California friends having a Ball in Natchez

Published 12:43 am Monday, May 17, 2010

NATCHEZ — Natchez and Los Angeles don’t share many similarities, but that suits Rachel Ball just fine.

When The Dart landed on Commerce Street Wednesday, it found Ball and her friend Alex Couri taking a break from the big city life to visit Ball’s parents for a few weeks.

“It’s so much different,” Ball said. “I love coming back and visiting. I love the energy of the big city, but I like the friendliness and laid-back feel of Natchez.”

After graduating from LSU with a degree in anthropology, Ball was looking for a place to go.

She took the advice of Couri, her childhood friend who was living in Los Angeles, and made it out to the City of Angels.

“Alex said I should try living out here,” Ball said. “So I drove from Natchez to L.A. It took about four days and I had Ruben (her pet dog) on the car ride with me.”

Ball is a outdoors lover, and once she got out to Los Angeles, she found quite a bit of outdoor activities, even in one of the largest cities in the country.

“I love to go on the walking trails in the hills and walk along the beaches,” Ball said. “In Los Angeles there is a lot of focus on the natural. In spite of all the people living there you can be in a natural place in just a few minutes. You wouldn’t think that because of the smog and traffic.

“I live at the bottom of a mountain and there will be coyotes come down in my yard from time to time.”

But of course a big part of Los Angeles is the celebrity culture of Hollywood, and sightings of the rich and famous aren’t uncommon.

“When you’re out there, you’ll see the celebrities, and it’s either no big deal or like ‘Oh my God, you’re live in Hollywood!’ Ball said.

Couri said she has also seen her share of celebrities.

“I was standing in line for a movie and saw all of these camera flashes, and I turned and saw Paris Hilton standing in line,” Couri said. “You’ll see lots of paparazzi situations. It’s very much a part of that culture. You never forget that it’s Hollywood.”

While there likely won’t be any celebrity sightings in Natchez, that’s just fine with the two friends, who have spent their vacation taking trips to Lake St. John and Clark Creek and walking their dogs along the bluff at sunset.

“We’re just enjoying Natchez and its people,” Ball said. “I love California but I do love the South and its way of life and culture. That’s what makes the South so special.”