Thursday, March 6, 2008

Popsicles and Tents

I had a great day at the job site and we got a lot done today. Not only did we get to help build a house, work with some pretty sweet volunteers and help out in New Orleans; but we also got a visit from the ice cream truck. After lunch our team took a lovely little break to run towards the music-playing-truck of frozen goodies. We also got a gift of oranges from Jonathan, the neighbor down the street. Then later that afternoon the owners-to-be stopped by and dropped off some blood oranges with the stems and leaves still attached. By the end of the work day I think we all agreed that it had been a most successful day.

"Downtown, things will be great when you're downtown."

After work we rushed back to the compound to take showers before we got our first chance to hit downtown a la noche. We piled on the bus at 5 pm and tried to leave a couple people behind, but they ran and caught up. Once downtown most of us went to the famous Cafe du Monde for cafe au lait and beignets. What we didn't expect to get at the Cafe was Criss Angel MindFreak who was shooting an episode of his strange magic show.

Enough of downtown, I wanted to make a plug for the absolute devastation that still exists in New Orleans. Driving to and from the job sites and downtown we've seen so many houses that can't be described with words because they are still in such disrepair. On the way back from town tonight, we saw tents and bedrolls set up next to the highway and underneath an overpass. To be cliché, it really hits home to see this kind of poverty and meet the people who have been impacted by something like Katrina. Steve, our bus driver, drove us into the Lower 9th Ward to see ground zero. Many of the houses were gone and Steve explained to us that the state had seized most of the property, only to turn around and sell it to the highest bidder rather than try and rebuild the community. There's a reason people always say these kind of trips really mean something to them and that they gain a better understanding about certain problems in the world. I think it was said best by something we saw spray painted on a building, "Wealth in the face of poverty is an assault on our humanity."


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