A few days ago I was thinking about a trip I took to the Cappadocia region in central Turkey. What a gorgeous place. The landscape is made up of rocky mountains and bizarre rock formations called fairy chimneys. I’ve never seen anything like it. The mountains and chimneys are filled with ancient cave dwellings, most of them carved into the sides of the mountains centuries ago. Most people in villages like Urgup and Goreme lived in these caves until the 1950s.
Over the years many of the caves became unstable and far too dangerous to inhabit. So the Turkish government did something about it: they built new, sturdy homes for every single family who lived in the caves. Think about that for a minute. The country of Turkey, which is not wealthy, was so concerned for the wellbeing of their people that they built them new homes.
I remembered learning about the new homes of Cappadocia while I was visiting New Orleans last week, and you can probably tell where this is going. I could easily make a comparison of new homes in Cappadocia vs. camper trailers in the Ninth Ward. Or, how we could build new homes for every family in New Orleans for a fraction of what we are spending on wars. Or, even worse, how people were literally left to die during and after the hurricane. But those things have already been said and they really don’t do anything to help.
While visiting, I spoke to a lot of people in New Orleans who are very optimistic about their futures. I asked a carriage driver in the French Quarter how the economy was. He told me, perhaps surprisingly, that he couldn’t afford a house post-Katrina because the prices have increased and insurance is too expensive. But he quickly followed this with, “but things are getting better, all we need is more people to visit.” I think his comments are spot on. Tourism and conventions are New Orleans’ biggest industry. And, as the man said, all they need are more people to visit.
As naive as it sounds, we CliffDwellers can make a difference to New Orleans, and have a great time doing it. The French Quarter remains a premier party place along with being home to some of the best restaurants and art galleries in the country. And the Garden District is just as beautiful as it always was. Even the St. Charles trolley line recently reopened. Or, if you want
a little local flavor, head to Frenchman Street in Marigny.
You know you want to go, and there is no good excuse not to. Flight time from Dallas is a little over an hour and costs just $59 each way on Southwest. You can even stay in a four star hotel for under $100 a night. There is only one small favor I ask of you. While you “Laissez les Bon Temps Rouler” take a little time out for a cab ride through the Ninth Ward and remember why you are partying.