Monday, February 28, 2011

Shaken Up

Well my travels on the South Island have come to an end and I am back in Auckland as I write.  First I should send out a thank you to everyone for their concern.  I received numerous calls, emails and texts after the Canterbury earthquake.  I was one of the fortunate ones to be back safely on the North Island praying that volcanoes weren't going to follow suit and erupt (they didn't).

But it's eerie to see the places we toured in Christchurch that have now collapsed.  And it's so sad to hear about the tragic loss of life.  While we were there the people were incredibly friendly, more than once we struggled with maps and they offered directions.  Now as we still hear stories of survival and community it's even more evident how much they care about others (strangers or not).

Christchurch Cathedral before and after the quake

The death tolls are still being estimated but sadly it is clear that the area won't make out as fortunately as they did in September when the earth first shook. It will be a long road to recovery.


As for the rest of my journey on the South Island it went really well.  Although my car never really recovered (which is unfortunate since I did foot a bill of $600 in an attempt to repair it), it got us safely back home after 2 1/2 weeks of travelling.  Along the way we had some great experiences but I've discovered I'm definitely not as big of a fan of the South Island.  I just felt like one of the many tourists visiting New Zealand instead of someone who has been living here for nearly a year.  Seriously, people, can't you tell that I've become one of you... I find myself spelling things wrong all over the place!  (favour, travelling, specialise...come on, what has happened to me!!).  

On the South Island I was just another American on vacation, but as far as the landscape goes, it was pretty impressive.  I wouldn't be opposed to shorter trips down there again someday.
Milford Sound in the morning before the wind kicked up

Highlights along the way:
  • Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound cruises.  My favourite part was when the engines were turned off and the people were asked to stand deadly still so that we could hear what it could have been like to arrive in the inlet many years ago.  It was mystical.
  • Stopping at random points as we travelled north to see things on a whim, like the Blue Pools (where Dad went for a swim in the glacial water and I felt obligated to at least get in up to my knees)
  • Seeing the amazing power of water, wind, pressure and ice.  It turns out I have just as much appreciation for the natural science of things as my Science teacher mother (ok, maybe not quite as much) but it's still pretty incredible to see what the elements of this earth are capable of.
  • Strapping on crampons and boots to hike on the Franz Josef glacier with my dad
  • Kayaking in Abel Tasman.  We had a half day and I think I could have easily spent at least 3-4 days hiking and kayaking through that park, so beautiful.

I have realised that I get lost when I have one incredible thing after another though.  It melds together so that when the popular question comes up about my favourite part - I can't pin it down, there were just too many things to appreciate and enjoy.  Where do you begin?


On a sad note, I was told about the passing of a friend and past co-worker in Chicago just a few days ago.  He encouraged me to travel, read my blog, kept in touch with me through Facebook, and checked in on me after the earthquake.  He died just a few days later of what was possibly a heart attack at the young age of 39.  Life can be short, he will be missed.

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