Christchurch: couch surfing among the rubble (Oct. 20-24, 2012)

The trip to Christchurch was going to be another all day affair but I was in the mood for travel so I grabbed a seat on the mini bus and peeked around at my bus mates as we waited to hit the highway. A young Kiwi guy a couple of seats back was breaking a major bus etiquette rule by playing his music out of a tiny speaker hanging around his neck. He was playing Bob Marley though so not one person said a word. Another Kiwi guy across from me was loudly complaining about the colours painted on a van in the parking lot and a Kiwi girl with giant sunglasses told him to get a grip which started a small debate from the guy…except he was the only one talking. He talked of cannibals and kings to himself and with his phone to his ear (there was no reception at all mind you) and then just put his hand to his ear as if it were a phone and kept on. Bob Marley was keeping things chill though and we made it to our first transfer spot for a lunch break and a change to a bigger bus. The sunglasses girl and I decided to watch each other’s bag while we each grabbed lunch from a bakery across from the bus depot and we talked with Bob Marley until it was time to board again. She was a great bus friend (and now Facebook friend! Ooh!) and the trip passed quite nicely as we took pictures at each stop and traded travel stories. She was born and raised a Kiwi and was kind enough to give me advice on the important stuff like which service stations sell the best meat pies and if you lie down in the middle of a cow field and be really quiet the cows will slowly surround you and schnuffle you because they are so curious. Adding that to my bucket list NOW. We arrived on schedule in Christchurch and my couch surfing host, Mark, picked me up and helped me get settled in at his place. I had my own room where I would spend the next four nights and was more than pleased to find out he had a 9 week old puppy and another dog he was babysitting for a friend. We ordered pizza (single guy, no food in the house but who am I to judge with my non-cooking habits?) and watch Kiwi tv shows until I could not even pretend to keep my eyes open any longer. The past four nights had taken their toll on me so I retired to my comfy bed so I could get up very early to do an eight hour life modeling session the next day. After the day of modeling I had some money in my pocket and a couple of days to just explore the city but instead I took a very much needed rest day and stayed in bed until the afternoon when I could no longer ignore my hunger. Pizza and tv again tonight with my host and we chatted for most of the evening and got to know one another. One more day in Christchurch to explore so I got out there and walked about to find coffee and groceries to fulfill my promise of cooking dinner for my host. The city was largely destroyed by earthquakes in the last two years so the vibe is both subdued and exciting with too much scaffolding, blocked streets, temporary fencing and a booming construction industry. The local businesses weren’t very helpful when I was asking for directions and the posted bus times were approximate at best so I did more walking in circles than I would have liked. Walking the dogs and cooking supper for Mark and I was a perfect way to end my stay in that strange little city. Freshly laundered clothes in my pack (which was even heavier now after a silly trip to the mall…) and a generous drive halfway to the bus depot and I was all set to do the final leg of the journey to Queenstown.

 

Naomi and I rocking the South Island (Nelson to Christchurch)

Oil portrait done by Jeff Elliot in Amberley (45 minutes outside of Christchurch)

Roo made an excellent little snuggle buddy for my downtime in Christchurch.

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