After 5 airports and 4 flights, I’ve finally arrived in Christchurch, NZ around 14:30 11/2/2012! Pretty crazy how I time-traveled a day ahead of my friends back in the States, as I crossed the International Date Line. So, while here in Christchurch, I’ll be 17 hrs ahead of ya’ll back in the eastern United States. I stepped off my flight to clear skies and warm weather (~70 F). After being cooped up in airplanes all day, where leg space is more than limited, it was nice to go for a long run to enjoy the warm weather. I enjoyed some top-notch Thai food for dinner and got to bed early for some much needed (horizontally oriented) sleep.
Contrary to yesterday’s weather, I awoke to cold, windy, and rainy weather. At first it was a bit depressing, as I had wished to spend my day trekking about the city under sunny skies. However, I realized that for the next three months, while I’m in the Dry Valleys (a polar desert…), I wont see single drop of rain. So, why not embrace the rain? I headed out from my hotel around 8:00 towards the Christchurch farmers market at Riccarton Bush.
I set out in search of some local Kiwi culture. Food and culture are intimately coupled. Often, food defines culture in one way or another. So to find some culture, I followed the food. Despite the cold and rain, Riccarton Bush was bustling with happy, enthusiastic vendors and market goers.
Wet and cold, I was dying for a cup of coffee. Well, lets get some terminology straight, first. You won’t find a cup of “coffee” on the menu at any café in NZ. You will however find “long blacks” and “flat whites.” A “long black” is a shot of espresso, where steam is pulled through the grounds for a longer duration than normal, resulting in a diluted shot of espresso – similar to an Americano. A “flat white” is simply a shot of espresso and poured with steamed milk, a.k.a. a late. Whatever you want to call it, the hot caffeinated beverage hit the spot. Also, turns out, apparently you need to be of age to have caffeine in NZ (see photo)… I have my doubts….?
I’ve been warned that fresh fruits and vegetables are hard to come by in the Dry Valleys. So, I assembled a lunch composed mainly of “freshies.” I snagged some super French bread from a local baker (see photo). Some nice folks from a local farm hooked me up with an avocado, and another veggie vendor provided me with some fresh indoor-grown tomatoes. Being indecisive proved advantageous with the cheese vendor, as they allowed me to sample many NZ cheeses before settling on a beautiful sharp cheddar. Also, I was surprised to find NZ grown olives – couldn’t resist – picked up 100g. The market proved to be a good way to find fantastic healthy food at a more than reasonable fare, while enjoying lots of good conversationwith local Christchurch folk.
With my lunch packed-up, I set out towards the city center to see the sights. Last February, Christchurch was hit by a gnarly earhquake, which decimated many old structures in the downtown area. Sadly, the downtown resembles a war-zone, where many buildings have been reduced to rubble. However, Christchurch seems proud to be moving-on and rebuilding. I fumbled around some shops located in a new shopping center, called Re:START. The shops are housed in box-car storage-unit-esque modules. The place was bustiling with shoppers and hopefully this is a nice start to the long process of rebuilding.
By 14:00 I made it back to my hotel tired and hungry. Good thing I packed a top-notch lunch, eh? Tomorrow I get my “extreme cold weather gear” from USAP and get oriented. Should be sweet. I’ll keep ya’ll posted.
P.S. applogies for any typos. I’m “stickin’ it to the man” and poaching WiFi from McDonalds as my lap-top is rapidly losing power. First world problems? I think so.