Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Europe and America Unite in New Orleans

Pictures by Laura Vaillard and Lucia Tissone (Buenos Aires, Argentina)

New Orleans is the place where the New World and the Old World meet, in a city that has no resemblance with any other American city: French-style town houses, musicians playing jazz in the city corners, and people drinking coffee at petit coffee bars.

At this city, African slaves, indigenous people and European colonizers shared their cultures and mutually influenced each other, motivated by the French government, until New Orleans became a peculiar city with unique history. From its foundation in 1718 until Napoleon sold it to the US in 1803, New Orleans remained a French-Spanish colony.

Between 1920 and 1870, New Orleans continued to welcome immigrants from Germany, Ireland, Croatia, Italy, Greece, the Phillipes, and Haiti, who continued adding diversity to the city.

During carnival and Mardi Gras, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, each afternoon people in New Orleans demonstrate the city's diversity and strong Creole heritage through the colorful carnival celebrations.

While during the night, Bourbon Street is covered by colorful beads that people throw from the balconies in exchange for a little fun: a dance, a smile, or a daring flash, depending on how adventurous you are that day.

Behind this energetic and crazy New Orleans, there are parts of the city that still display leftover damages from Hurricane Katrina; a sight that saddens the city's festive and jovial ambiance.

Nevertheless, the sounds of jazz that emerge from the city's main arteries are able to give back the happiness to tourists.

In one of the extremes of the French Quarter, at Jackson Plaza, you can find Café du Monde, where you can try the famous vignettes, typical of New Orleans.

Despite its name, the café was originally Spanish, and not French. Regardless of the place's popularity, the cleanliness and tidiness of the place lag behind (especially the kitchen, which you have to walk through on the way to the restroom). Nevertheless, the place is still ideal to rest and recharge batteries to continue to sightsee this beautiful city.

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