Travel Tuesday: Mardi Gras Memories

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

"Mardi Gras is the love of life.  It is the harmonic convergence of our food, our music, our creativity, our eccentricity, our neighborhoods, and our joy of living.  All at once."
- Chris Rose, 1 Dead in the Attic

TT - 2.12.13 - 2

TT - 2.12.13 - 1

Where was this photo taken?

These photos were taken in and around New Orleans, Louisiana almost a year after Hurricane Katrina in July 2006.  The top photo is right deep in the French Quarter, where things were less affected by the storm.  The bottom photo is from one of the parishes that was hit pretty hard by the storm.

Who were you with?
I went to New Orleans with a group from the Lutheran Church in the small town where I grew up in Indiana.  The trip was a mission trip to help with some of the disaster relief after the storm.  Our main goal was to help gut houses that had suffered from water damage.  We stayed in trailers behind a strip mall in Picayune, Mississippi, drank sweet tea, and spent our days tearing out drywall and attempting to preserve anything and everything we possibly could.  Our group was made up of a handful of adults and four guys from my youth group.  And me.  Regardless of my lack of female companionship, it was a memorable trip because of the friendships that I made and the incredible and terrible sights that I saw.

Why was this moment so important to capture?
I thought the contrast between these photos was incredible.  The French Quarter, the most iconic part of New Orleans, seemed to be almost back to normal, but the further out you got, even a year after the storm, neighborhoods were still empty, houses were full of mud, and there was almost no one doing anything about it.  My heart broke every time we came across a wedding dress or a photo album that couldn't be saved.  Sure, we had to suffer the Louisiana summer sun beating down on houses with no air circulation, wearing long sleeves, jeans, and face masks, but I'm so happy that I had the opportunity to help and make a small difference.

When people think about Mardi Gras, they think about all of the traditions, whether that be Pancake Day, pązcki, or daiquiris.  Most people's minds immediately go towards New Orleans and a wild parade of intricate costumes, excessive drinking, and beads on beads on beads.  I wanted to take a moment to share my experience with New Orleans to help us remember how far things have come.  I make no attempt to understand fully what it means to be from New Orleans or what the storm did to the city, but I'm taking this Mardi Gras to remember difficult times from the past and acknowledge how far we've come.

What Mardi Gras traditions do you have?


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