New Orleans, LA – The weather here in New Orleans has been heavenly. Today was eighty-six degrees and sunny—I even got a sunburn sitting outside for lunch. After a day of hard work at the site, we returned to a delicious BBQ grill-out with the Sisters of Charity and drew a complicated hopscotch in their driveway with a piece of charcoal. After we had eaten just as much of the sweet corn, burgers, brats, and vanilla pudding as we possibly could, Sister Monica took us down to the historic downtown district for an evening stroll and a snack-stop at the Café du Monde.
The French Quarter is the oldest and liveliest part of the city right along the river: narrow streets full of shops, restaurants, and art galleries. The impressive St. Louis Cathedral stands right across from Jackson Square, and at this time of night the sidewalk is claimed by magicians, palm readers, tarot card tables, and street musicians. We walked down “pirate alley” in honor of the famous John Lafitte, a buccaneer who helped Jackson defeat the British in the battle of New Orleans in exchange for an official pardon back in 1815. Every theatre and hotel has its own sign to claim that the place is haunted, and by the looks of the old buildings this is totally believable. It was only a brief introduction to the French Quarter, but we are planning to return on Friday afternoon to explore some more in daylight.
Stopping at the Café, we sampled another New Orleans delicacy; Beignets (pronounced “ben—yay”) are fried pastry squares covered in powdered sugar, and were a big hit with our group. Our night-time reflection this evening was an exploration of why we feel drawn to participate in service, and why this is important for personal growth as well as the communities we are engaging.
– Liam Bickerstaff