Last Sunday after we checked our bags at our hotel and prepared to explore the French Quarter I hoped my ancestors would find a way to speak to me. It appears they did, though not in a way I was expecting at all.
Wayne and I opted to do the Express Disembarkation and carried our own bags off the ship when we docked in New Orleans. We were off the ship shortly after 8:30 a.m., had no trouble getting a cab, and reached our hotel by 9 a.m. We couldn’t check in yet, but we checked our bags so we were free to explore unencumbered.
We headed for what we knew we were mere blocks from: Jackson Square. For sentimental reasons I was desperate to take pictures it. (It stems from a picture my grandparents took there in 1976 when they went back for a visit. I remember my grandma talking about that picture in particular and how happy she’d been to be back in her hometown and what a good time she and my grandpa had had.)
Before we crossed over to the overlook that affords prime picture taking spots of the cathedral and the statue in Jackson Square we spied the tourist information office. We stopped in and got a map and then headed off.
We toyed with the idea of standing in line at Cafe du Monde and getting beignets, but decided we’d maybe have them for dessert after dinner that night. I got my pictures of St. Louis Cathedral and then we realized we had no idea what exactly we wanted to see.
“This is like a paranormal lovers mecca. I thought you’d have a list a mile long of places you’d be dragging me to check out,” Wayne said to me.
“I know there are a lot of places, but I’m sort of overwhelmed. I did all that research on haunted hotels in New Orleans but I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t plot out exactly which haunted places I’d want to see.”
So I stood there feeling stupid and looking at him while my mind drew a blank. Then it hit me.
“We could always go find the grave of Marie Leveau? I’d probably be remiss not to get some material about that.”
It was such a spur of the moment idea. I’m not a big graver but I do find some more interesting than others. And for some reason I just had a very strong feeling we should see the Voodoo Queen’s resting place.
So we headed back to the tourist info center to ask directions. Ten block later we were there.
I knew Marie Leveau’s tomb was white, but I didn’t know exactly where it was in the cemetery. We turned left upon entering and very quickly came to a big white tomb being cleaned.
It was large and white but there weren’t a lot of offerings around it so I didn’t think it was Marie Leveau’s. And I was shy about asking because I felt oddly silly being such a paranormal tourist on the hunt for the Voodoo Queen.
We continued our search of the cemetery. But something weird happened. Instead of rushing through as I expected I’d want to do, I found myself compelled to take more pictures than I planned. (I really only expected to snap one of the sign on the entrance and Marie Leveau’s tomb.)
After we walked all the way through, we circled back to the tomb that was being cleaned and I braved up and asked them about Marie Leveau.
“Oh, you mean right here?”
They stepped back so I could get a picture of the famous crypt. (They were cleaning it, as they often have to, for preservation purposes.)
It was weird to see such a famed landmark for myself. But it was also weird the feeling I had while walking around in there. I sensed my ancestors were trying to tell me something. That they’d wanted me to go there, but I didn’t think it was only because they knew I’d be interested in one of the cemetery’s most famous residents.
It wasn’t until I got back and one of my cousins, who grew up in New Orleans herself but didn’t know I was going until I got back, left a comment on HJ’s FB page asking if I’d visited St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 and paid respects to our great great grandmother who was buried there.
Say what? I didn’t know that! But, yep, her last name was LaCroix and that’s where she was laid to rest.
I wonder if great great grandma’s ghost ever parties with Marie Leveau’s?