Sunday, June 24, 2012

Blast From The Past NOLA!

You may know I recently celebrated my 25th wedding anniversary, or you may not...I did.

Are We There Yet? is a blog about making progress and I look at milestones as progress. Thus, my blog entry on this day deals with time and how we share it with the world.

It is about my time spent in a land devastated by hurricane Katrina back in 2005. Katrina is a pretty famous event and there's way much more important information out there than I wish to cover in this post. I was more fascinated by an older historical phenomenon, the New Orleans cemeteries and their spirits.

Guided Walking Tours

Not long after we arrived, I rang the local cemetery tour agencies. Above ground tombs and voodoo magic were two areas I wanted to explore. I didn't want to leave New Orleans without having had a tour through the cemeteries and learning about the history of the people and how they buried loved ones, especially during epidemic onslaughts of yellow fever.

A two hour guided tour is well worth your time and dollar. It would have been boring taking a stroll through the beautiful cemeteries in New Orleans without the stories behind the variety of weather beaten tombstones marked with date ranges spanning the late 1700s to as early as the year 2011.

At first glance, these tombstones appear to be less efficient than what we're used to in the more modern graveyards of the south, but New Orleans requires a unique process in dealing with the deceased. There are more than a handful of bodies represented by each of these marked tombs, even some with more than one family.

Each body entering a family tomb is encased in a pine box and stored within the chambers for one year and a day, at which point the body is removed, compacted into a smaller container, and pushed to the back of the tomb, where it is then dropped into a lower chamber to further decompose with the rest of the decaying bodies similarly disposed in prior years.

We enjoyed two tours in the cemeteries of New Orleans. We visited the Lafayette Cemetery with the Ghost and Legends Tour and the St. Louis Cemetery with the Spirit Tours of New Orleans. I enjoyed both because they each had a spirit all their own, St. Louis Cemetery being the older of the two.

We even passed Nicolas Cage's tomb which he purchased in 2010. The picture to the left is the pyramid where he will rest one day. I can't imagine them storing his body here and then after a year, removing it and crushing it down to fit into a tiny box. I can hear the thud as his remains hit the bottom of the tomb. At least he'll be dry.

This is the architecture designed to work around areas where you may only be inches above sea level. When you think of it in that respect, this is unique to New Orleans and the reasoning for its design is fascinating.

The Garden District

Take this tour if you want to learn about the history of New Orleans and how the years between the early settlements and the wars and conflicts influenced the architecture and culture developed from the French Quarters (party time!) and the Garden District (affluent area).

This is a house which is said to be haunted. The spirits of those from the past still live here and you can actually feel their presence while walking around in the Garden District of New Orleans. It's as if jazz music, laughter and party goers linger, providing an undying spirit and ambiance.

The French Quarter District

Wall view in the voodoo temple of Marie Laveau
Take this tour if you are interested in the older historical tales which carry into the Voodoo culture and touch on a more traditional background of events behind the scenes in New Orleans.

This one ended with an actual walk-through of the Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo  personal temple, owner Priestess Miriam. I took plenty of pictures, but most turned out a little blurry because it was dark and camera flashes were not permitted. This is a painting which lay to the back, tucked away from the various shrines and displays.