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    Mardi Gras in New Orleans

    February 14 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 52 °F

    Suffice it to say that a good time was had by all and our first Mardi Gras in New Orleans. After over 20 visits to NOLA, I finally made it there for the Big Show.

    Deanne joined the Krewe of Freret when she heard that Trombone Shorty was the
    Master of ceremonies. Our great friends Mo and Anita joined us, and Anita joined the krewe with Deanne.

    Mo and I just watched the parades from the streets while Deanne and Anita did a lot of prep work. That included buying tons of beads and throws and loading in early and starting the pre-party early.

    This is the second to last weekend of the parades of Mardi Gras. It was actually a nice introduction because it didn't seem quite as crazy and the day parades were very family-oriented. In the city alone there were probably 12 or more parades over three days. And that's not counting another dozen parades in the nearby towns and parishes.

    We did so much it's not necessarily worth mentioning. The biggest risk of the trip was not having insurance for 5 days while in the United States. We let it lapse because we can pay as we go for any medical problems while traveling and it will be so much cheaper than just a health insurance monthly premium in the US. And I knew that I could still get COBRA coverage backdated if anything happened. Thank God it didn't, because one small injury would have cost us about as much as our 5 1/2 weeks of travel in Panama. I'm not kidding. I did the math. That includes flights, tours, hotels, food, drinks, you name it.

    I did get whacked in the eye with some beads on Friday night and I ended up losing a hard contact lens, but at least my eye healed quickly. This is a pretty common injury and from then on I wore sunglasses at parades.

    Deanne and Anita loved the whole experience of being in the krewe in the parade. Mo and I loved being able just to walk around from parade to parade and stop in a bar for a bathroom break.

    We planned to meet up with Carolyn Freiwald, a friend from Madison, and she told us about a spot on the parade route. Bathrooms can be hard to come by and we went to her friends recommended bar for the bathroom, which were never crowded.

    That spot on St Charles during the day was very family friendly, with lots of kids sitting on makeshift seats on ladders, with a parent standing behind. Look for the pics below.

    I did manage to get a vid of Anita and Deanne's float as they went by. It was awesome to see her dream come true and she couldn't have been more happy with the experience.

    After the parades on Saturday we went to Shorty Gras, a big party the krewe of Freret sponsored at Mardi Gras World. Trombone Shorty headlined it but a fun up-and-coming band, Boyfriend, was probably the highlight of the night. The Revivalists backed her up.

    About 10 years ago when Mardi Gras World was in Algiers, across the river, we probably paid $20 to see how floats are made and see the amazing floats they recycle year to year. It was a blast. Now, that same tour costs $44. See https://photos.app.goo.gl/WFsijuqmgxBMqczU7

    The concert at the new venue with Big Freedia, Soul Rebels, Boyfriend, and Trombone Shorty was only $55. Such a deal! And we got to walk around and see many of the same floats, but this time we got to see them lit up.

    On Sunday, our last day, we walked around Frenchmen Street in the French quarter and took in one last parade, the Krewe of Barkus. That's a dog parade spoof of the more famous Krewe of Baccus.

    MoNita had a flight out that pm and Carolyn drove home a bit earlier. We spent our last few hours getting Oysters at Felix's and a couple drinks at the Chart Room, a wonderfully gritty dive bar in the Quarter.

    And then we woke up at 3:30 a.m. to catch our 6 a.m. flight to Guayaquil.

    All photos are here.
    https://photos.app.goo.gl/CHyy7MiXdTDVmmkU9
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