Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Back to New Orleans

Well, Mardi Gras is ancient history this year -- I think lent ends on Sunday -- but I thought I would talk about our trip down there.  Seeing as I just got the pictures loaded.  Our new digital camera doesn't have a teeny little memory card that you insert into the computer and download the pictures.  You have to use some photo program and I'm just not smart enough to figure it out.  However my IT guy finally got around to doing it (that would be David) and now I have pictures!

Driving south towards Laurel, Mississippi, we started to see trees sheared off pretty close to the ground.  There was verey little foliage, (although that could have been the season, too) but there was also a whole lot of scrambled up branches and scrub on the ground, in amongst the trees.  We passed acre upon acre of FEMA trailers, empty!  And they are kicking people OUT of them?  We saw classified ads in the local papers selling the darn things.  WTH?  When we finally got to the outskirts of New Orleans, we could see water lines on the houses.  10-12 feet up!  Right under the eaves.  And in the front lawn of many of the houses was a FEMA trailer, connected via large white pipeage to the sewer and water systems.  We saw houses that had been abandoned, again with very high water lines.  It was so sad ...

In New Orleans itself, where once upon a time you would wait hours in line for a poboy from Mothers' restaurant (on Poydras Ave) we walked right in.  In the crowds of the Mardi Gras parades, there were very few African Americans.  I thought glumly to myself that they were all in Houston or elsewhere.  (I remembered when Barbara Bush toured the Astrodome and saw the rows after row of cots, she commented, "Well, these people were disadvantaged anyway, I'd say they're doing pretty well!")  They are the ones who suffered the most, the ones who were herded into buses and dumped on the side of I-10 ... exposed to the elements.  They are the ones who would be raped in the halls, or died on the sidewalks outside the Convention Center, the same one we could see out of our hotel room, and past which we walked to watch the Bacchus parade.

The stores in the Riverwalk Mall closed at 6 p.m., there just weren't enough customers going through to support them being open any longer.  The food court was almost deserted.  There wasn't enough wait staff in the restaurants to open whole sections.

But the spirit was still there.  The parades were still crazy and funny as ever.  The kids caught tons of beads (want some?) and the crowds weren't too bad.  Not like in years past, where a body could literally be crushed in the surge.  So I felt kinda comfortable with the kids.    Christian started off the trip with the flu, and we were all taking tamiflu the whole time, so he didn't feel too great.  And it was COLD ... we had layers on layers against the wind.  But in the sun it was pretty comfortable.

Maybe next year the people will come home.

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