December 26, 2013
by Cathy Liu in monroe, LA
According to the wiki, Monroe is the eighth largest city in the state of Louisiana, it was where my mom first landed in the US. When I was about 4 or 5, my mom left China to obtain her master’s degree in education at what is now called Louisiana State University. She was a couple of years older than I am now, all she had were 2 suitcases and $200 in her pocket. Mom never returned to Monroe after she finished her study, but I have heard of this city countless number of times since I moved to the US in the early 90’s. The team decided to take a detour and see what Monroe is like.
After we dropped off Paul at the New Orleans airport, the team took the country roads to Monroe on a sunny winter day.
We were pretty hungry when we arrived, but many local restaurants close after lunch and before dinner.
For reasons unknown, I decided not to visit mom’s old school, instead I wanted to see what the town is like. The team split in two ways, Steve and I took the support vehicle to explore in town while the rest of the team went to Wal-Mart in the ambulance.
Our first stop was a church. My mom was baptized in Monroe. Over the years, I have struggled to find faith; I have always been harsh to missionaries who came knocking on our doors. In the back of my mind, I always thought that my mom turned to a church only because she felt vulnerable in a totally new environment. She has never attended any religious service since I reunited with her.
After the church visit, we stopped by a random meat market, there was a convenience store next door, which seemed to be a gathering place for teenagers. For a while, I felt like it was a step back in time. I imaged that the meat market, the convenience store, and things around them are same as they were when my mom was here. This place has not changed much in the past 20 or so years.
The type face of the font on the outside wall, the black and white boards, counters, freezers, and everything else appeared to be 20 or 30 years old.
Customers in the convenient store looked like actors from a 70’s or 80’s movie’s set.
Steve stood out in this placed lost in time. Locals were extremely friendly to us. Someone asked if we belonged to a TV station…
The rest of the team wasn’t interested in exploring around. Martha and Stephen Alexis were dancing on the top of our ambulance when we returned.
Our visit in Monroe was really brief, perhaps I’d come back again and bike around for a couple of days, or maybe I should have gone to the university. Anyways, I probably would not end up in Monroe Louisiana if I didn’t take on this journey to South America, I’m glad we came.