Sunday, August 7, 2011

Day 2: The Blues Before the Cruise

July 10, 2011
Elizabeth Willis Barrett

New Orleans--what a great place to begin and end a cruise. It is extremely warm, which sounds rather critical for someone who lives in Gilbert, Arizona, where it can be 110 degrees all day and all night. But I will definitely take our warm to New Orleans’ warm with its sticky high humidity. I have been apologizing to guests who have had to weather our weather for August weddings or mis-planned visits for a long time now. But Arizona heat is looking pretty good to me at the moment.

Last night Brad and I and Sam and Leona--2 of the 22 that make up our very congenial group--made our slow and uncomfortable way down the New Orleans streets to get a bit of the flavor of this very unique city. At Mother’s, a small and popular restaurant, we had heaping plates of red beans and rice along with cabbage and roast beef. It looked sloppy and monochromatic and would never have placed in a gourmet contest, but it tasted delicious and New Orleans-ish. Then we walked down the very decadent Bourbon Street which I have done on two other occasions and don’t have on my bucket list to do again. We found a relatively peaceful place to sit and listen to Jazz and Blues and eat beignets, which made the sweltering walk quite worth it.

This morning Brad and I headed off to Jackson Square to go to Mass with Wally and Nancy. Unfortunately we didn’t get our directions straight and went out of our way which wasn’t too fun in this exquisite heat. Then in talking to a corner tour vendor we discovered that St. Thomas Cathedral personnel might not let Brad into Mass wearing shorts. So Brad raced back to the hotel to change and left me sitting alone on a bench a little nervous after the above mentioned vendor had told of the looting and beating up of innocents that happened during Hurricane Katrina. He didn’t make New Orleans sound like a kind and loving city.

During my apprehensive wait, Brad called my cell phone to say that I should walk on to Jackson Square and he would meet me there. I raced off keeping my phone in my hand to ward off any attackers who would want to rob me of my jean purse and all its contents including 50 $1 bills and this journal that would undoubtedly bring a great price if sold on the black market.

I made it into the St. Thomas Cathedral with the last of the Mass-welcoming bells. I felt a little like Maria in The Sound of Music running down from the mountain and into the cloister at breakneck speed as the bells chimed. Thankfully the Delecki’s caught me before I walked clear up to the alter. There are several warnings to turn off cell phones which of course wouldn’t have been issued when this gorgeous edifice was built between the years of 1789 and 1850. Interestingly, this is the oldest continuously operating cathedral in the United States.

Before I could turn off my extremely modern I Phone 4, it rang and I quickly hit the decline button. It was Brad wondering where to find us. I tried to quietly text him but then he called again and again I cut him off. Mass began with a song--a rather loud one that the congregation needed to stand up and sing. That gave me the opportunity to scrunch on my bench, call Brad’s cell and whisper to him where we were sitting. He had practically run all the way--not from the hotel because he never made it to the hotel. He had mis-calculated his way and gone about eight blocks out of it. So he was still in his shorts when he panted into the cathedral. Thankfully, he was not turned away as weren’t the other 100 men in shorts.

We enjoyed the Mass. Nancy guided us through it in the booklet that is printed every quarter, I believe. The music was beautifully led by a very skilled vocalist. She sang most of the songs with a different melody than was written for some reason, which made it a little harder to follow when it was our turn to sing. The priest gave a very nice sermon on the sower who tossed his seeds and some fell on thorny ground, etc. We felt very edified. It was a beautiful place to experience our first Mass.

We gathered all our belongings from the hotel, took a cab to the embarkment point and after signing away our full credit card capability, boarded the Norwegian Cruise Ship “Spirit.” It is enormous and beautiful. It was like walking into a six star hotel lobby. We were greeted by a Flamingo Dancer and attractive drinks which we declined. (We declined the drinks, I mean. I don’t think the Flamingo Dancer was offered.) We found our room, #6532, quite quickly. It is small but very efficient and has a big window looking out over the ocean. I think we’re going to like this!


NP said...

I'm glad you enjoyed (survived)your first mass! I was cracking up about the cell phone and shorts (probably wasn't so funny to you guys at the time). I'm glad you didn't get mugged on the way and I loved your comparison of you and Maria in the Sound of Music!!! You painted a perfect picture in my head.
Love & hugs,

Linda Richards said...

Have I mentioned that I love reading your blog?! You are a brilliant writer and should get started on your book that is sure to bring you fame and fortune. And the trip sounds amazing!