Sunday, 13 April 2008

The Ninth Ward

New Orleans was a little run down before Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but it's crappy in large parts now. The Brazilian guy and I took a drive around the parts of town where the levees burst, and those areas are still blasted wastelands. The houses are boarded and marked with spraypainted codes, describing numerically how damaged the house is and the reference number for the owner and occupants. Wiring dangles from roofs and the road is wrinkled from groundwater and potholed from neglect.
The Ninth Ward was the most devastated area, and most of the lots are razed to the ground. A few still stand.

The large graveyards, full of ancient crypts and sarcophagi, have been partially restored. I guess some ghostly residents don't have any relatives left.

The French Quarter is full this weekend. Revelers have flocked in from all over the country to drink, wear ill-advised skirts, drive smoky motorcycles and listen to garage zydeco bands sweat the oldies.

I went to a Pralines restaurant and ate alligator sausages and ice tea (good), catfish and gumbo (not bad), and beans (gloopy). Later in the market I was tempted by an alligator-claw backscratcher, but considered how tough it would be to justify it at Customs.

Tonight I'm relaxing on the third-floor balcony of my hotel, a former Orphan Asylum, and looking out at the rusty balustrades, colourful paint schemes, and passing swarms of unidentifiable insects. I'm smoking $3.50-a-pack Marlboros and drinking vodka with sweet ice tea. This town is called The Big Easy.

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