Another beautiful day in New Orleans, although it started out quite foggy along the Mississippi. With reduced visibility along the Mississippi River Bridge, cars ran into each other, and traffic was backed up quite a bit. My morning trip to Gentilly, which had been ruinning about 25 minutes turned into an hour. The students were also caught in the backup. Although once we all got together, it was back to work.

new-orleans-2009-129We continued painting and priming and the work is really taking shape. By Friday, we should have a very good idea of what the finished product will look like. In addition to painting, Emily C. and I added primer to the back of the house.

new-orleans-2009-173In between work we had a steady stream of visitors: dogs and neighborhood children. Of the for former, Cookie, a terrior and chihuahua mix, rules this block of Mazant Street, although he seems to have ongoing run ins with the neighbor. By mid afternoon, we entertained a steady stream of kids curious about what we we were doing, but also about what a group of white, college students from New England are doing in their neighborhood. The neighbor seemed to take issue with them, as well, and shooed them away at every opportunity.

Once again, we had to rush back to Marrero. This time to get ready for an Afro-Creole dinner at the Praline Connection on Frenchmen Street. I had set this up with help of Jeremiah Brooks from the restaurant. And the results were a great hit. I was most impressed that their regular menu is very friendly to vegetarians and those with dietary restrictions. In fact it was the most complete meal that some of our students enjoyed for the week. Jeremiah spoke for a few minutes about Creole culture and food. And then, students dug into red beans and rice, greens, jambalaya, fried chicken, fried catfish, french fries and cornbread. Most accompanied their meal with sweet tea and topped it off with peach cobbler. It was more thanadequate compensation for a week of cold cereal and sandwiches on the work site.

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It was St. Joseph’s Day, which in New Orleans means altars to Sicily’s patron saint and mysteriously, is the night Mardi Gras Indians venture out to engage in mock combat with neighboring tribes. Most neighborhoods are too dangerous to go into at night and the Indians do not advertise the place and time of their processions, so we didn’t actively plan to try to catch it. While two vans stayed downtown, I accompanied Trevor and Conors group out to the Rock and Bowl off of Carrollton Avenue. I intentionally went through uptown — along Claiborne and planned to cut over to St. Charles to see if we could find any Indians Almost immediately we heard new-orleans-2009-1631and then saw two tribes locked up off Claiborne near Washington Avenue. We got out of our vehicles and viewed the chanting and drumming before they moved further back into the neighborhood. We were dazzled, but several of the students were understandably uncomfortable with the surroundings. As a result, we remained in our vehicles as we came upon several additional encounters before reaching St. Charles Avenue.

We eventually made it to Rock and Bowl. It was zydeco night and between the real and imagined Cajuns and the spring break crowd. So, the students, infused with the adrenaline from their Indian encounters, danced on to midnight.

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