Friday, 30 March 2012

After the carnage of New Orleans

My week long drive around the states of Louisiana and Mississippi ended at Lake Charles airport where I was picked up by a friend of mine Erika, whom along with her husband Chris I stayed with for the following week.

I had never met Erika's family before, I know them through a friend of mine and I was absolutely overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness they gave me as I have been by a lot of people I have met on my travels.

During my stay there we had a shooting day, I had never fired a gun before so it was with some anticipation that I got the opportunity to do so. By the end of the day my new nickname was dead eye!


Coming from England it was completely alien for me to be surrounded by so many weapons, this is  completely natural though to the people who live here, it's part of their life and what they have grown up with, very stark contrast to my upbringing  .

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

As I write this I am sitting in a motel room in a place called Hammond, Louisiana. After 3 days of sleeping in the car and 5 without washing I just wanted somewhere to shower and a good bed to sleep in. Hammond was not a destination I intended to go to, in fact I haven't had a particular destination to go to since I hit the road 3 days ago, I just wanted to drive. I stumbled across this town after seeing a rather beautiful sight in the setting sun I just had to photograph. I then got lost, which happens a lot with me. I think I have so far covered about 200 miles just being lost. It does have it's benefits though, I have seen some sights I would otherwise have never seen.

My last post was Miami, I have since been to Nashville, which involved a nightmare journey on the greyhound on which I happened to miss my connecting bus and ended up in Nashville 12 hrs late. The journey without me missing it was 19 hrs on its own. I sure did meet some interesting people though!

As I was waiting for the next bus I went out for a smoke in the early hours of the morning to find this guy, a vietnam vet and a lady he was travelling with. From what I have seen on film and tv of vietnam vets it's that they never hesitate to tell of their time in war.. He didn't disappoint. The sad truth was that he and the woman were serious alcoholics.

I didn't want to be too conspicuous with my shots inside the bus garage so I used the 35mm compact. I think the pictures tell of the boredom felt by everybody.

I took very little pictures in Nashville, it was bitterly cold and walking the streets for hours wasn't too much fun.. Sitting in a bar drinking was!

One of the nights I did decide to walk this guy asked if he could bum a smoke. I gave him the one I was smoking and after a brief chat about where I was from and that he was a musician I carried on walking. about 30 seconds later I could hear him calling out to me, I ignored him thinking he wanted money or something. He carried on calling out and walking after me so I stopped. He wanted to give me a truckers hat of his he had in his bag, it said city of London on it. I declined a few times but he insisted so I took it and asked to take his picture. I have discovered that people are very willing for me to take their pictures for a couple of cigarrettes..I have the hat and have been wearing it, washed of course

From Nashville I then went down to New Orleans for Mardi Gras via the Natchez trace with a top guy called Tom who is from Belgium. He offered me a lift saving me no amounts of hassle trying to get to New Orleans by bus and train. Tom was in the same room as I in the hostel and we hit it off straight away, even though he did think I was an Ozzie, ha!  The drive down was great and we stopped over the night in this little town called French camp with a big old barn conversion to ourselves. Tom is travelling around the world, I hope we get to meet again someday.

Lissa below greeted us upon arrival at French Camp, I think she owns the place. Also runs the local gift shop!

I have been pleasantly surprised by how welcoming the people are in these little towns.

On the way down we were recommend a place to eat at, The Old country store so we popped in. What a great place. It's run by Arthur Davis. The place is exactly that, an old store and is filled with nick nacks, for sale of course.

All you can eat for $12 and the food was gorgeous, washed down with a sweet iced tea. Arthur even sang us an old Louisiana song for us.

I'm also now on the wall of business card fame!

Now, the delay for my second post was due to two things. First was New Orleans and Mardi Gras. During this time it is completely insane, as I hear it is pretty much all year round and trying to do anything other than party is nigh on impossible. Secondly, the place I was staying at did not have an internet connection. Where was I staying?

In Miami I met a girl called Emily, whom I would now consider a good friend. Emily is originally from New York, has done much travelling in her short years and ended up in New Orleans for 3 months working on The St Barnard project. The project was set up to rebuild homes that were damaged from the flooding caused by hurricane Katrina and I was fortunate enough to help out for a day on one of the homes.

Emily was staying with a friend of hers in a shotgun house, (your gonna have to google that!) with a bunch of people that who are, for want of a better word an artists comune, very little in the way of amenities and mod cons. they have two of these shotgun houses, one to live in and the other as a big studio. The guys that live there are great, made me feel very welcome and I was touched by their generosity, especially the loan of a DSLR camera as I happened to leave mine someplace for two days! This is why some shots from New Orleans are from my compact 35mm which I still had.  (For more New Orleans pics click on the New Orleans tab at the top of the page!)

I also got to witness a side of New Orleans that most tourists don't get to see, an often dark side, the non polished side, which is exactly what I wanted.

Whilst in New Orleans I visited a place called Jazzland an amusement park which was owned by the company Six Flags. It is situated in the ninth ward and was completely flooded by hurricane Katrina and has been abandoned ever since. 

This isn't a place which is on the tourist trail and you take your chance as to wether there is security guarding the place or not, I was lucky there  wasn't.

It was just like a movie set, reminded me of any Zombie infested movie, or Westworld with Yule Byrnner. Very eerie, particularly inside the abandoned buildings.

Surprisingly a lot of stuff still remains there, mainly because it is too heavy to move, things like copper cable cable though has been completely stripped bare.

You can no no longer see it on many of the buildings but the water line reached a height of between 4 to 7 feet.