New Orleans is one of my favorite places to visit. It is magical. It is filled with feathered masks, crepes,
Mardi Gras beads, and Vodon spirituality. I fell in love with the Crescent City during my first visit in 1978. It was a family vacation attached to my mother’s sorority, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.’s national convention (my sorority too)! N’awlins got underneath my skin and stayed there until I visited again in 1997. That trip transformed my life. I thought I was there to get my groove on, but NOLA knew better. Turns out I was summoned by Spirit and the characters in my debut novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One. They led me to the Essence Music Festival and dropped me in the middle of the French Quarter with one instruction: be open. So I walked in and out of shops, made small talk with local folks, followed the NOLA yellow brick broad to various neighborhoods, bookstores, and cafes. The end results were a collection of Mardi Gras feathered masks and a few pages of dialogue from characters with New Orleans roots.
Fast forward to today where I am thinking about the power of masks in Mardi Gras, the Jacmel, Haiti Carnival, and my own life. Whenever I see or wear a Mardi Gras mask, I am transported to a mystical, magical, and mysterious place that lets the good times roll all day long! I am also reminded of how colorful and creative masks can be. The paper mache masks that I saw and purchased recently during my Heart of Haiti trip in Jacmel, Haiti, were so animated. They came to life on their own. They provoked storytelling in my mind. Now that’s a powerful set of masks!
Paper Mache Masks Made in Jacmel, Haiti