My second night in New Orleans was very different and also very fun. Kris knew an old college friend here, so he gave me her number. She suggested a local’s bar outside the quarter that served tapas, so we hit that spot and chilled out.
I learned that a life long resident considers Nola a third world country right inside the US.
I learned that the “waitresses” who sell shots at the club and try to rip patrons off aren’t even employed by the clubs: they buy a tray and then do whatever they want with it. She said they’re even worse than strippers because they’re unregulated. They call them “shot-stitutes”.
She sometimes thinks about moving elsewhere, but finds most places aren’t interesting enough after New Orleans.
Her long-time boyfriend is in the reserves and has been in Iraq since December; his second tour. He won’t be back until the end of the year.
We talked for hours, had a couple drinks and some yummy tapas, which included whole shrimp wrapped in serrano ham and deep fried. Embarassingly I couldn’t bring myself to suck the heads, but I did eat the rest of it with the shells. They were absolutely delicious.
I even got to do some dancing — the bar had a solid local DJ (DJ Soul Sista), and a laid back but full dance floor. Overall a very cool night.
Beignets and iced latte made for a very cool morning.
The drive to Austin the next day was a little slower going due to traffic and spots of rain. Driving over the Louisiana bayous was stunning: miles and miles of interstate up on concrete stilts, cutting through a forest that grows out of glassy still lake water.
Austin on a Sunday night is fairly quiet. I was tired from the day’s drive and the lack of sleep I got in New Orleans. So I just found a motel, crashed, and slept for 11 hours.
Today I rolled around aimlessly and found a nice cafe to hang at.
First impression: Austin seems like a fairly ideal USian city. It represents the best of what it means to be USian: it’s diverse, has plenty of quirky character, but still feels peaceful, clean, and safe. There’s a nice mix of familiar chains and unique local spots. People seem friendly and laid back. It’s not too crowded. It reminds me of something of a mix of Berkeley and Louisville.
I don’t know if I’ll be able to find any great music on a Monday night in “the music capital of the US”, but I’ll give it a shot.