I have to say it was difficult as we inched our way towards the customs official. As if a thirteen hour flight was not enough it was looking like it would be another hour or more standing in line. Perhaps it wasn’t an hour but it sure felt like it. However, all the interminable waiting was forgotten the instant we spied our Kim and the fierce embrace that shortly ensued. All this and it was only 6:00 AM. After a short flight from Auckland down to Christchurch and an early check in at our hotel we set off to wander about the city. As I recall it was around this time that I realized that an uninvited and unwanted visitor had decided to join our merry threesome – but more about this later. First I want to say a little bit about Christchurch. The city is now defined by it’s different color zones – green zones, blue zones, yellow zones and the worst of them being the red zones. Red zones contain buildings that are either beyond repair or are in an area where it is still unsafe to enter. There are several residential area where homes have been purchased by the government. These subdivisions will be razed, never to be built upon again. There were lots of letters to the editor and articles from homeowners unhappy with their zone designation for a whole host of reasons. Several city blocks in the downtown core are red zone. It was very odd to walk for blocks beside the chain link fence that rings the out of bounds area. Inside the fence one can see buildings with huge cracks and fissures or areas where large sections of brick had fallen, but most looked normal, just utterly deserted. We came to a shopping area where the shops and the restaurants were ‘chock a block’. The only difference was that the shops themselves were made from what were essentially shipping containers stacked on on top of the other.
It was terrific and helped dispel the gloom not a block away.
After exploring through Hagley Park, a huge and beautiful park where one can golf, play rugby, bowls, cricket, frisbee, enjoy a lovely botanic gardens or even punt along the Avon river, it was time to return to our hotel to rest a bit and then find a place for dinner.
We were delayed from this task by an hour or so when we came upon a theatre troupe who presented ‘A Complete History of Christchurch’ in an open air theatre and a makeshift stage (yep, it had a shipping container too). Anyway, it was when we were on our way to dinner that I our uninvited visitor forced our first change of plans. Now as many of you know, I am not a stranger to back pain. While I was stiff and a bit sore after the flight I was feeling pretty good about it given the length of the flight and of course my thinking was that several hours of walking would limb things up. Oh how wrong I was. No more than 100 meters from the hotel I made the decision to return to the hotel while the girls supped due to the sharp and escalating pain each step brought. After a hot bath and a reasonable night’s sleep I awoke, still with a sore back, but thinking that, like many times before, the worst was over and the stiffness and ache would now start to subside. Oh, how wrong I was.
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