Leg 8, day 12. The Big Easy to Houston

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Wow, there is a lot to be said about an urban school! I loved Tulane. After sadly saying goodbye to my adorable hotel, Rocinante and I headed across the beautiful New Orleans to Tulane. I had been here a couple of times for work in the 90’s and I love the energy, the vibe, the Southern sophistication of the city.

In Tulane I had a coffee with Sophie who is getting her PhD in cultural studies in Central America – really cool stuff. She gave me the low down, the scoop, the inside story. Gracias Sophie. Then I went for a walkabout around campus and to the department. In his office, getting sorted out after his summer was none other than Prof. Henry Sullivan, the eminent Cervantista and Qijotista who would likely direct my thesis if I ever got accepted at TU. Needless to say I was honored to chat with him for five minutes.

After that it was time to check out the campus. I loved the small school feeling, the urban setting, just great vibes.

From there it was seven hours riding in blistering heat to Houston. Had an authentic lunch at a roadside diner in Baton Rouge, and frequent stops to soak my T-shirt and put it back on to cool down for a few miles.

Finally I arrived at Ilya and David’s home in Houston. Ilya is my Godmother’s daughter and she is just (or more) like a cousin. They have a great kid Flinn and two great dogs Pulgas and Wasabi. We had a few beers and a great chat.

Leg 7, day 11 Tuscaloosa to New Orleans, Southernmost point on the trip.

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Confession: I did not go in with high expectations to University of Alabama, you know, Forest Gump and all that. But it really is fantastic! The school spirit, driven by the football team is unique. This brings about a special pride that permeates the whole school, truly impressive. I had a great conversation with Prof. Ana Corbalán, and it is clear they run a great PhD program. Rent is a joke compared to Boston. I’m very excited to apply!

Breakfast was the best coffee I’ve had in days at Chloe’s cup, another pleasant surprise.

After visiting T-mobile again to sort out some phone issues – Collin you are the man! It was back on Rocinante to New Orleans.

It was warm and pleasant, so the ride was very enjoyable. Unfortunately Rocinante started leaking some oil from the air intake, so I stopped at the closest dealer, by now in Mississippi, where I bought a new air filter and changed it. Big shout out to Bubba at Chunky River Harley-Davidson for letting me work on his beautiful parking lot! A few miles later I detected a bad burning smell. I was worried something was going wrong with the new air filter and was about to stop, when I turned a corner and saw a burning truck. Phew!

Although I was pressed for time I took some back roads in rural Mississippi, and boy was it worth it. The sweet smell of fresh cut hay, beautiful farms and homes, rolling hills, tiny villages. What a sunset! Unfortunately that meant a night approach into New Orleans.

Advice for traveling on the cheap: Stop at the state welcome centers when you enter a new state. They have coupons on great hotels.

So I am staying at the cutest hotel in NOLA. The Olde Towne Inn, in the French Quarter for forty Buckaroos! With locked parking for Rocinante.

I walked a little looking for a restaurant for dinner and to stretch my legs. I found a great bar/restaurant where I had a Veggie Po’Boy and met a Tulane grad student in social work, Lea and her roommate Laura who is applying for her PhD in Latin American studies also at Tulane. They participate in the online Couch Surfing program where you connect online with people and you get to crash on their couch. It is free and you get to meet interesting people, something to explore definitely. What a great conversation.

Tomorrow I am meeting  Sophie, a Tulane grad student in Spanish Lit who has volunteered to chat with me, God bless her. I can’t wait!