New Orleans, LA -- August 17, 2007

I pray that you have a safe remainder of your travel. May the Lord bless you and keep you and thank you for riding Greyhound,

the driver announced. Everyone then got up, assuming these words meant we were at the end of the road, but he kept on driving making us tumble together in the aisles, and making everyone, who had been sleepy groggy—we were arriving at a quarter after midnight—laugh. We were thrilled he’d made up so much time. Though we'd left Baton Rouge station over an hour late, we were only twenty minutes late in arriving. He'd driven like a madman.

The atmosphere on the bus was of people bonded together. They were people who lived elsewhere, worked elsewhere, but were returning home, some to visit, some to stay. In Baton Rouge, while we waited for our bus, we watched coverage of the Utah mine, and everyone, necks craned up at the TV in silence, seemed to understand what a tragedy was all about.

(see the readers in the top middle, above the potted plant)

The New Orleans bus station was the only one I visited that piped music throughout. Beautiful, invigorating jazz. And unlike the other stations, there were murals on the walls.

Outside, I exited to palm trees and a mammoth, luxuriously sultry heat. I could immediately understand how New Orleans had spawned an enviable arts scene, and spawned community that no one would want to leave, unless they had to. It felt ten times more laid back than the Bay Area. San Francisco is like hyper kitten in comparison.

The next morning, in the light of day, I had to immediately call someone and tell them my impressions. I left my sister a voice mail message. New Orleans, I told her, is beautiful. It is invigorating to be in a place with an upwards trend, where there is rebuilding going on, of something growing. But, the sentiment, still, is sad.

I had mixed feelings about going places where the devestation was more apparent. I didn't come to gawk at the disaster. I came to take pictures of readers.

People are happy to see mainstays, like Starbucks, opening again in the neighborhoods that are trying to make a come back. The brown line midway up the building shows the water level post-Katrina.

I see chairs and shade umbrellas, but where are the readers?

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