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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Middlerun Does America, Day 23: New Orleans

Note: As I write this, it's been more than a month since I got back from my trip, so I've probably forgotten a few details.

The entirety of Saturday was taken up by the bus trip from Austin to New Orleans. The first bus left Austin at quarter to eight in the morning, arriving in Houston three hours later. When we got there I assumed my checked bag would be automatically transferred to the next bus, so I just got off and hung around in the terminal a bit, waiting for the New Orleans bus. Then I noticed something on my ticket that said I needed to transfer the bag myself. So I spent fifteen minutes trying to figure out what had happened to the bag, finally being told that in fact it would be transferred for me. I got on the bus, not entirely confident that my bag was on board.

Unlike my first couple of Greyhound trips, this one was crowded and noisy and generally awful. The ten hour trip from Houston to New Orleans were about as bad as the plane trip from Sydney to San Francisco. For most of the trip there was a huge fat guy sitting next to me with his legs intruding on my legroom, who watched a football game on his phone without headphones so everyone on the bus could hear it. I can't even imagine how someone can be so inconsiderate as to subject a busload of people to that. To make matters worse, the air conditioning was on full blast most of the way, the temperature hovering somewhere around absolute zero. When the driver finally turned it off everyone on the bus breathed a sigh of relief.

The final indignity of the bus ride was stopping at the Greyhound terminal in Baton Rouge for dinner. I was pretty hungry at that point and happy for the chance to eat, until I set my eyes on the retch-inducing offerings of the "restaurant" at the terminal. Reluctantly I bought something claiming to be a ham and cheese sandwich, though the meanings of these words has obviously changed somewhat in the hundreds of years that this "food" had been sitting in its plastic wrapper at room temperature.

The bus rolled into New Orleans at about 9 pm, driving past boarded up houses and large communities of homeless people living under elevated highways. I got off the bus and waited for my bag to be unloaded from the bus. As more and more bags were unloaded I got nervous, worried I would never see my bag again. Finally they went around to the other side, opened the other doors to the cargo hold, and there it was.

I grabbed my bag, left the terminal and got a taxi. We went to the hostel, called India House. A bunch of the people I met in Austin had stayed at India House and said it was pretty cool, and they weren't wrong. But by the time I checked in I was exhausted and not at all in the mood for socialising. At 10 pm on a Saturday night in New Orleans, I went straight to bed.



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