Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Christchurch - one year later

One year ago this week, we had planned to be in New Zealand for the February wedding of our Kiwi friends, Mike and Miriam.  Before we booked our tickets, one of Josh's cousins announced that his wedding would be the same week, in Mexico. We decided to go to the family wedding and promised Mike and Miriam that we'd come visit them the following year.

Sadly, the NZ wedding didn't happen that week.  The earthquake that devastated Christchurch at 12:51 on Feb 22 also destroyed their planned outdoor wedding venue in Sumner - a seaside suburb of Christchurch. Although their wedding didn't go ahead as planned, they chose to look at the positive side. The tragic loss of 185 lives in the quake made them realize how lucky they were that they still had each other and their families. So many others weren't so fortunate.

We kept our promise to visit, and we boarded a plane for New Zealand on February 3.  We spent a wonderful two weeks checking out both the North and South Island.  We spent our 5th anniversary in Christchurch, having dinner at a great Thai restaurant called Benjarong.  Shockingly, just a few days after we dined there, they were closed down after a building safety inspection (a few other businesses nearby were also affected). Even one year later, the after-effects of the quake are continuing to hurt businesses, and subsequently jobs.

On our second day in Christchurch, we visited the downtown core which was still mostly cordoned off. Just outside the cordoned off area, a vibrant new venue was springing up, in the form of a brightly coloured container mall including high street shops and cafes. The revitalization was like a breath of fresh air.

cutest Kiwi kiddo

Lunch at the Hummingbird Cafe

Our Kiwi friends say the container mall is only temporary, and will be taken down as the city continues to be rebuilt. I actually wish they'd keep it as its rainbow coloured buildings are like a bright ray of sunshine in a city that has been through more than its share of heartbreak.

No comments: