Saturday morning broke warm and humid. I went out for breakfast and took a walk deep into the French Quarter. The first of many showers broke and I was drenched.
I went to Domilise’s for a “small” oyster po-boy. Folks were lined up in the rain, but that did not deter them from dressed deliciousness. And no, it did not disappoint.
Trevor and Conor’s group had arrived in the middle of the night and by late morning, they were ready to make plans for the day. I met up with them near the corner of Louisiana and St. Charles and within a few minutes the Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day began rolling by. The rain dampened the crowd but not the spirits. We came away with some good laughs, more beads than anyone could possibly wear, and a dozen cabbages to boot. The students got into a minor fender bender leaving the parade: They waited for over an hour for the police to show up and even then, they didn’t seem too attuned to filing the necessary report. At least they got to see the NOPD for, well, what it’s known for.
I returned back to our place in Marrero and met Stu and Meaghan’s group and about an hour later, Brittany and Brad’s groups. Folks picked out bedrooms, unpacked, and began preparations for the evening. We ventured down to the French Quarter for the Italian-American Parade, which was a sodden mess, both in terms of the rain and the amount of alcohol that participants had (and were consuming). Students ventured out for dinner and I headed over to the Spotted Cat. We met up later at Cafe du Monde for cafe au lait and beignets. Later, van by van of the New Hampshire contingent headed back across the river.
Sunday broke equally dreary. It looked as though the clouds would break for a while, but due to the uncertain forecast, the Mardi Gras Indians cancelled their parade. Instead of going to yet another St. Patrick’s Day parade, the students decided to visit the Lower Ninth Ward and Chalmette Battlefield. The weather held off as students walked the slightly less desolate neighborhood. They witnessed the emptiness, saw the new sustainable houses built by Brad Pitt’s foundation, and most important, they got to talk to residents, who in spite of losing their homes and in several cases family members, are able to maintain at least a facade of humor and hope. It was a great lesson for the students.
We met at the Chalmette Battlefield in time for yet another downpour. We arrived in New Orleans just before more rain. We did head back in after dinner and a change of dry clothes. And remarkably, the rain off as the students sampled the musical buffet that is Frenchment Street. Hanging at the doorways of bars they could not enter, while heading in and out of the ones they could.
Some got back later than others, but all were focused on beginning our week of work in the city. And with any luck, we would begin the week without the incessant rain.