Friday, 3 May 2013

Christchurch: The Heart of a Damaged City




You can run a red light in central Christchurch and get away with it. Sink into a pot hole too and no one cares. It was Thursday night at six when we wandered around . A slightly macabre dusk. Every person we passed had a camera. The red-zone is an amateurs photographers dream. I snapped away and felt like a bit of a tosser.  


 The full moon appeared, like the proverbial phoenix rising from the rubble. 

We looked for signs of life and food for sale, the kids were peckish. We found Alice’s Cinematique. I asked an Irishman for a little local knowledge? He suggested we try the casino. Signs to the, ‘City Centre’ should really read, ‘Dead Centre This Way’ or ‘Welcome to Voyeurs Corner’. 

We ended up in Hornby at the Speights Ale House. All I wanted to do was support the hard working Cantabrians trying to rebuild their lives and their FOOD businesses. You can see why this woman buried herself in the sand.


The next morning we set off for the newly opened Ballantyne’s. A local said it was the old Cashel Street Mall. She was wrong. We ended up at swanky looking Les Mills. I asked for directions. No one seemed to know. ‘There are so many road blocks…you need to get back onto Tuam Street,' said one woman. Fortuitously, we drove right past the controversial cardboard cathedral. I took a snap (out of the car window). 


Google maps wasn’t helping. It can’t identify road blocks. When we arrived at the infamous Container Mall it was half an hour before the shops opened. CafĂ© owners were in happy moods. One pop-up shop keeper was just trying to move stock. Buy something for $100 and receive another item worth $100. ‘We’ve got truckloads of stuff ,’he told a fellow trader. ‘Truck loads.’ I bought a $20 t-shirt from him. A $17 breakfast from the cheery cafe with this lovely bird garden. And an expensive pair of shoe-boots from Head Over Heels.


We headed north via the new and enormously flash airport to collect another daughter. I wasn't sad to leave the chaos behind. I’m Going to The Golden Yarns Hui in Christchurch in June and will be glad to support the local economy again. For the sake of its permanent inhabitants I really hope to see a little progress. I’ll keep my fingers crossed. And study satellite maps before I arrive.


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