Christchurch earthquake deployment – day ten

It’s always hard leaving at the end of a long stint. I am always desperate to get home, and at the same time reluctant to leave. I pack my bag and leave a thank-you note for John and Alison at the Thistle. happily, my last taxi ride in ChCh is the lovely John, who again refuses to take any payment and gives me a big hug as I say goodbye.

I sit in the EOC, pulling together a couple of recovery planning documents as my last contribution. Somebody brings me a flat white with an extra shot: probably a bad idea. I’m hyper enough already.

Suddenly my travel plans change.I need to be up in Wellington far earlier than planned for my debrief. I run around saying some hurried goodbyes, and then it’s off to the airport.

At the Red Cross national office, I sit chatting with Aaron, sharing stories. A wave of tiredness washes over me. It’s probably a really good time for me to head home. My debrief doesn’t happen in the end: something about a meeting with the minister. Never mind: we’ll do it by phone later. I head for Cuba Street and the quietness of a hotel room.

You know you’re in Wellington when:

  • you can drink the water from the tap anytime you like.
  • you have your own flushing toilet and shower. Bliss.
  • there is space on your hotel room floor to lie down and stretch out if you wish.
  • the earth doesn’t shake gently every hour or so, like it was doing in ChCh just before I left.
  • the minutiae of the earthquake response does not dominate all news programmes.
  • I don’t have to think so much about night-time protocols (but I do anyway – I’m actually close to the fault-line here). I do a bit of discreet knocking to check out the relative strengths of the walls in my room to help decide which doorframe to run to if anything happens.

I meet Claire for a bit to eat. We chat over Indian and Malaysian food, and make short work of a NZ shiraz. My focus slowly starts to return to normality as the conversation stops being dominated by the earthquake, and news and gossip emerge from the world outside ChCh.

A nightcap in the Havana rumhouse is a lovely end to the night. I sip at a beautifully made Zombie (I never find out the secret ingredient) and vow to have an alcohol-free week when I get home.

In bed I wake a couple of times, convinced I can feel the room shaking. Next morning I check Geonet. Nothing in Wellington at all. I am now officially imagining things. What I don’t imagine, however, is the main electric light coming on of its own accord around four in the morning. I awaken, panicked. I can’t explain it.

My last few hours in NZ take me down Cuba Street on a sunny autumn morning. I buy a new pair of earrings and breakfast like a queen in Ernesto’s.

The quirky style of my fellow diners is classic Wellington. Even my (female) server has a nicely-trimmed moustache and winged Doc Martins. A “We ♥ ChCh” poster in the window is the last hint I have of the world beyond the trendiest street in the capital city. I collect my bags, and head for home at last.

2 thoughts on “Christchurch earthquake deployment – day ten

  1. Hey Mairead, I would like to thank you and your crew that came over to Aussie for all your help that you guys did for the team From Christchurch. I myself thank you from the bottom of my heart fro all your support.

    Thank You


  2. Having a bit of time on my hands at the moment (and having purchased a more appropriate content consumer), I’ve only just had a chance to read this and a few other favourite blogs. Actually, on that subject, FUOB’s been a bit quiet.

    You done good over there Lady – congratulations.

    I found your comment about the taxi driver interesting. I got back from Brisbane the day Toowoomba went pear-shaped, in fact I was flying as it was happening and wasn’t really aware of the magnitude. When I got back to the car park, the attendant, referencing what was on TV, saw my RC polo shirt and asked if I’d been in Brisbane. The blessings from her and the other customers turned me into a blubbering idiot – we really do good stuff, you know.

    Unfortunately, the parking wasn’t free though. 😦

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