Day Five: Sampling New Orleans

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— 12:15 p.m. Friday, March 24, 2006

I've written all week about the devastation and destruction in New Orleans. Melinda and I return to Colorado today, and decided we had better experience what's going well in this city before we left.

Yesterday afternoon and this morning, we toured the French Quarter, took pictures of the Super Dome and browsed the shops on the River Walk.

We wanted to experience the taste of New Orleans tourists come here for. We sampled authentic Cajun bloody Marys and purchased Mardi Gras beads on Bourbon Street. I bought a painting from a local artist, listened to a trumpet player over benets and had my palm and tarot cards read by a woman named Fatima wearing a red turban. She told me that I will live a long life, but need to cut back on my caffeine and alcohol intake. It's doubtful that will happen.

Melinda and I genuinely had a good time. It was a welcome break from the scenes we've taken in all week. It felt good to just feel good.

And it gave me hope. Most of what we've seen of New Orleans is torn down, moldy and often, abandoned. The French Quarter -- with its "cocktails to go" and all -- was spared the wrath of Hurricane Katrina. People still party on Bourbon Street, still play harmonica on Jackson Square and still take in the history in the area's architecture and museums.

What makes New Orleans the city it is still exists, and I think that's what residents are going to cling to as they rebuild the city they nearly lost.

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