Today we had a visit to Angola Penitentiary planned. When we turned up we found out that we couldn’t join that mornings tour because it was for basically naughty children who had been sent there as a deterrent to future bad behaviour and the insurance wouldn’t allow us to go too. So we ended up having a personal chauffeur who was the Director of the museum lol. This had both good and bad points for us. The good thing was that we got personal service and the freedom to ask all the questions we wanted. We were driven around parts of the 18000 acre site, which holds over 6000 prisoners, the majority of whom will never be released. They also have approx 60 prisoners on death row there. Other than the death row prisoners, the others have the chance to earn some kinds of freedom within the prison, so all of them have to serve at least 10 years working in the fields and then, if they have behaved well they have t the chance to apply for different jobs. They have a huge variety of jobs available depending on your skills or desires so there are cowboys that take care of the cattle, people that take care of the horses or other animals, people who train the dogs to be drug dogs etc (and some of those get to live in separate houses near their dogs), carpenters, groundwork, basically any trade you can think of they have here. They have a rodeo every year where the public are allowed in and the prisoners take part in the rodeo and sell their crafts, foods etc. Some of the prisoners run cafes etc on site which the people who work there use. Some of the people that work there live on site with their families too, it’s basically a huge, pretty much self sustaining city in its own right, with its own postcode etc. Many people that work and live here have never lived anywhere else and come from generations of people who have worked there. Unfortunately we didn’t get to try the prison food since we weren’t on the proper tour and I think the visit was tailored to show it in as good a light as possible really. For a prison it really was a beautiful place and many of the prisoners had a lot of freedom but it is still a prison and some people, who weren’t able to adapt to their situation still live behind bars. It was a really interesting and eye opening visit for us though.
After the prison visit we made our way up to Natchez. Stopped in at Mammys Cupboard and tried a Reuben sandwich, without the sauerkraut, which we both loved, with blueberry lemonade followed by a banana caramel cream pie, also yummy! Natchez is full of old buildings and a lot of antebellum houses so we had a little look around those and went to a bar for another daquiru before an early night.
No photo’s today from inside the prison 🙁 but we have some from the museum, the hearse was made by prison inmates and is used even now at the funerals of inmates, the wooden coffins are also made by the inmates as previous to the present prison govenor, cardboard coffins where used and one unfortunate inmate fell through the bottom of a damp cardboard coffin.
Tomorrow, more exploring of Natchez. Until then, later gators. Ps root beer, daquiru and laffy taffy are now my new favourite things, oh and ruebens and crawfish…. there could be a long list here soon.
A bit of a lie in today, to try to catch up on a little sleep. Then more experimental breakfasts (banana and pecan pancakes with bacon for me and French toast with bacon for Glen, just as well we like bacon lol). Then we decided to take a tour road parts of New Orleans with a tour guide by bus, which was a huge feet saver. There is a LOT of walking in New Orleans because no buses can fit in the French Quarter. We toured the salubrious Garden District (anyone got a spare $3million for the cheapest house here?) and saw one of Anne Rice’ s (Interview with a Vampire author and she also wrote one of my favourite ever series, the The Mayfair Witches) houses (not one that she lived in, just one she remembered playing dolls in as a child so she bought it, for millions, cos she felt like it, as you do….). We saw one of the famous cemeteries here, they bury in above ground tombs because of the water table level here and previous issues with bodies bobbing back up again. They have two bodies in a tomb at a time and if they need more space they take out the previous bodies, stick the bones in a bag, tag them and stick them in the bottom of the tomb so the new coffin can go in lol. All change. We ate more beignets but this time at Morning Call instead of Cafe du Monde (we preferred them here although you still end up looking like you are a clumsy coke snorted). Finally we were taken around the 9th District which was the hardest hit by Katrina. When you see how much lower New Orleans (and particularly this district) is compared to the river and the lake (and at one point you see it very clearly) you absolutely understand the problem. So much has been and is still being rebuilt but New Orleans is coming back baby!
Later that night we went on a ghost walk around the French Quarter and learned about the brothers who rather recently kidnapped and drained blood from their victims to drink. Some of their victims died from blood loss until one woman escaped over the balcony and raised the alarm. We also heard about a colonel during the civil war who was taken away to war shortly after his marriage and whose wife died while he was away, apparently they both haunt the house to relive their happy days there dancing. That same house was the scene of a mafia extortion gone wrong, which ended up with the owner of the house killing 3 and wounding 1 mafiosa because they wanted money or they would kidnap his son. Gunshots are still heard.
All in all a busy day. My feet also died on the ghost walk so maybe I will be talked about there in future too *grins*. That’s all for now folks.
Today was our first full day in New Orleans and we were apprehensive because yesterday morning we saw on the news there was a tornado alert here and it had been raining a lot last night. We needn’t have worried, it turned into a beautifully hot day, demonstrated by the fact that I (Lucy) managed to get burned as usual. The day started with a Southern breakfast at The Ruby Slipper (special mention to Lorraine and Laura here for their previous slipper related comments). The breakfast consisted of bacon, fried green tomato (Glen didn’t like the tomato and I didn’t like the coating on it so I ate the tomato and Glen ate the coating lol), eggs over easy, grits (which amazingly it turns out I like (think porridge made with corn instead of oats) and a biscuit (it’s a scone :p). So much food we didn’t bother with lunch today although we did stop at Cafe du Monde for beignets (fried donuts with half a tonne of icing sugar, yum), I wouldn’t wanna be their cleaner though, that’s all I’m saying 😉
So we tried to visit the hat shop which was closed despite what it says on the internet, boo to them. No Heisenberg for Glen then 🙁 Then we went to the voodoo museum, small but enjoyable. The lady in there was lovely and let me rest my weary feet from walking round the French district. Marie Laveau, basically the Queen of NOLAs voodoo was a beautiful looking lady it would seem and contrary to many people’s opinions of voodoo she was considered a healer, she was a practising Catholic, she adopted orphans, fed the hungry, took in the homeless (incidentally there are a lot of homeless and beggars here, it’s so sad to see but there are only so many people you can give money to 🙁 ), she also visited condemned prisoners and cured people during yellow fever epidemics. We might be going to see her tomb tomorrow. Despite all that, all the bones and animals etc still makes voodoo seem a bit scary to me.
We wandered all around the French Quarter, trying pralines in one shop, these ones are made by dropping the mixture from a spoon so it’s kinda flat, they taste a bit like fudge or tablet with smoky pecans in. Yum but I couldn’t eat a lot. We also made it to Jackson square where all the artists and musicians hang out so we browsed all the beautiful art (Glen and I couldn’t agree on one piece lol, he liked the freaky looking doll pictures and skulls and I liked a green female Buddha looking painting or angelic ones) but they definitely have something for everyone there. We sat down (or in my case jiggled about a lot) to listen to a band play for a while and watch people dancing. NOLA is a great place to people watch, such characters and a few drunks lying on the floor lol (they weren’t dead, I checked). We sat overlooking the Mississippi river for a while too (huge and brown but rather beautiful in its own way if you ignore all the container boats lol). We rode the street car back closer to home and are now giving my poor dead feet a rest before we head off out for our anniversary meal (and no doubt another club or two) tonight. Definitely taking a taxi tonight, my feet ain’t up to all this walking malarkey. Later gators. Xxx