A few days after we had settled into our new home in Patzcuaro, a fellow passed by
the door to pass along a message from the water guys (who actually speak pretty
good English).  We discovered he's a teacher from New Orleans, down in
Gringolandia for about a month.  His home is in the French Quarter, and he allowed
that he received little if any damage from Katrina.  But the pain was evident on his
face when he talked about how now, almost a year from the event, people all over
the region continue to struggle.

This was evident when we checked into a LaQuinta on the western end of New
Orleans.  The first sign was a form letter in the room, explaining that many of their
employees had not yet been able to return and to please excuse any shortcomings we
might experience.  .  This phenomenon was evident in many of the places we visited
during our stay.  Apparently, the main problem is that these low-level workers have
no place to live.  We spied a few structures in the area that were obvious hotels that
were being converted into apartments.  I couldn't help but wonder how much
monthly rent would be on what I'm sure was probably not much more than an
efficiency.

We had a pleasant swim in the hotel pool our first morning there, something the girls
are always eager to do, and after purchasing a digital camera at a Best Buy down the
street, we drove downtown.

I'd never been to New Orleans, and it did not fail to impress.  Downtown and the
French Quarter appeared not to suffer the same staffing problem as the suburbs.  
We drove around a bit to gawk at the sights - Abi and Elea delighting most at the line
of horsedrawn carriages at Jackson Square - found a parking space and began
walking.  I discovered I had room for only four photos on the new camera, tried to
find a memory disk for it but was unsuccessful, thus the lack of pictures from New
Orleans!  Yet again, we shall see what the 35 mm holds.  

We had our best coffee yet at Cafe du Monde, where they seemed decidedly
overstaffed to me.  We walked around listening to jazz bands, including a street
festival in honor of Louis Armstrong.  The shops and the bars were fascinating, and
Elea was especially enchanted with the colorful feathery masks all over the place.  
For $3.99, how could I resist?  Not to leave Abigail out, she managed to snag a
T-shirt.

I am not fond of crowds, and I count myself lucky that the streets were only mildly
busy, a few of them even near deserted.  Nice for me, but disappointing I'm sure for
the merchants.  Before leaving downtown, we paid a visit to the 9th Ward, where
we saw the painted signs on the houses indicating they had been checked.  We
found it a bit difficult to maneuver, not knowing where we were going, and when a
downpour started we went back to our hotel.

I saw an article somewhere online saying tourism was starting to pick up for New
Orleans, and I sincerely hope this is true.  I really enjoyed this charming city and
hope that she will rise again, even better than before.

#  #  #
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Lovin' the Big Easy
Great coffee at Cafe du Monde.
Pen's Essays - 4
M'sieur David, most obviously in
the French Quarter.
Watching the people go by in
New Orleans.