After five days in Louisiana and 2 volunteering with Habitat, I am beat, sunburnt, and maybe a little bit better person. Maybe. Le Vieux Carré is almost the same as I remember it. The first night that I was here I reveled in the literary beauty of the Quarter, and while in the Jazz Emporium opted for a mint julep to bring me that much closer to Faulkner. Eventually, I bought As I Lay Dying from the Faulkner House Bookstore, just because that is what you have to do when you are in New Orleans. I also had to partake in a café au lait per day, or two per day, as it happened, from Café du Monde.
Thinking back on that bit of wild fun, I almost forget the last two days, which have been hours and hours of dirt and sweat. We are out in the St. Bernard parish, about half hour outside of the city, at Camp Hope. A converted middle school, Camp Hope is home base for Habitat for Humanity and Americorps volunteers post Katrina. Yesterday was 8 hours of house painting in 100 degree, 60% humidity weather. Today, bestie Hillary and I built a porch. Actually, we built major parts of two different porches. I am not a contstruction-type person. I am not a heat-type person. I would almost prefer to be taking finals.
Does this make me selfish? Half of me is really proud of myself, and I really want to help the people here. Driving through the deserted towns is worse than looking out the back of the car when I was in Nicaragua. At least there was some shoddy bit of an eonomy in Nicaragua. Here, there is nothing. Nothing but people living in a food/retail desert without half of their homes or their neighbors. I want to help them. I want to make this look like America again.
But I hate construction.
Maybe I should take over FEMA, so should something like this happen in the future, so many volunteers won’t be needed three years later.
I am a terrible person. But that doesn’t mean that I won’t finish Miss Edna’s porch.