Road Trip down Historic San Bernardo Highway…

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…which sounds much more glamorous than St. Bernard Highway.  But by either name, it is a scenic byway in St. Bernard Parish that’s worth the trip.  A mere 5 miles downriver from the French Quarter,  you may consider this a road less traveled.  However, da parish has been a vibrant and colorful extension of New Orleans since 1780 when settlers from the Canary Islands, called Los Islenos, laid their roots.

St. Bernard Parish is 75% water; heck maybe even more by now.  Filled with marshes, bayous, wetlands, and inlets, the map of St. Bernard Parish is constantly changing.  In the past few decades over 50 locations are no longer on the map as land, but now covered with water.  Talk about water is an ever present conversation in South Louisiana.  Now, it is also turned to ART.

ArtSpot Productions and Mondo Bizarro have teamed up again, to present another poignant dialogue about current events, culture, and in this case land and water, that will take place on San Bernardo Highway.  Their efforts often seem to be theatrical ensemble presentations incorporating music, visual art, poetry and more aimed at connecting audiences more personally with particular subjects.  Again, in this case that issue is land and water.  To be more specific, the people of South Louisiana and the wetlands, the disappearing wetlands.

Opening this weekend and running for the next month is the ArtSpot / Mondo Bizarro production Cry You One, an outdoor performance ABOUT the wetlands and IN the wetlands, as well as a digital platform presenting a dialogue about the wetlands.  The “story” begins at Los Islenos Culture and Heritage Museum on San Bernardo Highway, situated on the edge of the wetlands.  Guests are separated into small groups and escorted by a play character for a short nature walk, where the group is then told the story and connection to the wetlands from their respective escort.   Consequently, the audience is drawn closer to the issue through these characters.  As the audience re-groups at a Houma Indian-style-thatched hut, the lives and livelihoods of the characters are revealed in surprising twists and turns.  The production is designed to create a connection with the audience, which in turn will deepen their relation to the issue of the disappearing wetlands.

The ensemble has already connected with the people of St. Bernard Parish and South Louisiana to present their stories. Experts in the field, such as Mark Davis of the Tulane Institute of Water Resources Law and Policy, are also involved in the project.  Professor Davis feels this is an important way to help save the wetlands.  He feels change cannot happen “until people care in a deep way”. And stories, such as those in the performance and on www.cryyouone.com, connect people in a meaningful way.

So, get connected! Take a road trip down San Bernardo Highway to Los Islenos Cultural and Heritage ‘Museum for Cry You One.  Make a day of it; connect with the people; eat, play, love.  The performance starts at 1:00 o’clock in the afternoon on Saturday and Sunday’s.  If you get an early start you can explore historic St. Bernard Parish.

I would start with Old Arabi.  On www.visitstbernard.com it informs us that Old Arabi was named one of America’s Prettiest Painted Places in a 2012 nationwide search conducted by the Paint Quality Institute of America.  Old Arabi was recognized for its stunning use of color on the area’s elaborate historical homes and buildings. Old Arabi is also home to the historic LeBeau Plantation, First Ward Courthouse, and the Domino Sugar Mill (in operation since 1906).

On Aycock Street you will find the Aycock Pavilion that hosts the weekly Seafood Market on Saturdays from 9 am – 1 pm.  In a town that claims to be 75% water, I’m pretty sure you are going to get some fresh seafood, so bring a cooler to keep your perishables fresh until you have safely returned to the Crescent City. There is also fresh produce, arts and crafts, food and music.

After the show stop in at one of the many popular family restaurants.  Rocky and Carlos serves up huge plates of Sicilian inspired dishes, while Charlie’s Restaurant serves up delicious seafood and “award winning gumbo”.  You can be the judge on that.

Both these establishments are on San Bernardo Highway and both serve up healthy portions.  Afterward you are going to want to either take a nap or take a stroll.  I suggest a stroll to do some birdwatching on one of the three officially designated Americas Wetlands Birding Trails, which include the San Bernardo State Park, Chalmette Battlefield (site of the final battle of the War of 1812), and Breton Sound Marina.

A beautiful day in da parish.

To kick start your wetlands experience, don’t miss this Wednesday’s “Harvest The Music” concert in Lafayette Square featuring the Voice of the Wetlands All-Stars.  This truly all-star aggregation is committed to raising awareness of the increasingly depleted wetlands that surround their hometowns.  Another effort using art to connect people with community issues.

See you out and about in da parish!

Every thing lovely,

Leslie

Out and About is a weekly blog by Leslie Compton of Every Thing Lovely, a special event and creative consulting team, and is sponsored by Key to NOLA Properties, a full service real estate brokerage firm specializing in furnished rental properties in New Orleans, Key to NOLA Properties and Every Thing Lovely have joined forces to provide a full array of services for travelers’ ( and locals’) personal and professional needs while in the Crescent City.

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