Late in the week one of my students asked me to rate this week. I have to admit, I was rather unprepared to give him a straight answer, plus I didn’t want to give him a big head. And over the last 48 hours, I’ve had a chance for it all to sink in; to reflect upon the week that was. It was my sixth spring break on the Gulf Coast since 2006 and yes, I think I am prepared to say this is the best.

Kyle and Molly, March 2011.

This bunch has been somewhat quiet in class, so I didn’t quite know what to expect, but their true colors came through over the past eight days. I believe they really “got” the experience. Add to that a group of experienced leaders who did their utmost to promote group cohesiveness. In addition, with Molly and Duncan, we had two experienced Operation Helping Hands leaders who were attentive both to the job and to the students’ potential as volunteers. Moreover, we had near perfect weather – no rain and temperatures in the high 70s. And finally, all 36 of us were able to work on two work sites less than a block apart. That in itself is a singular work experience.

So two days after the fact, I’d have to say yes: it was a super week.  But unfortunately, the thing that capped it off was something the students totally missed: Super Sunday.

Super Sunday, March 2011.

Most aficionados eschew the name “Super Sunday,” but that is how most in New Orleans refer to it. To put it correctly, let’s call it the Uptown Indian parade. But it was clearly super.

I spent the morning chilling in my air conditioned room. After walking the streets of Treme well after dark the night before, it was nice not to have morning plans or responsibilities. I ate the hotel sponsored breakfast – ok, I admit it, coffee and glazed donuts. And I organized my photos and videos.

Around noon I picked up my new friends, Jen and Brendan, who attended the blues brunch at the House of Blues. We headed Uptown where I parked near Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and Simon Bolivar. We then walked up towards Washington and LaSalle, where the parade traditionally begins.  Since they were coming from a luxurious brunch, I broke away to have a sausage on French bread, with a beer. It was exquisite. And, as I was finishing my sandwich, the Indians began converging on the parade route.

Young Indian, March 2011.

Even though I have witnessed most “Super Sundays” since 2007, it is always a unique visual and aural experience. This year, I almost ignored the second line music, even though the Hot 8 Brass Band was playing. Instead, I found myself concentrating on the costumes and the Indian music. And in that, there was no way that I could be disappointed.

Jen, Brendan and I walked down Simon Bolivar, checking out the costumes of each tribe and listening to the Afro-Caribbean rhythms of each tribe. It was a hot, sunny day, so we prized the oak shaded neutral ground before the turn onto Martin Luther King.  Several miles and beers later, it was nothing short of awesome.

Molly and Duncan, Super Sunday, March 2011.

After we made the turn, Molly and Duncan, our Operation Helping Hands leaders, caught up with us. It was great to touch base with them and for them to enjoy this unique New Orleans experience. We all stood and watched as the parade made a turn back to the beginning. We had seen pretty much everything, so we broke off at that point.

Rites of Spring, Spotted Cat, March 2011.

I dropped Jen and Brendan at their hotel and headed back to the Hotel St. Pierre. I went down to Frenchmen ad caught the Rites of Swing at the Spotted Cat. I met a local couple and we spent some time exchanging notes about the local music scene.  Afterwards, I went for a lovely dinner of a half dozen oysters, seafood gumbo, and an Abita amber. It had been a long day and a long week, so after that I headed back to the Hotel St. Pierre and a quiet evening by the pool.

And all totaled, I knew it had not only been a Super Sunday, it had been a Super Week.

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