Full disclosure, the title of this particular column is the same as a spiritual based book and film of the same name. I realized that much after the germ of the idea for this piece had collected enough that there was no turning back. So, no real religious overtones here, but I do believe the message is a positive one. Onward!
Myself and my better half took off on our first real vacation of 2019 in early October. Fall excursions out of province and country are becoming something of a Collins family tradition. What’s the harm right? Weather is manageable, easier to get time off, and you’re almost guaranteed to leave the province for somewhere warmer and more inviting come October/November.
Head to the big easy
Our destination this year, outside from a four day stop in our always priority city of Montreal … New Orleans. NOLA, The Big Easy, land of the gators and gumbo and home of jazz.
Yes, we were venturing into Trump’s America *gasp*. No, I saw not one MAGA hat, no sweeping tide of ignorance. What I did see was culture. Torrents of the stuff. And it was good. Bottle it. Put it on a t-shirt.
I’ve been to a country or two in my time, many cities across Canada and Europe, and I can honestly write that New Orleans is the city and Louisiana the state that to me comes the closest to matching Newfoundland and Labrador in terms of uniqueness and cultural flavour.
From the signature sounds to the sinfully good local cuisine, unbelievable architecture and history, all blended in a melting pot of dialects and influences, New Orleans lived up to the hype and then some.
Hell, they even have Bourbon Street, a longer – albeit nastier – version of George Street. It’s tourist central and prime for people watching, if you can handle the drunken stumblin’ and blood curdling smell. When you can out drink and out party Newfoundlanders, you know you’re in rarefied air.
On paper NOLA and NL have little in common. We couldn’t be more different, in our pallets for food and tunes, in the way we speak or our sport of choice. But there’s a pulse to the place, a vibrancy and spark that just made me feel at home.
It’s the feeling I get when I walk along Duckworth Street, drive down the hilly highway towards my rural hometown, or touch down on home soil after three flights in 12 hours (avoid that exercise if at all possible). It’s that unmistakable authenticity of place.
What makes us different
Much is made lately, on socials and medias of all kinds, about what divides us. Gender, class, religion, race, politics. My trip to The Big Easy was as good on the mind for perspective and clarity as it was on the soul.
Our differences can bind us as much or more as our similarities. It’s a wonderful realization in a time where lines of division have never been stronger.
No, this isn’t Chicken Soup for the Travellers Soul, but a comment on what makes us different and what binds us. Now pass the hot sauce and fried gator.
Dillon Collins, The Herald’s Staff Writer, can be reached by emailing [email protected]