A spring with elections, alligators, and no actual spring weather

This post is arriving a bit late because of the simple reason of some rather hectic weeks lately. This last one week since the elections at home actually felt like a lifetime, while even though my body was here in Hartford, in my soul I was at home, discussing the results with my friends over a beer and protesting on Kossuth square for our democracy.

Talking about Hungarian elections: on its weekend, we of course went into New York to vote on the Hungarian Consulate because we felt that it is extremely important that we exercise our rights and express our opinions. Of course, many other Hungarians gathered in 52nd Street, which meant experiencing one of the weirdest things ever: we were sitting in an Irish pub across the Consulate’s building, in the middle of Manhattan, surrounded only by Hungarians and some confused waiters, even bumping into an ex-Kellner Scholar.

Since we had to go into New York anyway, we decided to have some fun as well, so we stayed for the whole weekend, finally checking out the greatest urbanistic idea ever, the High Line, crossing out “bottomless mimosa brunch” from our New York City bucket list, walking up from Soho to finally look at the weirdo that is the Flatiron Building, and even going to the Museum of Sex, one of the strangest museum experiences ever.

While in the City, I had to visit the Triennial exhibition called “Songs for Sabotage” in the New Museum to write an essay about it for my Contemporary Art class. Although I do not know yet what I will write in my review exactly, it was certainly an interesting and thought-provoking experience. There is a lot of postcolonial, sometimes postcolonial feminist, radical art in the Triennial, which shows the works of only young artists from the past three years from all around the world, mostly focusing on the structures of colonialism and institutionalized racism that produce global inequalities. If you are in Manhattan until the end of May, I definitely recommend checking the show out – here are some of my favorite works:

Otherwise, even though it’s already the middle of April, you wouldn’t know it’s spring if you only looked at the weather of New England. As I’m writing this, it is -1 Celsius outside, and it’s of course snowing again – hopefully, for the last time. This means that the only actual spring I have seen this semester, was during our amazing Spring Break – which seems like ages ago now, but I still need to tell you all about our adventures in New Orleans.

Spring Break in New Orleans was without a doubt the best part of this semester. Not only because the city is amazing – although totally different from what I expected – and because of all the food we ate, but because we stayed at the coolest hostel ever, India House. If you are up to sleeping with like 15 other people in one room, in exchange for meeting wonderful and interesting people from all over the world, this would be your hostel as well. Then, as for the food, we tried to have everything the South had to offer us, from loaded fries and mac and cheese to jambalaya, alligator sausage, muffuletta sandwich, boiled crawfish and of course, several servings of beignets from Café du Monde. We had five full days to explore New Orleans and its surroundings, so we had time for more than just the French Quarter, which is however, the most photogenic – and most touristy – part of the city. We also visited some of the cemeteries of the city, which totally reminded me of the Pére Lachaise in Paris. We looked for the Singing Oak in City Park, went to see a white alligator and a Comodo dragon in the most beautiful zoo ever, and decided where to move in if we get rich in Garden District.

We also decided to visit two of the plantations close to New Orleans, and even though I have objections to the tour company that took us there, I learned a lot during the visits, especially at the Laura Plantation, where our tour guide did a really good job in telling us about all the sides of plantation life. The tour at Oak Alley was not as informative, but it also definitely worth a visit, if for only the oaks leading to the house. (Bonus: from the window of the bus, we could even get a glimpse of the house they used for the outside shots of Candyland in Tarantino’s Django Unchained.)
Even though the whole week was amazing, the very best experience was without a question our visit to the swamps of the Barataria Preserve in Jean Lafitte National Park. This was my first time ever encountering any kind of swamp, so I was enthusiastic as a child, especially after meeting our first alligator – 12 more followed, as well as a deer from up close, an armadillo, and different types of birds I couldn’t identify. Being only a few centimeters away from a real, live alligator was definitely a one-of-a-kind experience, but the whole place was so beautiful, I never wanted to leave.

Now, however crazy that sounds, it’s less than one month until I leave Trinity – actually, one month from now I will already be in Maui, enjoying everything Hawaii has to offer. Until then of course, it is final papers and exams, and later, goodbyes I really don’t want to think about just yet.

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