Simba Does New Orleans

New Orleans, Louisiana is one city that has been on my travel bucket list since I was in elementary school. My undying interest in the paranormal, magic, and the occult brought New Orleans across my path on many occasions. While my trip was short, only 12 hours in duration, I got a peek at what one NOLA resident dubbed, “The most unique place in the Universe”.

Stopping through New Orleans was an unexpected treat on my return to Seattle from Atlanta. Flights from NOLA to Seattle were cheaper than flights from Atlanta to Seattle. So I made plans to fly in to New Orleans at 8am and purchased a ticket to fly out at 9pm. I knew that with limited transportation and being a foreigner to the city, I wasn’t going to see much without help. My best friend called her dad, a recent New Orleans transplant, and he was happy to pick me up from the airport and take me to breakfast. We dined at the Ruby Slipper, a small chain that was established in the last 5 years. The vibe of the restaurant is simple and fun, and the food was exceptional. We chatted about the economic standing of the city and while gentrification was changing the city, the lack of established industries outside of tourism made it a tough place to live. 

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The energy and the architecture in the French Quarter is jaw dropping. The French colonial influence has been preserved, and the color palette of the city is a hue of pastels and earth tones. The energy itself is heavy, the weight of centuries of history with it’s original structures still in place. The ease upon which the living live alongside the dead, also accounts for a dynamic only seen in New Orleans. The world famous cemeteries lay alongside the highway and amongst neighborhoods as jewels and not hidden away as secrets. The city has an almost somber feeling.

After meeting up with a native that I went to college with, we went in search of authentic New Orleans cuisine. We landed at a place with an upscale vibe but southern cuisine called Copeland’s. The food was out of this world. We had Crawfish bread, Crawfish Etouffee, Crab Claws in butter sauce, Red Beans and Rice, and a grilled Catfish fillet. I left happy and full. After hanging out downtown It was time for me to return to the airport. 

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On my return visit I hope to tour the West Bank, 9th Ward, and Treme neighborhoods. The city is dark yet vibrant at the same time. Arriving at 8am allowed me to see the city slowly awaken. The stillness of morning was quickly replaced by the clicking and clacking of horseshoes and the music streaming out of the many establishments on Burborn street. My time in NOLA was incredibly short and this review doesn’t give it justice, but I am grateful to have gotten a taste of the most unique place in the universe.   

Simba Does Los Angeles

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    I have always loved to travel. My childhood was filled with trips to Texas to meet distant cousins and summers with my father, learning the both violent and industrious history of Gary, Indiana.  After turning 25, I realized that since becoming an adult, I have only made one trip outside of Washington. I've never stepped foot on East Coast soil, never crossed the border into Mexico, and I've never been overseas. The beautiful thing about the internet is it allows us to see the beauty of other places no matter where you are in the world. Unfortunately, internet photos can't create memories, they can't give you the experience of actually absorbing the energy and texture of a new place.  Our individual worlds can be very small and isolating so traveling to other places and experiencing other cultures can be important for growth as a person. I believe understanding other cultures can help heal the world and close the gaps that are created by sexism, class-ism, racism, able-ism and so on.  I am starting this series to document my own travels, the activities I participated in, and what lessons I was able to take from my trips. The first place I landed in was Los Angeles, California.

   Of course I waited until the the last minute to start packing, and shopping. The Thursday I had planned to leave was meticulously planned out but by the time the day started to progress, the non-necessities managed to slip off the to-do list.  I was excited and in great need of a getaway. I was determined to get out of Seattle for a few days even if cost me an arm and a leg. After an eventful day full of stresses and hang ups I was finally on the plane. I slept the entire two hour flight to LAX. 

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    I had the pleasure of having up and coming artist Royce the Choice as a host. Our friendship has spanned the last 4 years and it has been an amazing experience to watch him grow and succeed not only as a Rap artist but as a person as well. Royce has been recently signed to DJ Mustard's label, 10 Summers, and is fresh off a January 12th release of his HOT new mixtape titled Rich Off Mackin'.  With plenty of new opportunities on the horizon, I knew it would be essential to get this visit in with Royce, before his time became too limited. I spent 4 days in LA, away from the tourist traps, experiencing the local climate and culture of the city.  I enjoyed great food from various restaurants including a diner with the biggest selection of breakfast items I have ever seen.  I was able to rock out at a show with Royce, but most of all I got to spend time with him and his amazing family. 

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    Royce’s grandma mother has lived in LA for 40+ years, and originally from The Bronx, New York. She is as spunky and real as she is sweet and compassionate. His Aunt, Uncle, and Brother were beyond hospitable and made my entire trip feel like I was home away from home. Los Angeles has always been my dream place to live. The surf culture, organically cultivated, sprawling street art, and of course the endless options of food and entertainment, have all contributed to my day dreaming of sunny Southern California. I am grateful that my trip was filled with genuine interactions and authentic people.

   Visiting Royce reaffirmed my belief in true friendship but also shared the importance of family. With so many things changing in his life, Royce’s family has kept him grounded and humble. It reminded me that building relationships with people that sincerely enjoy your company is just as important as building with people that can advance your career.  In the future I would love to book as many trips as possible where I can stay with framily (friends + Family) so that I can feel the real flavor of the city or country I am visiting. I was able to view the city through the eyes of someone who has lived, worked, and loved the city for years. Royce’s grandmother helped me feel as if the transition from Seattle to LA could easily go from dream to reality.  

   Overall I was very happy with my trip and I feel blessed to have such an incredible person in my life, who has subsequently brought other equally amazing people in my life. To my brother and one of my closest friends, THANK YOU for an amazing kick off to my new series, and introducing me to your wonderful family. Do major work. It’s been a long time coming and you deserve the best of everything.