Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Arriving in No Man's Land

The drive from Miami to New Orleans is a challenging one. Not physically challenging, although it takes between 12 and 13 hours, but mentally very challenging. This was especially so for me as our car stereo is on the blink and I had to make do with a personal cd player wired up to two very dodgy speakers. It makes me wonder how the pilgrims in their covered wagons ever made it :)
The drive is mentally challenging because once outside Miami's sparkling skyscrapers, Florida is the most boring state to drive through (I feel qualified to say so having driven through a great number myself over the years). Once on the Florida turnpike all you see are endless green overgrowth at the sides of the highway and maybe if you are lucky and Florida "The Sunshine State" is having one of its not so sunny days, you may see some cool cloud formations. And that's it for the whole state!
Upon reaching the Florida and Alabama border things begin to change into topography that Tv and films have taught me to associate with the American Deep South. There is a great sweep of water that you drive across to Mobile Alabama and things become different.
Swamps and trees hanging with moss line the highway. There is the oddity of pine trees which I associate with colder places - I am sure if I did some research I'd likely find them to be a certain variety pertaining to this southern swampy climate.
The drive into to New Orleans itself is symbolic of what happened 15 months ago. There are apartment complexes, shopping malls, buisness buildings and warehouses all sitting vacant, deserted, boarded up. This is not the interesting, funky, cool part of town and so it is an odd feeling I have passing it becuase I have to admit an empty shopping mall is not, to me a tragic sight. However I know that this "No Man's Land" displays all the people who are not here and they need to be. It is very easy to exist in Uptown, with the occasional excursion to the French Quarter, and feel that New Orleans is coming back but much though I don't like the kind of area, it is the shopping malls, apartment complexes, buisness warehouses that need to be reconstructed to show the city truly coming back.

This place is amazing.