It would be easy to sum it up as “thank you for the music”…but
I would have liked to experience the Thanksgiving “thang” rather than just the prelude..and wonder about the various phrases/cards/mementoes I saw on my travels, which maybe (of course) represent the type of places I homed in on, rather than the true American Thanksgiving ideal…
- “What a friend we have in cheeses”
- “Gobble til you wobble”
- “Be thankful for all the troubles you don’t have”
- “We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives”
It struck me that when I was at my lowest ebb, I took myself back to my roots and hoped to find “it” at The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem but didn’t. I was disappointed (although not surprised) to feel absolutely nothing. It may be representative of my shallow nature, but I do feel I found “it” in the huge, crazy, eclectic, diaspora, wildlife rich, redneck, whiteneck, gun-toting, cowboy, guitar-toting, goo-goo, shopping mall, food court madness, with one helluva great soundtrack, that is the southern US.
I have much to be thankful for…I have seen the splendour of the knees of the trees, nesting bald eagles, drag queens and Elvis. I have all the things that really matter in life (bar my health, I guess)…and “I walk the line…”..and go off for more medical treatment…
I am back home after my Deep South adventure to find that I have sprouted wings. Not only have I acquired these wings (from the Bible Belt, I assume) but they are “mighty” itchy. They have been occupying themselves injecting some zest for living, music, travelling (along with margaritas, mint juleps, rum punch…) As a result, I am planning to get out there and do it all (and more), on steroids, whilst I am insured…so watch out North America and the Caribbean
Meantime whilst I wait to depart again, I lurch between medical departments, buildings, specialties as I catch up on everything I had calmly”shelved”. Apparently appointments were missed whilst I was away. I had not cancelled or re-arranged them as I had never received any notification. So 2 clinics down already, hospital today, more tests Monday followed by herceptin treatment and then back to oncology again on Tuesday…(dependent upon whether the doctors strike goes ahead). I think my personal inconvenience is rightly shadowed by the way the government is handling and bullying the doctors who give themselves (literally body, soul and personal lives) to our medical care.
No jet lag to date…I put the fact that I washed my clothes with dishwasher tablets and put sensitive washing tablets in the dishwasher as a case of poor eyesight rather than anything else. I have been re-acquainting myself with cups and mugs made of china rather than paper or polystyrene. However, I look at the Christmas decorations in the shops with dismay…I wonder if I will ever see the like of American “holiday” merchandise again.
New Orleans is a whole other world. Only arrived today and am already planning a return trip for Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday as the locals say when they want you to put some south in your mouth.
Arriving to the city by the bayou? bayous? bayoux? was amazing…I saw many ‘gators sunbathing with pelicans flying above. Can now see where the word “awesome” comes from.
Music again fills the streets…cajun & creole food dominates and boy…when I thought I had seen it all with the Elvis Christmas tree decorations, I ain’t seen nothing…here we have wine bottles, gun toting reindeer and a variety of very camp men.
My 2nd language is progressing well and I have added etouffe, po-boy sandwiches…to my repertoire today along with “Joanie on a pony” (the statue of Joan of Arc given to NOLA) . Also discovered that the local cuisine is deep fried turkey for Thanksgiving.
There is still much evidence of Katrina and the slavery legacy…will visit a cotton plantation with antebellum house during our stay.
BUT this city has resilience, great people, a party atmosphere and some crazy, regular ? activities….Rock and Bowl (dancing whilst bowling) and a service called The Occasional Wife (but I haven’t investigated that one…yet)
What a country of contradictions and wonder, the Deep South is turning out to be. Divas, dance and drag (not on Sundays) in Nashville and BB King, Lorraine Motel, marching ducks (really!) Sun Studios and the only University to offer a doctorate in the blues, in Memphis. ..All this and Graceland too. Have been eating bison burgers, catfish and tonight it could be Mud Bugs with a side of hushpuppies.
Just loving it all. Fascinating insights into American politics, religion, food, manners, tipping, music, music, music, dancing, laughing and just SO much more. And of course I am still practising how to say New Orleans – Norlins is what I think received pronunciation is….
For those who are out of the loop, this is about the marching ducks.marching ducks
Fulfilled a long standing “dream” today and spent the evening at The Grand Ole Oprey, the church of country music. It was fab on so many levels. The show goes out live on the radio, so is interspersed with very strange adverts eg Take your loved one premier river fishing (and similar), volunteers (?) did a mini dancing competition, which must have made really great radio! And of course there was the music…just loved it! On top of a visit to RCA Studio B and the Country Hall of Fame, this trip is turning into something of an odyssey.
Music just everywhere here, every bar, restaurant, back alley…So you can just dance your way around. They even have, what look like phone cable boxes, on the street, that play music. It is indeed a parallel universe!
Whilst absorbing all this music, I figured that when in Rome (or in this case the Bible Belt) that I might try and sample a gospel church service. I have been advised where to go but am getting a little antsy about it. But as southern belle alter ego would say….tomorrow’s another day
The Deep South cannot be compared in any true perspective to the UK. Whilst people, things and food look familiar (well..sometimes!), they really aren’t. The landscape is vast, the Tennessee River is vast, portions are vast and some…Apparently there is not only line dancing to be tried but clog dancing…or am I being too gullible? Well it appears not…There is “clogging” to be done in the Appalacians…Music and dancing abound so may as well give it a go
Will attempt to post visual 1st impressions for ya’ll ya’ll
So I have delayed/postponed/cancelled all medical appointments because I have (finally) managed to obtain travel insurance that isn’t more expensive than my travels. I cannot risk any new developments, diagnoses, tests, investigations whilst I get on with doing the “living” bit whilst I still can.
Gone with the Wind comes a distant second to Sound of Music in the favourite film stakes…so I am saving the Salzburg shindig for when I am restricted to European travel and, instead, am going on a trip I have been hankering after forever…The magnet for my holiday is Nashville – The Grand Ole Oprey, Baton Rouge & Lafayette (and who wouldn’t want to go to places with names like that?) but I am more than happy to take in all the other delights of the Bible Belt, the Mississipi Delta, Memphis, Graceland, New Orleans…and in my head, I am already shopping, cutting a disc at Stax Records, hitting the Honky Tonk bars…and trying to find an alcoholic drink on Sundays..
I have a visa, a ticket AND a translation guide so I can be understood and, (by happy chance) get another language under my belt…eg hello translates as “Hey yall” and am just going for it ’til “I’m too pooped to pop” and am, (hopefully) “happier than a tornado in a trailer park”
Chucking health onto the back burner, going for broke and “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn”