Tuesday, March 30, 2010

First day in New Orleans

After a tiring day of travelling, our first day in the New Orleans area ended up a difficult one. With Sweet One as our alarm clock, we woke up early. I naively thought that Sweet One may have some good naps in her stroller througout the day and therefore leave us with the freedom to wander around, check out the market and enjoy our time. I was somewhat wrong. We were out and about so early that we had our choice of tables at Cafe du Monde! Luckily I enjoyed that because it was the only meal that was any good our first day.

Sweet One has never been a good "on the go" napper and this trip reminded me of that. She ended up quite cranky throughout our first day and by the end of it I was exhausted, in tears and ready to go home. So far, the trip wasn't anything as I had expected. With us getting up so early, and still on EST, our early morning site seeing was a bit of a waste of time because this city doesn't wake up early - probably due to the late night culture it has! We should have stayed in the hotel room and let Sweet One get one good nap during the day.

One of the main things we wanted to do on this trip was see a plantation. I had spent a lot of time figuring out which one we should see, even saw a DVD about it prior to leaving. I anticipated that it would be a highlight of our trip. The one we saw was a Creole plantation rather than the typical antebellum ones in the area. While it was not huge in grandeur, it was consider very typical. The depth of knowledge that the guide (also the owner) had about this place was amazing. There are 5000 pages written about life on this plantation by a young woman who lived there. The stories, and the guide's delivery, about how the business and family were run was amazing. In the end, our guide pointed out that running a plantation not only dehumanized the slaves that worked it, but also the president (the woman who ran it - this particular plantation was always run by women) because of what was required of her.
This is the only plantation in the area that does not ignore the history of slavery. These slave cabins held two families and believe it or not, people lived in the cabins until 1977! I can not fathom it.

While I felt like the stories were rich and the guide was very skilled in his storytelling, I did leave this plantation on a sour note. For the most part, Sweet One wanted to run around and so we let her. She is much quieter if she can move around than if I am forcing her to stay in my arms! Big Love and I followed behind the group so that her noise would not bother anyone - we took turns listening to the tour but it was warm outside and I wasn't sure if we'd make it! At one point the guide came up to me and told me not to get too far behind because he didn't want me to miss what he was saying. I thought that was very kind of him and felt a little better about being there. Once we got into the house Sweet One settled down and wasn't making much noise at all. She seemed very content in my arms and so I joined the group and enjoyed being able to hear more of the tour.

I find it hard to believe that a parent in such a situation would ever not be completely sensitive to how much noise their child is making. Countless times when I've been worried about her noise, I've been told that parents always think their children are noisier than they really are. After three or four short vocalizations I was asked to leave the room. I immediately felt sick to my stomach. The way our guide asked to "take the baby out of the room" was blunt and rude. I honestly did not think that her sounds merited this - we paid our tour fees just as anyone else did. At one point during the tour he spoke of how the President who ran the plantation said that she was God - maybe the current owner has adopted that attitude as well! "Do not make noise while God is talking!"

All in all we learned a good lesson our first day in New Orleans. We needed to change our expectations of how we would enjoy this vacation and that Southern Hospitality doesn't always extend to parents with small children when visiting a plantation.

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