I don’t have New Orleans, but I have Puerto Plata. Sometimes all the parts of my life seem to merge, the past and the present--I think this is what happens as you get older, and it also happens when I’m in a place where the past is embodied--where things that have happened make an imprint on the physical world, and are not forgotten--and they are used. The proportions of the old city are like the core of colonial New Orleans--the grand architecture, its proportions stately, crumbling, while life continues unabated--“progress” feels like a kind of dream here, or a hallucination, a fantasy people have of something coming, in the open-ended future, that will bring goodness and prosperity. There is so much dreaming. There are betting parlors on every corner. Yeah, “Make your dreams a reality,” says the handwritten sign taped to the glass in one of them, right next to the bus station. And there is so much religion. A chicken runs, flapping, across the road--a woman stands there, bent sideways, her body freighted and her expression that of one accustomed to having to make things happen by sheer momentum. How else can you make sense of things being so hard, relentlessly, for all the time anybody can remember? Religion and theft, those are ways to hope.