6 Lessons from Down South

Last week I went down south to New Orleans: a lively city ideal for jazz lovers. Around every corner’s another pleasant, artsy surprise. I thoroughly enjoyed myself as a tourist and as an eating machine (#regrets #noregrets). The trip itself is a learning experience.

chirp chirp, bub

1. Don’t Travel in a Pack. I don’t recommend traveling in a group that wouldn’t fit in one car. It gets crammed, people get confused on logistics and splitting costs is hella confusing. I’m all for staying together as a group, but as like-minded as people can be, we still have our differences. Some people want to go to all the museums while others just wanna go on a week long food crawl. I mean it’s all good that we have our own tastes– it would just be a lot easier if the group had to cater to the taste of three, four or five instead of twelve.

photo 1
my worst enemy on the whole trip.

eatin like hyenas

2. Po Boy is a Sandwich. Turns out it’s short for “poor boy” sandwiches, though the origin of the name’s murky. Many credit Bennie and Clovis Martin, the brothers that fed unhappy transit strikers for free during the 1920’s. Now the sandwich has evolved from ballin’ on a budget to$8-9 dollar wallet bombs, usually filled with seafood or roast beef. The New Orleans bread is known for its crusty outer layer and a soft center. I can’t say I’m a fan, but the po boys I had weren’t served hot– I imagine it tastes a lot better fresh out the oven.

My friends referred to po boys as a “fancier” version of a sandwich. Essentially, it is bigger and fills you up more than a PB&J. Plus it sometimes has oysters as the filling.

The interior of a smartphone cabin in the New Orleans Art Museum
The interior of a smartphone cabin in the New Orleans Art Museum

3. True Colors Revealed. You don’t really know someone til you have to live or go on vacation with them. One of my friends road raged so hard, we had to swerve into a parking lot and switch drivers. And we’re talking about a really nice guy, who kinda looks like a mafia member but has a build-a-bear soft heart. Even after we waited an hour and a half in line for a jazz show and finally got seats inside, he sacrificed his seat for some seniors. Talk about dedication (sorry Gramps, my legs are tired too).

You can only imagine how frightened I was, sitting next to him in the passenger seat with the GPS, hearing him raise his voice and clutching the driver’s wheel like no tomorrow. A lot of people’s habits came out and were a bit hard to not notice after the fact… I’m hungry… no, thirsty, could I get a drink? No, diet. This place’s lame. When are we eating?

We got to hear original compositions from the saxophone player's album, "Elephant Shoes"
We got to hear original compositions from the saxophone player’s album, “Elephant Shoes”

4. Peel Off the Oriental Label. The more south we went, the more stares we got. If each look was worth a dollar, all of us would be  millionaires. My group’s composed of Asian Americans, your typical nice persons. Didn’t stop people from gawking at us like we were unicorns. (Fingers crossed that they thought we were pretty unicorns.)

Two of my friends went on a walk during one of our nights out at the bars, and a musician went up to them going ching chong ching. Really man? We’re all just tryna have a good time. I’m not going up to your door saying ding dong ding, so don’t make such a butt outta yourself.

Some of the twisted looks I saw on people’s faces made me wanna sit them down, make them have a drink and get to know me. Heck, some of the people I was with could’ve given others more of a chance. Some things are only skin deep, you know?

But I did meet a lot of nice people. After we ate at a SUPER spicy chicken joint, we took a stop at a gas station and the cashier was a frequent customer. She told me to Instagram moments where your friend’s dying from the spice. “My family’s meeting up later this week, and my cousin can’t take spicy at all, and the place– you know crayfish? We’re going to this place that has Cajun spices in the crayfish gumbo and she’s not gonna know.”

“You’re not gonna tell her?”

“No, mmm, she won’t know ’til she eats it. Ha, poor girl.”

“I feel kinda bad for her… but it’s gonna be pretty hilarious.”

“You got that right,” she laughed again. “Poor girl.”

And my favorite greeting: “How’re you doin’?” with a smile.

IMG_4309

5. You’re Only Young Once. I should’ve vlogged, but I didn’t. There were many stupid things that should’ve been done that weren’t.

I took around 400 pictures though.

Idk who this guy is, but he's having the time of his life.
Idk who this guy is, but he’s having the time of his life.

6. Live in the Moment. As much as I love taking pics, I had remind myself at times not to miss out. No looking through the lens, adjusting the focus n’ contrast or trying to capture that perfect moment in time. Just take in the present and soak it all in like a hungry, hungry sponge. What’s life but a chain of scattered memories? Like a really messy scrapbook that a kid makes, full of cut up pictures that don’t really make sense. It’s kinda cute, definitely charming– you appreciate the effort, but it’s kinda not appealing at the same time.

But you know what, you’re gonna keep the crap out of that dedicated scrapbook cause it’s probably the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you. Create memories, timeless moments you can replay and relive, cause before you know it, time’s going to slip right out your hand.

IMG_4426
Carriages were all pulled by tired looking donkeys. Pin the tail on the fairy tale, anyone?

Even if things don’t go according to plan, the unexpected can sometimes be even better. When we travel, we should be open to differences in culture. The people, their behaviors and practices should all be respected regardless if we agree or disagree with them (unless there’s harm involved). There’s so much to take in when you go to a new place– why would you have any time to nit pick or discriminate?

After a long road trip, you really come to appreciate and understand the people around you. Traveling’s always fun, but also a little tiring! (❁´▽`❁)*✲゚*

P.S.: My bad for not posting anything last week… I’ll step up my game.

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