New Orleans for a stint volunteering
Our accidental visit to Puerto Rico freed up a bit of time in the schedule before meeting Ange and Courtney in New Orleans. After a bit of investigation into volunteer opportunities, Hayley found there was still a huge amount of rebuilding being completed in New Orleans (or Naw’lins, as the locals put it) from Hurricane Katrina – yep, eight years on, there are still residents displaced due to a number of reasons including lack of insurance and plenty have been ripped-off by contractors, leaving them looking to charities for assistance.
The lucky charity that won our services was the St Bernard Project. We signed on for two weeks of blood, sweat and tears – but mostly sweat. Despite having zero construction experience (watching ‘The Block’ doesn’t count apparently) we were thrown in the deep end and I like to think we did more swimming than sinking. Over two weeks we painted, tiled, cauked and laid plenty of laminate flooring and awarded ourselves a building apprenticeship as a result.
Don't worry, the batteries were removed for this shot
Ahhh the laminate flooring, we don't miss you
Textbook measuring technique
Whilst we were ‘donating’ our time – the timing was spot on for us to do something other than coast from hostel to hostel and be tourists. Yes, no doubt you all feel sorry for us – but we would be lying if we said we hadn’t picked up a little traveller’s fatigue. So this was the perfect way to (temporarily) dive into a routine, learn something new and appreciate our holiday again. We also saw this experience as a sweaty, free way to learn some of the basics in home reno. I’m going to ask Santa for a power drill for Christmas.
Part of the volunteer crew
Our flatmate, Oscar
Let’s not forget that we also got to spend three weeks in the wonderful New Orleans. After seven months on the road, this city sticks in our minds as, hands down, the most captivating we have visited. The mix of southern, Creole, Cajun and Caribbean culture (often referred to as the Caribbean’s most northern city) makes for a feast for the eyeballs and the belly.
A participant of the annual red 'dress' run
One of the many brass bands of New Orleans
Biking the streets
Oh lordy, did we eat. New Orleans cuisine is known for its emphasis on ‘hearty’, and by hearty I mean you might need a new one. Fried chicken, Poor boys, Gumbo, Jambalaya, Muffulettas and Beignets are the usual suspects and we dipped our toes in the fatty waters much to our delight.
It was awesome to have Courtney and Ange join the epic adventure for the US leg. We hadn’t seen any friends or family for seven months and there’s a lot to be said for seeing familiar faces! They joined the cause with gusto and lapped up all Naw’lins had to offer.
The WWII museum was ace
Hanging with Louis Armstrong
This is a 'hand grenade'
Classy Bourbon St
After three wonderful weeks we bade farewell to New Orleans and got psyched for some adrenalin-pumping fun in Orlando Florida…