I admit I wasn’t really enthusiastic about going to Christchurch. New Zealand for me wasn’t about the cities. The scenery is so beautiful that being on the road, stopping whenever I felt like it was all I wanted to do. But I kept to the plan.
It was easy to see where the roads broke due to the 2010 earthquake. The surroundings were incredible: big empty building areas surrounded by fences. Torn down buildings and blocked traffic in several downtown areas. Men and machines working everywhere.
I was so astonished when I reached the city center! The number of demolished or partially destroyed buildings was like nothing I have ever seen before!
Strolling through the streets, I felt a huge will from the people to rebuild. I could feel the will to fight for a new beginning and didn’t see any sad faces. I saw hope. I saw determined faces. The people that decided to stay feel Christchurch is their home. Everybody knows what Nature can do at any moment. I felt a strong empathy with the people and the city.
Thousands of people left the city after the earthquakes. I have thought of leaving my home several times, but I’m too attached to the island. I was born and became a man there, although I lived abroad for several years. I found the best friends in the world. My parents and grandparents were born there. My beautiful god-daughters were born there. The island is my home. In a certain way, I understand the people of Christchurch. They don’t want to disconnect from family generations that built a life there.
An old cable car runs through the city center on a touristy route that’s easy to do on foot. The friendly driver told me he used to be a school teacher before they shut down several schools after the massive exodus. He refused to leave.
I walked through a cool street where everything is in containers, from shops to bars and banks. It symbolizes the city reconstruction with a new vibe and it’s inspiring.
I wanted to let them know I wasn’t afraid to be there, that they could count on me so I decided to stay another night.
Update November 2016
Since I wrote this story, Christchurch has been hit again, this time by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake followed by a tsunami threat!! Sitting on the Ring of Fire is the price to pay for such a beautiful place…