Our last day. Something old…I meandered through the Bywater taking more photos, talking with a few people and eventually I walked back along the Mississippi. It was hot. Dug was hot. I forgot water again. And why is it that in this climate, even on a walking trail, there are NO water fountains of any kind? Luckily a few of the corner stores and restaurants provide dog water bowls for bad parents like me.
Anyway…the day meandered along like the Mississippi – slowly and winding this way and that. It was a big day at the French Open and I admit to watching more than I might have knowing that it was our last day, but did I mention that it was hot? And humid? And that Rafa was playing? Against Djokovic?
Back through the Quarter to our home.
Finally after 5:00, I headed back down toward Jackson Square. That place is always a bustling beehive of activity – performers, artists, tarot card readers, tourists, tourists, tourists. It was eerie this evening because there were so few people there. It really was actually kind of creepy and I couldn’t walk through it quickly enough. The whole point of my walk was to go to this little store that had a fanny pack I’d been eyeing. It’s nothing special, but I decided I wanted it. Please tell me how cute it is when you see me wearing it. (I’d take a picture of it, but I already packed it in the car.) I stopped at Rouse’s, the market in the French Quarter, to pick up a couple items for Glen and meandered back to the house. As I approached our house I stepped back to take a photo. There was a guy on a bike nearby and he saw me and came over to talk about the house. I thought he was going to tell me about it. Turns out he wanted to ask me about it. I shared what I knew…
It was built in the early 1780s in St. John’s Bayou near Lake Pontchartrain. In the mid 1780s, it was disassembled and trekked down St. John’s Bayou Road on wagons to be rebuilt in its current location. At the time, it was owned by Gabriel Peychoux, a French grain supplier who married a French Creole woman from a wealthy landowning family. Nobody seems to know why he moved the home. It is the only Creole-style French Colonial plantation house with exterior stairs in the Quarter and it sits back from the Governor Nicholls Street like it would on a plantation. This placement is most unusual here in the Quarter where most of the buildings are right on the sidewalk. The house is at least 25 years older than any other structure within 16 blocks and averages more than 80 years older than most of the buildings.
In 1795, the home was purchased by John Ossorno of Spain. It is still called The Ossorno house, as his heirs continued to live in it for generations. Until its recent purchase, the house has only been owned by two other families. Today, it has six units with one or two bedrooms and is rented for short and long term rentals. Lucky us.
As I shared what I knew, Steven introduced himself to me and asked how I knew so much. I told him I was just curious and had gotten pretty good at noodling around on Google to get information on neighborhoods and houses. We talked about Airbnbs in the Quarter and I told him what I knew about the regulations and the current owner of the Ossorno house. The whole short term rental situation here is…as Glen would say…complicated. Steven asked where I lived and I explained our current travels which got him to asking more questions. He asked where we had eaten and our favorite places that we’ve visited, etc. etc. When he told me his last name I asked, “Like the restaurant?” and he was so impressed that I knew about the 100+ year old restaurant, Mandina’s. (No need to go there. Sadly disappointed.) He asked about our next destination so I shared our plans. Then he asked if we had plans to go to different continents so I told him that Africa was high on my list. He told me the story of a friend of his who when on safari saw two guys come running out of a bush and he thought to himself, if they’re running, I’d better run, too! So he ran…away from an elephant! LOL. I love talking with strangers. You never know where the conversation will lead.
After about a ten to fifteen minutes of chatting (in which I missed the end of Nadal beating Djokovic!!!!!), he hopped on his bike and as he left he thanked me for chatting with him and for bringing “culture to New Orleans.” I’m not exactly sure what he meant, but I know that it was a compliment and he meant it sincerely. And…after almost two months of “dwelling” here with the goal of digging in and learning what it means to live here…I feel like I have accomplished my mission.
Isn’t it weird how just at the right time…there’s a sign? Steven was my sign.
Good night, Nola. I love you.