While sitting down for our second taste of Beignets at Cafe Du Monde, New Orleans, I got the email:
Greetings from Qatar!
I’m sorry it has taken this long to put your offer together and appreciate your patience. I believe that you have the qualifications and experience that is needed … and that you will be a good fit in our school with our staff.
I almost choked on the pound of sugar sitting atop my diamond shaped donut – “I have a serious offer from Qatar!” I yell my husband.
We really wanted this. After Abu Dhabi left us high and dry as the desert last June, we couldn’t get excited over their second offer. But Qatar is a real step in the right direction as far as starting a career teaching abroad. I can see myself there for several years, rather than an obligatory two. Their IB Program is closer to what I am looking for as far as teaching style and philosophy. My own children will be able to attend their schools and get a true global experience!
Which is why we were in New Orleans.
What are you going to do with two kids in New Orleans?
Most people bawked at the idea of bringing two small children to the City of Sinners and Saints. But I am usually after a different perspective and since we can’t really afford a flight for four to another continent, we might as well make the most of this one. New Orleans offers so much history and culture shaped from around the world.
We were fortunate to arrive on an extremely rainy Sunday. I believe it washed the streets clean enough for us to push a stroller down Bourbon Street over the next week. On our first day, we took the kids to Jackson Square and rode a streetcar to Mardi Gras World. While the tour of parade floats seemed tedious for toddlers, making a mask full of glitter was a great craft for the kids!
At the Presbetyre Museum, we saw an exhibit on the impact of Hurricane Katrina. I sometimes want to say I experienced my own “Katrina” with Hurricane Sandy, but really, nothing compares to this type of devastation. We were displaced, but not our entire community. The similarities are the lack of attention given to those who need it most. Their VA is just now opening, 15 years later! Hospitals, schools, and programs that support the poor are still struggling to rebuild! Anyhow, the exhibit takes you through experiencing the storm, artifacts collected in the rubble and stories of those who were lost.
The most notable experience on this trip was a visit to the Whitney Plantation. We saw several plantation tours advertised, but this seemed like the most worthwhile. The Whitney Plantation tells the story of life on a sugarcane plantation through the eyes of slave children. It is a chilling tribute to the thousands of children who died while enslaved on these plantations. These are stories you would never find in a text book at school.
We walked through a memorial dedicated to thousands of lost children. I became transfixed by a stature of an angel holding a baby in her hands. It symbolized the children who died at birth…even those who were miscarriages. There are records kept of each child, named and unnamed. Records kept by slave owners, not to memorialize them, but for inventory. Each child was property and a dead child was property lost; a tax write-off. I was frozen for quite a while at this particular memorial garden.
We toured slave quarters and a slave jail. There were beautiful life-like statues of children throughout the grounds; in the aisles of the church, on the porch of their shacks and by the slave master’s bed. Zara tried talking to them because they were exactly her height!
With every experience on this trip, the kids picked up at least 20 new words. The cuisine were heavy, salty, brackish; the Mississippi River was brown, muddy, murky; and the beignets were just “too yummy.”
The highlight for Baby D was riding the St. Charles Streetcar at night and seeing the classic homes lit up with Christmas lights. The highlight for Lady Z was making the Mardi Gras mask and eating beignets! For me, it was the Whitney Plantation and Geisha Sushi (really good sushi!). For Hubby, it was most likely a catfish and grits meal at Ruby Slipper and an “American Pickers” marathon on TV! We don’t have cable at home, so the oddest shows are like gold! The Louisiana Children’s Museum was also perfect for our little ones! They loved serving food in the kid sized restaurant and shopping in the kid-sized supermarket!
We’re in for more adventures, ladies and gentleman! Perhaps on the other side of the world?
By Friday, the streets were foul smelling and filthy.