02 January 2010

Long Overdue Visits

It felt like such a long time since I had been home. The last day in Amman I could only think about how excited I was to be going back to New Orleans to see my family, friends, and an inspriningly loving guy named Mike who would happen to be there for a conference just before Thanksgiving.

familyMy sister was originally the only person in NOLA who knew I’d be coming in. A couple of weeks prior I decided to give her the ok to tell my brothers in case they could make it in for any of the family celebrations that take place in the last week of November every year. I’m very glad I did. Steve & Rory made it in for the first weekend I was there, to celebrate my Dad’s 75th birthday and Jeff & Susan made it in a few days later to celebrate my parents’ anniversary. It was an incredibly reassuring experience to be so delighted to be in New Orleans again, and I was thrilled to be able to show Mike and his speech pathologist comrades around a bit.

airboatProbably the highlight of tourism at home was an airboat trip (Airboat Adventures) on Bayou Barrataria & environs after a very wet morning and a previous day that saw at least one member of the group rallying (where’s my beer?) after about 60 oz of bloody mary from Port of Call. Debbie, Heather, Mike, and I had a blast with our guide named Steve and his little friend Bud cruising around the swamp & marshlands wearing big yellow earphones.

tigersA very close second was a trip to the Audubon Zoo with Joel and Mike. I was wanting to take Joel to the zoo when I got in town ever since I was still in Africa. Of course, it was unclear how I would react to being at a zoo for the first time after my experiences at Harnas and with African Impact's Lion Rehabilitation project. It was a fantastic day, but I probably would have preferred to stay the night and spend another day there with the animals.

The time with out of towners, both friends and family, unfortunately flew by. Thanksgiving came. I think I stayed up all night the night before Thanksgiving (the first of many nuits blanches in which I didn’t do anything but hang out at my parents’ house in the Big Easy) and started preparing food around 7am. The up-side to this was that I was in the kitchen all morning and mostly with no other contributing chefs ... couldn’t imagine a better place to be. Another positive outcome was that we were eating at 3pm and there was none of the typical “when are we eating? it will be Christmas soon” comments. There were two programs on WYES TV on Thanksgiving, which we watched after most of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. They focused on culinary traditions in New Orleans. I was captivated, and my parents ended up pledging to the public television station so that we could get copies of the programs.

friendsI’d have to say that I watched more professional football during the three weeks I was at home than I have in maybe 10 years or more. The Saints were on a roll and it was very hard not to get caught up in it. This presented some great opportunities to spend time with my best long-standing friends from Jesuit and a few chicas that came into the picture later in the game. Whenever I go home it’s a comfort to see them and be comfortable with the familiarity of our friendship. Generally there’s always a rushed feeling to our encounters, but this time I was able to see several of them on different occasions, from pizza and Saints at Robert & Gina’s house to pizza & Saints chez Fong to a tour & tasting session with Joi & Sarah at the Old New Orleans Rum Distillery. By the way, if you tend to order rum drinks and are in a place that you think might have a certain selection of rums, PLEASE ask for Old New Orleans rum by name (Crystal, Amber, Cajun Spice are all quite nice and are available in several cities around the country. I’ve appointed myself ambassador for them, so I’m spreading the word.

1 comment:

  1. It was great to see you! Hope the rest of your trip will be as awesome as the first half and can't wait to see you on the return trip!