Mini break Bridget Jones style, without a cheating Hugh Grant and comical bunny ears of course. So we dropped the guinea pig off at the babysitters and me and Gerry set off to Christchurch for the weekend. We’ve been together for over 2 years, lived in Darwin, Melbourne and Queenstown together and yet this was our first time on a plane together.
Things we have now learnt about each other:
– Gerry gets a headache when the plane is descending.
– I bless myself for take off, landing and turbulence.
– Gerry does not like when I spill my coffee milk all over him.
– I spill my coffee milk.
After dropping our stuff off at the hotel and doing some shopping in the mall we decided to head into the city for some dinner. Obviously we knew that Christchurch was still going to be a bit of a mess after the earthquakes 3 years ago but we really weren’t prepared for what we saw. Stepping off the bus in town was like walking onto the movie set of I Am Legend, I wouldn’t have been surprised at all if Will Smith had run up to us with his dog and told us to run for safety.
It was a Saturday night and the place was deserted. It was eerily quiet. There were parts of buildings missing, the buildings that were still standing were held up by containers and were all fenced off. There was broken glass and rubble all over the ground, the roads were blocked off. We hadn’t booked anywhere for dinner, we thought that we could just stroll around the town and find somewhere but so far we couldn’t see anywhere that had living people in it.
We walked the streets for a while, looming silent broken buildings surrounding us, nothing but darkness and devastation peeking out from inside the rubble.
The silence and the emptiness starts to get to you after you have walked and walked and can see nothing but nothingness. I felt very uneasy, very uncomfortable and out of place and I stuck close to Gerry, trying to shake the feeling that we were the only 2 people left on earth in that moment. Just as we were starting to lose hope of ever seeing civilisation again we rounded a corner and we were greeted by a restaurant made entirely of pallets. The walls were pallets, the ground was pallets, there was a little caravan in there acting as the bar. I was so taken back by the sight of it, I went from being really freaked out by Christchurch to suddenly having this feeling of Ohmygod people are amazing. In the midst of complete devastation here was this ridiculously inventive example of how people are survivors, how people can make the most out of next to nothing, how people band together when things are at their worst.
I suddenly went from wanting to run the whole way back to Queenstown to absolutely loving Christchurch. The Pallet Pavillion wasn’t the only place that we saw like that, we stopped at Smash Palace next. This is a bar made out of an old bus, it’s literally make shift fences around an old painted bus and it was packed in there. Container city is a shopping area where they have loads of shops set up inside containers.
But while those places are seemingly about shopping and drinking and eating, and while on the surface they are really just pallets and old buses and painted containers, under the surface they are shining examples of how we are survivors and fighters. In a city left with nothing those people took that nothingness and made the most of it.
The trip to christchurch really made me think, if you had asked me years ago What would you save if your house was falling down? I would have given you a whole list of things as an answer. My clothes, my shoes, my laptop, my photos off the walls, my jewellery. Asking myself the same question now, there is honestly not one material thing that I would risk my life for. Going travelling makes you see the world so differently, material things are replaceable, you can always buy more shoes and a new laptop because in the end the important things are the people you meet and the memories you make and the experiences you have that change you and shape you.
Seeing places like christchurch puts everything into perspective and it made me wonder, if the world fell down around me today would I stay cowering under a table afterwards or would I pick up a pallet and start rebuilding?
Ask me that question a few years and I would probable be picking out a comfy table to hide under, but today, I can tell you straight away that all the pallets would be painted pink and I would serve wine and banana pancakes!
Happy Wednesday Everyone 🙂