I'm back from New Orleans. It was a lot of fun. Things have definitely changed...there and with me. I find that I'm really not interested in walking down Bourbon street...at all! I love the history, the food, the shopping and the architecture. I use to be sad when I left, but the last time I went I didn't have a daughter and I missed her terribly. Of course I missed my husband, but you ladies out there who have children know what I mean. I found some awesome books, clothes and jewelry. We shopped Friday on Magazine Street and then headed to the hotel around 4:00. Had dinner and then walked around some more. By the time 7:00 rolled around we were exhausted. We headed to our room and up to bed.
Started out early Saturday morning at Cafe du Monde (regular tourist spot) and then down to the French Market. There is a lot of renovations taking place, which was great to see. Stopped off at our favorite jewelry store (New Orleans Gem and Lapidary) and heard the most amazing story from the owner, Guy. He actually remember me and my mom, we do stop by every time we go. He stayed during Katrina and of course had to deal with the aftermath. Here is where I veer off to tell you Guy's story.
He slept on the floor of his shop with his shotgun and two dogs for 6 WEEKS!!! No food, water, electricity, sewage...nothing. He has so much stuff, there would have been no way for him to pack it up and I don't blame him for not wanting to leave. He would have been looted for sure. Keep in mind this is a man that owns his building. Owning a piece of property in the French Quarter is a big deal. Its extremely expensive and you are usually very wealthy or have owned it for a while, like 20+ years. I say this because he is a very successfully shop owner and what he ended up doing to survive was something I'm sure he never imagined he would ever have to do.
Because no one really expected Katrina to hit New Orleans, there were no preparations made. No one expected the power to go out for an extended period of time. After the levees broke, things shut down so there was no food to buy because stores were closed and even if you had a car, it was difficult to get threw all the water. So here is where the story begins....Guy purchased a bike from a random person on the street for $10 and would ride to the Convention Center and Superdome area to scavenge threw what was being left behind by the people who were finally being evacuated from those areas. They were not allowed to bring much with them so they were leaving water and various food items behind. This is what he did to survive. There were military personnel all around and they had mounds of those military meals, but would not share them with anyone. Guy's theory is that who ever was in charge wanted everyone to leave, so handing out meals would only encourage people to stay. Eventually the power, water, etc all came back. Guy's story was very hard for my mom and I to hear. We had thought of him and prayed while we watched the craziness of the aftermath of Katrina unfold. I'm so thankful to see he survived.
We talked to many people over the weekend, many of their stories were the same...devastating. I'm glad we went back and did our part to stimulate their economy because that is what they need. I will say it is very safe in the French Quarter and the Garden District. If you were considering going, go! Just be smart and don't go where you would never had gone before, ie. the 9th ward. There is a very big police presence and I never felt uncomfortable.
So onto more happy things and to finish my trip....we ate and shopped and shopped and ate. Finally finishing up all our souvenir shopping today and the 1850 House. This is a cool place, lots of books on New Orleans. Its located in the Pantalba Apartments (oldest apartments in the US). There is a tour of them with a space set up just like it would have been in 1850. We didn't have time today to do that, so its on our "to do" list for next time.
So now, onto the pictures......