monkey bites, nbd

My last weekend in New Orleans! This summer has gone by so quickly. But I’ve seen and learned and done so much that it feels satisfyingly long too. This being the last weekend is definitely a bittersweet thing. On one hand, there are still things I didn’t get around to doing, plenty of restaurants I didn’t have time to visit, projects at work I don’t have time for. But on the other hand, I have been here for a solid eight weeks and I feel like I’ve made the most of it.

Also, I’m extremely excited to join my family in Ecuador. Dad sent me an email a couple of days ago describing the surrounding “miles of enormous dark verdant mountains ruled by gigantic smoking snow-covered volcanic peaks.” He also described treating several cases of monkey bites and mentioned that when I arrive, we’re going to “fly out to the jungle and stay in one of the remote lodges” which will be “accessible by canoe once you land on the dirt airstrip.” I’m glad he didn’t tell me of that any sooner because I’m completely antsy with anticipation.

So it’s a good thing that I’m keeping myself busy. Helps me stay in the moment and not get carried away by daydreaming of South American jungle adventure.

I was occupied at market yesterday with the tomato sauce canning demonstration. After work, I took the bus downtown and shopped for souvenirs for my family. I also visited the Ursuline Convent, which is the oldest building in the Mississippi Valley (built 1752).

Planning to meet our NOLA friends uptown later that night, Krissi and I waited for a streetcar… that never came. One thing I’ve learned this summer is not to trust the New Orleans public transit system. I got tired of waiting and walked back to the house to hang out with other housemates.

This morning, a lot of us went to brunch at Arnaud’s, where you get a four-course meal for about $40. By far the most expensive breakfast I’ve ever had, but totally worth it. I really liked the restaurant. They had a jazz trio wandering from table to table, singing and playing right in front of you. I especially appreciated this brunch because someone else organized it. Tonight at dinner with Virginia (a friend of a friend I had brunch with my first weekend here), she asked if our group had any sort of program coordinator on the ground, someone who planned events for the group. Krissi and I both laughed and gestured to each other. “That’s us,” we told her. “We’re the event planners.”

I do get tired of trying to convince people to join me in exploring the city though, so lately I’ve been deliberately doing things on my own. For example, today after brunch I went to the Cabildo and the Presbytere, museums which together cover Mardi Gras, Hurricane Katrina, and Louisiana state history. I really liked gaining that background knowledge of the city; it’s something I wish I had done much earlier in the trip. More on what I learned, later.