I hitched a few rides into Christchurch. The first person who pulled over to the side of the road apologized for misleading me, but she was actually just pulling over to allow her young son an opportunity to be sick. Poor little guy. I'm sure his favorite part of the whole ordeal was having an extra onlooker around for the fun. Luckily, before he was too involved in what was happening a second car pulled over, this time to give me a lift. And away we went!
It took 3 rides to get me to Christchurch, if I remember correctly. Once in a city I do my best to make sense of the maps and directions, keeping them for reference in my head, memorizing the main streets as I cross them. Generally I have a very keen sense of direction, and eventually I did have a clear understanding of the downtown region of Christchurch, but it took quite a bit longer than usual. Even though the earthquake that shook Christchurch to the ground was 3 years prior, it looked as though it happened just a week ago. Instead of using a tall building as a marker, or a unique set of shops, I found myself memorizing piles of rubble, and stacked railroad cars to differentiate between streets and landmarks.
I was dropped at the side of one of the main roads and found the first 2 hostels along it to be fully booked, so I made my way toward the center of downtown, hoping to find better luck. After three more hostels I finally found one with a room, which I booked for the next 3 nights, until my friend arrived. I was getting tired, and a persistent headache was strengthening its way toward a migraine. I checked in, and decided to take a small stroll around the park and Botanic Gardens, located merely one block from my hostel. I wanted to see a bit before the migraine took over. Within two blocks I found this 3 story painting.
|I would have loved a more panned out photo, but there was a second building right next to it, so I couldn't back up any further for a better vantage point.|
It's an amazing painting, but the thing that excited me most about it most, was the fact that I had seen 3 of the artists other works in Nelson, while I was traveling around with Manu. We had stopped to take our photo in front of one of them, when the couple who captured that the picture told us where to find the other two in town. I never did find out the artists name, because he didn't sign any of them, but apparently he is a Belgian. This is enough information for me to spend some time on the computer tracking him down, when I have time, but for now I will enjoy it as a series of luckily found beauties along my path.
Here are the other three paintings by said Belgian artist which we found while in Nelson.
|3 stories tall|
|3 stories tall|
|1 story tall|
My roommates were aflutter and scattered from the building in no time. I wonder if my multiple run-ins with emergencies have thwarted me from panicking completely when the threat doesn't seem eminent, after all, it was only a 2 story building, I could have easily jumped out if need be. So while in this state of slow-motion lackadaisical consciousness I grabbed what I deemed imperative, and made my way down to the street to gather with the hostel crowd, noticing an odor of burnt toast in the air as I descended the stairs.
It wasn't until I got outside, that I realized just exactly how confused I was. Picture the last person out of the building wearing thermals, a coat (mind you it was quite warm weather so it already seemed out of place), hiking boots untied straggling shoelaces drug behind and stepped on several times much to my and the steppers chagrin, thick black glasses clad on the female face also wearing an afro the color of fire, a small daypack which contained my camera, go pro, and a toiletry bag. Then picture her glazed eyes turn to confused orbs as she realized she held a pair of pants in her hand. Why? Well, obviously my wallet was in the back pocket, and I might be needing that in case the building did in fact go up in flames. What I apparently didn't think was essential to grab in this potential catastrophe, was my main backpack, which had all of my possessions in it, including my passport. Nope! Not necessary!
The moral of this lesson, folks, is that although pain meds have their purpose, sometimes they make you a little too relaxed.
Thankfully all the excitement was due to an overly sensitive alarm system responding to someones charred dinner. After the fire department gave the okay, we filed our way back inside, and I quickly returned to my slumber while my dorm mates discussed the nights unexpected event.
The next day I met with my friend Anthony, whom I was not expecting to see again, but he had gotten to Chich (short for Christchurch) the night before as well. We travelled the city, both having left the trail due to injuries, and decided if we couldn't hike, we might as well have at least one set of normal clothes to travel in. So while searching out thrift stores for a couple T-shirts and one pair of pants we saw some pretty beautiful things.
Parts of downtown were newly erected modern buildings, but their pristine, clean, new beauty was set to the backdrops of partially collapsed structures lined with train cars. More than half of the downtown area was imprisoned behind chain link fence and construction barricades, waiting their turns in line for reconstruction.
In the above photo please note the steal structure erected to help maintain that one remaining wall facade from complete collapse. And this is essentially what half of downtown looked like.
My departure from Anthony's company was no less sad than any of my other separations, but at this point I was very well practiced at saying goodbye. I know everyone always boasts of intentions to keep in touch, but I am more stubborn than most, and when I meet a person worth keeping in my life, I will do whatever I can to keep them. So I don't think of them as "goodbyes", but rather, "until the next adventures."
Speaking of adventure, that evening my career as Life's jester struck again! Christchurch really likes to force social gatherings on you via smoke alarms and evacuation procedures. Fire department responds to burnt kitchen food round 2. This time I grabbed my wallet. I didn't take it seriously at all. It turns out I responded with the appropriate fervor. Honestly though, an evacuation procedure is great place to meet people :)
The afternoon of the 15th I went to the airport to meet Jeff, whom you will be seeing on a regular basis throughout the rest of the stories because I spent my last 2 weeks adventuring the rest of the south island with him in a rental van. He is from Boise, but happens to work in Antarctica!!!! How awesome, for so many reasons. First, I know someone who works in Antarctica, and that's impressive. Second, in knowing someone who works there I get to ask all the ridiculous questions you can imagine about the cold. For example, "When blowing bubbles in such drastically cold temperatures, do the bubbles freeze before they hit the ground?" I know the answer to that question now, but I am not going to tell you. You have to get your own ice friend :) Third, I get pictures and videos of penguins much more than the average person, and I feel like you can never have too many pictures or videos of penguins. Cute little buggers!
Originally my plan was to take a break from the trail and meet up with Jeff when he was finished with his season on the ice, play a few days, then return to the trail for the finish, but as you know nothing in life goes as planned. Now that I had all the time in the world, we decided to meet up and travel the rest of the south island by van for 2 weeks. 2 weeks doesn't seem like that long, but just because you have all the time in the world doesn't mean you have all the funds in the world. I was ready for the next chapter of this adventure.
Jeff and I had 2 days in Christchurch to travel around, get the rental van, stock it with supplies, and be on our way. During those two days, we took in as much of the city streets as we could.
|Squares to the right….?|
|A great graffiti painting|
and a pointing man sculpture on the roof…?
|This is a pretty close example of what my studio usually looks like|
So much street art!!!
To the masses the city is rubble. To an artist it is a canvas waiting to be repainted.
I had mentioned meeting the artist Greg Broadmore while in Wellington. When we met he had just returned to the capital city from traveling overseas, as well as from installing this show in Christchurch, which I of course went out of my way to see.
|Maybe my favorite sculpture in the whole exhibit.|
|What you see when you peer inside is a whole other world!|
|...but be warned.|
Peering into device may cause permanent eye joy.
Boy did it!!!
More street art
|A blunt reminder in the journey through life|
We finished our tour of the city at (what use to be but is now the faint reminder of) the cathedral in the center of downtown. And the next day the adventure would continue!!