Wednesday, 22 September 2010


We arrived in Christchurch today not really knowing what to expect. As you drive in from the airport, it takes a while before you realise that chimneys are in short supply. Our taxi has a problem finding our inner city apartment hotel and thats not because its hard to find, its on Cashel Street, one of the main throughfares, it's just that there are still streets blocked off as buildings are being removed or areas are still deemed unsafe for pedestrians and traffic. So our friendly taxi bloke has to take a fairly round about route to get us where we want to go.

We arrive. Its a cute place. Everything you want in miniature. We walk to our first meeting. It should take us 10 minutes but it takes us a bit longer simply because we have to detour around the central city road closures.

When we arrive back to our comfy wee hotel room we contemplate ringing reception as theTV is a bit blinky and TV1 is only screening in black and white. We watch a news item on a bunch of people in Christchurch who still dont have sewage systems and functioning water and with a rising lump in our throat we are mesmerised as a city official breaks down as he tells the distraught residents that the city officials are doing their best and going as fast as they can but they can only do so much. We feel a growing embarrassment that our big worry was having to watch the news in monochrome while residents in an enclave of this city are using buckets to shit in.

Soon an old and dear friend picks us up to take us out to dinner. We gather up another old mutual mate who shows us his lovely home with tell tale bulges that indicate possible hidden structural weaknesses.
We drive past a few churches - earthquakes don't like old churches. Few steeples are left.But the churches will live on.

We dine at a wonderful Merrivale restaurant called JDV . We sup on a great syrah from the Barrossa called the Protagonist. We talk of almost everything but the Big Event. That is the way my mates wanted it and despite being desperate to ask questions, we let them lead the table topics.

The food was very fine- the steak one of the best we have had for a while.

It was a good evening but on the conversation breeze, the word earthquake swirled like a dervish time and time again among the other diners.

Soon, too soon, we were back at the hotel room - 20 metres from a closed off street - within a few paces of places that may never open again.

Christchurch is badly wounded. But it is functioning. We had 15 minutes to spare at the end of the day and we bought some clothes. A practical and simple way to help the city. You can come here, you can sleep, you can get around and you can eat and drink and buy and you can listen to the earthquake tales of those who have lived through this extraordinary event.

The blossoms, like a flossy petticoat gird Hagley Park. The daffodils speckle the banks of the Avon. Some things just carry on like - well like always.

The people are doing the best they can to work together to get back to normal. Its going to take time. But the worst thing we can do is ignore this city. Come here, visit, eat, sleep, listen and where you can spend an extra dollar.
Just being here, being part of the fix is the best help you can give.

1 comment:

Ciaron said...

Many thanks from the rattled.