Tuesday, 13 March 2012

An unfamiliar city

Monkey puzzle tree, Sumner Beach

Visiting Christchurch has been interesting. It's not an easy place to find my way around, many of the familiar routes are blocked with rubble, fences, trucks, diggers and cranes. Familiar buildings, landmarks, are gone or reduced. Around most corners are surprises, changes that signal big changes for the city. 

On Sunday we walked through the central city. The mood was sombre with tears from some, emotions running high as people said goodbye to the Christ Church Cathedral. An icon sadly crumbling on shaky ground. The quiet is eerie, disturbing to walk between the fences and see the diggers with their piles of twisted metal and concrete. The silent traffic lights, blinking orange, reminded me of the first scenes I saw. It didn't feel good, emotionally charged for locals and visitors alike. 

Sumner was interesting, the beautiful seaside village a ghost town now. The heart seemed to be gone from the community with homes teetering on the cliff edge, a school closed and churches destroyed. A walk along the beach and a drive up the hill roads showed the extent of the damage. People in the unenviable position of having to live in houses that are severely damaged or leaving their homes to rent somewhere while trying to make ends meet. The mortgage on their condemned homes doesn't go away. 

I don't feel like adding Sunday's images yet. Checking them made me sad and I think that, a little over a year on, there is change and a new hope as some businesses reopen. There are places, often in out of the way places to socialise and dine. Sarah and I managed to catch up at the Smokehouse, a delicious meal with New Zealand wine. Cafes are located in different places, in containers and operating from caravans. The city will survive, here's hoping the quiet earth stays quiet for a very long time. Christchurch has had enough thanks. 

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