friends around the world e-mail, plead with us to get
New Orleans and Katrina's way. Little do we know,
the storm's aftermath will
send us on an odyssey (that isn't over yet).
in our second floor apartment; even though roof slates cover the lawn
and our ceiling is wet and leaky. Our neighborhood is as filthy as
the day after Mardi Gras, only instead of beads and beer cans, Katrina
left behind fallen electrical lines and giant Oak trees snapped like
toothpicks. St. Charles Avenue isn't flooded, so we figure that our
electricity will be restored soonest.
false sense of security, we pluck
a bottle of Veuve Clicquot from the dead fridge and survey life from
drag trees that block our driveway, dump standing water and for fun,
we sit in my air-conditioned Acura Legend and listen to radio news of
night, fate has us flip on the battery TV exactly when
Mayor C. Ray Nagin says, "Uptown, where it is dry, will get nine-feet
10 minutes, with the clothes on our backs and pillows
off the bed, in pitch darkness, we inch down the long staircase, outside,
into the only way out: a full tank of gas in my husband's faulty Chevy
Over the Mississippi River and 90 miles to Baton Rouge,
we stop at a Marriott and call local cousins, but they have no electricity!
Worn and torn, there are no hotel rooms to be had outside of Texas or
Arkansas. We secure a confirmed reservation at a Houston Marriott and
hit the road - again.
At 5AM Wednesday, finally at Marriott's front desk, my
fear becomes reality: They are sold out. "But," the desk clerk
says, "there was a no-show."
By 6AM, we settle into the miracle of electricity and a nice
Recharging our cell phones (and minds), we attend to
business of life left behind: cancelling our New York anniversary weekend;
credit cards, insurance, trying to find our lost friends and family.
friend finds us and makes us her mission:
after four hotel nights, we move into the home of vacationers
whom we did not even know. Their neighbors give us house keys and loads
Meantime, via e-mail, francophile hospitality pours in from eight
states and France. (Years ago, lovers of "all things
French" formed a unique Internet community.)
exile moves us from Houston to Edmond, Oklahoma,
where again we enjoy the kindness of strangers.
Onward to wonderful Denver;
Merv Tano and Jeanne Rubin
are planning the Second Annual
Indigenous Film and Arts Festival, yet, they open
their hearts and home to us. Here, we wait and wait for the all-clear
sign from a place known as The City that Care Forgot.
We call it home.
This concludes the "Cliff Notes" version of our first five
weeks in exile, aka, The Katrina Odyssey.