Unlike most people, I love to travel for work…okay, I just love to travel, regardless of the reason. And why you may ask? Because I have this thing about airports and hotels. I love them! And I was especially excited about this trip because I was going to an airport I had never seen AND (the caps mean it’s a huge deal for me) I had a hotel room all to myself! In all of my life, I have never stayed at a hotel by myself and I relished the thought. The flight was relatively uneventful and I had a window seat, so I was a happy camper. Bonus: the guy sitting next to me was a photography buff himself, so we talked about the settings on my Canon for most of the trip! I was more than happy to soak up as much information as I could…I told y’all I was shameless.
Not all cab drivers are perverts who like to cop a cheap feel. In fact, my cab driver from the airport to the hotel was very nice (henceforth called Louie). Not only did he give me restaurant suggestions (it was quite honestly the first thing I asked him once we got all of that “Where are you heading?” stuff out of the way…shameless, shameless, shameless), which I fully intend to pursue, he gave me a glimpse into the effect Hurricane Katrina really had on the people of New Orleans. Before the hurricane hit, Louie was a business man with a nice house and family living in the city he loved. Two days before Katrina, him and his family evacuated to Dallas to stay with friends.
Fast forward to three years later and Louie has only recently returned to the city he says he still loves. However, his wife refuses to return, saying New Orleans will never be the same. Louie is battling with insurance companies to get his house repaired and he is struggling to decide if he should just give up and go back to his wife and son in Dallas.
Louie said he was one of the lucky ones though; According to him, only 20 percent of the applications for federal aide have been processed and paid out to victims. Rent in and around the city has increased by 300% (again according to Louie) and the lower 9th Ward still looks fairly similar to the days post Katrina. “Nobody knows where the money went,” he said as he pointed out how the tourist spots were restored at lightning speed. But he also agrees that without the tourism industry, New Orleans will never get back up on its feet.
Either way, Louie assured me the city was getting on its feet and that I would love it. As we were pulling up to my hotel, he told me that no matter what he decides to do, he would never stop loving this city…even if Katrina tried to ruin it.