My first spring break! New Orleans was the lucky city to host me over for spring break. [:D] It was a long drive from Minneapolis. Long in distance and time. Obviously, as they are both related. We passed through many states viz Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi. I liked the part when we entered each new state. It gave a feeling of achievement. Yeah I know, I wasn't the first human to set foot there. [Because I was in a car silly!] But still, its good to say 'been there seen there' for those states.
And what about the time in between? Each state stretched for 3-4 hours. Well, the time was well spent by watching the sometimes stunning and other times drab scenery go by; talking and I thank the co passengers of the White Bolt for being such wonderful travel companions; gathering my few and far flung thoughts; flipping radio stations; eating, and some more eating; staring at people in cars passing by; counting sheep in my head; sleeping, trying to sleep and trying not to sleep. I hope you haven't gone to sleep by now. Twenty hours is a long time to be sitting in a car. At times I felt watching paint dry would have been more interesting. But most of the time it was fun. Thank you Jaime and Tony for the smooth and safe drive.
Our group from Newman Center went to New Orleans to help the organization Rebuilding Together in their efforts of helping New Orleans recover from the devastation caused by Katrina. The work included painting, putting insulation in the roof and caulking the windows. It was new experience for me. My paint stained, worn out work clothes will be my new chick magnet in Minneapolis. But this trip was more than an experience in hands on work.
We heard stories from many people. There was this 83 year old owner of the house we were working on. She was so energetic and cheerful despite her age, the 4.5 years wait for her house to be rebuilt and the recent death of her husband. She had this spark in her eyes and spring in her step that will always serve as an inspiration to me when I feel bogged down. Then there were the volunteers who told us about their experience and encouraged us to do the same. How could they help people they are not even remotely related to? As Jesus said, if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.
A girl told us her story about being trapped in a house for days and the mayhem around her when she finally got out. Another guy told us about how he was trapped in his house as the waters rose. He had to stayed afloat for hours until he got washed ashore some place else. I had never seen a natural disaster struck zone before. Even after 4.5 yrs, the place is still scarred. I imagined the terrible scenes. I am thankful to God that I never had to experience a natural disaster. Sometimes we forget to be grateful to God for quotidian stuff like good weather!
I know the work we did was negligible as compared to what remains to be done. But it showed the people we cared. Every bit counts in the long rebuilding process. Besides, it may inspire some of us to join such volunteer groups after graduation from college. As for whether New Orleans must be rebuilt given that it is bound to be hit again as it is below sea level at most places, I don't know. If people wanna come back we must help them. And the city has a prominent place in history and culture of the Southerners especially the Afro-Americans..
New Orleans is a fun city. We lived in the French Quarter which is a tourist place. The one thing that caught my attention right away was the ubiquitous presence of alcohol. People walked the streets with booze in hand, there were pubs all over the place. The 'Hurricane' from Pat O'Brien's almost blew me off. The architecture of the houses reminded me of Goa. Music could be heard everywhere. This is the center for Jazz music. The air was filled with cheerful energy. Oh and there were palm trees. Long time no see, my dear palm trees. And the place is renowned for exotic cuisine. A must visit for the foodies.
Soon it was time to head North. It was a wonderful trip. A Spring break well spent. See y'all later!