Friday, January 17, 2014

New Orleans Culture

I had the most incredible time in New Orleans during my visit with AmeriCorps and the Notre Dame Mission Volunteers. In addition to the warmth of everyone I met, I so enjoyed hearing about the unique culture full of joie du vivre.

I loved seeing trees lining the streets littered with sparkling Mardi Gras beads. I thought it was so special to hear that they were not placed there strategically, but have accumulated after so many years of celebrations and parades. It was as though they were enjoying the spirit of that day all year round.

Walking through the famous French Quarter we saw artists on every corner displaying their talents with paintings, drawings, sculptures, and even art made out of beads. However, nothing compared to the brass bands lining streets, playing fun and upbeat songs. I couldn’t help but stop and enjoy their sounds and feel their energy and pride in their city.

I stopped to take in a gorgeous view of the St. Louis Cathedral. Built in 1727 it is the oldest cathedral in all of North America. It truly is breathtaking with its Spanish Renaissance architecture. When I turned around, despite the overcast and drizzly weather we had on our sightseeing day, there was an amazing view of the Mississippi River. The Crescent City Connection cantilever bridge is among the five largest of its kind in the entire world. During Hurricane Katrina, all toll collection on the CCC halted in order to speed evacuation of residents.

Overall, it was the spirit of New Orleans that spoke to me the loudest. The residents are so proud of their history and of their ability to overcome adversity. There is so much rich history here and I was amazed at how well preserved the traditions have not only survived, but thrive.

The Fathers of Jazz are immortalized all over the city

The CCC spanning across the Mississippi River

Homes reflecting Spanish architecture were beautifully decorated and illuminated

A bride tosses her bouquet into bustling French Quarter below

The beautiful St. Louis Cathedral

I couldn’t leave New Orleans without having some trademark catfish! 

Seek Happiness,

Jesse

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