AHOY: lengthy post ahead.
I can say now that we are bringing our time in New Zealand to a close that we’ve had it pretty good. Our experiences have been so… incredible? I think I need a thesaurus because my adjective selection for words of greatness seems to be repetitive.
Allan and Sue I believe were fated to be our final stop in the South Island. Allan is a partner at his law firm though because he is near 60 his hours are less demanding. Allan picked us up from Laura’s place on Monday l and took us around the Port Hills to an industrial themed cafe in Lyttleton for coffee and lunch. After this he took us to a beautiful chocolaterie called She Universe which overlooked the Diamond Harbour. We all got different truffles to try paired with our flat whites. My picks were the ‘champagne kiss’ and ‘Oceana’ which was a sea salt dark chocolate (salvating just thinking about this).
We arrived home to Allan and Sue’s modern home and made conversation with George while dinner was prepared (we offered to help)… Allan has a few things he loves other than his family and job… the most prominent is that he ADORES cooking. For our first meal here, he made us 2 veggie dishes; a lentil pie and aubergine rolls stuffed with Riccata cheese and spinach. He has his own apron and a series of binders of clippings and printed and handwritten recipes that he has collected over the years and enjoys making.
Before we dug into this veggie-licious dinner we were chatting with George. George is Sue’s dad – he is 91 and as sharp as anything. I spent an hour and a half when we arrived with George and listening to his stories about travel and his life in New Zealand. George is an engineer – I don’t say he ‘was an engineer’ because he stills works. He doesn’t get paid and have 9-5 hours… he volunteers and spends his time at a workshop nearby creating little trains and engines. Not only do they work – they look spiffy as! He gets them painted and then donates them to charity functions to help the chosen charity in raising funds. He is an fascinating gentleman to talk to and getting to know him brings out the biggest of smiles – from him and from his audience.
Sue was feeling a bit under the weather so we only briefly met her on our first night as she didn’t want to get us sick. Sue is a social worker that spends her free time volunteering and gardening. Perhaps it was Kati Kati or perhaps it’s the hippie juices from backpacking that are going to show here but Sue has this fabulous energy and aura about her. She radiates enthusiasm and love and authentic generosity. She actually reminds me a lot of my mum. ❤️ Her attitude and demeanour is one that I look at and think to myself this is the way and kind of person I strive to be.
These 3 people made our last couple days in the South Island feel complete. Our first full day here we really just relaxed – Allan, Sue and George were at work. I had a nice shower and breakfast, I Facetimed my dad, I watched a movie and it was perfect. In the evening when our temporary family got home they took us to their neighbour’s, Doug, for a BBQ. This was nice.. I don’t think I had this kind of feeling maybe since Switzerland when Erika and Roland had their friends over for a dinner party. What a feeling it is to be included in someone’s personal social plans. We shared a delicious lamb dinner (cooked by Allan of course) and dessert made by Doug’s wife.
The next day the weather was mediocre – partly sunny but mostly cloudy. Rach and I had a relaxing morning but by 10 we thought it would be nice to get out of the house and decided that We wanted to see Quake City. Quake City is the Earthquake Museum for Canterbury. I had NO IDEA how devistating something like this could be. People died, fires broke out, buildings crumbled. There is a part of the museum where they have a video of people telling their story from the most recent violent earthquake in 2011. It’s disturbing and bewildering to think that just a minute of chaos beneath the earths surface could cause such damage and distress. While it’s not really a joyful museum to visit its fascinating and I think it brought me closer to Christchurch… I feel like I understand the city more.
Allan and Sue were effected by this Earthquake. Their beloved house that they had lived in for 30 years fell apart because of the inflexible masonry structure. They have been re-building their house since and they have done a beautiful job. Before the Earthquake Sue had some paintings of the house done up for Allan’s 50th birthday. Allan loved this house and now one of his only visual reminders of it are of these paintings. While his whole family is fortunate that nothing happened to them physically or mentally, he told us that loosing your home is still heartbreaking.
Allan, Sue and George arrived home shortly after us for dinner. We had chicken, veggie casserole and some ‘courgettes’ (that is Kiwi for zucchini) with parmasean. With full tummies Allan brought us to his movie room which is set up with a projector and a bunch of couches – like a movie theatre. He put on one of his favourite programs for us, Black Adder. This is a funny British show, each season takes place during a different era. For example we watched a couple episodes from the Elizabethan era and a couple episodes from WW1 era. Allan brought us in some popcorn and hokey pokey ice cream and then settled in to watch a few episodes with us.
When it was over we had a bit of small chat that opened up into a rather deep or thoughtful conversation. I think Allan is a brilliant golden soul. He is wise and has an open heart that is full of advice, encouragement, and acceptance. Rachel and I usually have these kinds of conversations between us.. not because we don’t trust other people, but because we don’t usually enter an atmosphere where these kinds of questions are organically brought forward. I have been asked on countless occassions a series of questions that seem like the standard questions to ask any traveller or Backpacker. It’s makes sense because a lot of these standard questions create a foundation of understanding and a general image of what someone has experienced and what they took away from their experience. Allan asked these questions to us when we first met him, but in this conversation with him, his questions brought on a different depth. He asked us about our parents, our families, our homes, who we want to be and why we want to be that. Not from a career perspective though he was interested in that, but who we wanted to be as people. Why that was so. What had changed in us since we left up until now. He asked us about our faiths, if we had any and what they were, not so he could judge us at all but to see if what we had experienced over that last 7 or so months had challenged or changes our opinions. I don’t feel the need to share all these answers because 1. As a reader you are probably thinking to yourself ‘wrap it up lady’ and 2. Because I don’t even know all the answers. It’s something to ponder, something to think about.
At the end of the conversation though, one of my biggest take aways was the freedom that Rach and I have right now is not only a blessing, it’s a rarity. It will change because how boring would life be if we didn’t. But for now, it is a piece of our identity… a free individual. A seeking individual. I quite liked this.
Today we fly back up to the North Island. Off to Rotorua for Crankworx! I’m so excited because I get to see a part of Rachel’s life that I haven’t been exposed to before – even after being best friends for x amount of years. I have to say I am leaving a part of my heart in the South…. but I know I will be back for it one day. Onwards and upwards!
Sending love from Chch. ❤️