“I love your hair!” Kelly had colorful wraps decorating her head now.
“Yeah, Jeff and Xoey have been working on them. It looked ridiculous when there were only a few in, but now it's looking better.”
We headed to the baggage claim.
“So, where are we going from here?”
“Can we go to the treehouse?!” Xoey asked.
“Yeah, yeah! Let's go!” Griffin agreed.
“That sounds pretty cool. What is it like?”
“You just have to see it,” they all told me.
We headed to the bus. Captain Jeff rolled up, opened the doors, and as soon as I got on, we started moving.
“Where are we heading?” the captain asked.
“Where are we heading?” the captain asked.
I was excited. The drive from the airport to the treehouse wasn't all that appealing – mostly highway. I saw a glimpse of it along the way. It looked like a Chuck E. Cheese jungle gym.
When we got there, I felt just like a child again. Xoey, Griffin, and I ran through the grass, and I followed them up to the top. Only Jeff had taken the risk of climbing up the rickety ladder to the highest globe. I decided to take the chance. There's nothing to fear but fear itself.
I looked down at Jeff taking photos. I'm glad I have pseudo-parents to capture these kinds of moments. It really takes away from the experience when I take pictures myself.
Along with the multiple stairways and spheres, there was also a rope bridge, rope swings, a theater stage, a juice bar, and other miscellaneous playground material. The whole structure is made from recycled material, and anyone who has contributed takes on the last name Pterodactyl.
Across the way are some guys in their twenties living in the house on the property. They let anyone hang out on the treehouse. Even the homeless sleep there sometimes. I came across a few empty beer bottles, so I assume it may also be a social hang-out as well.
The treehouse may have been in a sketchy neighborhood, have graffiti all over it, and have broken windows, but I absolutely loved it. It was magical. We stayed until the night came, and the treehouse lights came on. I laid on the rope bridge staring at the sky, thinking “And this is only the first day...”
The next few days weren't as action-packed as swinging from ropes, but there was a lot of time to relax and get to know the family better. I found out about the latest drama in the unschooling circle that resembles high school and realized that having a little sister who just turned thirteen isn't always rainbows and butterflies. I forgot about the stubborn “world revolves around me” attitude that comes with teen-hood.
I was learning new things everyday, like not to directly eat the orange look-a-likes because they actually taste like a mix between lemons and limes, but I also learned that they make great a “lemonade.” I learned that a sick dog can poo something that looks reminiscent of yellow paint, and I've learned that being vegan isn't so bad.
While I've been in New Orleans, I decided to take out a book that I had to buy for my Magic, Witchcraft, and Sorcery class, but chose not to read during the semester when I was “supposed to.” For me, a teacher telling me to read something always takes the fun out of it. So, every morning I've been waking up with the sun and Voodoo in New Orleans. Jeff then gets up after me to make coffee for himself and tea for me. Then he continues on with his ritual of cleaning up from the previous night's dinner.
After the first rain I've experienced on the Unschool Bus, I was able to redo the side of the bus. It's partially covered in black paint, so we can use chalk to decorate. I worked on becoming ambidextrous by filling in the block letters of “UNSCHOOLBUS.COM” with my left hand. It feels great to have the time to do things such as that that may have no practical purposes, but may work another part of my brain that has been left behind all these years.
The only “tourist-y” thing we've done here so far is taking a walk in the French Quarter. What we have found is that this is a place for drinking and buying vacationer-approved gris-gris. Otherwise we've been hanging out in Wal-Mart parking lots and at the house on Independence St. that Jeff is working on. The landlord will be giving the renters thirty days notice for eviction, and we'll be back in twenty-five to continue the renovations.
The first moment of stress I've had has come along with the arrival of my new vagabond friend, Mambo. She's a black and white rat who I named after the word for a voodoo priestess. Setting up her cheap cage in the dim light was really getting on my nerves, but when I was finally finished, I was able to take a breath, sit down, and enjoy the delicious dinner of rice and veggies that Kelly made.
That night and the next morning I started training Mambo. She now enjoys hanging out on my shoulder and the back of my neck, probably because my dreads keep her warm and cozy. I was afraid that the dogs would scare her, but they seem to be more curious about her than ready to attack. She's already pooped on me about five times. I think it's love. I took her on her first walk into the bargain shops along Dauphin St. to try to find her a toy and possibly sell my book. Neither were accomplished, but I did find a small Christmas ornament on the ground, which I now have wrapped in electric tape to be used as a toy ball. I also managed to grab free newspapers for her cage bedding and a sticker that says “VAGINA MAFIA” to complete the collection on my laptop. I also wonder what it means...The important part is that it's a souvenir from New Orleans.