Tuesday, 6 March 2012

A Very New and Different Land

A sad scene in Christchurch
Silence, silence and more silence....despite the jet lag and the 24hr+ journey from India to Christchurch, Chris and I could hardly sleep when we arrived at our hostel...because it was sooooooooo quiet. Our pick up at the airport drove through the most deserted streets we'd seen since the steppes of Mongolia and dropped us at our hostel which was dead to the world. We crept in, found our room and marvelled at the sound of...nothing. Having slept for the past three and a half weeks on Palolem beach front with the waves crashing, the crows cawing, the dogs barking and the bar music blaring (not to mention those Scouser lads swearing!...) it was surreal, and slightly unnerving. Particularly since we'd been told not to worry and that we'd "get used to the tremors after the first couple". As became all too obvious the following day, Christchurch is tragically nowhere near over their earthquake ordeal and is still subject to aggressive aftershocks. It is terribly sad to see what was once a thriving city become so desolate and deserted and it was a sobering and strange introduction to the country.



Buying Vanny!
First things first, however,  we were lucky to get to New Zealand at all. Having booked our tickets all of a week and a half in advance we didn't really have a clue about where we were going or what to expect. Turns out your MUST have an onward flight to get into the country, and they check this when you check in to your flight. We lied and said we did (I was convinced they were being paranoid/it was all Indian bureaucracy and it wouldn't matter) and Chris proceeded to feverishly check forum after forum on the free airport wifi link to work out our situation. Finally in KL we were told we could not board our second flight until they saw confirmed onward flights from NZ. Chris said he would need the Internet to download them from his email so they let him go through to the lounge where he booked the cheapest flight to Sydney he could find there and then...legend and total saviour!

Wine in mugs...like the good ol' student days!
Having made it here in one piece and finally succumbing to what was probably our best night's sleep for two months, we set about trying to buy a car or camper van, as you do...In no less than two days we were proud owners of a twenty one year old Mistubishi Delica van, affectionately and uninspiringly nicknamed Vanny. It proved to be something of an emotional roller coaster, rocking up in an unknown city and buying an old, crumbling van in such a short space of time...something you would never do at home! But it was strangely liberating once we'd done it and were off on our adventures. It felt good to be entirely under our own steam and as we settled down into our first night in the back of Vanny, having just cooked up a lovely pasta and salad dinner out of the back of him overlooking the beautiful beaches of Akaroa, it felt like a wonderful decision. After all, they do say that the only way to see NZ is by camper van!

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