New tasks and partners were assigned to us at the work site the next day. Instead of dry-wall and mudding I was switched to door frames. I was terrible at door frames. I managed to put one up, but it had to be fixed by our site manager afterward. After dinner we ventured out to find “Snowballs”. Basically a snow-cone, or shaved ice stuffed with ice cream. A stuffed Mango-Kiwi snowball was amazing. After Snowballs our group walked down St. Charles Ave. and gaped at the numerous gigantic houses that it was home to. Right before going to bed, while Nelson and I were brushing our teeth, we heard screams from the hallway area outside the girls and guys bathrooms. We took a look outside and saw a group of about ten high school girls, with one of the other groups who were staying at Camp Hope. Each one of them was screaming and pointing to the ground in between the bathroom entrances. The area was poorly lit and it took a moment for me to realize they had seen a cockroach. It was tiny. Maybe two inches. I walked back inside and grabbed some paper towels. I’m not a huge fan of killing things, part of the reason for my vegetarianism, so I tried to catch it in the paper towels. Each time that I covered it and almost caught it, it would dart away again, and the girls’ screams would continue anew. Finally I managed to get it in the towels and walked outside far enough to toss it in the grass. The screams subsided and one of the sixteen year olds said “You didn’t have to do that” in a semi-pretentious voice. I looked at her with raised eyebrows, “Really?” and walked back into the bathroom to finish brushing my teeth.
The next few days of work went smoothly. I moved on to painting doors and eventually to baseboards. I overcame my fear of the portable table saw and used it to cut some one by six boards into the right size for doorframes. Thursday night at dinner our volunteer cook told us amazing stories about his experience with Katrina. He told us about leaving home with 3 days worth of clothes, expecting to be able to return, only to return much later and barely be able to salvage a laundry basket worth of items from his destroyed home.
The last day, I tried to be as productive as possible, I painted like crazy and baseboarded, and almost finished installing a vanity in another bathroom. The guys in our group had been dying to take a picture outside “Breaux Mart”, or phonetically “Bro Mart”. So we took a picture in front of a sign that also read “Best Meat in da’ Parish”. Before returning home, our group took a final midnight trip to Waffle House. What better way to say goodbye to New Orleans than enjoying a strawberry waffle and hash-browns five hours before your flight?
One of the best parts about our service trip was how close our group became throughout the week.. Working alongside each other during the trip made me feel not only more connected to the people of New Orleans, but also to the people I worked with.