We were able to stop in and spend a few days in New Orleans. Wow. What a town that is!
We stayed at an RV park inside the French Quarter called "The French Quarter RV Resort". Although it was more expensive than we would usually pay, 1.) it was within walking distance from the center of it all, 2.) it was a bit like a fortress with high walls and 24 hour security, and 3.) they had loads of amenities which worked perfect for a 2 night stay. Getting to sink into a steamy hot tub was SO nice. One of the few things I miss about our house is my soaker tub. I took some photo's around the park if you're curious, click here to see the first photo and then hit "Newer" just above and to the right of the photo to see the rest of the park.
When we rolled into New Orleans it was getting dark but as we drove by the back wall of the RV park we saw a high brick wall with crumbling tomb roofs peaking out over the top. I have never seen a New Orleans style cemetery with tombs, it was even weirder to see such a little peak of decay.
In New Orleans the water table is said to be to high to bury people underground, so they are laid to rest in above ground tombs.
I really wanted to go see the cemetery the next day. When I asked the receptionist at the RV park about it she and another guy both said we should not go into that cemetery AT ALL. Not even in the day. I have to admit I was a bit annoyed at that answer. We were really in awe with the sneak peak we had seen, how could we not see the rest?? She explained that the RV park was right on the edge of the French quarter, the other half of the park faced "Tremes", one of the worst area's of New Orleans (according to her). She said the projects lined the side of that cemetery and was full of crime. She repeated back to me like 3 times, "do not go over there".
That wasn't what I was wanting to hear.
I went back to the RV and googled and googled and found the cemetery is called St Louis Cemetery No. 2. and dates back to 1823. From what little we saw, it looked that old. One website said of all the cemetery's in New Orleans this one was in the worst shape, not because of hurricane Katrina but because of it's location. I also saw a few of the websites warned not to go into this particular cemetery claiming the location was in such a high crime area. I just couldn't imagine people just standing by in the middle of the day waiting to pounce on those wanting to visit a cemetery. Call me naive, call me stupid, call me sheltered, but I just kept thinking people must be making a mountain out of a mole hill by saying one shouldn't visit a cemetery in the middle of the afternoon. In the middle of broad daylight. In the middle of a city. After all I didn't run across any reports of people being robbed in the cemetery...
So the next day we drove by and saw people in the cemetery taking pictures and touring as we had wanted. One lady looked like she was from Wisconsin wearing a cute patterned sweater. So we decided it looked like a pretty safe crowd to join.
I'm so glad we were able to see it.
What a strange and amazing walk that was. We've really never seen such a place. We are not at all into cemetery's, the dead, or even horror shows - this just seemed different. Historic. I don't think I've ever been in such an old place - aside from the earth itself.
Beauty within disrepair.
Apparently each tomb doesn't belong to one person, but whole families. When a person dies they are laid to rest in the family tomb. After two years there is said to be nothing but bones left. One website said it can get up to 800 degrees in those things (wondering if that could really be true?) to explain the quick decomposition.. So anytime after that 2 years (some cemetery's only require a 1 year wait) the family can open up the tomb once the next family member passes away. I guess they just move the previous persons bones to the back or off to the side and put in the next person in. Wait the period of time deemed by the cemetery and you can add another deceased family member. And so on for centuries.
It was just mind blowing.
Some of the tombs were in good shape, but many were crumbling down. A few very old were even crumbled open and 2 even showed the bones. Not laid out, but a big heap. Left like that for years. One tomb we saw had so many buried in it the bones were a couple feet deep inside. I just couldn't believe such a place existed in the U.S. Our walk through the cemetery can be found here, but be warned 2 of the photos show the bones.
It was amazing, yet chilling, and sobering.
And I haven't even told you of all the strange voodoo practices that involve certain tombs. Such a different place New Orleans is....
Anyway, enough of graves and cemetery's. We were able to tour the French Quarter...
The Garden District....
Tremes, which has so much beauty in the old buildings, many of which were abandoned.
Just about every part of New Orleans was like visiting a completely different world from Alaska. I'd love to go back and explore the city more someday.