New Orleans: Ma Petite Abode

New Orleans.  Hurricane Katrina.  Devastation.  

So much of what is happening in Japan right now is being reflected in the hearts of the people of New Orleans.  

They feel lucky.  
They are thankful.  
They are compassionate.

We spent a wonderful Spring Break winding our way through this city of the deep South.   I was born and raised in Louisiana.  My kids have been born and raised mostly in the North.  What an incredible journey to introduce them to the cultural experience of this  historic city.

A very good childhood friend of mine lives on the beautiful Esplanade Ave. (borders the French Quarter to the east).  She arranged for us to stay in an old home that lets out rooms converted into apartments.  Nothing makes you feel like a "local" than being tucked away in a neighborhood off the French Quarter.  

I'm going to start a series of articles about New Orleans.  This first one will be about the neighborhoods off of Esplanade Ave.   Next, will follow:  The Food and The People
I struggle to find words to describe New Orleans.  There are too many words that define the essence here.   Every sense is engaged in absorbing this city.  Everywhere you look are scenes of yin and yang, rich and poor, beauty and destruction, grace and desperation.  

Time seemed to slow down a pace as we strolled the neighborhood streets.  The quiet that permeates the sidewalks is punctuated by neighbors chatting from porch to porch, children being walked from here to there, and the rolling of city life moving through and through.

It's very difficult to imagine what the landscape looked like after the hurricane.  I have friends and family who lost everything during that time and started their lives from scratch.  It was just very hard to imagine that story as we shuffled along the quaint, quiet streets.

A few blocks from our little home, tucked away here and there are small coffee shops, cafes, and tiny markets. Businesses are tucked away in the neighborhoods, wonderfully unobtrusive and discreet. Small family owned places gently make their presence known and leave you feeling like you have uncovered a little jewel of a find.

Walking slow is certainly advised on the sidewalks of this charming neighborhood region of New Orleans.  Huge oak trees push up the cement making for a wild bike ride along the twisty little paths.  That's a good thing too, because an excuse is sure needed to slowly meander in front of the beautiful homes oozing with charm and southern style.

Not all of New Orleans is laid back, tranquil and as blissful as this wonderful area.  The struggle to bring this great city back is heard from the hammers pounding and work trucks rolling along.  Unmistakably, however,  a can-do attitude  permeates the faces of the people on the street.  

More tomorrow, but for now, enjoy the wonderful stroll along the streets of Esplanade Ave. in New Orleans, Louisiana.

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