Thursday, September 20, 2012

Christchurch, New Zealand - The Earthquake & the re:START Pop-Up Mall

Over the first few weeks of the school year, Nana and I are reaching back to catch up on some stuff from the spring and early summer . . . at least until we do some more interesting stuff to blog about here in Japan!

In September 2010, the city of Christchurch, New Zealand was struck by the first of a series of huge earthquakes that will change the historic city forever. The worst of these quakes, in February 2011, killed 185 people and brought down the historic Christchurch Cathedral. And they're not over: seismologists predict that moderately strong quakes will continue into the near future, though they do seem to be moving away to the east.

It's hard to overstate the impact these earthquakes have had on the city. When Nana and I visited in July of 2012,  large parts of the downtown area, including the central business district, were still cordoned off as engineers worked to ensure the stability of the buildings inside.

Red = extreme danger.

Several foot and road bridges still haven't been repaired.

At the same time, plans to demolish the remaining structure of Christchurch Cathedral, we learned, were moving ahead, though not without some local opposition.

One of the locals we chatted with basically told us that, for many people, Christchurch is the Cathedral.

Tough stuff for a recovering community. In the meantime, though, the commercial tenants of the red zone are working hard to return to business as usual. Nowhere is this more evident than in the re:START "pop-up mall," a temporary shopping center built out of recycled shipping containers.
On our non-skiing afternoon in Christchurch, Nana and I made sure to stop by to engage in some reciprocal retail therapy - grabbing some books and a delicious pizza while bolstering the local economy, to boot.
Throughout our brief stay in Christchurch, Nana and I were touched by the optimism and resolve of the locals we met. The city is clearly suffering - the population has shrunk drastically, with many young people heading off to Australia to find work - and no one can reasonably expect that things will ever be the way they were. But the city is also taking a clear-eyed look at the future, embracing some clever plans for sustainable regrowth. Obviously, rebuilding will take some grit, but if the handful of folks we chatted with are any indication, there's more than enough grit to go around.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wednesday Weirdness: Black Mont-Blanc Ice Cream Bars

On the top of Mont-Blanc snow of choco has fallen What a amazing news it is! Mont-Blanc is the highest in Alps. And Black Mont-Blanc is the highest taste of all ice-cream.

Actually, very delicious. The snow of choco doesn't stick very well, though, and soon becomes the snow on the front of your shirt. Perhaps not quite the highest taste of all ice-cream, but still quite a amazing news!