A sombering view

Trip Start Feb 12, 2011
Trip End Jul 09, 2011

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Where I stayed
At the right place hostel

Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Sunday, March 27, 2011


Late saturday evening we pulled into christchurch, everyone fell silent on the bus and we were all looking for any signs of the earthquake, driving through the suburbs it all looked lovely and green, lovely houses, no sign of the trauma.. then we reached towards the centre, suddenly piles of rubble outside of buildings became the norm. We got off the bus (everyone dripping with sweat from the horrendous journey) on quite a lively street, a few bars and restaurants and every one of them seemed to be busy.  We wandered down to find our hostel, it was down a driveway which passed a building which was taped off with huge yellow tape warning no one to go inside as it was unsteady..arriving in reception we were greeted by a really friendly woman, we spoke to her for a while about where we could go (not far, a pub or back to the street we came in on).  She seemed very open to talking so we carefully asked a few questions, she was obviously still very affected by the quake, tears were in her eyes the whole time.  We found out that her hostel is full everynight with workers on the cleanup operation, we had heard this as we wanted to volunteer but everyone we spoke to (and online) had said we know you mean well but there isnt enough beds for everyone and we need those who are trained engineers or medical teams to have the beds, also any people who are homeless need places to stay.  That is why we only had one night, the bus we needed left at 8 in the morning so we were there as short a time as we could help.

The last thing she asked us to do was fill in a form with our full names and contacts for home abroad - just in case she said. I think that was when it hit us, gosh this is real and people are living like this and just no one knows how big the next shock will be.  She explained that we had just missed quite a big aftershock, "we have them everyday, the big ones, up to 4 on the richter scale, they will probably wake you up", gosh.   We put our bags in our rooms and made our way back to the street we came in on for food (she had told us that this was now a very busy social street as everyone from the CBD came out here for socialness now there was nothing in the city).

It was pretty eerie, some buildings were fully operational on our street, others taped off, others a skeleton left with rubble all around.  There was half of a church and because the avenue we were on marked the edge of the CBD any roads off to one side were barricaded and guarded with soldiers.

We found a little restaurant called Sophies, quite iconic apparently, the walls are lined with photos of her with every star that has come in, the portions were huge and we ate well, met really friendly people and had a large glass of wine...before wandering back to the hostel, feeling like you should whisper in this place, soldiers all around guarding the broken city, literally a ghost town, so sad, unsettling.

We went to bed that night not knowing what was going to happen, if there was going to be a quake, what it would feel like, if it would wake us....turns out we were not going to sleep that night, not due to any quakes but due to squeeky bunks!!! you may laugh, but literally a deep breath caused a loud squeak/groan from the beds to wake everyone in the room, except the lovely kiwi lad who snored all the way through the night...

We crept out early to a nearby petrol station for some breakfast before boarding a lovely airconditioned comfy seated coach...bliss, next stop 300km on the south coast.

Lots of love to everyone,

P xxxxxxxxxx

Ps - i didnt take pictures of the city, it just didn't feel appropriate too.
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Hazel Genner on

A sad experience to be in Christchurch Pip & Steve, & it was good to get your phone-call from there & to hear how you felt about it. As you say Pip - a broken city - and we can only hope and pray that something wonderful will rise from the ruins in so many different parts of Ch'Ch and Lyttleton. Luv, Kiwi-Granny & Poppa xx

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