|Graffiti by local artist Tony Cribb on the Knox Presbyterian Church|
Christchurch, or CHCH as it is often abbreviated by locals, was hit by a series of devastating earthquakes this year, leaving 181 dead and much of the cityscape damaged. Historical buildings, businesses and homes still sit in ruins, awaiting repairs that might take years.
Sam and I stayed in a small town outside the city, coming in to explore a few times last week. I was shocked at the extent of the damage on our first day in town. Large areas of the city center have been fenced off, and some streets are like ghost towns, with weeds growing up among damaged buildings awaiting demolition or repair. We were able to see much of the damaged area along a fenced pathway, where we were herded along with other gawkers and locals.
Near the area that has been fenced off, there is a temporary retail shopping mall made of colorful shipping containers. The atmosphere is very festive, with outdoor cafes, lots of flowers everywhere, and buskers performing in the streets. I left Sam watching a street performer setting up his arena while I wandered around.
When I came back, Sam was part of the show! He and 3 others were helping the mullet-proud performer onto his eight foot unicycle.
On Sunday we visited the Riccarton Sunday Market, a massive flea market at the Riccarton Racecourse. While we perused the stalls, cottony white fluff floated down from the trees, and a woman onstage sang "White Christmas" and "Let it Snow."
It almost felt like winter.