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Is New Orleans cursed? I didn’t really hold much water to the premise before I visited, but ever since my visit, I’m concerned. All signs seem to point to remarkably bad situations and consequences from my trip to the Big Easy. Is New Orleans cursed? I sure think so.
When I think of New Orleans, I think of cajun food, Hurricane Katrina, and voodoo. When I was younger, my Baptist mother told me that it was the Devil’s city. I had never particularly felt the pull to visit; I prefer the blues over jazz and I’m not a big partier. When my best friend from high school asked me to stand up for her destination wedding in New Orleans, I finally had my opportunity to visit the Crescent City. I used my last remaining drink ticket on Southwest for my way there, and had a $100 off my flight through American on my way back.
My friend Amanda and I met in junior high through a mutual friend, April. What a treat it was for the three of us to reunite for Amanda’s wedding in New Orleans. Her rehearsal dinner was on a Friday but her wedding wasn’t until Sunday, so unfortunately, my fiancé couldn’t make it. He works Fridays, Sundays, and Mondays and wasn’t able to take three days off. It worked out just fine as I was able to split a room at the Renaissance Arts District with April and another friend, Liz.
The rehearsal dinner was at Muriel’s, right across from Jackson Square. Muriel’s has a history of being haunted by the ghost of the original owner of the home. A known gambler, he lost the home in a poker match and ended his life the same night. After years of failed businesses and curses, the current owners leave out bread and wine nightly so that his soul will not haunt the restaurant. This is not my first foray with a haunted house. In fact, I even lived in a haunted house in Maine for six months after college.
After learning about the curse at Muriel’s, I did a little bit more digging. Is New Orleans cursed? History says yes. There is Muriel’s, yes, but so many other popular ghost stories and hauntings. There is the mansion of Madame LaLaurie, the sadistic slave owner on whom a season of American Horror Story is based. She was known to torture her slaves and perform terrible anatomy experiments on them. Then there is the story of the couple who stayed in the city during Hurricane Katrina only to suffer violent ends. Hotels have recurrent ghost sightings. With all these curses, I wondered, is it possible to get cursed in New Orleans? Does a curse from New Orleans spread? Unfortunately, my answer is YES.
The First Curse: An Airplane Brawl
After dinner, April and I headed back to our room at the beautiful Renaissance Warehouse District to get some rest. She had come directly from London and my early morning flight had me yearning for bed. Upon getting to the room, Liz greeted us with the wildest in-flight story I’ve ever heard.
Trouble in the Sky
With a flight time of just over two hours, New Orleans is a quick trip from Chicago. After about ninety minutes in the air, a 6’8″ strong, thirty-something man had consumed more than his share of liquor onboard. When he asked for another drink, the flight attendant politely informed him that she was not able to provide him with any more alcohol while onboard. He became angry and disrespectful to the flight attendant. She called for additional assistance as he paced in the aisle. An air marshall made himself known and restrained the passenger.
Upon landing, multiple police officers boarded the plane to escort the man off. At the site of the police, the drunken passenger threw a punch straight into the nose of the first responding officer. Blood poured from his face as the entire plane screamed. Flight attendants shouted for the passengers to remain seated to help the police manage the commotion. Four other officers secured the man and were able to get him safely off the flight. Talk about a commotion!
Cemetery and Ghost Tours
Since there was a full day between the rehearsal and the wedding, we made the most of taking in the sights. With a mid-October temperature of 90ºF and 89% humidity, it was hot. Although it felt like we were about to turn into melted puddles of our former selves, we persevered. We started with a cemetery tour of St. Louis Cemetery #1, the most famous cemetery in New Orleans. Due to vandalism, you cannot enter the cemetery without a tour guide. Inside, you’ll see the tomb of voodoo queen Marie Laveau, you’ll see the first mayor of the city’s tomb, and many of New Orleans 17th Century French citizens. Although there were other tours in the cemetery at the same time we visited, it was not overly crowded and did not affect our tour.
We also went on a Ghost, Voodoo, Witch and Vampire Tour in the evening, which I really enjoyed. It wasn’t particularly scary, but it did teach us about the history of New Orleans. Another group from the wedding went on a Ghost Tour of their own, but they had a much more eventful experience.
The Second Curse: A Macing
I imagine it is tiring to lead the same tours everyday to people who often have the same questions. For tour guides in New Orleans, it must be particularly challenging because of patrons ability to carry open containers of alcohol. About eight wedding guests purchased tickets for an early ghost tour before dinner. They had a lovely guide, but some trouble during the tour. First, an unstable woman kept joining their group even though she hadn’t paid for it. It was disruptive and a bit uncomfortable, but eventually the guide convinced the woman to leave and the tour continued.
The Last Interruption, Ever
When the tour stopped at the site of a former convent, the tour guide began discussing the history of the site. A very drunk man from the street caught a sentence about fourteen-year-old virgins and became irrationally upset. He began to shout at the tour guide for her to stop disparaging his Catholic religion. She tried to explain that she wasn’t disparaging his religion, only telling a story, but he persisted. He continued to berate the tour guide and disrupt the tour, even as the guide announced that she had mace and would call the police. One final mouthing off and the guide stuck to her word.
As the tour group was gathered around her, she leapt through the people and maced the drunk guy in the face. The man screamed and grasped at his eyes as a plume of irritant spread into the very tour group she was leading. People backed away coughing and disoriented from the escalation of events.
“I quit! The tour is over. Call the company and ask for a refund,” she proclaimed. With that, she walked away and the tour was over.
The Third Curse: Where’s the Bride?
Anyone who has ever stood up in a wedding is familiar with wedding day protocols. Typically, the bridesmaids or groomsmen meet in the bridal suite or groom’s room at a designated time. There are drinks, snacks, friendly banter and photos as everyone gets ready. This particular day was a little bit different. One of the bride’s cousins and I were the first ones up for hair and makeup at 8:30AM.
As the bride did not want to be disturbed, we all met in the bride’s parents’ suite. As an hour or two passed, bridesmaids trickled in for community, conversation, for pictures, and to take turns steaming their dresses. Eventually, everyone realized the only person missing was the bride.
Having been friends for about 20 years, the bride is chronically tardy, but not like this. While I expected some delay, after three and a half hours without an appearance, I was concerned. In fact, I felt it was necessary to run down the block for some sparkling wine and champagne to distract everyone. I found one of my favorite champagnes at a local wine shop. By the time I came back, the bride had made contact to say she was finishing up blow drying her hair and that she would be down soon. Finally, four and a half hours after “call time,” the bride arrived for hair and makeup. She looked great and we actually ended up getting to the venue early!
By the time I came back, the bride had made contact to say she was finishing up blow drying her hair and that she would be down soon. Finally, four and a half hours after “call time,” the bride arrived for hair and makeup. She looked great and we actually ended up getting to the venue early!
The Penultimate Curse: A Late Night Fight
The wedding was beautiful and so much fun. We danced, we lingered on the second floor wraparound porch, and we danced some more. I had an early morning flight so while most people went out to Frenchmen Street for live music and more dancing, I headed back to my room at the Renaissance to pack and get some sleep before my 5:15AM wake up. Crawling into bed at 12:30AM, I expected a short but restorative night of sleep.
You’re About to Have a Crime Scene on Your Hands
At 4:35AM, I heard shouting. April and Liz had returned from a night out hours earlier and the voices of a man and a woman were distinct. I put my headphones in and turned on a podcast and hoped I could get back to sleep. Ten minutes later, the shouting was still loud enough to bypass the sounds of The Civil War in my earbuds. April and Liz were up too, remarking that this sounded serious enough to call down to the front desk. I called; no response.
The shouting escalated to screaming and crying. With my mouthguard still in, my eye mask around my head and slippers on my feet, I raced down the hall to the elevator. Running up to the front desk, I called out to the back for an employee. “You’re about to have a crime scene on your hands,” I explained. “You need to send a security guard up to room 345 now.” The woman behind the desk radioed to someone to get up to the room.
Management to the Rescue
Moments after I got back into bed, we heard a knock on the door outside. The room next to ours went silent. The person outside knocked again and said, “Hotel security. I know you are in there, I heard you down the hall.” The people next door opened the door and made an excuse, “We were just looking for something.” The security guard laughed and threatened to kick them out if the noise continued. And just like that, it was silent for the next 45 minutes as I tried to get just a touch more rest before my flight.
Bringing the Curse Home
A week after coming home from New Orleans, I was still down for the count. A terrible upper respiratory infection knocked me on my butt. I fear the curse stuck as I had three more, two-week long upper respiratory infections in the span of six months.
Not only that, but without warning the bride blocked me on all social media and still hasn’t sent me a thank you card for her gifts or my attendance. It’s been almost two years without a word from her.
Is New Orleans cursed? All signs point to yes. I fear I may have to head back down to the Big Easy for a blessing. Stay tuned!
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