Many songs have been written about the great city of New Orleans. Her residents are so proud of their city. I have always wanted to see what makes New Orleans so unforgettable for so many people. So when a chance to go on a service trip for fall break to New Orleans came up, I knew that I had to go.
We left at 8 pm on Friday on a tour bus. I know it was going to be a long trip. We watched a couple movies that helped the time go buy. But after that it was pretty slow goings. It was pretty hard to get comfortable and i woke up about every 30min to an hour. Since we were traveling at night i did not get to see any of the surrounding landscape. I pretty much could tell where we were though, all the SE states have different feeling to it. So while I wasn't sleeping I had memories of when i was a kid. Making the Drive from Louisiana to SC in the "Ugly Pumkin" and the back again, being a kid. Just nostalgia.
We arrived in New Orleans at about 4:30 (quite a bit earlier than expected) and we waited till about 7:30 (we weren't expected till 8) for someone to get to the church. We stayed at St. Bernard Church of Christ, and their facilities were greatly appreciated. After about 30 to 45 min to change in to our work clothes and freshen up we got back on the bus and headed over to the St. Bernard Project. SBD is the organization that we worked with there and they really have some great people. When we arrived we were briefed on what we would be doing and exactly what the SBP does. They also essentially told us that they need us to be their advertisement. There are people that don't know that things in New Orleans are not fixed. There are even those in the city itself that don't know. 100% of the homes in St. Bernard parish were deemed uninhabitable and the project was established to help those that cannot afford to rebuild and also especially those that can't rebuild there own house (i.e. Elderly, single parents, full-time workers, relocated families, ect.) It also combats another one of the top reasons that people have not been able to get there lives back together and that is storm related mental illness. They offer counseling services free of charge to whomever may need them. It is an awesome organization. They take groups and individuals so if you are looking for a great opportunity to serve this is it.
After the briefing we headed to our work site where we met Dan and Nicole who were the site supervisors from the Americorps. We were also fortunate enough to be able to work along side the homeowner, whose name was Anthony, super great guy. For our group our assignment was...Drywall...oh yea. Most of us had never done that before so it took some getting used to. We were broken up into 3 groups, I was in #3. We worked on the Den and the kitchen, cutting, rasping, drilling, and hanging drywall. Not too much to talk about as far as the work hours go, we worked, that about all you can say. I really loved working with my team and all the other girls. Kudos to team #1 with that 2nd bedroom ceiling. It gave them a time but they never gave up. Worked from 8:30 till about 4 I think, minus a lunch break.
After the work day ended we headed back to the church and everyone took showers and freshened up for dinner. We weren't really sure where to go for supper so we just started walking. We ended up asking a guy having a birthday party where they thought a good place would be. WE ended up at Franky and Johnny's, from a the looks of it a very popular mom and pop place. I had a shrimp po-boy, which was excellent. After that we were ready to crash so we walked back to the church and just that.
The next morning was Sunday, which was our free day, so we headed into the city. There was just a liveliness about the city such a rich heritage. There is music on every corner and the street performer were a lot of fun. Our first stop was the Cafe Du Monde. The cafe is the only thing I still remember about New Orleans from when i went there when I was 4. The beignets still taste the same, oh so good. After that we got our beignets we went and sat by the river and enjoyed them then we headed over to the french market. It is a market a lot like the market in Asheville except New Orleans style :) it was neat to talk to the vendors and see their stuff. Especially the handmade stuff, i love handmade. One vendor in particuar, his name was Rico Salas. He and his brother make these Notebooks with handmande paper and Rico paints these beautiful designs on them. We talked with with him for a while about him and his bother and Mexico, where he was from, which I thought was pretty ironic. He was really cool to talk to. After the french market we just walked around for a little while. WE stopped at a show that some guys were putting on. They were break dancers and pretty hilarious. By the end of that show it was time for us to meet up with the rest of the group to go to the tour of the Garden District. I am not a huge fan of tours i love learning the information. The Garden District is a beautiful neighborhood, one of the more affluent ones with house owners such as John Goodman and also a house that used in the filming of Benjamin Button. I loved the architecture in New Orleans all the house even the ones in the poorer neighborhoods were beautiful. It reminded me of being in Mexico will all the bright colors. After the tour we headed back to the french quarter for supper. We went to Bourbon street, wich was interesting because by that time everyone had been drinking since 10 am that morning. There was a Saints game that morninf againsts that NY Giants and the Saints won. So needless to say there was plenty of celebrating. WE ate supper at a place called Cafe Beignets. IT was a great little place that had a live jazz band, a guy called steamboat willie, it was perfect. After supper Brittany and I decided that we had had enough of the night version of Bourbon st. to get off and we walked around some of the other shops and boutiques. Wandered around the French Quarter till it was time to go back to the church. I am so glad that Brittany was with me, we really enjoyed ourselves.
The next day, Monday, we had another workday at the same house. We put up more drywall ans was able finish most of out project that we had started. Then by the time we left it was starting to really look like a house on the inside. We were all glad that the homeowner, Anthony, was able to come and see us on his lunch break at work, since he works during the week. Again that work day was great, getting to work with my fellow connie's on such a work while project. I love my school.
After we finished work we headed back to the church, showered, and grabbed a snack and were out on the road headed home about an hour and half later. I said my Goodbyes to New Orleans and I would like to think the answered back with that magnificent sunset. I don't think I have ever seen one quite those colors, truly breathtaking. The ride back seemed pretty long, we stopped for supper, then kept going. I was in and out the whole way, just really restless from being so tired but not being able to sleep. We finally made it back at around 5:30 and it was freeeeeezing cold. It was so good to get into bed and sleep.
The trip was such a great trip. I can see now why so many people love New Orleans so much. Why so may songs are written about her and why so many people are proud to call it home. It is amazing after all they have been through the people of the city still have hope that they will get everything back together and many of them still have there hope in God. There is something about that you can't deny and something that is very contagious.
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