A Strange but Cool week.

Christchurch Travel Blog

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I woke on the morning of the 8th staring bleary eyed into the face of an angry welsh man with flaming red hair. He appeared hungover and his anger steamed from the fact my phone had been beeping and vibrating manically on a wooden desk for the last 10 minutes. Fair enough i suppose. Last nights 5 x $8 jugs of beer had plainly sent me into a deep happy slumber which was abruptly ended by that single welsh man. Standing up i realised that i wasn´t exactly feeling tip-top, i offered an apology to which he just appeared even more pissed off by so i let that be and turned to the next problem. My uncle had been waiting outside the hostel for a fair bit already, although he sounded not too bothered by the fact. I hurridely gathered my items, panic flooding my heart when my debit card was no where to be found. Well i ain´t got much time to worry about that, i got a plane to catch. I stumbled down the stairs, my hair rugged, teeth mossy and eyes heavy. Check-out was amazing as the smiling chap, quite sympathetic and understanding of my position, handed me my card which i learnt i had dropped by the doors entrance earlier that morning when i was finding my way into the building with a key that i had kept in the same pocket. Wonderful. I apologized and thanked him. He said no worries, it was your last night, a heavy night had to be done. Yes, thankyou, yes it did. What a wonderful man. A smooth ride to the airport, thank gawd no buses or shuttles were required. Goodbyes and thanks to my uncle before checking in and finding a hungry jacks for a much deserved burger, fries and large fanta. This settled my stomach and head considerably, until the plane ride during which i mostly slept but the descent was bumpy and the sudden drops weren´t all that nice on my stomach. A terrible landing, but thankful as always that i was alive. Seeing as donkeys still kill more persons than aircraft accidents i am not sure why i get the jingles before flights. Flying just seems...unnatural. But in addition to the nerves my mind is always flooded with silent pondering amazement as the plane seems to effortless glide in the sunshine, over the sea of white cotton surrounded by an eternal blue (except at night of course). The difference of New Zealand immediately became apparent. Lots of space, little people (as in population, not size). Jaque greeted and drove me to his place, named Club Suva (it´s on Suva Road) where he and seven (and now for a week 8) guys live. It is completely laid back. Possibly one of the most chilled places í have ever chilled in. Every single one of them are cool, nice, friendly, easy going, relaxed...all of that. The one dude is Polynesian, called Phillip, Phil or YO, PHILSY, has one of those addictive class laughs, is proper enthusiastic and interested (he listens when you speak) and has a funky room in the garage. Jaques is so chilled his voice is soft and slow and is likely to make your eyelids drop and send you into a slumber. Actually i don´t have the energy to go through them all. But basically they are all top blokes. Off we drove to another dudes house where it was about 10 or so guys and a bunch of girls all just having a good time together, as friends. Nice. There was a pool at the back where they all just started doing running back flips into. Even this one girl. They hadn´t even done it before! It was just like, ¨oh man try to do like a gainer into the water¨ and bam they had a go, eventually nailing it. Some of the guys then proceeded to start playing around with this one weight, which was basically two chunks of concrete on either end of a pole. I feel like a skinny twig around these guys. Quite a few play rugby of course, seeing as it is a recognised religion in New Zealand. Two of them then had fun chucking the weight through the air at each other, catching and stopping it before it crushed their chests. Usual stuff you know. Played ping-pong and pool in this huge garage which contained a boat and off-road motorbikes. These Kiwi´s are active people. It was seriously lush how they spent their time together. Jealous for sure. You don´t get this in England. Spent the evening at this girl´s lovely house and gardens in the country side. It was her baptism, the confirming of her faith and devotion to God. A pretty major event for her, and her family. So it was pretty incredible i thought that they would share this special occasion with me, a stranger. I have never witnessed a baptism like this. It was a proper dunking in the river which ran alongside their property. I can´t exactly remember the exact symbolism and meaning of being fully submerged in the water, but it was cool. I ain´t the religious type unfortunately but it was strange and lovely hearing this 19year old girl saying how her mind was now clear and she was ready to live her life for God. Devotion. This is pretty big stuff. I can imagine how satisfying that must be. Her aunt, mother, sisters and others all touched her shoulder and gave their prays, all wishing that she is looked over and that her relationship with God is a strong and happy one etc etc. I can´t even attempt to describe the beauty and strength in which those words were given. Although saying that, this one chap went on and on, citing parts of the bible and ever repeating himself. Same ideas just different words, along with some cheesy metaphors of trees and deep roots holding her fast in the coming storms of her life. What i liked was the idea of leaving your old self in the water and emerging as a new person, free from inflictions of your past and ready for the future, your mind clear and fresh. The evening was then filled with a braai, food and drink. A fun large scale football match, with players under 5 years old up to their 50s and sitting on the grass, chilling and chatting while the adults sat on the outside patio on sofas, wrapped in blankets with a wood fire going. Back at Club Suva, i thought the night would be done. But i was wrong. It wasn´t until 2.30ish that people decided that sleep was necessary.

 

The second day was spent strolling through town. Christchurch is a city. The biggest on the south island. Yet it has the feel of a small town. It is quiet and slow. Street performers and small markets filled the central spot and numbers gathered around a very strange and eccentric magican who wasn´t, well much of a magician. His tricks were those kind that are bought at the local joke shop and the crowd quickly dispersed, especially when the strong wind revealed the string that was before secretly levitating a glass ball. Next to this failure however was a guy with a hacky sack who was simply incredible, doing tricks that made you go huh? every other second. It is quite a pretty city with soft colonial buildings and a river running through stretches of park and greenery. A drive through the surrounding areas revealed pretty hills and views of the city below and distant mountains. We stopped at a mates spot, sitting on the hillside by grassy banks with mint views of the town of Sumner and the choppy sea lapping the stretch of beach. The house was mint too, little over a year old with a carpet that was more mattress like. Dinner at the famous local restaurant Lone Star was proper nice. They convinced the waitress it was my birthday, which i confirmed and so i received a free slab of Pavalova, a tequila shot and t-shirt! This was after they sung to me the mandatory Happy Birthday song followed by ¨For he´s a jolly good fellow¨. Interesting. Most of the guys were short on money, so many settled for plates of chips and jelly beans, while i got the chicken with buffalo wedges and home-made coleslaw. We finished the meal with a strange but awesome rugby chant Jaques had learnt while on tour in Wales. He says something, you repeat, he says something different, you repeat...again and again. You start at a whisper and build to the top your voices go horse from shouting. We were actually asked by the staff to do something like this. Well they actually asked for the haka but not everything was too confident in their knowledge of it (especially me) so we performed that chat instead which was pretty wicked. An hour of snooker followed, proceeded by lounging at Club Suva with a few other chicks. They pop around a lot. I like how they just all hang together. Once again people were up until the silly hours. At 2am-ish we drove into town and picked up a girl before heading back. My tiredness vanished and i ended up watching a movie until retreating to bed. How odd. I´m turning nocturnal no doubt.

 

A day of sleep. We headed over to Geoff´s house, stopping by the supermarket to grab him a top bottle of wine for his birthday and a much needed toothbrush. No need for fingers anymore. A lovely evening was spent with the Steyn family. It was raining cats and dogs, and for emphasis, many other kinds of animals. We had a cosy roast meal, followed by fruit salad and ice-cream, which was cracking and spent the time chatting. They are such lovely people and it was a happy time for me. It certainly made me realise to a greater degree that people in your life are hugely important. As much as being independant and having that freedom of being an individual is lovely, invigorating and fun, you most definately need a place you can call home, a loving family and true friends. You can´t possible shoulder life on your own. Whether it is filled with struggle or happyness. You need to communicate and share with people, however small the interaction. Being with the Steyn´s felt like being with family or old friends, with was wonderfully strange considering we hardly know each other and have spent little time with each other in the past. We moved from the company of the Steyn family to the company of 14 bodies in an outside hot tub under the falling of cold rain. Cracking people. Cool experience. It was a tangle of limbs but comfortable nether the less. I love the New Zeland lingo and general talk.  How ten sounds like tin, and yes sounds like yeees. How if you say something they may respond with the rhetorical ¨actual?¨ or add a hey onto the end of many sentences like ¨its real nice, hey¨ rather than ¨it´s rather nice isn´t it¨. Lovely. So many little things i love. For example, they wanted Jaques to do the chant again but he didn´t feel like it so would just respond with a ¨there´s a time and a place hey¨ and so they say fair enough an leave it. That maybe sounds silly, I don´t think i can do a good job at explaining it, but it´s just cool.

 

Another wonderful time at Geoff´s. A braai of steak and chicken, with salad, beer and a bit of bubbly to celebrate his birthday. A night of talk and watching this strange movie where a wind is blowing through America, leaving people lacking of a fundamental human characteristic, the will for survival. So they basically just start commiting suicide as they see no reason for living. Hmm. There wasn´t much to the day other than this. A simple day but a wicked day, purely down to the wonderful company. The next day was one of relaxation once more. Lazily making our way to the movies but then returning due to our late arrival and the lack of good seats. Playing Call of Duty against crazy Asian, American and other dudes from around the world on Playstation 3 online, who absolutely obliterated me and my poor beginner skills. Another, but successful, trip to the movies where i lost myself in the magnificence of cinema, leaving with that lovely just-out-of-the-movies feeling.

 

The last day before my trip south so a return to normal sleeping patterns and gearing myself up for the energetic week ahead. Back to travelling. A trip to the supermarket was necessary to get supplies for the four days of tramping. Nether done before, so just grabbing stuff. The trolley became filled with muesli bars, tinned tuna, pitta bread, chocolate cremed rice, nuts, instant noodles, instant soups and liquid breakfasts. Yummy. Geoff treated me to a roast lamb sandwich with incredible herby roast potatoes before we drove to the begining of the banks peninsula. We stopped in a sleep seaside town, where the houses nestled on green rolling hills and the sleep of fish & chips mixes with the air. A small cove seemed to be the busiest spot, where a handfull of people relaxed on the beach eating picnics or swimming in the cool water. The cove provided a shelter so the hazy sunshine had the chance to warm the bodies of the beaches occupants without the threat of the cold wind blowing through. It was real quiet and from a distance, the voices of children playing in the water carried clear to my ears. It was a very pretty and easy going spot. Addictively slow. We carried on our drive along and through the soft yellow hills, white spots of cotton dotting the slopes. We stopped for an ice-cream by Sumner beach, and ate them in the cold wind by the sands edge. A lazy, television driven evening was had. I found out that i like the name Roscoe. I ate food and forced myself to an early sleep (early being 11.30)

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Christchurch
photo by: Fulla