It\’s great to be back in New Orleans again, even if it is in August and it\’s so hot you feel like you are going to melt. This is the first time I will have visited this great city since Katrina and I am bracing myself for being shocked by its unexpected transformation. As we go from the airport to our hotel, we pass neighborhoods of homes destroyed by the hurricane, but back in the French Quarter I am surprised to find it as I remember it.
It seems so untouched that if I hadn\’t heard the news in the last few years and my soundman John wasn\’t from the Big Easy, I would have never known anything had happened. While the look is definitely the same, the feel is altogether different. And I really like the change. Gone are those fair-weather tourists who come in search of cheap neon-colored drinks and year-old beads; in their place are people who love this city and want to do what they can to help it succeed. The feeling is much more personal as the locals understand that, as a traveler, you are making a conscious decision to come to their city that hasn\’t gotten much good press in a long time.
When I talk to people who live in N.O., there seems to be a healthy conflict with the way their city is being portrayed in the news. When it\’s constantly reiterated how badly the city is doing, it sends the signal to visitors around the world that New Orleans is still in dire straits. And yet, just walking around the most popular areas of this city, you\’ll find that the very opposite is true. I am positive both sides of the coin exist, but from my point of view, there is absolutely no reason not to go to New Orleans.