Is there a more fitting place for the “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” Spiritual Tour than the New Orleans? The city’s motto is “Let the good times roll!” And they do. The air drips with alcohol, sex, laughter, food, hedonism, and decay. Ghosts of those whose passions won’t let go haunt the streets. All of the seven deadly sins – greed, pride, lust, envy, gluttony, anger, and sloth are here in abundance. New Orleans is everything we fear, hide from, judge, and are maybe more than a bit fascinated by.
So why flirt with it? Spirit is in everything. The destructive force is purifying and necessary for new life to burst forth. If you walk in power in your darkness, you can use that energy appropriately instead of resisting it. This makes you a more balanced person. If you can see the light in people who are in their shadow, you can see it everywhere. This makes you more connected to all. And who knows? After you’re in this creative, wild, dark energy, you may laugh more and leave more comfortable in your own freaky skin.
We will visit three plantations on this tour: The Myrtles, Destrehan, and The Cottage (to be confirmed).
The Myrtles is known as the most haunted plantation in the United States. It’s said there were at least ten murders or suicides here. Perhaps they embellish a bit. I have been there and didn’t notice anything amiss, but plenty of others say otherwise. Many of the plantations in this area have lovely gardens and The Myrtles is no exception. This one is also unique for it’s beautiful ironwork along the 125 foot veranda.
Destrehan may look familiar to you. Scenes from Interview With a Vampire, Four Weddings, Ravenswood, 12 Years a Slave, and Flip My Food were shot here. Construction on the house started in 1787. The owners chose a West Indies style to accommodate the climate. The first crop of indigo was worked by 59 slaves. Shortly after, they switched to growing sugar cane and used 56 slaves (which was about the typical amount on a sugar plantation in this area) to produce 203,000 pounds of sugar in 1803. Some of the participants of the slave revolt of 1811 came from Destrehan.
The Cottage Plantation is as it was in the pre-Civil war days when they grew indigo and sugar. It even still retains much of the original furniture. This property is unique in that it was originally acquired through a Spanish land grant in 1795 and is built in the Spanish style. The interior features much hand wrought woodwork, some of which is really elaborate while other sections are quite simple. This is a place that stands still in time. If you want to really feel what life was like in the old South, this is the place to be.
French Quarter Festival
New Orleans has more festivals than any other city I’ve ever seen! It really knows how to party, parade, enjoy music, and dance. The French Quarter Festival is one of the newer ones, but has quickly grown to become one of the most popular. It’s four days of sensory indulgence. (We will only be here for one). The best part of it is, most of it is free!
There are stages and food and drink stands all over the French Quarter starting at 11:00 a.m. and going to 7:00 p.m. Want a little jazz? It’s there. Prefer to go local with some zydeco? That’s on offer too. And of course you can’t miss the unscheduled performances of the buskers! They are often more entertaining than the headliners.
If you want more, extend your stay through the weekend (on your own) and let the good times roll!
New Orleans Tour
There’s lots to see in New Orleans, but today we tour for two hours then you’ll have the rest of the day to explore the casino, restaurants, bars, Voodoo shops, street performers, boutiques, or anything else you like. After breakfast we go by the St. Louis Number One cemetery. This is the oldest cemetery in New Orleans. It’s been in continuous use for over 200 years and is the final resting place for many prominent people. The most famous perhaps is Voodoo Queen, Marie Lavaeu. Scenes from Easy Rider and Cincinnati Kid were filmed here.
New Orleans has a fascinating history. Choctaw, Houmas and other Native American tribes were the original inhabitants. Then the Spanish and French moved in. Finally African slaves came (mainly from the Caribbean, not Africa) in the 1800s. These slaves hid their folkways and spirituality in Catholicism to escape oppression. New Orleans style Voodoo is the result. Our voodoo tour will go into more detail about this rich history. By the end, you will see that it’s not what you might have thought it was!
If you’d like to extend your stay (on your own), there is much more haunted New Orleans to explore. New Orleans is reputed to be the most haunted city in America. Some haunted sites are: Lafayette cemetery No. 1 and the LaLaurie mansion. Haunted restaurants are: Arnaud’s, Antoine’s, Pat O’Brien’s, Court of the Two Sisters, and Cafe du Monde (we have to stop there for beignets!). Haunted hotels are: The Bourbon Orleans (I have stayed here and didn’t see anything), The Andrew Jackson Hotel, The Hotel Provincialmis, Place d’Armes Hotel (said to be the most haunted), La Maison Marigny Bed and Breakfast, La Pavilion Hotel, and St. Vincent’s Guest House.
There actually is a haunted swamp in Louisiana, but this is not it! This excursion is a chance to get out on the water and enjoy the peace and inspiration of nature. It’s a time to see nature in its raw state. We may see Goliath, the huge alligator that lives out here. We may see an alligator eat a nutria. You might see birds hatching or other creatures mating. Here in the wild they don’t judge life. There is no light or dark. It’s all just life. This is an incredibly peaceful experience that many feel is the highlight of the tour. The flowers, the moss – everything is just lovely.
Angola Prison Museum Tour
Angola Prison sits on land that used to be am 8.000 acre plantation. It’s been a prison since 1835. Brutality was rampant until 1916 when reforms were put into place. This dropped the death rate by 72%. Due to hard economic times, flood, and crop failures, the prison was sold eight times between 1902 and 1922. The low prices brought expansion to the current size of 18,000 acres. A series of reforms, budget cuts, and more neglect followed. By the 1960s, Angola was called “The Bloodiest Prison in the South” due to the number of inmate assaults. The 1970s saw nationwide reform of the prison system and Angola received accreditation from the American Correctional Association.
According to Truth-Out, Angola still operates as a modern day slavery mill with inmates working as much as 65 hours a week picking cotton, wheat, soybeans and corn. Like all prisons, inmates are only paid a few cents per hour. Angola Penitentiary remains the largest maximum security prison in the United States. There are over 5000 prisoners at Angola alone. The average sentence for prisoners there is 93 years. With a past and present like this, it’s no wonder that this place has a reputation for being haunted.
- We will spend our first two nights in a Plantation B&B where you may find yourself whisked back in time. Don’t be surprised if you absentmindedly hum, “In the evening by the moonlight, you can hear us darkies singing...” When the tourists leave and the night rolls in, it’s easy to forget what year it is.
- Breakfast daily
- Welcome dinner
- Airport transfers
- Double occupancy lodging (the beds are full sized, not twins, in the plantations)
- Air conditioned transportation throughout the tour
- Listed attractions are included in the price