Christchurch is fundamentally England, essentially a southern suburb of London, New Cross transplanted into the southern hemisphere.
It’s 4:30am Saturday and I’m in the kitchen with a coffee. It’s been almost three months of leading a relatively normal existence and I wanted to share it. I’m back working sixty hours a week in construction, Elena is posted up at Piko Wholefoods and the things that at first didn’t make sense upon arrival, are starting to.
I remember our first day and pulling into a gas station in our rented ’91 Nissan Bluebird and not being able to understand the prices. Realising that we’re back in the land of metric – petrol isn’t by the gallon and you’re about to pay two dollars and change per litre. It’s ok because unlike Australia, the little auto-fill-clip-thing works and you just fill it not looking at the blur of numbers, a blur of spending and probable environmental degradation.
Our first wander through the city revealed a patchwork quilt of open spaces and rubble where buildings once stood, add a skyline of working cranes now the rebuild is underway. It’s daunting but people are positive. Slowly stories resurface from friends who were here about what they lost or how they now grind their teeth while they sleep at night from the anxiety of another ‘quake.
We got to know Christchurch quickly, intent on finding somewhere to live that we really liked, we visited most every suburb and met the hasty program of rental house inspections. The first Saturday here, searching for a farmers market, we headed through the tunnel that burrows under the Banks Peninsula and popped out into the less-conservative Lyttelton; a little harbour community ten minutes from the city, nestled in the hills overlooking the ocean. We decided then and there that this was probably the next semi-permanent home.
I like Christchurch. We’re far enough south that we’ll see all four seasons, there’s free fruit falling everywhere you turn; apples, peaches, pears, berries, lemons and limes are ripe for the taking. Feijoas! Have you tasted those things?! A fizzy mix of guava, fig and pineapple. My new favourite. The waves kind’ve suck, people love ciggies like it’s nineteen seventy-five, redheads more or less get a free pass, trundlers are a thing and every cafe and store wants to give you a loyalty card of some sort, but people are friendly. I can do me here for now.