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Katrina and the Egg...part II
Dear Egger friends,[p]A ramble about New Orleans with a BGE ending:[p]Being unable to find things seems to be a theme here in New Orleans. [p]Let me open by saying that there seems to be a lot of confusion about the state of New Orleans. In speaking to friends across the country I get the impression that there are two distinct visions of NOLA. One is that the street cars are running and the French Quarter is fine and thus the city as a whole is 100% back to normal- crisis over. The other vision is that we drive air boats and wrestle with gators on the way to the FEMA camps- Nola is done for. Obviously the truth lies very much in the middle.[p]Both visions are true- this may seem strange but this is New Orleans and we are OK with strange things. Within a 4 mile circle (in some places a 4 block circle) you can go from eating at a 5 star place to standing on a muck covered slab that use to be a home. It is bizarre to say the least. The current picture of this city is a mosaic of realities- people are decorating their flooded out and now gutted houses with the normal x-mas lights. Some neighborhoods are fine and look like nothing ever happened. Friends of mine go to work in the morning after sleeping in their gutted homes without electricity and hot water– not b/c they don’t have a place to go but because that is their home and that is where they want to stay. Other friends of mine had no damage to their home but the mental stress of being here has forced their hand and they have decided to start life over in another place.[p]I have never been through anything like this and I hope that you never will. Yet I digress.. the opening point was finding things. Nothing seems to be where it was before. Our back house (where we live) had the roof torn off and we had Katrina and Rita’s rains fall into our house. Ceiling fell, walls soaked- a mess. The front house where we run our B&B was fine. BTW, front house built 1800’s- fine, back house built 1980- toast (wet toast)- don’t build them…and all that Jazz. Still we are much better of than many here who lost everything- I mean everything.[p]We salvaged what we could, tossed the rest. Of course there is not a rental storage facility to be found for miles and these PODS containers are on back order for months so while the house was being gutted we did the “remaining personal possessions shuffle” game… move stuff, gut room, move stuff again, gut room, repeat. Of course that makes it tough to find anything you may need after you shuffle your boxes 5-10 times. I have come to the point that if the item I need is under $20 and I truly need it, I will look for 10 min and if not successful- will just go and buy a new one. Sanity does have a price.[p]Then comes the food cravings. Ever get the thought of one particular dish in your head ? The thought is so strong that you can see it, smell it and taste it. I know you do. In most functioning places- not a problem, go get it, make it, eat it. Here… problem. Now we have several national brand grocery stores open and they are fully stocked but they often don’t carry the local brands (particularly b/c many of the local brands flooded out). Unfortunately I happen to like some local products and national brands just don’t cut it. Well, the other day I was on a quest and I was rewarded. A local family grocery just re opened their doors and I got the last 4 links of their first post- K batch of green onion pork sausage. So very very very good.[p]So while finding things is a difficult thing to do at time, if you look in the right places you can find what you need.[p]As you all know, food has the power to unify a community and help heal wounds. We…with “we” being my neighbors and friends from the community… have spent many afternoons and evenings sitting around the BGE trading insurance tips, contractor info, “what is open now” info and venting frustrations when needed. I can’t fire it up with out several of the neighbors eventually stopping by to see what is on the egg, often they depart and then return with something to toss on the grid. Several of these folks I had never met before the storm because of the usual BS that keeps us insulated from our communities and in front of our TV’s. In all honesty the BGE, for my block, has been a community builder. I guess we found something special in a place where it never was before.[p]I know this may sound sappy but it is true. In times of crisis and ongoing stress people need to talk to each other. Often it is hard to take off the “game face” and talk about it, but there is something about the smell of smoke and great food that breaks down the walls and lets people open up and get stuff off of their chest. A good meal, a good gripe session, some laughs and the day seems brighter, the problems less insurmountable and the next day holds the promise of being a little closer to normal.[p]I hope that you and your neighbors are enjoying the BGE to the full potential![p]If you are interested in more day to day info about NOLA from our point of view, Rachel has been keeping a blog on our web site. www.bohemianarmadillo.com she has also been interviewed several times on NPR Sunday edition- if you google ‘bohemian Armadillo’ it should come up on the third or fourth hit.[p]
Thanks to all who have kept us in their thoughts![p]Eric and Rachel[p]
[ul][li]Bohemian Armadillo Guest House New Orleans