Sunday, March 26, 2006

Alternative Spring Break: from my journal.

I spent my spring break in Louisiana working to help out rebuild the community affected by Hurricane Katrina. It was very intense. A life-changing experience. Everything in New Orleans shouts "Katrina," and sadness is in the air. Some parts of the city are empty and lifeless. Some other parts, life the French Quater, look fine.

I kept a journal for the trip. Here are some excerpts:

DAY 1 - Sat. March 18:
It was the longest ride ever. It took 16 hrs to get here. I read a lot of my "Loving Che" book. I love it. There were many beautiful things to see when we were on the road.

DAY 2 - Sun. March 19:
If I didn't have to write this down I wouldn't know that it's Sunday. Life has been random and beautiful for the past 2 weeks.
Today has been great. I bought some postcards and a great shirt for my sis. We walked around the French Quater and it was beautiful. I took a lot of pictures.
In an art gallery, the owner was talking about some of the pieces when somehow it came out that we're here to volunteer. The expression in her face completely changed. You could see sadness and gratefulness in her eyes. I've seen that look before. In the faces of many after the earthquake in 2001.

DAY 3 - Mon. March 20:
I was ready to go out and help... after my peanut butter and jelly bagle.
I feel like I was blind to what really happened here.
This morning a lady walked by and said thank you. She lost her job and she said she was homeless last week. People on the streets were stopping by to say thank you.

Day 4 - Tues. March 21:
Today we painted a school. I got to paint the trims on a room with Megan and Derrick. Time went flying because of the good conversations.
I found out I like to be called by my last name.
New Orleans is destroyed. Some parts we drove around are completely trashed and empty.

DAY 5 - Wed. March 22:
We worked for Habitat for Humanity building a house for a family displaced by Katrina.
I'm tired. We played Tripa Chuca and spent a lot of time arguing about a line -- if it touched or didn't.
I still need the perfect photo for my poster assignment.
Hoy tome cafe del Libano.

DAY 6 - Thurs. March 23:
So crazy. I've had so much fun this week. This morning no one wanted to work. But when I started working hard I got props ("I see you, Gutierrez").
There was an article on the local newspaper about us today.
I was messing with Kerry today... almost all day. I caught her doing nothing, sittin down with her feet up in the lader and I called that "pulling a Kerry." We said she was "chillin, chillin like strawberry fillin."
Daniel reminded me how I got up to get his guacamole at Chilli's when the waitress wouldn't come. Derrick has been working on his Spanish.
[I had some sketches after this]

DAY 7 - Fri. March 24:
Last day. Loaded with emotions, amazing conversations, a beautiful sunset, and photos.
Going around the city I was overwhelmed with sadness and loneliness. Because the empty houses and torn-down dreams screamed that to me. New Orleans is destroyed and so empty.
Now, seven months after the tragedy... looks as if it happened last month.
So many people left with nothing. So many people left with no one.
I saw a piece of a china plate on the ground. A familiar object. Maybe someone's favorite.
I met Mr. Morris Jones. A photographer from New Orleans. We talked for awhile, even after they all left.
History. Life.
He called me a Godsent.

No music. No life.
New Orleans is a city of contrasts. Rich and poor, old and new, party and sorrow, life and death. The boundaries are best defined here.
We went to a park by the river. I saw the sunset and took some pics.
Daniel saw me sitting on a bench and came. We talked.
Derrick played the piano when we were back in the boat when we stayed. It was nice. I was sitting by the window watching a star and Daniel came. He's good about catching me on my quiet moments.
Somehow I ended up learning to play "Für Alice" on the piano. It felt better than just listening to it. "We're making music." Because "You can never go wrong with the white keys."
[More drawings after this]


Prophet Fire & Audra Mairead said...

Thank you for your efforts to help rebuild peoples' lives. Great site and Che quote. My favorite is "Let me say, with the risk of appearing ridiculous, that the true revolutionary is guided by strong feelings of love… Above all, always be capable of having compassion for any injustice committed against anyone anywhere in the world."

We, like you, are part of a growing grassroots movement and are asking people check out our controversial song and spread the word. It's like Eminem and Fiona Apple wrote about Hurricane Katrina with a razor blade on the apathetic arms of America. Is She too numb to notice? You can't pick up the cd at your local Mega-Mart. This song is to mainstream radio what blogs are to mainstream media. Few will hear it and even fewer will understand it. We hope you are one of them...

Coco said...

la accion, mientras ayudas al projimo, es oracion...


i LOVE turkish coffee!