The anticipation of visiting a new place is always exciting for me. Even in cases where I’m visiting a place for a second or third time!
This past October I got the opportunity to go to New Orleans for a volunteer project which was up my alley. I’ve been volunteering since I can remember in some way shape or form in my community or at church. Anywhoo, a few people from my travel group linked up and and we went to New Orleans to volunteer with the St Bernard Parish Project.
“You never know what you have until you don’t.”
Well at least that was the case with this experience. I didn’t realize how naive I was to the displacement of families and rebuilding that needed to happen still, 10 years after Hurricane Katrina. I remember the hurricane hit while I was still working for Homeland Security at Regan National Airport. They pulled us all into a briefing and called for volunteers. I didn’t get the opportunity to go then, but this time, I wouldn’t miss it.
A lot of the devastation has been cleaned and the vibe of the city has returned, but there is still so much that needs to be done and reconstructed. I thought, probably like many, that New Orleans had been revived and was clear of the aftermath. I didn’t think I’d see those “X” marks the news stations once showed on houses.
I was wrong, but my experience was AWESOME!
I did a lot on this 4 day trip to include, volunteering, EATING, visiting a psychic, shooting OYSTERS, play on a streetcar, eat GUMBO, visit the Hurricane Katrina Memorial and a cemetery and EAT some more! LOL Don‘t judge me, I like food and if there ever was a place to indulge, this was one!
The World War II Museum and JetBlue cosponsored our group of 19 volunteers. We partnered with the St. Bernard Parish Project to help rebuild the home of a prominent community member and activist. Which definitely made me even more proud to help and excited I could bring peace to a family.
Johnny Jackson: Louisa Street, New Orleans
Johnny and Ara Jackson have been married nearly 50 years. The Jackson’s raised six children in their Louisa Street home, where they’ve lived since 1972. Johnny Jackson’s life has been devoted to his family and to his community – he served in the Louisiana
Legislature from 1972-1986, and was a New Orleans City Council Member from 1984-1994. Mr. Jackson has served on the boards of Total Community Action the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation and The New Desire Housing and Development Corporation; he was a captain for the Diamond Cutter Krewe of Zulu.
During Katrina, Johnny stayed behind with his mother and his disabled brother. They took shelter in his mother’s home, but soon realized they needed to leave – and quickly. They were rescued by a boat and dropped at the Convention Center, where they waited with 20,000 other lost and traumatized souls. After a few nights in a shelter, the family eventually found their way to Johnny’s daughter’s home in Dallas.
When Mr. Jackson returned home, he found nothing but mud, debris, and broken furniture; his kitchen appliances were in his living room. The family set to work, gutting, cleaning up, and hanging drywall. They soon discovered the drywall was contaminated; they had to tear it all down and start again, from scratch.
Several months ago, Mr. Jackson was diagnosed with colon cancer. Johnny Jackson is a true fighter, a survivor. He has given so much to his community – it’s time to give him and his family peace by rebuilding their home.
Gosh, his story brought tears to my eyes! I lost 3 of my grandparents to cancer, so this hit close home for me because I know how hard they worked so my parents and my family could thrive.
While working on Mr. Jackson’s home, we got the opportunity to meet his son and talk to him about the surrounding 9th ward, devastation, rebuilding, challenges they faced and what he believed still needed to happen.
I took this picture at the culmination of our day. I dubbed it “The Water Line.”
Notice the lines is above my head, which means the main level of his home was submerged. Its crazy that 10 years later, this water line remains; a permanent reminder of the devastation Hurricane Katrina caused. Mr. Jackson plans to leave the waterline as a reminder: Some never realize what they have until they don’t.
That experience in and of itself was the major highlight and humbling part of my trip. The GREAT news is, we helped complete his house and his entire family will be moving back in a few days on November 19th!
That Psychic Though
She blew me away with her reading! let me start by saying, I’ve never been into psychics and I always said I’d just want to sit there and they “spill the tea” about me.
Well prior to my trip, another woman in my travel group made a post about a psychic named Kay she went to visit in New Orleans. No lie, her encounter definitely made me curious even though I had always been a skeptic. I said back then, that when I went to NOLA, I’d go to Earth Odyssey to see her lady. Fast forward and I was there – Yikes!!! I was so anxious, but I was determined to go through with it. Besides, what was she really going to tell me?!
She was so on point, it was scary! I actually had to take a night to digest and journal my experience based on what she saw/told me. I’ll share the “quick and dirty” big points version:
When I went in and sat down, all I told her was my name and the type of readings I wanted. “My name is Andrea. Tarot and Angel readings please.”
I purposely didn’t give any info or make conversation. I had on a cropped turtleneck, sweater over top of that and my hands were in my lap. << The point of that will be noted in a second.
When I first sat down, she kept saying “I see Nefertiti or a strong queen, like you were a queen in a past life or something.” She said this a few more times throughout.
She saw great success, a marriage proposal to happen soon or that had recently just happened, a young spirit boy that sits to my right and that I may also have a son soon as well as I will inherit or have a daughter who is fiery. She also kept repeating that she was seeing a recent/ or upcoming trip to Paris.
She said she saw my mother’s white aura around me, but that the cards showed my mother pointing to my father and saying that I’m “the best part of my father.” She also saw a career transition in March/April. She went on to say that she saw success for my boyfriend and him starting a business where he would be very financially secure.
She pulled the Beauty card about 6 different times and noted my beauty was inward as well as outward and pure. Lastly, she said that I had Mystical Manifestation powers “like the wave of a wand and I can have whatever I want.”
We let me break it down:
–I was wearing a Nefertiti necklace under my shirt that could not be seen.
–I have been looking at flights to take my daughter to Paris in January for her birthday.
–My boyfriend and I have been discussing marriage and he’d marry me yesterday if I said yes.
–My boyfriend was going over his vision board he and I were just discussing the plan for next year in September and he said wants to reestablish a landscaping business he once had a few years ago!
–I never stated my mother had passed and because she was killed when I was 3 and I was left to be raised by my father and grandmother, my dad has become my BEST FRIEND, but yall know that already!
–I was tickled at the mystical manifestation thing because for the past 3 weeks I had been saying this money mantra and was coming into money left and right!
Let’s Be Clear, I still haven’t told my boyfriend about seeing the psychic – I don’t want him to get any ideas just because she said so. If he’s going to do anything, I want it to be genuine. Further, he isn’t reading my blog so I doubt he’ll see this post unless I point it out to him because he is working crazy hours at work and when he recovers from exhaustion, he’s busy playing with the kids.
Overall, I’d say she was legit – the REAL deal! There is no way she could have known those things because I didn’t make any conversation with her. I totally wish I had taped the reading, but if I ever go back, I will!
I know I had gumbo every single day, but here are some of the places I can remember we ate:
–The Maison << EVERYTHING was good here!
–Dat Darn Dog
–Olde Nawlins Cookery
–Rico’s Drunken Burrito
–Lil Dizzy’s Cafe
–Royal House Oyster Bar << Amazing Char-grilled Oysters
–Waffle House – because you have to when you’re in the South
–Popeyes – definitely way better than the DMV
& Beignets at Café Du Monde were THE BEST EVER! We went here at least 4 times, twice in one day!
I did happen upon a grocery store, Rouse’s, and picked up a ton of seasonings. Yall already know, “Drea Always Fixin Something Good!”
The street car was our main source of transportation. We found out about the 24 hour day pass that was definitely a winner! It was pretty cool riding it around and definitely whimsical.
On our first day there, we got to experience a “Second Line Band” twice. Once during the day and again that night. You know, the party going down the street with everyone following and dancing while the musicians play.
We stumbled upon the Hurricane Katrina Memorial after we arrived at the cemetery too late to go inside. Both places were eerily calming and peaceful. I guess I expected to feel unnerved, but I didn’t.
The BIG EASY
I definitely had an amazing time in this city. The people, wow – EVERYONE we met was so nice and helpful. The culture was nothing short of what I expected and the FOOD was amazeballs!!! *twirls*
Until next time…