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The same people who sent me angry messages had turned warm within minutes.
One woman I met at the Pinettes show, Renee Lapeyrolerie, wrote me, “Badly worded, not a crime, just a sin lol enjoy the rest of your stay,” and then advised me to put my phone in a zip-lock bag in case it rained.
I’m pretty sure I was crying when I found those sneakers, because I cried a lot that week. Amid the chaos, it was as if a welcoming committee from the very city where I was starting this adventure had arrived in my living room and handed me a Sazerac: “You got this, girl.”Tourists can get a bad rap among locals, but we have history with the places we go to and love, too.
I experienced that pride a bit when I wrote something offhand on Twitter about how locals were ending conversations by telling me to “be safe,” and that I got the impression that no one walked around after dark.When I landed at the airport for this most recent visit, I already had a hotel that felt like home (The Columns), a least-favorite popular food (sorry, po’ boy fans), a local institution I recommend to all new visitors (Backstreet Cultural Museum in Tremé) and a favorite leather bar in the French Quarter for getting a cheap 11 a.m.to-go Bloody Mary (Rawhide2010 — though the graphic S&M playing on the TV screens at all times probably isn’t for everyone).“We’re so cool, even our trees have bling,” I overheard someone say.Many people I talked to didn’t even know the 300th was happening. I guess I’m part of this 300 years celebration in that I was born and raised here, and I’m 54, so of that 300 years I’ve got half a century,” said Curtis Walker, an Uber driver who loves music and recommends the late-night club Seal’s Class Act. But maybe I’ll get a lot of rides.” Still, 300 years is a significant milestone for a city that often seems to be at risk of sinking into the sea.
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Almost every New Orleans native I met told me about friends and family who fled flooded homes and have yet to be able to return.