I had known I wanted to see the Ninth Ward, and even seriously considered a tour, but ended up deciding that it felt too icky to do that, so we rented bikes, and biked across the city into the Ninth instead.
We picked up our bikes across the way from this adorable mini-park and we were on our way! They were a bit old and rickety, and the brakes were non-existent, but the price was right at $20 per day.
On the way, we stopped on the way at the New Orleans Co-op for a LOT of water and other drinks so we could re-hydrate. It’s located inside the New Orleans Healing Center, which has loads of really interesting things inside. They have art shows in the hallway, a cafe with live music at night, a yoga studio, language school, and about a dozen other businesses/non-profits. We totally missed that we were in the same building as the Island of Salvation Botanica Shop, which is apparently the best Voodoo shop in the city. Oops.
We were exhausted by the time we arrived in the Ninth, and we’ve lost all our immunity to the humidity since moving to California, so we made a beeline for the Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum.
We learned so much in this tiny museum. It not only gave the real story of Hurricane Katrina, but it also explained its previous history, framing why it was particularly affected during Katrina. It felt like with each display I could not be more shocked, but then I was, because yes, it was really that bad–prior to, during, and after the storm. Unfortunately for humanity, the storm was the least harmful thing that had happened.
The museum also hosts after-school homework time and other programming to engage the youth in the neighborhood. The same neighborhood that the city refuses to provide a public school for. This is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.
The Director of the museum recommended Cafe Dauphine, the only restaurant in the Lower Ninth for lunch. Weirdly, it’s really fancy and I think it’s because all the property developers want a nice place to eat. We got po boys and fancy drinks and it was all delicious. We also loved supporting one of the only local businesses which had opened up in the wake of Katrina.
We biked around a little bit and checked out some of the still-demolished houses. The only people around were little kids playing in their yards or in the street and older people sitting on their porches. Despite so many houses still destroyed, the sense of community was palpable. Children in the street said hello to us, and they ran over to their neighbors’ houses when they had a question for the older people or to go get their friends.