I have a lot of catching up to do! It's been a very busy few days.
We got to the airport at 4:15 am-that was absolutely delightful. Everyone made it more or less on time and the flight was pretty smooth. We transfered in Dallas to catch a flight to New Orleans. In Dallas, we met a woman from Fema who was on her way to NOLA as well. She gave us some tips and filled us in about some of the things that are going on down here. She did tell us to immediately go to Wal-Mart upon arrival and buy bleach to clean the hotel bathrooms with. We got a little freaked out by that, but I don't think that any of us have actually done that or are planning to.
Colleen met us at the airport-and by some miracle, no one lost their luggage! Hurrah!
We got to the hotel on Magazine St-it's very nice-on settled in. That afternoon we went on a tour of the flood affected regions. It was really broad and lasted about two hours. It was informational, but it lacked something. By the end, we were exhausted. We arrived back at the hotel and rested for a bit and had some free time. We were to meet at the Flying Burrito at 7:30. Around 6 or 6:30, Steph, Amanda, Jorie, and I decided to walk the 1.5 miles to the restaurant. We dawdled a bit and saw some really interesting and beautiful architecture. It was really nice out and after being on the plane for so long, it was good to get out in the fresh air and walk. When we got there, the restaurant was closed for renovations. It was a whole big thing to find a new restaurant and get everyone in for various reasons. Half of us went to the Bulldog and the others went to a Mexican restaurant a few doors down. We waited for the bus for like 45 min. By the time we got back to the hotel, everyone was exhausted and we went to bed.
We were out of the hotel at 9 and headed with Rich and Colleen to the Holy Cross neighborhood. It was one of the areas that was affected by Katrina. We walked around shooting the contrast between houses that had been restored already, some that were on their way to restoration, and others that were abandoned by the owners (permanently or otherwise). We ran into a woman named Betty who was so friendly and told us about what had happened to some of her neighbors and what she was going through. She's still working on getting her house back to what it was pre-Katrina. She was so excited about the new cupboards that she had gotten that she invited us into her house to see them. We talked to her for about 30 min. It was a really nice introduction to the city and the 'local culture'.
After that we headed to the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.
But that will have to wait until tomorrow, along with some images as my laptop is about to die.
There are two movies that we were required to watch before leaving on the trip-American Experience: New Orleans and When the Levees Broke.
I first watched American Experience. This film presented the history of the city and its people and focused much of its attention on the culture of the city. There were some things that I'm sure that are missing, but it covered a lot of material in two hours. There were a lot of things that were new and interesting to me-like the history of Mardi Gras and the development of the music scene.
I followed this up with When the Levees Broke. There's not much that I can really say about this that probably hasn't already been said. I was horrified, disgusted, and ashamed. What happened and how it was handled on all government levels was shameful and ridiculous. I was reading about the film online and people were debating whether or not the film was objective enough or that there were things missing. I don't think that that kind of debate is really necessary nor is it going to diminish the truth that is included in the film. It's a testament to the strength of the people of New Orleans that they came back and are rebuilding the city.
As for what I'm hoping for in New Orleans, I'm really not sure. There are certainly things I want to experience and see. I think I just want to see the spirit of the people and the city.