This week, Michael and I realized that we had surpassed the half way mark on our adventure. Half way! It seems like a strange time, though. Walking the Great Wall seems both like yesterday, and forever ago. There’s just been so many things happen in between that it’s difficult to measure the time properly. And today we start in on a fresh new adventure. We’ve stepped into our 5th country – New Zealand – and into a 4 week long caravan road trip from Christchurch to the southern tip of the country and all the way up north to Auckland. Michael and I each have goals:
Hike a tall glacial mountain
Watch a sheepdog trial
Find some spectacular NZ wool (even though I truly don’t need any more yarn in my collection)
Take a Mud Bath at Rotorua
White Water Rafting
…I’m sure Michael has other goals but when we discuss our New Zealand needs, it mostly sounds like I’d like to be a granny and Michael would like to tempts the Gods of Water, Earth and Air.
There will be a happy medium achieved, I think.
Mostly, I’m really extremely looking forward to our campervan rental. I can’t wait to really set up shop in our traveling “home” (though it’s really just a glorified minivan), and to hit up a grocery store. I can’t wait to cook my own supper. After all this time, making my own supper feels like a luxury!
Can I tell you about Christchurch? We’ve been here exactly one day, and it is not like anything I’ve ever seen before. After the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, Christchurch was leveled. I remembered hearing about it on the news and seeing some crumbled buildings on tv, but after seeing this city in the flesh – three years after the earthquake – I certainly underestimated the magnitude of the disaster. Sure, there seems to be constant construction work going on; road work and cranes and support beams. But walking around the downtown core, you’d think you were in a ghost town. “Oh look! A Starbucks!....oh wait. It’s closed.” Most of the buildings are either so visibly damaged that of course there wouldn’t be a shop in it anymore, or else they have enough structural damage that the shopkeeper needed to board up the windows and leave anyway. Most of the tourist spots in downtown are now centred around the post-earthquake life. We visited a shopping district called Re:Start. It’s made up of colourfully painted shipping containers and houses everything from tourist souvenir shops to cafes (we ate breakfast in an upstairs window!) and Lululemon. It’s clearly an area that’s vibrant with locals who want to reclaim their city.We also visited a museum which explained Christchurch’s experiences with the disaster and their drastic (but slow moving) plans for rebuilding. We walked past the crumbled Christchurch Cathedral (amongst others), and found ourselves at a pop-up arts and community centre called the Pallet Pavillion. Hundreds of blue-painted pallets are stacked up tall to form walls, and inside you can get a coffee or a beer and snacks and watch local artists perform, or join an open mic night, or participate in a local dance troupe’s jig! We left just before an activity which would have involved about twenty xlyophones…
|Around Christchurch Cathedral|
With so many empty spaces where commercial buildings used to be, Christchurch is doing a fairly good job at keeping the city “full.” They insert art pieces or murals. They give restaurant licenses to people who want to open up a burger joint out of a couple of parked city buses. They construct temporary performance spaces and keep plenty of the barricades colourful! It’d be a grey place to live if not for these interesting additions. Though, it does seem like most people have moved away from downtown. Like I said – for the most part, it looks like a ghost town. (I’m told there’s a “new downtown” somewhere, and I assume that’s where most of the shops and restaurants and people have gone to). I definitely think that this will be an excellent place to revisit in 10 years.
|Our swanky bus-shaped dinner spot|
But I haven’t written anything about Tasmania yet, have I?!
I’ll put it in another post very soon. I was sadly absent from the interwebs in Tasi as most of our lodging either didn’t have internet or wanted to charge us actual money for the use of the WWW. Pfft. Here’s a teaser:
IT WAS AWESOME.