Saturday, we set off early for Christchurch for a niece's 21st birthday. We set off early because we drove up there in our son's van (it needed a run after months of just the occasional 'about town' outings) and as it is very slow on the hills, we wanted to start off when the roads were relatively empty.
I call the van Big Bertha.
'She's slow and thirsty, but she'll get you there' is how our son describes his machine. He's in Chile at the moment, so we are its custodians.
Before the 21st that night, we had time to look around the tattered and battered inner-city part of Christchurch; the after-effects of the two major earthquakes it has suffered.
It is one year since the first earthquake and six months since the second one. The first earthquake happened early hours of the morning and no lives were lost; although there was a lot of damage to buildings etc. The second one happened in the middle of a working day in February, and it took over a hundred lives. (Note: there have been thousands of earthquakes / tremors/ shudders since the first one in September 2010, a lot of of them sizeable and frightening and causing even more damage).
Oamaru - a small North Otago town with many white-stone buildings, statues, sculpture and Victorian architecture
We headed for home, feeling the sobering effects of having seen with our own eyes the state of Christchurch.
There is a sign in Christchurch that says (I don't remember exactly) but words to the effect that 'This City Will Be Re-Built - Brick by Brick'. It's going to take a lot of time, but there is enough hope and resilience evident among the broken-ness, to believe there will one day stand a resplendent re-built Christchurch.
A couple of writers I know, Catherine and Joanna, who live in Christchurch and have experienced first-hand the earthquakes (which still to this day continue to rattle Canterbury) write wonderfully about what it is like to keep on keeping on after the earthquake. Do pay a visit and read their stories.