Friday, February 16, 2024

3,444 reasons why you should visit Louisiana

TEAM MARDI GRAS: Gerard (Jed) Delahoussaye;
Marie-Therese (Maite) Costisella; Helena (my wife) Szybalski;
and Marie-Jose(Marie-Jo) Delahoussaye.
Last Thursday evening, my wife Helena and I arrived in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. 

I know. 

How fortunate is that? I've been wanting to see Mardi Gras since I was a little kid, but somehow, my guardian angel has been, until now, smart enough to keep me safely away. 

I'm thinking that at 66, she figured, I couldn't get into trouble.

She was almost right.

After our Delta flight landed at the Louis Armstrong International Airport, we hopped a taxi to our hotel, but because of the crowds and parade barriers, the cab could only take us to within three short city blocks of the front door. 

We got out, and at one point as we were winding our way through the crowd, a passerby mentioned to Helena that it's unwise to leave a backpack unzipped. "You never know," he said. 

We stopped, checked her backpack and  discovered that her red leather wallet was gone, along with two credit cards, somewhere between $50 and $100 Canadian in cash, a debit card, driver's licence, health card, Costco membership, assorted photos, some other stuff, a gold Cross pen and her passport.

CSI NEW ORLEANS: Helena raising cane, showing the local 
constabulary where we were when we found the wallet was lost.
Up to that point, the trip had been flawless. Our flights had been prompt, we flew to New Orleans by way of La Guardia in New York, and flying over the Statue of Liberty is always memorable. In the taxi lineup at Louis Armstrong International, I enquired of the young woman in front of me if she knew how far downtown was. She laughed and said, "I know less than nothing." Turns out she, Nancy, and her charming companion Greg were, like us, in Louisiana for the first time, and they had travelled from Northern Ontario. So we shared a cab and Shania Twain jokes all the way to town.

But then the cabbie arrived downtown, we exited and approximately three and a half minutes later, the trip turned sour because we learned the wallet was gone.

But you're busy. I won't waste your time. Things turned around fast.

The next morning---preceded by a fretful night that included a visit to the Royal Street precinct where a compassionate sergeant named Shultz (I know) helped us through the process of reporting the loss--Helena's cell phone rang.

It was Marie-Josee--the one in the far right in the photo--reporting in a delightful French Canadian accent, that her sister (Marie-Therese, visiting from Hull, Quebec) had been downtown the night before. Marie-Therese had found the wallet with all contents, minus the cash, intact. And if we could find our way out to their place, we could retrieve it.

She gave us her address, we hired a cab, met Jed, Marie-Josee and Marie-Therese, and our trip was happy again! Elated in fact.

Plus, our new acquaintances wouldn't accept a reward. 

End of story, really. 

If you want to learn more about our terrific time in New Orleans, call me. The ensuing week was among the most memorable and fun weeks of my life and to this point, there have been --and I just did the math, about 3,444 of them. 

Most people are good. 

But herein is the lesson.

One of  the things in the temporarily lost wallet was a little card with my, our daughter Ria's, her sister Ewa's, and our son Michel's phone numbers, without which Marie-Josee wouldn't have been able to find us. 

This excellent travel tip has been brought to you by Jed, Marie-Therese and Mary-Jo.


  1. What an touching story. The kindness of strangers always amazes me.

    1. Thanks! Hahaha. I remember my dad reminding us that we should be as nice to our brothers and sisters as we are to total strangers.

  2. So glad everything worked out. New Orleans is such a fun place!

    1. Right from arriving at the airport to departing, it was alive with fun. Now wonder it's so famous. Thanks for reading..

  3. That reminds me of John Updike for some reason; sprinkled with a little ‘Magical Realism.’ Invigorating.

  4. Fantastic story.
    Would sound a tad contrived as fiction, but I buy it as Peter Carter verite!

    1. Hahaha .. Thanks. Interesting that I was at a journalism class the other day and mentioned to the students.... most journalists I know do in fact lie but never at work--only to, like spouses, Canada Customs ("No sir, I did not buy anything") and kids, about tooth fairies. But never at work.

  5. Amazing! My first time in New Orleans (in 1969!) We had our wallet and travellers cheques stolen. Long story, but it meant we met some great people and spent a very memorable week in NOLA. Two years later the empty wallet was returned to us by mail!

    1. Haha. Thanks for reading. Ah yes. Travellers cheques. How important were they! Except that if somebody swiped them, they couldn't use'em right? But the wallet arrived two years later? That's curious indeed.

  6. Great town.unfortunate that thieves feel that way too🤬
    Glad to hear you had the important stuff retuned!

    1. Thanks for reading, whoever you are. And I'm pretty sure that everywhere, there's poor souls who feel the need to swipe stuff. As my mom used to say, "they're more to be pitied than censured."