Tuesday, March 17, 2009

We've got Photos!

The perfect way to start a blog.

Hiya, folks.

Apologies for the large gap* between posts. See, we have been rather busy here at Camp Hope. Yesterday our afternoon and evening were filled with a trip into the French Quarter and an hour-plus long orientation back here at camp. Afterward, most of our group--myself included--were extremely tired and went right to bed. This morning, we left camp around 7:00am, once again leaving little time for an update here. So, I will spend the next thirty or so minutes working tirelessly to update you on the events of yesterday post-1:00pm and today also.

Monday, March 16--1st Day in NOLA

As mentioned previously, Viking Expeditions spent the afternoon and evening in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Because our bus driver was over his maximum number of hours, we had to take public transportation from Camp Hope in St. Bernard’s Parish to the city. The journey included two buses, the first of which could only hold about half our group, so we made two trips.

As I was part of the second group, my story relates to their journey. When our first bus (the smaller of the two) was about to arrive at the exchange point for the connection to downtown New Orleans, our driver noticed that the other bus had already left the stop where she was going to drop us. Instead of making us wait for another bus, she hit the gas and the horn, drove up next to our connection and cut it off, forcing it to pull over. As a result, we were all able to board the bus and make our trip a lot shorter. This type of hospitable persona has already met us several times on our trip. The people here are wonderful, doing everything possible to make our stay pleasant and enjoyable. Also, chasing down a bus with another bus is awesome.

After that memorable ride, everyone hit the streets, enjoying food, culture and a lot of shops filled to the brim with peculiar trinkets. We had the opportunity to spend about five hours in the city and it was more than enough. The food here is great, and certainly unique. Selections ranged from Alligator appetizers to Crawfish entrees, but there was no shortage of classic American favorites, like a good old grilled cheese sandwich.

Canal, Decatur and Bourbon Street are filled with odd shops that make for a rather interesting day of browsing. Typical items such as postcards and t-shirts are abundant, but there are certain items--voodoo type artifacts, masks and, well, rather suggestive/sexual items--of a less common type, which are available. Some of the t-shirts are too funny to forget, with phrases such as "I got Bourbon Faced on Sh-- Street." Our travelers got to see the French Market, which features open air displays with belts, jewelry, hats, masks and, of course, more t-shirts. The atmosphere is very unique and adventuresome.

Our orientation last night was very basic, covering some ground rules and guidelines. The staff here is very dedicated, most of them volunteers on a long term basis; most have been or will be here for at least a year. They spoke about our mission, the progress made so far and the things that still need to be accomplished. While a large number of Camp Hope's occupants are working with Habitat, there are also quite a few from other, partnering organizations. Overall, a very interesting group of students.

Tuesday, March 17--2nd Day in NOLA

Today was a day filled with construction. We left camp at 7:00am and arrived at our worksite within about 45 minutes. Habitat for Humanity has the entire Viking Expeditions team working on one home, in the eastern New Orleans area.

The house already had a basic structure and foundation. Different groups of workers tackled projects including braces in the attack, attaching plywood to the roof, building a porch railing, and enclosing the back of the house. We have contractors on site at all times, answering questions and guiding the work. With more than forty (there is another team on our site too) people working on a site, progress happens quickly and alot was accomplished today.

Tomorrow we will begin siding the house, and finish enclosing the roof, which can then be shingled. Interior work is also beginning, with drywall arriving on site today. Most of that will go in over the next several days. With any luck, it looks like we ought to be able to get close to finishing the big projects on the house this week--very exciting news for the group.

Tonight, we've had the chance to relax and enjoy some free time. A few people--myself included--donated blood to an American Red Cross bus visiting camp and others have engaged in a very tumultuous game of Risk. This is all I have for tonight. Look for another update tomorrow--sometime after 5pm.

Credit to Heidi Vielhaber for her photos.

And the perfect way to end it...

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