Sunday, October 30, 2011

Christchurch: Devastated but Beautiful

Well, the time has come for me to leave the United States and make the long journey to the South Pole. As part of my travels south, I, along with other Antarcticans, layover for a couple of days in Christchurch, New Zealand. The main purpose of this stop is to get our Extreme Cold Weather (ECW) gear at the Clothing Distribution Center (CDC).

Once this pesky chore is out of the way, we then have the chance to fill our bellies full of flavorful Asian cuisine, drink our final draft beers and explore this beautiful city. However, much has changed from my time here in 2007/2008. Starting in the fall of 2010, earthquakes (some reaching a magnitude of 6.3) and several aftershocks have ravaged this city. Now, downtown is cordoned off and is eerily quiet, giving it a very distinct post-apocalyptic feel. Favorite restaurants are closed, rubble remains where buildings once stood and we are housed miles outside of the city center.

However, hope remains in resilient Christchurch. Reconstruction efforts are underway, businesses are reopening in other parts of the city and the expansive botanical gardens, where most Antarcticans go to soak up some life before heading to the ice, are open and alive and luscious.

Trying on lots of layers at the CDC. Love my insulated carhart bibs!

My first view of the earthquake destruction

Empty sidewalks

and closed roads

Sadly, many historic buildings tumbled

or had to be braced

Many sidewalks rolled or caved

I couldn't help but feel a zombie may come around the corner any second

But there is hope

And beauty

Flowers abound during the southern hemisphere spring

And bees love it!

I only just realized my camera has Sepia...duh

This can't be real

My fellow Portlander, friend and colleague, Kris, joined me for the day

As did, Rhiannon, my other fellow Portlander, friend and colleague