Tuesday, January 24, 2017


     Walking into downtown Christchurch today, we could see the devastation of the 2011 earthquake. The landmark cathedral sadly, suffered considerable damage and with a gaping hole in the tower, looks like a bomb had hit. 13 of its big bells had come crashing down and seeing the photographs sends chills down my spine. None of the original office buildings or shops remain inhabited and the city center ressembles a war zone that is being rebuilt. New construction, curiously all glass, stands in stark contrast to partially demolished concrete structures. "Restart" signs are everywhere; a pop up shipping container mall is alive with music, tourists and families on summer vacation - a combination of food trucks and vendors with the aroma of pizza and bratwurst sending messages of hope and rebirth. 

On the edge of downtown is a transitional cardboard cathedral, designed by Shigeru Ban, the architect of the cardboard church built in Kobe after their earthquake.  

     The beautiful botanic garden is as lush as we remember, the towering trees a reminder of the permanence of nature. How incredibly fulfilling it is to walk among the oaks, cedars, and magnolias, listening to the sweet calls of birds, watching the fuzzy bees darting between the dahlias, and enjoying the peacefulness of the ponds. The benches are full of sun worshippers, reminding us of midwestern days, when good weather is to be taken full advantage of. The afternoon turns breezy with a chill that feels like rain is on its way. 

     We learn that Arthur's Pass, which we are to travel across tomorrow, has a "slip" or landslide due to the recent rains. Apparently this has been the wettest and coldest summer in years. The road is currently open for 10 minutes at a time each hour. As this section of road is close to the western end, our plan is to spend the day enjoying the scenery and not to be concerned about the delays. More to come tomorrow...


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