bushes, after I realized that that wasn’t really socially acceptable either. But that was really the best I could do.

But even if I somewhat peed all over my swamp experience, I had a great time.

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Killa, the coast guard/tuna fisher I wrote about in my last blog post and Venus EnVie, roommate of Hennessy Williams and therefor also my host in Nola.

The afternoon I spent packing and actually eating alligator. Just an alligator sausage and it tasted like any sausage. I felt a little bad for eating it, but since I am a meat eater and someone told me it was good i gave it a try.

The very last hours in Nola I spent with Abeata Applebum, who is a jammer for Big Easy Rollergirls and also skates for the Moxi Skate Team in a skate park. I was definitely a little better than the last time i tried. Still far from dropping in, but I atleast attempted a stall, even though it just meant I was clinging on to the bars at the top of the ramp. It was so much fun and inspired me so much I went straight to Facebook to take the initiative to a Swedish chapter of the Chicks in Bowls movement.

Third time ever in a skate park. Not a pro yet, but at least I am having fun. Should have cut out all the crappy parts of this, but I couldn’t be bothered.

After skating I went back to the house, grabbed my stuff and went to the bus station. As I have written before I had been warned about all the shady people on the Greyhounds and up until now I thought it was very exaggerated. But a night bus through the deep south changed my view on that. I have never seen so many criminal looking people at the same time as I did on the Mobile bus station at 2 in the morning. I was happy I didn’t shower after skating and that i was wearing dirty clothes, because all I wanted to do was to blend in, to look like the methhead girl sitting next to me. Nothing bad happened, and no-one was threatening me, but let’s just say there were more people with tear drop tattoos than not there. I was sure the amount of tear drops were the same as the number of people you have killed, but Lars informed me it could also mean the number of gang members one has lost to make me feel better. I just googled it and it can apparently also mean the number of times you have been raped in jail.

After a long and sleepless night I finally made it to Tampa, where my relative Heather picked me up at the bus station and drove me back to her home. Apparently our grandmothers were cousins, but to make it easy we say that we are cousins. She has been to Sweden and visited when she was 14, but I was just born then so i don’t remember much of that encounter. We went back to their home in Palm Harbor, in a neighbourhood that feels like Desperate Housewives with a jungle twist. I started unpacking in a room with 500 stuffed toys and a huge Mickey Mouse rug when I sensed a very unpleasant smell – cat piss. I had brought the smell of piss with me from New Orleans. One of the cats, I don’t know which one, had peed in my bag as a good bye present. My ”Welcome to Nashville”-poster that Phantom Power is pee stained, the lining of my bag smells horrible, and so does my new fancy high heels. The rest of the smelly clothes are at least washable. At first I thought it was my derby clothes that smelled so badly, but I’m happy it wasn’t because I would feel very bad about myself if that was the smell of my body odor.

So without sleep or food for 15 hours and with the smell of cat piss in my bag we went straight to Lincolns sixth birthday party. And this is where time traveling really happened. Not only had I left 1800-something Nola, I had arrived in neon light, bouncy castle- jungle desperate housewives land. Not because I think any of the adults at the party were anything like the characters in the series, it’s about architecture and city planning. I’m not sure what age that is though. Maybe it’s a very 2014 setting?

It was really fun and interesting to attend a very American B’day party. It was very different from the ones I used to have when i was a kid. It’s often Easter on my birthday, so we mainly dressed up as Easter witches and begged for candy.

Heather’s three year old daughter Elizabeth took an instant liking to me. She also calls me her cousin. Elizabeth is so cool – she roller skates and always wear a Super Girl costume. She is also very tough. One day she’ll become a great roller derby player. We played in the bouncy castles and the slides together until the lack of sleep and hunger caught up on me and I wandered around Jungle Bounce like a ghost.

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Heather took proper photos of my first ever American bouncy party. Hopefully I can post them later. If you want to see a video from it there is one on my Instagram.

Tomorrow I’m gonna explore the surroundings, but i felt the water today and with Swedish standards it’s warm. The gulf of Mexico (proudly sponsored by BP oil) is only a mile away. And I will swim in it, even though i apparently brought the cold weather with me from Nola.

/Vulvo in Sunshine State

Below are two of these photos that Heather took:

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Elizabeth and I one one of the slides at Jungle Bounce.

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The Palmer Family and I.

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N’awlins – like being in three centuries at the same time

New Orleans smells like piss, shit and powder sugar. I came here on Monday afternoon, shortly after I wrote that last blog post about Memphis and travelling through Mississippi by train.

It’s weird with American state borders. Hardly any of them are natural. Once upon a time someone drew on a map with a ruler and decided what state was which. So shortly I after I had written what I wrote about Mississippi we crossed the magical ruler border to Louisiana and suddenly I was in another world.

The train went across a massive swamp, there were turtles sitting on logs, I saw a bald headed eagle in a tree top and footprints by alligators by the muddy shore. There were houses on high poles in Lake Pontchartrain and the sun was shining ever so brightly. A man who just had come out of prison sat next to me on observation deck and started to talk to me. He wanted to share his hamburger with me. I was very hungry since I hadn’t eaten all day, but I told him I was full. He got a little offended, but apart from that we got along pretty well.

The day before I left Memphis I didn’t know where to stay once I got to New Orleans, but a Facebook post changed that. Hennessy Williams, skater for Big Easy Rollergirls and coach for New Orleans Brass Roller Derby (the men’s league in Town) knew someone who knew someone I stayed with earlier on this trip and even though she was gonna be out of town for half of my stay here she let me stay at her house. How amazing is that? I love the roller derby community!

She lives right in the French Quarter which is just everything you imagined New Orleans to be: colorful wooden houses with french balconies, really good musicians at every street corner, jazz at every bar, and the smell of piss, shit and powder sugar of course. The piss and shit probably come from all those horse carriages which guides tourists through the French Quarter, but probably also from all the young boho/troll/punk/traveler/drifters who seem to take pride in being as dirty as possible. They are quite cute though, with their dogs and their guitars. They kind of remind me of the street punkrockers in Berlin. But these have a ”Rasmus pa luffen”-touch.

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I couldn’t be bothered uploading a video of street musicians even though I have plenty. So this crappy picture will have to do.

The powder sugar smell doesn’t come from horses or drifters, but from those beignet cakes covered in it that are so popular here. They are pretty good, but mainly like a doughnut, you know: deep friend and covered in sugar.

My first impression of Nola, as they call it, was good – don’t mistake the smells for being something bad. I loved it so much I started to cry when I had my first meal here. It might have been from me not eating all day, or from the fact that I accidentally walked in to a fancy restaurant and it felt very depressing eating there by myself. Yes, I do cry a lot, so I know it doesn’t necessarily mean anything at all.

The days here have passed very quickly. The first two were warm like Swedish summer days and I just strolled around and looked at everything pretty. And almost everything is pretty here so that takes quite a while. I even bought my first Christmas presents for the season, that is probably a new record. I have hardly taken any photos. Sometimes when everything is pretty I find it hard to decide what is worthy of documenting and I end up documenting nothing.

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Some not so good attempts of trying to picture all the pretty.

I took the streetcar to a fancy neighbourhood with huge houses and oaks with Spanish moss and pearl necklaces from endless of mardi gras parades dangling of them. I took another streetcar to some cemeteries. Here everyone is buried in a mausoleum because you can’t bury people underground because of the swampiness. The ground on all of these cemeteries is covered in seashells. I love cemeteries, especially dramatic ones like these. I walked around there crying (surprised?) looking at all these mausoleums filled with the remains of families that have lived in this city for hundreds of years.  When I die I want my grave to be majestic. When my brother died that didn’t seem like the right thing for him, so we spread his ashes in a waterfall. But if I die before you – please remember what I am writing now. I want a mausoleum with statues of animals on my grave, I want flowers – both real and fake, and I want it to feel kind of spooky.

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Since we all have to leave this earth, why not leave something classy behind.

I have also played roller derby in Nola, ofcourse. This whole trip is about roller derby and I havent yet visited a place without skating. I went to two practices here, one was a scrimmage and probably the most fun so far during my time in USA. I can’t really say what made it so much fun. It was just a great atmosphere and I jammed and scored. It’s always fun to score and since I don’t do it very often it’s a big adrenalin rush of feeling that you for once in your life is doing something good. The second practice was mainly about weaving and doing sharp cuts. Technique drills are always good and you really cant practice them enough. But a 45 minutes of squatting and lifting tractor wheels of skates (I am not joking. We lifted tractor wheels, and I tried to act cool and decided to take on the wheel that was twice the size of the other wheels) and 1 hrs and 15 minutes of technique killed my legs. I haven’t been able to walk properly all day. And I know it’s gonna be even worse tomorrow. Luckily the only physical activity I’m doing tomorrow is kayaking, so it will be all upper body. We’re going to a swamp and I’m so excited about seeing alligators and turtles.

I have prepared myself for the wildlife awesomeness by going to both the zoo and the aquarium. One of the BERG- roller girls work at the zoo and could give me and one other person tickets to both places. Which was great because the summer heat that I enjoyed so much during my first two days here quickly turned to Gothenburg weather with five degrees Celsius, wind and rain. Apparently that’s what the weather is like here: summer one day, horrible the next. Not really trustworthy.

The other person I brought to zoo and aquarium was Killa, a male roller derby player that Hennessy Williams hooked me up with since he is kind of new in town and had two days off work. Apart from going to the zoo and the aquarium we have visited voodooo priestess’ Marie Laveau’s grave, had Cajun food, looked at remains of Katrina and done all sorts of touristy things. Apparently I have made him do more exploration of New Orleans in a couple of days than he has done in two months. So even though I’ve been feeling like a lazy tourist I’m apparently still active enough to impress Americans.

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Are comments really necessary?

The Katrina remains were interesting. It has almost been 10 years since the hurricane and in the neighbourhoods that was hit hardest there are still houses lying on the ground in big piles of planks. Other houses are abandoned and have big holes in them. Every now and then you see an old staircase made of bricks that once led to a house. At the same time as these remains reminds us about the past there is a hopeful feeling in these neighbourhoods: New built houses, community gardens and such. But I felt the threat of future disasters. So much of New Orleans is below sea level. There are levees to protect the city from flooding, but when you are standing on the levee you can actually see how much higher the water on lake Pontchartrain is than the surrounding land.

I mentioned to Killa that I was getting sick of eating out every day, almost every meal. He took those words to heart and brought me yellow fin tuna he had caught by himself and cooked a really nice meal for me. I’m sorry dad, but that might have been the best fish I have ever had. I still think you are the best cook though. It’s just something about really fresh tuna… I think we ate about half a kilo fish each because it was so good and the piece was so big. Even the food they kill for themselves here is big. I am also becoming bigger. My jeans are way tighter than they were when I came here five weeks ago. Just like i feared. I don’t know why I am becomming so obsessed with my body, but I am. And at the same time I can’t really bother about being healthy while I’m on this trip which I planned for me to enjoy to the fullest. It’s a weird duality and I don’t know what I really want. Or who I am – in any aspect of life. One of the reasons I made this trip was to figure out things like that. I don’t think I have figured out anything new really, apart from that I’m getting closer to do god hockeystops.

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Big tuna cooked by an american coast guard.

This blog post turned out really weird and unfocused. I don’t really know what happened, or maybe I do. I went to a party half way through and came back after the party and continued writing. Tomorrow night I’m leaving for Florida. Hoping to be able to write something with more substance on the 14 hour long bus ride there…

Lots of love,

Your Vulvo