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.
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.
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:
Elizabeth and I one one of the slides at Jungle Bounce.
The Palmer Family and I.