Saint Louis Cemetary #1

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420 Basin st.
New Orleans, LA 70112

On the morning of Marcus’ 33rd birthday our first stop was the St. Louis cemetery. It’s the oldest cemetery in New Orleans and it houses the grave of famed voodoo priestess, Marie Laveau. It’s close to the French quarter, in the middle of grubby, brick housing projects and surrounded by white-washed walls. The tops of tombs poke unevenly above, a few bristly palm trees waving next to them. When you go inside, there’s no easy, intuitive path around. You just wander around, climbing over the crumbling edges of vaults, turning a corner and coming up against a wall. The graves are different heights, different colors, different styles. Some are just little beige shoeboxes with blank sides. Others are covered in italian sculpture, inscriptions and iron gates encrusted with ornate flowers. Some of the most modest graves were also the most loved and must have had occult significance to visitors. Several were covered in hundreds of triple x marks, in different colored chalks, from the base to the top. There were lipstick offerings, Mardi gras beads, old gift cards, food wrappers and one had a package of unopened Nicorette gum. None of these graves had inscriptions, so it was impossible to know the reason for the attention.

The whole place is overlaid with crusts of pavement, cement, asphalt and brick. Over that they laid down oyster shells, and mixed into that are dozens of little broken glass shards from beer bottles . These work well for altar offerings. You can’t help but give some of the lonely graves some attention, the ones without any flowers or beads or lipsticks. After a while of wandering and altar decorating, we got restless and hot so we set out into the city. We hadn’t found Marie’s grave but it seemed like, if we hadn’t found it, then it wasn’t meant to be.

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Posted: June 21, 2012

Author: margo

Category: Locations, Louisiana, New Orleans

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