Getting Lost in Christchurch

Robert Latta
February 25, 2013

As I was saying in my last post, I settled into Christchuch for a few days back at the Jailhouse before moving into the Ilam Apartments at the University of Canterbury.

When arriving back from Akaroa, I was keen (I’m already speaking like a Kiwi!) on taking a run.  So I strapped into my vibrams and took off down Lincoln Road towards the central city area.  I zoomed passed the many commercial buildings and then headed left to follow the border of Hagley Park.  One thing I couldn’t help but notice was the number of eery empty lots.  The weeds in them grow wildly around the garbage and poke through the chain-link fencing.   After the earthquake, there were many, many buildings that had to be demolished, leaving the patches of land to sit vacant.  Many more buildings were damaged beyond repair, but still stand behind fences, abandoned.  It reminds me a bit of an apolcolyptic movie set.  It’s really too bad that a city with so much pride looks the way it does.  It’s a slow rebuilding process, but every day there are small changes in the city that show there is progress being made.

Soon later, I crossed the Avon river and slowed to a walk, nearing the crowd of people ambling around the newly built Re:Start mall.  It’s really a cool concept where instead of building permanent structures, retailers have established themselves in brightly painted shipping containers.  Every day, hundreds of people come to enjoy the weather, the food, the shopping, and the street performers.  I wandered a bit around the containers-er-shops and sat with a crowd to watch the slow destruction of one of the Red Zone’s (this was one of the hardest hit areas) buidlings.

After a while I decided to go back to the jailhouse to get some much needed rest.  So I crossed back over the Avon and headed into the Botanical Gardens, the city’s iconic green space.  A trip into the gardens gives a taste of both the laid-back, outdoorsy spirit of Christchurch and the entire nation.  Before long, my mind was at ease as I cruised through the quiet gardens.

I then jogged into what I thought was Hagley Park, but soon realized that I was horribly lost.  My hippie-like zen state must have caused me to lose total track of my surroundings.  So, I alternated running and walking, trying to figure out where the heck I was.  I found a guy who was walking the opposite direction to ask him how to get to Addington (the suburb that the Jailhouse is in).  He told me I was way off and to turn left at Straven Road after walking a bit more on the same street that I was on.

Finally, after an hour or so, I made it back to Lincoln Road and the Jailhouse.  I was gassed, and my feet, still getting used to the vibrams, were aching.

I slept well that night in my quiet jail cell.

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Robert Latta

<div><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">My name is Robbie Latta and I am a junior studying civil engineering at Purdue University in lovely West Lafayette, Indiana. I am also a member of the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity on campus. I like to spend time outside, bike, play hockey when I am home in Minnesota, write, and spend time with my friends. I am coming to New Zealand to explore the Kiwi lifestyle and have some fun!</span></div>

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