This blog is a semi-professional one. Yes, it is a blog which started as a promotional add-on to the marketing effort of our business, but being a family owned and operated business (eg myself and partner), I am the one writing it and hence the personal side of it. When we are busy and I have less time on my hands, it’s reflecting on my activity here.
On Saturday 19 February my partner and I went on a “Get to know your city” night in central Christchurch. It was good personally for us but also professionally so we can recommend our clients what to do and where to go in Christchurch’s CBD based on first hand experience. Sitting on a beautiful Summer night next to the Cathedral I thought how foolish I was to forget to bring my camera! What kind of a travel blogger does that? The Cathedral at 8pm light looked peaceful. This world known icon of Christchurch looked right in place at the centre of the buzz of the CBD. A spot of tranquility amongst the hustle and bustle of the city.
The next day we had breakfast at a small coffee shop on Hereford street. My partner examined the windows which were a work of historical art while we were both sitting in a coffee shop where the tables and chairs are not matching enjoying the thought these must have come from the ultimate second hand shop in Christchurch. What a great reflection of the kiwi way of living.
At noon it was time to go back to reality. My partner went back to the office and I went to pick up our kids who went for a sleepover. meeting my friend on High Street we were walking along the shops, admiring a pair of boots and scheduled to come back on Thursday to try them on as with all the kids around us (plus scooters, ripsticks and so on) we didn’t want to trash the shop.
On Tuesday 22 February at 12.51pm the city as we knew it collapsed under the tremendous force of a 6.3 earthquake which epicentre was at our doorstep. Unlike the 4 September earthquake this once took the city down and tore it to pieces. The international media coverage showed each and every part of the devastation to the world. Some of our friends are left without a home now. Some live in houses that will have to be demolished. And all of us are shaken to the core and afraid of what the future has for us.
My family is lucky. Our house has minor to almost no damage (still damage from the previous earthquake which is yet to be repaired). Our business premises is standing. Apart from half a day without power and one day without water we are fine. It is the Cathedral that is broken, the small coffee shop that is gone and the entire High street shops as well. It is our hearts that are broken, are children that are scared and our future and our means to support it that are overcasting a large shadow on us.
We didn’t have much time to gather ourselves together and continue business as usual. We had customers on the road. We had people calling and asking what to do. Are you still operational was the most frequent, and obvious, question. We had to re-schedule reservations. We had to handle cancellations and we had to think what to do with a so far great tourism season that so abruptly came to an end and how to get the message to the outside world that Christchurch is hurt but didn’t vanish from the face of the earth and that the best way to support this city is to keep on coming. The South Island is amazing is it has always been, and the roads to and from the Airport are open. This is where guilt comes into the already heavily emotional picture. There are still many people around the city with no power or water. There are people who lost their homes and there are people who lost their loved ones. How can we put aside all of this and think of our own business? It feels so selfish yet we know we must. We need to provide for our children. We need to support ourselves so we will not need to rely on recovery packages so that there will be more money left for those who are not as fortunate as us.
Easier said then done. I’m having a hard time recovering. After enrolling my kids to an outside of Christchurch school I felt that though it was the right thing to do for them I have done it with a heavy heart. Was I abandoning my beloved city?
Having the children at school allows me to work but how can you take your mind of what is going around in your city? How can you use the social media network to talk about the amazing things you can do in NZ and put aside the urge to check stuff.co.nz every minute? When is it ok to go back to normal? I don’t know. There are so many things to think about and problems to solve but currently we are all in a survival mode.
If you want to help the recovery of Christchurch you can do so by donating money through the Red Cross. If you are a travel blogger and visited NZ (or even if you didn’t you can still help) you can join an initiative Jim McIntosh is organising via Travel Bloggers Facebook group.