A new day, a new hotel. Still in Christchurch but closer to the city centre which makes it easier to explore on foot.
Which I did, and now sport a blister. Not a small one.
Met another amazing person.
John Henden is 80 years old. Speaks softly so it’s sometimes hard to understand him. Smells faintly of damp wool socks. Volunteers a couple of days per week escorting visitors through the Air Force Museum of New Zealand, which is how I met him.
He guided me and three others on a “behind the scenes” tour of the workshop and restoration area. And if you needed to know anything about the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s efforts in any conflict zone from 1915 until present day, he’s your man. Fascinating guy to listen to.
He regaled us with stories of his posts, mostly in the South Pacific, where he worked as a mechanic on numerous types of aircraft. That makes him the perfect guy to volunteer where he does.
He’d point out all the bits of aircraft that were found rotting in a jungle somewhere and how those pieces will be used in restoration work. Very interesting fellow, and I was glad to have met him.
Then there’s Rachel. Very pretty. Sports a stud through her upper lip. Nice smile. Works as a server at a place called The Running Bull Restaurant on Riccarton Road here in Christchurch. Thankfully, she smells much better than John. When asked what she likes so much to be living in Christchurch given the earthquakes, she says, “It’s central for me. Mum lives in the country an hour west of here. I can fly to Auckland for concerts and return the next day and it doesn’t kill my bank account.”
Her accent sounds different somehow but I can’t put my finger on it. “Oh, I’m originally from Sydney but have lived here for, uh, one two yeah three years now.”
Why the move? “University here. And boyfriend.” She blushes just a tiny bit.
Front desk clerk at tonight’s motel. I didn’t catch his name. “It’s home. Where I grew up. Family and friends are all here. Yes, things are tough especially economically but that’s no reason to leave. I’ve decided to stay and that’s that.”
These are tough, good people. Even the ground shaking under their feet won’t make them leave.
Quick note: I won’t be blogging tomorrow and maybe not the following day as I’ve got a flight back to Auckland and a couple motel moves over the next few days. But I’ll be back scribbling as soon as I can.